Remembering Music Artists Who Passed in 2012


As sure as each day fades into night and each night reveals a new day, sooner or later, we will all be faced with our own mortality. As we grow older and move from one stage of our life to the next, majority of us  have fond memories of people that made an impact on our day-to-day lives, parents, relatives, friends, teachers, counselors, coaches, role models, etc. on a personal level. Then we have those memorable icons who kept us  entertained through the media that we looked forward to seeing on our favorite TV shows, at the movies, on the radio, in the funny pages (comic books), in concert or on stage. As time passes and we all age, we begin loosing many of our childhood heroes and people we cared about or made us feel secure in our own special place.

The focus on this particular post will be on MUSIC ARTISTS of all genres. I will attempt to present to you many of my personal favorites that the world has lost during this calendar year. As you might expect, this post will be ongoing and updated as we unfortunately will lose more wonderful music artists through the end of 2012. I know there will be some that I leave out, maybe because I’m unaware of their passing, or because they were not known in America, or, in the case of a few, I personally did not like them or care for their music.

* There may also be a couple of other “non-artists” that were involved in some capacity with music that I have included here also such as band members, producers, writers, hosts (Don Cornelius), etc.

Enjoy the trip down memory lane and hopefully some of the artists listed will leave a soft spot in your heart or a tear in your eye.  

I’ll include one of their classics that they are best remembered for (as well as a personal favorite).

Deaths are listed in reverse chronological order from most recent (December) backward to the beginning of the year, January, 2012.

DECEMBER DEATHS

Fontella Bass – Age 72

July 3, 1940 – December 26, 2012 (from St. Louis, Missouri)

Ray Collins – Age 76

(Mothers of Invention)

November 19, 1936 – December 24, 2012 (from Pomona, California)

Mike Scaccia – Age 47

(Lead Guitar – Ministry)

June 14, 1965 – December 23, 2012 (from Babylon, New York)

Lee Dorman – Age 70

(Bass Guitar – Iron Butterfly, Captain Beyond)

September 15, 1942 – December 21, 2012 (from St. Louis, Missouri)

Jimmy McCracklin – Age 91

August 13, 1921 – December 20, 2012 (from St. Louis, Missouri)

Inez Andrews – Age 83

(Gospel Soloist / The Caravans)

April 14, 1929 – December 19, 2012 (from Birmingham, Alabama)

Pecker Dunne – Age 79

April 1, 1933 – December 19, 2012 (from Castlebar, Ireland)

Ravi Shankar – Age 92

April 7, 1920 – December 11, 2012 (from India)

Jenni Rivera – Age 43

July 2, 1969 – December 9, 2012 (from Long Beach, California)

Ed Cassidy – Age 89

(Drummer/Founder – Rising Sons, Spirit)

May 4, 1923 – December 6, 2012 (from Bakersfield, California)

Huw Lloyd-Langton – Age 61

(Guitarist – Hawkwind, Widowmaker)

February 6, 1951 – December 6, 2012  (from London, England)

Dave Brubeck – Age 91

December 6, 1920 – December 5, 2012  (from Concord, California)

Dee Harvey – Age 47

1965 – December 1, 2012  (from Memphis, Tennessee)

NOVEMBER DEATHS

Frank Barsalona – Age 74

(Legendary Talent Agent/Pioneering Rock Promoter)

March 31, 1938 – November 22, 2012  (Staten Island, New York)

Frank Barsalona

Peter Bennett – Age 77

(Legendary Music Promoter)

May 10, 1935 – November 22, 2012  (from The Bronx, New York)

Pete Bennett

Michael Dunford – Age 68

(Guitarist – Renaissance)

1944 – November 20, 2012  (from Surrey, England)

Billy Scott – Age 70

(Billy Scott & the Prophets)

October 5, 1942 – November 17, 2012  (from Huntington, West Virginia)

Major Harris – Age 65

(The Delfonics, solo career)

 February 9, 1947 – November 9, 2012  (from Richmond, Virginia)

OCTOBER DEATHS

Terry Callier – Age 67

(Guitarist/Singer/Songwriter)

May 24, 1945 – October 27, 2012 (from Chicago, Illinois)

Pundits referred to his music as “jazz-folk” in the 1970’s. Callier was an unusual and singularly inspired singer-songwriter whose music defied such easy categorization. He was largely ignored by the U.S. record buying public, despite being well-respected among musicians and critics.

SEPTEMBER DEATHS

Hal David – Age 91

Lyricist

May 25, 1921 – September 1, 2012  (from Brooklyn, New York)

Hal David wrote words for, most notably, Burt Bacharach. Together, the two provided hits to Dionne Warwick, Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones, The Carpenters and others. Songs include, “The Look of Love,” “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” “(There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me” and “Do You Know The Way To San Jose.”

AUGUST DEATHS

JULY DEATHS

Bob Babbitt – Age 74

(Bass Guitar/ The Funk Brothers, MFSB)

November 26, 1937 – July 16, 2012  (from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

He was a bassist in Motown Records’ studio band, the Funk Brothers, from 1966 through 1972, and also a member of MFSB for Philadelphia International Records. He played on hundreds of hits, including Steve Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” Edwin Starr’s “War” and Gladys Knight and the Pips’ “Midnight Train to Georgia.”

Jon Lord – Age 71

(Deep Purple)

June 9, 1941 – July 16, 2012  (from Leicester, England)

An English composer, pianist, and Hammond organ player known for his pioneering work in fusing rock with classical or baroque forms, especially with Deep Purple, as well as Whitesnake, Paice, Ashton & Lord, The Artwoods, and The Flower Pot Men. In 1968 Lord co-founded Deep Purple, a hard rock band of which he was regarded as the leader until 1970.

Kitty Wells – Age 92

“Queen of Country Music”

August 30, 1919 – July 16, 2012  (from Nashville, Tennessee)

Her 1952 hit recording, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels”, made her the first female country singer to top the U.S. country charts, and turned her into the first female country star. Her Top 10 hits continued until the mid-1960s, inspiring a long list of female country singers who came to prominence in the 1960s. Wells ranks as the sixth most successful female vocalist in the history of Billboard’s country charts. In 1976, she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 1991, she became the third country music artist and the eighth woman to receive the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Wells’ accomplishments earned her the nickname Queen of Country Music.

JUNE DEATHS

MAY DEATHS

Doc Watson – Age 89

(Guitarist / ‘Roots Music’ Legend)

March 3, 1923 – May 29, 2012  (from Deep Gap, North Carolina)

Blind from nearly birth, Watson went on to become a legendary guitar picker, both fingerstyle and flatpicking. He won seven Grammy awards and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. When you think of traditional American music — folk, bluegrass, blues, country and gospel — think Doc.

Robin Gibb – Age 62

Bee Gees

December 22, 1949 – May 20, 2012  (from Douglas, Isle of Man)

Of Brothers Gibb fame, Robin sang lead on many of the early Bee Gees hits, including “Massachusetts,” “I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You” and “I Started a Joke.” He has writing credits on “How Deep Is Your Love,” “Stayin’ Alive,” “Night Fever” and “Tragedy.”

Donna Summer – Age 63

(“Disco Queen”)

December 31, 1948 – May 17, 2012  (from Boston, Massachusetts)

She became a disco queen, with racy hits such as “Love To Love You Baby,” “I Feel Love,” “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls,” eventually became a born-again Christian. But while her music was often controversial for its lyrical content, it was just as groundbreaking in the musical sphere, bringing electronic-based music to the people.

Donald “Duck” Dunn – Age 70

(Booker T & The MGs)

(Bass guitarist / session musician / record producer / songwriter)

November 24, 1941 – May 13, 2012  (from Memphis, Tennessee)

Teaming up with guitarist Steve Cropper, bassist “Duck” Dunn joined the house band at Stax Records, which became Booker T. and the MGs. Session work was extensive, including Otis Redding’s “Sitting On the Dock of the Bay” and Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour.”

Adam “MCA” Yauch – Age 47

(Beastie Boys)

August 5, 1964 – May 4, 2012  (from Brooklyn, New York)

APRIL DEATHS

Levon Helm – Age 71

(The Band)

May 26, 1940 – April 19, 2012  (from Elaine, Arkansas)

Helm was a multi-instrumentalist known for singing and drumming with the Band on such hits as “The Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down” and “Up On Cripple Creek.” He was a benevolent musician who won the first ever Grammy Award for Best Americana Album with Electric Dirt.

Dick Clark “America’s Oldest Teenager” – Age 82

(Legendary Producer, TV/Radio Personality, American Bandstand, American Music Awards, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, as well as other TV series & game shows)

November 30, 1929 – April 18, 2012  (from Mount Vernon, New York)

Dick Clark became a cultural icon as he switched from radio to TV and hosted American Bandstand, which ran from 1957 to 1987. Started his own production company while hosting Often referred to as “America’s Oldest Teenager,” Clark also counted down New Year’s Eve every year on New Year’s Eve!

MARCH DEATHS

Earl Scruggs – Age 88

(Bluegrass Music Legend, Banjo)

January 6, 1924 – March 28, 2012  (from Flint Hill, North Carolina)

Banjo players the world over mourned the passing of this bluegrass music giant. He joined Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys in 1945 and popularized his three-finger picking style.

Ronnie Montrose – Age 64

(Montrose, Gamma)

November 29, 1947 – March 3, 2012

FEBRUARY DEATHS

Davy Jones – Age 66

(The Monkees)

December 20, 1945 – February 29, 2012

Whitney Houston – Age 48

August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012

The only artist to chart seven consecutive #1 Billboard Hot 100 hits, Whitney Houston was a force of nature who lost her battle with her inner demons. She starred in the hugely popular film The Bodyguard in 1992, which also featured the best-selling single by a female artist, “I Will Always Love You.”

Don Cornelius – Age 75

(Soul Train creator, producer & host)

September 27, 1936 – February 1, 2012

Don Cornelius brought “Love, Peace and Soul” into the homes of average teenagers who watched his music program Soul Train religiously for its promotion of R&B and soul music performers such as James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Michael Jackson, among the many.

JANUARY DEATHS

Etta James – Age 73

(Soul Singer)

January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012

Discovered by Johnny Otis when just a teenager, James was inducted into several Hall of Fames — Rock and Roll, Blues, Grammy — and was known for such hits as “Roll With Me, Henry,” “At Last” and “Tell Mama.”

Johnny Otis – Age 90

“The Godfather of Rhythm & Blues”

December 28, 1921 – January 17, 2012

Commonly referred to as “The Godfather of Rhythm & Blues,” Otis was a singer, drummer, pianist, producer, songwriter whose credits included playing the memorable vibraphone part on Johnny Ace’s “Pledging My Love.” He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

Jimmy Castor – Age 71

(Jimmy Castor Bunch)

June 23, 1940 – January 16, 2012

Larry Reinhardt – Age 63

(Guitarist / Iron Butterfly & Captain Beyond)

July 7, 1948 – January 2, 2012

Fred Milano – Age 72

(The Belmonts)

August 26, 1939 – January 1, 2012


2 Responses

  1. Our deep loss in the hollywood industry of music. It is so hard to loss someone you loved, but we all know that we will all come to this matter. They have all contributed in our music and we will truly miss them but their songs and works remain.

  2. Reblogged this on Reflections of Pop Culture & Life's Challenges and commented:

    Updated once again as the curtain closes on 2012, with several more entries of those who passed during the past twelve months, those who entertained us through music and song…. that left us with memories of our youth, our past, the good times, the bad times, the happy, the sad

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