Biggest Deaths of 2014

The 15 biggest music deaths of 2014: Remembering the icons and pioneers

15 biggest music deaths of 2014: Remembering the icons and pioneers

Johnny Winter
Music icons like Johnny Winter left us in 2014. Courtesy of Music Times

“Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.” – Confucius

The end of the year approaching gives us a moment to pause and look back to the events of 2014. Sadly, we are reminded of the loss of many wonderful artists who gave us pleasure by sharing their very special talents. As in years past, this list is in no way meant to be all encompassing, but simply a quick snapshot of musicians whose sound will live on.

Jack Bruce
May 14, 1943 - October 25, 2014

A versatile and widely admired bass player, Jack Bruce made up a third of one of the early rock 'n' roll super groups Cream. Bruce co-wrote most of Cream's single releases with lyricist Pete Brown, including their biggest hits "Sunshine of Your Love," "White Room" and "I Feel Free." Prior to joining Cream, Bruce had his first commercial success as a member of Manfred Mann in 1966, including "Pretty Flamingo" which reached No. 1 on the UK singles chart.

Bruce found limited commercial success in his later career but, as Roger Waters said, Bruce probably was the most musically gifted bass player who’s ever been.

Paul Revere
January 7, 1938 - October 4, 2014

The frontman for Paul Revere & the Raiders, Revere led a band that saw considerable U.S. mainstream success in the second half of the 1960s and early 1970s. With three gold records to their name in the mid-'60s, the Raiders were Columbia Records top-selling rock group. Among their biggest hits were "Kicks," "Hungry, Him or Me - What's It Gonna Be?" and their mega No. 1 hit single "Indian Reservation."

Born Paul Revere Dick, he led the band which often wore three-cornered hats and other American Revolution-era clothing during performances.

Paco de Lucia
December 21, 1947 - February 25, 2014

Described as a "titanic” figure in the world of flamenco guitar by Eric Clapton and Richard Chapman, Paco de Lucia was a renowned guitarist, composer and producer. De Lucia was a trailblazer of the “New Flamenco” style, helping legitimize it among the establishment in Spain.

He was also one of the first to be successful in crossing into other styles music, including jazz and classical.

Tommy Ramone
January 29, 1949 - July 11, 2014

Tommy Ramone played drums for The Ramones from 1974 to 1978 before moving on to handle the band's management and co-producing Road to Ruin. He then returned as producer for the eighth album, Too Tough to Die. Tommy Ramone wrote "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" and the majority of Blitzkrieg Bop (bassist Dee Dee suggested the title). Joined by Ed Stasium, he also played all the guitar solos on the albums he produced.

Heavily influenced by 1970s hard-rock band the New York Dolls, Lou Reed and pop-art legend Andy Warhol, Ramone said, "The scene that developed at CBGB wasn't [for] a teenage or garage band; there was an intellectual element and that's the way it was for The Ramones."

Johnny Winter
February 23, 1944 - July 16, 2014

Born in Beaumont, Texas, John Dawson Winter III (aka Johnny Winter) was an iconic blues guitarist who also performed on multi-instruments, sang and produced. While he was best known for his high-energy blues-rock albums and live performances in the late 1960s and 1970s, Winter also produced three Grammy Award-winning albums for blues singer and guitarist Muddy Waters.

After his time with Waters, Winter recorded several Grammy-nominated blues albums. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him 63rd on its list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time in 2003.

Gerry Goffin
February 11, 1939 - June 19, 2014

He might not have performed them, but the songs he helped write are a parade of No. 1 smash hits. Writing at first with his wife Carole King, Goffen penned such classics as "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," "Take Good Care of My Baby," "The Loco-Motion," "Go Away Little Girl," "I'm into Something Good," "Don't Bring Me Down," "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" and "Pleasant Valley Sunday."

After his divorce with King, Goffen went on to collaborate with Barry Goldberg and Michael Masser with whom he wrote "Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" and "Saving All My Love for You," which also topped the charts at No.1. Overall, Goffin penned more than 50 U.S. Top 40 hits, including eight chart-toppers, and 21 UK Top 40 hits.

Bobby Womack
March 4, 1944 - June 27, 2014

Starting his career as the lead singer of his family musical group the Valentinos and as Sam Cooke's backing guitarist, Womack's career spanned more than 50 years landing him into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Able to perform a wide range of styles including soul, rhythm and blues, rock 'n' roll, gospel and country, he was known for such hits as "Lookin’ For A Love," "That’s The Way I Feel About Cha" and "If You Think You’re Lonely Now."

Womack also wrote and recorded the Rolling Stones' first UK No. 1 hit, "It’s All Over Now."

Jessie Winchester
May 17, 1944 - April 11, 2014

Primarily known as a songwriter due to his status as a draft resister and being unable to tour in the United States, Winchester wrote a slew of songs that were covered by the likes of George Strait, Patti Page, Elvis Costello, Joan Baez, Jimmy Buffett and many others. Winchester received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in 2007.

Frankie Knuckles
January 18, 1955 - March 31, 2014

Often referred to as “The Godfather of House Music,” Knuckles continued to work as a remixer through the 1990s, reworking tracks from Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross, Diana Ross, Eternal and Toni Braxton. Knuckles took home the Grammy Award for Remixer of the Year, Non-Classical in 1997.

His song "Your Love" appeared in the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

Bob Casale
July 14, 1952 - February 17, 2014

A founding member of the band Devo, Casale was also known for his music engineering and production skills working for television and movies, including Four Rooms, Happy Gilmore, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and Rugrats Go Wild. But he will be best remembered for his playing lead/rhythm guitar and keyboards along with singing backup vocals for the band that took devolution to a new standard.

Pete Seeger
May 3, 1919 - January 27, 2014

It would be impossible to list all of Pete Seeger’s accomplishments in this little blurb. His impact on the world of music and of the world may never be matched.

Seeger had a slew of hit records during the early 1950s as a member of the Weavers including "Goodnight, Irene" which topped the charts in 1950 for 13 weeks. After being blacklisted in the late 1950s, Seeger returned as a prominent singer of protest music, supporting a variety of causes. His songs include "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?," "If I Had a Hammer," and "Turn! Turn! Turn!," which were later recorded by many artists throughout the world.

Seeger was also one of the folk singers responsible for popularizing "We Shall Overcome," which became the acknowledged anthem of the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement.

Jimmy Ruffin
May 7, 1936 - November 17, 2014

A soul singer and elder brother of David Ruffin of The Temptations, Ruffin had several hit records between the 1960s and 1980s. In a funny twist of fate, he heard a song about unanswered love written for The Spinners. Ruffin convinced the writers that he should record it himself and his recording of "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" became a major success, reaching No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 6 on the rhythm and blues chart.

While unable to capture magic in a bottle twice, Ruffin was able to chart several more songs.

Phil Everly
January 19, 1939 - January 3, 2014

As one-half of the Everly Brothers, Phil Everly helped create a new sound that has influenced artists to this day. Catching the attention of Chet Atkins, The Everly Brothers went on to record such No. 1 hits as "Wake Up Little Susie," "All I Have to do is Dream" and "Bye-Bye Love" (which charted No. 1 on the country charts and No. 2 on the pop charts).

The duo was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.

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Casey Kasem
April 27, 1932 – June 15, 2014

The person who taught America to count to 40 backwards did not sing or play an instrument, yet his impact on the world of music cannot be overstated. Also known as the voice of Shaggy in the Scooby Doo cartoons, Kasem helped co-found the American Top 40 franchise which played hits based on the Billboard Top 100 hits chart and provided background information on the songs and artists played.

The first No. 1 song? Three Dog Night’s "Momma Told Me Not to Come" on July 4, 1970.

John Robert "Joe" Cocker
May 20, 1944 - December 22, 2014

Known for covering popular songs with a gritty voice, Cocker also used spasmodic body movement in his concerts, making him a unique a memorable performer. Cocker's cover of the Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friendsreached No. 1 in the UK in 1968 and was one of the shining highlights at Woodstock.

Hearing of his death, Paul McCartney said, “I was especially pleased when he decided to cover 'With a Little Help from My Friends.' He totally turned the song into a soul anthem and I was forever grateful for him for doing that.”