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2018: A Look Back At Those We’ve Lost

They May Be Gone But Their Musical Legacy Will Live Forever

The new year is almost upon us and it’s time once again to reflect on the past year and the talented artists we have lost. In 2018, we have said goodbye to iconic and legendary performers whose music has inspired generations as well as those in the prime of their careers. Sadly, some were taken way too soon as they succumbed to their battles with mental illness, depression, and addiction. Although they may no longer be with us, their musical legacy lives on and their songs shall become immortal serving to both entertain and inspire future generations of music lovers.


Aretha Franklin (March 25, 1942-August 16, 2018)

This past August the world said goodbye to the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin. The iconic vocalist was the epitome of class and grace as she not only entertained the masses but was vocal in the fight for civil rights. Selling over 75 million records, her legendary career speaks for itself. I would be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t been affected by her music. Whether she taught you “a little respect” or made you “feel like a natural woman,” the memories and music of Aretha Franklin will always be a part of us.


Mac Miller (January 19, 1992-September 7, 2018)


With five chart topping albums to his credit, the 26 year old Miller was not only an accomplished rapper but a well known producer and skilled arranger. Starting out as a young indie artist, the young rapper showed an entire generation how to have the “best day ever.” His fifth studio album Swimming was released in August of 2018 with the single “Self Care” earning him his highest charting song ever two weeks after his death.


Roy Clark (April 15, 1933-November 15, 2018)

Known as the super picker, country music artist Roy Clark was a legendary performer and guitarist. Not only was he the co-host of the iconic variety show Hee Haw which continues entertaining audiences to this day, but the winner of countless awards and accolades. Clark was a Grammy and American Country Music awards winner and a member of the Grand Ole Opry. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009.


Avicii (September 8, 1989-April 20, 2018)

Swedish musician Tim Bergling, known to the world as Avicii, was an accomplished DJ, musician, remixer, and producer. His work was cutting edge and he possessed a unique talent for blending electronic music with different genres. His song creations lit up the dance charts and clubs around the world and he is often credited with bringing the electronic music genre into  mainstream top 40 radio.


Vinnie Paul (March 11, 1964-June 22, 2018)


Metal fans around the world mourned the loss of one of their own, beloved drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott. Paul was best known as the co-founder of Pantera, a band that he formed with his brother, guitar god Dimebag Darrell, putting Texas metal on the world map. There isn’t a true metal fan alive who doesn’t instantly recognize the opening riff of “Walk,” one of Pantera’s most well known songs. After the tragic death of Dimebag, Paul went on to become  a member of Hellyeah from 2006 until his death, further cementing his mark on metal drummer’s everywhere.


Nancy Wilson (February 20, 1937-December 13, 2018)


Jazz legend Nancy Wilson became known as The Girl With the Honey-Coated Voice entertaining the world with her brilliant brand of jazz and blues. The three time Grammy winner has a catalog of over 70 albums and has performed with fellow legends Ella Fitzgerald and Al Jarreau.


Dolores O’Riordan (September 6, 1971-January 15, 2018)


The hauntingly beautiful vocals of Dolores O’Riordan became one of the sounds of the nineties when she stepped in to replace Niall Quinn as the lead singer of The Cranberries. The band rocked the alternative rock world with their innovative sound combining the best of pop, rock, punk, and Irish folk resulting in classic songs “Linger” and “Zombie.” After her death, The Cranberries announced that they would not continue on without her but their legacy and hers lives on as the American heavy metal band Bad Wolves released a hit cover of “Zombie” just days after O’Riordan’s death.


XXXTentacion (January 23, 1998-June 18, 2018)

The music world was rocked by the act of violence that took the life of young rapper Jahseh Onfroy, professionally known as XXXTentacion. The twenty year old rapper’s short career was full of controversy amidst a violent past despite his success. Just days before his death, he signed a $10 million record deal for his third and upcoming album.  


Oli Herbert (July 10, 1974-October 16, 2018)

Oli Herbert rose to fame as the lead guitarist for the heavy metal band All That Remains. His crushing riffs and guitar harmonies led the band to the top of the new American heavy metal movement and he has become known as one of the founders of the metalcore genre. The band became known for their willingness to take risks and experiment with new ideas. Herbert played on all eight All That Remains’ albums up until his death.


“Fast” Eddie Clarke (October 5, 1950-January 10, 2018)


Metal guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke was best known for his tenure in the legendary Motorhead. Clarke spent six years in the Loudest Band in the World, performing and co-writing iconic tunes like “Ace of Spades.” After his departure from Motorhead, Clarke joined up with former UFO bassist Pete Way to form Fastway, which released three albums in the eighties, becoming a staple of the revived eighties metal scene.  


Vic Damone (June 12, 2018-February 11, 2018)

Rising to success in the 1940’s with his radio show, singer Vic Damone went on to become a musical icon in the 50’s and 60’s. His rich baritone was behind hits “My Heart Cries For You” and “On The Street Where You Live.” Damone became an American icon alongside his contemporaries Frank Sinatra and Perry Como. After suffering a stroke in 2002, Damone retired from performing but went on to release an autobiography and launch his own Facebook profile dedicated to his fans.


Kyle Pavone (June 5, 1990-August 25, 2018)

As clean vocalist and keyboardist for We Came As Romans, Kyle Pavone was not only a talented musician but a truly gifted performer. His onstage personality always had him in high gear as the band became a festival staple.  Whether he was jumping off a stack of amplifiers or climbing atop the barricade, Kyle always put on a great show, making fan interaction a priority. His talent was surpassed only by the size of his heart and the metalcore community will never be quite the same. Shortly after his death, his bandmates started the Kyle Pavone Foundation, an organization to aid artists in their struggles with mental illness and addiction.


Yvonne Staples (October 23, 1937-April 10, 2018)


Gospel singer Yvonne Staples first joined her family singing group The Staple Singers when her brother got drafted into the army. She went on to become a gospel and r&b legend with hits like “I’ll Take You There” and “Respect Yourself.” She also acted as the group’s manager as well as manager for her sister Mavis Staples who went on to a successful solo career.


Jill Janus (September 2, 1975-August 14, 2018)


As the frontwoman of heavy metal band Huntress, singer Jill Janus wowed the metal world with the band’s 2010 debut EP Off With Her Head. The singer was influenced by vocal powerhouses Ann Wilson and Freddie Mercury and boasted a dynamic four octave soprano range. In addition to her work with Huntress, Janus also was the lead singer for cover bands Chelsea Girls and The Starbreakers.


Marty Balin (January 30, 1942-September 27, 2018)


As a founding member of Jefferson Airplane and later Jefferson Starship, singer-songwriter and guitarist Marty Balin helped to define the music of an era. The San Francisco Sound would become the embodiment of the sixties counter- culture with Jefferson Airplane’s songs “White Rabbit” and “Somebody To Love” leading the charge. Balin played with the band at iconic rock concerts including the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and was even knocked unconscious by members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club during the Altamont Free Concert. In the eighties, Balin would see continued success with a solo career of his own.  


Richard Swift (March 16, 1977-July 3, 2018)

Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Richard Swift made his mark on the music world in a number of ways. The talented musician was a member of the indie rock band the Shins for five years and was a member of The Arcs, the side project of Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, as well as a touring member of The Black Keys. Swift not only sang but played drums, keyboards, guitar, and bass guitar and handled production duties for Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats.


Roy Hargrove (October 16, 1969-November 2, 2018)


Acclaimed Jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove was a two time Grammy award winner playing in the hard bop style of jazz trumpet. Hargrove also played the flugelhorn and was the bandleader of the progressive group the RH Factor. The group was a key player in the crossover of jazz music to mainstream, combining traditional jazz with funk, hip-hop, soul, and gospel.


Mark E. Smith (January 5, 1957-January 24, 2018)


Mark E. Smith made his mark on the British post-punk scene as the founder, vocalist, and only constant member of The Fall. The band has released 32 studio albums becoming a prolific force in the post-punk music world. Although, The Fall never reached a worldwide level of commercial success, Smith’s work stands the test of time and has garnered a huge cult following over the years.


Charles Neville (October 28, 1938-April 26, 2018)


New Orleans has always had a storied musical history and its jazz roots run deep. One of the most famous musical acts to come out of the Crescent City is the Neville Brothers. Crossing the lines of R&B, soul, and funk, the Neville Brothers have been a musical tour de force since the late seventies. At the heart and soul of the band, was saxophonist Charles Neville. Known onstage as Charlie the horn man, Charles was a big part of the group’s success.


Alan Longmuir (June 20, 1948-July 2, 2018)


Scottish musician Alan Longmuir was a founding member and bass guitarist for the seventies pop sensation The Bay City Rollers. The band quickly rose to fame as teen idols selling millions of albums and concert venues around the world. If you were a young girl in the seventies, you’ll definitely remember chanting out the famous “S-A-TUR-DAY Night” lyric of their hit song.


Pete Shelley (April 17, 1955-December 6, 2018)


When singer-songwriter and guitarist Pete Shelley formed the Buzzcocks along with Howard Devoto back in 1976, the English punk scene would never be the same. The band went on to influence not only  the Manchester music scene at the time, but also the development of the independent record label movement. Their albums Another Music in a Different Kitchen and Love Bites were a seminal part of the punk rock movement.


Mikio “Ko-Gami” Fujioka (January 19, 1981-January 5, 2018)


Japanese pop-metal band Babymetal may be best known for its gimmick of having  three young female vocalists, hence the baby part of the name. But, behind the cute faces lies a beast of a metal band with skilled musicians that are second to none. At the heart of the band, was guitarist Mikio Fujioka. Known as “Ko-Gami” or “The Small God,” Fujioka was a virtuoso and a force to be reckoned with on the guitar.


Bob Dorough (December 12, 1923-April 23, 2018)


Bob Dorough was an accomplished bebop and jazz vocalist, pianist, composer, songwriter, and producer. He was a staple on the New York City jazz scene in the 50’s and 60’s and has worked with greats like  Miles Davis and Blossom Dearie. You will probably be most familiar with Bob’s work from the Saturday morning cartoon series Schoolhouse Rock! Dorough was the genius behind the series lending not only his vocals but also his songwriting abilities to these classic children’s tunes.


Mike “Beard Guy” Taylor (January 19, 1969-December 30, 2018)


Just as I was wrapping up the final touches to this article, the news broke that Mike “Beard Guy” Taylor from the Canadian indie pop band Walk Off The Earth has passed away. The band is known for their unique covers of pop hits and the use of unusual instruments like the accordion, ukulele and theremin. They are the epitome of creativity and when you are at a Walk Off The Earth performance, you should expect the unexpected. At the core of the band, was Mike Taylor. Known as the Beard Guy, Mike was a true visionary, both skilled and innovative. I was lucky enough to cover Walk Off The Earth’s show this past November at The Fillmore Charlotte and was blown away. Mike not only sang, played keyboards, and the accordion but delighted the crowd with an exquisite piano solo during a crowd sing along to the Queen classic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” “Sing It All Away” Mike!


Reflecting on the loss of so many talented people can help put things into perspective in our own lives. Despite their superstar status, they suffer from the same illnesses and issues that affect us all. After all, our heroes are only human.  Our time here on earth is limited but the legacy we each leave behind will go on forever. Embrace compassion and kindness and make sure that whatever actions you take today will leave a positive force in the world once you are gone.


If you or a loved one is suffering from depression or mental illness, please reach out for help.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

If you need help with addiction from drugs or alcohol, please call for help and information.

National Drug Helpline 1-800-633-3239

If you need information on cancer or help dealing with cancer, please contact the American Cancer Society.

If you would like information on heart disease or other heart related issues, please contact the American Heart Association.

(icon photo by staffer Luke Jamroz)

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