The world of rock and roll took not one, but several tackles this year. It seemed that amid the chaos of our ever evolving world and culture, we begrudgingly said our goodbyes to artists who brought us comfort and peace during times of trouble and uncertainty. We know these titans of rock had so much more to give and create, yet their loss leaves a peculiar pang of sadness in our cores that we’re still finding difficult to shake. Though the music had gone silent for moments in 2016, let us remember the gifts we were given, and celebrate the individuals who dedicated their lives to touching and inspiring our humanity with their art. Cheers, to these legends of rock.
Musician, singer, cultural legend
(January 1947 – January 10, 2016)
Truly a Renaissance man, Bowie graced the stage and screen as a musician, singer, writer, actor, and so much more. Leaving generations with generations to inspiration and imagination to piece through and build from. The loss of David Bowie set a morse tone to 2016 that we simply could not seem to shake.
Iman, the Starman’s wife of 24 years noted, “”Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”
In lieu of flowers: Donate the the Borgen Project, a nonprofit organization “believes leaders of the most powerful nation on earth should be doing more to address global poverty. We’re the innovative, national campaign that is working to make poverty a focus of U.S. foreign policy”, Keep a Child Alive which whose “mission is to realize the end of AIDS for children and families, by combating the physical, social and economic impacts of HIV.”
Dale ‘Buffin’ Griffin
Mott the Hoople drummer
(October 24, 1948 – January 17, 2016)
Griffin passed after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. All too close for comfort, the band’s biggest hit, All the Young Dudes, was penned and produced with David Bowie in 1972. The band’s manager Peter Purnell told the BBC Griffin was “one of the nicest, friendly and talented men I have ever known.”
founding member of the Eagles
(November 6, 1948 – January 18, 2016)
Upon his death, the Eagles released the following statement, “It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our comrade, Eagles founder, Glenn Frey, in New York City on Monday, January 18th, 2016. Glenn fought a courageous battle for the past several weeks but, sadly, succumbed to complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia.”
Eagles frontman Don Henley said of Frey, “He was like a brother to me; we were family, and like most families, there was some dysfunction. But, the bond we forged 45 years ago was never broken, even during the 14 years that the Eagles were dissolved. We were two young men who made the pilgrimage to Los Angeles with the same dream: to make our mark in the music industry — and with perseverance, a deep love of music, our alliance with other great musicians and our manager, Irving Azoff, we built something that has lasted longer than anyone could have dreamed. But, Glenn was the one who started it all. He was the spark plug, the man with the plan.”
founding member of Jefferson Airplane & Jefferson Starship
(March 17, 1941 – January 28, 2016)
Kantner died of health complications after suffering multiple heart attacks in recent years. We followed him down the rabbit hole, discovering that psychedelic “San Francisco sound” along the way.
Shortly after Kantner’s death, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart reflected on Facebook, “He was kind of the backbone of that band. It was always about Grace and Jack and Jorma (Kaukonen), I don’t think he got the credit he deserved.”
In lieu of flowers: You can donate to All-Stars Project, Inc., a program that gives poor and minority students the opportunity to perform as a means to strengthen communities.
founding member of Earth, Wind, and Fire
(December 19, 1941 – February 4, 2016)
White died at the age of 74 after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. The founding member of Earth, Wind & Fire was born in Memphis, but moved to Chicago when he was young. He sang gospel in the city, attended the Chicago Conservatory of Music, and served as a session drummer at Chess Records. As a member of Earth, Wind & Fire he brought joy, love and rhythm into the soles and souls of so many. He contributed to the fabric of the 1970s music scene and served as an influence to to many who have come after.
“In my junior high school, the white kids loved Zeppelin, the black kids loved [Parliament Funkadelic], the freaky kids loved Bowie, but everyone loved Earth, Wind & Fire,” said Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea on Instagram. “They were just undeniable.”
In lieu of flowers: You can donate to the fight against Parkinson’s disease by giving to: The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (http://www.pdf.org/), The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (https://www.michaeljfox.org/), the National Parkinson’s Foundation (http://www.parkinson.org/get-involved/ways-to-give), or many others.
Prince Rogers Nelson
the Artist Formerly Known as Prince
(June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016)
Prince was found unresponsive in his home, Paisley Park, in Minnesota. The world shared it’s grief over the loss of our once-in-a-lifetime artist. Everything that can be said has been said, but whether you like the guy or not, President Obama summed up our collective condolences aptly,
Today, the world lost a creative icon. Michelle and I join millions of fans from around the world in mourning the sudden death of Prince. Few artists have influenced the sound and trajectory of popular music more distinctly, or touched quite so many people with their talent. As one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time, Prince did it all. Funk. R&B. Rock and roll. He was a virtuoso instrumentalist, a brilliant bandleader, and an electrifying performer.
“A strong spirit transcends rules,” Prince once said — and nobody’s spirit was stronger, bolder, or more creative. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his band, and all who loved him.
In lieu of flowers: Prince’s ex-wife Manuela Testolini described him as “fierce philanthropist”, thought as a Jehovah’s Witness, he refrained from publicly discussing his charitably endeavors; they were, however, revealed post humorously. To note just a few, Green for All, an organization whose goal is to build a green economy while simultaneously lifting citizens out of poverty, #YesWeCode, an initiative aiming to “teach 100,000 low-income kids to write code”, among others.
Singer and songwriter
(September 21, 1934 – November 7, 2016)
After a tumultuous election week, the death of Cohen came as a saddened shock, making the sky that covers us all a bit darker. His empathy and compassion for the human condition brought generations and scores together under the umbrella of his music.
In 2011 Cohen was named the Ninth Glenn Gould Prize Laureate. The foundation had this to say of Cohen, “For four decades, Leonard Cohen has been one of the most important and influential songwriters of our time, relentlessly examining the central issues in human experience, and reporting with passion, insight and wisdom. His body of work is a reflection of the zeitgeist of the late 20th century and beyond. His songs are works of great poetic depth and profound emotional force, and set new standards for quality, range and seriousness in pop music. Artists and music-lovers alike are drawn to the dignity, ambition and sheer power of his songs.”
“Unmatched in his creativity, insight and crippling candor, Leonard Cohen was a true visionary whose voice will be sorely missed,” Cohen’s manager Robert Kory wrote in a statement. “I was blessed to call him a friend, and for me to serve that bold artistic spirit firsthand, was a privilege and great gift. He leaves behind a legacy of work that will bring insight, inspiration and healing for generations to come.”
Ben Folds suggests this, “Kids. Take a moment to listen to Leonard Cohen’s song Going Home when you can. RIP L Cohen and thank you.”
In lieu of flowers: Donations to the Red Cross can be made in Cohen’s name, as an organization he donated performances and show earnings to in the past.
Musician and songwriter
(April 2, 1942 – November 13, 2016)
Russell spent his life making music and collaborating with the likes of other creative genius such as Elton John, Joe Cocker, B.B. King, and Willie Nelson.
In lieu of flowers: Donations can be made to VH1’s Save the Music Foundation has been rebuilding music education nationwide since 1997.
Soul and funk singer
(May 4, 1956 – November 18, 2016)
The 60-year-old fiery soul singer, “spent decades in obscurity before becoming a Grammy-nominated soul and funk vocalist with her longtime backing band the Dap-Kings” (Rolling Stone). Jones’ mantra as she planned recordings until her inevitable passing, even playing Live from Studio X with the Dap-Kings in 2014.
“I have cancer; cancer don’t have me.” – Sharon Jones