Musicians who died in 2017

Musicians who died in 2017

Visit Us

Icons who had a significant impact on shaping modern music are among the musicians who died in 2017. Tom Petty, Chuck Berry, Gregg Allman, Allan Holdsworth, and Chris Cornell are some of the artists we pay tribute to.

Updated January 2018.

Musicians who died in 2017 Tom PettyTom Petty, 66
Singer, songwriter – died 10/2/17 of cardiac arrest
I started writing these retrospectives in 2013, and with every passing year, it feels like the base of the pyramid that is my life in music is falling out from under me. Of course, we still have the music, but this feels like losing a friend. We all have artists who are really special to us, who seem personally connected to moments – periods, years – of our lives. So many of them have gone away in the past months… Prince, Bowie, George Martin… even listing these minimizes all the others, so I’ll stop. Tom Petty’s death comes, for me, at such a strange time because we’ve been in something of a Tom Petty revival here in my house. I have always been a huge fan, from the outset. It probably truly started with Damn The Torpedoes, but I already had Petty’s first two albums – still got ’em on vinyl, listened to them both this morning – and I’ve got a whole lotta Petty in my CD collection. Last year I bought Warren Zanes’ excellent biography, Petty: The Biography, which set me off on a new tear, purchasing Echo and the incredible four-disc The Live Anthology along the way. And my wife and I were three hours into the four-hour Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin’ Down a Dream documentary, which set her off on a new tear. We share an office, and I keep hearing (a little louder than necessary as she’s got earphones on), “Damn, I forgot how many songs Tom Petty wrote that I love!” Tom Petty is that artist, the one who wrote nothing but great songs. They’re all there, they’ve been there since 1976, and they are woven into the fabric of FM radio, MTV, and every two-bit cover band from California to south Florida. From every American girl to everyone born a rebel. It was my sister who first got through to me with the news of his death – we had just been talking about Tom Petty last week. I turned her on to his music back in grade school, and we had just found a box of cassette tapes in my parents’ basement. Of course, there was Tom Petty – Full Moon Fever and Hard Promises. When Petty first arrived on the scene, his short, seemingly simple songs had some classifying his music as punk – his attitude seemed to fit the bill as well. But he was also a poet, somewhere in the same vein as Patti Smith and Bob Dylan, and a storyteller, like Bruce Springsteen, and he was just so authentically American and enduring that it wasn’t long before he just WAS. Then there’s the Heartbreakers, one of the all-time great bands, the band that backed Dylan in 1986 (I saw that tour) and helped launch Stevie Nicks’ solo career five years before that. There was also The Traveling Willburys, a supergroup whose starpower was matched only by the bemused attitude of the songs and participants. Through it all, Petty seemed to float, happily – though it’s never that simple. Petty famously smashed his hand to bits punching a wall during the recording of Southern Accents, jeopardized his career fighting (and winning) a contract dispute with MCA, and his addiction to heroin was one of the revelations of Zane’s book – a secret Petty was loathe to reveal because he never wanted to glamorize the drug. He knew there was nothing glamorous or good about it, and it pointed to the deep emotional pain he carried from a difficult childhood through a complicated marriage and into the madness of a life in rock and roll. But that’s precisely why Tom Petty is so special to so many of us. His music bundles that pain, and the joy, and the anger, and the perspective of the outsider, and the insider, and he speaks to all of it. And the music just sounds great, too. Jimmy Iovine, who produced a bunch of Petty’s music, says he tuned the Beats headphones to Damn The Torpedoes because it was the best sounding album he ever made. If you haven’t already, put that one on and give it a spin. I bet you’ll agree.

Musicians who died in 2017 Chuck BerryChuck Berry, 90
Guitarist, singer, songwriter – died 3/18/17 of natural causes
Chuck Berry is heralded by many as the greatest of rock and roll’s early pioneers. John Lennon, Brian Wilson, Keith Richards, and a multitude of rock and roll’s royalty credit Berry’s songwriting, guitar playing, and showmanship as a game-changer, ushering in the dawn of rock and roll. Berry’s debut release in 1957, After School Session, was only the second album released by Chess Records, and included “Maybellene,” which sold over a million copies and hit #1 on Billboard‘s R&B chart. His first attempts at music were waylaid by an armed robbery charge when he was in high school, but eight years after his release from a reformatory, Berry waded into music and made his mark. He landed in prison a second time in 1962, but before and after that, he scored multiple hits with classics like “Maybellene,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Rock and Roll Music,” “Johnny B. Goode,” “No Particular Place to Go,” “You Never Can Tell,” and “Nadine.” He was in the first class of inductees in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, along with Elvis Presley, James Brown, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, and Jerry Lee Lewis. He found trouble with the law and landed in prison for a third time for tax evasion in 1979, and his creative output was stymied after that. He spent the last thirty years of his career playing the oldies circuit, issuing a concert recording in 1987 to commemorate his 60th birthday. Voyager’s Golden Record, which features musical selections from different cultures and eras and spoken greetings from Earth-people in fifty-five language, includes one rock and roll track: Berry’s 1958 recording of “Jonny B. Goode.”

Musicians who died in 2017 Fats DominoFats Domino, 89
Pianist, vocalist, songwriter – died 10/24/17 of natural causes
Born Antoine Dominique Domino, Jr., “Fats” Domino was one of rock and roll’s earliest stars, springing from his creole R&B roots in New Orleans. Domino’s boogie-woogie piano style and robust vocals captured the nation’s attention, and his first single, 1949’s “The Fat Man,” is considered by many to be the first rock and roll record ever released. Domino’s career hit its fevered pitch between 1955-1963, as he scored well over 50 songs in the Hot 100, including “I’m Walking,” “Ain’t That A Shame,” “I’m In Love Again,” “Blue Monday,” and his most enduring track, 1956’s “Blueberry Hill.” Domino reentered the charts in the late ’60s with his recording of The Beatles’ “Lady Madonna,” which Paul McCartney had modeled after Domino’s style. While Domino had fallen from national attention after the ’60s, he was always beloved in his native New Orleans, and made headlines when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. He was believed to be dead, but was later heard from as he announced his house had been devastated and he had lost everything. President George Bush replaced the national Medal of Arts Domino had been given by President Clinton, and his lost Gold Records were replaced by the RIAA and Capitol Records. Domino sold over 65 million records in his career, was among the first class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees in 1986 (along with Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and Elvis Presley), won a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 1987, and was ranked #25 in Rolling Sone’s “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” in 2004.

Musicians who died in 2017 Malcolm YoungMalcolm Young, 64
Songwriter, guitarist, vocalist, co-founder of AC/DC – died 11/18/17 after battling dementia
Who can say how many generations of music fans and players will point to AC/DC as a bellwether and an influence – from the band’s ability to craft stadium-shaking riffs to its tongue-in-your-cheeks innuendo that spans its 45 year career? Whatever the answer, Malcolm Young – one of the founding members and the creator of many of those incessant riffs – will no longer lay down the rhythm guitar and stand in the shadow of younger brother Angus or back the piercing croon of Brian Johnson. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Malcolm, Angus, and most of their other six siblings relocated to Sydney, Australia in 1963, when Malcolm was 10 years old. Angus and Malcolm formed AC/DC in 1973, with the Young brothers co-writing the band’s catalog, but it was Malcolm who is credited as the musical leader by most accounts. AC/DC’s catalog has produced over 200 million record sales worldwide, with 1980’s Back In Black clocking in as the second biggest-selling record of all-time (behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller). With the exception of 1988’s “Blow Up Your Video” tour, which he missed on account of his disabling dependence on alcohol, Malcolm Young was there every step of the way from 1973 until 2014, when he left the band amid revelations of his having dementia. Angus later revealed he had noticed issues with Malcolm’s memory in 2008, as the band was working on Black Ice, which went on to win a Grammy award for Best Hard Rock Performance for the track “War Machine.” Young also suffered other serious health issues, including a bout with lung cancer and a heart condition, but it was ultimately the dementia that sidelined his participation in the band. AC/DC was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

Musicians who died in 2017 Glen CampbellGlen Campbell, 81
Country/pop singer, guitarist, songwriter, television host, and actor – died 8/8/17 following a battle with Alzheimer’s disease
From his origins in Delight, Arkansas – where he started playing guitar when he was four years old – to his session work in Los Angeles when he was 22, Glen Campbell’s career spanned decades, merged popular genres, and earned him record sales, industry awards, and a string of hit songs. His music career spanned 60 years, with him playing guitar on recordings for the Monkees, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and Merle Haggard. In the ’60s, he was riding a solo career that ran strong for 20 years, highlighted by hits including “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “I Wanna Live,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Gentle on My Mind,” “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife,” “Galveston,” “Rhinestone Cowboy,” and “Southern Nights.” In all, Campbell released more than 70 studio albums, with sales topping 45 million and 17 albums going gold or platinum. Between the Billboard Country, Billboard Hot 100, and Adult Contemporary charts, Campbell had 80 different songs chart, with nine reaching Number 1 and 29 reaching the top 10. From 1969-1972, he hosted a music and comedy variety show called “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.” While Campbell might be remembered as a Country artist, Alice Cooper (among others) tells how Campbell was immensely respected as a guitarist among rock musicians and beyond, epitomized by his record-setting Grammy wins in 1967, where Campbell won two Grammies in Country & Western and two others in Pop categories. In 2011, Campbell announced he had Alzheimer’s disease, released his final original studio album, Ghost on the Canvas, and embarked on a 151-date tour with three of his children playing in the touring band.

musicians who died in 2017 david cassidyDavid Cassidy, 67
Singer, songwriter, teen idol – died 11/21/17 of liver failure
The son of actors Jack Cassidy and Evelyn Ward, David Cassidy was introduced to the American public via television, with early appearances on hit TV shows in the late ’60s. In the early ’70s, Cassidy was cast as Keith Partridge on the family-friendly “The Partridge Family” TV show, alongside his real-life step-mother, Shirley Jones, who played the show’s lead. The Partridge Family – a fictional show about a family band – was a smash, and released eight albums between 1970-1973, scoring numerous hits, including “I Think I Love You” and “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.” Cassidy, though, had aspirations of a solo career, and signed a contract with Bell Records in 1971, releasing Cherish in 1972, at the height of The Partridge Family’s run. He became an international superstar, and boasts having the biggest fan club in music history. His popularity abroad (especially in the UK, Europe, and Japan) eclipsed his fame in the US, popular as he was state-side. Cassidy was an enormous concert draw in the mid-’70s, but chose to stop performing live soon after the death of a young girl in a gate-crashing incident in London, concentrating instead on recording and songwriting. He scored numerous hits in the ’70s, including “I Write The Songs,” before Barry Manilow rode it to #1. (The song was first recorded by The Captain and Tennille for those of you keeping track). Cassidy’s star was never quite as high in the ’80s and beyond, but he did continue to write, record, act, and perform in concert and in stage productions until early 2017, when he announced he was diagnosed with dementia.

Walter Becker, 67
Guitarist, bassist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, Steely Dan. Died 9/3/17 of undisclosed illness
So much about Walter Becker defies the norms in rock and roll – which is all well and good, as Steely Dan was ever more connected to jazz, blues, and R&B. Becker was born and raised in New York City, meeting his eventual co-conspirator and band mate Donal Fagen at Bard College. The songwriting duo kicked around New York for a while before moving to California and forming Steely Dan, with Becker on bass, Fagen on keys and vocals, Denny Dias and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter on guitar, David Palmer on vocals, and Jim Hodder on drums. Shortly afterward, the group released Can’t Buy A Thrill featuring songs penned by Becker and Fagen, and the album was a surprise success on the strength of now-classic tracks like “Reelin’ In The Years,” “Dirty Work,” and “Do It Again.” Though Steely Dan did not maintain anything close to a regular lineup or ever perform live between 1974 and 1993, their meticulous studio work, intricate songs, impeccable recordings, and slightly bent sense of humor launched a string of hit albums, culminating in Aja in 1977, the biggest-selling album in the group’s catalog. Featuring “Peg,” “Josie,” and “Deacon Blues,” Aja sold over five million records and listed over 40 musicians in its credits. It won a Grammy Award for “Best Engineered Non-Classical Recording” in 1978, and set the stage for the band’s follow-up, Gaucho in 1980. Despite being another big seller and featuring “Babylon Sisters” and “Hey Nineteen,” the album marked a dark turn for Becker. He was addicted to narcotics, his girlfriend overdosed in his apartment, he was sued for wrongful death, the tabloids were ruthless, and he was hit by a taxi in NYC, breaking his leg in multiple places. Steely Dan dissolved soon after the album’s release, and Becker moved to Maui with his family. He produced albums for the next decade, then returned to his partnership with Fagen in 1993 to reform Steely Dan and tour for the first time in 19 years. Two Against Nature, released in 2000, won Steely Dan four Grammy Awards, including “Album of the Year,” and a year later, Steely Dan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The group’s final album, Everything Must Go, was released in 2003.

musicians who died in 2017 chris cornellChris Cornell, 52
Singer, guitarist, songwriter with Soundgarden, Audioslave, Temple of The Dog, and more – died 5/18/17 by suicide by hanging
Widely regarded as one of the greatest rock vocalists of all time, Chris Cornell was born Christopher John Boyle in Seattle, WA in 1964. A founding member of Soundgarden and Temple of The Dog, Cornell also fronted Audioslave and had a solo career that saw him release four studio albums. But long before his successful career, Cornell struggled with substance abuse – dating back to when he was 12 years old. He battled social anxiety (he described having agoraphobia) tracing it to a bad PCP trip when he was 14, and explains that piano, drums, and rock and roll music were what enabled him to overcome his anxieties and face the world. It’s hard to imagine, as whatever his project, from the grunge/prog/metal assault that was Soundgarden, to his acoustic-based solo efforts and hard-rock explorations with Audioslave, Cornell’s soaring, soulful, and powerful voice was the prototypical bar by which his contemporaries were measured. After breaking up in 1997, Soundgarden reunited in 2010, playing Lollapalooza that year and ultimately releasing its sixth studio album, King Animal, in 2012. By then, Cornell was sober, noting the “absence of alcohol” being a major difference in the band’s new iteration, which made his death by suicide that much more shocking. Soundgarden had played a show earlier that evening in Detroit, and Cornell’s widow reported that she had spoken to him and that he had possibly taken an extra dose or two of Ativan, a prescription drug used to treat anxiety disorders or anxiety associated with depression. Ativan’s side effects include paranoid or suicidal ideation and impaired memory, judgment, and coordination – but while the coroner report showed an elevated level of Ativan in Cornell’s system, it was below the 300 ng/mL level associated with death by the drug, so the official cause of death was suicide by hanging with an exercise band.

Musicians who died in 2017 Gregg AllmanGregg Allman, 69
Singer, keyboardist, guitarist with The Allman Brothers Band and solo artist/bandleader – died 5/27/17 of liver cancer
Gregg Allman picked up the guitar before his older brother Duane did, but when Duane surpassed his abilities, Gregg turned to the keyboards and microphone to put his stamp on what was to be known as one of the most important American bands in rock music history: The Allman Brothers Band. Gregg’s contributions also included penning some of the group’s most notable songs, including “Whipping Post” and “Midnight Rider,” and his 50-year music career included numerous solo releases, notably 1973’s Laid Back, 1977’s Playin’ Up A Storm (with teh Gregg Allman Band), and 1977’s disasterous Two The Hard Way, a collaboration with his then-wife Cher. Speaking of wives, Allman was married seven times, most recently in February 2017, just before his death. Allman’s drug addictions (heroin, cocaine) had major impacts on his life and career. In the mid-’70s, he was forced to testify in a drug trial against his Allman Brothers Band road manager and bodyguard, which led to the break-up of the band, and in 2007, he announced he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. In 2010 he had a liver transplant, and he suffered from respiratory and heart illnesses in his later years. With 18 releases, two Grammy Awards – including a lifetime achievement award in 2012 – and an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 (the first year it was eligible), The Allman Brothers Band served as a study in endurance, weathering death, addiction, and career turmoil. Gregg Allman, for his part, continued to play and record to the end. His last release, Southern Blood, is scheduled for a September 2017 release.

Musicians who died in 2017 Mel TillisMel Tillis, 85
Country singer, songwriter, guitarist, and actor – died 11/19/17 of respiratory failure
Though he was best-known for his contributions as a songwriter and performer, Mel Tillis’ stutter was also part of his lore, highlighted by the titles of his 1975 release M-M-Mel and his autobiography, Stutterin’ Boy. Born Lonnie Melvin Tillis in Tampa, FL, Tillis learned guitar, violin, and drums as a kid, and formed a band while serving in Japan in the military. Upon his return to the states, he moved to Nashville and scored his first break in 1957, writing “I’m Tired,” which Webb Pierce took to #3. That landed Tillis a songwriting contract with Cedarwood Music and began Tillis’ string of hit songwriting credits that spanned the ’50s and ’60s, many performed by Pierce. In 1965, Tillis earned his first hit as a performer with “Wine,” which launched a prolific string of hits – both as a performer and songwriter – through the ’70s, further cementing Tillis’ status as a Country music superstar. He also appeared in numerous films in the ’70s, including both Cannonball Run films and the first two Smokey and the Bandit movies. While Tillis’ career as a performer slowed in the ’80s and beyond, he remained a lauded songwriter and even released a comedy album, 2010’s You Ain’t Gonna Believe This. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007 and was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2012 by President Barack Obama.

Musicians who died in 2017 Chester BenningtonChester Bennington, 41
Singer for Linkin Park, Dead By Sunrise, Stone Temple Pilots (2013-2015) – died 7/20/17 of apparent suicide by hanging
In the late ’90s, singer Chester Bennington auditioned for drummer Rob Bourdon, guitarist Brad Delson, MC Mike Shinoda, bassist Dave “Phoenix” Farrell, and DJ Joseph Hahn’s band, who were operating under the name Hybrid Theory after their original singer quit when the band’s demo (under the name Xero) failed to arouse label interest. Shortly after the band signed Bennington on, it released Hybrid Theory, which spawned the hits “Crawling” and “In The End” and went on to sell more than 10 million copies and become one of the most successful debut albums in history. Linkin Park went on to release seven studio albums between 2000-2017, with plenty of touring and mash-ups/remix albums released along the way that further pushed the band’s blend of metal, electronic, rap, and DJ-effected music. Bennington was born in Phoenix, AZ, and had a childhood that included weathering his parents’ divorce when he was 11, being bullied at school, and abusing drugs and alcohol at a young age. These struggles, as well as his coping with having been sexually abused for years as a child, certainly contributed to the vulnerable, cathartic, and emotional singing he provided Linkin Park. But Bennington had other aspirations, and formed a side project in 2005, Dead By Sunrise, which released Out Of Ashes in 2009. In 2013, Bennington replaced Scott Wieland as the vocalist for Stone Temple Pilots, pulling off the high-wire act of fronting two enormously popular bands simultaneously. In fact, Bennington and STP released the EP High Rise the same month Linkin Park released its Recharged remix album. A long-time friend of Chris Cornell – Bennington was godfather to Cornell’s son – it was Bennington who sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at Cornell’s funeral service after his suicide by hanging, tweeting a week later, “Feeling very creative this last week. I’ve written 6 songs and I’m happy with all of them.” Linkin Park was scheduled to embark on a tour in support of its May 2017 release, One More Light. Bennington apparently hanged himself on what would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday.

Butch Trucks, 69
Drummer, co-founder of the Allman Brothers – died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound 1/24/17
Butch Trucks’ drumming career began in junior high school, playing drums and tympani for the school band in Jacksonville, FL. He formed bands of his own during his high school years, and it was while he was playing with his band Bitter Ind. that he first crossed paths with Duane and Gregg Allman, who asked him to sit on in a gig with their band. Two years later, in 1969, The Allman Brothers Band was formed, with Butch sharing drum duties with Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson. Gregg Allman once described Jaimoe as “the pocket player,” which gave Trucks room to do his “freight train, meat-and-potatoes thing” for the band. The Allman Brothers Band, who were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1995, went through myriad stages of popularity and influence, starting with its third release, 1971’s At Fillmore East. It was with that album that the Allmans’ blend of southern rock and musical acumen translated to a wide audience and propelled them to be one of the most influential American bands of the seventies (and beyond). It was just after the Fillmore release that Duane Allman died, the first major setback the band would endure. The Allman Brothers Band broke up and reformed three times, with Trucks playing drums throughout (save for a brief period in the ’80s), until he announced he was leaving the band in 2014, playing his last show on October 28, 2014. He had formed Butch Trucks and the Freight Train Band, and had shows booked into the spring of 2017, but tragically Trucks shot himself in the head with a pistol in his West Palm Beach home in January.

Musicians who died in 2017 Allan HoldsworthAllan Holdsworth, 70
Jazz fusion and rock guitarist and composer – died 4/15/17 of a heart attack
In addition to the dozen-plus solo albums and various collaborative records he released since the early ’70s, the list of bands Allan Holdsworth played in includes Tony Williams’ Lifetime, Tempest, Gong, and Soft Machine. The guitarists who credit Holdsworth as a major influence and someone who forever changed the electric guitar is a master list of contemporary talent, including Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani (who said in a Guitar Player interview that Holdsworth’s “brilliant approach to harmony is completely original, beautiful and spellbinding”), Greg Howe, Alex Lifeson, and Frank Zappa (who considered Holdsworth a “game-changer” and “one of the most interesting guys on guitar on the planet”). Pretty amazing, considering Holdsworth didn’t pick up the guitar until the age of 17 – he started as a saxophone player – and worth noting as Holdsworth was appreciated for his advanced knowledge of music, with his own compositions incorporating complex chord progressions and intricate solos comprised of myriad scale forms. Holdsworth was also notable for his work with the SynthAxe, a guitar controller (complete with strings) that Holdsworth used on a number of recordings. Indeed, he was awarded “Best Guitar Synthesist” in Guitar Player magazine’s readers polls from 1989-1994. Blues for Tony came in 2010, Holdsworth’s final original release, though 2017’s release of The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever! (a title Holdsworth reportedly disliked), collected all of his solo albums plus bonus material. He died just one week after its release.

J. Geils, 71
Guitarist, leader of The J. Geils Band – died 4/11/17 of natural causes
Born John Warren Geils Jr. in New York City, J. Geils left for Boston to study mechanical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the mid-1960s. Originally a jazz trumpet player, Geils had switched to blues guitar and formed an acoustic blues trio, Snoopy and the Sopwith Camels while in Boston. After meeting Peter Wolf and Stephen Jo Bladd, Geils formed The J. Geils Blues Band along with Danny Klein and Magic Dick Salwitz, adding Seth Justman before the band released its debut album in 1970, dropping the “blues” and being christened The J. Geils Band. The early albums garnered decent reviews and moderate sales, but it was the band’s live show that earned its reputation and ever-growing following. As sales were flagging after numerous releases on Atlantic records, The J. Geils Band moved to EMI and began moving away from the pure bar-band sound they had established and began venturing into new wave and pop. The resulting albums were the band’s best sellers: 1978’s Sanctuary, 1980’s Love Stinks, and 1981’s blockbuster Freeze Frame, which included the chart-topping “Centerfold,” “Flamethrower” and the hit title track. Ironically, big-time success spelled trouble for the band, and Wolf departed during the recording of the Freeze Frame‘s follow-up, ultimately resulting in the demise of the band. Geils turned his attention to cars, opening KTR Motorsports to service and repair vintage sports cars. In 1993, J. Geils and Magic Dick formed a contemporary blues band, Magic Dick and Jay Geils, which released Bluestime in 1994 and Little Car Blues in 1996.

Musicians who died in 2017 John WettonJohn Wetton, 67
Singer, bassist, and songwriter with King Crimson, Asia, Uriah Heep (among others). Died 1/31/17 after a battle with colon cancer.

Andre in a hat

About Andre Calilhanna

Andre Calilhanna is a drummer, vocalist, writer, editor, and all around music fan. He's also a golf "enthusiast," pianist-in-progress, and a below-average guitarist (thanks for asking). Contact him at

52 thoughts on “Musicians who died in 2017

  1. Can’t believe you left out Valerie Carter, a great voice and a great beauty. Credits too numerous to mention in a short reply.

  2. Hi Andre, thank you for posting this tribute in recognition of so many unforgettable music talents that passed in 2017. Please consider adding iconic guitarist Bob Wootton who passed on April 9, 2017. Wootton was Johnny Cash’s guitarist from 1968- until Cash retired in 1999, and played on countless Cash signature recordings. All the best to you! May we all make it out alive in 2018!

  3. Greg Lowe (1957-2017) incredible guitarist, composer. Winnipeg, CA. He played with The Ministers of Cool, SwingSoniq, The Chess Club, and Woody Holler and his Orchestra. He composed and performed music for over thirty theatre productions, over twenty radio dramas and musicals, and had several orchestra pieces broadcast by the CBC.

  4. Let’s also remember Jimmy Beaumont, The lead singer of The Skyliners. Hits include: Since I Don’t Have You,
    Pennies From Heaven; This I Swear.
    He had a very unique and recognizable voice

  5. You Americans are so self-centered ! What about the passing of Johnny Halliday ? He was France’s greatest rock star, thousands of people gathered for the funeral, President Macron included.

  6. Tammy Sullivan of the Sullivan family passed 4/20/17 at 52 after a battle with cancer, she was an awesome and recognized blugrass/southern gospel artist as part of the duo with her dad Jerry Sullivan and was such a great talent that should be remembered!

  7. You do not have the lead singer of the Tragically Hip Gord Downie on this list. He lost his battle with brain cancer a week after Tom Petty passed.

    1. Arguably the best front man/poet in rock history. Nobody put on a show like Gord did. Yet completely left off this list?

  8. Saxa (Lionel Augustus Martin), Jamaican saxophonist who played with the English Beat. He also played with lots of early ska & reggae artists.

  9. Pingback: Tom Petty Saved Rock n' Roll From the '80s | Disc Makers Blog
  10. You left out Jim Fuller, lead guitar player for The Surfaris and the one who came up with the lick for “Wipeout”. It would be nice if someone could give the man his due.

  11. And now Chester Bennington – Linkin Park 20/3/1976 – 20/7/2017. cause of death Suicide by Hanging

  12. Pingback: Remembering Chris Cornell | Black Hole Sun Covers | Disc Makers Blog
  13. The passing of life unfortunately awaits all of us, it may be said that life itself will eventually kill us. With this fact in mind it has always bothered me why some will choose to accelerate their eventual demise instead of letting nature take its’ course. The argument can be made that there might be a legitimate reason for suicide; terminal illness of such a nature that would include extreme pain one might suffer till death being the only one holding validity for me. All others indicate a chicken shit attitude towards seeing life through to the end and will certainly not garner sympathy from me.

  14. Pingback: Things I Learned Watching Chris Cornell Cover A Song | Disc Makers Blog
  15. Unfortunately, we lost a few more than those who were mentioned here, but there wouldn’t be room to get them all in, including most recently, Allan Holdsworth, the Master fusion guitarist admired worldwide. They
    will all be missed!

    1. I can never get everyone in here, but I have a running list of folks who were omitted the first time around who will be added soon, including Sib Hashian, Clem Curtis, Joey Alves, John Wetton, and Geoff Nicholls. Allan Holdsworth and Matt Holt have both been added since the original publish.

  16. April 16, 2017 the world lost a highly revered musician. The truly great, influential and transformative guitarist, Allan Holdworth. Allan and his masterful guitar playing will be missed.

    1. Allan Holdsworth is now included. My apologies for the omission. I wasn’t able to get him included before the original publish, but he’s here now. Thanks for the comments.

      1. Disc Makers,
        The well known saying ” You can’t please all the people all the time….” strikes me in response to Phils’ ” I’m not surprised ” comment. If his meaning is a slant against you for the initial omission of Allan Holdworths’ death, one I am sure was completely unintentional, allow me to offer a thought that you had enough class to ignore: He might not be surprised, but he is an asshole.

        1. Thanks. It was unintentional, and I rely on reader feedback to add names to the list that may have been overlooked. And it’s inevitable that people are invested in the artists they love, so the fervor is understandable. That said, I appreciate Phil’s response, and yours too. Thanks for reading our blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *