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The Musical Legends Lost in 2016

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We've lost countless icons in the entertainment world this year. 

There have been conspiracy theories that the early loss of David Bowie tore apart the fabrication of the earth and the starman is now hand-picking his company wherever he may be.

Here's a look back on a grieving year in music.

1.     David Bowie

It all started on the 10th January 2016, when David Bowie (aka Ziggy Stardust, aka Aladdin Sane, aka the Thin White Duke, aka Halloween Jack, aka Pierrot, aka Jareth, aka The Outsider etc.) passed away at 69 years old.

The world was in shock because with him, a thousand characters we cherished died. Rumour has it that he’s rocking in heaven with Freddie.

It is impossible to even try to describe David Bowie’s style or music. He reinvented himself and all that we knew of genres.

His final album, Blackstar, was a knowing departure.

2.     Glenn Frey

Just a week later, on Jan 18th 2016, Glenn Frey left us at 67 years old.

Glenn Frey co-founded the Eagles; one of the main composers, a wonderful singer, guitarist and keyboard player.

Eagles are best remembered for their epic song, ‘Hotel California’. Combining rock, folk and country, the band knew how to gather different influences together to produce a very unique and sensitive sound.

Written by Frey with Jackson Browne, ‘Take it Easy’ showcases his stable, soft and calming voice combined with the relaxing message given by the lyrics,“Take it easy. Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy!”

A complete delight to listen to, the song was also performed by the band as a tribute after Frey’s death.

 

3.     Paul Kantner and Signe Toly Anderson

The two members of Jefferson Airplane both passed away earlier this year on Jan 28th, both aged 74. Katner suffered a heart attack, and Anderson from a previous medical condition.

Introducing themselves with a folk rock grit to their early tracks, the band later found their defining psychedelic style.

 

4.     Maurice White

In early Feb, the Earth, Wind and Fire frontman, Maurice White, passed away, aged 74.

This bright, light-hearted and swinging band knew how to put up great shows. Colours, dances, lights, catchy melodies, peps and disco… an explosive cocktail of happiness.

Which songs better reflects this than ‘Boogie Wonderland’?

5.     Merle Haggard

A country music legend, Merle Haggard wrote, sung and played guitar in almost all of his song.

His most well-known track, ‘Mama Tried’ confesses a part of his life and apologises for the pain he caused to his mother in a very beautiful way.

Indeed, Merle had a troubled past and found himself behind bars a couple of times. He found a way back to music thanks to his encounter with the singer Johnny Cash and the author Caryl Chessmann.

 

6.     Prince

Another star lost: the iconic pop and rock singer, Prince (Rogers Nelson).

The icon died too soon again, the purple one passed away at 57 years old from a pain killer overdose. His fascinating music videos and his provoking style made him special and outstanding.

The light of many people’s life, Prince’s amazing dance moves and unforgettable stage presence, with his mysterious riffs will be missed.

7.     Leonard Cohen

He enchanted, or actually disenchanted, our lives with his nostalgic melodies.

His gritty and sensual voice made him the ‘Ladies man’ who all women fell for. The poetry talent of Leonard Cohen is undeniable.

The lyrics of his songs, always meaningful, tainted with melancholy and despair, can transport you to another world.

‘Dance Me To The End Of Love’, perfectly reflects the despair we appreciate so much in Leonard Cohen’s art. For your record, the song was inspired by the holocaust.

8.     Leon Russel

This peculiar country, rock and blues singer really did not leave his generation indifferent. He wrote most of his songs, and played piano and guitar admirably. By jumping from high pitched to low tones, his nasal timbre in a half-broken and charming voice could make you shiver at every note.

‘A song for you’, is probably one of his most sensible songs. Several artists covered it, including Ray Charles and Donny Hathaway, but the original one, in my opinion, is still the best.

 

9.     Sharon Jones

As if November hadn’t already taken enough, we lost Sharon Jones.

Her career ended way too soon, especially since it started later than others, when she was 40 years old. Her strong personality and her hard work made her one of the most emblematic figures of current soul and R&B.

She has even sometimes been called the “female James Brown”, due to the power of her voice and her somewhat guttural timbre. Her last single, ‘I’m still here’, was released right before her death. Ironic? But poetic.

10.  George Michael

To finish the year, on the 25th December 2016, George Michael, the legendary founder and singer of Wham! passed away at 53 years old.

Merry bloody Christmas!

His expertise in dance and pop music genres made him last in stardom. The extremely poetic ballad 'Careless Whisper', was co-written with Wham! band-mate, Andrew Ridgley. Fine lyrics, George Michael’s soft voice, a wonderful sax solo… everything in this song is deeply satisfying.

On this sad note, 2016 is drawing to a close. Let’s hope it doesn’t take any more of our beloved musicians. We’re lucky enough to have our artists immortalised in our hearts and ears.




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