Dec. 31, 2015: Natalie Cole, 65: died from liver virus, Hepatitis C.
Jan. 4: Long John Hunter, 84: American blues guitarist and singer-songwriter, from El Paso who was a great Texas singer/songwriter died at his home in Phoenix, Arizona.
Jan. 4: Red Parker, 84: American football coach (The Citadel, Clemson, Ole Miss) died after battling heart-related illnesses in recent month.
Jan. 4: Craig Strickland: a country music singer was found dead after disappearing while on a hunting trip. His body was found on this date, after last being seen on Dec. 27, 2015. He had gone hunting with a friend who was found drowned. Strickland had swam to shore but succumbed to hypothermia.
Jan. 4: Robert Stigwood, 81: the manager who steered the Bee Gees to massive fame and who also managed Cream, had a partnership with Beatles manager Brian Epstein when the Bee Gees moved from Australia to Britain. His label included Andy Gibb, Eric Clapton and Player. Stigwood also produced several music movies including Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Saturday Night Fever and Grease.
Jan. 5: Nicholas Caldwell, 71: one of the key members and co-founder of the R&B group The Whispers who had a number of hits including “And the Beat Goes One” and one of my favorites – “Rock Steady” was found dead by his wife at their home in Stockton, CA. Caldwell wrote a lot of the group’s hit songs. He had heart problems in the past and had a pacemaker inserted about a year ago but it’s unclear what led to his death.
Jan. 5: Christine Lawrence Finney, 47: painter and animator (Aladdin, The Lion King, Lilo & Stitch) graduated from Ringling School of Art & Design and worked at Disney Feature Animation for 15 years. In 2006 Christine and her husband made Spartanburg, SC their home and traveled to paint beautiful locations and exhibit their fine art regionally.
Jan. 6: Pat Harrington, Jr., 86: the arrogant and hilarious handyman from One Day at a Time passed away due to complications from a fall and Alzheimer’s disease. His daughter Tresa, wrote “that they were all with him when he died at 11:09pm and that they were all crying, laughing and loving him,” and passed along “never be afraid to tell the people you love, that you love them.”
Jan 7: Richard Libertini, 82: comedic actor who had been acting since the late ’60s died after a two-year battle with cancer. He’s well known for his roles in Awakenings, Fletch and the movie Nell.
Jan. 8: Otis Clay, 74: Hall of Fame R&B artist and longtime Billy Price collaborator died in his hometown of Chicago. He was a 2013 inductee to the Blues Hall of Fame.
Jan. 10: Michael Galeota, 31: former Disney Channel star went to the hospital with abdominal pain. He suffered from hypertension and high cholesterol. He went to the hospital complaining of abdominal pains but left soon after checking in, against doctor’s recommendations.
Jan. 10: David Bowie, 69: Bowie was battling liver cancer prior to his death and passed away two days after his birthday. He had just finished releasing his 25th album, entitled Blackstar. Bowie was also an actor who starred in Just a Gigolo and in the 1986 Labyrinth, among others. His son Duncan Jones, who is a Bafta-winning film director, wrote on Twitter: “Very sorry and sad to say it’s true. I’ll be offline for a while. Love to all.” Here’s the link to the bbc.com obituary: http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-12494821. Unfortunately 2016 seems to be shaping up to be the year that many musicians die.
Jan. 11: Stanley Mann, 87: Oscar-nominated screenwriter who worked on such films as Conan the Destroyer, Damien: Omen II and who received an Oscar nom for his work on William Wyler’s The Collector died at his home in Los Angeles after a long illness.
Jan. 11: David Margulies, 78: played the NYC mayor in the Ghostbusters films. He died in NYC after a long illness. The veteran actor also starred as Tony Soprano’s sleazy lawyer, Neil Mink, on The Sopranos and appeared in more than a dozen Broadway shows.
Jan 12: William Needles, 97: Canada’s oldest working actor, died at a hospice in Alliston, Ontario. He appeared in more than 100 productions at Stratford Festival over 47 seasons.
Jan. 13: Brian Bedford, 81: voice of Disney’s 1973 animated Robin Hood died at his home in Santa Barbara.
January 13: Ferguson, approx. 19: Ferguson was a macaque monkey that had been purchased from an exotic pet dealer in Las Vegas, Nev. In December, 1998, PAWS cofounder, the late Pat Derby, received a phone call from the woman who had purchased the monkey. When she discovered that it was illegal to have a pet monkey in California, she discreetly left him at the mouth of the entrance to PAWS. Ferguson did well at PAWS thanks to a mature resident baboon named Harriet. The two were inseparable, with Harriet loving and caring for Ferguson like he was her own baby. Ferguson died from complications of advanced Cushing’s syndrome. He was surrounded by the love of many, including longtime caregivers, as well as PAWS’ cofounder Ed Stewart and veterinarian Dr. Gai.
Jan 13: Tera Wray, 33: Tera and been in the porn industry since 2006. She married Static-X frontman Wayne Static in 2008 and retired from porn 8-months later. In 2014, her husband was found dead of an accidental overdose and Tera has been struggling singer her husband’s death. Her lawyer, Michael Fattorosi, issued a statement saying, “Tera is once again with the love of her life.” Tera had left a note for her roommate. It’s unclear exactly how she died or if she was found in the same home where her husband, Static was found dead, Nov. 1, 2014 after mixing Xanax and other prescription drugs, with alcohol.
Jan. 13: Lawrence Phillips, 40: two-time college national champion and former NFL running back was found dead in his prison cell at Kern Valley State Prison. He was facing a possible death penalty sentence in the murder of his former cellmate. His death is being investigated as a suicide.
Jan. 13: Jim Simpson, 88: a longtime NBC sportscaster died in Scottsdale, Ariz. following a short illness. He had a successful radio and TV career with ABC, CBS, ESPN and TNT and was inducted into the National Sportscaster and Sportswriters Hall of Fame in 2000.
Jan. 14: Alan Rickman, 69: Hans Gruber in Die Hard (he was offered this part two days after arriving in Los Angeles at age 41); the outrageous Sheriff of Nottingham in 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves; but to many, Alan Rickman was Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movie franchise. Rickman had been suffering from pancreatic cancer. Daniel Radcliffe wrote that Rickman was “one of the greatest actors I will ever work with…” He directed and starred (as King Louis XIV) in A Little Chaos, a movie about two talented landscape artists who become romantically entangled while building a garden in King Louis XIV’s palace at Versailles. Many of those offering condolences drew parallels between the deaths of Rickman and David Bowie: from the same disease at the same age and in the same week. Here’s the link to his obit from theguardian.com: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/jan/14/alan-rickman-giant-of-british-film-and-theatre-dies-at-69
Jan. 14: Rene Angelil, 74l: Celine Dion’s husband, former manager and Canadian music producer, died at his home in Las Vegas. He had discovered Dion when she was 12. He was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1999 and had surgery in 2013.
Jan. 15: Dan Haggerty, 74: best known for his role in The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams on the big screen and small one, Haggerty died from spinal cancer at the St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank.
Jan. 15: Pete Huttlinger, 54: guitar virtuoso, who was once described by Vince Gill as “wickedly gifted” died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center after suffering a stroke. He learned to play the banjo and then fell in the love with the guitar and grew into a remarkable musician who composed dazzling original material. He toured and recorded with John Denver for several years in the 90s and backed LeAnn Rimes and John Oates and appeared on recordings by Denver, Oates, Faith Hill, Jimmy Buffett, among others.
Jan. 18: Glen Frey, 67: One of the founding members of the 1970s mega-group The Eagles, who enjoyed much success as a solo artist, died from complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis, pneumonia and intestinal issues. In November he had surgery for intestinal problems and in the last few days, his condition took a turn for the worse. Frey sang many of the Eagles biggest hits, including “Tequila Sunrise,” “Already Gone” and “Take It Easy.” The Eagles were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and won 6 Grammys. Frey also had a successful solo career in the 1980s. He is survived by his wife Cindy and their 3 children.
Jan. 21: Stephanie Rader, 100: American, undercover spy in Postwar Europe, daughter of Polish immigrants, uneducated laborers who settled in Poughkeepsie, New York, and barely spoke English. It was her immersion in the Polish language and culture that proved critical to her success, against daunting odds, as a U.S. spy in Europe after World War II. She was recruited to the Office of Strategic Services and the Strategic Services Unit of the War Department, precursors to the CIA. However, she was officially employed as a clerk at the U.S. Embassy. In reality she was undercover, an agent whose flawless Polish accent and mannerisms allowed her to move around the Soviet-dominated country with relative ease. At the time of her death, a campaign was underway by members of the OSS Society (a group preserving the spy agency’s legacy) to obtain the Legion of Merit on her behalf. The award – honoring “exceptionally meritorious” service – had been denied her for unknown reasons in 1946.
Jan. 26: Abe Vigoda, 94: best known as Sal in The Godfather and Fish on Barney Miller, his daughter confirmed his passing to the AP stating he died at his home in New Jersey. In 1982, People magazine noted that Vigoda did not attend the Barney Miller wrap party and his death was inaccurately reported which led to a decades-long joke.
Jan. 27: James Garrett Freeman, 35: executed by lethal injection for killing Texas Game Warden Justin Hurst. Approximately 100 game wardens and other law enforcement officers gathered and stood vigil outside the prison and revved their motorcycle engines when Freeman was being put to death. Texas Game Warden Justin Hurst had been a Parks & Wildlife Department employee for 12 years, five as a game warden, and died on his 34th birthday, leaving behind his wife and a 4-month-old son.
Jan. 28: Paul Kantner, 74: guitarist in the 60’s psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane and its successor, Jefferson Starship died from a heart attack, of multiple organ failure and septic shock. Jefferson Airplane pioneered what became known as the San Francisco sound in the mid-1960s with such hits as “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.” He is survived by three children: sons Gareth and Alexander and daughter China.
Feb.1: Wasil Ahmad, 11: this 11-year-old boy who was praised for his bravery in leading security forces in battle against the Taliban; who was an expert in the use of an AK-47 and heavy machinery; who saw his father gunned down by the Taliban and who had assumed the head of his family was himself gunned down and shot in the head by militants on motorbikes (cowards so threatened by an 11-year-old boy). Though he was taken to a local hospital, he died of his injuries. The Taliban did claim responsibility for the killing.
Feb. 3: Maurice White, 74: vocalist and co-founder Maurice White, who co-wrote such hits as “Shining Star,” “Sing a Song” and “September” died in his sleep in Los Angeles. White had been battling Parkinson’s disease since 1992 and his health had been deteriorating in recent month. Because of this, he hadn’t been touring with the group since 1994. He remained active with the business side of the group, however. Here’s a link to the Rolling Stone obit: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/maurice-white-earth-wind-fire-singer-and-co-founder-dead-at-74-20160204
Feb. 4: Katie May, 34: Playboy model, Queen of Snapchat and social media influencer died after suffering a catastrophic stroke. She was reportedly hospitalized earlier in the week after experiencing neck pain which doctors diagnosed as a blocked carotid artery.
Feb. 4: Dave Mirra, 41: a legend in freestyle BMX, with dazzling aerial flips and tricks, X Games Winner (1997, 1999-2002, 2004-200) died in North Carolina from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Greenville, SC police discovered Mirra sitting in his truck at around 4pm. He had been visiting friends in the area a short time before the incident. He is survived by his wife and two children. He was instrumental in bringing the sport of BMX to the City of Greenville, which is now home to more than 20 professional BMX riders.
Feb. 4: Edgar Mitchell, 85: the sixth man to walk on the moon (one of 12 who have done so). An Apollo 14 astronaut.
Feb. 11: William Vincent Hasenzahl, 49: Will has a long and varied list of credits at imdb.com. He just had that face that belonged in the movies and on TV. He married his high school sweetheart and they shared 33 extraordinary years together.
Feb. 11: Kevin Randleman, 44: UFC Heavyweight Champion (1999-2000), mixed martial artist died from pneumonia and heart failure. In addition to fighting for UFC he fought for PRIDE, Sengoku and Strikeforce.
Feb. 13: Nathan Barksdale, 54: the Baltimore heroin dealer dramatized in HBO’s The Wire died while serving a term in federal prison in North Carolina. He was in a medical prison in Butner, confirmed by Sean Naron of the Baltimore Health Department. Barksdale ran a heroin-dealing operation in Baltimore in the 1980s and served 15 years in state prison on a battery charge.
Feb. 13: Antonin Scalia, 79: U.S. Supreme Court Justice and the leading conservative voice on the high court was found dead at a resort in West Texas. The cause of death was not released. A spokeswoman for the US Marshals Service, which sent personnel to the scene, said there was nothing to indicate the death was the result of anything other than natural causes. Richard A Posner wrote, he was “the most influential justice of the last quarter-century.” He was known to be a champion of originalism, which in Scalia’s hands, led to outcomes that pleased political conservatives, but not always. His approach was helpful to criminal defendants in cases involving sentences and the cross-examination of witnesses. Scalia also disdained the use of legislative history, i.e. statements from members of Congress about the meaning and purpose of laws, in the the judicial interpretation of statutes. He railed against vague laws that did not give potential defendants fair warnings of what conduct was criminal. He was sharply critical of Supreme Court opinions that did not provide lower courts and litigants with clear guidance. Judge Scalia was nominated by President Reagan in 1986 and confirmed by the Senate in a vote of 98 to 0. (Photo caption: Credit Barry Thumma/Associated Press
Feb. 15: Denise Matthews (Vanity), 57: actress (The Last Dragon) who fronted the group Vanity 6 and was known for her collaboration with Prince, and evangelist, died at a hospital in Fremont, California of sclerosis encapsulating peritonitis (an inflammation of the small intestines). She had also battled an addiction to crack in the 90s and after an overdose in 1994, her kidneys were severely damaged causing her to undergo almost daily dialysis treatments.
Feb. 19: Harper Lee, 89: Her long-anticipated second novel, Go Set a Watchman was recently released in 2015, but she was best known for her Pulitzer Prize winning, 1961 novel To Kill a Mockingbird was confirmed dead on Febuary 19. Her nephew said that she died in her sleep at the assisted living facility where she lived.
Feb. 20: Mike McCoy, 62: former Green Bay Packer defensive back who intercepted 13 passes, recovered 5 fumbles and averaged 22.0 yards as a kickoff returner in an 8-year career. No cause of death had been given. His wife Janet stated he had moved to an assisted living center. The couple lived in Thornton, Colorado.
Feb. 20: Peter Mondavi, 101: American Napa Valley wine producing pioneer.
Feb. 25: Tony Burton, 78: a Flint, MI native, was best known for his role as Apollo Creed’s trainer Tony “Duke” Evers in the Rocky film franchise, died in California. Burton had been living in California for over 30 years and was just one of four actors to appear in the first six Rocky movies.
Feb. 25: Mark Young (Pyle), 48: born in Atlanta, Georgia, Young was known under many names. He wrestled for WWE, WCW, CWA, AWA, Stampede Wrestling, Pacific Northwest Wrestling, All Japan Pro Wrestling and countless others.
Feb. 28: George Kennedy, 91: Oscar-winning actor known for playing cops, soldiers and blue-collar figures in films like Cool Hand Luke, Airport and the Naked Gun films died from heart disease.
Feb. 28: Jack Lindquist, 88: child actor and the first President of Disneyland (1990-1993) had been in declining health and was moved to hospice care. He was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1994.
March 3: Gavin Christopher, 66: singer and songwriter, best known for his international smash hit “One Step Closer to You” died of congestive heart failure. Born in Chicago into a musical family, he worked with Chaka Khan, Oscar Brown, Jr., Donny Hathaway and Curtis Mayfield. He joined the band High Voltage with Bobby Watson, Tony Maiden and Lalomie Washburn, who later joined Rufus with Chaka. Christopher may only have been known to some fans for his two big hits as a singer, but he quietly left a much richer legacy of music over four wonderful decades.
March 4: Pat Conroy, 70: author who used his troubled family history as grist for a series of novels including The Price of Tides, The Lords of Discipline and The Great Santini died after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.
March 6: Nancy Reagan, 94: former first lady and actress, fierce protector of her husband, spokeswoman of the “just say no” anti-drug campaign, died of heart failure.
March 6: Paul Ryan, 66: comic book artist (Fantastic Four, Superman, Iron Man).
March 8: Sir George Martin, 90: British Hall of Fame record producer (The Beatles), six-time Grammy Award winner; the music producer whose collaboration with The Beatles helped redraw the boundaries of popular music, died, according to his management company.
March 10: Keith Emerson, 71: keyboardist from the progressive rock group Emerson, Lake & Palmer, died, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head and his death was ruled a suicide.
March 14: Tamara Grisby, 41: member of the Wisconsin State Assemby (2004-2012) and aide to Joe Parisi died from health complications. She had been previously been treated for an undisclosed form of cancer. Tamara was single and had no children.
March 16: Frank Sinatra, Jr. 72: son of the legendary entertainer, who had a long musical career of his own, died from a heart attack, according to his manager, Andrea Kauffman.
Marcy 17: Larry Drake, 66: best known for playing Benny on L.A. Law, Larry was found dead in his Hollywood home, according to his manager Steven Siebert. In 1988 and 1989, Drake won consecutive outstanding supporting actor Emmys for playing mentally-impaired office worker Benny Stulwicz in L.A. Law. He was also featured in Darkman (1990) and Bean (1997) and had minor roles in episodes of 7th Heaven and Boston Legal.
March 23: Ken Howard, 71: he was Hank Hooper on 30 Rock and also starred in The White Shadow. He was President of SAG/SAG-AFTRA from 2009-2016 and became best known for championing the merger of Hollywood’s two largest actors’ unions, which had a history of not playing well with each other. He had won a Tony and an Emmy. At the time of his death, no cause was given.
March 24: Garry Shandling, 66: an inventive comedian and star of his own show, Shandling’s comedy and mentorship influenced a generation of comedians. The LAPD stated they had received a 911 call from Shandling’s home saying the comedian suffered from a “medical emergency.” He died later at an LA hospital. Shandling wasn’t known to be suffering from an illness that could have caused his death. He was born in Chicago and raised in Tucson, Ariz. After moving to Los Angeles, he sold a script for Sanford and Sons and also penned scripts for Welcome Back, Kotter. He guest-hosted on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and at one time was considered a Carson replacement. After a serious car accident, he started working on his stand-up routine. In 1986 he created his own sitcom It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, also an early original series effort for Showtime. It was nominated for four Emmys and ran until 1990. He was never married and did not have children.
March 26: Jim Harrison, 78: author and poet, he wrote many books, including Legends of the Fall, which was made into a 1994 movie starring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins. He died at his winter home in Arizona.
March 27: Mother Angelica, 92: American Poor Clare nun, founder of the Eternal Word Television Network, passed away on Easter after a lengthy struggle with the aftereffects of a stroke. In 1981, Mother Angelica launched the EWTN, which today transmits 24-hour-a-day programming to more than 264 million homes in 144 countries. What started with 20 employees has now grown to almost 400.
March 27: Eric Engberg, 74: political correspondent and investigative reporter for CBS, who also covered overseas conflicts and recently won electronic journalism’s top honor for a report identifying a Vietnam veteran buried in the Tomb of the Unknowns, died in his sleep at his home in Palmetto, Florida, where he had retired.
March 28: James Noble, 94: he played Gov. Eugene X. Gatling in the television series Benson. He died from complications of a stroke.
March 29: Patty Duke, 69: Star of The Patty Duke Show; Academy Award winner at age 16, when she played Helen Keller in 1962’s The Miracle Worker; President of SAG (1985-1988); played a showbiz hopeful in the 1967 melodrama Valley of the Dolls; won 3 Emmys; played Annie Sullivan in the remake of The Miracle Worker with actress Melissa Gilbert as Keller. She had a difficult childhood with abusive parents and by the time she was 8-years-old, she was under the control of husband-and-wife talent managers who had her working soap operas and advertising displays. Even then they plied her with alcohol and prescription drugs, which accentuated the effects of her undiagnosed bipolar disorder. Duke wrote about her condition and the diagnosis in her 1988 memoir Call Me Anna and of the subsequent treatment that helped stabilize her life. The book became a 1990 TV film in which she starred and it propelled her to become an activist for mental health causes and helped de-stigmatize bipolar disorder.
April 5: Leon Haywood, 74: soul-funk artist, singer-songwriter and producer who was sampled by many artists including Aaliyah, Cam’ron, 50 Cent, Common, J. Cole, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. He died in his sleep.
April 6: Merle Haggard, 79: according to Lance Roberts, Haggard’s agent, this country music legend died on his birthday of complications from pneumonia. His workingman voice whose songs “Okie from Muskogee” and “Fightin Side of Me” helped sell millions of records. He recorded more than three dozen No. 1 country hits in a musical career that spanned six decades.
April 7: Blackjack Mulligan, 73: WWE professional wrestler and considered to be one of the toughest competitors of his day, Mulligan served as a US Marine in Guam and played for the NY Jets before gaining fame in the wrestling ring. His signature was all-black cowboy gear – cowboy hat to leather gloves plus his thick western mustache and with this he cut the figure of a dangerous outlaw in the ring and proved it so with his feared iron claw hold.
April 10: Will Smith, 34: a former first-round draft pick who played for the New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl-winning team was shot to death after a traffic incident. His wife was wounded and taken to a hospital. The shooter is believed to be Cardell Hayes. Smith and his wife were rear-ended by a Hummer H2 causing Smith’s Mercedes Benz SUV to hit a Chevrolet Impala. Smith and the driver of the Hummer (Hayes) exchanged words, at which time he produced a handgun and shot Smith multiple times and his wife twice in the leg. Smith was pronounced dead at the scene.
April 12: Balls Mahoney, 44: professional wrestler and ECW favorite, Jonathan Rechner, aka Balls Mahoney passed away just days after his birthday. Cause of death is still unknown. After a run in Smoky Mountain Wrestling (Boo Bradley) and an infamous appearance in the WWE as the evil Xanta Klaus, Rechner came to prominence as Mahoney and was known for using weapons like his beloved steel chair. While never holding a single title in ECW, he did win the tag title 3 times. He leave behind a son, Christopher.
April 14: Ron Theobald, 72: Milwaukee Brewer second baseman, born in Oakland, Calif. died in Walnut Creek, Calif. stats: http://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.cgi?id=theoba001ron
April 17: Doris Roberts, 90: She was best known for her role as Marie Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond, one of the best-loved sitcoms in history which earned her seven Emmy nominations and four wins for her colorful characterization. She was a 20-year veteran of the Broadway stage even before she started taking roles in film and on TV during the 1970s. She had that “mom-like” attitude and was at her best playing hard-boiled, gossipy, women who wasn’t too wise about the ways of the world. She worked well past the age of retirement and had a reputation as one of the big and small screen’s iconic mothers. It’s been reported Robert’s died of a massive stroke at her home.
April 20: Chyna (Joan Laurer), 45: former pro wrestler, turned reality TV star, Chyna, who studied Spanish literature and volunteered with the Peace Corps was found dead in her Redondo Beach, California, home. No signs of foul play were found. When her friends were not able to reach her for several days, one went to her home and found her not breathing and called the police. Chyna had publicly battled substance abuse for years. She was born in Rochester, NY in 1969 and graduated from the Univ. of Tampa with a degree in Spanish Literature and was a trainee with the Peace Corps in Costa Rica. She had once contemplated a career in law enforcement. Tho not a fan of the sport, she joined a wrestling school led by Killer Kowalski. “I’d been rejected at everything,” Chyna told The Boston Herald in 1999 describing unsatisfying efforts as a bartender, a saleswoman and a singer. WWE hired her – she could bench-press 350 pounds and at 5’10” tall, weighing 180 lbs, she occasionally took on male competitors. She won the Women’s Championship in 2001 by beating Ivory. She is survived by her mother, sister and brother. NY Times bio: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/22/arts/television/chyna-wrestler-dead.html?_r=0
April 21: Prince, 57: died from an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Prince won Grammys in 1984, 1986, 2004 and 2007. He won an Oscar in 1984 for Best Music, Original Song Score for Purple Rain. He released his first music in 1978 and went on to sell more than 100 million additional albums. He was a prolific writer, writing his first song when he was seven years old. He not only wrote songs, but he sang, arranged, played multiple instruments and recorded more than 30 albums. He was a musical prodigy, writing, arranging, producing and playing almost all of his own hit records. He wrote more than two dozen rock classics in a five-year flurry with his first band, The Revolution, by his side. Purple Rain, Little Red Corvette, 1999, Raspberry Beret, When Doves Cry, Kiss … and at the same time he wrote Manic Monday for The Bangles and Nothing Compares 2U made famous by Sinead O’Connor. Throughout his long career he had a reputation for being an eccentric (as most geniuses do). In 1993 he changed his name to a symbol and soon became known as “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.” It was done to protest against Warner Bros. He wanted to own the master tapes of his songs and be allowed to release more material, more often. When relations deteriorated even more, he appeared with the word “Slave” written on his face. He released five more songs, mediocre, as his contract bid him, before leaving Warner Bros., and signed with Arista Records. By the 2000s, he reverted back to his original name. Many experts said that his incredible vocal range hid the fact that he was one of the greatest guitarists of his generation. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, which said he “rewrote the rulebook.” On April 15, 2016 his private plane made an emergency landing in Illinois and he was taken to the hospital. He was treated and released within a few hours. By the following Thursday he would be found unresponsive in the elevator on his estate.
April 21: Michelle McNamara, 46: crime writer who founded the website TrueCrimeStory.com and the wife of popular comedian Patton Oswalt died in her sleep, her husband’s publicist confirmed.
April 24: Billy Paul, 81: died at his home after being hospitalized a week following a cancer diagnosis, according to his manager. Paul is best known for his song “Me & Mrs. Jones.”
April 28: Charles Gatewood, 74: a pioneering photographer of the underground, from documenting the Beats, the dark alleys of 1970s Mardi Gras, to extreme body modification practitioners and sexual fetishists, he was an open-minded photographic anthropologist who decided to end his life by jumping from his third floor balcony.