With 2016 drawing to a close, anxious music fans may worry that a year that has taken away so many legends may yet give us one more reason to mourn. Starting with the death of Natalie Cole on New Year’s Day, dozens of artists who have provided the soundtracks of our lives died this year.
The landmark bookends of this difficult calendar may have been the death of David Bowie on January 10 and the death of Debbie Reynolds on December 28, just one day after the unexpected death of her daughter Carrie Fisher. Bowie and Reynolds signify wildly different generations of popular music, but from Reynolds’ cheerful “Good Morning” in Singin’ in the Rain to Bowie’s chameleonic shifts of identity, it’s hard to find someone who was not touched by at least one of their muses.
Still, theirs were but a few of the voices silenced this year. From composer Pierre Boulez (who died on January 6 at the age of 90) to Beatles record producer George Martin (March 8, 90) to King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand (October 13, 70; we wrote about the royal musician’s passing here); from Blue Note Records engineer Rudy Van Gelder (August 25, 91) to iconic Chess label co-founder Phil Chess (October 18, 91), luminaries from all aspects of the music world succumbed; some, like Prince (April 21, 57; we noted his passing here) and George Michael (December 25, 53) far before their time. Music fans who came of age in the ‘80s seemed hit especially hard; Alan Thicke (December 13, 69) may be best known as an actor, but he also found success in a much maligned genre as the voice and pen behind the theme to the television sit-com Diff’rent Strokes.
Feel free to share your memories of the music that this tumultuous year has silenced.