Classics Du Jour


Remembering Rockers We Lost in 2020

From the pandemic to the election to the lockdowns and so much more, what a helluva year 2020 has been – and not in a good way! Sadly, this year has also taken away too many of our shining rock n’ roll stars. Here is a look back at some of the people who shaped our musical life that are no longer with us.

Marty Grebb

September 2, 1945 – January 1, 2020
Member of the Buckinghams, producer and arranger

Neil Peart

Neil Peart

September 12, 1952 – January 7, 2020
Neil Peart, drummer and lyricist of Rush, joined the band in 1974 with lead singer and bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson. Peart’s contributions to drumming are almost incalculable and his lyrics were highly literate and complicated, especially for a hard rock band. He was also a writer of several books. Peart died in Santa Monica, CA after quietly fighting brain cancer for three years. He was 67.

David Olney

March 23, 1948 – January 18, 2020
Folk singer-songwriter

Reed Mullin

February 12, 1966 – January 27, 2020
Drummer, Corrosion of Conformity

Andy Gill

January 1, 1956 – February 1, 2020
Lead guitarist, Gang of Four

Ivan Král

May 12, 1948 – February 2, 2020
Bassist, the Patti Smith Group

Buddy Cage

February 18, 1946 – February 5, 2020
Pedal steel guitarist, New Riders of the Purple Sage

Lyle Mays

November 27, 1953 – February 10, 2020
Pianist and composer, Pat Metheny Group

Mike Somerville

August 15, 1952 – February 28, 2020
Guitarist, Head East

Keith Olsen

May 12, 1945 – March 9, 2020
Producer of over 100 albums, including ones from Fleetwood Mac, Eddie Money, ELP, Foreigner, Whitesnake and Ozzy Osbourne.

Kenny Rogers

August 21, 1938 – March 20, 2020
With over 100 million albums sold, Kenny Rogers was one of the best-selling artists of all time. He charted more than 120 hit singles and was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013.

Bill Withers
Bill Withers

Bill Withers

July 4, 1938 – March 30, 2020
A three-time Grammy Award winner, Bill Withers’ biggest hits included “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Lean On Me” and “Just the Two of Us”.

Adam Schlesinger

October 31, 1967 – April 1, 2020
Multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and founding member of Fountains of Wayne. Schlesinger also won awards for his musical work in film, TV, and theater.

Steve Farmer

December 31, 1948 – April 7, 2020
Guitarist, Amboy Dukes

John Prine in 2006
John Prine in 2006. CC BY 3.0 Credit: Ron Baker

John Prine

October 10, 1946 – April 7, 2020
Prine has been cited as one of the most influential songwriters of his generation, influencing legendary acts such as Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters. In addition to his Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award, Prine was a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the recipient of the 2016 PEN New England Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award.

Terry Doran

December 14, 1939 – April 18, 2020
Longtime Beatles associate

Florian Schneider

April 7, 1947 – April 21, 2020
Multi-instrumentalist, Kraftwerk

David Greenfield

March 19, 1949 – May 3, 2020
Vocalist and keyboardist for The Stranglers

Brian Howe

July 22, 1953 – May 6, 2020
Brian Howe is best known as the singer who replaced Paul Rodgers in Bad Company in 1986, but he got his start in the U.S. when Ted Nugent recruited him for a new album and world tour in 1983. Howe died of cardiac arrest at the age of 66.

Little Richard in 1967
Little Richard in 1967

Little Richard

December 5, 1932 – May 9, 2020
With a groundbreaking career that spanned more than seven decades, Little Richard’s influence on rock and roll was immeasurable. He was a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, had a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Blues Hall of Fame, and the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame, as well as the NAACP Image Award Hall of Fame.

Phil May

November 9, 1944 – May 15, 2020
Vocalist of the Pretty Things

Bob Kulick

January 16, 1950 – May 28, 2020
Producer and sometime KISS guitarist

Rupert Hine

September 21, 1947 – June 4, 2020
Producer of albums for Stevie Nicks, Rush, The Fixx and Bob Geldof

Steve Priest

February 23, 1948 – June 4, 2020
Bassist of The Sweet

Paul Chapman

June 9, 1954 – June 9, 2020
Guitarist, UFO

Pete Carr

April 22, 1950 – June 27, 2020
Guitarist for the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section

Charlie Daniels

October 28, 1936 – July 6, 2020
Charlie Daniels was a Southern rock and country icon who was on a stage for performances ranging over 70 years. Daniels is best known for his blue grass tinged anthem, “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” which was greatly helped by its placement and Daniels’ performance in the movie Urban Cowboy. Daniels died at his home in Tennessee at the age of 83.

Judy Dyble

February 13, 1949 – July 12, 2020
Vocalist, Fairport Convention

Peter Green
Peter Green

Peter Green

October 29, 1946 – July 25, 2020
Peter Green, a blues rock guitarist, formed Fleetwood Mac with Mick Fleetwood in 1967, after a stint in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Sadly, he left the band in 1970 due to mental health problems and drug use. He was later diagnosed as schizophrenic. Green joined Fleetwood Mac at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, and was voted #58 in Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists.” He died at the age of 73.

Backstage Access:
Remembering Peter Green

Steve Holland

February 22, 1954 – August 2, 2020
Guitarist, Molly Hatchet

Martin Birch

December 27, 1948 – August 6, 2020
Rock producer of many bands including Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Fleetwood Mac, Rainbow and Black Sabbath

Pete Way

August 7, 1951 – August 14, 2020
Pete Way formed UFO in London in 1968, and played bass with them for the majority of his musical career, although he did branch out for a time to form Waysted and Fastway, and also to tour with Ozzy Osbourne. He was a favorite in musicians’ circles, especially as an influence in the British rock world. He died at the age of 69 after sustaining injuries from an accident.

Jack Sherman

January 18, 1956 – August 18, 2020
Guitarist, Red Hot Chili Peppers

Frankie Banali
Frankie Banali in 2010

Frankie Banali

November 14, 1951 – August 20, 2020
Frankie Banali, drummer of Quiet Riot, was the only member of the “classic” Quiet Riot lineup (Kevin DuBrow, Carlos Cavazo, Rudy Sarzo, Banali) who played at every show. Quiet Riot was the first metal band ever to top the Billboard chart, and racked up 10 million in sales on the Metal Health (1983) album alone, with hits like the Slade cover “Cum On Feel The Noize” and “Metal Health (Bang Your Head)”, co-written by Banali. He died after a 16-month battle with stage IV pancreatic cancer. He was 68.

Lee Kerslake

April 16, 1947 – September 19, 2020
Drummer for Uriah Heep and Ozzy Osbourne

Mark Stone

Died September 26, 2020
Original bassist, Van Halen

Mac Davis

January 21, 1942 – September 29, 2020
Singer, actor and songwriter who wrote “A Little Less Conversation” for Elvis, among many others

Helen Reddy

October 25, 1941 – September 29, 2020
Singer who wrote the feminist anthem “I Am Woman”

Johnny Nash

August 19, 1940 – October 6, 2020
Singer with the hit “I Can See Clearly Now”

Eddie Van Halen
Eddie Van Halen Credit: Carl Lender

Eddie Van Halen

January 26, 1955 – October 6, 2020
Eddie Van Halen, rock icon, guitar virtuoso and co-founder of Van Halen, changed guitar playing forever with his brilliant new techniques and innovative stylings. He and Jimi Hendrix have been lauded as the most influential rock guitarists in the last 100 years. With Van Halen, he sold over 75 million records worldwide. Van Halen was a heavy smoker throughout his life and succumbed to throat cancer at the age of 65.

Backstage Access:
Like Picasso or Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen Was a True Original

Gordon Haskell

April 27, 1946 – October 15, 2020
Vocals, guitar and bass for King Crimson

Bob Biggs

died October 17, 2020
Founder of punk rock label, Slash Records

Spencer Davis

July 17, 1939 – October 19, 2020
Founding singer and guitarist of the Spencer Davis Group, and co-writer of “Gimme Some Lovin’”

Tony Lewis

December 21, 1957 – October 19, 2020
Singer and bassist of The Outfield

Jerry Jeff Walker

March 16, 1942 – October 23, 2020
“Outlaw” country musician and writer of “Mr. Bojangles”

Ken Hensley

August 24, 1945 – November 4, 2020
Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter of Uriah Heep

Bones Hillman

May 1958 – November 7, 2020
Bassist, Midnight Oil

Jason Slater

March 8, 1971 – December 9, 2020
Bassist of Third Eye Blind and Queensrÿche producer

Leslie West of Mountain
Leslie West in 2008. CC BY SA 2.0. Credit: Wilson Bilkovich

Leslie West

October 22, 1945 – December 22, 2020
Co-founder, vocalist and guitarist of Mountain

Alto Reed

May 16, 1948 – December 30, 2020
Born Thomas Neal Cartmell
Saxophonist and longtime member of Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band

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