I’m going to blame it on my fellow journalists.
It’s all your fault that 2017 is trying its best to top 2016 for taking away all our musicians.
CNN had a headline last year that read, “2016: The year the music died.”
The opening paragraph of the article reads: “Move over, 1959. Step aside, 1970. When it comes to the deaths of musical icons, 2016 may be the worst year ever.”
No, no, no. You just don’t tempt fate like that.
Once that article (and several others like it) came out, you can just imagine the Grim Reaper looking over at the Easter Bunny and saying, “Hold my beer. I got this.”
Music lovers like myself were glad to ring in the new year hoping for better luck than 2016, but that hasn’t been the case as more and more music legends passed away.
The fact that we knew a lot of them had to be coming didn’t make it any easier. At the end of last year I wrote a column about all the celebrities we lost in 2016, but while researching that, I came across a list of celebrities who were still living at age 70 or older. There were a lot of names on the list. There are fewer now after a rough 2017.
2016 might have had some serious name recognition, but 2017 has the raw numbers. Let’s do a comparison.
Here are the musicians we lost in 2016: David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Prince, Merle Haggard, George Michael and Leonard Cohen. Those are some well-known names.
Some others that might not be as quickly recognized: Paul Kanter (Jefferson Airplane), Maurice White (Earth, Wind & Fire), and Keith Emerson and Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
That’s an impressive list. But like Charlie Daniels said, “You’re pretty good old son, but sit down in that chair right there and let me show you how it’s done.”
AC/DC, Steely Dan, the Allman Brothers, Soundgarden, Linkin Park, The Tragically Hip and Montgomery Gentry are just some of the bands that lost important members. Then there are all the headliners, from rock founders Chuck Berry and Fats Domino to some of the best-selling acts in Billboard history.
I’ll try to get these in chronological order.
Butch Trucks, 69, cofounded the Allman Brothers Band, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.
Al Jarreau, 76, famous jazz singer crossed over into pop and R&B, too.
Chuck Berry, 90, the legendary rock guitarist and singer was in the first class inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
John Warren Geils Jr., 71, was an accomplished guitarist who lent his name to The J. Geils band, known for its string of bouncy 1980s pop hits, including “Love Stinks,” “Freeze Frame” and “Centerfold.”
Chris Cornell, the Soundgarden frontman died at age 52.
Gregg Allman, 69, cofounder of The Allman Brothers Band, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.
Christopher Wong Won, 53, known as Fresh Kid Ice, was a founding member of the hip-hop group 2 Live Crew and the first notable rapper of Asian descent.
Chester Bennington, the Linkin Park lead vocalist was 41. He was best known for the band’s hits “Numb,” “In the End” and “Crawling.”
Glen Campbell, 81, the country singer and guitarist had 29 top-10 hits, nine #1 songs and four Grammys.
Walter Becker, one of the cofounders and guitarist for Steely Dan, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
Don Williams, 78, country music legend had 17 #1 singles and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010.
Troy Gentry, the ‘Montgomery Gentry’ duo had five number-one hits on the country charts, including “Something To Be Proud Of” and “Roll With Me,” and was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2009.
Tom Petty, 66, the Grammy winner was best known as the lead singer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, which was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
Gordon Downie, 53, the lead singer of Canadian group The Tragically Hip.
Fats Domino, 89, was one of the first honorees inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and was best known for his hits “Blueberry Hill” and “Ain’t That a Shame.”
Malcolm Young, 64, the guitarist and cofounder of AC/DC, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.
Mel Tillis, Country Music Legend placed 35 singles in the country Top 10, induction into both the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame, he received a National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama in 2012.
David Cassidy, 67, the former “Partridge Family” actor also had a musical career.
Jim Nabors, 87, Gomer Pyle recorded more than two dozen albums.
So if you are counting, that’s nine people who have been inducted into either the rock or country halls of fame – with Chris Cornell a given to be inducted posthumously at some point. So 10 Hall of Famers in one year trumps 2016.
I will concede that Bowie and Prince were originals that cannot be replaced, so that gives 2016 some gravity. Then again, the world had never seen the likes of rock guitar playing that Chuck Berry brought to the stage, influencing generations of guitarists.
And while Angus Young played all the impressive solos, it was Malcolm Young who wrote all the memorable riffs for AC/DC that can still be heard at Guitar Center on any Saturday afternoon.
Yeah, I’d say 2017 is the worst. Just please don’t jinx it and say that 2018 couldn’t possibly get worse.
Jeff is the news editor and can be reached at 415-4692.