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Who We've Lost So Far 

Wednesday, Jul 13 2016

While it's sad to note the passing of luminaries like Harper Lee, Zaha Hadid, and Alan Rickman — and worse to grapple with the victims of mass shootings and racialized police violence — there's no doubt that 2016's mortality spree hit the music world hard. Any quantification of mourning is a rough estimate, but few people would disagree that Prince and David Bowie's deaths at 57 and 69, respectively, were the most upsetting. But Merle Haggard, Frank Sinatra Jr., founding Beastie Boy John Berry, Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest, Glenn Frey of The Eagles, Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane, and Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire all passed away, too. So did Denise Matthews, aka Vanity, two months before her mentor Prince. To varying degrees, most had fallen out of the limelight, but that hardly matters when you see a dozen friends mourning them on Facebook. It makes you sad because they made you happy.

Rock stars aren't necessarily known for longevity, but halfway through 2016, it's notable that nobody was tragically young. Had an accidental opioid overdose not claimed him, Prince, whose vaults reportedly contain enough unreleased music to last decades, could have kept going for a long time — but at least the 27 Club hasn't added any new members since Amy Winehouse. People got wistful when George Martin, the Beatles' producer, died at 90 in March, but compare that to when Ritchie Valens died Feb. 3, 1959, in a plane crash with Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper: He was only 17.


About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.


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