2016 begins and ends with music deaths

NEW YORK (AFP) - Pop superstar George Michael's death over the Christmas holidays caps one of the most tragic years in memory for the music world which mourned a steady stream of top names.

Here are some of the prominent musicians who died over the momentous year:

DAVID BOWIE

The rock icon's fans were stunned by his death on Jan 10, just two days after releasing an acclaimed album, Blackstar, on his 69th birthday. Bowie, musically innovative until the end, had been battling cancer but his illness was known to few outside his immediate family.


British Pop Star David Bowie screaming into the microphone as he performs on stage during his concert in Vienna on Feb 4, 1996. PHOTO: REUTERS

GLENN FREY


Legendary rock band The Eagles, including members Glenn Frey (left) and Joe Walsh, performing during a concert at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, on Feb 23, 2011. PHOTO: ST FILE

The co-founder and frontman of the Eagles died on Jan 18 at age 67 after years of poor health. With the massive success of tracks such as "Hotel California," the country-tinged rockers were among the best-selling acts in US history.

PAUL KANTNER


Paul Kantner, the co-founder and creative force of Jefferson Airplane. PHOTO: PAUL KANTNER/FACEBOOK

The co-founder and creative force of Jefferson Airplane, whose psychedelic sound was a soundtrack to the 1960s hippie era, died on Jan 28 at age 74 after a heart attack.

MAURICE WHITE


Maurice White, the founder of Earth, Wind & Fire. PHOTO: EARTH, WIND AND FIRE/FACEBOOK

The founder of Earth, Wind & Fire crafted tight pop songs out of funk, with the band becoming one of the top-selling acts of all time and among the first African American groups to win a wide white audience. The 74-year-old died on Feb 4 after suffering for years from Parkinson's disease.

KEITH EMERSON AND GREG LAKE

Emerson, one of rock's original keyboard stars who infused concerts with on-stage theatrics such as playing upside-down, killed himself in his Los Angeles area home at age 71 on March 11. Bassist and singer Greg Lake, his bandmate in progressive rock trio Emerson, Lake & Palmer, died in London of cancer on December 7 at age 69.

PHIFE DAWG

The snide rapper from A Tribe Called Quest, a group that brought a new artistic sensibility to hip-hop, died on March 22 at 45 after a lifelong struggle with diabetes.

MERLE HAGGARD


Country music legend Merle Haggard. PHOTO: MERLE HAGGARD/FACEBOOK

The country music legend, a self-styled outlaw whose music gave voice to disaffected conservatives in the hippie era, died on April 6 on his 79th birthday.

PRINCE


US singer Prince performing at the Grand Palais in Paris, on Oct 11, 2009. PHOTO: AFP

One of the most influential and successful artists of the 1980s, the Purple Rain star died on April 21 at 57 at his Paisley Park estate in Minnesota from an accidental overdose of powerful painkillers. Prince, who popularised his own brand of sensual and danceable funk, was prolific in his output but also famously reclusive. With his marathon shows, he had appeared outwardly to be a model of health.

LEONARD COHEN


Canadian singer and poet Leonard Cohen taking off his hat to salute in Paris, on Jan 16, 2012. PHOTO: AFP

The poet and singer, whose meditations on love and spirituality had won him an impassioned if niche audience, died on Nov 7 at 82, with his family quietly burying him in his native Montreal before announcing the news. In a parallel to Bowie, Cohen just weeks earlier had released an acclaimed album, ominously entitled You Want It Darker.

SHARON JONES


Amercian singer Sharon Jones performing on stage during The Music Of David Byrne & Talking Heads at Carnegie Hall in New York City, on March 23, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

The fiery soul and funk singer, who rose to fame at a late age and came to be called the female James Brown, died on Nov 18 of cancer at age 60.

RICK PARFITT


Guitarist Rick Parfitt of British rock group Status Quo performing in the Stravinski Hall stage at the 43rd Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland, on July 16, 2009. PHOTO: EPA

The hard-charging, hard-living guitarist from Status Quo died on Dec 24 at age 68 following an infection.

GEORGE MICHAEL


British singer George Michael performing during a Charity Gala Concert for Sidaction at The Palais Garnier Opera House in Paris, France, on Sept 9, 2012. PHOTO: EPA

The singer, one of the brightest lights of giddy 1980s pop with the duo Wham! before a more introspective and troubled solo career, died at his home outside London at age 53, apparently on Dec 25. The Careless Whisper singer had numerous health scares and drug-related incidents late in his life.