In Memoriam 2016: Remembering Our Favorite Musicians

This year has kind of sucked. Between a tumultuous presidential election, numerous deaths, and general disarray, it has been a year to remember—or forget. Let’s try to end things on a high note. Fans around the world said goodbye to some of their favorite musicians in 2016, so it only seems appropriate to dedicate some time to listen to these artists and remember why they are so beloved.

Rob McAllister
1980 – January 2016

Leaving behind his partner, two children, numerous bandmates, and innumerable friends, Rob McAllister was certainly a well-loved man. He was the former guitarist for Iron Chic, a member of several other bands—including Capital, The Reformation, and Secret Lives—and an all-around big deal in the Long Island scene. When McAllister passed away from unknown causes at the age of 36, stories were gathered from friends and loved ones to paint a picture of a man who lit up the room. McAllister was known for creating friendly chaos, an atmosphere full of laughs, drinks, and plenty of hijinks, all in the name of good fun. He will be dearly missed. “If I can ask one thing when I am dead / Would you lay me down by the river bed? / Let me wash away / Let it take me back from where I came.” –Tyler Gibson

David Bowie
1947 – January 2016

David Bowie embraced femininity and challenged what it meant to be manly despite the risks associated with defying gendered norms. He ended up having a decades-long career filled with many hits—as well as some flops. With so many songs to choose from, more than a few of the good ones fell through the cracks. “Width of a Circle” is one of those songs. It is the opening track on Bowie’s third studio album, The Man Who Sold the World, from 1970. Considering Bowie’s huge success with 1969’s Space Oddity, this album did surprisingly poorly. He hadn’t yet established himself as a brilliant musician, so this album fell by the wayside, only to be appreciated by fans later on. –Kriston McConnell

Glenn Frey
1948 – January 2016

Eagles are undoubtedly an iconic band. In the span of 7 years, from ’72 to ’79, they had 16 Top 40 hits. Guitarist Glenn Frey co-wrote many, if not most, of the those hits. Due to their unparalleled success, it’s easy to forget that the band weren’t together for very long. However, not all of their best songs were mainstream blockbusters, as exemplified by “After the Thrill Is Gone” from 1975’s One of These Nights. This moody ballad tells the story of a couple who have lost the exciting spark in their relationship. The song also doubles as a metaphor for the band members feeling a lack of excitement in their career. –Kriston McConnell

Keith Emerson
1944 – March 2016

Keith Emerson had a lengthy career spanning four decades and a handful of musical projects. He is best known for his time spent in Emerson Lake & Palmer. Their music was often inspired by classical works, which did not always land well with fans. Despite the complexity of the music they were creating, they still found immense success in their heyday. In true prog rock style, more than a handful of their songs fly by the 10 or 15-minute mark. One such song is “Tarkus,” the title track of their 1971 album. “Tarkus” is a glorious 20-minute journey through ELP’s prog rock world. –Kriston McConnell

1958 – April 2016

No one will be forgetting Prince any time soon. His androgynous persona combined with his overtly sexual songs made fans of all ages and genders swoon. There’s no doubt he had an incredibly successful career and a laundry list of mega hits. A song that may have been missed by casual fans is the innuendo-laden “Tick Tick Bang.” Much like some of Prince’s other hits, this song disguises its sexual innuendos with fast-paced, synth-heavy beats. It is taken from his 1990 album, Graffiti Bridge, which also serves as the soundtrack for his film of the same name. –Kriston McConnell

John Stabb
1961 – May 2016

On May 7, founding member of Government Issue and seminal hardcore punk musician, John Stabb, passed away after a long battle with cancer. Stabb formed Government Issue in 1980 and helped set the standard for the Maryland/D.C. hardcore sound with the famed Legless Bull EP. While many Dischord-era bands broke up after a few years, Government Issue continued through 1989. They were also one of the first hardcore bands to reach beyond hardcore, incorporating psychedelia, new wave, and even goth into their music. The band reunited several times in the 2010s, and Stabb continued playing music right up to the night before his admission into the hospital. Stabb helped create an entire genre, and then, in the subsequent years, showed how “genre” is not necessarily a set of rules to be enforced. Truly, Stabb changed the face of hardcore punk. –John Gentile

Erik Petersen
1978 – July 2016

Erik Petersen—founder of iconic Philadelphia band, Mischief Brew—passed away far too soon. To be fair, if Erik had passed away at age 300, it would’ve still been too soon. I had the pleasure of interviewing Erik many times, and when talking to him, you could tell that he was a special individual. Erik was quiet, humble, and sensitive, though that mischievous smile of his would flash every so often and communicate something far deeper than words could ever express. I would always playfully chide him, demanding that he acknowledge his own greatness. He would always demur or change the topic. Now I realize that Erik was so humble because his amazing recordings speak for themselves. I could go on and on about how Smash the Windows or The Stone Operation or This Is Not for Children are anarcho-folk-punk masterpieces, but I don’t need to. Those records have changed the lives of countless people—myself included—and will do so for 100 more years. Erik was titan, as well as a model person: creative, kind, and unfathomably clever. If only we could all strive for his level of excellence and humanity. Erik Petersen—there will never be another. –John Gentile

Tom Searle
1987 – August 2016

Tom Searle is one of the younger individuals on this list of mostly classic artists, but he deserves a mention nonetheless. He was the guitarist for the U.K. metalcore outfit, Architects, before passing away after a three-year battle with cancer. The band have only been active since 2004, but they have made a lasting impact on the alternative music scene. Architects have plenty of quality songs to choose from, so it’s difficult to choose just one. However, it seems appropriate to close out the year with “Youth Is Wasted on the Young,” taken from their 2014 album, Lost Forever // Lost Together. “When I reach the end, will I beg for more? / Will I look back? Or step through the door / I stand beneath a monolith / Do you ever feel like you won’t be missed?” –Kriston McConnell

Leonard Cohen
1934 – November 2016

On Oct. 21, at 82-years-old, Leonard Cohen released his final musical ruminations in the form of You Want It Darker. Seventeen days later, he died. He had already calmly assured the world that he was ready. To fans, it appeared he always had been. While the prolific Canadian renaissance man may have displayed a certain morbid panache, his fatalistic fixation on life and death, faith and sin, and isolation and connection was rarely steeped in cold resignation or hot self-destruction. Rather, he seemed warm and centered, an elegant sage who assured that it’s not about how long you live, but how you live and who you love along the way. In these darkening times, as we claw through the ashes of our culture searching for meaning, Cohen is still our man. –Kelley O’Death

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