Artists who died in 2016 included Leonard Cohen, Merle Haggard, Maurice White, Frank Sinatra Jr. and Phife Dawg.
Associated Press has assembled a list of Very Important People who passed away in 2016. We’ve separated the politicians from the singers and the athletes from the songwriters to provide you with a roll call of the men and women who helped shape music and the industry behind hit.
Kathy Willens/AP, file – David Bowie
Launching the U.S. leg of his worldwide “A Reality Tour” at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Pierre Boulez, 90. Former principal conductor of the New York Philharmonic who moved between conducting, composition and teaching as one of the leading figures in modern classical music. Jan. 5
Otis Clay, 73. Hall of fame rhythm and blues artist known as much for his big heart and charitable work in Chicago as for his singing internationally. Jan. 8.
David Bowie, 69. Other-worldly musician who broke pop and rock boundaries with his creative musicianship, striking visuals and a genre-spanning persona he christened Ziggy Stardust. Jan. 10.
Rene Angelil, 73. Celine Dion’s husband and manager, who molded her from a French-speaking Canadian ingénue into one of the world’s most successful singers. Jan. 14.
Glenn Frey, 67. Rock ‘n’ roll rebel who co-founded the Eagles and with Don Henley formed one of history’s most successful songwriting teams with such hits as “Hotel California” and “Life in the Fast Lane.” Jan. 18.
Paul Kantner, 74. Founding member of the Jefferson Airplane who stayed with the seminal band through its transformation from 1960s hippies to 1970s hit makers as the eventual leader of successor group Jefferson Starship. Jan. 28.
Signe Toly Anderson, 74. Vocalist and original member of the Jefferson Airplane who left the band after its first record and was replaced by Grace Slick. Jan. 28.
Terry Wogan, 77. His warm Irish brogue and sly, gentle humor made him a star of British television and radio for decades. Jan. 31.
Jason Moore – Glenn Frey
Austin City Limits Festival, Zilker Park, Austin, TX
Maurice White, 74. Earth, Wind & Fire founder whose horn-driven band sold more than 90 million albums. Feb. 3.
Sonny James, 87. Country singer who recorded romantic ballads like “Young Love” and turned pop songs into country hits. Feb. 22.
Joey Feek, 40. With her husband, Rory, she formed the award-winning country duo Joey + Rory. March 4.
George Martin, 90. The Beatles’ urbane producer who quietly guided the band’s swift, historic transformation from rowdy club act to musical and cultural revolutionaries. March 8.
Peter Maxwell Davies, 81. Experimental, socially radical composer who served as Queen Elizabeth II’s official master of music. March 14. Leukemia.
Frank Sinatra Jr., 72. He carried on his father’s legacy with his own music career; his kidnapping as a young man added a bizarre chapter to his father’s legendary life. March 16.
Phife Dawg, 45. Lyricist whose witty wordplay was a linchpin of the groundbreaking hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest. March 22. Complications from diabetes.
Garry Shandling, 66. Actor and comedian who masterminded a brand of phony docudrama with “The Larry Sanders Show.” March 24.
Leandro “Gato” Barbieri, 83. Latin Jazz saxophonist who composed the Grammy-winning music for the steamy Marlon Brando film “Last Tango in Paris” and recorded dozens of albums over a career spanning more than seven decades. April 2.
Merle Haggard, 79. Country giant who rose from poverty and prison to international fame through his songs about outlaws, underdogs and an abiding sense of national pride in such hits as “Okie From Muskogee” and “Sing Me Back Home.” April 6.
David Gest, 62. Music producer, reality TV star and former husband of Liza Minnelli. April 12.
Prince, 57. One of the most inventive and influential musicians of modern times with hits including “Little Red Corvette,” ‘‘Let’s Go Crazy” and “When Doves Cry.” April 21.
AP Photo/Chris O – Prince
Prince performs during the halftime show at the Super Bowl XLI football game at Dolphin Stadium in Miami.
Billy Paul, 80. Jazz and soul singer best known for the No. 1 hit ballad and “Philadelphia Soul” classic “Me and Mrs. Jones.” April 24.
Remo Belli, 88. Musician who pioneered the synthetic drumhead in time to help a generation of rock-and-rollers shape their sound and then saw it become standard on kits across genres. April 25.
Afeni Shakur, 69. Former Black Panther who inspired the work of her son, rap icon Tupac Shakur, and fostered his legacy for decades after he was slain. May 2.
Guy Clark, 74. Texas singer-songwriter who helped mentor a generation of songwriters and wrote hits like “L.A. Freeway” and “Desperados Waiting for a Train.” May 17.
Wayne Jackson, 74. Trumpet player on rock ‘n’ roll, soul, R&B and pop mainstays along with Memphis Horns partner and tenor saxophonist Andrew Love. June 21.
Bernie Worrell, 72. “Wizard of Woo” whose amazing array of keyboard sounds helped define the Parliament-Funkadelic musical empire and influenced performers of many genres. June 24.
Alan Vega, 78. Punk pioneer who helped form the duo Suicide, widely regarded as a forerunner of punk and electronic music. July 16.
Marni Nixon, 86. Hollywood voice double whose singing was heard in place of the leading actresses’ in such movie musicals as “West Side Story,” ‘‘The King and I” and “My Fair Lady.” July 24.
Pete Fountain, 86. Clarinetist whose Dixieland jazz virtuosity and wit endeared him to his native New Orleans and earned him national television fame. Aug. 6.
Bobby Hutcherson, 75. Bricklayer’s son who became one of the most inventive jazz vibraphonists to pick up a pair of mallets. Aug. 15.
Toots Thielemans, 94. Belgian harmonica player whose career included playing with jazz greats like Miles Davis and whose solos have figured on numerous film scores. Aug. 22.
Juan Gabriel, 66. Mexican songwriter and singer who was an icon in the Latin music world. Aug. 28.
Charmian Carr, 73. Actress best known for sweetly portraying the eldest von Trapp daughter in “The Sound of Music.” Sept. 17.
Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural Jr., 68. Musician who rose from a cotton-picking family in southwest Louisiana to introduce zydeco music to the world through his band Buckwheat Zydeco. Sept. 24.
Scott Legato / RockStarProPhotography.com – Buckwheat Zydeco
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Fairgrounds Racecourse, New Orleans, La.
Jean Shepard, 82. “The grand lady of the Grand Ole Opry” who had a long recording career in country music. Sept. 25.
Joan Marie Johnson, 72. A founding member of the New Orleans girl group The Dixie Cups, who had a No. 1 hit in 1964 with “Chapel of Love.” Oct. 3.
Bobby Vee, 73. Boyish, grinning 1960s singer whose career was born when he took a stage as a teenager to fill in after the 1959 plane crash that killed rock ‘n’ roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. Oct. 24.
Norman R. Brokaw, 89. Talent agent who represented Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Clint Eastwood and other top Hollywood stars. Oct. 29.
Jean-Jacques Perrey, 87. French composer and pioneer of electronic pop music who was best known for co-writing “Baroque Hoedown,” used as the music for the Main Street Electrical Parade at Disney theme parks. Nov. 4.
AP Photo – Leon Russell
Performing at the R&R Hall Of Fame induction ceremony in New York.
Scott Legato / RockStarProPhotography.com – Leonard Cohen
Fox Theatre, Detroit, Mich.
Leonard Cohen, 82. Baritone-voiced Canadian singer-songwriter who blended spirituality and sexuality in songs like “Hallelujah,” ‘‘Suzanne” and “Bird on a Wire.” Nov. 7.
Leon Russell, 74. He performed, sang and produced some of rock ‘n’ roll’s top records. Nov. 13.
Holly Dunn, 59. Country singer who had a hit in 1986 with “Daddy’s Hands,” about her minister father. Nov. 14.
Mose Allison, 89. Pianist and singer whose witty, Southern-accented lyrics delivered over a backdrop of boogie-woogie blues and jazz piano influenced musicians across a wide spectrum. Nov. 15.
Mentor Williams, 70. Award-winning songwriter behind the 1970s hit “Drift Away,” which became a soulful rock ‘n’ roll anthem aired on radio stations for generations. Nov. 16.
Sharon Jones, 60. Powerhouse who shepherded a soul revival despite not finding stardom until middle age. Nov. 18. Cancer.
Jason Moore – Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Fairgrounds Racecourse, New Orleans, La.
Esma Redzepova, 73. One of the most powerful voices in the world of Gypsy music. Dec. 11.
Joe Ligon, 80. Singer and dynamic frontman of the Grammy-winning gospel group Mighty Clouds of Joy. Dec. 11.
Rick Parfitt, 68. Longtime guitarist and founding member of British band Status Quo. Severe infection.
George Michael, 53. Musician who shot to stardom at an early age in the teen duo WHAM! and moved smoothly into a solo career. Dec. 25.
Francois Mori / AP Photo – George Michael
Performing at a concert to raise money for AIDS charity Sidaction at Palais Garnier Opera house in Paris, France.