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In Memoriam: Musicians We Lost in 2020

In Memoriam Eddie Van Halen

Live music vanished in mid-March 2020 during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and there is still very little consensus on when it will return in 2021. Aside from the dramatic loss of revenue, the music industry was hit very hard in 2020 with the passing of some of its most talented and successful performers. The global music community has lost some of its brightest upcoming stars, jazz and classical luminaries, and rock ‘n roll legends. May their memory be a blessing. 

Neil Peart

Neil Peart on drums

Peart lost a very private battle with cancer in January 2020 almost five years after Rush played their last show on August 1st, 2015. One of the most influential percussionists of his era, Peart redefined rock drumming and became a legend as part of Canada’s most successful rock trio. The ‘Professor’ left behind more than 40 years of musical ecstasy and literature that have served as the soundtrack to my life; 19 shows in 3 countries and the inspiration for 40+ years of air drumming.

McCoy Tyner

McCoy Tyner 1973
McCoy Tyner (1973)

The anchor of John Coltrane’s Quartet passed away in 2020 at the age of 81. Tyner was one of the most influential jazz pianists for almost sixty years and was true to his roots; he never played anything but acoustic instruments and was the winner of 5 Grammy Awards during his storied career. A native of Philadelphia, Tyner grew up next door to fellow jazz musicians, Bud and Richie Powell. Tyner passed away in New Jersey on March 6, 2020. 

Ennio Morricone

Ennio Morricone 2013
Ennio Morricone (2013)

The most prolific film composer of the 20th century, Morricone scored more than 500 films during his legendary career; including the soundtracks to The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, The Untouchables, The Mission, Cinema Paradiso, and The Hateful Eight; which earned him his only Academy Award of his career. Morricone was still working on new film scores, when he passed away in an Italian hospital on July 6, 2020 after breaking his femur.

Florian Schneider

Florian Schneider
Florian Schneider

The founder of Kraftwerk, Schneider passed away on April 21, 2020, at the age of 73. The German-born musician was one of the most influential artists in the world of electronic music and synth-pop for fifty years and leaves behind a legacy of groundbreaking music that influenced David Bowie, Daft Punk, and New Order. The unofficial grandfather of techno, Schneider was an innovator; combining beats, electronics, and art to create one of the most influential discographies of music ever recorded. 

Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen
Eddie Van Halen

His passing on October 6, 2020, after a long battle with multiple forms of cancer (Van Halen suffered a stroke days before he passed away), was a huge blow to the world of rock ‘n roll. The founder of Van Halen changed rock guitar forever with his two-hand tapping, engineering tone, and his rhythmic excellence. Eddie Van Halen played hard, lived even harder, and was the inspiration for a generation of guitarists that would follow. 

John Prine

John Prine by Ron Baker
John Prine

A two-time Grammy Award winner, John Prine passed away on April 7, 2020, due to complications from COVID-19. An American treasure, Prine was one of the most influential songwriters of his generation and a folk singer and guitarist whose music managed to connect the dots for millions of listeners around the globe. His modest style and demeanor were authentic; he was a reluctant star who could craft a song as well as anyone and let his fingers do the talking on guitar. His passing leaves a void in the collective soul of a nation longing for a genuine sense of healing. 

Kenny Rogers

Kenny Rogers
Kenny Rogers

The 81 year-old country and western music legend passed away on March 20, 2020, leaving a legacy of 50 million albums sold, 24 No. 1 songs, and three Grammy Awards. With a string of hits including “The Gambler,” “Lady,” and “She Believes in Me,” Rogers was one of the most popular country-pop artists of all-time. Rogers will also be remembered for his chart-topping duet, “Islands in the Stream” with Dolly Parton that was an international hit. Rogers was also a staple on the television variety show circuit for decades before he ventured into the food and beverage industry; Kenny Rogers’ Roasters would eventually fail in the United States after being purchased in 1999. 

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