Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; Courtesy of AXS TV
The music world lost many major artists in 2019, among them the leader of a beloved New Wave band, a pop-rock singer who recently branched out into reality TV, and one of the most influential drummers of the rock era.
Ric Ocasek, lead singer, rhythm guitarist and songwriter of The Cars, died on September 15 at age 75 of complications from heart disease. Ocasek wrote virtually all of the New Wave acts songs, while sharing lead vocal duties with bassist Ben Orr. Among the band’s many classics are “Just What I Needed,” “Let the Good Times Roll,” “My Best Friend’s Girl,” “Let’s Go,” “Shake It Up,” “You Might Think,” “Magic” and “Drive.”
The Cars broke up in 1988, but Ocasek continued with a solo career and also became a sought-after producer, working with bands like No Doubt, Weezer, Hole, Suicide and Romeo Void. Orr died in 2000, but the remaining band members re-formed to record one more album in 2011. Ric and his band mates were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.
Eddie Money, best-known for such hits as “Baby Hold On,” “Two Tickets to Paradise” and “Take Me Home Tonight,” the latter a duet with Ronettes singer Ronnie Spector, died on September 13 at age of 70 from complications of esophageal cancer.
Some of Money’s ’80s success was boosted by MTV, which played music videos the soulful singer made for tunes like “Shakin’,” “I Think I’m In Love” and the aforementioned “Take Me Home Tonight.”
Eddie had revealed his cancer diagnosis in August on an episode of his AXS TV reality series Real Money. The show, which premiered in 2018, looked at Eddie’s life with his wife Laurie and their five adult children, some of whom played in his touring band.
Cream drummer Ginger Baker died on October 6 at the age of 80 after years of poor health. Baker, with guitarist Eric Clapton and bassist Jack Bruce, co-founded Cream in 1966; the so-called rock “supergroup” stretched the boundaries of the blues and helped pave the way for progressive rock and heavy metal.
After Cream broke up in 1968, Ginger teamed up with Clapton in the short-lived band Blind Faith, which also featured Steve Winwood. In addition, Baker delved into jazz fusion and World music, particularly African rhythms, during his long career.
Ginger was inducted into the Rock Hall with Cream in 1995.
Among the other notable artists who died in 2019 were legendary New Orleans singer, songwriter and piano player Dr. John, Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter and The Monkees‘ Peter Tork.
Here’s a list of many of the music figures who died in 2019, in chronological order:
Pegi Young — January 1 — Singer-songwriter, ex-wife of rock legend Neil Young; co-founded the Bridge School and, with Neil, helped organize the Bridge School Benefit Concerts. Died of cancer at age 66.
Steve Ripley — January 3 — Musician, singer, songwriter and producer, frontman for the country-rock band The Tractors; played guitar on Bob Dylan‘s Shot of Love album. Died of cancer at age 69.
Eric Haydock — January 5 — Bassist, member of the British Invasion band The Hollies from 1962 to 1966; inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the group in 2010. Died at age 75 after a long illness.
Clydie King — January 7 — Prolific backup singer, performed as part of Ray Charles‘ Raelettes, and contributed to dozens of rock classics including Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s “Sweet Home Alabama,” Elton John‘s “The Bitch Is Back,” The Rolling Stones‘ “Tumbling Dice” and Linda Ronstadt‘s “You’re No Good.” Died at age 75.
Paul Whaley — January 28 — Drummer, played on influential hard-rock band Blue Cheer‘s first three albums. Died at age 72 from heart failure.
Peter Tork — February 21 — Musician, singer, songwriter and actor, born Peter Thorkelson, best known as a member of the hugely popular 1960s pop-rock band The Monkees created for the hit TV show of the same name; was the most accomplished musical talent of the group prior to joining. Died of cancer at age 77.
Mark Hollis — February 25 — Musician, singer and songwriter, co-founder and frontman of the band Talk Talk. Died of an undisclosed illness at age 64.
Doug Sandom — February 27 — Original drummer of The Who. Joined the band in 1962, when it was known as The Detours, and was replaced by Keith Moon in 1964. Sandom was 89.
Stephan Ellis — February 28 — Bassist, played in Survivor from 1981 to 1987, and also during the late 1990s. Died at age 69.
Keith Flint — March 4 — Singer, founding member of the EDM group The Prodigy, also lead singer of Flint. Died at age 49 of hanging suspected to be suicide.
Hal Blaine — March 11 — Legendary session drummer, as a member of the famed studio collective The Wrecking Crew played on countless hits of the ’60s and ’70s, including “Be My Baby,” “Good Vibrations,” “Help Me Rhonda,” “I Get Around,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Monday Monday,” “Song Sung Blue,” “The Way We Were,” “Windy,” “Love Will Keep Us Together,” “Mr. Tambourine Man” and many others. Died of natural causes at age 90.
Dick Dale — March 16 — Rock guitarist, dubbed the “King of the Surf Guitar.” His songs “Miserlou” and “Let’s Go Trippin’” defined the surf rock genre. Died of heart and kidney failure at age 81.
Scott Walker — March 22 — Lead singer of the ’60s pop group The Walker Brothers before going on to have an influential solo career. Cited as a musical influence by David Bowie, Roxy Music‘s Bryan Ferry, Radiohead‘s Thom Yorke and others. Died at age 76.
Ranking Roger — March 26 — Singer, born Roger Charlery, founding member of the British New Wave band The Beat, known as The English Beat in the U.S., and its spinoff group General Public. Died of lung cancer at age 56.
Paul Raymond — April 13 — Keyboardist and guitarist, played with Savoy Brown, UFO and the Michael Schenker Group. Died of a heart attack at age 73.
J.R. Cobb — May 4 — Guitarist and songwriter, born James Barney Cobb Jr. Founding member of Classics IV and later Atlanta Rhythm Section. Co-wrote the hits “Spooky,” “Stormy,” “Champagne Jam” and “Do It or Die,” as well as the 1968 The Tams classic “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy.” Died of a heart attack, aged 75.
Roky Erickson — May 31 — Singer and guitarist for the pioneering 1960s Texas psychedelic band The 13th Floor Elevators and solo artist. Died at age 71.
Dr. John — June 6 — Grammy-winning New Orleans-based singer, songwriter and pianist, born Malcolm John Rebennack Jr. His musical style encompassed rock, soul, R&B, blues, jazz and boogie woogie. Scored a 1973 top-10 hit with “Right Place, Wrong Time.” Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. Died of a heart attack at age 77.
Elliot Roberts — June 21 — Born Elliot Rabinowitz, Roberts managed Neil Young for over 50 years and also oversaw the careers of many other top artists; with David Geffen, co-founded Asylum Records. Died at age 76.
Dave Bartholomew — June 23 — New Orleans composer, musician and rock ‘n’ roll pioneer, best known for his long collaboration with Fats Domino, with whom he co-wrote the hits “The Fat Man,” “Ain’t That a Shame,” “I’m Walkin’,” “Whole Lotta Loving” and “Walking to New Orleans”; Bartholomew also wrote the Domino hits “Blue Monday” and “I Hear You Knockin’.” Died at age 100.
Gary Duncan — June 29 — Guitarist and singer, born Gary Ray Grubb, founding member of pioneering psychedelic rock band Quicksilver Messenger Service. Died at age 72.
Johnny Clegg — July 16 — British-born South African singer and musician, frontman of Juluka, the first Apartheid-era band in the country to feature white and black musicians, and later Savuka. Died of pancreatic cancer at age 66.
Art Neville — July 22 — Grammy-winning musician, founding member of the legendary New Orleans groups The Meters and The Neville Brothers. Died at age 81 after years of declining health.
Ian Gibbons — August 1 — Keyboardist, played with The Kinks on and off from 1979 until the band’s breakup in 1996. Died at age 67 of bladder cancer.
D.A. Pennebaker — August 1 — Documentary filmmaker, whose credits include Don’t Look Back, a chronicle of Bob Dylan‘s 1965 U.K. tour, as well as Monterey Pop and the David Bowie concert flick Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Died at age 94 from natural causes.
Larry “The Mole” Taylor — August 19 — Longtime bassist of Canned Heat, also toured with Jerry Lee Lewis and recorded with Buddy Guy, Albert King and The Monkees. Died at the age of 77 of cancer.
Jimmy Johnson — September 5 — Session guitarist who was a member of the soulful Muscle Shoals, Alabama, collective of musicians known as The Swampers. Worked with Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge, The Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Lynyrd Skynyrd and many others. Died at age 76.
Eddie Money — September 13 — Pop-rock singer, born Edward Mahoney, whose hits included “Two Tickets to Paradise,” “Shakin’,” “Baby Hold On” and others. Died of complications from esophageal cancer on at age 70.
Ric Ocasek — September 15 — Co-founder, frontman, guitarist and songwriter for New Wave pioneers and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Cars; born Richard Theodore Otcasek. Died of complications from heart disease at age 75.
Robert Hunter — September 23 — The Grateful Dead‘s primary lyricist; worked mainly with Jerry Garcia, but also collaborated with other members of the band. Hunter also released a series of solo albums. Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame along with the group in 1994. Died at age 78.
Larry Wallis — September 19 — Motorhead‘s first guitarist, also played in The Pink Fairies and UFO, worked as a producer for the U.K. punk label Stiff Records. Died at age 70.
Kim Shattuck — October 2 — Groundbreaking singer, songwriter and bassist for the 1980s and ’90s punk band The Muffs. Died of ALS, a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease, at age 56.
Ginger Baker — October 6 — Drummer, best-known as a member, along with guitarist Eric Clapton and bassist Jack Bruce, of the seminal rock band Cream; also played with Clapton and Steve Winwood in Blind Faith. Died at age 80 after years of poor health.
Larry Junstrom — October 7 — Bassist, founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd and longtime bassist for 38 Special. Died at age 70.
Steve Cash — October 13 — Harmonica player and singer, a founding member of The Ozark Mountain Daredevils; also co-wrote many of the veteran Southern rock group songs, including “Jackie Blue” and “If You Wanna Get to Heaven.” Died at age 73.
Paul Barrere — October 26 — Guitarist, singer and songwriter, longtime member of Little Feat. Among the songs Barrere co-wrote for the band were “Down on the Farm” and “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now.” Died at age 71.
Roy Loney — December 13 — Original lead singer of influential San Francisco garage-rock band The Flamin’ Groovies. Died at age 73 of severe organ failure.
Emil Richards — December 13 — Renowned percussionist and vibraphone, part of the famed Los Angeles session-musician collective The Wrecking Crew; born Emilio Radocchia. Died at age 87.
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