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Notable music deaths of 2015

December 31st, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

As 2015 comes to an end, there will be the usual roll-calls of the year”s notable deaths. Regular readers will know that this blog has a monthly round-up of recent music deaths; I think it might be the most comprehensive such list on the Internet. The list for December will run next week.

Here are the most notable music deaths of the past year, in my subjective opinion, sorted by category in leagues of five or ten. Here is hoping nobody worthy of inclusion dies before the year is out (seven names that will appear next week are already included here). EDIT: An 8th December death occurred on New Year’s Eve: Natalie Cole’s. I’ve added her name to this round-up.

No music this time; instead we have lots of pictures. The story of many the people listed here were told in the monthly In Memoriams “” revisit them here.

Demis Roussos
, 68, Greek/Egyptian singer, on Jan. 25
Steve Strange
, 55, Welsh New Wave musician (Visage), on Feb. 12
Lesley Gore, 68, pop singer, on Feb. 16
Cilla Black
, 72, English singer and TV presenter, on August 1
Cory Wells, 74, singer with Three Dog Night, on Oct. 20

2015 pop 1
Billy Joe Royal, 73, pop and country singer, on Oct. 6
Jack Ely, 71, co-founder and original lead singer of The Kingsmen, on April 27
Jackie Trent, 74, English singer-songwriter and actress, on March 21
Trevor “˜Dozy” Ward-Davies, 70, bassist of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, on Jan. 13
Michael Brown, 65, keyboardist of The Left Banke and songwriter, on March 19

2015 pop 2


Lemmy Kilmister, 70, singer of Motörhead, Hawkwind, on Dec. 28
Andy Fraser, 62, bassist of Free and songwriter, on March 16
Scott Weiland, 48, singer of Stone Temple Pilots, Velvet Revolver, on Dec. 3
Edgar Froese, 70, leader of German electro-rock band Tangerine Dream, on Jan. 20
Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor, 61, drummer of Motörhead, on Nov. 112015 rock 1Lew Soloff, 71, jazz trumpeter (Blood, Sweat & Tears 1968-73), on March 8
Stevie Wright, 68, singer of The Easybeats, on Dec. 27
A. J. Pero, 55, drummer of Twisted Sister, on March 20
Bob Burns, 64, drummer of Lynyrd Skynyrd (1966-74), car crash on April 3
Chris Squire, 67, bass guitarist of Yes, on June 28
2015 rock 2


Ben E. King
, 76, soul legend, on April 30
Percy Sledge
, 74, soul legend, on April 14
Allen Toussaint, 77, musician, songwriter, producer and arranger, on Nov. 10
Louis Johnson, 60, legendary bassist; half of Brothers Johnson, on May 21
Natalie Cole, 65, soul singer, on December 31
Errol Brown, 71, singer of Hot Chocolate, on May 62015 soul 1Andraé Crouch, 72, gospel singer, songwriter and producer, on Jan. 8
William Guest, 74, singer with Gladys Knight & the Pips, on Dec. 24
Kenneth “Wally” Kelley, 72, founding member of The Manhattans, on Feb. 17
Don Covay, 76, soul singer and songwriter, on Jan. 30
Charmayne “Maxee” Maxwell, 46, singer with R&B trio Brownstone, in a fall on Feb. 27

2015 soul 2


Lynn Anderson
, 67, country singer, on July 30
Little Jimmy Dickens, 94, country singer, on Jan. 2
Bonnie Lou, 91, country/rockabilly singer, on Dec. 8
Don Robertson, 92, country performer and songwriter, on March 16
Randy Howard, 65, outlaw country singer, shot by a bounty hunter on June 92015 country


Ronnie Gilbert
, 88, singer-songwriter with The Weavers and actress, on June 6
Guy Carawan, 87, folk singer, musicologist and activist, on May 2
Rod McKuen, 81, poet, singer and songwriter, on Jan. 29
Theodore Bikel, 91, Austrian-born actor, folk singer and composer, on July 21
Popsy Dixon, 72, drummer and singer with The Holmes Brothers, on Jan. 9
Wendell Holmes, 71, member of The Holmes Brothers, on June 192015 folk

Wilton Felder
, 75, saxophonist of The Crusaders and session bass player, on Sep. 27
Ornette Coleman, 85, free jazz saxophonist, on June 11
Harold Ousley, 86, jazz saxophonist, on August 13
Judith Hendricks, 78, jazz singer with Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, on Nov. 18
Clark Terry, 94, jazz trumpeter and flugelhornist, on Feb. 212015 jazz


Louis Jourdan
, 93, French actor and singer, on Feb. 14
James Last
, 86, German big band leader, on April 9
Val Doonican
, 88, Irish singer and TV personality, on July 1
Ray Charles, 96, singer, songwriter, conductor and arranger, on April 6
Buddy Moreno, 103, musician and radio personality (started his career in 1929!), on Nov. 29

2015 moms


Joe B. Mauldin
, 74, bassist of The Crickets, recording engineer, on Feb. 7
Peggy “˜Lady Bo” Jones, 75, American guitarist, on Sep. 16
Johnny Meeks, 78, lead guitarist with Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps, on July 30
Rose Marie McCoy, 92, R&B and soul singer and songwriter, on Jan. 20
Curtis Lee, 75, rock & roll singer, on Jan. 82015 pioneers


, 96, French singer and actress, on April 30
Pino Daniele, 59, Italian singer and songwriter, on Jan. 4
Doudou N”Diaye Rose, 85, Senegalese drummer, composer and bandleader, on August 19
David Masondo, 67, singer of South African mbaqanga group The Soul Brothers, on July 5
Bunny Mack, 69, Sierra Leone-born funk singer, on July 112015 world


B.B. King
, 89, blues legend, on May 14
Mighty Sam McClain, 72, soul and blues singer, on June 15
Big Time Sarah, 62, blues singer, on June 132015 bluesMOVERS & SHAKERS
Kim Fowley
, 75, producer, manager, impresario and musician; alleged rapist, on Jan. 15
John Berg
, 83, art director and LP cover designer, on Oct. 11


Marcus Belgrave, 78, jazz trumpeter, on May 24
Rutger Gunnarsson, 69, bassist for ABBA, on May 8
Smokey Johnson, 78, influential funk drummer, on Oct. 6
Buddy Emmons, 78, steel guitarist, on July 29
Arthur G. Wright, 78, soul and funk session guitarist, writer and arranger, in early July2015 session 1Andy White, 85, Scottish drummer (drummed for The Beatles), on Nov. 9
Gary Marker, 72, bassist (Rising Sons, Captain Beefheart) and recording engineer, on Dec. 8
Harry Pitch, 90, harmonica player (Mr Bloe), on July 15
Bobby Emmons, 72, keyboardist and songwriter, on Feb. 23
Phil Woods, 83, jazz and session saxophonist and clarinetist, on Sep. 292015 session 2


Bob Johnston
, 83, record producer, on August 14
Harold Battiste, 83, jazz and R&B composer, arranger and musician, on June 19
Larry Rosen
, 75, jazz engineer, producer, record executive, on Oct. 9
Billy Sherrill, 78, country songwriter, producer and arranger, on August 4
Van Alexander, 100, songwriter, film and TV score composer, arranger, on July 19

2015 producers


Michael Masser
, 74, soul and pop songwriter and producer, on July 9
P.F. Sloan, 70, American singer and songwriter, on Nov. 15
Luigi Creatore, 93, songwriter and record producer, on Dec. 13
Ernie Maresca, 76, songwriter and singer, on July 8
James Horner, 61, movie composer, in a plane crash on June 22
2015 songwriters

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  1. Carlos García
    December 31st, 2015 at 15:02 | #1

    This is again a good job you do. Cheers + good year! – Carlos

  2. J. Loslo
    January 1st, 2016 at 19:13 | #2

    I really should take the time to stop in and say thanks more often for the work you do. This blog is one of my regular stops on the ‘net.

    Those of us with a taste for Scottish music will miss Andy M. Stewart, solo artist and founder of Silly Wizard, who passed this past Sunday at the age of 63.

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