Remembering Musicians Lost in 2020


Dan Stark, Student Editor

2020 has been a hard year for musicians, with the Covid-19 Pandemic shutting down concert tours and the music industry. Adding to this already hard year, many influential musicians passed away. Here’s a look at some of the most influential musicians who died this year. 

Neil Peart- Neil Peart, former drummer for the progressive rock band Rush, died on January 7 at age 67 after a three year battle with brain cancer. Peart has been hailed as one of the greatest drummers of all time for his innovative style that blended hard rock and jazz, use of diverse percussion instruments and technical precision. Peart also wrote a majority of Rush’s lyrics.

Bill Withers- Soul legend Bill Withers passed away on March 31 at age 81. A three-time Grammy winner, he topped the charts in the 1970s with hits like “Lean on Me”, “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Use Me”. He was known for his smooth vocals and his capabilities as a songwriter. His songs are still played to this day and many have cited him as an inspiration, including Ed Sheeran and John Legend. 

Eddie Van Halen- Arguably the most shocking musician death of the year, Eddie Van Halen died at 65. The co-founder of the ‘70s/’80s hard rock band Van Halen, he took the musical world by storm with his technical virtuosity and innovation on the electric guitar. Van Halen was the driving musical force behind his band, making chart topping hits and rock anthems for decades. He is viewed as one of the greatest rock guitarists and is credited as an inspiration to many beginning guitarists. 

Little Richard- One of the last remaining 1950s rock and roll stars, Little Richard passed away on May 9 after a long 87 year life. Known for hits like “Long Tall Sally” and “Tutti Frutti”, he was a pioneer in the development of rock and roll with his energetic showmanship and expressive vocals. He also broke down racial barriers, becoming one of the first crossover African-American artists. His music and persona have influenced numerous genres, including rock, soul, funk and hip-hop. 

Peter Green- British blues rock guitarist Peter Green died on July 23 at 73. The founder of the band Fleetwood Mac, he led the band through its early years, propelling them to the forefront of the British blues boom of the late ‘60s. He wrote many of the band’s early hits like “Albatross”, “Black Magic Woman” and “Oh Well”. Though he left the group years before their commercial success in the late 70s, he remains a blues guitar influence and Fleetwood Mac would never have been the same without him. 

Other notable musicians who passed away this year include folk singer-songwriter John Prine, jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, Adam Schlesinger from Fountains of Wayne, drummer Bill Rieflin and country singer Kenny Rogers. They will all be missed.