2016 was an especially brutal year: we lost David Bowie, Prince, Sharon Jones, Leonard Cohen, Lemmy Kilmister, Phife Dawg, and that’s just to mention a few. (In fact, part two of the list can be found here.) KEXP will celebrate the lives of all these artists on the air, tomorrow, Thursday, December 15th from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM PST. Join DJs Morgan, Troy Nelson, Stevie Zoom, Kevin Cole, and Isaac Kaplan-Woolner, producer for KING 5 Evening segments and Special Programming, as they share stories and songs from those we lost in 2016, as well as those in late 2015 who passed after last year’s tribute show. Below, we’ve gathered videos from just a few of these memorable musicians. They may be gone, but their music will live on forever.
Research by Isaac Kaplan-Woolner
John Bradbury of The Specials (February 16, 1953 – December 28, 2015)
Natalie Cole (February 6, 1950 – December 31, 2015)
The daughter of Nat King Cole, she rose to musical success in the mid-1970s as an R&B artist with the hits “This Will Be,” “Inseparable,” and “Our Love.”
Paul Bley, jazz pianist and electronic music pioneer
(November 10, 1932 – January 3, 2016)
Bley was a Canadian pianist known for his contributions to the free jazz movement of the 1960s as well as his innovations and influence on trio playing and his early live performance on the Moog and Arp audio synthesizers.
Robert Colin Stigwood (April 16, 1934 – January 4, 2016)
Australian-British music entrepreneur, film producer and impresario, best known for managing Cream and the Bee Gees, theatrical productions like Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar and film productions including the hugely successful Grease and Saturday Night Fever.
Robert Edward “Bob” Balser (March 25, 1927 – January 4, 2016)
American animator and animation director. Balser, together with co-director Jack Stokes, are best known as the animation directors for the 1968 film, Yellow Submarine, which was inspired by the music of The Beatles. He also directed the animated “Den” sequence of the 1981 film Heavy Metal.
Joseph Cecil “Red” Simpson (March 6, 1934 – January 8, 2016)
American country singer-songwriter best known for his trucker-themed songs. The Bakersfield musician and Dust Bowl migrant had a well-known 1971 country hit “I’m a Truck” which helped propel a national enthusiasm for romantic truck-driving lore.
Otis Lee Clay (February 11, 1942 – January 8, 2016)
American R&B and soul singer who started in gospel music. In 2013, Clay was inducted to the Blues Hall of Fame. Cornershop titled a song after him on their 2000 album (under the Clinton alias) Disco and the Halfway to Discontent, and featured his vocals on “Heavy Soup,” the opening track on 2002’s Handcream for a Generation.
David Robert Jones (January 8, 1947 – January, 10 2016)
Known professionally as David Bowie, an English singer, songwriter and actor. He was a figure in popular music for over five decades, regarded by critics and musicians as an innovator, particularly for his work in the 1970s. His career was marked by reinvention and visual presentation, his music and stagecraft significantly influencing popular music. During his lifetime, his record sales, estimated at 140 million worldwide, made him one of the world’s best-selling music artists. In the UK, he was awarded nine platinum album certifications, eleven gold and eight silver, releasing eleven number-one albums. In the US, he received five platinum and seven gold certifications. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
Terence Dale “Buffin” Griffin (October 24, 1948 – January 17, 2016)
English drummer and founding member of 1970s rock band Mott the Hoople.
Glenn Lewis Frey (November 6, 1948 – January 18, 2016)
American singer, songwriter and actor, best known as a founding member of the rock band Eagles. Frey was lead singer and frontman for the Eagles, roles he came to share with fellow member Don Henley, with whom he wrote most of the Eagles’ material. Frey played guitar, piano, and keyboards. He sang lead vocals on songs such as “Take It Easy”, “Peaceful Easy Feeling”, “Tequila Sunrise”, “Already Gone”, “Lyin’ Eyes”, “New Kid in Town”, and “Heartache Tonight”.
Clarence Henry Reid (February 14, 1939 – January 17, 2016)
American musician, songwriter and producer, also known by the stage name and alternate persona Blowfly.
Mic Gillette (May 7, 1951 – January 17, 2016)
American brass player, born and raised in northern California’s East Bay area. He was best known for being a member of Tower of Power, Cold Blood, and The Sons of Champlin. His father Ray Gillette was a trombonist with Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, Stan Kenton, and other big bands.
Jim Boyer (January 21, 2016)
Portland musician Jim Boyer was a scene regular with the Freak Mountain Ramblers and other groups.
Paul Lorin Kantner (March 17, 1941 – January 28, 2016)
American guitarist, singer and songwriter, known for co-founding Jefferson Airplane, a leading psychedelic rock band of the counterculture era, and its more commercial spin-off band Jefferson Starship.
Signe Toly Anderson (September 15, 1941 – January 28, 2016)
American singer who was one of the founding members of the American rock band Jefferson Airplane. A vocalist who had developed her chops singing folk music in Portland, Ore., Ms. Anderson moved to San Francisco and joined the band shortly after it formed in 1965, providing vocals for its debut album, “Jefferson Airplane Takes Off,” most notably on the tracks “Chauffeur Blues” and “Let’s Get Together,” a song that would later become a hit for the Youngbloods.
Maurice “Moe” White (December 19, 1941 – February 3, 2016)
American singer-songwriter, musician, record producer, arranger and bandleader. He was the founder of the band Earth, Wind & Fire. He was also the older brother of current Earth, Wind & Fire member Verdine White, and former member Fred White. He served as the band’s main songwriter and record producer, and was co-lead singer along with Philip Bailey.He won seven Grammys, and was nominated for a total of twenty Grammys. White was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame as a member of Earth, Wind & Fire, and was also inducted individually into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Daniel Ivan “Dan” Hicks (December 9, 1941 – February 6, 2016)
American singer-songwriter who combined cowboy folk, jazz, country, swing, bluegrass, pop, and gypsy music. He led Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks. He is perhaps best known for the songs “I Scare Myself” and “Canned Music.” His songs are frequently infused with humor, as evidenced by the title of his tune, “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away?” His album Live at Davies (2013) capped over forty years of music.
Eduard Van De Walle (July 12, 1932 – February 6, 2016)
Known by his stage name Eddy Wally, was a Belgian singer from Zelzate, East Flanders, and the once self-proclaimed “Voice of Europe”.
Denise Katrina Matthews (January 4, 1959 – February 15, 2016)
Better known as Vanity, was a Canadian singer, songwriter, dancer, actress and model, who turned away from her music and acting career to concentrate on evangelism.
Frances Sokolov (June 20, 1935 – February 19, 2016)
Better known by her stage name Vi Subversa, was the singer and guitarist of British anarcho-punk band Poison Girls.
James Atkins (February 27, 2016)
James Atkins, the bassist in Hammerbox and a stalwart of the Seattle music scene, died of esophageal cancer. He was 49. Hammerbox was an American grunge band from Seattle, Washington, United States. The band formed around 1990 and disbanded in 1994 when lead singer Carrie Akre left the band to form Goodness.
Aaron Huffman (March 6, 2016)
Aaron Huffman, the art director at The Stranger and bass player and co-songwriter of Harvey Danger, died of respiratory failure following a long illness. He was 43 years old. Harvey Danger rose to prominence in 1998 with the single “Flagpole Sitta”, which is also used as the theme tune to the British sitcom Peep Show.
Sir George Henry Martin CBE (January 3, 1926 – March 8, 2016)
English record producer, arranger, composer, conductor, audio engineer and musician. He was referred to as the “Fifth Beatle”, including by Paul McCartney, in reference to his extensive involvement on each of the Beatles’ original albums. Martin had 30 number-one hit singles in the United Kingdom and 23 number-one hits in the United States.
Andrew Loomis (March 9, 2016)
Andrew Loomis, the drummer for the seminal Oregon rock band Dead Moon, was a founding member of the group, which formed in 1987 and took a hiatus in 2006; since then, Loomis and the band’s other two members, Fred and Toody Cole, have reunited sporadically for occasional Dead Moon shows and tours, and Loomis drummed for another band, the Shiny Things.
Keith Noel Emerson (November 2, 1944 – March 11, 2016)
English musician and composer. He played keyboards in a number of bands before he found his first commercial success with the Nice, formerly P. P. Arnold’s backing band, in the late 1960s. He became internationally famous for his work with the Nice, which included writing rock arrangements of classical music. After leaving the Nice in 1970, he was a founding member of Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP), one of the early progressive rock supergroups.
Ernestine Anderson (November 11, 1928 – March 10, 2016)
American jazz and blues singer. In a career spanning more than six decades, she recorded over 30 albums. She was nominated four times for a Grammy Award. She sang at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Monterey Jazz Festival (six times over a 33-year span), as well as at jazz festivals all over the world. In the early 1990s she joined Qwest Records, the label of fellow Garfield High School grad Quincy Jones.
Francis Wayne “Frank” Sinatra (January 10, 1944 – March 16, 2016)
Professionally known as Frank Sinatra Jr., an American singer, songwriter, and conductor. He was the son of singer and actor Frank Sinatra and his first wife, Nancy Barbato Sinatra; the younger brother of singer and actress Nancy Sinatra; and older brother of television producer Tina Sinatra.
Malik Izaak Taylor (November 20, 1970 – March 22, 2016),
Known professionally as Phife Dawg (or simply Phife), was an American rapper and a member of the group A Tribe Called Quest with high school classmates Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad (and for a short time Jarobi White). He was also known as the “Five Foot Assassin” and “The Five Footer”, because he stood at 5 feet 3 inches (1.60 m).
Martin James Norman Riley (May 22, 1947 – March 23, 2016)
Better known as Jimmy Riley, a Jamaican singer who in addition to recording solo was also a member of the Sensations and The Uniques and was the father of Tarrus Riley.
Joe Skyward (March 26, 2016)
Bassist who was a member of Sunny Day Real Estate and the Posies. The Posies confirmed the news, saying he died surrounded by family and friends. Skyward, commonly referred to as Joe Bass, was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. He was 57.
Sugar McGuinn (April 20, 1973 — March 25, 2016)
Founding member of The Rodeo, backing band for Brent Amaker and the Rodeo. Shanon was tragically taken from us in a motorcycle accident in Seattle.
Andy “Thunderclap” Newman (March 30, 2016)
Jazz pianist and founder member of self-named one-hit wonder band Thunderclap Newman that Pete Townshend of the Who and Kit Lambert formed around New Year 1969. Their single “Something in the Air” a 1969 UK number one hit, remains in demand for television commercials, film soundtracks and compilations.
Leandro “Gato” Barbieri (November 28, 1932 – April 2, 2016)
Argentine jazz tenor saxophonist and composer who rose to fame during the free jazz movement in the 1960s and is known for his Latin jazz recordings of the 1970s. His nickname, Gato, is Spanish for “cat”.
Merle Ronald Haggard (April 6, 1937 – April 6, 2016)
American singer, songwriter, guitarist, and fiddler. Along with Buck Owens, Haggard and his band the Strangers helped create the Bakersfield sound, which is characterized by the twang of Fender Telecaster and the unique mix with the traditional country steel guitar sound, new vocal harmony styles in which the words are minimal, and a rough edge not heard on the more polished Nashville sound recordings of the same era.
Otha Leon Haywood (February 11, 1942 – April 5, 2016)
American funk and soul singer, songwriter, and record producer. He is best known for his 1975 hit single “I Want’a Do Something Freaky to You”, which has been much sampled by Dr. Dre and others.
Jade Lemons (April 7, 2016)
Guitarist of the Atlanta-based rock band Injected, inspired by acts such as Helmet, Refused and Quicksand.
Dennis Davis (August 28, 1949 – April 6, 2016)
American drummer and session musician best known for his work with David Bowie.
Floyd August “Gib” Guilbeau (September 26, 1937 – April 12, 2016)
American Cajun country rock musician and songwriter. As a member of Nashville West, Swampwater, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and later The Burrito Brothers, Guilbeau helped pioneer the fusion of rock and country music in the 1960s.
Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016)
American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer. He was a musical innovator and known for his eclectic work, flamboyant stage presence, extravagant dress and makeup, and wide vocal range. His music integrates a wide variety of styles, including funk, rock, R&B, new wave, soul, psychedelia, and pop. He has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. He won seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and an Academy Award for the film Purple Rain. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, his first year of eligibility.
Richard Lyons (April 19, 1959 – April 19, 2016)
American musician, best known for being one of the founding members of the experimental music band Negativland. His personas in the band included Dick Vaughn, 5-time CalPi Award winner; auto trivia expert Dick Goodbody, and Pastor Richard Seeland, an ordained minister.
Lonnie McIntosh (July 18, 1941 – April 21, 2016)
Better known by his stage name Lonnie Mack, was an American rock, blues and country singer-guitarist. He began performing professionally in the mid-1950s and remained active as a performer into the early 2000s. His recording career spanned the period 1958 to 1989.
Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba (June 14, 1949 – April 24, 2016)
Known professionally as Papa Wemba, was a Congolese singer and musician who played Congolese rumba, soukous, and ndombolo. Sometimes dubbed the “King of Rumba Rock”, he was one of the most popular musicians of his time in Africa and played an important role in world music. He was also a fashion icon who popularized the La Sape look and style through his musical group Viva la Musica, with whom he performed on stages throughout the world.
Paul Williams (December 1, 1934 – April 24, 2016)
Known professionally as Billy Paul, was a Grammy Award-winning American soul singer, known for his 1972 #1 single, “Me and Mrs. Jones”, as well as the 1973 album and single “War of the Gods” which blends his more conventional pop, soul, and funk styles with electronic and psychedelic influences. He was one of the many artists associated with the Philadelphia soul sound created by Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, and Thom Bell. Paul was identified by his diverse vocal style which ranged from mellow and soulful to low and raspy. Questlove of the Roots equated Paul to Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, calling him “one of the criminally unmentioned proprietors of socially conscious post-revolution ’60s civil rights music.”
Eddie Watkins (April 24, 2016)
Drummer and founding member of Polvo. Mac McCaughan, co-owner of the band’s label Merge Records, said, “Stunned and saddened to hear of Eddie Watkins’ passing. It took a unique drummer to make those Polvo records & they are some of my favorite records, period. Classics. Sweet guy to be with on tour and in the studio. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Alice Faye Williams (January 10, 1947 – May 2, 2016)
Better known as Afeni Shakur, was an American political activist, Black Panther, and music businesswoman. Shakur was the mother of American rapper and actor Tupac Shakur. While pregnant with Tupac, Shakur was accused of conspiring with other Black Panthers to carry out bombings in New York. These charges were dismissed, and she was released before his birth.
John Dukes Schroeder (July 12, 1961 – May 7, 2016)
Known professionally as John Stabb, was an American punk rock vocalist and frontman. He was best known as the founding member of Government Issue; he also played in other bands including Betty Blue, The Factory Incident, Stabb, Stain, Emma Peel, Weatherhead, and History Repeated. He was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Rockville, Maryland where he attended Colonel Zadok A. Magruder High School.
Isao Tomita (April 22, 1932 – May 5, 2016)
Often known simply as Tomita, was a Japanese music composer, regarded as one of the pioneers of electronic music and space music, and as one of the most famous producers of analog synthesizer arrangements. In addition to creating note-by-note realizations, Tomita made extensive use of the sound design capabilities of his instrument, using synthesizers to create new sounds to accompany and enhance his electronic realizations of acoustic instruments. He also made effective use of analog music sequencers and the Mellotron and featured futuristic science fiction themes, while laying the foundations for synth-pop music and trance-like rhythms. Many of his albums are electronic versions and adaptations of famous classical music pieces, and he received four Grammy Award nominations for his 1974 album Snowflakes Are Dancing.
Tony Gable (May 12, 2016)
Seattle funk and soul pioneer, Gable performed with Wheedles Groove, Cold, and Bold & Together. A percussionist whose band gave saxophonist Kenny G his start, and graphic designer who designed the logo for King County. Mr. Gable had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for four years, said his wife, Gina. Light in the Attic Records shared the statement: “We were incredibly sad to hear the news of Tony Gable’s passing. Tony was an incredible musician and designer and a lovely human being in every sense of the word. We were fortunate enough to work with Tony on Wheedle’s Groove, which featured Tony’s band Cold, Bold & Together.”
John Allan Seay, Jr. (July 15, 1940 – May 14, 2016)
American country music singer, professionally known as Johnny Sea or Johnny Seay. His first hits came in the late 1950s, and his career saw a resurgence in the mid-1960s, particularly with the release of his spoken word single “Day For Decision”.
Marlene Marder (May 15, 2016)
Guitarist for Swiss post-punk greats and proto-riot grrrls LiLiPUT (formerly Kleenex). Marder’s incisive tone and coiled riffs helped to define LiLiPUT and Kleenex’s galvanizing songs. Kurt Cobain, for one, was a staunch LiLiPUT/Kleenex fan, and they earned critical acclaim from first-wave American critics like Greil Marcus and Robert Christgau. Kill Rock Stars helpfully collected 46 of LiLiPUT/Kleenex’s songs cut from 1978-1983 on two CDs in 2001. Portland-based Mississippi Records later reissued those songs as a four-LP box set.
Guy Charles Clark (November 6, 1941 – May 17, 2016)
American Texas country and folk singer, musician, songwriter, recording artist, and performer. He released more than twenty albums, and his songs have been recorded by other artists including Jerry Jeff Walker, Jimmy Buffett, Lyle Lovett, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner, and Rodney Crowell. He won the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Folk Album: My Favorite Picture of You.
John Berry (May 19, 2016)
Founding member of the Beastie Boys. Originally formed as a four-piece hardcore punk band, the Young Aborigines, in 1978 by Diamond (vocals), John Berry (guitar), Yauch (bass) and Kate Schellenbach (drums), the band appeared on the compilation cassette New York Thrash, before recording their first EP, Polly Wog Stew, in 1982. Berry left shortly thereafter, and was replaced by Horovitz.
Adrian Guerra (June 4, 1980 – May 17, 2016)
Former drummer and vocalist for Seattle doom titans Bell Witch. His label Profound Lore Records said, “Very shocked and saddened to wake up to the news of (former) BELL WITCH drummer/vocalist Adrian Guerra’s passing. Adrian played an integral role as one-half of Bell Witch with his ritual procession-like drumming and his apocalyptic-sounding death growls, and being responsible in helping to create a body of American funderal/death doom metal mastery spread out amongst a crushing demo and two masterful full-length albums. Most notably, last year’s devastating and gut-wrenching Four Phantoms release which became one of, if not the most celebrated and acclaimed funeral/death doom metal album of 2015. A milestone in the genre if there ever was one. And on top of that, Adrian was one of the nicest and most enthusiastic guys in doom metal you could ever know, such a rad dude. RIP brother.”
James King (September 9, 1958 – May 19, 2016)
Known as the “Bluegrass Storyteller,” King won 12 Bluegrass Music Awards and earned a Grammy nomination for his 2013 album Three Chords & the Truth. He was signed to Rounder Records in 1992, after serving in the United States Marine Corps, and was inducted into the Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2014.
Nicholas “Nick” Menza (July 23, 1964 – May 21, 2016)
German musician best known as the former drummer for American thrash metal band Megadeth from 1989-1998 and again in 2004 as well as one final return in 2014. He recorded drums on four of Megadeth’s albums: Rust in Peace (1990), Countdown to Extinction (1992), Youthanasia (1994), and Cryptic Writings (1997).
Doug Mays (November 17, 1957 – April 22, 2016)
An active member of the Seattle music scene, Mays was the host of “Seattle Music Scene,” a live call-in show on Seattle Public Access. Manager of the all ages venue Gorilla Gardens, and the band X-15.
Thomas Fekete (May 30, 2016)
Guitarist and a founding member of Surfer Blood.Fekete died after battling a rare, aggressive form of cancer, which he revealed to fans last year.