The pop music world had, hands down, the bleakest year during 2016.
The NY Times reports the year was only days old when the news came that David Bowie had died of cancer at 69. He had hinted that his time was short in the lyrics of his final album, released just two days before his death, but he had otherwise gone to great lengths to hide his illness from the public, a wish for privacy that ensured that his death would appear to have come out of the blue.
Then came another shock, about three months later, when Prince accidentally overdosed on a painkiller and collapsed in an elevator at his sprawling home studio near Minneapolis. Death came to him at 57.
According to The Times, it was as if 2016 hadn’t delivered enough jolts to the system when it closed out the year with yet another pop-star death. George Michael, the 1980s sensation whose aura had dimmed in later years, was 53 when he went to bed and never woke up on Christmas.
Pop music figures fell all year, many of their voices still embedded in the nicked vinyl grooves of old records that a lot of people can’t bear to throw out. The roster included Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane; Keith Emerson and Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake and Palmer; Glenn Frey of the Eagles; and Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire.
And then there was George Martin, whose recording-studio genius had such a creative influence on the sounds of John, Paul, George and Ringo (and, by extension, on the entire rock era) that he was hailed as the fifth Beatle.
Other notable deaths include: Natalie Cole, Sharon Jones, Prince Buster, Christina Grimmie, Rick Parfit of Status Quo, Dead or Alive star Pete Burns, R&B legend Billy Paul, teen idol Bobby Vee, Thriller songwriter and founder of 70s band Heatwave Rod Temperton, John Berry of The Beastie Boys, Frank Sinatra Jr., Country singer Joey Feek, Denise Matthew of Vanity, Mott the Hoople drummer Dale "Buffin" Griffin and Guitarist Pete Huttlinger.
Also: Marshall Jones of The Ohio Players, Nick Menza of Megadeth, Country singer Guy Clark, Guitarist Lonnie Mack, Andy Newman of Thunderclap Newman, Mic Gilette from Tower of Power, Gary Loizzo of The American Breed, Nicholas Caldwell of The Whispers, Country Singer, Holly Dunn, Black Crowes' keyboardist Ed Harsch singer Kay Starr, Phil Chess of Chess Records, Don Ciccone of The Critters and the Four Seasons in the '70s, Joan Marie Johnson of The Dixie Cups, Jazz Harmonica player Toots Thielesman, Ricci Martin of Dino, Desi & Billy and singer Julius LaRosa,