As we say farewell to 2012, we honor the legendary artists who we lost this year.
One of the world’s best-selling music artists, Whitney Houston sold over 170 million albums, singles and videos worldwide. All of her 10 albums either went diamond, multi-platinum, platinum or gold. She was cited as he most awarded female act of all time in the Guinness World Records. Houston is the only artist to have seven consecutive number one hits on the BillboardHot 100 list. In addition to being a singer, she was also an actress, a producer and model. Houston accidentally drowned in the bathtub of her hotel room on February 11, 2012 due to the effects of chronic cocaine use and heart disease.
Davy Jones was one of the greatest teen idols of all time from the pop-rock group The Monkees. He also starred in the band’s self-titled TV series. He sang lead vocals on many of the band’s tracks, including “I Wanna Be Free” and “Daydream Believer.” After the Monkees split in 1971, there have been a number of reunions for the sake of creating anniversary albums. On February 29, 2012 Jones was rushed to the hospital where he died of a heart attack after riding one of his favorite horses.
Etta James’ style covered a range of genres that bridged the gap between rhythm and blues, rock and roll, soul, jazz and gospel. She is a six-time Grammy winner and the winner of 17 Blues Music Awards. James ranked number 22 on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers of All Time and number 62 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists. In 2003, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame in both 1999 and 2008. After being diagnosed with leukemia, James passed away on January 20, 2012.
Robin Gibb was a singer and songwriter, who co-founded the popular rock band the Bee Gees with his twin brother Maurice and older brother Barry. The trio was one of the most successful rock groups of all time and sold over 200 million records. The Bee Gees received an order of chivalry from the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace as commanders for their contribution to the music industry in 2004. Gibb’s last performance was in February 2012 in support of injured British servicemen and women at a charity concert before he died on May 20 from liver and kidney failure.
Five-time Grammy Award winner, Donna Summer is best known as the queen of the ‘70s disco era. She was one of the earliest artists to have three consecutive double albums reach number one on the Billboard chart. Initially Summer was the lead singer of a psychedelic rock band, Crow. After co-writing the song “Love To Love You Baby” with Pete Bellotte, she pursued a successful solo career. The singer lost a long battle to lung cancer on May 17, 2012. Recently, it was announced that next year she will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Adam Yauch was a punk rock bassist, a songwriter, a film director and human rights activist. Of course, he is best known by his stage name MCA as a member of the Beastie Boys. The group sold 40 million records and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. On May 4, 2012 he succumbed to salivary gland cancer.
Cultural icon, Dick Clark was a radio and television personality, who hosted the longest-running variety show American Bandstand from 1957 to 1987, the game show Pyramid and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. While hosting American Bandstand, Clark introduced Americans to rock and roll and gave exposure to many new artists including Ike and Tina Turner, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Talking Heads and Simon and Garfunkel. He hosted the first show that enabled blacks and whites to performed on the same stage and allowed the live studio audience to sit without racial segregation. Clark passed away on April 18, 2012, after suffering from a heart attack.
Mark Lavon “Levon” Helm was a musician and actor, best known as the drummer and vocalist of the rock band, The Band. He also appeared in films such as Coal Miner’s Daughter and The Right Stuff. After being diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998, Helm lost his soulful, country-accented vocals. Gradually he regained use of his voice when his caner went into remission. His comeback album, Dirt Farmer earned him the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album in 2007. He was ranked number 91 on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. On April 19, 2012, Helm passed away after his long fight with cancer.
Legendary bass player Donald “Duck” Dunn died in Toyko on May 13th, where he was playing a series of concerts billed as “STAX Shows” with Steve Cropper and Eddie Floyd. He was 70. Dunn joined Booker T & The MGs in 1964, replacing original bassist Lewie Steinberg; Steinberg played on the group’s biggest hit, “Green Onions,” but Dunn would perform on many other iconic recordings including “Hip-Hug Her,” “Groovin'” and “Soul Limbo.” Booker T & The MGs were the house band for STAX Records, so Dunn also played on several other classics, including Otis Redding’s “Dock Of The Bay,” Sam & Dave’s “Hold On I’m Comin'” and Albert King’s “Born Under A Bad Sign.” In the late ’70s, Dunn and Cropper also played in The Blues Brothers, the band led by Saturday Night Live stars John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. Dunn appeared in both Blues Brothersfilms.
Former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Bob Welch was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Nashville on June 7th. He was 65. Welch joined Fleetwood Mac after their classic blues rock era ended, following the departure of guitarist/singer and founder Peter Green and guitarist/singer Jeremy Spencer. The first American to become a member the British band, his arrival in Fleetwood Mac coincided with that of singer/pianist Christine McVie. They would lead the band in a more melodic and less bluesy direction. During Welch’s era, which lasted from 1971 – 1974, their albums included Future Games and Bare Trees. Although Fleetwood Mac was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, Welch was not included.
Ravi Shankar was a renown contemporary Indian musician, and composer who played the sitar. Shankar and The Beatles‘ musical collaboration inspired the 1960s movement of psychedelia. The Beatles’ lead guitarist George Harrison took sitar lessons from Shankar and became the first Western musician to play the instrument.The sitar had a strong influence on the band’s albums including “Rubber Soul,” “Revolver” and “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Shankar also influenced The Rolling Stones hit “Paint It Black” and Stevie Wonder‘s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours”. After five days of being admitted into the hospital for breathing difficulties, Shankar passed away on December 6, 2012. He had suffered from upper-respiratory and heart issues over the past year.
-Maria Bonello, WCBS-FM/NYC