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Musicians who died in 2022

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2022 may not have been the bounce-back year we had all hoped for, and sadly, we saw too many beloved musicians — icons and up-and-comers alike — pass on to the great after-party in the sky.

As always, I did my best to make this a comprehensive list, but there are inevitably many musicians who died in 2022 who are not included. This is an oversight, not a editorial choice! Please take a moment to share remembrances of anyone who doesn’t appear here in the comment section as a tribute to those we’ve lost in 2022.

Loretta Lynn musicians who died in 2022Loretta Lynn, 90
Country music singer and songwriter — died in her sleep of natural causes, 10/4/22

Loretta Lynn was a coal-miner’s daughter whose rise to prominence in country music came after she raised a family of four — after getting married at the age of 15. Her debut single, “I’m A Honky Tonk Girl,” started a chain of events that led her to Nashville, where she signed to Decca Records and burst out of the gate in 1962. A maverick and anolmaly as a strong-minded woman in country music, Lynn chalked up a string of 13 Top-10 hits in the late sixties — including “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’,” “Fist City,” “Woman of the World,” and “Coal Miner’s Daughter” — which ultimately became the title of her 1976 autobiography and a 1980 film. In the early ‘70s, Lynn teamed up with Conway Twitty and the duo scored five consecutive #1 hits, an additional seven Top 10 hits, and were named Vocal Duo of the Year by the Country Music Association in 1972, ’73, ’74, and ’75. As Lynn’s dominance of the charts began to wane in the ‘80s, she continued to perform and record, including a collaboration with Jack White in 2004 (Van Lear Rose) and a flurry of studio releases between 2016 and 2021. Photo by Walden S. Fabry, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

jerry lee lewis musicians who died in 2022Jerry Lee Lewis, 87
Pianist, vocalist, songwriter — died of undisclosed causes, though he suffered from various ailments, including acute bronchitis, 10/28/22

With a career built in the late ‘50s, Jerry Lee Lewis was one part bible-school drop-out, one part boogie pianist, and two-parts rebel with a feverish belief in himself. His wild stage presence was born from his frustration with not being able to dance around with a guitar. In support of his first single, he jumped up mid-song, kicked his piano stool over, and stood up and played. Sam Phillips, record producer and owner of Sun Records, believed “the Killer” was the real thing and invested heavily in Lewis. It paid off — “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” was followed by “Great Balls of Fire” and “Breathless” as Lewis’ star rose high. That came to a sudden halt after he secretly married his 13-year-old cousin, which caused the banning of his records and a collapse in paying gigs. Lewis kept rocking, though, and built his career back up in the ‘70s and ‘80s, with his last release coming in 2014. Lewis was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in October 2022. Photo by Maurice Seymour, Chicago (eBay) [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons.

Christine McVie musicians who died in 2022Christine McVie, 79
Keyboardist, vocalist, songwriter, Fleetwood Mac — died following a short illness, 11/30/22

Before there was the Buckingham/Nicks version of Fleetwood Mac, there was the blues-infused version of the band, and Christine McVie was an integral part of both. In fact, she may have saved the band from breaking up years before they became the biggest-selling band on the planet. Born Christine Ann Perfect, McVie was a visual artist who fell into playing the blues, joining Chicken Shack in 1967. Chicken Shack and Fleetwood Mac floated in the same circles, and after marrying Mac bassist John McVie, she joined the group after Peter Green left. She played on six Fleetwood Mac albums before Buckingham and Nicks joined, and incredibly, that’s where the story begins for many Fleetwood Mac fans. McVie’s vocals, keyboards, and songwriting are as big a part of the band’s success as any other member — she penned classics like “Don’t Stop,” “Over My Head,” “Think About Me,” and a host of other hit songs in her 50 years with the band. McVie also released four solo records, including a collaboration with Lindsey Buckingham (and John McVie and Mick Fleetwood) in 2017.

Ronnie Spector musicians who died in 2022Ronnie Spector, 78
Vocalist, lead singer of The Ronettes — died after a brief battle with cancer, 1/12/22

Born in New York to a Black and Cherokee mother and an Irish-American father, Veronica Bennett fronted the Ronettes, a vocal trio that included her sister Estelle and cousin Nedra Talley. After connecting with producer Phil Spector, the Ronettes released their landmark album, Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica in 1964, which includes the now historic “Be My Baby” along with the hits “Baby, I Love You” and “Walking in the Rain.” Bennett married Spector in 1968, a year after the Ronettes broke up, changing her name to Ronnie Spector. Their tumultuous marriage ended in 1974 (she once quipped that Spector “was a brilliant producer, but a lousy husband”), and the tumult continued to her solo career as Spector fought to prevent her from earning royalties or performing the Ronettes material. Spector has released four solo albums since 1980, the last being 2016’s English Heart., Publicity headshot, general use, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Taylor Hawkins musicians who died in 2022Taylor Hawkins, 50
Drummer, Foo Fighters — no cause of death given, though a toxicology test indicated that Hawkins had ten substances in his system, including opioids, benzodiazepines, tricyclic antidepressants, and THC, 3/25/22

Judging from the outpouring of sympathies, incredible all-star lineups, and massive attendance at his multiple tribute concerts, Oliver Taylor Hawkins might have been the most well-liked musician on the planet. Charged with the intimidating task of being the drummer in Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters, Hawkins joined the band just as it embarked on tour in 1997 and appeared on every recording since, starting with 1999’s There Is Nothing Left to Lose. Stolen by Grohl out from under Alanis Morissette’s touring band, Hawkins seemed to enjoy every second of his tenure with the Foo Fighters, his beaming smile often accompanying Grohl in interviews and promotional appearances. Hawkins also had multiple other musical projects afloat, including NHC, a band he formed in 2021 with Jane’s Addiction members Dave Navarro and Chris Chaney (the latter of whom played with Hawkins in Morissette’s band). Photo by Raphael Pour-Hashemi, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Olivia Newton John musicians who died in 2022Olivia Newton John, 73
Pop and country music vocalist — died after a prolonged fight with breast cancer, 8/8/22

Born in England, Olivia Newton-John moved to Melbourne, Australia when she was five. By the age of 15, she was in an all-girl band before signing to Decca records and really launching her singing career. In 1973, she won a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for the title track of her albbum, Let Me Be There. Newton-John won another three Grammys in her career, including two in 1974 for the single “I Honestly Love You.” Her 1978 performance in Grease, the highest-grossing American movie musical of the 20th century, launched Newton-John into even more prominence, with her duets with John Travolta — “You’re the One That I Want” and “Summer Nights” — both hitting the Top 5 in the US and abroad. In all, Newton-John posted record sales that topped 100 million albums, with close to 40 songs making the Billboard Hot 100 over her five-decade career. First diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, Newton-John established the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, a charity sponsoring research into plant medicine for cancer. In 2020, she was honored as Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to charity, cancer research, and entertainment.

coolio musicians who died in 2022Coolio, 59
Rapper — died of cardiac arrest, 9/28/22

Born Artis Leon Ivey Jr., Coolio (adapted from a nickname, “Coolio Iglesias,” that was given to him when he was first dabbling in rap in high school) was nominated for six Grammy Awards in his career, winning one for Best Rap Solo Performance for his best-known track, “Gangsta’s Paradise.” Known for his good-time party attitude — at a time when Gangsta Rap was prominent — the moody atmosphere of Stevie Wonders’ “Pastime Paradise” that was the base of the song, along with the dark themes about ghetto life, prompted Tommy Boy (Coolio’s record company) to keep the track off any of Coolio’s albums, so the track ended up on the Dangerous Minds soundtrack. The wild success of the song prompted a change of heart, and it became the title track of Coolio’s second studio release. Coolio released eight studio albums between 1994 and 2009, and won an American Music Award and three MTV Music Awards in addition to his Grammy.

Meat Loaf musicians who died in 2022Meat Loaf, 74
Singer, songwriter, actor — died from complications of COVID-19 (according to TMZ), 1/20/22

Born Michael Lee Aday, Meat Loaf made a name playing Eddie in 1975’s Rocky Horror Picture Show — one of 65 movies he appeared in — but blew his career wide open with his 1977 debut, Bat Out Of Hell. Featuring songs written by Jim Steinman and produced by Todd Rundgren, the album remains one of the top 10 best-selling albums of all-time. On the strength of its romantic bravado and shoot-for-the-moon camp — and the songs “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” and “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” — Meat Loaf didn’t approximate the same level of success until 1993’s Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell, which included the hit “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).” Meat Loaf collaborated with Steinman (who passed in 2021), on other material over his 12 studio albums, including 2016’s Braver Than We Are, his final release. Photo by Super Festivals, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Andrew Fletcher musicians who died in 2022Andy Fletcher, 60
Keyboardist, a founder of Depeche Mode — died after suffering an aortic dissection, 5/26/22

Built on the sound of the underground electronic club scene in the UK, Depeche Mode was formed by Andy Fletcher, Vince Clarke, and Martin Gore in 1976. When vocalist Dave Gahan joined in 1980, the band changed its name to Depeche Mode and continued buidling its status in the London club scene. But it was 1984’s Some Great Reward that catapulted the band onto the charts, with the singles “Master And Servant” and “People Are People,” and the band continued to issue studio albums up to its induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2020. In all, Depeche Mode released 15 studio albums with sales topping 100 million albums worldwide. Photo by Alberto Cabello from Vitoria Gasteiz, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Alan White musicians who died in 2022Alan White, 72
Drummer, Yes — died after a brief illness, 5/26/22

Known predominantly for his long tenure as the drummer for Yes, Alan White was briefly a member of John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band (along with Eric Clapton) and recorded on some of Lennon’s solo material (including the song “Instant Karma”) as well as on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass. In 1972, he was offered the drum throne in Yes after Bill Bruford left to form King Crimson, just as the band was set to tour in support of Close To the Edge. Since his studio debut with the band on Tales from Topographic Oceans, White has recorded drums and percussion on over 40 studio and live Yes albums and he and Chris Squire (bass), were the only consistent members of the band between 1972 and 2015, when Squire passed away. Yes was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 with a reported 13.5 million albums sold in the US — 30 million worldwide. Photo by Luque, Paraguay, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Naomi Judd musicians who died in 2022Naomi Judd, 76
Singer, songwriter, The Judds — died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, 4/30/22

In 1964, as she was making plans to attend college, 17-year-old Naomi Judd found herself pregnant and opted to raise a family instead. 15 years later, as a single mom scraping by, Judd moved her family (herself and daughters Wynonna and Ashley) to Nashville to give music a shot. Working as a nurse, she managed an audition for her duo act with Wynonna at RCA Records and scored a contract that same day. Their first single, “Had a Dream (for the Heart)” hit Number 20 on the country charts, and The Judds’ second album, 1984’s Why Not Me, topped the country charts and solidified the duo’s standing as country royalty. The Judds issued six studio albums, posted 14 Number 1 songs, and won five Grammy Awards over their career. In 1990, Naomi had to stop her music career due to a life-threatening case of Hepatitis C, though she beat the odds, outliving her prognosis of five years and performing with Wynonna for a reunion on New Years Eve of 1999, which was released as a live album in 2000. Photo by State Farm, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Pharoah Sanders musicians who died in 2022Pharoah Sanders, 81
Jazz saxophone (tenor and soprano) — died of undisclosed causes, 9/24/22
Born Ferrell Sanders, Pharoah Sanders started as a blues player (and clarinet player) but turned to jazz and the tenor saxophone after heading to the Bay Area to study music and art. He ultimately landed in New York City, where he caught the attention of John Coltrane. In 1964, as Coltrane was exploring free jazz, Sanders played with Coltrane’s ensemble until Coltrane’s death in 1967, though Sanders was never officially a member of the band. He collaborated with Alice Coltrane just after her husband’s death and continued as a bandleader, exploring free jazz, standards, and a range of styles, releasing over 40 albums as a bandleader between 1965 and 2021, including several on the Impulse! label in the late ‘60s — 1966’s Tauhid, 1969’s Karma, and 1971’s Black Unity and Thembi among them. He worked with countless luminaries over his career, including McCoy Tyner, Randy Weston, and Joey DeFrancesco, winning a Grammy Award with Tyner on 1987’s Blues for Coltrane. Photo by Wojciech Soporek, CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Ian McDonald musicians who died in 2022Ian McDonald, 75
Saxophone, flute, vibraphone, guitar, vocals, songwriter, King Crimson/Foreigner — died of colon cancer, 2/9/22

Ian McDonald released a solo album in 1999, three decades after first hitting the London music scene, but his being a founding member of both King Crimson and Foreigner established his legacy among his peers. Part of the ensemble that ultimately formed to become King Crimson in 1968, McDonald played on the band’s debut, In The Court of the Crimson King, and is credited as playing flute, keyboards, Mellotron, reeds, vibraphone, and woodwind (and vocals). He wasn’t enamored with the direction King Crimson was taking, though, and left the band after its first tour. Before helping form Foreigner in 1976, he continued doing session work, including on T. Rex’s Electric Warrior, which featured the hit “Bang A Gong.” He was with Foreigner through its first three albums, which feature hits ranging from “Dirty White Boy” to “Hot Blooded” to “Long, Long Way From Home” — the latter features McDonald as a co-writer. Photo by Richard Bourgerie (derivative work: Harold), CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Gary Brooker musicians who died in 2022Gary Brooker, 76
Singer, Procol Harum — died of cancer, 2/19/22

Born in East London, Gary Brooker played piano, cornet, and trombone as a child before starting a band with guitarist and friend Robin Trower, called the Paramounts, in 1962. Four years later, Brooker founded Procol Harum with his friend Keith Reid, issuing the song “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” Trower was asked to join the band, but Brooker’s vocals and piano were the focus of the band’s sound and musical direction. After the band dissolved, Brooker issued a solo album, No More Fear of Flying, in 1979 and played in a number of projects, including playing with Eric Clapton’s band, Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band, Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings, George Harrison, and the film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita in 1996. Photo by Stefan Brending.

Lamont Dozier musicians who died in 2022Lamont Dozier, 81
Songwriter, singer, producer — died of undisclosed causes, 8/8/22

The list of Motown songs that Lamont Dozier helped write reads like a best-of from Motown’s heyday, including “Heat Wave” (Martha and the Vandellas); “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “Baby Love,” and “Stop! In The Name Of Love” (The Supremes); and “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)” (Marvin Gaye). Along with his collaborators, Brian and Eddie Holland — known collectively as Holland-Dozier-Holland — Dozier had a hand in writing 15 songs that hit Number 1 on the R&B or pop charts, and the trio had 80 singles that hit the Top 40. The trio left Motown in 1967 and started their own labels — Invictus and Hot Wax — but the magic the kept the Motown hits going for the label and the songwriters couldn’t be replicated. Dozier released 13 solo albums between 1974 and 2018, hitting the Top 20 with “Trying to Hold On to My Woman” in 1974. Photo by Andre Csillag/Shutterstock.

Anita Kerr musicians who died in 2022Anita Kerr, 94
Vocalist, arranger, composer, band leader, and producer — died of undisclosed causes, 10/10/22

Renowned for their tight harmonies and lush vocal arrangements, The Anita Kerr Singers were a staple in the Nashville scene in the ‘50s and ‘60s. High-demand producers, including Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley, used the vocal quintet on literally thousands of recordings, with Anita Kerr providing arrangements for countless, and often uncredited, backing tracks. The Anita Kerr Singers can be heard on Bobby Helms’s “Jingle Bell Rock,” Brenda Lee’s “I’m Sorry,” and Burl Ives’ “A Little Bitty Tear” as well as R&B hits like Carla Thomas’ “Gee Whiz,” Esther Phillips’ “Release Me,” and Bobby Bland’s “Share Your Love With Me.” The Anita Kerr Singers also issued 13 albums between 1962 and 2007, including 1965’s We Dig Mancini, which beat out the Beatles’ Help! for the Grammy for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal. Photo by Punt / Anefo, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL via Wikimedia Commons.

Jerry Allison musicians who died in 2022Jerry Allison, 82
Drummer, songwriter, The Crickets (Buddy Holly) — died from cancer, 8/22/22

An original member of Buddy Holly’s backing band, the Crickets, Jerry Allison was also a co-writer of two of Holly’s hits in the late ‘50s. As the story goes, soon after Holly and Allison saw The Searchers, a film featuring John Wayne, the duo penned “That’ll Be The Day” based on one of Wayne’s notable lines. After a failed attempt at recording it as a country tune, Holly and company cut a rock and roll version in 1957 that hung in Billboard’s Top 30 for three months. Later that year, Allison encouraged Holly to rename a track they were working on from “Cindy Lou” to “Peggy Sue” because he was hoping to score points with his on-and-off girlfriend (who later became his wife). The Crickets’ tenure with Buddy Holly was brief, due to the tragic death of the icon in 1959, but the Crickets endured with guitarist Sonny Curtis and went on to back other artists, including Bobby Vee and the Everly Brothers, and issue their own albums, including 1988’s T Shirt, produced by longtime fan, Paul McCartney. Photo by Coral Records, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dan McCaffertyDan McCafferty, 76
Singer, Nazareth — died of issues related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 11/8/22

Manny Charlton musicians who died in 2022Manny Charlton, 80
Guitarist, Nazareth — died of undisclosed causes, 7/5/22

William Daniel McCafferty and Manny Charlton formed the Shadettes in the 1960s, changing the band’s name to Nazareth in 1970 after hearing the lyric in the Band’s song “The Weight.” The band issued a couple of rock/country albums in the early ‘70s, but it was 1973’s hard-rocking Razamanaz that gained Nazareth notice and broke into the UK Top 10 with the hit singles “Broken Down Angel” and “Bad Bad Boy.” 1975’s Hair of the Dog established Nazareth as international rock figures. Fueled by the title track and the ballad “Love Hurts,” the album sold more than one million copies in the US. The band continued to crank out material, issuing its 25th studio album in 2022, though Charlton had left the band by the time 2008’s The News was recorded, and McCafferty had to exit after recording 2014’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Telephone because of health issues.

Mo Ostin musicians who died in 2022Mo Ostin, 95
Record executive, Warner Brothers, Reprise, and others — died of natural causes, 7/31/22

Falling into the music business in the late ‘40s, Mo Ostin, born Morris Meyer Ostrofsky, started working for Clef records in the mid-‘50s. By the end of the decade, he was working for Frank Sinatra’s Reprise Records, convincing Sinatra that they’d need to sign some rock and roll acts if the label were to survive. In 1964, he signed the Kinks, and as Reprise was then sold to Warner Brothers, Ostin had creative control at the label for three decades. The list of acts he signed or worked with is impossibly star-studded and impressive, including Jimi Hendrix, Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, the Grateful Dead, Van Morrison, Madonna, Green Day … the list goes on. Ostin was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.

Patrick Haggerty musicians who died in 2022Patrick Haggerty, 78
Guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, first openly gay country singer, founded Lavender Country — died of a stroke, 9/30/22
Photo by Missvain, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Keith Levene musicians who died in 2022Keith Levene, 65
Guitarist, a founding member of the Clash and Public Image Ltd. —
died of liver cancer, 11/11/22

Photo by Michael Johnson, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Jeff Cook musicians who died in 2022Jeff Cook, 73
Guitarist, vocalist, a founding member of Alabama —
died from complications of Parkinson’s disease, 11/7/22

Joe Tarsia musicians who died in 2022Joe Tarsia, 88
Founder of Sigma Sound Studios, audio engineer, and architect of the “Sound of Philadelphia” — died of undisclosed causes, 11/1/22
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Irene Cara musicians who died in 2022Irene Cara, 63
Singer, actor, dancer, scored hits with the songs “Fame” and “Flashdance… What A Feelin’” — died of undisclosed causes, 11/25/22

Dave Smith musicians who died in 2022Dave Smith, 72
Developer of the Prophet family of synthesizers; the Godfather of MIDI —
died from complications of a heart attack, 5/31/22

Jim Seals musicians who died in 2022Jim Seals, 79
Guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, half of the duo Seals and Crofts —
died of complications from chronic illnesses, 6/6/22

Photo: Warner Brothers Records, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Julee Cruise musicians who died in 2022Julee Cruise, 65
Singer, songwriter, best known for her collaborations with David Lynch and Angelo Badalementi, performed with B-52s — died by suicide, struggled with lupus, depression, and alcohol and drug addiction, 6/9/22
Photo by Bertrand from Paris, France, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Angelo Badalementi musicians who died in 2022Angelo Badalementi, 85
Film composer, best known for his work with David Lynch —
died of natural causes, 12/11/22

Ronnie Hawkins musicians who died in 2022Ronnie Hawkins, 87
Rockabilly singer and songwriter — died of undisclosed causes (underwent bypass surgery in 2002 and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003), 5/29/22

Vangelis musicians who died in 2022Vangelis, 79
Composer, best known for Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner
died of congestive heart failure, 5/17/22

Photo by Kapetan Nikolios, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL via Wikimedia Commons.