Musician Deaths of 2024

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Dickey Betts, on his 80th birthday, with Devon Allman (L) and son Duane Betts, Dec. 12, 2023 (Photo: Chris Brush; used with permission)

The year 2024 is now one-third over as we write this, but already we’ve lost numerous luminaries within the wide sphere of the music community. Below are many of the artists and music industry influencers who passed in the first four months of this year. They are arranged alphabetically, the person’s name followed by the death date and a brief description of who they were.

If an artist’s name is underlined, you can click on it to be taken to Best Classic Bands’ full obituary.

Below the list of musical artists, we’ve also noted several other prominent figures whose lives were lost in 2024.

We will miss all of these great talents. RIP.

Steve Albini—5/7—Producer/engineer for Nirvana, the Pixies and others

John Barbata—5/8—Drummer for the Turtles, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship

Aston “Family Man” Barrett—2/3—Bassist for Bob Marley and the Wailers

Jim Beard—3/2—Keyboardist for Steely Dan, John McLaughlin, others

Casey Benjamin—3/31—Saxophonist and keyboardist with the Robert Glasper Experiment

Ernest “Bilbo” Berger—3/1—Drummer for Heatwave (“Boogie Nights”)

Dickey Betts—4/18—Founding guitarist of the Allman Brothers Band

Watch DIckey Betts with the Allmans in 1973

Dean Brown—1/26—Jazz guitarist

Debra Byrd—3/5—Lead vocalist of Lady Flash, Barry Manilow’s background singers

Eric Carmen—3/?—Raspberries singer and solo star (“All By Myself”)

Ruth Ellsworth Carter—1/4—Songwriter for Stevie Ray Vaughan, Fabulous Thunderbirds and others

Hank Cicalo—1/31—Engineer for Carole King’s Tapestry, the Monkees and others

W.C. Clark—3/2—Blues and soul artist

Tony Clarkin—1/7—Guitarist and songwriter of U.K. band Magnum

Charlie Colin—5/?—Founding bassist of Train (“Drops of Jupieter”)

Larry Collins—1/5—Rockabilly guitarist with the Collins Kids

Gerry Conway—3/29—Drummer for Cat Stevens

Chris Cross—3/25—Bassist for the British band Ultravox

Michael Cuscuna—4/19—Jazz producer and co-founder of Mosaic Records

Nick Daniels III—4/26—Bassist for New Orleans band Dumpstaphunk

Palle Danielsson—5/18—Swedish jazz bassist

Eugene ED Denson—4/12—Manager of Country Joe and the Fish, John Fahey

Duane Eddy—4/30—Early rock guitar pioneer, known for his “twangy” sound

Henry Fambrough—2/7—Singer with R&B group the Spinners

Frank Farian—1/23—Founder of the ’70s disco-pop group Boney M and the pop band Milli Vanilli

Shelley Ganz—1/24—Co-founder of the garage-rock band the Unclaimed

Steve Harley performing “Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)” with Cockney Rebel on TopPops in 1975

Steve Harley—3/17—Frontman of U.K. band Cockney Rebel

Alex Hassilev—4/22—Last remaining member of the folk group the Limeliters

John Hawken—5/15—Keyboardist on recordings by the Nashville Teens, Renaissance and others

Bill Hayes—1/12—Singer and actor whose recording of “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” was #1 for five weeks in 1955

Albert “Tootie” Heath—4/3—Jazz drummer

Bob Heil—2/28—Audio engineer

Clarence “Frogman” Henry—4/7—New Orleans R&B singer/pianist (“Ain’t Got No Home,” “But I Do”)

Malcolm Holcombe—3/9—Singer-songwriter

Frank Ifield—5/18—Australian country star popular in the early ’60s

Doug Ingle—5/24—Singer/keyboardist for Iron Butterfly

Byron Janis—3/14—Classical pianist

Gylan Kain—2/7—Founding member of the Last Poets proto-rap group

Chris Karrer—1/2—Guitarist and composer with Amon Düül II

Toby Keith—2/5—Country singer

“Spider” John Koerner—5/19—Blues/folk artist and last surviving member of the trio Koerner, Ray and Glover

James Kottak—1/9—Drummer with the Scorpions

Daniel Kramer—4/29—Photographer known for his photos of mid-’60s Bob Dylan, including the album covers for Bringing it All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited

Wayne Kramer in MC5

Wayne Kramer—2/2—Lead guitarist of the MC5

Paul Lacques—1/17—Guitarist/songwriter with I See Hawks in L.A., other bands

Steve Lawrence—3/7—Pop singer (“Go Away Little Girl”) and half of an entertainment duo with his wife, Eydie Gormé

David Libert—2/20—Member of the Happenings (“See You in September,” “I Got Rhythm”), road manager for Alice Cooper, manager of Parliament-Funkadelic

John “Duff” Lowe—2/22—Member of the Quarrymen, the Liverpool skiffle band that also included John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison

Tony Middleton—2/7—Lead singer of the R&B vocal group the Willows (“Church Bells May Ring”)

Peter Morgan—2/25—Lead singer of reggae band Morgan Heritage

Mojo Nixon—2/7—Irreverent roots-rockin’ singer of novelty songs

Paul Nelson—3/10—Blues guitarist, producer and manager, known primarily for his work with Johnny Winter

Seiji Ozawa—2/6—Groundbreaking Japanese conductor

Larry Page—4/19—English producer/manager/label owner who worked with the Kinks, Troggs

Del Palmer—1/4—Bassist for Kate Bush

Tony Pigg—4/?—Radio announcer best known for his 15-year tenure on New York’s WPLJ

Mike Pinder—4/24—Moody Blues founding member who introduced the Mellotron to the group’s sound

Listen to “A Simple Game,” written and sung by Pinder

John Pisano—5/2—Jazz guitarist

George Ed Powell—3/30—Founding guitarist/vocalist with Pure Prairie League

Chita Rivera—1/30—Broadway singer and actress

Pete Rodriguez—3/11—Latin boogaloo pianist and bandleader

Chan Romero—4/21—Singer known for “Hippy, Hippy Shake”

Dexter Romweber—2/16—Rockabilly guitarist, member of Flat Duo Jets

Tawl Ross—1/3—Rhythm guitarist of Funkadelic from 1968-71

Melanie performing at Woodstock

Melanie Safka—1/23—Singer/songwriter, whose hits included “Brand New Key” and “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)”

David Sanborn—5/12—Alto saxophonist who spanned several genres, including jazz, pop and R&B

Peter Schickele—1/16—Composer and parodist best known for his work under an alter-ego, P.D.Q. Bach

Marlena Shaw—1/19—Jazz, blues and soul singer

John Sinclair—4/2—Activist, poet/writer, White Panther Party co-founder, manager of the MC5, subject of John Lennon song

C.J. Snare—4/5—Vocalist for pop-metal group FireHouse

Jo-El Sonnier—1/13—Cajun/country accordionist and singer/songwriter

David Soul—1/4—Co-star of TV’s Starsky & Hutch; singer of #1 hit “Don’t Give Up on Us”

Randy Sparks—2/11—Founder of the New Christy Minstrels folk ensemble; entrepreneur who discovered Kenny Rogers, John Denver and Steve Martin

Gale Sparrow—3/31—Director of Artist Relations at MTV

Toni Stern—1/17—Carole King’s songwriting collaborator on some Tapestry songs

Dick Summer—5/14—Disc jockey on Boston’s WBZ in the ’60s and ’70s

Damo Suzuki—2/9—Lead singer of the German group Can

Richard Tandy—5/1—Longtime keyboardist for Electric Light Orchestra (ELO)

Arthur Tavares—4/15—Singer with soul group Tavares

Bobby Tench—2/19—English guitarist/vocalist/songwriter who worked with Jeff Beck, Van Morrison, Freddie King, Humble Pie and others

Dennis Thompson—5/9—Drummer of the MC5

Kevin Toney—3/18—Pianist for the Blackbyrds (“Walkin’ in Rhythm”)

Brit Turner—3/2—Drummer for Southern rock band Blackberry Smoke

Jimmy Van Eaton—2/9—Drummer on Sun Records recordings by Jerry Lee Lewis, others

Frank Wakefield—4/?—Bluegrass mandolinist

Karl Wallinger—3/10—Founder and sole constant member of World Party (“Ship of Fools”)

Michael Ward—4/1—Guitarist with the Wallflowers

Dick Waterman—1/26—Writer and photographer who chronicled the blues

Mary Weiss (right) with the Shangri-Las

Mary Weiss—1/19—Lead singer of the ’60s girl group the Shangri-Las (“Leader of the Pack”)

Melinda Wilson—1//30—Wife and manager of Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson

Non-Music

Dabney Coleman—5/16—Actor in 9 to 5, Tootsie, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and other films and TV programs

Roger Corman—5/9—Director renowned for low-budget films of the ’60s (The Wild Angels, The Trip)

Herbert Coward—1/24—Actor in Deliverance

Louis Gossett Jr.—3/29—Actor in Roots, An Officer and a Gentleman

Norman Jewison—1/20—Canadian filmmaker (In the Heat of the Night, Moonstruck)

Glynis Johns—1/4—Actress (Mary Poppins)

Richard Lewis—2/28—Comic actor (Curb Your Enthusiasm)

Joyce Randolph—1/13—Actress who portrayed Trixie Norton on the pioneering sitcom The Honeymooners

Watch Joyce Randolph (at left in video) in The Honeymooners

OJ Simpson—4/11—Football star and actor acquitted of murder

Bill Walton—5/27—NBA great and legendary Grateful Dead fan who claimed to see over 850 of the band’s shows

Carl Weathers—2/1—Actor who played Apollo Creed in the Rocky films

Best Classic Bands would like to extend our gratitude to those readers who’ve informed us of names we had overlooked.

Best Classic Bands Staff

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