With news of Malcolm Young's death, we decided to pay homage to 10 other historic and influential musicians that have recently departed us.
Downie fronted Canadian rock icons The Tragically Hip since their conception in 1984. Their contribution to music has been permanently sewn into the fabric of Canadian culture, and much of it can be attributed to Downie's signature frontman style. He was also a respected philanthropist, focusing on environmentalism and indigenous affairs. In May of 2016, Downie had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, but he went on to battle his condition defiantly and bravely for over a year, until his illness caught up with him and took his life on October 17, 2017 at the age of 53.
Scott Weiland was a true rock n' roller, and lived the lifestyle to its fullest. He helped Stone Temple Pilots bridge the gap between 90s alternative grunge and traditional heavy metal with the band's debut album "Core," and stayed with the band for many years before joining Velvet Revolver, comprised mainly of ex-Guns N' Roses members. Weiland was a notorious substance abuser, having battled his addictions for many years before succumbing to an accidental overdose in December of 2015, ending his life at 48 years of age. Weiland holds the honor of being one of the most recognizable lead vocalists in rock, and certainly one of the most larger-than-life.
Some of the most recognizable Hollywood music came from composer extraordinare James Horner. His songwriting credits appear across a multitude of blockbuster films including Field of Dreams, Braveheart, Titanic, Avatar and Aliens. Horner's composing work is a signature all his own; a testament to his creativity and inspiration as a musician. He died tragically in June 2015 when his airplane crashed into the Los Padres National Forest in California. His legacy lives on in the many films he scored, ensuring his remembrance.
B.B. King is the very definition of the word "legend." Not only did he bring mainstream recognition and appreciation to blues music, but he also went on to an illustrious career which included 30 Grammy nominations, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and widespread critical and commercial acclaim. King passed away in his sleep on May 14, 2015 due to complications with Type III diabetes, but he did so at the amazing age of 89. Truly a life well-lived.
George Michael began a long-standing career as a rock icon and sex symbol as a member of English pop duo Wham!, only to break away to a solo career shortly thereafter. He sold approximately 115 million records worldwide, a feat matched only by his status as an HIV/AIDS charity fundraiser and champion campaigner for gay rights. Michael had several run-ins with the law beginning in 1998 with a notoriously well known flub in a public restroom in California, as well as drug possession, but his image weathered the storm better than most. He died of heart failure, tragically on Christmas Day, 2016.
Leonard Cohen rose to fame as a well respected musician, poet, painter and novelist whose material explored the most complex and sometimes darkest parts of human society. An enigmatic presence, Cohen comamnded the respect of younger audiences as well as those from his own generation. His lyrics have been analyzed in high school English classes, and his poetry displayed an uncompromising personal opinion about war, politics, sex and interpersonal relationships. Cohen died on November 7, 2016 at 82 years of age from a combination of cancer and bodily injuries sustained during a fall.
Petty's career is world-famous. His bluesy sing-along rock was a staple of the 1980s and 1990s, but his legacy never lost an ounce of fire at the turn of the millennium. Along with his band The Heartbreakers, Petty forged a wonderful career which allowed him to work with rock icons George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison as the Traveling Wilburys, as well as go solo on several albums which produced some of his best known hits. He would reunite with his former band and continue to tour until his untimely death on October 2, 2017 at the age of 66, due to cardiac arrest.
Many rock stars had the image, but none of them lived the lifestyle like Motorhead founder and frontman Lemmy Kilmister. His first taste of success came in 1965 when he joined The Rockin' Vickers, before moving on to become a roadie for Jimi Hendrix himself. A few years later, Lemmy found himself falling backwards into a gig with Hawkwind after being given bass guitar duties, of which he had no experience playing. It was this 4 year relationship with Hawkwind that saw Lemmy take the stage as a frontman on several of the band's songs, including their greatest hit, "Silver Machine." After an unceremonious booting from the band following a drug incident in Windsor Ontario, Lemmy went on to form Motorhead, the single-greatest influence on heavy metal ever to be born. The band's combination of high speed playing, distorted guitars and double-bass drumming would serve as a precursor to the Thrash metal scene, particularly Megadeth and Metallica. Despite lifelong substance and alcohol abuse (he was known for drinking an entire bottle of Jack Daniels by himself), Lemmy was regarded as the nicest guy in rock and roll. He would sit and talk with his fans, sign every autograph, and go out of his way to be polite. As Lemmy himself once said, "It's nicer to be nice, isn't it?" Lemmy battled diabetes and heart troubles in later years, but it was an aggressive brain cancer that finally did him in on December 28th, 2015, ending the iconic speedfreak's amazing run at 70 years old.
Prince Rogers Nelson was born in 1958, but his amazing musical career began in 1975 with his show-stopping combination of rock, R&B, funk and soul music. His flamboyant stage presence was matched only by his off-stage notoriety and eccentricities, giving Prince a larger-than-life persona that shrouded the musician in mystery and intrigue. He co-wrote such hits as the Bangles "Manic Monday" and Sinead O Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U," while his own hits shot to legendary status. The color Purple was never the same before Prince arrived on the scene. Also, let's not forget his short-lived stunt as "the artist formally known as Prince," when the musician adopted a symbol (which was a name in itself) as his new persona. His charity and philanthropical works were kept very private until details were released after his death. Prince died on April 7, 2016 at the age of 57 from an accidental fentanyl overdose. It remains one of the most tragic celebrity passings in recent memory.
David Bowie was perhaps the most iconic rock star showman who ever graced the stage. For 5 decades he pushed the boundaries of rock with a combination of glam, electronic and experimental subgenres, most notably as his on-stage alter ego Ziggy Stardust beginning in 1972. Bowie would achieve more mainstream success in the 1980s when he adopted a pop approach to his music. During that era, he collaborated with Queen, Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, Iggy Pop and Reeves Gabrels, and produced some of his most well-known hits including "Let's Dance," "China Girl" and "Ashes to Ashes." During the 1990s, Bowie shifted his musical style to electronic, and collaborated with influential artists like Trent Reznor, Lou Reed, Dave Grohl and Billy Corgan, among others. At the turn of the century, Bowie again changed his style, this time towards Neoclassical. It was during this decade that he won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his amazing career. Besides being a successful musician, Bowie also starred in several films including Labrynth, his most recognizable project. David Bowie died on January 2016 at the age of 69 from liver cancer, just two days after his birthday and the release of his last album, "Blackstar." He remains one of the most influential, respected and recognized names ever to have graced the music world.
Klickjam prefers to focus on how these icons lived, rather than how they died. Each left their mark on the world of music and inspired millions of fans and musicians to keep their music alive, and become inspired to create even more. We look back on their contributions to music with glad hearts. For more music news, make sure to head over to Klickjam.com and sign up. It's free!