Heaven got a few more stars
From Donna Summer to Adam Yauch: Remembering top singers who passed away in 2012
The music in heaven got a little sweeter with the passing of some amazing talent in 2012. From folk, to soul, rock and disco, some brilliant artists left us, but fortunately also left us something to remember them by.
Here are a few of the voices that have been quieted in the past year. This list is not meant to be all-inclusive, so let me know if I missed somebody you think needs to be remembered.
Best known for his hippie anthem; “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair).” The one-hit wonder song was written and produced by longtime friend John Phillips who went on to form the Mamas & the Papas.
The song became an instant hit, reaching #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also a #1 hit in the UK.
McKenzie passed away on August 18, 2012, after battling Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a disease that affects the nervous system.
With a voice that resonated with the angels, Houston has been compared with the greatest voices of her generation and who can argue? She was able to move between the pop and R&B genres as smoothly as her voice.
Sadly, her untimely death on February 11, 2012 at age 48 left all of us wondering what more she had to offer.
An iconic band requires an iconic voice and Levon Helm was such a singer. Known for his distinct Southern voice, his ability to add heartfelt soul to songs like “The Weight” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" made The Band a musical force for many years.
Levon found a place to lay his head after battling cancer on April 19, 2012.
Better known as MCA and founding member of the Beastie Boys, Yauch was respected for maintaining his artistic control while working for a major label. Defiant to the end, Yauch was not only a trailblazer in Rap, but also produced many highly acclaimed films as well.
Yauch passed away on May 4, 2012 after an almost three-year fight with cancer.
The undisputed “Queen of Disco," Summer sang her way to the top of the pop charts with hits like “Last Dance," MacArthur Park” and the legendary “Hot Stuff." Summer began singing with church choir groups before joining a number of bands influenced by the Motown Sound and never looked back.
She lost her battle with cancer on May 17, 2012.
Co-founder of The Bee Gees, Gibbs' career spanned over five decades and brought us such great songs as “I’ve Got To Get Message To You” and “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart." The band's popularity was starting to fade when the Gibb brothers found a way of “Stayin Alive,” providing the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack that continues to have people dancing today.
Gibb was 62 when he succumbed to colon cancer on May 20, 2012.
Dick Clark & Don Cornelius
While neither Clark nor Cornelius made music, but it would be impossible to ignore their contributions to the music industry. They introduced countless musicians to America who, without their exposure on American Bandstand and Soul Train, would remain unknown. Their greatness lay in knowing talent and making sure we got to see it.
The smoky, soulful singer was best known for “At Last," but is also recognized for blending jazz, blues, Doo-wop and R&B into a seamless sound that still sounds timeless 50 years later.
James passed away on January 20, 2012 due to complications from leukemia.
You can argue that The Monkees were not a real band, but you cannot argue the incredible impact Jones had singing such signature hits as “Daydream Believer” and “I Wanna Be Free."
Jones died on February 29, 2012 at the age of 66 after suffering a heart attack.
A gifted songwriter, Welch was a former member of Fleetwood Mac and then went on to have a successful solo career with songs like “Sentimental Lady." He was snubbed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when the organization inducted all the former and current members of Fleetwood Mac except for him.
Welch died in June 7, 2012 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The first female superstar of country music, Wells was the ultimate trailblazer, leading the way for singers like Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton and others. Her 1952 hit recording, "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," made her the first female country singer to top the U.S. country charts.
Wells died at the age of 92 on July 16, 2012 following complications from a stroke.
A composer, pianist and organ player, Lord is best known for his groundbreaking work in combining rock with classical music as a founding member of Deep Purple. Lord also composed many classical music pieces before joining Whitesnake.
He died on July 16, 2012 after suffering from a pulmonary embolism.