While each calendar year is full of great performances, surprises, album releases and festivals in the world of music, it is important to take a step back and spend time to mourn and remember the achievements and contributions made by musicians who passed away during the year. This list is a tribute to those artists. It would not be a stretch that each one of these people put every ounce of their soul into the art of music, and that music fans will always recognize what the honor of hearing them play, or seeing them take the stage.
Contributions from Heather Wilkens and Matt Matasci.
With much of his popularity coming in the 70’s, Overstreet recorded five hit singles on the country charts, and 11top ten singles.
Errol Brown (November 12, 1943 – May 6, 2015)
The British-Jamaican singer is best known for his 1975 hit “You Sexy Thing.” He succumbed to a prolonged battle with liver cancer according to his manager.
Daevid Allen (January 13, 1938 – March 13, 2015)
Allen founded the progressive rock bands Soft Machine and Gong. He lost a long-fought and recurring battle with cancer. He will be best known for his independent spirit throughout the decades.
Michael Browne (April 25, 1949 – March 19, 2015)
The world lost one of the defining voices of 60s baroque pop with the death of Michael Browne in March. Browne died from unknown causes at the age of 65.
Gary Richrath (October 18, 1949 – September 13, 2015)
Richrath was a member of REO Speedwagon for nineteen years, and played on many of their hit songs including “Can’t Fight This Feelin'”.
Jeremy Brown (Deceased March 30. 2015)
The guitarist for recently deceased Scott Weiland’s most recent project died the night before Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts’ debut was released. He died from an accidental overdose.
Steve Mackay (September 25, 1949 – October 10, 2015)
Mackay was a member of The Stooges, and added saxophone to their proto-punk sound. He primarily contributed to the band’s 1970 LP Funhouse, his saxophone giving the band even more of a chaotic edge.
Guru Josh (Paul Walden) (June 6, 1964 – December 28,2015)
Involved in the British House scene, Walden was best known for his debut single “Infinity”. Walden went onto work in multimedia production as well as creating other forms of art while making his music on the sideline.
Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister (December 24, 1945 – December 28, 2015)
Fronting the heavy metal band Motorhead since 1976, Lemmy was a truly legendary bassist, vocalist and songwriter in the world of rock music. The band has released dozens of albums, and was extremely influential in the developments of rock, punk and heavy metal.
Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor (September 21, 1954 – November 11, 2015)
Taylor was the drummer for Motorhead from 1976 through the late 80’s. His double bass drum on the track “Overkill”, released in 1979, is said to be one of the most prevalent examples of the drumming style that influenced thrash metal.
Sean Price (March 17, 1972 – August 8, 2015)
Price was a member of the Boot Camp Clik collective, and one half of the duo Heltah Skeltah. He also released several solo LPs.
Ornette Coleman (March 30, 1930 – June 11, 2015)
Coleman was a leader in the free jazz movement, and one of the most recognizable jazz musicians of all time. His LP The Shape Of Jazz To Come is widely regarded as one of the most influential albums in the genres history.
B.B. King (September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015)
King left a legacy as one of the most recognizable guitarists and vocalists in the history of the blues. Known for a near-perpetual touring schedule, flawless guitar vibrato, and one of the friendliest personalities in the industry, he will always be remembered as an ambassador for the genre.
Chris Squire (March 4, 1948 – June 27, 2015)
Squire contributed bass guitar, and songwriting to every Yes studio album throughout their career. He is widely regarded as one of the best and most influential on his instrument in the progressive rock genre.
Scott Weiland (October 27, 1967 – December 3, 2015)
Weiland was first known as the vocalist for the Stone Temple Pilots, which recorded several rock radio staples throughout the 90’s. Solo records followed, as well manning vocal duties for Velvet Revolver in the early part of the 00’s.
David VanLanding was the former vocalist for the Michael Schenker Group and Crimson Glory musician went onto form bands of his own such as Erotic Liquid Culture (nee Crush).
Frank Watkins was best known for his bass playing in the heavy metal band Obituary and Gorgoroth.
Martin Kearns is known for his specialty in death metal and being able to range into different music genres such as metal and reggae. Kearns is best known for his association with Bolt Thrower and Coventry.
Bryn Merrick is known for his bass performances in the band Victimize and The Damned. Merrick’s The Damned debut was on their single “Thanks for the Night” b/w “Nasty.”
Sir Christopher Lee is famous for his roles in The Man with the Golden Gun and Lord of the Rings. But Sir Christopher Lee actually found his singing voice in a bass style for the single “Name Your Poison” written by Richard O’Brien and The Wicker Man soundtrack single “The Tinker of Rye.”
Craig Gruber (June 22, 1951 – May 5, 2015)
Craig Gruber was known for his bass performance in the band Rainbow founded by Ritchie Blackmore and the band Elf.
Bob Burns was the founding drummer member of the original lineup of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Scott Clendenin (January 17 1968 – March 24 2015)
Scott Clendenin is known for his performance with the death metal band Death and Control Denied.
A.J. Pedro was a drummer who was well known for playing in the bands Twisted Sister and Adrenaline Mob.
Bruce Crump (July 17 1957 – March 16 2015)
Bruce Crump was a drummer who was well known for his performance in the band Molly Hatchet from 1976 to 1983 and 1984 to 1991.
Ben E. King (September 28 1938 – April 30 2015)
Ben E. King was the musician with the one hit wonder “Stand By Me.” Ben was also the lead singer to the Drifters.
Lesley Gore (May 2 1946- February 16 2015)
Lesley Gore was the singer who created the one hit single “It’s My Party” along with some other singles “You Don’t Own Me,” and “Maybe I know.”
Kim Fowley (July 21, 1939 – January 15, 2015
A controversial figure in the world of punk rock and new wave, there is no doubting Kim Fowley’s influence. The man behind The Runaways, he went onto produce for such contemporary acts as Ariel Pink.
Allan Toussaint (January 14, 1938 – November 10, 2015)
Allan Toussaint was a legend in the New Orleans R&B scene, and his devotion to music paid off with singles like “Working in a Coalmine.” He died at 77 of a heart attack while on tour in Spain.
Andrae Crouch wrote new gospel classics such as “Soon and Very Soon” and “Through It All” and was well versed in singing, piano, and choir instructing. Crouch brought gospel into the modern era and influenced musicians such as Michael Jackson and Madonna.
Thom Wilson (Died February 8, 2015)
Best known for his production work with The Offspring and their crossover hit Smash, Thom Wilson got his start producing legendary Southern California punk bands like Bad Religion and T.S.O.L. and their Northern California counterparts Dead Kennedy’s.
Raul Rekow (June 10 1954 – November 1 2015)
Raul Rekow performed with Santana for 40 years. Rekow was the one who brought back the congas and was able to fuse them into rock music.
Cynthia Robinson was the performed in Sly & The Family Stone as one of the first female trumpeters in a major American pop band. After the band dissolved in 1975, she was the only member to work with Sly Stone. She died from cancer at the age of 71.
Dallas Taylor (April 7, 1948 – January 18, 2015)
The legendary drummer best known for his work with Crosby, Stills and Nash died at age 66 in Los Angeles. After his music career he became devoted to helping those with drug and alcohol addiction.
Percy Sledge (November 25 1940 – April 14 2015)
Percy Sledge was the man who wrote the one hit single “When A Man Loves A Woman,” which brought country music and soul music in a elegant combination.
Jack Ely (September 11 1943 – April 28 2015)
Jack Ely was a well known singer and guitarist from the band Kingsmen, which wrote the one hit single “Louie Louie.”
Andy Fraser (July 3 1952 – March 16 2015)
Andy Fraser was the bassist of the band Free and co-wrote the one hit single “All Right Now.”
John Bradbury (February 16 1953 – December 28 2015)
John Bradbury was a member of the band The Specials. Bradbury was the drummer in the hit single “Nelson Mandela” and wrote the song “The Selecter.”
Justin Lowe (1983 – July 21 2015)
Justin Lowe was the guitarist for metal band After The Burial. He co-founded the group with high school classmate Trent Hafdahl and played on all four of their albums.
Randy Howard (May 9 1950 – June 9 2015)
Howard was a country singer best known for his 1983 album All-American Redneck. He has been referred to as one of the founders of modern country music.
Arthur Cave (2000 – July 14 2015)
Arthur Cave was the son of Australian rocker Nick Cave, founder of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. He left behind a twin brother, Earl.