Irish singer and activist Sinéad O'Connor has died at the age of 56, The Irish Times reports. O'Connor, who was outspoken in her social and political views, released 10 studio albums between 1987 and 2014, but she was best known for her single 'Nothing Compares 2 U', written by Prince and released in 1990, which went on to hit number one around the world. In 1992 she ripped up a picture of Pope John Paul II on the US TV show Saturday Night Live, looking at the camera and saying "fight the real enemy", a protest against the Catholic Church. O'Connor's 17-year-old son Shane died last year, days after he was reported missing. The singer later cancelled all live performances for the rest of 2022, and paid t

Pitchfork made a selection of eight songs that established Gordon Lightfoot "as a force in the United States and his native Canada—the songs that capture his essence". The New York Times has also made a selection, of 10 tracks. Guardian shares a short biography, full of famous admirers.

Harry Belafonte, the pioneering Calypso singer, actor, and civil rights leader, has died at the age of 96. In his music career, there are several firsts, and groundbreaking moves. His second album, 'Belafonte', was the first No 1 in the new US Billboard album chart in March 1956. His third album, 'Calypso', featuring songs from his Jamaican heritage, brought the feelgood calypso style to many Americans for the first time, and became the first album to sell more than a million copies in the US. Bob Dylan’s first recording – playing harmonica – was on Belafonte’s 1962 album, 'Midnight Special'. The previous year, Belafonte had been hired by Frank Sinatra to perform at John F Kennedy’s presidential inauguration.

Ted Gioia wrote a great obituary to jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal, who died on Sunday aged 92: "Other musicians have changed the sound of jazz in various ways. But Ahmad Jamal actually transformed time and space. He opened up an alternative universe of sound, freer and less constrained than what we had heard before. The rules of improvised music were different after he appeared on the scene... Ahmad Jamal sat down at the piano, and just floated over the beat."

The acclaimed Japanese musician and synth-pop pioneer Ryuichi Sakamoto has died at 71, per a statement from his management team. Sakamoto was, next to Haruomi Hosono and Yukihiro Takahashi, co-founder of foundational synth-pop band Yellow Magic Orchestra, and their 1978 debut album, with singles 'Computer Game' and 'Firecracker', was a sensation in Japan. They also were influential in the development of hip-hop, sampled by countless in the genre. The trio developed their sound and broke new synthesizer ground with their albums, from 'Solid State Survivor' in 1979 through 'Service' in 1983, after which they would break up but leave behind an undeniable impact on the world of electronic music and beyond. As a solo artist, Sakamoto composed scores for movies, including an Oscar-awarded score for 'The Last Emperor', an anthem for the Japan Football Association, and the opening ceremony of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Simon Reynolds makes a strong case for Sakamoto being one of the key figures in the creation of techno, whereas Alexis Petridis argues the composer has paved the way for electropop and hip-hop.

Seymour Stein, the legendary New York music executive who signed Madonna, Talking Heads, Lou Reed, The Ramones and co-founded Sire Records, has died at the age of 80, Billboard reports. Stein set up Sire in 1966 and became a key figure in the punk, new wave and pop scenes, also introducing UK acts like The Smiths, Fleetwood Mac, Depeche Mode, Seal, The Cure and Madness to the US. Stein got into the music industry at the age of just 13 in the 1950s working in the industry paper Billboard, only to become one of the most successful talent spotters in the business - his other signings included Ice-T, The Pretenders, KD Lang and Richard Hell & the Voidoids.

Keith Reid with the band, far right

Keith Reid, who wrote the lyrics for 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' and about 100 subsequent songs by the British prog rock band Procol Harum, died March 23 at a hospital in London, at the age of 76, Guardian reports. 'A Whiter Shade of Pale,' Procol Harum’s first song and its greatest popular success by far, was issued in May 1967, at the beginning of what would later be remembered as the 'Summer of Love'. The group’s albums were much admired for their mixture of classical and blues elements, including songs such as Homburg', and 'Conquistador'. Reid, as a lyricist, was in an unusual position in the band as a full-time non-performing member.

Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, an Ethiopian nun who became known for her captivating piano compositions, has passed away in Jerusalem, where she’d lived in a monastery since 1984. She was 99 years old, Fana Broadcasting reports. As a young girl, she studied music in Switzerland and Egypt. Despite being unable to continue her formal music education, she composed, drawing from the church canon as well as popular Western genres such as the blues and ragtime to create her own singular style — a light, airy sound that was nevertheless capable of conveying intense emotion. She began releasing her first music officially in 1967, always donating the proceeds to charity.

Guitarist Gary Rossington, the last remaining original member of the US rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, has died at the age of 71. Rossington appeared on all of their albums and co-wrote the 1974 hit 'Sweet Home Alabama'. He was also one of the survivors of a 1977 plane crash that killed several of his bandmates, and marked a turn in their career. Rossington had been playing shows as recently as this last February.

Jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter, one of the most distinctive voices of his generation as a soloist, composer and bandleader, has died in Los Angeles at the age of 89. The 12-time Grammy award winner was a well-known figure on the jazz circuit since the late 1950s, playing alongside several greats, including Miles Davis, Carlos Santana, and Herbie Hancock, as well as in the jazz supergroup Weather Report, helping shape much of 20th Century jazz music. Jazz explorer Ted Gioia surveys Shorter's "remarkable compositions from the 1960s" - here.

Dave of the De La Soul, on the left

David Jolicoeur, a founding member of De La Soul, has died at the age of 54, with the cause of death still unknown, All Hip Hop reports. The musician has commonly performed under the stage name Trugoy the Dove, and later in his career as Dave. On De La Soul's debut - '3 Feet High and Rising', the band's most commercially successful record, and widely considered a masterpiece - they differentiated themselves from their contemporaries with their eccentric wordplay and eclectic jazz and funk samples.

Burt Bacharach, the songwriter and performer who scored dozens of hits, has died at 94 at home in Los Angeles of natural causes, CNN reports. 'I Say a Little Prayer', sung by Aretha Franklin, 'What’s New Pussycat?' by Tom Jones, 'The Look of Love' by Dusty Springfield, 'Make It Easy on Yourself' by the Walker Brothers, are some of his hits. 'Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head', performed by BJ Thomas and featured in the film 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid', won a Grammy and an Oscar in 1969, while Bacharach’s music for the film won the Oscar for best original score. Dionne Warwick became one of Bacharach’s most enduring and fruitful collaborators, with hits such as 'Walk on By', 'Do You Know the Way to San Jose?', 'Anyone Who Had a Heart', 'A House is Not a Home'... As of 2014, Bacharach had written 73 US and 52 UK Top 40 hits and is considered one of the most important composers of 20th-century popular music.

Charlie Thomas of the Drifters, best known for R&B hits like 'There Goes My Baby', 'Sweets For My Sweet', and 'Under the Boardwalk' with the Drifters, has died January 31 at the age of 85 from liver cancer, the New York Times reports. 'Save The Last Dance For Me' reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts, while 'There Goes My Baby,' and 'Up on the Roof' have become beloved R&B classics throughout the years. Thomas was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and dedicated more than 60 years to keeping the group’s music alive for future generations.

Barrett Strong, singer-songwriter, and a pivotal figure in the history of Motown, has died at the age of 81, the Associated Press reports. He sang the label's first major hit, 'Money (That's What I Want)', in 1959. Peaking at No 2 on the R&B singles chart and No 23 on the Hot 100, 'Money' came to define the early years of Motown, and was later recorded by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Strong went on to co-write classic songs like 'I Heard It Through the Grapevine', 'War' and 'Papa Was a Rollin' Stone'. Those hits were "revolutionary in sound and captured the spirit of the times", Motown founder Berry Gordy said in a written tribute to the musician.

Singer, songwriter, and guitar player for influential New York band Television, Tom Verlaine has died aged 73 after a "brief illness", the New York Times reports. Verlaine shaped the sound of rock and punk music in the 1970s and beyond, applying a poetic flair and serious musicianship to the rougher edges of the wider movement. After Television broke up in 1978, Verlaine embarked on an extensive solo career that saw him release ten albums across the ensuing decades, exploring a variety of musical themes that generally get tossed together under the label “post-punk. Television's first album 'Marquee Moon', released in 1977, is one of the most critically heralded punk/post-punk albums of all time.

Edward Avedisian played with the Boston Pops for 35 years and the Boston Ballet Orchestra for 43 seasons, performing with Aerosmith, Whitney Houston, Tony Bennett, Luciano Pavarotti, Leontyne Price, and Big Bird from Sesame Street over the years. He earned a modest salary, however, last year he has donated $100 million to he to Boston University. Unbeknownst to many, Avedisian found stunning success through his personal investments, turning the modest salary of a musician into a fortune. He was self-taught as an investor, reading books and Investor’s Business Dailyand regularly watching CNBC and Bloomberg for tips. Avedisian was a buy-and-hold investor, focusing on initial public offerings (IPOs) and taking a lot of risk by buying on margin. His secret was - “success is the intersection of opportunity and preparation”. Avedisian died late last year. Boston University Today has the story.

"A time to die"
January 20, 2023

David Crosby dies aged 81

Singer-songwriter-guitarist David Crosby, a founding member of two popular and influential ’60s rock units, the Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, has died aged 81, The New York Times reports. Alexis Petridis points out that "Crosby genuinely was brilliant. He was blessed with a beautiful voice and an uncanny gift for harmony... a fantastic, forward-thinking songwriter". Rolling Stone picks out 20 essential songs by the folk-rock legend. The New Cue revisits an interview from a few years ago with the witty guy.

Japanese musician Yukihiro Takahashi, best known as the influential drummer and vocalist for electronic act Yellow Magic Orchestra, has died aged 70, Japan Times reports. Yellow Magic Orchestra drew significant influence from Isao Tomita and Kraftwerk, Japanese traditional music, arcade games, funk, and disco pioneer Giorgio Moroder, becoming renowned for their use of synths, samplers, sequencers, and drum machines. Numerous musicians, including Junior Boys, Sparks, Akiko Yano, Erol Alkan, Mouse on Mars, and Good Willsmith paid tribute to Takahashi.

Lisa Marie Presley, singer-songwriter and only child of Elvis and Priscilla Presley, has died at 54 following a cardiac arrest, CNN reports. Lisa Marie's passing comes just two days after she attended the Golden Globes, where Austin Butler won best actor in a motion picture, drama, for playing Elvis. She appeared deeply emotional as the actor thanked Priscilla and Lisa Marie, saying, “I love you forever.” He later told reporters that he is “endlessly grateful” to the Presleys for “welcoming me into their family in such a beautiful way.”

Jeff Beck, the celebrated rock guitarist who played with the Yardbirds and led the Jeff Beck Group, has died aged 78, the BBC reports. Beck was known as a keen innovator - he pioneered jazz-rock, experimented with fuzz and distortion effects, and opened the way for psych-rock and heavy metal. Beck, whose fingers and thumbs were famously insured for £7m, was an eight-time Grammy winner, recipient of the Ivor Novello for outstanding contribution to British music, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame both as a solo artist and as a member of the Yardbirds. His Yardbirds bandmate, Jimmy Page wrote on Twitter - “The six stringed Warrior is no longer here for us to admire the spell he could weave around our mortal emotions. Jeff could channel music from the ethereal. His technique unique. His imaginations apparently limitless". Rod Stewart, who sang in the Jeff Beck Group, tweeted: "He was one of the few guitarists that when playing live would actually listen to me sing and respond".

Music REDEF assembled an expansive list of music figures who had left us in 2022. They are "Migos’ master of triplets, the queen mother of all-girl group singers, country’s coal miner’s daughter, classic rock’s songbird, one of Hitsville's greatest hitmakers, the spirit of Foo Fighters, and a visionary young jazz trumpeter", among others.

ritish fashion designer and punk style icon Vivienne Westwood has died aged 81 peacefully, surrounded by her family, at her home in London. In the fashion world, Westwood was a beloved character who energized and pushed the boundaries of the industry until her death. To the media, she was "the high priestess of punk". She worked as a primary school teacher, before setting up clothing shop Let It Rock on King's Road in London with her then partner Malcolm McLaren in the early 1970s. The business was later renamed Sex and McLaren began managing a punk rock band made up of shop regulars - the Sex Pistols. They shot to fame in 1976 wearing Westwood and McLaren's designs. Musicians are paying tribute to the designer. Chrissie Hynde, the Pretenders frontwoman who worked at their boutique said on Twitter: “Vivienne is gone and the world is already a less interesting place”. Sir Paul McCartney shared on Twitter: “A ballsy lady who rocked the fashion world and stood defiantly for what was right. Love Paul x”.

Maxi Jazz, the lead singer of British dance act Faithless, has died "peacefully in his sleep" in his south-London home on Friday night, aged 65. A statement shared on Jazz's Instagram and signed by his former bandmates said: "He was a man who changed our lives in so many ways. He gave proper meaning and message to our music". Beyond Faithless, the versatile musician formed Maxi Jazz & The E-Type Boys, playing "melodic funk and blues mixed with reggae beats, dub baselines [and] Jamaican melodies". The music world pays tribute to Maxi Jazz.

Terry Hall, the singer of the influential English ska band The Specials, has died at the age of 63, following a short illness, the AP reports. Hall dropped out of school at 14 and found himself in the English punk scene, joining a band called the Squad. But in 1977, he joined The Coventry Automatic, the first incarnation of The Specials. Melding the British punk of the late-70s and Jamaican ska of the 60s, the band broke through, influencing a generation of anti-racist punk and ska bands. “His music and his performances encapsulated the very essence of life… the joy, the pain, the humor, the fight for justice, but mostly the love” - the band's statement reads. Guardian selects 10 of his recordings.

Manuel Göttsching, the innovative German guitarist and electronic music pioneer who released influential works with Ash Ra Tempel and as a solo artist, has died at age 70. His early band Ash Ra Tempel released five albums from 1971-1973, helping to define the sound of the emergent krautrock scene. Later, Göttsching’s 1984 solo album 'E2-E4' played a key role in the evolution of house and techno music. Guardian remembers the musician.

Angelo Badalamenti, the composer most famous for his “dark beauty” work with filmmaker David Lynch in the synth-heavy music for 'Blue Velvet', 'Twin Peaks' and 'Mulholland Drive' died at 85. Badalamenti scored nearly 50 films and worked with directors including Paul Schrader and Danny Boyle, while also collaborating on records and music videos with David Bowie and Michael Jackson. The composer’s 'Twin Peaks' theme music won a 1990 Grammy Award, and the soundtrack album was an international smash. CNN looks back into life and career.

Hamish Kilgour was co-founder, with his brother David, of New Zealand guitar-rock band the Clean, who was very influential on several generations of indie rock. Hamish wrote, sang and played drums and guitar in the Clean, he also co-founded Bailter Space and the Mad Scene and released a handful of solo albums. Kilgour had been reported missing in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Nov. 27, and was found dead on Monday, the New Zealand Herald reports.

“On behalf of Christine McVie’s family, it is with a heavy heart we are informing you of Christine’s death" - the statement on Facebook said, announcing the sad news of Fleetwood Mac’s singer passing. Christine McVie has died this morning in a hospital, following a short illness, NY Times reports. She was 79. The British American rock band, founded in London in 1967, sold more than 100m records worldwide, making them one of the most successful groups ever. Their best-known songs include 'Dreams', 'Go Your Own Way' and 'Everywhere'.

Music REDEF chief Jason Hirschhorn pays tribute to Charles Koppelman,  one of the music industry’s most powerful executives, who worked with Dolly Parton, Barbra Streisand, Vanilla Ice and many more. Hirschhorn remembers the summer when he and other interns worked under Koppelman: "Thanks for giving us all your time. You can see we took some of what we watched you do and remixed it into our lives and careers. All these names, all these lives... The branches made you quite a tree. Salute." A quote from Variety's Koppelman interview: When I first went into the music business, I’d look around at the record-label guys: They all had this white pallor, chain-smoked cigarettes, were nervous and jerky and always running to catch a plane somewhere. All the music publishers had great suntans, were smoking big, fat Cuban cigars and looked very relaxed. So I asked myself, which one did I want to be when I was 40?.

1 2 3 10