In this post, we want to remember and honor some of the singers and musicians that passed away during this 2012. I will probably leave many of them out, it is not because I consider them minor or less important, but because I don't have a great memory
On January 17, Johnny Otis passed away, a musician known for his work as composer and producer, a work deserving of being inducted into the Rock&Roll Hall of Fame. And just three days later, it was Etta James who died, once discovered by Otis himself, and that had become one of the most important Rhythm and Blues singers of the XX century.
In February, the sudden death of actress and singer Whitney Houston caught the world by surprise, and turn this years Grammy's ceremony (organized the following day) into a grean tribute to honor the interpreter of I will always love you. The impact of her death on the news eclipsed the loss of other great musicians such as Davy Jones, vocalist of The Monkees (the band that made famous I'm a believer); or Mike Melvoin, the talented jazz pianist that had collaborated with Frank Sinatra, John Lennon or the Beach Boys.
Earl Scruggs left us in March. He was a legend of the bluegrass (a country subgenre, that can be heard in the soundtrack of O Brother! Where Art Thou). And the great Italian singer and songwriters Lucio Dalla and Gian Franco Pagliaro (this last one developed his career mainly in South America.)
In April, the Barcelona-native José Guardiola died in Spain, he represented the country in 1963 Eurovision with the song Algo Prodigioso, (and that will be remembered by Venecia sin Ti). That month saw Graham Simpson (founding member and original bassist of Roxy Music) and Levon Helm (drummer of The Hawks and The Band, with whom he toured along with Bob Dylan in the 60s and 70s) pass away too.
In May, cancer won the battle to three musicians that marked three different generations with the particular styles: Adam Yauch, better known for his artistic name MCA of the Beastie Boys; Robin Gibb, one of the brothers that formed the Bee Gees and sang that famous falsetto in Stayin' Alive for Saturday Night Fever; And the Queen of Disco Music: Donna Sumer, who will always be remembered for her successful Bad Girls or Hot Stuff.
Herb Reed, one of the founding members of The Platters (the one that came up with the band's name!) and vocalist of the songs Smoke Gets in Your Eyes y The Great Pretender, passed away on June 4. Also that month Bob Welch, a member of Fletwood Mac responsible of the melodic turn of the band in the 70s.
August saw one of the most important Latin voices disappear: Chavela Vargas. The Puerto Rico-born, adopted Mexican, had been performing for over eight decades, and had published an album with poems and songs just a few months back... And Scott Mackenzie, the author of one of the most representative songs of the 60s: San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers in Your Hair) that turn into a symbol of the hippie movement.
Ángel Muñoz-Alonso López died in September. His real name may not sound familiar, but his stage name (Maestro Reverendo) may ring a bell. A constant collaborator with Gran Wyoming, he had a singural career: from church organist (that's where he got the title of "Reverendo"), to 70s rocker or TV music composer. Moonriver's singer, Andy Williams, also passed away in September. He had had a really successful career with almost twop dozen golden albums.
Bill Dees may not ring a bell either, but we owe him classic rock tunes like Oh, Pretty Woman (sang by Roy Orbison). A song that he wrote and composed and that, even when it was famous, became popular again after the movie Pretty Woman with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts.
In Spain in November, Emilio Aragón (better known as Miliki) passed away. Many will consider him a clown or a comedian and not a singer per se, but several generations of Spaniards grew up with his songs and the Payasons de la Tele (The TV Clowns). Another loss this month was Chris Stamp, music producer of bands like The Who and artists like Jimmy Hendrix.
And towards the end of the year, Mexicans and followers of the ranchera and norteña music, suffered the loss of Jenni Rivera in a plane accident. Two days later, on December 11, the citarist Ravi Shankar died due to complications after a surgery; he had great influence in 60s artists (George Harrison mentioned him as a source of inspiration) and was also known for being Norah Jones' father.
They may no longer be among us, but we will always have their voices and their music to enjoy.
Article published on December 31, 2012.
This article has been modified since its original publication.