On This Day

Musicians Who Died in 2020

  • Jan 1 Jaap Schröder, Dutch violinist, conductor, musicologist, and pedagogue ( Academy of Ancient Music), dies at 94
  • Jan 3 Bo Winberg, Swedish instrumental rock guitarist (The Spotnicks - "Hava Nagila"; "Amapola"; "Karelia"), dies at 80
  • Jan 7 Neil Peart, Canadian musician and drummer (Rush-A Farewell to Kings) dies from glioblastoma (brain cancer) at 67
  • Jan 19 Jimmy Heath "Little Bird", American jazz saxophonist and composer, dies at 93
  • Jan 19 Robert Parker, American saxophonist and soul singer (Barefootin'), dies at 89
  • Jan 26 Bob Shane, American folk vocalist (Kingston Trio - Tom Dooley), dies at 85
  • Jan 27 Alberto Naranjo, Venezuelan jazz drummer, composer and arranger, dies at 78
  • Feb 1 Peter Serkin, American pianist (Tashi), dies at 72
  • Feb 3 Eric Parkin, British classical pianist and champion of British composers, dies at 95
  • Feb 5 Buddy Cage, American pedal steel guitarist (New Riders of the Purple Sage, Great Speckled Bird), dies from multiple myeloma at 73
  • Feb 6 Lynn Evans [Carolyn Hargate], American pop vocalist (The Chordettes - "Mr. Sandman"; "Lollipop"), dies of a stroke at 95
  • Feb 7 Nexhmije Pagarusha, Albanian singer ‘the Nightingale of Kosovo’ and actress, dies at 86
  • Feb 7 Steve Weber, American folk guitarist, (Holy Modal Rounders), dies at 76
  • Feb 9 Mirella Freni, Italian lyric soprano (Madame Butterfly), dies at 84
  • Feb 9 Sorrel [Doris Ernestine] Hays, American pianist and composer (The Glass Woman), dies of cancer at 78
  • Feb 11 (Bhekizizwe) Joseph Shabalala, South African singer, songwriter, founder and musical director of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, dies at 79

  • Feb 19 Pop Smoke [Bashar Barakah Jackson], American rapper and singer-songwriter (Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon), shot and killed in a home invasion at 20
  • Feb 24 Jahn Teigen, Norwegian pop-rock singer (Popol Ace; Eurovison Song Contest, 1978, 1982 & 1983), dies at 70
  • Mar 6 McCoy Tyner, American jazz pianist (John Coltrane Quartet), dies at 81
  • Mar 14 Genesis P-Orridge [Neil Megson], British avant-garde rock singer-songwriter, and performance artist (Throbbing Gristle; Psychic TV), dies of leukemia at 70
  • Mar 15 Suzy Delair, French actress and singer (The Murderer Lives at Number 21, Utopia, White Paws), dies at 102

Person of interestKenny Rogers

Mar 20 Kenny Rogers, American singer-songwriter (The Gambler, Through the Years) and entrepreneur (Kenny Rogers Roasters), dies of natural causes at 81

Country Singer Kenny Rogers
Country Singer
Kenny Rogers
  • Mar 22 Eric Weissberg, American singer and musician (Duelling Banjos), dies of Alzheimer’s at 80
  • Mar 22 Julie Felix, American-born British-based folk-rock singer-songwriter, and BBC presenter (The Frost Report; Once More With Felix), dies at 81
  • Mar 24 Manu Dibango, Cameroonian musician (Soul Makossa), dies of COVID-19 at 86
  • Mar 24 Gerard Schurmann, Dutch-British conductor, and composer of classical music (The Double Heart), and film scores, (The Bedford Incident) dies at 96
  • Mar 24 Bill Rieflin, American rock drummer (Nine Inch Nails; R.E.M.; King Crimson), dies at 59
  • Mar 28 Jan Howard [Lula Grace Johnson], American country music singer and songwriter (For Loving You), dies at 91
  • Mar 29 Joe Diffie, American country singer and guitarist (Home), dies of COVID-19 complications at 61
  • Mar 29 Alan Merrill [Allan Sachs], American vocalist and songwriter (The Arrows -"I Love Rock 'n' Roll"), dies from Covid-19 complications at 69
  • Mar 29 Krzysztof Penderecki, Polish composer ("Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima"), dies at 86

Person of interestBill Withers

Mar 30 Bill Withers, American singer-songwriter and rhythm & blues musician ("Ain't No Sunshine"; "Lean on Me"; "Just The Two Of Us"), dies of heart complications at 81

Rhythm & Blues Musician Bill Withers
Rhythm & Blues Musician
Bill Withers
  • Mar 31 Wallace Roney, American post-bop jazz trumpeter, dies of Covid-19 complications at 59 [1]
  • Mar 31 Zoltán Peskó, Hungarian opera conductor and composer, dies at 83
  • Mar 31 Cristina [Monet Zilkha], American dance-pop singer songwriter (Sleep It Off), dies at 64
  • Apr 1 Ellis Marsalis, American jazz musician and prominent teacher, dies of COVID-19 complications at 85

  • Apr 1 Adam Schlesinger, American rock musician (Fountains Of Wayne) and songwriter (That Thing You Do), dies of COVID-19 complications at 52
  • Apr 1 John "Bucky" Pizzarelli, American jazz guitarist, dies of Covid-19 at 94
  • Apr 2 Claudio Spies, Chilean American composer, dies at 95
  • Apr 7 John Prine, American country folk singer-songwriter ("Hello In There"; "Angel From Montgomery"; "Paradise"), dies of Covid-19 complications at 73
  • Apr 7 Hal Willner, American music producer (Lost In The Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill; Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films; The Carl Stalling Project), dies with symptoms of Covid-19 at 64
  • Apr 13 Ryo Kawasaki, Japanese jazz fusion guitarist, composer, band leader, and synthesizer software programmer, dies at 73
  • Apr 15 Lee Konitz, American jazz saxophonist (Birth of the Cool), dies of COVID-19 complications at 92
  • Apr 16 Kenneth Gilbert, Canadian harpsichordist, organist, musicologist, and educator, dies at 88
  • Apr 17 Arlene Saunders, American soprano, dies of COVID-19 complications at 89
  • Apr 17 Matthew Seligman, British studio and touring new wave rock bassist (Robyn Hitchcock; Thompson Twins; Thomas Dolby), dies from Covid-19 complications at 64
  • Apr 19 Ian Whitcomb, English rocker ("You Turn Me On"), dies at 78
  • Apr 22 Robert "Bootsie" Barnes, American jazz tenor saxophonist, dies of Covid-19 at 82 [1]
  • Apr 24 Harold Reid, American country bass vocalist (Statler Brothers - "Bed Of Rose's"), dies of kidney failure at 80 [1]
  • Apr 27 Lynn Harrell, American cellist, dies at 76
  • Apr 28 Bobby Lewis, American rock and roll singer (Tossin' and Turnin'), dies at 95
  • Apr 30 Tony Allen, Nigerian drummer who pioneered Afrobeat sound, dies of an aortic aneurysm at 79
  • May 3 Frederick Charles Tillis, American jazz and classical composer, dies at 90
  • May 3 Dave Greenfield, British rock keyboardist, and songwriter (The Stranglers - "Golden Brown"), dies of complications from Covid-19 at 71
  • May 5 Hillard "Sweet Pea" Atkinson, American R&B singer (Was (Not Was)) dies of a heart attack at 74 [1]
  • May 6 Millie Small, Jamaican singer (My Boy Lollipop), dies of a stroke at 72

Person of interestLittle Richard

May 9 Little Richard [Wayne Penniman], American singer-songwriter and rock 'n' roll pioneer (Tutti Frutti), dies at 87

Singer-Songwriter and Rock 'n' Roll Pioneer Little Richard
Singer-Songwriter and Rock 'n' Roll Pioneer
Little Richard
  • May 10 Betty Wright [Bessie Norris], American R&B singer-songwriter (Clean Up Woman), dies at 66
  • May 11 John "Moon" Martin, American rockabilly singer-songwriter and guitarist (Bad Case Of Loving You), dies at 74
  • May 12 Astrid Kirchherr, German photographer, helped establish The Beatles image, dies at 81
  • May 15 Phil May, English rocker (Pretty Things), dies at 75
  • May 16 Donn Trenner, American jazz pianist, arranger, and orchestra leader (Steve Allen's Westinghouse Show), dies at 93
  • May 22 Mory Kanté, Guinean singer and kora harp player (Yé ké yé ké), dies at 70
  • May 24 [Wilbur James] Jimmy Cobb, American jazz drummer (Miles Davis' First Great Sextet), dies of lung cancer at 91
  • May 28 Lennie Niehaus, American jazz saxophonist and film composer (Clint Eastwood films), dies at 90
  • Jun 4 Steve Priest, English rock bassist and vocalist (The Sweet), dies at 72
  • Jun 7 Frank Bey [Bass], American blues singer-songwriter (All My Dues Are Paid), dies at 74
  • Jun 8 Bonnie Pointer, American pop singer (Pointer Sisters - "Jump"; "I'm So Excited"), dies at 69
  • Jun 18 Vera Lynn 'the Forces Sweetheart', English singer (We'll Meet Again), dies at 103
  • Jun 23 Ryan Anthony, American trumpet player (Canadian Brass, 2000-03; Dallas Symphony, 2006-20), dies of cancer at 51
  • Jun 25 Marga Richter, American classical pianist and composer (Landscapes of the Mind; Out of Shadows and Solitude), dies at 93
  • Jun 27 Johnny Mandel, American composer, arranger and musician (M*A*S*H theme), dies at 94
  • Jun 27 (Lionel) Frederick "Freddy" Cole, American jazz singer and pianist, dies at 88 [1]
  • Jun 29 Hachalu Hundessa, Ethiopian singer songwriter (Waa'ee Keenyaa), shot and killed at 34
  • Jul 1 Ida Haendel, Polish-British-Canadian child prodigy violinist, teacher, and author (Woman with Violin), dies of kidney cancer at 91
  • Jul 2 Nikolai Kapustin, Russian jazz pianist and composer, dies at 82
  • Jul 6 Ennio Morricone, Italian composer and musician (film soundtracks for The Mission and The Hateful Eight), dies at 91 [1]
  • Jul 6 Charlie Daniels, American singer (Devil Went Down to Georgia), dies at 83
  • Jul 8 Naya Rivera, American actress and singer (Glee), drowns at 33
  • Jul 12 Rod Bernard, American "swamp pop" singer ("Allons Danser Colinda"), dies at 79 [1]
  • Jul 12 Judy Dyble, British folk singer-songwriter (Fairport Convention), dies of lung cancer at 71
  • Jul 17 Zizi Jeanmaire, French dancer, singer and actress (Carmen), dies at 96
  • Jul 21 Annie Ross, British-American jazz singer (Lambert, Hendricks & Ross - "Twisted") and actress, dies from emphysema and heart disease, at 89 [1]
  • Jul 25 Peter Green [Greenbaum], English guitarist (Fleetwood Mac -"Albatross"), dies at 73 [1] [2]
  • Jul 28 Bent Fabric [Fabricius-Bjerre], Danish pianist and composer (Alley Cat), dies at 95 [1]
  • Aug 2 Leon Fleisher, American pianist and conductor (Annapolis Symphony 1970-82), dies of cancer at 92 [1]
  • Aug 6 Wayne Fontana [Glyn Geoffrey Ellis], British rocker (The Mindbenders - "The Game Of Love"), dies at 74
  • Aug 7 Constance Weldon, American symphonic tuba player (Boston Pops; Concertgebouw) and educator, dies at 88
  • Aug 9 Martin Birch, British sound engineer and record producer ( Whitesnake; Iron Maiden), dies at 71 [1]
  • Aug 11 Trini Lopez [Trinidad Lopez], Mexican American singer and guitarist (If I Had a Hammer), dies of COVID-19 at 83
  • Aug 14 Julian Bream, English classical guitarist and lutenist, dies at 87

  • Aug 18 Hal Singer, American jazz and R&B saxophonist ("Corn Bread"), dies at 100 [1]
  • Aug 24 Tony Colton [Chalk], British singer-songwriter, and record producer (Head, Hands, and Feet), dies of kidney failure at 68
  • Sep 2 Ian Mitchell, Irish rocker (Bay City Rollers), dies at 62
  • Sep 4 Gary Peacock, American jazz bassist (Keith Jarrett Trio), dies at 85 [1]
  • Sep 8 Simeon Coxe, American songwriter, singer and psychedelic synthesizer player (Silver Apples), dies of pulmonary fibrosis at 82 [1]
  • Sep 9 Ronald Bell, American rock saxophonist and composer (Kool & The Gang), dies at 68
  • Sep 11 [Frederick] "Toots" Hibbert, Jamaican singer-songwriter (The Maytals - "Pressure Drop"), dies with COVID-19 symptoms at 77 [1]
  • Sep 15 Jan Krenz, Polish conductor and composer, dies at 94 [1]
  • Sep 19 Lee Kerslake, British drummer (Uriah Heep; Ozzy Osbourne) dies of prostate cancer at 73 [1]
  • Sep 21 Tommy Devito, American rock baritone vocalist and guitarist (Four Seasons - "Sherry") dies of COVID-19 at 93
  • Sep 23 Juliette Gréco, French singer (Sous le ciel de Paris) and actress, dies at 93 [1]
  • Sep 25 S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, Telegu playback singer (The Jewel of Shiva) dies of COVID-19 at 74
  • Sep 29 Helen Reddy, Australian-American rock vocalist ("I Am Woman"; "You And Me Against The World"), dies at 78 [1]
  • Sep 29 Mac Davis, American country music singer-songwriter (Baby, Don't Get Hooked On Me) and actor (North Dallas Forty) dies following heart surgery at 78 [1]
  • Sep 29 Isidora Žebeljan, Serbian classical, opera, and film composer, dies at 53

Person of interestEddie Van Halen

Oct 6 Eddie Van Halen, Dutch-American rock guitarist (Van Halen - "You Really Got Me"; "Jump"), dies of throat cancer at 65 [1]

Rock Guitarist Eddie Van Halen
Rock Guitarist
Eddie Van Halen
  • Oct 6 Johnny Nash, American rocker (I Can See Clearly Now), dies at 80 [1]
  • Oct 8 Mohammad Reza Shajarian, Iranian classical singer, dies at 80 [1]
  • Oct 11 Jon Gibson, American flute and saxophone player (Philip Glass Ensemble, 1968-2019), and composer (The Voyage of The Beagle), dies at 80 [1]
  • Oct 14 Herbert Kretzmer, South African-British lyricist of Lithuanian heritage (Les Misérables), dies at 95 [1]
  • Oct 15 Gordon Haskell, British pop, rock and blues musician (Fleur De Lys; King Crimson, 1970; Harry's Bar), dies of cancer at 74
  • Oct 16 Johnny Bush, American country singer, dies at 85
  • Oct 19 Spencer Davis [Davies], English guitarist (Spencer Davis Group - "Gimme Some Lovin'"), dies of pneumonia at 81 [1] [2]
  • Oct 19 Tony Lewis, British rock singer-songwriter and bass player (The Outfield - "Your Love"), dies at 62
  • Oct 21 Viola Smith, American drummer and bandleader (one of the first professional female drummers), dies at 107 [1]
  • Oct 26 Stan Kesler, American session musician, songwriter and, record producer and songwriter (Sun Studio), dies of bone cancer at 92
  • Oct 28 Billy Joe Shaver, American country singer-songwriter (When I Get My Wings), dies of a stroke at 81
  • Oct 31 Rance Allen, American gospel singer and musician (Rance Allen Group - Miracle Worker), dies at 71
  • Oct 31 MF Doom [Daniel Dumile], American rapper and hip hop artist, dies at 49 [1]
  • Nov 2 Baron Wolman, American photographer, founding chief photographer for Rolling Stone, dies of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) at 83

  • Nov 4 Ken Hensley, English songwriter and rock keyboardist (Blackfoot, Uriah Heep), dies at 75
  • Nov 6 Barbara York, Canadian composer (A Butterfly in Time), dies of pulmonary fibrosis at 71 
  • Nov 7 Cándido Camero, Cuban American percussionist (congo drum) and bandleader, dies at 99 [1]
  • Nov 14 Des O'Connor, British television presenter, singer and comedian, dies at 88 [1]
  • Nov 23 Hal Ketchum, American country singer (Small Town Saturday Night), dies at 67
  • Dec 3 Noah Creshevsky, American electroacoustic composer, dies of cancer at 75
  • Dec 4 Bassam Sabam, Lebanese violinist, oud, and nay player (New York Arabic Orchestra; Silk Road Ensemble), dies of Covid-19 complications at 62 [1]
  • Dec 6 Petras Bingelis, Lithuania conductor, founder and artistic director (Kaunas State Choir, 1969-2020), dies of Covid-19 at 77
  • Dec 8 Harold Budd, American avant-garde ambient pianist and composer (The Pavilion of Dreams), dies of Covid-19 at 84 [1]
  • Dec 12 Charley Pride, American country singer (Sweet Country), dies of Covid-19 complications at 86 [1]
  • Dec 20 Fanny Waterman, English concert pianist & teacher (Leeds International Piano Competition), dies at 100 [1]
  • Dec 21 K. T. Oslin, American country singer (80's Ladies), dies at 78 [1]
  • Dec 23 Leslie West [Weinstein], American rock guitarist (Mountain - "Mississippi Queen"; "Theme for an Imaginary Western"), dies of cardiac arrest at 75 [1]
  • Dec 24 Ivry Gitlis, Israeli classical violin virtuoso, dies at 98
  • Dec 25 Tony Rice, American bluegrass guitarist (J.D. Crowe and the New South), dies at 69 [1]
  • Dec 25 Jaan Rääts, Estonian pianist, orchestral and film score composer, dies at 88
  • Dec 28 Armando Manzanero, Mexican composer and singer (It’s Impossible, Adoro), dies at 86 [1]
  • Dec 28 Fou Ts'ong, Chinese-British concert pianist, dies of Covis-19 at 86
  • Dec 29 Claude Bolling, French jazz and classical cross-over pianist and composer (Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio), dies at 90 [1] [2]
  • Dec 29 Phyllis McGuire, American pop vocalist (McGuire Sisters - "Sincerely"; "Sugartime"), dies at 89