Deaths in Music in 1981

  • Jan 1 Hephzibah Menuhin, American-Jewish concert pianist (b. 1920)
  • Jan 2 David Lynch, singer (Platters-My Prayer), dies at 51
  • Jan 7 Jose Ardevol, Cuban composer, dies at 69
  • Jan 9 Kazimierz Serocki, composer, dies at 58
  • Jan 23 Bobby Sherwood, orchestra leader (Milton Berle Show), dies at 66

Person of interestSamuel Barber

Jan 23 Samuel Barber, American composer (School for Scandal), dies of cancer at 70

Composer Samuel Barber
Composer
Samuel Barber
  • Jan 29 Cozy Cole, rocker (Topsy Part II), dies
  • Feb 1 Ernst Pepping, German composer, dies at 79
  • Feb 1 Nils Geirr Tveitt, composer, dies at 72
  • Feb 6 Hugo Montenegro, American film music composer (b. 1925)

Person of interestBill Haley

Feb 9 Bill Haley, American rock vocalist known as the father of Rock 'n' Roll (Rock Around the Clock), dies of a heart attack probably caused by alcoholism at 55

Father of Rock 'n' Roll Bill Haley
Father of Rock 'n' Roll
Bill Haley
  • Feb 15 Mike Bloomfield, American musician (Electric Flag), dies of a drug overdose at 37
  • Feb 15 Thomas Beversdorf, composer, dies at 56
  • Feb 15 Karl Richter, German composer and conductor, dies at 54
  • Feb 19 Frank Merrik, composer, dies at 94

Person of interestHoward Hanson

Feb 26 Howard Hanson, American classical music composer and conductor (Nordic), dies at 84

Composer and Conductor Howard Hanson
Composer and Conductor
Howard Hanson

  • Mar 4 Yip Harburg [Isidore Hochberg], American lyricist (Somewhere Over The Rainbow), dies in a car crash at 84
  • Mar 7 Kirill Petrovich Kondrashin, Russian conductor/composer, dies at 67
  • Apr 1 Eua Sunthornsanan, Thai composer and bandleader (b. 1910)
  • Apr 5 Bob "Bear" Hite, rocker (Canned Heat), dies of a heart attack at 36
  • Apr 7 Kit Lambert, British record producer and manager (The Who) (b. 1935)
  • Apr 7 Christopher "Kit" Lamber, British record producer and manager of The Who, dies of a cerebral haemorrhage at 45
  • Apr 12 Hans Chemin-Petit, German composer, dies at 78
  • Apr 12 Hendrik F Andriessen, Dutch organist/composer (Te Deum), dies at 88
  • Apr 19 Ernst Levy, Swiss composer, dies at 85
  • May 7 Mieczyslaw Kolinski, composer, dies at 79

Person of interestBob Marley

May 11 Bob Marley, Jamaican reggae singer (One Love), dies of brain & lung cancer at 36

Reggae Musician Bob Marley
Reggae Musician
Bob Marley
  • May 13 Carl Weinrich, composer, dies at 76
  • May 16 Ernest Aaron "Ernie" Freeman, American musician, dies at 58
  • May 16 Ernie Freeman, American pianist and arranger (b. 1922)
  • May 17 Hugo Freidhofer, composer, dies at 80
  • May 17 Hugo Friedhofer, American composer, dies at 80
  • May 25 Rosa Ponselle, US singer (Metropolitan Opera), dies at 84
  • May 25 Roy Brown, American boxer/rocker, dies of a heart attack at 55
  • May 28 Mary Lou Williams, African American musician, dies at 71 in Durham NC
  • Jun 21 Gunnar Ek, Swedish composer, dies on his 81st birthday
  • Jun 23 Zarah Leander, Swedish/German singer/actress (Gabriela), dies at 79
  • Jun 26 Peter Kreuder, German composer, dies
  • Jun 28 Peter Paul Kreuder, German composer, dies at 75
  • Jul 5 Jorge Urrutia Blondel, composer, dies at 75
  • Jul 9 Oscar van Hemel, Belgian-Dutch composer, dies at 88

  • Jul 16 Harry Chapin, folk vocalist (Taxi), dies in car crash at 38
  • Jul 19 Louis Cheslock, composer, dies at 81
  • Jul 19 Roger Doucet, French Canadian tenor (b. 1919)
  • Jul 26 Donald Lybbert, composer, dies at 58
  • Jul 27 Ray Harrison, dancer (American Song), dies at 64
  • Aug 1 Seppo Antero Yrjonpoika Nummi, composer, dies at 49
  • Aug 14 Karl Böhm, Austrian conductor, dies at 87
  • Aug 17 Robert Russell Bennett, US composer/arranger (Oklahoma!), dies at 87
  • Aug 21 Hermann Schey, German Netherlands singer, dies at 85
  • Aug 26 Lee Hays, American singer-songwriter (The Weavers), dies of a heart attack at 67
  • Aug 27 Joan Edwards, american singer (Joan Edwards Show), dies at 62

Person of interestVera-Ellen

Aug 30 Vera-Ellen [Westmeier Rohe], American actress and dancer (Big Leaguer, On the Town), dies of cancer at 60

Actress Vera-Ellen
Actress
Vera-Ellen
  • Sep 2 Tadeusz Baird, Polish composer (Giocosa), dies at 53
  • Sep 6 Joseph Yasser, Russian-American composer, dies at 88
  • Sep 14 Yasuji Kiyose, composer, dies at 81
  • Sep 14 [Walter] Furry Lewis, father of blues, dies at 88 of a heart attack
  • Sep 21 Tony Aubin, French composer, dies at 73
  • Sep 22 Harry Warren, American composer and lyricist (b. 1893)
  • Sep 30 Boyd Neel, English conductor (Story of an Orchestra), dies at 76
  • Oct 2 Hazel Scott, Trinidadian singer and pianist, dies at 63
  • Oct 5 Jud Strunk, American singer and comedian (Laugh-In), dies in a plane crash at 48
  • Oct 7 Wouter Paap, Dutch composer, dies at 73
  • Oct 14 Ingemar Liljefors, composer, dies at 74
  • Oct 17 David Guion, composer, dies at 88
  • Oct 21 Karel Srom, Czech composer, dies at 77
  • Nov 17 Bob Eberly, American singer (Jimmy Dorsey Band), dies at 65
  • Nov 27 Lotte Lenya, Austrian singer/actress (From Russia With Love), dies of cancer at 83
  • Nov 29 Natalie Wood [Natasha Gurdin], American actress (Gypsy, Rebel Without a Cause, West Side Story), drowns at 43
  • Dec 2 Hershy Kay, composer, dies at 62
  • Dec 9 Sonny Til [Earlington Carl Tilghman], American doo-wop singer (The Orioles), dies from heart failure at 56
  • Dec 13 Cornelius Cardew, British composer (Scratch Orchestra), dies in a hit and run accident at 45
  • Dec 27 Hoagland "Hoagy" Carmichael, American composer, singer and actor (In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening), dies at 82
  • Dec 31 Frantisek Chaun, composer, dies at 60