The 2016 music honour roll

It seems like 2016 was a rotten year for musicians, in terms of not surviving it.

That may or may not be true. There seems to be universal disagreement as to whether last year was worse than usual or whether due to our over-abundance of interconnectedness we just noticed it more. But it sure seemed worse. In fact, it seemed like every time you checked the news another cherished name from the musical world had died. Even after Christmas it didn't stop. And there were extraordinary coincidences: Keith Emerson and Greg Lake, two thirds of ELP, both died in 2016; Paul Kantner and Signe Toly Andrson, two founder members of Jefferson Airplane, died – on the same day. I had planned to belatedly berate the year for its awfulness. But I've slowly come around. As musicians all over the world breathe a sigh of relief that it's finally over I've changed my way of thinking to one of gratitude.

Only passing through

And perhaps, like me, as you browse the list below it will be with appreciation and thanks that your life was enriched by people on it. How much poorer we would have been without them. As the irreplaceable Leonard Cohen sang: “We're all on this road and we're only passing through”. These people made a difference. Some of course you won't know. There are jazzers, rappers, funksters, country singers, Kiwis, superstars, bass players and pretty much everything else. Everything from extraordinary old-timers like Ralph Stanley or jazz legend Pete Fountain to the still young and promising such as country singer Joey Feek; from delightful eccentrics (Dan Hicks, Candye Kane) to masters of the mainstream (George Martin and Bobby Vee). Sadly, for every internationally-recognised musician who died there were 10 slightly less famous ones who also passed away. I've even left out people who had multiple number one hits. Maybe 2016 was an unusually rotten year after all? But I can assure you that if you don't know half the people on this list then there's someone out there who doesn't know your half but knows the others. All of these people excelled in their field and in their own small or large way changed the course of music forever. Read it and remember all the good times they brought us.

The honour roll

So here we go; the honour roll for 2016. These musicians changed lives. RIP – and thanks for the music... Bunny Walters, Leonard Cohen, Guy Clark, Dan Hicks, Ray Columbus, Jon English, Prince, Glenn Frey, David Bowie, George Martin, Merle Haggard, Scotty Moore (Elvis' guitarist), Maurice White (Earth Wind and Fire), Alan Vega (the band Suicide), Scott Weiland, Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Paul Kantner, Signe Toly Andrson, Marcus Turner (Kiwi singer), Phife Dawg, Sharon Jones (from The Dap Kings), Leon Russell, John Berry (Beastie Boys), Frank Sinatra Jr, Joey Feek, Denise Matthews (aka Vanity), Dale ‘Buffin' Griffin (drums for Mott The Hoople), Long John Hunter, Otis Clay, Clarence Reid (aka Blowfly), Big Kap, Mose Alison, James Jamerson Jr (bass for Motown), Andy ‘Thunderclap' Newman, Pete Zorn, Lonnie Mack, Candye Kane, Ralph Stanley, Bernie Worrell, Rob Wasserman, Pete Fountain, Ruby Wilson, Bobby Hutcherson, Prince Buster, Stanley Dural Jr (aka Buckwheat Zydeco), Bobby Vee, Rick Parfitt, George Michael. 

watusi@thesun.co.nz



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Xmas lilies. Photo: Graham Woodhead.

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