musicians who died in 2020

Musicians who died in 2020

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The list of notable musicians who died in 2020 is expansive, with Coronavirus and gun violence making unsettling contributions. A number of masters, mavericks, upstarts, and icons are now sadly part of the cast of musicians who have played their final note.

As much as I tried to make this a comprehensive tribute, there are doubtless many musicians who were inadvertently overlooked. Please take a moment to share remembrances of anyone who didn’t make this list in the comment section as we lock 2020 into the vault of history.

musicians who died in 2020Little Richard, 87
Pianist, singer, songwriter, and music pioneer — died of bone cancer 5/9/20
Richard Wayne Penniman, known around the world as Little Richard, was born in Macon, GA, the third of 12 children. He started playing piano and saxophone in junior high and was only 14 when Sister Rosetta Tharpe invited him to open her show in Macon after hearing him sing. He earned the nickname Little Richard while playing with Buster Brown & His Orchestra in the early ’50s, later releasing a half dozen singles on his own which didn’t capture his energy and style and failed to capture an audience. Then, during a recording session that wasn’t satisfying him, Richard sat at a piano and banged out a raunchy song he had written, with lyrics alluding to gay sex, called “Tutti Frutti.” The feel was right, so they cleaned up the lyrics, issued the song in 1955, and scored an instant hit. Between 1956–1957, Richard cemented his reputation as a flamboyant and wild live powerhouse and hitmaker, with the release of songs like “Long Tall Sally,” “Rip It Up,” “The Girl Can’t Help It,” “Lucille,” and “Jenny Jenny.” While Richard did post hits later in his career, and continued to perform into this decade, he never quite reached the heights of his earliest works. Richard’s career had its share of twists and turns that included a deep dive into gospel, a tour with the Beatles in Europe just before the band broke internationally, and a substance abuse problem in the late ’70s that led to his second renouncement of secular music. His influence is vast, with artists as diverse as Prince, the Rolling Stones, Sam Cooke, and Bob Dylan citing him as an influence. In 1986, he was part of the first batch of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was inducted to the Songwriters Hall of Fame the same year. In 2013, he announced he was retiring from music and was rarely seen in public in the final years of his life.

musicians who died in 2020Eddie Van Halen, 65
Guitar legend, co-founder of Van Halen — died of throat cancer 10/6/20
It’s hard to over hyperbolize Eddie Van Halen’s effect on rock guitar. Of course, there were innovators before and after, but the incendiary solos, massive rock riffs, and never-played-like-this-before tapping technique that Van Halen thrust upon our collective consciousness in the late ’70s is a shot still being heard around the world. Van Halen can boast being one of the biggest-selling rock acts of all time, and the band famously has, let’s call it, four acts to its career: the David Lee Roth classic era (1972–1985), the Van Hagar era (1985–1996, during which the band’s album sales peaked), the Van Halen III era with Gary Cherone (1996–1999), and everything that came after, including a reunion with Roth and the release of Van Halen’s 12th album, 2012’s A Different Kind Of Truth. Through it all is Van Halen’s uncompromising guitar work. Van Halen was renowned for his close ties to his family, specifically his brother Alex, who was often credited as being the bandleader and who played drums for the band from the start. In the later years, Van Halen’s son Wolfgang replaced long-time band member Michael Anthony on bass. Van Halen was also renowned for his drinking and his contentious relationships with Roth and Hagar — both of whom have expressed love and admiration for the brilliant guitarist after their respective falling-outs. Van Halen battled health issues, beginning with hip-replacement surgery in 1999, tongue cancer in the early 2000s, drug and alcohol rehab in 2007, and surgery for diverticulitis in 2012. But ultimately, Van Halen will be remembered as a guitarist who reinvented the way the instrument was played.

musicians who died in 2020Neil Peart, 67
Drummer and lyricist of Rush — died of glioblastoma (a form of brain cancer) on 1/7/20
Neil Peart is so formative an influence for me as a drummer — and lyricist — that his passing had friends from high school I hadn’t spoken to in decades reach out to commiserate with me. I’ve never tried to articulate what it is about Peart’s playing that was so alluring — it just seemed so self-evident. As I’ve grown older, there’s a long list of drummers I can name who do things that seem impossible to me — Steve Gadd, Terry Bozzio, Vinnie Colaiuta, every jazz drummer of note — but that was never true of Peart’s playing. It could be technical, it could be extraordinarily difficult to play, it could sometimes be over-the-top, but it always made sense. No matter how complex, I could listen to it once (maybe a few more times than that) and sit at my kit and try to replicate it. It was as accessible as it was difficult to play. I think part of the genius of his playing is tied to how each member of Rush was so integral — the drum parts weren’t just the backbone of the music, they were an equal musical voice, as powerful and impressive as the others. Before I discovered 2112 in the eighth grade, I was a full-on Kiss fanatic. And then, for my 14th birthday, I asked for a stack of albums — every classmate of mine was given a specific title, and there were three Rush albums on the list: Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures, and 2112. I loved them all, but 2112 blew my mind right out of the gate. My first experience jamming with other musicians came a year later. I was a freshman in high school when I packed up my four-piece Gretsch drum kit, complete with rototoms and my trusty China Boy cymbal, and jammed with two sophomores I barely knew. They were blown away that I could play “By-Tor and the Snow Dog” and the entire first side of 2112, and while I suspect I didn’t come close to perfection, I can still remember the thrill of playing those songs — no one bothered trying to sing — with any degree of competence. Peart might have been untouchable, but he played the drum parts we ALL wanted to play, hence, his being the most air-drummed drummer in history. My steering wheel still gets a workout when I’m driving with a Rush song on. As my musical horizons expanded, my interest in the band flagged around the Power Windows album, not because of the synths so much as I thought they got a little too metronomic. Automatonic. Particularly Peart. It was still impressive, but no longer so compelling to me. So, what a testament to him as an artist on a perpetual quest to be better that he chose to study jazz drumming at a time when he was considered one of the greatest rock drummers ever. He wanted more feel, less automaton. He was a master on an endless quest, and Rush’s music was the better for it. I saw them, my eight-year-old son in tow, on the Clockwork Angles tour in 2012 in Philadelphia. That album is excellent, and the band truly sounded better than ever. That’s why, as much as it signaled the end of an era, I totally understood why Peart decided it was time to stop touring in 2015. He couldn’t bear not being able to perform at his high-water mark. And, true to form, Peart kept his diagnosis of glioblastoma private, fighting for three and a half years before it claimed him in January. Peart is one of those artists who deserves all the accolades and superlatives assigned to him. He was a humble maestro who influenced generations of drummers. Rest in peace, professor.

musicians who died in 2020McCoy Tyner, 81
Jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader — died in his home on 3/6/20
McCoy Tyner is heralded as one of the most influential pianists in jazz. Tyner’s percussive style, which featured a heavy left hand, is a defining characteristic honed over a 50-year career, which largely began with his time playing with John Coltrane. A Philadelphia native, Tyner was playing professionally by the age of 16, aided by a thriving jazz scene in his hometown in the mid-’50s. Coltrane, also from Philadelphia, had been playing with Miles Davis, but had returned home, and the two struck up a personal friendship and musical connection. When Coltrane formed his own quartet in 1960, he recruited Tyner, who played with him for five years, performing on over two dozen Coltrane releases, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. As a bandleader, Tyner released 75 albums between 1962–2009. He won five Grammys, two for “Best Jazz Instrumental Album” (Blues for Coltrane, 1988 and Illuminations, 2004), two for “Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album” (The Turning Point, 1992 and Journey 1995), and “Best Jazz Instrumental Performance” (Illuminations, 2004). Tyner was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master in 2002.

musicians who died in 2020Bill Withers, 81
Singer-songwriter and musician — died from heart complications on 3/30/20
Born on the 4th of July, 1938, Bill Withers turned his attention to music and songwriting after spending nine years in the US Navy. Working as an aircraft assembler in Los Angeles while issuing demos and honing his songwriting skills, he caught the attention of Sussex Records, which released his first album, Just As I Am, in 1971. The album included the enduring “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Grandma’s Hands,” with “Ain’t No Sunshine” earning Withers a Grammy Award for “Best R&B Song” in 1972. His follow-up, 1972’s Still Bill, included gold-single earners “Lean on Me” and “Use Me.” “Lovely Day,” off 1977’s Menagerie was another hit, notable for its sustained note at the end of the song which, at 18 seconds, is one of the longest ever recorded on an American pop song. Withers won a second “Best R&B Song” Grammy for “Just the Two of Us” in 1981, a collaboration with Grover Washington, Jr. “Lean On Me,” remarkably, earned another Grammy for “Best R&B Song” in 1987 for Club Nuveau’s cover. Withers’ last album was 1985’s Watching You Watching Me. He retired from the music industry to pursue other interests, and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.

musicians who died in 2020Kenny Rogers, 81
Singer, songwriter, musician, actor, record producer, and entrepreneur — died of natural causes on 3/20/20
Before Kenny Rogers was the Country superstar behind hits like “The Gambler” and “She Believes in Me,” he had kicked around in various bands in his native Texas (and Las Vegas) scenes for the better part of a decade before scoring a hit with the First Edition titled “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” in 1967. That band lasted another couple of years before dissolving, and it took Rogers a few years to land on a sound and image that was forever cemented through his music and acting career in the ’70s and ’80s. Rogers scored five straight #1 country singles between 1978–1980, “Love or Something Like It,” “The Gambler,” “She Believes in Me,” “You Decorated My Life,” and “Coward of the County,” and went on to record a series of hit duets with Dottie West, Kim Carnes, Sheena Easton, and Dolly Parton, with whom he hit #1 on the pop and country charts in 1983 with “Islands in the Stream.” Rogers continued to record and perform in the years after that, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013, and played his final show of his farewell tour in 2017.

musicians who died in 2020John Prine, 73
Country and folk singer/songwriter, guitarist — died of complications of the Coronavirus on 4/7/20
Heralded as one of America’s greatest songwriters, gravel-voiced John Prine got his start after catching the attention of Kris Kristofferson in 1970. Prine, who had served as a mechanic in Germany during the Vietnam War, was quickly signed to Atlantic Records and released his first album in 1971. The self-titled album contained the song “Sam Stone,” which tells the story of a drug-addicted veteran of the Vietnam War, and “Angel From Montgomery,” which has been recorded by over 30 artists, including three times by Bonnie Raitt. Prine has three Grammys, including a “Lifetime Achievement” award given in 2020. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005 and was named the American Music Association’s “Artist of the Year” in 2017. In the early ’80s, Prine started his own record label, Oh Boy Records, which issued its first release, Aimless Love in 1984 and marked a new era for Prine. While Prine never scored a major hit, his music was recorded by a long list of iconic artists, including Johnny Cash, the Everly Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristofferson, Joan Baez, George Strait, Bette Midler, Dwight Yoakam, and Paul Westerberg. Prine’s last release, 2018’s The Tree of Forgiveness, rose to #5 on Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart, his highest-charting album ever, #2 on the Country Albums chart, and #1 on the Folk albums chart.

musicians who died in 2020Joseph Shabalala, 78
Founder and leader of Ladysmith Black Mambazo — died of unknown causes (his health deteriorated after 2013 back surgery) on 2/11/20
Bhekizizwe Joseph Siphatimandla Mxoveni Mshengu Bigboy Shabalala, AKA Joseph Shabalala, began leading choral groups in the late ’50s, forming the enduring and world-famous Ladysmith Black Mambazo in the early ’70s. Ladysmith Black Mambazo gained worldwide attention when Paul Simon included the choir on his 1986 album, Graceland and the ensuing tour, but the group had a large catalog of recorded material before that. Singing isicathamiya, a harmony-focused Zulu style of call-and-response a cappella, the group embarked on a new era after Graceland, releasing over two dozen major-label albums, including three produced by Simon, beginning with 1987’s Shaka Zulu, which won a Grammy for “Best Traditional Folk Recording.” The group continued to grow its international recognition, touring frequently and performing when Nelson Mandela received his Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and at Mandela’s inauguration as president of South Africa in 1994. Ladysmith Black Mambazo has won three additional Grammys: “Best Traditional World Music Album” (for Raise Your Spirit Higher in 2004), “Best Traditional World Music Album” (for Ilembe in 2007), and “Best World Music Album” (for Live: Singing for Peace Around the World in 2013). Shabalala has 10 children, with four of his sons in the current incarnation of the group. Shabalala announced his retirement from the group in 2014, after undergoing back surgery. [Photo: Svickova, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

musicians who died in 2020Peter Green, 73
Blues rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter, founder of Fleetwood Mac — died in his sleep 7/25/20
Before “Rhiannon” and Rumours, there was Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, founded by Green and drummer Mick Fleetwood. Green, now considered one of the great blues guitarists, was an unknown commodity when he had the daunting task of replacing Eric Clapton in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers in 1966. Fans were skeptical, but it wasn’t long before he earned the nickname “The Green God” in response to his exceptional playing. In 1967, Green paired with Fleetwood and guitarist Jeremy Spencer, ultimately enlisting Buesbreakers bassist John McVie, and released the eponymous Fleetwood Mac in 1968. As the band’s director, in addition to his exceptional guitar playing, Green penned enduring songs like “Oh Well,” “Black Magic Woman, “Man of the World,” and “Albatross.” He exited Fleetwood Mac in 1970, reportedly due to LSD wreaking havoc with his state-of-mind, eventually being diagnosed with schizophrenia and spending time in psychiatric hospitals undergoing electroconvulsive therapy in the mid-70s. In 1998, Green was among the eight members of Fleetwood Mac (along with Fleetwood, Spencer, McVie, Danny Kirwan, Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham, and Stevie Nicks) inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. Green later reemerged, forming the Peter Green Splinter Group, which released nine blues albums between 1997–2004, and touring as Peter Green and Friends in 2009. [Photo: Nick Contador, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

musicians who died in 2020Frederick “Toots” Hibbert, 77
Jamaican singer, songwriter, lead vocalist for Toots and the Maytals — died after being hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms on 9/11/20
Frederick Nathaniel “Toots” Hibbert stands as one of Jamaica’s most prominent music pioneers, not only helping to expand the island’s musical export, but helping to name the style of music known as “reggae.” Learning to sing in church as a young boy, Hibbert joined Nathaniel “Jerry” Matthias and Henry “Raleigh” Gordon to form a vocal trio in 1961 — initially called the Vikings but changed to The Maytals soon after. The group released its first album, Never Grow Old, in 1963. As the group’s popularity in Jamaica increased, Hibbert, who cited Elvis Presley, Mahalia Jackson, James Brown, and Otis Redding among his influences, was handed a jail sentence in 1966 for marijuana possession and served 18 months in prison. When he was released, the ska era during which The Maytals had flourished shifted to rocksteady, and with “Do The Reggay,” released in 1968, The Maytals gave a name to the burgeoning sound that came on its heels. The Maytals later found success in the UK with songs like “Pressure Drop” and “Monkey Man,” and continued recording and performing through the late ’80s before slowing for a decade. In 2004, Toots made a major comeback with True Love, an album that featured older Maytals tracks re-recorded by artists including Eric Clapton, No Doubt, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Keith Richards, and the Roots. That album took the Grammy Award for “Best Reggae Album.”

musicians who died in 2020Tommy DeVito, 92
Singer, musician, member of the Four Seasons — died of Coronavirus on 9/21/20
Tommy DeVito, one of the founding members the Four Seasons, played lead guitar and sang baritone with the New Jersey group that released a string of hits in the ’60s and served as the inspirations for the Broadway musical Jersey Boys. In 1962, singers Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, and Nick Massi joined DeVito, releasing their debut album, Sherry & 11 Others, which launched three #1 singles. As DeVito told the Las Vegas Sun, “We went from making $1,000 a week to $1,000 a day.” The Four Seasons matched the Beach Boys for record sales in the US between 1962–1964 and hit the Top 10 13 times between 1962–1967 with songs like “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Candy Girl,” “Dawn,” “Rag Doll,” and “Let’s Hang On.” In 1970, DeVito quit the group, claiming he was tired of touring. In truth, he had accrued gambling and tax debts that Valli and Gaudio absorbed in exchange for buying him out of the group. The Four Seasons then signed to Motown and continued to release and perform under a variety of names and incarnations. Friends with actor Joe Pesci, DeVito worked as a card dealer in Las Vegas after leaving the group and served as an assistant on the film GoodFellas — Pesci even had his character named after DeVito — which was released in 1990, the same year the Four Seasons were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

musicians who died in 2020Charley Pride, 86
Country singer and guitarist — died of complications of the Coronavirus on 12/12/20
A music lover from an early age, Charley Pride staged a professional baseball career before his music career took off, playing on Negro League and minor league teams before and after his military service. He also pursued music, performing before baseball games when he played for the East Helena Smelterites in Montana. While still playing baseball, Pride played in local acts and recorded demos before being discovered by Chet Atkins. Pride’s third single release, “Just Between You And Me,” really launched his career, hitting #9 on the Hot Country Songs chart in 1967 and earning him a Grammy nomination. After that, Pride went on to sell more than 70 million records, had 36 #1 country singles, 12 gold albums, and, for a time, was second only to Elvis as RCA’s biggest selling act. Pride was in his peak for almost 20 years, with his biggest successes coming between 1966–1983. Pride was one of only three African-American members of the Grand Ole Opry and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000. Among his most popular songs are “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’,” “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone,” “All I Have To Offer You Is Me,” and “(I’m So) Afraid Of Losing You.” [Photo: GREG MATHISON, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

musicians who died in 2020Vera Lynn, 103
Singer, songwriter — died 6/18/20
Roger Waters initially wanted Vera Lynn’s song, “We’ll Meet Again,” to open The Wall, and I can’t be the only one who recognized her name by the reference in the album’s song, “Vera.” Lynn, a British singer and dame with a 96-year career in the music industry, was known as the “Forces’ Sweetheart” during World War II, and she performed numerous outdoor concerts for the British troops overseas. Songs like “We’ll Meet Again,” “The White Cliffs of Dover,” “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square,” and “There’ll Always Be an England” were popular during that time, though Lynn’s career continued after the war, with “My Son, My Son” becoming a #1 hit in the UK in 1954. In 2009, she earned the distinction of being the oldest living artist to top the UK Album Chart when We’ll Meet Again: The Very Best of Vera Lynn was released when she was 92. Eight years later, she hit #3 with the compilation album, Vera Lynn 100, to commemorate her 100th birthday, making her the first performer over 100 to score a Top 10 album. [Photo: Eric Koch / Anefo, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL via Wikimedia Commons]

musicians who died in 2020Leslie West
Guitarist, vocalist, songwriter — died 12/22/20
Born in New York City and growing up in New York and New Jersey, Leslie Weinstein (AKA Leslie West), joined the Vagrants in the mid-’60s, playing R&B-tinged rock and roll before dissolving in the late ’60s. West’s first solo album, 1969’s Mountain, led to the formation of a band with the same name that would break up and re-form multiple times over the course of the guitarist’s career. Riff-oriented hard-driving rock was West’s forte, best known for the song “Mississippi Queen,” from the 1970 album Climbing!, featuring Mountain’s original line-up. West also partnered with notable musicians through the years, forming bands with Jack Bruce from Cream (West, Bruce & Laing) and an incarnation of The Leslie West Band that included Foreigner’s Mick Jones. West took some time off in the late ’70s to deal with substance abuse issues and lost a leg due to complications from Type 2 Diabetes in 2011, but his catalog of recorded material continued at a steady clip through 2015’s Soundcheck.

musicians who died in 2020Helen Reddy, 78
Singer, songwriter, author, actress, and activist — died after suffering from Addison’s disease and dementia on 9/29/20
Australian-born Helen Reddy found her way to the US via a talent show that offered an opportunity to audition for Mercury Records. While the audition didn’t work out, Reddy’s aspirations didn’t waiver, and in 1969, she moved to Los Angeles with her husband Jeff Wald, where he soon started managing Deep Purple and Tiny Tim. In 1971, Reddy released a single, a cover of Mac Davis’ “I Believe in Music,” but it was the B-side, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, that made it to #13 on the Billboard charts. That was followed up by Reddy’s most famous song, “I Am Woman,” which reached #1 on the charts just as the women’s liberation movement was in full swing. Reddy wrote the lyrics to the song, which won a Grammy for “Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female” in 1972, and while she never quite reached the same heights, Reddy was nominated for another Grammy three years later and hit the Top 40 over a dozen times with hits like “Delta Dawn,” “Angie Baby,” “Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress),” and “Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady.”

musicians who died in 2020Malik B., 47
Rapper, singer, founding member of the Roots — died of undisclosed causes on 7/29/20
In the early ’90s, Malik Abdul Basit, AKA Malik B, started rapping and emceeing with high school friends who would later become The Square Roots, ultimately dropping the first half of the name to become the highly influential and acclaimed, the Roots. Malik B. recorded four albums with the group between 1993 and 1999, the independent release, Organix, and three label releases, Do You Want More?!!!??!, Illadelph Halflife, and Things Fall Apart. Things Fall Apart really broke things open for the group, going platinum, scoring a Top 40 single, and winning a Grammy for “Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group” for “You Got Me,” a collaboration with Erykah Badu. Malik B. returned to join the Roots in later years as a featured performer, and he released three solo projects, 2005’s solo LP, Street Assault, 2006’s EP, Psychological, and a collaboration with Mr. Green, 2015’s Unpredictable. [Photo: TwinTurbo, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

musicians who died in 2020Justin Townes Earle, 38
Singer-songwriter — died of a “probable drug overdose” on 8/20/20
Justin Townes Earle, son of celebrated singer/songwriter Steve Earle and named after Townes Van Zandt, lived a life that almost seems inevitable considering the acclaim and addictions those men endured through their careers. Like his father, the younger Earle was a celebrated songwriter and performer, winning Americana Music Honors & Awards’ “Emerging Artist of the Year” in 2009 and “Song of the Year” in 2011 for “Harlem River Blues.” Unfortunately, Earle’s struggles with substance abuse and addiction were a recurring theme through his career, even reaching the point where he was booted from his father’s band and found himself hospitalized after his fifth major drug overdose when he was only 21. But it is Earle’s music that earned him admiration, as he released eight albums in his career, starting with 2008’s The Good Life and ending with 2019’s The Saint of Lost Causes.

musicians who died in 2020Johnny Nash, 80
Reggae and pop singer-songwriter — died of natural causes on 10/6/20
John Lester Nash Jr., AKA Johnny Nash, grew up singing in a Baptist church before releasing his first single, “A Teenager Sings the Blues,” in 1957. Enjoying a successful recording and acting career, Nash scored a top 5 R&B hit in 1965 with “Let’s Move and Groove Together” just before he moved to Jamaica and became enamored with the rocksteady and reggae scene there. Having started a record label, Nash signed Bob Marley to a publishing contract and in 1968, Nash released a rocksteady hit, “Hold Me Tight,” and hit the charts in the UK with a cover of Marley’s “Stir It Up.” But it’s Nash’s 1972 single, “I Can See Clearly Now,” that sat at #1 on the Billboard 100 for four weeks and remains his most enduring song. Nash released over a dozen albums between 1958–1987, gradually retiring form recording and performing in the early ’80s.

musicians who died in 2020Judy Dyble, 71
Vocalist, composer, and instrumentalist — died of lung cancer on 7/12/20
Born in London, Judy Dyble was the singer of Fairport Convention in 1967 and 1968 and sang on the group’s first, eponymous album, which blended male and female vocal harmonies with a folk and ’60s-rock sound. Dyble was fired from the band (which may have coincided with her break-up with one of the band members), to be replaced by Sandy Denny as the group toured the album. Dyble went on to sing with other acts — including Giles, Giles, Fripp, McDonald and Dyble (1968); Trader Horne (1969); and Dyble Coxhill & the MB’s (1971),

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

32 thoughts on “Musicians who died in 2020

  1. Steven Hanford aka Thee Slayer Hippy (Poison Idea’s drummer and producer) passed of a heart attack may 22, 2020 R I P Steven J Hanford

    Simon Stokes aka Nicholas Clifton Stokes (Singer/Songwriter (The Incredible Simon Stokes and the Black Whip Thrill Band) Passed of I would say of old age at 83. R I P Simon T Stokes who passed on 12/13/20.

  2. You missed the great jazz Saxophonist & Composer “Jimmy Heath” of the legendary HeathBrothers.

    ALSO –

    The great Brazilian Trumpet master “Claudio Roditi”. One of the best of his generation.

    The great Jazz Guitarist “Vic Juris”, also one of the best of his generation.

  3. Really wish you mentioned Khari Parker 49. He was a great drummer from Chicago who toured with Destiny’s Child, Raphael Sadiq, George Benson and so many others.

    1. There are always some cherished musicians who get missed when I do my research, so I appreciate when readers like you add names here in the comments. Thanks, RIP Khari Parker.

  4. Lou Ragland originally from Cleveland, Ohio and last living in Las Vegas passed in Sept, 20 from Cancer. Having done work with the OJays and was also known as The Converyor. He was involved with Hot Chocolate but also spent many years as the lead vocalist of the Ink Spots and kept the legacy going. He also had a profound effect on many in the Las Vegas Area

  5. Wow, this a lot gone. One correction: you need to change the picture of Malik B of the Roots. That picture is Black Thought. He is alive and well.

  6. I don’t see one of the great recording engineers of all time listed… Bruce Swedien. He wasn’t an artist or musician, but his impact on the music biz can’t be overlooked.

    1. No doubt, I didn’t know that he had passed. It was (unfortunately) hard to keep up with all the musicians/music industry folks who died in 2020. I’ll add him and the others folks are posting here in the comments soon.

    1. Maybe not as well known as some of the above but Dave Kusworth of The Jacobites also passed away in 2020 & he has released an incredible amount of great music, with the following bands: TV Eye, The Subterranean Hawks, The Ragdolls, The Jacobites, The Bounty Hunters, The Tender hooks, as well as quite a few solo albums. If you haven’t heard of him, check out some of his music that was inspired by early Stones, T-Rex, Johnny Thunders but sounds completely unique to his own style.

  7. Mark Barkan, 86, songwriter for Elvis, Leslie Gore, Dusty Springfield, Manfred Mann and more, died on May 8, 2020 of heart failure. He wrote songs with hundreds of musicians and had over 60 top 40 hits.

  8. Armando Manzanero, on of the greatest latinamerica composers, died on Dec 28

    “His work has been performed by singers such as Tito Rodriguez, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Shirley Bassey, Andrea Bocelli, Raquel Bitton, Tony Bennett, Laura Pausini, Alejandro Fernández, Perry Como, Luis Miguel, Franck Pourcel, Paul Mauriat, Ray Conniff, María Martha Serra Lima, Mina, Claudio Nicoletti, Raphael, Roberto Carlos, Christina Aguilera, Dionne Warwick,Manoella Torres, Marco Antonio Muñiz, Angelica Maria, José José, Tania Libertad, Lucero, Cristian Castro, and Il Divo, Carmen París, as well as with pianist Raúl di Blasio and others.”

    1. This was what I was looking for too to be in the list of people, but with so many artists that died this year I know its a daunting task to keep up with all the people. MF DOOM was your favorite’s rapper, favorite rapper. RIP

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