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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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”

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

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

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

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

Ryo Kawasaki—4/13—Japanese jazz fusion guitarist

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

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

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

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

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’”

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

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

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

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

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

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”

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”

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

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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2 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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