Musicians Who Died in 1985

  • Jan 3 Lucien Cailliet, French-American composer, conductor and teacher (Philadelphia Orchestra, 1919-1937), dies at 93
  • Jan 4 Lovro von Matačić, Croatian conductor and composer (Bruckner Medal), dies at 86
  • Jan 7 Johnny Guarnieri, American stride and jazz stride pianist, and harpsichordist (The Gramercy Five; The Morey Amsterdam Show), dies of a heart attack at 67
  • Jan 10 Anton Karas, Austrian zither player and composer (b. 1906)
  • Jan 17 Jimmy DeBerry, American blues guitarist, banjo player, and singer, dies at 73
  • Jan 20 Jo Juda, Dutch musician (1st concertmaster of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra), dies at 75
  • Jan 31 Barbara Cowsill, American singer and rock band mother (The Cowsills - "Hair"; "We Can Fly"), dies of emphysema at 56
  • Feb 7 Matt Monro [Terence Parsons], English pop singer ("Softly As I Leave You"), dies from liver cancer at 54
  • Feb 11 Heinz Roemheld, American film composer (Yankee Doodle Dandy; Ruby Gentry), dies of pneumonia at 83
  • Feb 18 Willy Alberti [Carel Verbrugge], Dutch singer and actor (Riffin in Amsterdam), dies at 58
  • Feb 22 Efrem Zimbalist Sr, Russian-American violinist composer, and educator (Curtis Institute, 1928-68), dies at 95
  • Feb 27 Ray Ellington [Henry Pitts Brown], British jazz drummer, singer and bandleader (The Goon Show), dies of cancer at 68
  • Feb 28 David Byron [Garrick], British vocalist and songwriter (Uriah Heep), dies of alcohol-related complications at 38
  • Mar 1 Eugene List, American concert pianist & teacher (Eastman School of Music), dies at 66
  • Mar 7 George Schick, Czech conductor (Chicago Symphony, 1950-56; Metropolitan Opera, 1958-69), and educator, dies at 76
  • Mar 12 Eugene Ormandy [Jenő Blau], Hungarian-American violinist and conductor (Philadelphia Orchestra, 1936-80), dies of pneumonia at 85
  • Mar 13 Robert "Bob" Shad [Abraham Shadrinsky], American record producer and record label owner (Big Brother and the Holding Company), dies at 65
  • Mar 16 Roger Sessions, American Pulitzer Prize winning composer (Concerto for Orchestra; The Black Maskers), musicologist, and educator (Princeton, 1936-45, 53-65; Berkeley, 1945-53), dies at 88
  • Mar 18 Jack Miller, Ameerican orchestra leader (Kate Smith Evening Hour), dies at 89
  • Mar 21 Salvador Ley, composer, dies at 78
  • Mar 24 George London, Canadian bass-baritone (Rigoleto- "Monterone"), dies at 64
  • Mar 29 Jeanine Deckers, Belgian singer-songwriter, and Dominican nun known as 'The Singing Nun' ("Dominique"), cities financial difficulties, and commits suicide with barbiturate overdose at 51
  • Apr 1 Herman Roelstraete, Belgium composer, dies at 59
  • Apr 6 Mark Lothar, German composer (The Story of the Lazy Bear), dies at 82
  • Apr 8 J. Fred Coots, American songwriter ("Santa Claus Is Coming To Town"; "Love Letters In The Sand"), dies at 87
  • Apr 14 Reginald Beane, American pianist (Starlit Time: Once Upon a Tune), dies at 63
  • Apr 21 Irving Mills [Isadore Minsky], American jazz music publisher, manager (Duke Ellington, 1926-48), singer and lyricist, dies at 91
  • Apr 22 José de Lima Siqueira, Brazilian conductor, and composer, dies at 78
  • May 2 Hal LeRoy [John LeRoy Schotte], American vaudeville, Broadway and film dancer (Ziegfeld's Follies of 1931), dies at 71 after surgery
  • May 2 Larry Clinton, American trumpeter and bandleader, dies at 75
  • May 6 Julie Vega, Filipina child actress and singer, dies at 16
  • May 8 Karl Marx, German composer and conductor, dies at 87
  • May 9 Reginald Dixon, British theatre organist, dies at 80
  • May 17 Abe Burrows [Borowitz], American Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning songwriter, composer and writer (Guys and Dolls), dies from Alzheimer's disease at 74
  • May 24 Joe Darensbourg, Cajun-American dixieland-style jazz clarinetist (Jelly Roll Morton; Louis Armstrong), dies at 78
  • May 27 (Clifton) "Skeeter" Best, American jazz guitarist (Erskine Hawkins; Earl Hines; Oscar Pettiford; Ray Charles; Milt Jackson), dies at 70
  • Jun 1 Richard Greene, English composer and actor (The Adventures of Robin Hood), dies at 67
  • Jun 25 Connie "Pee Wee" Crayton, American R&B and blues guitarist and singer ("Do Unto Others"), dies of a heart attack at 70
  • Jul 16 Robert Siohan, French conductor and composer, dies at 91
  • Jul 16 Wayne King, American saxophonist and bandleader, known as the Waltz King ("The Waltz You Saved for Me"), dies at 84
  • Jul 17 Czesław Marek, Polish composer, dies at 93
  • Jul 23 Kay Kyser, bandleader (Kay Kyser's Kollege), dies at 79
  • Jul 30 Peter Knight, English musical arranger, conductor, and composer, dies at 68
  • Aug 1 Sam Wooding, American jazz pianist, and bandleader, one of the 1st to tour Europe (Chocolate Kiddies), dies at 90
  • Aug 4 Zbynek Vostrak, composer, dies at 65
  • Aug 12 Kyu Sakamoto, Japanese singer (Sukiyaki), and actor, dies in JAL 123 crash at 43
  • Aug 12 Marcel Mihalovici, Romanian-French composer, dies at 86
  • Aug 15 Richard Yardumian, American composer (Creator Spirit), dies at 68
  • Aug 24 Paul Creston [Giuseppe Guttoveggio], Italian-American composer (Zanoni), educator, and music theorist (Creative Harmony), dies at 78
  • Aug 29 Alexander Abramsky, Soviet composer, dies at 87
  • Aug 30 "Philly" Joe Jones, American jazz drummer (Miles Davis Quintet), dies of a heart attack at 62
  • Sep 3 (Jonathon) "Jo" Jones, American jazz drummer, and percussionist (Count Basie), dies of pneumonia at 73
  • Sep 3 John Herbert McDowell, American composer for ballet, TV and the stage, dies at 58
  • Sep 6 Eurreal "Little Brother" Montgomery, American jazz, boogie-woogie and blues pianist, singer, and composer ("Crescent City Blues"), dies at 79
  • Sep 6 Jane Frazee [Mary Jane Frehse], American actress, singer, and dancer (Beautiful But Broke, Beulah), dies at 70 of pneumonia
  • Sep 6 Johnny Desmond, singer (Your Hit Parade), dies of cancer at 65
  • Sep 6 Leon Orthel, Dutch pianist and composer, dies at 79
  • Sep 8 Manuel Ivo Cruz, Portuguese composer and founder of Philharmonic Orchestra of Lisbon, dies at 84
  • Sep 11 William Alwyn, English composer, dies at 79
  • Sep 13 Dane Rudhyar [Daniel Chennevière], French-American composer, author, and astrologist dies at 90
  • Sep 15 (Charles) "Cootie" Williams, American jazz, jump-blues, and R&B trumpeter (Duke Ellington Orchestra, 1929-40 & 1962-74), dies of kidney problems at 74
  • Sep 25 Albert Moeschinger, Swiss composer, dies at 88
  • Oct 5 Brian Keenan, American rock drummer (The Chamber Brothers), dies of a heart attack at 42
  • Oct 6 Nelson Riddle, American Grammy Award-winning bandleader, conductor, and orchestrator for Capitol Records (Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Dean Martin), dies of complications from cirrhosis of the liver at 64
  • Oct 7 Cemal Reşit Rey, Turkish composer, dies at 81
  • Oct 11 Tex Williams, American country-western singer, dies of cancer at 68
  • Oct 12 Ricky Wilson, American rock guitarist (B-52's - "Love Shack"), dies of AIDS at 32
  • Oct 14 Emil Gilels, Soviet concert pianist (Brussels Competition - 1st prize, 1938), dies at 68
  • Oct 15 Ted Steele, American orchestra leader (Cavalcade of Stars), dies at 68
  • Oct 22 Viorica Ursuleac, Romanian operatic soprano, dies at 91
  • Oct 25 (John) Morton Downey, American pop tenor, known as "The Irish Nightengale", songwriter, radio and television host, dies at 83
  • Nov 24 "Big" Joe Turner, American blues and R&B singer ("Shake, Rattle and Roll"), dies of heart failure at 74
  • Dec 4 Marcel Boereboom, Belgian pianist, critic, educator, and musicologist (Handbook of Music History), dies at 83
  • Dec 12 Anne Baxter, American actress (The Razor's Edge; All About Eve), and singer, dies of a stroke at 62
  • Dec 12 Ian Stewart, Scottish keyboardist, road manager, and co-founder of the Rolling Stones, dies of a heart attack at 47
  • Dec 22 D. Boon, American singer and guitarist (The Minutemen) (b. 1958)
  • Dec 23 James Vance (20) and Raymond Belknap (18) attempt suicide (Belknap dies). Their families later sue rock group Judas Priest for subliminal messages in song "Better By You, Better Than Me".
  • Dec 25 George Rhodes, American pianist, composer, arranger, and music director (Sammy Davis, Jr. Show), dies of a heart attack at 66
  • Dec 28 Benny Morton, American jazz trombonist (Teddy Wilson Sextet), dies at 78

Ricky NelsonRicky Nelson (1940-1985)

Dec 31 American pop-Rock Star ("Hello Mary Lou"; "It's Late"; "Garden Party") and actor (The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet), dies in a plane crash at 45