Notable Deaths Of 2012: Whitney Houston, Donna Summer And Other Legendary Musicians Who Passed Away This Year

on January 01 2013 12:00 PM
Whitney Houston
Reuters

As we welcome 2013, now is a good time to reflect on some of 2012's notable losses in the world of music. Many talented musicians passed away in 2012, but their legacies will live on well past the new year.

Nearly every musical genre will be mourning an important figure who was lost in 2012. Two of the most successful female musicians of all time passed away in 2012:  Whitney Houston and Donna Summer.

Houston died suddenly on Feb. 11 at the age of 48. The legendary singer had sold more than 170 million albums and singles, according to Reuters, and fans will long remember such hits as “I Will Always Love You,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me),” “Greatest Love of All” and “I'm Every Woman.” Houston had 11 singles that reached number one on the Billboard charts.

Summer, disco's queen, passed away on May 17 at the age of 63 after a long but private cancer fight. She was named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame shortly after her death. Summer defined a sound and a musical genre thanks to hit singles such as “Love to Love You Baby,” “Last Dance,” MacArthur Park,” “Bad Girls" and “On the Radio.”

While Houston and Summer were probably the most notable musician deaths of 2012, there were numerous other musicians who passed away in 2012 who have changed music.

Adam “MCA” Yauch, a founding member of Beastie Boys, died May 4 at the age of 47. Yauch's musical legacy includes not only his career with the Beastie Boys but his contributions as a music producer as an activist and founding of the Tibetan Freedom Concert.

Ringing in the new year will not be the same without Dick Clark. In addition to hosting the New Year's Eve celebrations on television for decades, Clark was host of “American Bandstand” and founded Dick Clark Productions. Another famous television host, Don Cornelius of “Soul Train,” passed away on Feb. 1 at the age of 75.

2012 also saw the passing of Ravi Shankar, India's master sitarist and musical ambassador to the West. Outside his homeland, Shankar was best known, perhaps unjustly, as musical and spiritual mentor to the Beatles.

Andy Williams, one of America's most beloved crooners, passed away on Sept. 25. Williams sang “Moon River” and “It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” among songs on 42 albums. 

Davy Jones, a '60s teen heartthrob as a member of the Monkees, passed away Feb. 29 at the age of 66. 

Several notable songwriters and composers also passed away in 2012. Marvin Hamlisch, composer of "A Chorus Line" and many other musical theater classics, passed away on Aug. 6. Hamlisch was a rare winner of all the major awards: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony, Pulitzer and Golden Globe.

Hal David, songwriter, passed away on Sept. 1 at the age of 91. David is most famous for his collaborations with Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick.

Scott McKenzie from the Mama and the Papas, who also wrote the Beach Boys hit “Kokomo,” passed away Aug. 18.

Legendary jazz pianist Dave Brubeck passed away on Dec. 5 at the age of 91. Among many honors, Brubeck even had an asteroid named after him.

Several influential female singers also passed away in 2012. Legendary singer Etta James, passed away on Jan. 20, at the age of 73. James was a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Blues Hall of Fame and the Grammy Hall of Fame. James was nominated for 17 Grammy Awards, winning four and a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Kitty Wells, a country singer with the hit “It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels,” passed away on July 16.

Fontella Bass, a blues singer known for her hit “Rescue Me,” passed away on Dec. 26.

Mexican singer-songwriter Jenni Rivera died tragically in a plane crash on December 9. Rivera was a popular singer but was also an actress and successful businesswoman.

Several music pioneers also passed away in 2012. Earl Scruggs, a bluegrass musician, passed away on March 28. Scruggs was a banjo pioneer and his style of picking has become synonymous with banjo playing. Without Jim Marshall, who passed away on April 5, many rock musicians would be unknown. Marshall Amps are beloved the world over for their quality and sound.

Many famed guitarists and drummers passed away in 2012. Levon Helm, drummer for The Band, passed away on April 19.

Bob Welch, early guitarist for Fleetwood Mac, committed suicide on June 7.

Bob Babbitt was a bassist and studio musician for several Motown acts, including Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations and Smokey Robinson.

Chuck Brown, guitarist and singer, considered “the Godfather of go-go,” passed away on May 6, at the age of 75.

Christ Lighty may not be a musician, but the music executive had a significant influence in the world of rap music as the manager of Missy Elliot, 50 Cent, Sean Combs, Nas and L.L. Cool J.