Musicians Who Died This Year (Rest in Playlist)

I always feel a little pang of regret when I’ve learned of the passing of the latest one of the musicians who died this year. Much of my life is defined by live music. I was literally raised in a bass drum case as my playpen while my dad, a professional drummer, toured with country with acts like Orville Couch.

Class-X Promo for Musicians Who Died This Year post
Me in the first pro rock band I was ever in – “Class-X,” a 50s/60s rock cover band in 1988. Second from the left, in case it isn’t painfully obvious.

I began playing stand-up bass at ten years old, leading to playing academically, militarily, and professionally through age 35. So, it is with much honor and respect that in 2016 I began curating playlists of musicians who died this year. Click the heading link for the Spotify playlist, featuring the notable artists listed, and many more musicians who died this year.

Musicians Who Died This Year: 2020

  • JAN: Neil Peart (Rush), Chris Darrow (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), Robert Parker
  • FEB: Ja’net Dubois
  • MAR: Kenny Rogers, Joe Diffie, Bill Withers
  • APR: John Prine, Steve Farmer (The Amboy Dukes), Harold Reid (The Statler Borthers)
  • MAY: Florian Schneider (Kraftwerk), Brian Howe (Bad Company), Little Richard


Musicians Who Died This Year: 2019

  • JAN: Daryl Dragon (Captain & Tennille), Carole Channing, James Ingram
  • FEB: Peter Tork (The Monkees), Mark Hollis (Talk Talk)
  • MAR: The Prodigy, Dick Dale, Nipsey Hussle
  • APR: Earl Thomas Conley, Phil McCormack (Molly Hatchet)
  • MAY: Doris Day, Leon Redbone
  • JUN: Dr. John, Bushwick Bill (Geto Boys)
  • JUL: João Gilberto, Art Neville (The Neville Brothers)
  • AUG: Ian Gibbons (The Kinks), Peter Fonda
  • SEP: Eddie Money, Ric Ocasek (The Cars), Robert Hunter
  • OCT: Ginger Baker (Cream), Steve Cash (Ozark Mountain Daredevils), Paul Barrere (Little Feat)
  • NOV: Bad Azz
  • DEC: Marie Fredriksson (Roxette)



  • JAN: Ray Thomas (The Moody Blues), “Fast” Eddie Clarke ( Motörhead), Dolores O’Riordan (The Cranberries)
  • FEB: Dennis Edwards (The Temptations), John Perry Barlow (Grateful Dead)
  • MAR: Craig Mack, Alfred Lynn (Wu-Tang Clan)
  • APR: Yvonne Staples (The Staple Singers), Avicii, Bob Dorough (Schoolhouse Rock!)
  • MAY: Steve Coy (Dead or Alive)
  • JUN: Matt “Guitar” Murphy (The Blues Brothers), XXXTentacion, Vinnie Paul (Pantera)
  • JUL: Richard Swift (The ShinsThe Black Keys)
  • AUG: Aretha Franklin, Ed King (Strawberry Alarm ClockLynyrd Skynyrd)
  • SEP: Mac Miller, Marty Balin (Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship)
  • OCT: Jimmy Farrar (Molly Hatchet)
  • NOV: Roy Clark
  • DEC: Nancy Wilson



  • JAN: Sylvester Potts (The Contours), Buddy Greco, Steve Wright (The Greg Kihn Band), Butch Trucks (The Allman Brothers Band), John Wetton (Asia, King Crimson)
  • FEB: Steve Lang (April Wine), Al Jarreau, Clyde Stubblefield (James Brown)
  • MAR: Joni Sledge (Sister Sledge), Chuck Berry, Sib Hashian (Boston)
  • APR: Paul O’Neill (Trans-Siberian Orchestra), David Peel, Banner Thomas (Molly Hatchet), J. Geils (The J. Geils Band)
  • MAY: Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), Gregg Allman (The Allman Brothers)
  • JUN: Educated Rapper (UTFO), Prodigy (Mobb Deep), Dave Rosser (Afghan Whigs)
  • JUL: Fresh Kid Ice (2 Live Crew), Chester Bennington (Linkin Park)
  • AUG: Glen Campbell, Melissa Bell (Soul II Soul)
  • SEP: Walter Becker (Steely Dan), Troy Gentry (Montgomery Gentry), Don Williams, Eric Eycke (Corrosion of Conformity), Grant Hart (Hüsker Dü)
  • OCT: Tom Petty (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Traveling Wilburys), Gord Downie (The Tragically Hip), Fats Domino
  • NOV: Malcolm Young (AC/DC), Mel Tillis, Della Reese, David Cassidy, Wayne Cochran
  • DEC: Pat DiNizio (The Smithereens)



  • JAN: David Bowie, Glenn Frey (The Eagles), Paul Kattner (Jefferson Airplane)
  • FEB: Maurice White (Earth Wind & Fire), Vanity (Vanity 6)
  • MAR: Keith Emerson (Emerson Lake & Palmer), Frank Sinatra Jr., Phife Dawg (A Tribe Called Quest)
  • APR: Merle Haggard, Prince
  • MAY: Candy Kane, Nick Menza (Megadeth)
  • JUN: Prince Be (P.M. Dawn), Ralph Stanley (The Stanley Brothers), Bernie Worrell (Parliament-Funkadelic)
  • JUL: Steven Young (M/A/R/R/S), Sandy Pearlman (Blue Öyster Cult)
  • AUG: Pete Fountain, Matt Roberts (3 Doors Down)
  • SEP: Trisco Pearson (Force MDs), Jerry Corbetta (Sugarloaf), Shawty Lo
  • OCT: Rod Temperton (Heatwave), Pete Burns (Dead or Alive), Bobby Vee
  • NOV: Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell, Sharon Jones (Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings)
  • DEC: Greg Lake (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), George Michael (Wham!), Debbie Reynolds