2019 in Review: A Farewell to Those Who Left Us

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We lost many greats of the music world in 2019: musicians and singers, songwriters and producers, music industry giants and others who made it all happen.

They span all genres, from the New Orleans gris-gris of Dr. John to the blue-collar rock of Eddie Money, from the powerhouse jazz-informed drummer Ginger Baker to the good-time pop-rock of The Monkees’ Peter Tork to the innovative new wave pioneer Ric Ocasek of The Cars.

Speaking of Ocasek, during the “In Memoriam” segment which aired on the Grammy Awards on CBS on Jan. 26, 2020, the musician’s first name was misspelled as “Rick.”

Watch the Recording Academy’s “In Memoriam” clip; “Rick” Ocasek appears at the 23-second mark

The 2020 Grammy telecast was the lowest-rated in history.

Here we pay tribute to some of those who’ve left us in 2019. While it’s a cliché, it’s also true that, although they are gone, their music will always remain with those who are still here to listen.

(The names are listed alphabetically by surname, followed by the date of death and a brief description of their place in our world. We’ve done full obituaries for many of them; click on their names to read their stories.)

Jeff Austin—6/24—Mandolinist/singer with Yonder Mountain String Band bluegrass group

Ginger Baker—10/6—Drummer for Cream, Blind Faith and other bands

Chuck Barksdale—5/15—Singer with the Dells

Paul Barrere—10/26—Little Feat guitarist/singer/songwriter

Dave Bartholomew—6/3—New Orleans musician/producer/arranger/songwriter; Fats Domino collaborator

Don Baskin—10/22—Syndicate of Sound (“Little Girl”) singer

David Berman—8/7—Musician/singer with the band the Silver Jews

Hal Blaine—3/11—Session drummer with the L.A. studio team the Wrecking Crew

Asa Brebner—3/10—Guitarist with the Modern Lovers

Kofi Burbridge—2/15—Keyboardist/flutist with the Tedeschi Trucks Band

Irving Burgie—Musician and songwriter who wrote Caribbean-flavored songs for Harry Belafonte, including “Day-O.”

Diahann Carroll—10/4—Singer and actress

Donna Carson—11/21—Singer in ‘60s-’70s folk duo Hedge and Donna

Neal Casal—8/26—Musician with Ryan Adams, others

Steve Cash—10/14—Ozark Mountain Daredevils harmonica player

George “Pops” Chambers—10/12—Bassist/singer with the Chambers Brothers

Carol Channing—1/15—Actress and singer

Johnny Clegg—7/16—South African singer/musician

J.R. Cobb—5/4—Atlanta Rhythm Section member

Dick Dale—3/17—Surf guitar pioneer

Doris Day—5/13—Singer, actress and animal rights activist

Dr. John—6/6—Born Mac Rebennack, he was a legendary New Orleans singer/songwriter/musician

Lorna Doom—1/16—Bassist with the Germs

Daryl Dragon—1/2—The “Captain” in the Captain and Tennille

Gary Duncan—6/29—Quicksilver Messenger guitarist/singer

Molly Duncan—10/8—Saxophonist with the Average White Band

Stephan Ellis—2/?—Survivor bassist

Roky Erickson—5/31—Singer/songwriter with the 13th Floor Elevators

Keith Flint—3/4—Singer with the Prodigy

Willie Ford—5/29—Singer with the Dramatics

One of many Beatles album covers that featured a photograph by Robert Freeman

Kelly Jay Fordham—6/21—Singer/songwriter/keyboardist with Crowbar

Fred Foster—2/20—Founder of Monument Records, producer for Roy Orbison

Marie Fredriksson—12/9—Singer with Roxette

Robert Freeman—11/7—Photographer of Beatles album covers

Donnie Fritts—8/27—Songwriter/keyboardist for Kris Kristofferson

Ian Gibbons—8/1—Keyboardist with the Kinks

João Gilberto—7/6—Brazilian guitarist/singer, bossa nova pioneer; collaborated with Stan Getz on “The Girl From Ipanema”

Tony Glover—5/29—Blues harmonica player

Tom Goodkind—2/28—Washington Squares singer/guitarist

Rowland “Boon” Gould—4/30—Founding member of the band Level 42

Eric Haydock—1/5—Bassist with the Hollies

Greg Haymes—4/10—Member of the band Blotto

Mark Hollis—2/25—Lead singer/songwriter with Talk Talk

Robert Hunter9/23—Grateful Dead lyricist, solo artist

James Ingram—1/29—R&B singer

Neil Innes—12/29—Member of the Bonzo Dog Band and The Rutles

Daniel Johnston—9/11—Singer-songwriter with an international cult following

Larry Junstrom—10/6—Lynyrd Skynyrd founding bassist

Clydie King—1/7—Backing vocalist and session singer with Bob Dylan, others

Sleepy LaBeef—12/26—Rockabilly singer and musician

Jerry Lawson—7/10—Singer with the Persuasions

Roy Loney—12/13—Founding member/vocalist with the Flamin’ Groovies

Doug Lubahn—Bassist for the Doors, Clear Light and others

Steve Madaio—1/15—Trumpeter for Stevie Wonder, Paul Butterfield, others

John Mann—11/20—Canadian guitarist and singer for Spirit of the West

Barrie Masters—10/2—Singer with British pub-rock band Eddie and the Hot Rods

Phil McCormack—4/26—Singer with Molly Hatchet

Ted McKenna—1/19—Drummer with the Sensational Alex Harvey Band

Eddie Money—9/13—Singer/songwriter whose hits included “Two Tickets to Paradise,” “Baby Hold On”

Eric Moore—5/17—Singer with the Godz

Jackie Moore—11/8—R&B singer known for her 1971 hit “Precious, Precious”

Willie Murphy—1/13—Blues musician

Art Neville—7/22—Keyboardist/singer and founding member of the Meters, the Neville Brothers

Ric Ocasek—9/15—Singer/songwriter/guitarist with the Cars

Terry O’Neill—11/16—Photographer of musicians

D.A. Pennebaker—8/1—Documentary filmmaker (Monterey Pop, Don’t Look Back)


Jim Pike—6/9—Singer with the Lettermen

Andre Previn—2/28—Pianist/composer/arranger

Michael Putland—11/19—Photographer of musicians

Ranking Roger—3/26—Singer with the English Beat and General Public


Leon Rausch—5/14—Singer with Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys

Paul Raymond—4/5—Guitarist/keyboardist with UFO

Leon Redbone—5/30—Singer/songwriter/guitarist who specialized in old-time jazz and blues

Les Reed—4/15—Songwriter of Tom Jones’ hit “It’s Not Unusual” and more.

Elliot Roberts—6/21—Music business executive; managed Neil Young

Sara Romweber—3/5—Drummer with Let’s Active

Doug Sandom—2/27—First drummer for the Who

Jack Scott—12/12—Early Canadian-born rocker

Kim Shattuck—10/2—Singer-songwriter with the Muffs

Joe Smith—12/2—Record industry executive at Warner Bros., Elektra and Capitol labels

Russell Smith—7/12—Amazing Rhythm Aces singer/songwriter

Iain Sutherland—11/25—Member of the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver

Norma Tanega—12/29—Folk-pop singer known for the 1966 hit “Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog”

Larry Taylor—8/19—Bassist with Canned Heat, others (nicknamed “The Mole”)

Joe Terry—4/15—Singer with Danny and the Juniors

Peter Tork—2/21—Member of the Monkees, solo singer/songwriter

Bernie Torme—3/17—Guitarist/singer with Ozzy Osbourne, Gillan

Bill Vitt—7/16—Drummer with Jerry Garcia’s solo bands

Scott Walker—3/22—Member of the Walker Brothers, solo artist

Larry Wallis—9/19—English musician with the Pink Fairies, Motörhead

Jeff Walls—5/29—Guitarist with Guadalcanal Diary

Guy Webster—2/9—Photographer of album covers for Beach Boys, Doors, Mamas and the Papas, others

Paul Whaley—1/28—Drummer with Blue Cheer

David White—3/17—Member of Danny and the Juniors, writer of “At the Hop”

Mike Wilhelm—5/14—Musician with the Charlatans, Flamin’ Groovies

Andre Williams—3/17—R&B singer

John Gary Williams—5/28—Singer with the Mad Lads

Mac Wiseman—2/24—Bluegrass singer

Nicky Wonder—8/7—Guitarist with Brian Wilson

Pegi Young—1/1—Singer-songwriter, ex-wife of Neil Young

Reggie Young—1/17—Guitarist with the Memphis Boys

Bonus Video: The Cars’ “You Might Think”

Best Classic Bands Staff

11 Comments so far

Jump into a conversation
  1. Mark
    #1 Mark 3 December, 2019, 15:28

    Andrew “greedy” smith 12/3. Keyboardist, singer, harmonica player for Australian band, mental as anything.

    Reply this comment
  2. Mark
    #2 Mark 3 December, 2019, 15:30

    Stuart “Chet” Fraser 12/2 guitarist for New Zealand band, “noiseworks”

    Reply this comment
  3. Lorax
    #3 Lorax 4 December, 2019, 09:52

    What about J. GEILS??

    Reply this comment
  4. Terry
    #4 Terry 4 December, 2019, 09:52

    I’m glad you included Peter Tork of the Monkees in 2019 losses. Peter wasn’t listed in several other lists.

    Reply this comment
  5. Cornelius
    #5 Cornelius 10 December, 2019, 17:41

    Thank you for honoring Mike Wilhelm. What is the procedure to get the Charlatans inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame? Richard Olsen and George Hunter are the last members alive…

    Reply this comment
    • steve b
      steve b 17 December, 2019, 00:20

      who are the charlatans? I’m serious,i’ve never heard of them

      Reply this comment
      • Jeff Tamarkin
        Jeff Tamarkin 17 December, 2019, 10:33

        One of the earliest San Francisco bands of the ’60s. One of their members was Dan Hicks.

        Reply this comment
      • Rock Steady
        Rock Steady 17 December, 2019, 14:26

        Early San Francisco band known for old western garb in mid to late 60’s. Band featured Dan Hicks, and members of the Phantom Movers and the Flamin’ Groovies.

        Reply this comment
  6. Mr.B
    #6 Mr.B 28 January, 2020, 11:08

    Did anyone mention Doug Lubahn (Doors, Dreams)……

    Reply this comment

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