Musicians We’ve Lost in 2020

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Five of the greats who have left us in 2020. From left to right: Kenny Rogers, Bill Withers, John Prine, Neil Peart and Little Richard

This year has been brutal. The Covid-19 pandemic has taken from us many musical greats, preying especially hard on the elders of the community. But even without the virus, it’s been a tough year.

Below are just some of the many artists we’ve lost thus far in 2020. They are arranged alphabetically, the artist’s name followed by the death date and a brief description of who they were.

If an artist’s name is highlighted in blue, you can click on it to be taken to Best Classic Bands’ full obituary of that artist.

Below the list of musical artists, we’ve also noted several other prominent figures whose lives were lost in 2020.

We will miss all of these great talents. RIP.

Tony Allen—4/30—Pioneering Afrobeat drummer with Fela Kuti, others

Sweet Pea Atkinson—5/5—Singer with Was (Not Was)

Frankie Banali—8/20—Quiet Riot drummer

Bucky Baxter—5/25—Pedal steel guitarist for Bob Dylan, others

Ronald Bell—9/9—Kool and the Gang co-founder

Martin Birch—8/9—Producer of Fleetwood Mac, Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, others

Hamilton Bohannon—4/24—Drummer/percussionist for Motown artists; producer, bandleader in disco era

Julian Bream—8/14—Classical guitarist

Buddy Cage—2/5—Pedal steel guitarist for New Riders of the Purple Sage

Steve Martin Caro—1/14—Vocalist with the Left Banke, of “Walk Away Renee” fame

Pete Carr—6/27—Muscle Shoals session guitarist

Paul Chapman—6/9—Guitarist with UFO

Jimmy Cobb—5/24—Jazz drummer; played on Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue album

Freddy Cole—6/27—Jazz pianist/vocalist, brother of Nat “King” Cole

Richie Cole—5/2—Jazz saxophonist

Simon Coxe—9/8—Synthesizer pioneer with ’60s band Silver Apples

Max Crook—7/1—Keyboardist on Del Shannon’s hit “Runaway”

Charlie Daniels—7/6—Southern rock pioneer, session musician, producer

Manu Dibango—5/24—African musician known for 1972 hit “Soul Makossa”

Joe Diffie—3/29—Country singer/songwriter

Terry Doran—4/18—Longtime Beatles associate

Judy Dyble—4/18—Founding member of Fairport Convention

Justin Townes Earle—8/23—Singer-songwriter, son of Steve Earle

Bent Fabric—7/28—Composer and artist behind the early ’60s instrumental dance hit “Alley Cat”

Steve Farmer—4/7—Amboy Dukes member; co-wrote “Journey to the Center of the Mind”

Majek Fashek—6/1—Nigerian reggae singer

Tom Finn—6/27—Co-founder of the Left Banke, of “Walk Away Renee” fame

Snooky Flowers—3/9—Saxophonist; was member of Janis Joplin’s Kozmic Blues Band

Wayne Fontana—8/6—Singer of 1965 British Invasion hit “Game of Love”

Andy Gill—1/1—Guitarist with the Gang of Four

Marty Grebb—1/1—Musician with Buckinghams, Chicago, others

Peter Green—7/25—Co-founder of Fleetwood Mac

Dave Greenfield—5/3—Keyboardist with the Stranglers

Henry Grimes—4/17—Jazz bassist

Tommy Hancock—1/1—Known as the “Godfather of West Texas music”

Alex Harvey—4/4—Country songwriter/musician; wrote Kenny Rogers’ “Reuben James”

Roy Head—9/21—Singer of 1965 hit “Treat Her Right”

Jimmy Heath—1/19—Jazz saxophonist with the Heath Brothers

Frederick “Toots” Hibbert—9/11—Reggae pioneer who led Toots and the Maytals

Rupert Hine—6/5—British musician who produced albums for Tina Turner, others

Steve Holland—8/2—Early Molly Hatchet guitarist

Brian Howe—5/6—Bad Company frontman in late ’80s/early ’90s

Pamela Hutchinson—9/18—Singer with the Emotions (“Best of My Love”)

Willie K—5/19—Hawaii-based guitarist/performer

Ryo Kawasaki—4/13—Japanese jazz fusion guitarist

Lee Kerslake—9/19—Drummer for Uriah Heep, Ozzy Osbourne

Astrid Kirchherr

Astrid Kirchherr—5/13—Photographer known for early Beatles images

Lee Konitz—4/15—Jazz alto saxophonist

Ivan Kral—2/2—Guitarist/songwriter, member of Patti Smith Group

Bob Kulick—5/28—Guitarist/producer who worked with Kiss, Lou Reed, others

Bobby Lewis—4/28—“Tossin’ & Turnin’” hitmaker

Buzzy Linhart—2/13—Singer/songwriter/musician whose songs were recorded by Bette Midler, others

Little Richard—5/9—Rock ’n’ roll pioneer whose influence spanned generations

Mike Longo—3/22—Jazz pianist

Trini Lopez—8/11—Singer of ’60s hits “If I Had a Hammer” and “Lemon Tree”

Walter Lure—8/21—Guitarist in Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers

Vera Lynn—6/18—Veteran British singer, famous for “We’ll Meet Again”

Johnny Mandel—6/29—Composer of theme from M*A*S*H

Benny Mardones—6/29—Singer of hit song “Into the Night”

Ellis Marsalis—4/1—New Orleans pianist; father of Wynton, Branford, etc.

Barbara Martin—3/4—Pre-fame member of the Supremes

Moon Martin—5/11—Singer/songwriter; wrote “Bad Case of Loving You”

Phil May—5/15—Frontman of England’s Pretty Things

Lyle Mays—2/10—Jazz pianist; best known for his work with Pat Metheny

Mickey McGee—7/20—Drummer with Linda Ronstadt, Flying Burrito Brothers, others

Alan Merrill—3/29—Singer/songwriter; best known for writing “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll”

Ian Mitchell—9/1—Bay City Rollers bassist

Ennio Morricone—7/6—Italian film score composer (The Good, The Bad & The Ugly)

Todd Nance—8/19—Founding drummer of Widespread Panic

Lennie Niehaus—5/28—Film composer; jazz saxophonist, arranger

David Olney—1/18—Folk singer/songwriter

Keith Olsen—3/9—Producer of Fleetwood Mac, Pat Benatar, others

Robert Parker—1/19—R&B singer, best known for the hit “Barefootin’”

Gary Peacock—9/4—Jazz bassist who played with Keith Jarrett, others

Neil Peart—1/7—Drummer for Rush

Lucky Peterson—5/17—Blues musician

Bucky Pizzarelli—4/1—Jazz guitarist

Bonnie Pointer—6/8—Member of the Pointer Sisters

Joe Porcaro—7/6—Jazz drummer

Genesis P-Orridge—3/14—British musician/composer; vocalist with Throbbing Gristle

Steve Priest—6/4—Bassist for the glam band the Sweet

John Prine—4/7—Singer-songwriter who’d recently received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award

Harold Reid—4/24—Bass singer with country group the Statler Brothers

Emitt Rhodes—7/19—Singer-songwriter with the Merry-Go-Round and solo

Claudio Roditi—1/18—Brazilian jazz trumpeter

Kenny Rogers—3/22—Leader of the First Edition, then a highly successful country-pop solo artist

Wallace Roney—3/31—Jazz trumpeter

Annie Ross—7/21—Jazz singer (Lambert, Hendricks and Ross)

Jorge Santana—5/14—Frontman of Latin-rock band Malo

Jan Savage—8/5—Guitarist for the L.A. ’60s band the Seeds (“Pushin’ Too Hard”)

Adam Schlesinger—4/1—Award-winning songwriter and founding member of Fountains of Wayne

Florian Schneider—5/6—Kraftwerk co-founder

Matthew Seligman—4/17—Bassist for British band the Soft Boys

Bob Shane—1/26—Founding member of folk group the Kingston Trio

Jack Sherman—8/19—Early Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist

Jerry Slick—3/17—Drummer of San Francisco band the Great Society

Millie Small–5/5—Jamaican singer best known for “My Boy Lollipop”

Keith Tippett—6/14—British jazz and prog keyboardist; performed with King Crimson, others

Sean Tyla—5/17—Leader of British bands Ducks Deluxe and the Tyla Gang

McCoy Tyner—3/6—Jazz pianist best known for his work with John Coltrane

Pete Way—8/14—UFO founding bassist

Steve Weber—2/7—Holy Modal Rounders member

Eric Weissberg—3/22—Multi-instrumentalist best known for “Dueling Banjos”

Ian Whitcomb—4/19—English pianist and singer known for the mid-’60s hit “You Turn Me On”

Bruce Williamson—9/6—Latter-day member of the Temptations

Hal Willner—4/7—Producer of numerous tribute albums and themed concerts

Wes Wilson—1/24—San Francisco-based rock poster artist

Bill Withers—3/30—R&B singer whose hits included “Lean on Me” and “Ain’t No Sunshine”

Edna Wright—9/12—Singer of Honey Cone (“Want Ads”)

Notable Non-Music Deaths

Orson Bean—2/7—Actor

Honor Blackman—4/5—Actress in James Bond classic Goldfinger  

Kobe Bryant—1/26—Basketball great

Brian Dennehy—4/15–Actor

Kirk Douglas—2/5–Actor

Milton Glaser—6/26—Illustrator, designer of ‘I Love NY’ Logo, classic Bob Dylan poster

Ian Holm—6/19—Actor

Terry Jones—1/21—Monty Python actor

Tom Lester—4/20—Green Acres actor (Eb)

Curly Neal—5/15—Harlem Globetrotters basketball player

Ken Osmond—5/18—Actor known for his role as Eddie Haskell in Leave it to Beaver

Carl Reiner—6/29—Actor

Diana Rigg9/10—Actress best known for her role as Emma Peel in The Avengers

Joel Schumacher—6/22—Film director

Jerry Stiller—5/11—Actor/comedian

Fred Willard—5/15—Actor

Related: Which artists passed in 2019?

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3 Comments so far

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  1. RecordSteve
    #1 RecordSteve 27 June, 2020, 12:23

    Thanks Fer remembrance & memories….

    Reply this comment
  2. Billy K.
    #2 Billy K. 27 June, 2020, 20:30

    I no clue that Willie K was even sick, until I read this yesterday. Great Hawaiian musician!!

    Reply this comment

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