On This Day

Musicians Who Died on December 17

  • 1562 Adrian Willaert, Flemish singer/bandmaster/composer, dies at about 82
  • 1651 Wolfgang Schonsleder, composer, dies at 81
  • 1811 John Antes, American composer and missionary, dies at 71
  • 1811 Louis Abel Beffroy de Reigny, French dramatist and composer, dies at 54
  • 1829 Bernard Jumentier, French composer, primarily of sacred music, dies at 80
  • 1870 Saverio Mercadante, Italian composer, dies at 75
  • 1913 Stefano Gobatti, Italian composer, dies at 61
  • 1926 Alexander Kastalsky, Russian composer, dies at 70
  • 1930 Peter Warlock [Philip Heseltine], British composer, dies of a probable suicide at 36
  • 1948 Edgar Istel, German composer, dies at 68
  • 1949 David Stanley Smith, American composer (Merrymount), dies at 72
  • 1966 Gustaf Paulson, Swedish organist and composer (The Resurrection Symphony), dies at 68
  • 1972 Erwin Dressel, German composer, dies at 63
  • 1973 Patrick Hadley, composer, dies at 74
  • 1975 Noble Sissle, jazz musician, dies at 86
  • 1975 Hound Dog Taylor [Theodore Roosevelt], American Chicago blues guitarist and singer, dies of lung cancer at 60

  • 1978 Don Ellis, American jazz band leader (b. 1934)
  • 1982 Philipp Jarnach, French composer, dies at 90
  • 1996 Francesco Siciliani, Italian opera administrator, dies at 85
  • 1996 Irving Caesar, American songwriter (Sometimes I'm Happy), dies at 101
  • 1996 Ruby Murray, Irish singer ("Heartbeat"; "Softly, Softly"), dies of liver cancer at 61
  • 1996 Wayne Barlow, American composer, dies at 84
  • 1999 Grover Washington Jr., American jazz saxophonist (Mr Magic), dies at 56
  • 1999 Rex Allen, American actor and singer-songwriter known as the "the Arizona Cowboy" (Dr Baxter-Frontier Doctor), dies at 78
  • 2004 Dick Heckstall-Smith, English jazz-blues saxophonist, dies at 70
  • 2006 Denis Payton, English rock musician (Dave Clark Five - "Glad All Over"), dies at 63
  • 2006 Timmie Rogers, American comedian (The Jackie Gleason Show), actor and singer-songwriter (Back to School Again; I Love Ya, I Love Ya, I Love Ya), dies at 91
  • 2008 Freddy Breck, German schlager singer, composer, record producer and news anchor (b. 1942)
  • 2010 Captain Beefheart [Don Van Vliet], American rock musician, complications from multiple sclerosis at 69
  • 2011 Cesária Évora, Cape Verdean morna singer known as "the Barefoot Diva", dies from respiratory failure at 70
  • 2013 Leland Smith, American composer, bassoonist and computer coder who led music publishing into the digital age (SCORE), dies at 88
  • 2017 Kevin Mahogany, American jazz vocalist (Double Rainbow), dies at 59
  • 2018 Galt MacDermot, Canadian musician and composer (Hair), dies at 89
  • 2018 Raven Wilkinson, American ballerina, first African American woman to dance with major ballet company, dies at 83
  • 2020 Stanley Cowell American jazz pianist (Heath Brothers), record label co-founder (Strata-East), and educator, dies from hypovolemic shock at 79