Even in the iconoclastic realm of rock stars, Lemmy Kilmister was one of a kind. The Motörhead frontman had a gravelly warrior wail, an ever-present bottle of Jack Daniel's and one of the most genuine, uncompromising dispositions in the metal world. After laying the groundwork for Metallica, Megadeth and others in the '70s, he kept soldiering on with his band until the end, performing shows and releasing albums until cancer claimed his life at age 70 on Dec. 28.
Scott Weiland, the former frontman for rock bands Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, has died, his Facebook page confirmed early Friday morning (Dec. 4). A California native, Weiland formed the band Stone Temple Pilots with brothers Robert and Dean DeLeo and saw huge commercial success in the 1990s. In 2002, Weiland joined former Guns N' Roses members Slash (guitars), Duff McKagan (bass) and Matt Sorum (drums) in a supergroup called Velvet Revolver, and was on tour with band the Wildabouts in Minn. at the time of death.
Sly and the Family Stone trumpeter, vocalist and co-founder Cynthia Robinson died Monday (Nov. 23) at the age of 69. Robinson was one of the first female black trumpeters to gain notoriety in a major recording act; she was the voice that commanded us to "get up and dance to the music" in their hit single "Dance to the Music."
Motörhead's original drummer, Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor, died Nov. 11 at the age of 61. Taylor drummed with the pioneering British heavy metal outfit from 1975 to 1984 and then again from 1987 to 1992, which means he played on the bulk of the band's classic recordings.
Songwriter, producer and performer Allen Toussaint, who helped define the sound of soul and R&B in New Orleans, died following a performance in Madrid on Nov. 9. Toussaint reemerged as a vocal musical force in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, when he recorded with Elvis Costello and Eric Clapton.
Andy White -- a top session drummer in England during the 1960s who played on songs by Tom Jones and Herman's Hermits among others and stepped in for newcomer Ringo Starr as the Beatles recorded their debut single "Love Me Do" -- died Nov. 9, 2015, at age 85.
Overstreet, the 1970s country hitmaker, died Monday night at his home in Oregon on Nov. 2. The singer was reported to have been suffering from a number of ailments over the past years.
Greatest of All Time
When it comes to music, there's no objective right or wrong, good or bad – but that never stops passionate music fans from sharing and defending their favorites. From pop hooks to album covers to beats, we're rounding up some of the greatest of all time in music on Billboard. We spent months discussing, researching and reflecting on music from artists old and new, considering everything from sales to impact to innovation to longevity. The results won't please everyone – and that's as it should be. Everyone has their own takes on the greatest in music – this is ours.
Urban Cookie Collective and Moby vocalist Diane Charlemagne died at the age of 51 on Oct. 28 following a battle with cancer. The legendary singer guested on a number acts throughout the ‘90s and 2000s and contributed to Goldie’s “Inner City Life,” shaping the sound of a classic drum ’n’ bass track.
Cory Wells of Three Dog Night -- one of the biggest rock bands of the early '70s -- passed away on Oct. 20, at 74. Three Dog Night topped the Billboard Hot 100 three times with seminal classics "Joy to the World," "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)" and "Black and White."
Rapper and member of Memphis group Three 6 Mafia, Robert “Koopsta Knicca” Cooper Phillips died in Memphis due to complications from a stroke he suffered. Phillips, 40, was in Three 6 Mafia through the early and mid-‘90s and left in the 2000s.
Broadway newcomer Kyle Jean-Baptiste, who made his Broadway debut in the revival of Les Miserables, died after falling from a fire escape at his mother’s home. The 21-year-old made theater history when he went on as understudy in the lead role of Jean Valjean, becoming the youngest African-American actor to appear in the role.
Born in Alabama, Sherrill would become an iconic Nashville record producer whose production style would come to be described as “Countrypolitan.” Sheryl was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010 for his accomplishments and production credits on records from Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello, Tammy Wynette, among others. He died at 78 following a short illness.
Firth, founder of the drumstick manufacturing company Vic Firth Company, died on July 26 at the age of 85. He had founded the company in 1963 after performing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. His company would soon become the leading drumstick manufacturer in the world.
After being in a medically induced coma since she was found unconscious in a bathtub at her Roswell, Ga., home on Jan. 31 and rushed to a nearby hospital, the daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, died on Sunday, July 26, at Peachtree Christian Hospice in Duluth, Ga. She was 22. "She is finally at peace in the arms of God," the Houston family said in a statement released to Billboard. "We want to again thank everyone for their tremendous amount of love and support during these last few months."
The former Interview magazine editor-in-chief died at the age of 63. It was reported that the cause of her death was breast cancer. She was a greatly respected within the fashion industry and editorial world.
Former guitarist for the metal band After the Burial, Austin was suspected to have fallen to his death. His body was found beneath the Arcola High Bridge, which connects Stillwater, Minn. and Somerset, Wis. He was 32.
The influential steel guitarist died on July 21 at the age of 78. His work in the late 1960s and early 1970s can be heard on records outside of country, such as on Gram Parsons, the Carpenters, Ray Charles and Judy Collins, among others.
Bikel, the inventive performer and political activist, passed away from natural causes on July 21 at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. Bikel famously created the role of Captain Georg von Trapp in the original Broadway production of The Sound of Music. Additionally, he was a remarkable folk singer, having performed before Queen Elizabeth, and in 1961, he founded the Newport Folk Festival.
Julie Gilbert-Cahill, well-known radio promotion director and music manager, died on July 20 at the age of 58. She served as the head of promotion for ABC-owned radio station WRIF-FM. Later in 1983, Gilbert-Cahill coordinated tours for Jimmy Buffett, Heart, Fleetwood Mac and more.
Joseph “Joey” Robinson Jr., Sugar Hill Records’ executive and Sugar Hill Gang member, passed away in his New Jersey Home. According to a July 12 press release, Robinson died of cancer. The date of his death was not revealed.
Acclaimed Mexican singer/songwriter Joan Sebastian died at the age of 64 after a long struggle with cancer. He charted consistently on Top Latin Albums, including two No. 1s, En Vivo: Desde La Plaza El Progreso De Guadalajara (2001) and 13 Celebrant El 13 (2013), his last studio album. He died at his ranch in Juliantla.
Irish crooner Val Doonican died of natural causes at his nursing home in southern England. On The Val Doonican Show, which ran on BBC television from 1965-1986, the singer would perform pop songs in idiosyncratic knitwear.
The award-winning composer is best known for scoring movies such as Titanic, Avatar, Legends of the Fall, A Beautiful Mind and Braveheart. Horner won two Oscars for Titanic -- one for the score and one for writing "My Heart Will Go On." He was nominated for eight other Academy Awards throughout his career.
The French jazz organist who played in the Stan Getz quartet in the ‘70s, died at the age of 74. The Paris-born musician first got his start in his father’s orchestra and then went on to join the French vocal group the Double Six.
Prolific jazz musician Battiste passed away after a lengthy illness at the age of 83. Batiste worked with Sonny and Cher, Sam Cooke, and Dr. John. Later in his career, he joined the jazz studies faculty at the University of New Orleans.
Kentucky-born folk musician Jean Ritchie graduated in college in the '40s and moved to New York City. Armed with a repertoire of Appalachian folk tunes and a dulcimer (an instrument in the zither family typically played while seated), Ritchie introduced many folk fans and musicians to dozens of obscure songs that would have otherwise been lost. She was 92 when she passed.
Summers, who helped establish A&M Records Canada by bringing in artists such as Styx, the Police, Cat Stevens and more passed away on May 29. In 1978, he was named A&M Canada’s general manager/vice president and when the company was purchased by PolyGram in 1990, he became its president. He was inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame in 1997.
Songwriter and top music publishing executive Billy Meshel passed away after a struggle with lymphoma at the age of 82. He became the president of BMG Music Publishing in 1985, after which he served as president of All Nations Music Publishing. He later started his own company Music & Media International in 1997.
King was one of the last of the Southern-born blues musicians who defined modern electric blues in the 1950s and would influence scores of rock and blues guitarists. He died at 89 following complications from type II diabetes.
Bigg, whose given name was Donald Maurice Pears II, was an influential independent rapper in his native Alabama and beyond, appearing on the Three 6 Mafia track "Poppin' My Collar." He died at 43 in his sleep.
Born in Nassau, Bahamas, Kemp first hit the R&B charts in 1986 with the No. 14 single "Just Another Lover." Two years later, he held the No. 1 R&B crown for two weeks with the percolating dance jam "Just Got Paid," which also hit No. 10 on the pop charts. He died at 55 after falling on rocks at Jamaica's Montego Bay.
Stollman founded New York independent jazz and alternative music label ESP-Disk in 1964 on the idea that "the artists alone decide what you will hear on their ESP-Disk," a maxim that was printed on every release. The artistic freedom that the label allowed appealed to free jazz musicians like Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, Henry Grimes, and Paul Bley. Stollman died at 85 of complications from cancer.
Stan Freberg's freewheeling career in advertising garnered him worldwide acclaim, as did his satirical entertainment on TV, the radio and on records. "Wun'erful Wun'erful," his 1957 spoof of "champagne music" -- on which he collaborated with orchestra leader Billy May -- lampooned The Lawrence Welk Show. In the pre-rock 'n' roll era, 10 of Freberg's parody records reached the top 30, with "St. George and the Dragonet" hitting No. 1 for four weeks in 1953. He died at 88 of natural causes.
The Alabama-born R&B powerhouse topped the Billboard Hot 100 with "When a Man Loves a Woman" in 1966. His follow-up, "Warm and Tender Love," reached No. 17 on the Hot 100, and he continued to score Hot 100 hits as the '60s came to a close. Sledge died of natural causes; he was 73.
Born Steven Rodriguez, the A$AP Mob founder brought together young talents like A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg together for musical collaborations while also shaping the group's entire aesthetic and Internet presence. Rodriguez, who started his career as an intern with Harlemites The Diplomats, stayed behind the scenes, knowing that was where his talents lay. As he told The New York Times, "Rocky’s like Luke Skywalker, and I’m Yoda." At 26, he died of an acute mixed drug intoxication.
The Three Dog Night keyboardist helped the group earn 21 top 40 hits with three No. 1s before their break-up in 1976. He remained a part of the touring band until his diagnosis with metastatic melanoma last year. Over his almost 50-year career, Greenspoon performed with artists from The Beach Boys to Jimi Hendrix. He died of the disease at 67.
The singer of '80s new wave band Visage, Strange (born Stephen Harrington) was born in Wales, and started his career in a punk band called The Moors Mauraders. He founded Visage in 1978, leading them to success on charts worldwide as a part of the New Romantic movement. The group broke up in 1985, and then reunited in 2002. He died at 55 after suffering from a heart attack.
Andy Fraser was the bassist/founder of U.K. rock band Free, which he started when he was only 15. His 40-year career included stints songwriting for artists including Joe Cocker and Chaka Khan. He died at 62 after battling both cancer and AIDS.
Italian musician Pino Daniele was widely renowned for his ability to fold jazz, rock, and blues influences into the traditional music of his hometown, Naples, Italy. His output (24 studio albums alone) was so connected with his native city that all flags in Naples were flown at half-mast following his passing. Daniele died at 59.
Fowley rose to fame working alongside legendary producers like Barry Gordy and Phil Spector, but his biggest success came with the genesis of the Runaways, the '70s girl group that brought Joan Jett and Cherie Currie into the limelight. He died at 75 after battling bladder cancer.
The guitarist and singer was best known as a member of British jazz-folk band Pentangle, but Renbourn maintained an active solo career as well. He was notable for his unique use of jazz and even medieval inflections in his music. Renbourn died after suffering a heart attack at age 70.
Miriam Bienstock, who helped found Atlantic Records with her then-husband Herb Abramson and Ahmet Ertegun and became a theater investor later in life, died March 21 at her home in New York City. She was 92.
U.K. pop-rock singer-songwriter Lil' Chris, who rose to stardom after appearing on the British reality series Rock School, was best known for his successes onscreen as well as his hit single "Checkin' It Out." He committed suicide at age 24.
Pero joined Twisted Sister in 1982 and played on their classic Stay Hungry album (1984), which peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard 200. He drummed on every one of the group's albums except Love Is For Suckers (1987). Pero died of a heart attack at age 55.
The punk producer helped The Offspring break out with their 1994 hit album Smash, which sold more than 6 million copies in the U.S. After his success with Smash, Wilson worked with the Bouncing Souls, the Aquabats, the Dead Kennedys and Iggy Pop, among others.
Porcaro, the son of the jazz percussionist Joe Porcaro, joined the Grammy-winning rockers Toto in 1982 and was with the band for their most successful album, Toto IV, which featured the hit singles "Africa" and "Rosanna." He died at 59 after a prolonged battle with ALS.
The Australia-born Allen co-founded the immensely influential British psych-jazz band The Soft Machine (named after a William S. Burroughs book) in 1966, which produced the self-titled underground classic The Soft Machine in 1968. He also co-founded the British-French experimental band Gong in 1968. Allen died due to complications from cancer; he was 77.
While famous for his role as the supremely logical and cerebral science officer Mr. Spock from Star Trek, Nimoy also charted two eclectic albums (featuring a mix of spoken word and his singing) on the Billboard 200 in the late 1960s: Mr. Spock's Music From Outer Space (which peaked at No. 83 in 1967) and Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy (No. 97 in 1968). He died at 83 of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The singer-songwriter, born Jose Ariel Camacho Barraza, was known for his guitar skills and soft-edged vocals on acoustic songs that reflected the lives of his Mexican music fans. The young artist had gained a following through his live shows and videos on YouTube. He died at 22 in a car accident.
Prominent K-pop hopeful and reality-show contest Ahn So Jin died on Feb. 24. So Jin grew to domestic notoriety as one of the seven singers competing for a spot to be part of established girl group Kara. Jin died after falling the 10 stories from her apartment; she was 22.
County musician and songwriter Bobby Emmons wrote hits for Waylon Jennings and George Strait. The Mississippi native was a mostly self-taught organ player and keyboardist who became a staple of the Memphis, Tenn., music scene and played on about 120 of chart hits -- according to the Commercial Appeal -- between 1962 and 1972. He died at 72 of an undisclosed illness.
Longtime jazz musician and educator Clark Terry rose to fame as a sideman for two legends of swing/big band music, first performing with Count Basie between 1948-1951 and then Duke Ellington from 1951-1959. He made an even bigger impact in the 1960s as the first-ever African-American staff musician at NBC, where he spent 12 years as a featured horn player in The Tonight Show band. Terry died at 94 following complications from diabetes.
Harris Wittels was the co-executive producer and writer for Parks and Recreation, as well as a stand-up comedian, a drummer for the band Don't Stop or We'll Die and a writer for The Sarah Silverman Program and The Suits. A passionate fan of the band Phish, he also hosted a podcast called Analyze Phish. Wittels died at 30 of a suspected overdose.
Gore topped the charts in 1963 with her epic song of teenage angst "It's My Party" and followed it up with the hits "Judy's Turn to Cry" and "You Don't Own Me." She died at 68 following a battle with cancer.
The powerfully voiced Gonzalez rose to popularity with her husband, guitarist Reutilio Domínguez. Together they were dedicated to the preservation of guajira music, the Spanish-influenced acoustic Cuban country genre whose poetic lyrics are inspired by rural life. She died at 85.
Roussos's often high-pitched pop serenades won him household recognition in the 1970s and 1980s across Europe, eventually leading him to sell more than 60 million records. He died at 68 due to an undisclosed illness.
Froese founded legendary experimental electronic group Tangerine Dream in 1967, and was the group's most consistent member through a number of lineup changes over the decades. He died after suffering a pulmonary embolism at 70.
Allen was a regular contributor to pioneering San Francisco group Negativland from 1981 to 1987, the year they released their most prominent album, Escape From Noise. He died at 56 following complications from a heart valve replacement surgery.
Taylor, a former drummer for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, performed on their breakthrough self-titled debut album, released in 1969, and their following album, Déjà Vu (with another new member, Neil Young, in 1970). He died at 66.
Along with writing and singing such popular gospel songs as "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power," "My Tribute (To God Be the Glory)" and "Soon and Very Soon," Crouch also directed the choirs that sang on Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" and Madonna's "Like a Prayer." He died at 72 after suffering a heart attack.
Dickens came to prominence during the time of Hank Williams and Eddy Arnold, and became the last man standing from that era. His passing is the final link to country's golden past, though he made an impact on many of the format's biggest stars with his kindness and welcoming attitude at the Opry. Dickens died at 94 following a cardiac arrest.
Over his career, Golub released 12 solo albums and three more as the leader of the instrumental band Avenue Blue. He played alongside Rod Stewart from 1988-1995 on four albums and five world tours. He died at 59 after a prolonged battle with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.
La Rock (aka Joshua Prince) was the co-founder of Fool's Gold Records along with DJs A-Trak and Nick Catchdubs and worked as a designer and artist and art director for A-Trak and his Duck Sauce project. He died at 38.