2016 has been cruel. It seems this year, more than any other, has taken some of the most influential musicians and actors of our time including David Bowie, Prince and Alan Rickman. Here we remember all the greats that have left us this year.
David Bowie: January 8, 1947 – January 10, 2016
The legendary musician died aged 69 following a battle with liver cancer, which he kept secret from many friends and the public. Just days earlier Bowie had released his final album ‘Blackstar’ on his 69th birthday, an album littered with references to his impending death.
Alan Rickman: February 21, 1946 – January 14, 2016
Actor Alan Rickman died in January this year following the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in August last year. He was well-known for playing Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film series and his role as Hans Gruber in action film Die Hard.
Glenn Frey: November 6, 1948 – January 18, 2016
Frey was a founding member of US rock band Eagles in 1971 and provided guitar and vocals for the successful group. Following their initial split in 1980, Frey also found success as a solo artist before the group reunited in 1994. He died following complications from serious surgery at the age of 67.
Sir Terry Wogan: August 3, 1938 – January, 31 2016
Wogan was a beloved Irish radio and television broadcaster with a career stretching over 60 years. He was well-known for his BBC Radio 2 breakfast show Wake Up With Wogan and his hosting of charity event Children In Need from 1980-2014. At age 77, Wogan died in his home following a battle with cancer.
Maurice White: December 19, 1941 – February 3, 2016
White was the founder and vocalist of seminal funk and soul group Earth, Wind and Fire and also produced several of their most popular albums, for which he won six Grammy Awards. He died in his sleep following a battle with Parkinsons disease, aged 71.
Harper Lee: April 28, 1926 – February 19, 2016
Lee was an American author known widely for her novel ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, which became an international sensation and spawned a Hollywood adaptation in 1962. Last year, a sequel entitled ‘Go Set a Watchman’ was released 55 years after the first book was published. Lee died in her sleep, aged 89.
Frank Kelly: December 28, 1938 – February 28, 2016
Kelly was an Irish actor who appeared in film and television throughout his career. He was best known for his role as Father Jack in the Channel 4 comedy Father Ted and his short stint in soap Emmerdale. Kelly died aged 77 following a heart attack.
Sir George Martin: January 3, 1926 – March 8, 2016
Martin was affectionally called ‘The Fifth Beatle’ by the band due to his contributions as producer towards their recording material throughout their career. He was knighted in 1996 by The Queen and later composed the music for her Golden Jubilee six years later. He died in his sleep, aged 90.
Keith Emerson: November 2, 1944 – March 10, 2016
Emerson was a member of The Nice from 1967-1970, before founding his own prog-rock group, Emerson, Lake and Palmer with Greg Lake and Carl Palmer. He also provided the film scores for several films throughout the 1980s and ’90s. Emerson committed suicide in Santa Monica, USA following battles with heart disease, aged 71.
Phife Dawg November 20, 1970 – March 22, 2016
Phife was a founding member of hip-group A Tribe Called Quest, alongside Q-Tip and Jarobi White. As well as appearing on all of their releases, he also released a solo album in 2000 called ‘Ventilation: Da LP’. He died aged 45 due to complications with diabetes.
Ronnie Corbett: December 4, 1930 – March 31, 2016
Corbett was born in Edinburgh before WW2 but found fame in the 1970s and ’80s as a part of comedy duo ‘The Two Ronnies’ alongside friend and comedian Ronnie Barker. Corbett died aged 85 after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease a year earlier.
Merle Haggard: April 6, 1937 – April 6, 2016
Haggard was a wildly successful country musician who released 47 studio albums and went on to have 38 No. 1 country singles over his career. Last year he released an album with longtime friend Willie Nelson entitled ‘Django and Jimmie’. He died of complications from pneumonia on his 79th birthday.
Howard Marks: August 13, 1945 – April 10, 2016
Marks was a former drug smuggler in the 1970s and landed himself a seven year prison sentence as a result. He later immortalised his crazy tales of pushing dope in his book ‘Mr. Nice’ and actively pushed for drug legislation reform following his release. He lost his battle with colorectal cancer following a year-long battle aded 70.
Victoria Wood: May 19, 1953 – April 20, 2016
Wood found fame as a stand-up comedian and also for her roles in several beloved British television shows including sitcom Dinner Ladies and drama Housewife, 49, which she won a BAFTA for in 2006. She died following a six-month battle with cancer.
Prince: June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016
The legendary musician was found dead at his Paisley Park home aged 57, just days after he was admitted to hospital following ‘flu-like’ symptoms. Up until his death he was touring his ‘Piano & Microphone’ shows, which saw him strip back his performances to the bare bones.
Muhammad Ali: Jan 17 1942 – Jun 3 2016
The legendary boxer and three-time heavyweight champion of the world had battled Parkinson’s Disease for the last thirty-two years of his life. Ali died in hospital in Arizona after being admitted with a respiratory disorder aged 74.
Caroline Aherne: December 24 1963 – July 2 2016
The actor and comedian was best known for playing the roles of chat show host Mrs Merton in the show of the same name and Denise Royle in The Royle Family, which she also co-created and wrote. She passed away in July after a battle with lung cancer.
Alan Vega: June 23 1938 – July 16 2016
The New York musician became a cult hero via his work with experimental protopunk group Suicide. He suffered a stroke in 2012, but made a comeback in early 2016 when he contributed vocals to French pop singer Christophe’s track ‘Tangerine’. He died in his sleep in July.
Gene Wilder: June 11 1933 – August 29 2016
The beloved actor put in an iconic turn as Willy Wonka in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory and also appeared in films such as Bonnie And Clyde and Stir Crazy. He stopped acting in 2003 and began writing instead. He died from complications from Alzheimer’s disease while listening to Ella Fitzgerald’s ‘Over The Rainbow’, which his family said was one of his favourite songs.
Pete Burns: August 5 1959 – October 23 2016
The unique Burns fronted ’80s pop group Dead Or Alive, whose biggest hit was the chart-topping single ‘You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)’. Before finding fame he worked in Liverpool record shop Probe Records and would throw customers’ purchases at them if he disapproved. He appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2006, reaching fifth place. He died aged 57 following a sudden cardiac arrest.
Leonard Cohen: September 21 1934 – November 7 2016
Musician, poet, novelist and painter Cohen began his career as a singer and songwriter in 1967, aged 33. He released his final album ‘You Want It Darker’ in October 2016. Three weeks later it was announced he had passed away in his sleep following a fall.
Sharon Jones: May 4 1956 – November 18 2016
The American soul singer, who led Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, was diagnosed with bile duct cancer in 2013, forcing the band to postpone the release of their fifth album ‘Give The People What They Want’. She suffered a stroke while watching the US election in November and died ten days later.
Andrew Sachs: April 7 1930 – November 23 2016
Sachs was a British actor best known for his role of Spanish waiter Manuel in Fawlty Towers. He also appeared in Are You Being Served?, Coronation Street and Revenge Of The Pink Panther. He was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2012 and died in November, aged 86.
Peter Vaughan: April 4 1923 – December 6 2016
Actor Vaughan began his career in 1959 and went on to appear in over 200 films and TV shows including The Crucible, Kiss Kiss (Bang Bang) and Village Of The Damned. His last role was that of Maester Aemon in Game Of Thrones. He died earlier this month, aged 93.
Greg Lake: November 10 1947 – December 7 2016
Dorset-born musician Lake was a member of both King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. He also had a successful solo career during which he penned the Christmas hit ‘I Believe In Father Christmas’. He died following a “long and stubborn” battle with cancer, according to his manager.
Guitarist Rick Parfitt played with legendary rock n’ rollers, Status Quo, for over 50 years. He died from a ‘severe infection’ as the result of a shoulder injury on Christmas Eve in Marbella, Spain.
After beginning a stellar career in pop as part of duo Wham!, Michael went on to a hugely successful solo career. He sold over 100 million albums worldwide throughout his over 40-year career. His publicist confirmed he had passed away on Christmas Day.