In some kind of loose chronological order:
Johnny Otis: The Godfather of R&B, whose real name was Ioannis Veliotes (his parents were Greek), made his debut in Big Band music in the late 1940s, then had a long string of hits between 1950 and 1951. He discovered Etta James (who also died this year). He died on January 17.
Earl Scruggs: Where would the Beverly Hillbillies be without him? Died on March 28.
Adam Yauch: The first rap singer I have ever heard of that died non-violently (although cancer would also not be my personal first choice of “ways to go”). The former Beastie Boy was 47. Died on May 4.
Levon Helm: The influential drummer of the early 70s rock group The Band. Died April 19.
Kitty Wells: While I never was a country music fan, Kitty was notable for headlining shows during a time when it was widely believed that any entertainment headlined by a woman would flop. She proved them wrong, and made loadsadough for both herself and her chauvanist bosses. Good on her. Died July 16 at the ripe old age of 92.
Neil Armstrong: On July 20, 1969, Neil set foot on the moon, the first Earthling ever to do so. Neil, who described himself as a “nerdy engineer”, died on August 25.
Peter Lougheed: The long-ruling Alberta premier who jealously guarded the province’s right to control their oil resource from the federal clutches of Pierre Trudeau; whom people in Eastern Canada referred to as “The Blue-Eyed Sheikh”, died on September 13 at 84.
Raylene Rankin: Former member of the Nova Scotian Folk/Celtic group The Rankin Family died way too young of cancer at age 52 on September 30. I confess that I was not able to play their Celtic selections in my days as college DJ, because I couldn’t pronounce the titles.
Elliott Carter: If you had not heard of Elliott Carter, I hadn’t either, until I heard that this neoclassical composer, who remained prolific past age 100 finally gave up the ghost at age 103. Of “natural causes”, according to CBC. Just the very thought of living that long is worth some kind of award. He died on November 5.
Dave Brubeck: However, I have heard of, and continue to listen to, Dave Brubeck. I mistook him for having composed for A Charlie Brown Christmas, but I had the wrong set of episodes (that composer was Vince Guaraldi, who is still among us). He did compose for Charlie Brown cartoons, but it was for the series called “This is America, Charlie Brown”. Brubeck died on December 5.
Ravi Shankar: I am not a big fan of his music, but he gets credit for collaborating with George Harrison beginning in 1966, along with many other notable Western musicians both before and after. He died at age 92 on December 11.
Laurier Lapierre: The co-host of the current affairs program This Hour Has Seven Days (along with Patrick Watson), which ran in Canada in the late 1960s and early 1970s, who became Canada’s first openly gay senator, died on December 17 at age 83.