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Musicians We Lost In 2017

December 28, 2017

As 2017 is coming to a close, it’s time to reflect on all of the great musicians that we’ve lost this past year.  In terms of famous artists shedding their mortal coils, 2016 was perhaps one of the most devastating years  with Glenn Frey, Prince, David Bowie and George Michael topping the list.


This year wasn't much easier as several Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, Country artists and modern musicians passed away.  While not all-encompassing, here's a rundown of the artists whose legacies will keep them alive in our hearts, minds and turntables:

Butch Trucks, 69, Jan. 24. Suicide. The original drummer for The Allman Brothers Band, Trucks decided to end his life after an argument with his wife.


Al Jarreau, 76, Feb. 12. Respiratory failure.  Jarreau's last Cleveland stop had him play Tommy LiPuma's birthday party as a part of the 2016 Tri-C Jazz Festival.   The seven-time Grammy winner was perhaps best-known for his album Breaking Away and the theme song from the 1980s smash TV show Moonlighting.


Chuck Berry, 90, March 18. Cardiac arrest.  One of the true pioneers of rock and roll.  His guitar playing, songs and “duck walk” are all part of the foundation of what we now know as rock music.  Without him, the art form may not exist today as we know it.


J. Geils, 71, April 11, Natural causes. John Geils, better known as J, was the founder and guitarist of his name-sake band.  The J. Geils Band was my first rock concert. It was August of 1982 at Blossom Music Center and it changed my life.  I've attended well over 400 shows in the past 35 years.  Thanks to J. Geils for the music and inspiring me to see more artists perform live.


Chris Cornell, 52, May 18, Suicide  The lead singer of Soundgarden and Audioslave possessed one of the best voices in music.  He decided to take his own life after a concert in Detroit. 


Gregg Allman, 69, May 27, Liver cancer.  This Rock and Roll Hall of Famer had been battling various ailments over the past few years.  He started his last tour at the Hard Rock Rocksino in 2015 where I got the opportunity to meet the Midnight Rider after sound check.  


Chester Bennington, 41, July 20, Suicide.  The lead singer of Linkin Park and Stone Temple Pilots took his own life the day he and the rest of Linkin Park were scheduled for a photo shoot.  


Glen Campbell, 81, Aug. 8.  Natural causes.  The Rhinestone Cowboy and long-time touring member of the Beach Boys in the ‘60s had been fighting Alzheimer's Disease for the past several years.  As a final send off, he released his last album Adios this past June.


Walter Becker, 67, Sept. 3, esophageal cancer.  The guitarist and co-founding member of Steely Dan had been struggling with this disease for quite awhile.  


Troy Gentry, 50, Sept. 8, helicopter crash.  Montgomery Gentry formed in 1999 and had five number one hits on the Country charts.  Gentry was on his way to a concert when the helicopter he was riding in went down in New Jersey.


Don Williams, 78, Sept. 8, Emphysema.  Country music lost two superstars on September 8th.  Williams had 42 of his singles make the Top Ten from 1974-1991!

Tom Petty, 66, Oct. 2, heart failure.  This one hit me the hardest.  Tom Petty and his music were a big part of my life growing up; he had a way with words to which I could easily relate.  He also was the epitome of cool.  Luckily, I got to see him eight times over the years, including his 40th Anniversary Tour at The Q this past summer.


Fats Domino, 89, Oct. 24, heart failure.  Fats was another rock and roll pioneer.  He is credited with recording one of the first rock and roll songs, “The Fat Man” in 1949, well before Chuck Berry or Elvis appeared on the  nascent scene.  


Malcolm Young, 64, Nov. 18, dementia, Co-founder and rhythm guitarist for AC/DC.  Was there a better rhythm guitarist in hard rock?  I don’t think so!  


Mel Tillis, 85, Nov. 19. Respiratory problems,  Tillis was a former "Country Music Entertainer of the Year" winner who had a string of hits in the 1970s.  


David Cassidy, 67, Nov. 22, liver failure.  Best known as Keith Partridge from the Partridge Family, Cassidy also had become a huge pop star in the 1970s.


Pat DiNizio, 62, Dec. 15, various health issues.  Lead singer and guitarist for the ‘90s rock band The Smithereens had a huge hit with "A Girl Like You." 

Let's hope next year the list won’t be as long.

Written by Greg Drugan

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