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article imageWho we lost this year in Music

By Alexander Baron     Dec 23, 2012 in Entertainment
This year has seen a fair number of big names in music go to that great gig in the sky, including one or two who should have been around a lot longer.
Of the big names in music who died this year, the most talented was undoubtedly Jon Lord. The founder member of Deep Purple was not only a classically trained keyboard player, he could write for the whole orchestra, and frequently did. All the other members of the original Deep Purple - Marks I, II & III - are still around, and hopefully will be for many years yet. Jon was 71 when he died, which is a half-decent age, but his music and influence will be around long after everyone reading this has departed this planet.
Jon Lord (1941-2012). The classically trained rock musician was long time keyboard player with Deep ...
Jon Lord (1941-2012). The classically trained rock musician was long time keyboard player with Deep Purple and one of the great innovators of contemporary music.
Creative Commons
Still in classical vein, the American composer Marvin Hamlisch died aged 68, which again is a reasonable age, but although he could still have produced more world class music, he leaves a fine legacy. Hamlisch did a lot of work for films and a fair amount for the theatre; he picked up three Academy Awards, all for The Way We Were, but was nominated another nine times.
Next to Jon Lord, Robin Gibb is arguably the most talented of the big music names we lost this year, because although unlike Hamlisch he was not classically trained, he wrote across the genres and indeed helped to start one of those genres himself. Three of the four Brothers Gibb died young: Andy in 1988 a few days after his 30th birthday; Maurice in 2003 aged 53; and Robin who was 62. Only Barry, the oldest at 66, remains.
The Bee Gees were one of the driving forces behind the 70s disco explosion, and they were still producing music up until the turn of the century.
Another big name in disco was Donna Summer, she died aged 63, which again although far from young is too young to die. For those not au fait with her music, and for those who are, she can be found all over the web, including this fan site.
The most tragic and the youngest of the really big names to die this year was Whitney Houston, another totally unnecessary death, and one which like that of Amy Winehouse last year was caused by a fatal combination of bad drugs and worse men. Unlike Donna Summer, Houston was not a songwriter, but she had a big voice, she also appeared in a few films, and would surely have made more after purging her demons. Alas...
Although in a sense she died by her own hand, Whitney Houston did not commit suicide; former Fleetwood Mac member Bob Welch did, shooting himself at the age of 66. This was no spur of the moment decision or grand gesture, but it is sad he could think of no better way to resolve his medical problems.
From here we move to an older generation. Burton Weedon, Max Bygraves and Dave Brubeck were all blessed with more than the Biblical three score years and ten. Burt Weedon died in April aged 91; although the least known of the three he was arguably the most influential, inspiring generations of guitarists, most notably Hank Marvin, Eric Clapton, and Brian May of Queen.
Max Bygraves died at his home in Australia aged 89. He was though born in London a few miles from Burt Weedon, and although not a musician as such, he was both a songwriter and the last of the great all round entertainers. His official website is still being maintained, and doubtless will be for many years to come.
Max Bygraves  publicity still
Max Bygraves, publicity still
Max Bygraves publicity
Finally, jazz pianist Dave Brubeck is the most recent big name death on this list. Like his contemporary Burt Weedon, he lived to the ripe old age of 91, and was still performing up until last year.
Although he experimented with unusual time signatures throughout his career, Brubeck will always be best remembered (certainly by the broader public) for Take Five, which was written by his saxophonist, Paul Desmond, who died way back in 1977 at the relatively young age of 52.
As an endnote, we should mention two slightly out of the time frame. Last year, former DJ, TV presenter and philanthropist Jimmy Savile was given a funeral fit for a king. Savile died at the end of October 2011, but his reputation died this year, 12 months after his funeral he had gone from being one of the most revered men in recent British history to one of the most hated.
Although Amy Winehouse is dead and buried, there may have to be another inquest. This is for a purely technical reason, the coroner who presided over it appears to have been unqualified to do so.
More about Bob Welch, Whitney houston, donna summer, marvin hamlisch, Jon Lord
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