Death is inevitable – and year after year – we are faced with the passing of our favorite musicians. We feel a special connection to these musicians through the art they share with us. It gets us through tough times. It helps us celebrate the good times. And it’s there for us all the times in between as well. So it is no shock that when an artist dies, it hurts. It’s as if we lost a close friend – that we have never met. But as we reflect on some of the lives the music world lost in 2017, we will always have their music to remember them by.
Tom Petty (1950-2017)
News of Tom Petty being hospitalized for cardiac arrest came as a shock … maybe TMZ had bad info? They almost never do though… Then reports of his death surfaced and were announced prematurely – so maybe he would pull through? Unfortunately, he would not and at 8:40pm on October 4, 2017, the world lost one of the true rockers – Thomas ‘Tom’ Earl Petty.
In his 40+ year career, Tom sold more than 80 million records, headlined the 2008 Super Bowl Halftime Show and was a 2001 inductee into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. While best known as the lead singer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Tom was also a member of the supergroups – The Traveling Wilburys and Mudcrutch.
In 2017 – Tom Petty embarked on what would be his final tour – the Heartbreakers 40th Anniversary Tour. The tour stopped in Baltimore on July 23rd and concluded at The Hollywood Bowl on September 25, 2017. The final song Tom performed? The timeless - American Girl.
Walter Becker (1950 - 2017)
Steely Dan co-founder, guitarist, bassist, and co-songwriter Walter Becker passed on September 3, 2017. Steely Dan has been dubbed one of rock’s most influential bands by numerous media outlets, including VH1. News of Becker’s death was shocking as it came just weeks after the Steely Dan Band had announced a fall tour. The tour went on though, with Becker’s Steely Dan co-founder Donald Fagen vowing to "Keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band."
Chris Cornell (1964-2017) & Chester Bennington (1976-2017)
2017 was a tough year for alternative rocker icon’s lives being cut short due to their struggles with substance abuse and depression. On May 18, Chris Cornell took his own life in a Detroit hotel room just hours after his band, Soundgarden, had performed in concert. Cornell was a major influencer in the 1990’s and 2000’s with his bands Audioslave, Temple of the Dog and the afore mentioned Soundgarden.
Just two months later and on what would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday, Linkin Park front man Chester Bennington committed suicide by hanging in his California home. The two were close friends and Bennington was the godfather of Cornell’s son, Christopher. Following Cornell’s death, Bennington had written on Instagram - "I can't imagine a world without you in it."
Gregg Allman (1947 - 2017)
On May 27th, Gregg Allman passed away after a bout with liver cancer. In 1969, Gregg formed the Allman Brothers Band along with his brother Duane. The Allman Brothers Band would go on to become one of the greatest bands – with a unique blend southern rock/jam/jazz/country music. Their live shows, especially at Merriweather Post Pavilion are legendary… In his autobiography, My Cross To Bear, Allman reflected: Music is my life's blood. I love music, I love to play good music, and I love to play music for people who appreciate it. And when it's all said and done, I'll go to my grave and my brother will greet me, saying, "Nice work, little brother—you did all right." I must have said this a million times, but if I died today, I have had me a blast.
Pat DiNizio (1955-2017)
On December 12, 2017, Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens passed away following several years of declining health. The Smithereens enjoyed a 26 year career with the original lineup (!), were named after a Yosemite Sam quote, and still get turned up to full blast whenever Girl Like You comes on the radio. Interesting fact about Pat? He ran for US Senate in 2000 and finished in 4th place.
Malcolm Young (1953-2017)
You know them … you love them … the original thunder from down under was AC/DC – and on November 18th, cofounding member Malcolm Young passed away. Minus a brief period in 1988 – Malcolm was in the band from 1973 to 2014. While many people consider AC/DC a heavy metal band, they always referred to themselves as "a rock and roll band, nothing more, nothing less”. Malcolm Young – we salute you.
Chuck Berry (1926-2017)
If you look up rock n roll in the dictionary – don’t be shocked to see a picture of Chuck Berry. According to Bruce Springsteen - "Chuck Berry was rock's greatest practitioner, guitarist, and the greatest pure rock & roll writer who ever lived". Chuck Berry might not owe his career to his career to cousin Marvin like the film Back to the Future would have you believe – but we owe a debt of gratitude to Chuck Berry for giving us rock n roll. Chuck Berry passed on March 18, 2017.
Fats Domino (1928-2017)
Chuck Berry wasn’t the only rock n roll pioneer who passed in 2017. On October 24th, we also lost Fats Domino. While his shyness and humility may have caused his career to be overlooked – he is surely not forgotten.