2016 was notable for the inordinate number of beloved musicians who passed away, including David Bowie, The Eagles‘ Glenn Frey, Prince and George Michael, but unfortunately, this year also saw the loss of many artists who had a major impact on the music world.
One of the most unexpected and heavily felt deaths during 2017 was that of Tom Petty, who died on October 2 at the age of 66 after suffering cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu, California. Petty’s death came just a week after he and his band The Heartbreakers had finished a lengthy tour celebrating the 40th anniversary of their 1976 self-titled debut album. Tom’s passing prompted an outpouring of tributes from many of his famous fans, friends and collaborators, with artists showcasing Petty songs in their live sets in his honor.
Not surprisingly, sales of Tom’s music spiked in the weeks following his death, with Petty and the Heartbreakers’ 1993 Greatest Hits compilation reentering the Billboard 200 chart at #2, three spots higher than its previous peak position.
Another sad loss that occurred this year was the death of Gregg Allman on May 27 from liver cancer. The founding Allman Brothers Band frontman, who had been in poor health for several years, was 69. Prior to his passing, Allman completed a solo album titled Southern Blood that was released posthumously on September 8. The record scored Gregg two Grammy nominations — for Best Americana Album and for Best American Roots Song, for the lead track, “My Only True Friend.”
Meanwhile, one of Gregg’s fellow original Allman Brothers Band members, drummer Butch Trucks, took his own life about four months before Allman died. Trucks also was 69.
Two of the founding fathers of rock ‘n’ roll — Chuck Berry and Fats Domino — also left us this year. Berry, perhaps the most influential of all early rock ‘n’ roll artists, died March 18 at the age of 90. Less than three months later came the release of Chuck Berry’s first album of new material in 38 years. Domino was 89 when he passed away on October 25.
Among the other notable artists who died in 2017 were a couple of influential musicians who made their mark in different genres: country-pop singer/guitarist Glen Campbell and jazz-rock guitarist/bassist Walter Becker of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame act Steely Dan. Campbell passed away August 8 at age 81 following a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Becker died on September 3 of an aggressive form of esophageal cancer. He was 67. A couple months after his passing, Walter’s Steely Dan partner, Donald Fagen, launched a lawsuit against his estate seeking control of the band.
Here are many of the music figures who died in 2017, in chronological order:
Steve Wright — January 16 — original bassist of the Greg Kihn Band, who co-wrote some of the group’s biggest hits. Died of a heart attack. He was 66 or 67.
Mike Kellie — January 18 — founding drummer of Spooky Teeth and session musician who played with of George Harrison, Peter Frampton, Traffic and others. He was 69.
Ronald “Bingo” Mundy — January 20 — singer with the doo-wop group The Marcels. Died of pneumonia at age 76.
Maggie Roche — January 21 — member of the sister folk-rock trio The Roches. Died of cancer at age 65.
Peter Overend Watts — January 22 — founding bassist of Mott the Hoople. Died of throat cancer at age 69.
Butch Trucks — January 24 — drummer and founding member, The Allman Brothers Band. Died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at age 69.
John Wetton — January 31 — bassist, singer, songwriter, King Crimson, Roxy Music, co-founder and frontman of Asia. Died of colon cancer at age 67.
Al Jarreau — February 12 — jazz-pop vocalist, “We’re in This Love Together,” “Theme from Moonlighting.” Died of respiratory failure, two days after announcing his retirement. He was 76.
Clyde Stubblefield — February 18 — drummer, best-known for playing with James Brown. His drum riff on Brown’s “Funky Drummer” is believed to be the most-sampled drum riff in hip-hop and rap history. Died of kidney failure. He was 73.
Joni Sledge — March 10 — singer, Sister Sledge. Died at age 60.
James Cotton — March 16 — influential blues harmonica player. Died of pneumonia at age 81.
Chuck Berry — March 18 — guitarist, singer, songwriter, rock ‘n’ roll pioneer. Died of an apparent heart attack at age 90.
Sib Hashian — March 22 — former drummer of Boston. Died of heart attack at age 67.
Paul O’Neill — April 5 — music producer, composer, musician, founder of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Died at age 61.
Clem Curtis — March 27 — original frontman of U.K. pop-rock band The Foundations. Sang the band’s 1967 hit “Baby Now That I’ve Found You.” Died at age 76.
David Peel — March 31 — New York City folk singer, pro-marijuana advocate and activist who befriended and collaborated with John Lennon during the early 1970s. Died of a heart attack at age 73.
Banner Thomas — April 10 — original Molly Hatchet bassist. Died of a heart attack at age 60.
J. Geils — April 11 — guitarist, born John Warren Geils Jr., founder of The J. Geils Band. Died of natural causes at age 71.
Sylvia Moy — April 15 — producer and songwriter, Motown’s first female producer, early mentor of Stevie Wonder. Died of complications from pneumonia at age 78.
Cuba Gooding Sr. — April 20 — singer, The Main Ingredient, father of actor Cuba Gooding Jr. Died at age 72.
Gregg Allman — May 27 — singer, songwriter, guitarist, founding member of The Allman Brothers Band. Died of liver cancer at age 69.
Gary DeCarlo — June 28 — singer, Steam, “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.” Died of cancer at age 75.
Erik Cartwright — July 9 — guitarist who played with Foghat from 1981 to 1993. Died a day before his 67th birthday.
Ray Phiri — July 12 — respected South African jazz guitarist who played on Paul Simon’s Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints albums. Died of lung cancer at age 70.
Barbara Sinatra — July 25 — fourth and final wife of the late Frank Sinatra, was married to Marx Brothers member Zeppo Marx before Sinatra. Died of natural causes at age 90.
Goldy McJohn — August 1 — original Steppenwolf keyboardist. Died after suffering a heart attack. He was 72.
Glen Campbell — August 8 — Singer, songwriter, guitarist, Country Music Hall of Fame member. Golden Globe-nominated actor for 1969’s True Grit, opposite John Wayne. Died of Alzheimer’s disease at age 81.
Walter Becker — September 3 — guitarist, bassist, producer and co-founder, with Donald Fagen, of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame band Steely Dan. Died at age 67 of esophageal cancer.
Dave Hlubeck — September 3 — guitarist and founder of the Southern rock band Molly Hatchet. Died of a reported heart attack at age 66.
Rick Stevens — September 5 — singer, born Donald Stevens, former vocalist with Tower of Power, sang lead on their first national hit, 1972’s “You’re Still a Young Man.” Died of cancer at age 77.
Tom Petty — October 2 — singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer; with longtime band The Heartbreakers, member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Sold more than 80 million records over the course of his 40-plus-year career. Died after suffering cardiac arrest at his Malibu, California, home the night before. He was 66.
George Young — October 22 — guitarist, songwriter, producer. Played with popular Australian band The Easybeats and other groups. Co-produced many albums by AC/DC, which was founded by his brothers Malcolm and Angus Young. Died at age 70.
Fats Domino — October 25 — rock ‘n’ roll pioneer, singer and pianist, born Antoine Domino Jr. Hits include “Ain’t That a Shame,” “I’m Walkin’,” “Blueberry Hill.” Member of the very first class inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Died of natural causes near New Orleans at age 89.
Paul Buckmaster — November 7 — arranger and composer who worked with Elton John, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and many other famous musicians. Died at age 71.
Pentti “Whitey” Glan — Finland-born session drummer who played on albums by Lou Reed, Alice Cooper and other artists. Died of lung cancer at age 71.
Malcolm Young — November 18 — Guitarist and co-founder, with brother Angus Young, of iconic Rock & Roll Hall of Fame band AC/DC. Co-wrote nearly all of the band’s biggest hits. Retired from the band in 2014 due to dementia and died of complications from it at age 64.
Warren “Pete” Moore — November 19 — founding member, singer and songwriter for legendary Motown group The Miracles. Died at age 78.
David Cassidy — November 21 — Singer and actor, chart-topping 1970s pop idol and co-star of TV’s Partridge Family. Father of Arrow actress Katie Cassidy, brother of actor/singer turned TV producer Shaun Cassidy. Announced in early 2017 he was suffering from dementia. Died of dementia and multiple organ failure at age 67.
Johnny Hallyday — December 6 — French singer and actor, born Jean-Philippe Smet, known as the “French Elvis.” Died of lung cancer at age 74.
Vincent Nguini — December 8 — Cameroonian guitarist who played on all of Paul Simon’s studio albums from 1990’s Rhythm of the Saints to 2016’s Stranger to Stranger. Died of liver cancer at age 65.
Pat DiNizio — December 12 — lead singer and songwriter of the New Jersey rock band The Smithereens. He was 62.
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