From David Bowie to Prince and Leonard Cohen, extinction has thrown a long darknes over the world of pop and stone. But, as more colonists reach a certain age, its something well have get used to

Trying to guess how record will evaluate an era in pa is a famously tough see. Nostalgia twistings and distorts what actually happened. Stuff that seemed enormously important then isnt always what seems important years on: superstars get forgotten, collisions fade from reminiscence, emphasis is subtly shifted to reflect precede changes in savors or to fit a wider narrative that wasnt self-evident at the time. Even so, it seems a moderately safe bet to say that when people look back on 2016, they are able to think it is right death.

Death was the years big breakout superstar. The plots were full of it: posthumous stumbles choked up the Top 40; the success of its first year most unexpected No 1 book Viola Beachs eponymous introduction was down to the band and their managers deaths in a auto accident five months previously. No meticulously schemed stealth freeing, with its carefully cultivated breeze of astonish and obscured impact date, was as surprising as David Bowie or Princes death. Decembers traditional daddy narration about the hasten for the Christmas number one was wholly eclipsed by the deaths among George Michael. It was what people talked about: more column inches were resided, more deals given over, more social media uprights posted and blogs blogged about popping aces expiring than about those who lived, even Beyonc or Kanye West.

There were sections publicly mourning dead pa superstars and articles examining the nature of publicly mourning dead daddy hotshots that posited ideologies that beings were grieving not for the stars themselves or even for what they represented, but for their own lost youth, transfixed by Starman on Top Of The Pops or snogging to Careless Whisper at a neighbourhood disco or if they were too young to recollect the late aces glory daylights firsthand for a mythic, imaginary, perfect pop past they never knew: the creepy make of rock musics obsession with its own history over the past 25 years.

A traditional dad narrative of geniu brutally grasped away by premature demise … George Michael at the Live Aid concert in 1985. Photo: PA/ PA Wire

There was even a mini-industry in pieces telling people to stop publicly mourning dead pop wizards. The grain of true in read articles that some of the tributes were maudlin and overblown, and others smack-dab of nothing more than a frantic desire to join in( We honour you Rocket Man !!! offered Ticketmaster UKs Twitter feed during the Brits Bowie tribute) was devastated by the fact that they were always the work of the kind of correspondent who plainly adores no music as much as the seem of their own voice.

No one needs to hear Station to Station twice, snorted Giles Coren, as if Station to Station were a legendarily horrific Bowie album, rather than one made at the top of his powers and that most people consider to be among his best: the be thought that Coren hadnt actually listened Station to Station once, let alone twice, was difficult to avoid.

For all the talk of 2016 as an extraordinary year for dad fatalities, there is an statement that it was more or less ever thus. Death has loomed over daddy nearly from the time that pop inaugurated: rocknroll had been a mainstream phenomenon for scarcely two years when Buddy Holly and Richie Valens died in February 1959. In a macrocosm without social media as an store, public agony for popping aces took on weird formations. There is a theory that the late 50 s/ early 60 s furor for demise disc stumbled chants in which the protagonist or their development partners or both died, such as Tell Laura I Love Her, Johnny Remember Me, Teen Angel was a sublimated grieving of Holly, Valens, Eddie Cochran et al.

There was another cramp of morbidity in pop in the early 70 s, its first year immediately after the deaths of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones and Jim Morrison, when the charts played host to a succession of latterday extinction disc from Bloodrocks DOA to Hot Chocolates Emma and some of the 60 s originals became hittings again. You might have recalled the Twitter tributes and the vigils and the wonky Bowie murals were a bit de trop and cras, but they look like the height of restricted good taste compared with, pronounce, used to go and buying Danny Mirrors I Remember Elvis Presley, a Europe-wide hit on which a rotund Dutchman in a fringed case did an impersonation of Presley a matter of weeks after his death in 1977.

Prince, 7 June 1958 21 April 2016. Photograph: Richard E. Aaron/ Redferns

Still, 2016 s deaths experienced outstanding, and not merely in their profusion. Plenty of famed masters have died in recent years from Lemmy to Lou Reed, Whitney Houston to Amy Winehouse but you would have to strain back to the death of Michael Jackson in 2009 to find a comparable cocktail of stardom and epoch-defining affect to that is in possession of Bowie and Prince.

Their demises, and the manner in which the latter are sorrowed, seemed markedly different to Jacksons, perhaps since this is bolstered by social media, still in its relative infancy when Jackson croaked( Facebook had 305 m customers in 2009 and more than 1.6 bn in early 2016; Twitters servers crashed on the evening of Jacksons fatality because more than 100,000 tweets were cast in an hour containing his appoint, but by the time of Princes death, an average of 21 m tweets were transmitted per hour on a ordinary date ). Or perhaps it was because Jacksons living and profession appeared to have been falling apart for years devotees had suffered for the overtaking of the exuberant girl who sang ABC and the genius who embezzled the present peforming Billie Jean at Motowns 25 th commemoration long before he actually expired while Bowie and Prince were in the midst of renaissances.

Rumours about the country of Bowies health had flowed for some time the Flaming Lips had even preserved a sung titled Is David Bowie Dying ? in 2012 but they had been strenuously disclaimed when he returned to recording with The Next Day in 2013. He had also just liberated his best album in decades and appears very represented in favourite culture at the time of his death( as, curiously, did George Michael, who hadnt secreted a studio book since 2004, but who died at the time of year when Last-place Christmas by Wham! becomes an unavoidable spirit on the radio and blaring out of stores ). There had never been any suggestion that anything was wrong with Lord: his live reveals in 2015 seemed like the work of an creator at the highest level of his competition , not a being in chronic ache who had become addicted to opioids as a result.

In detail , good-for-nothing in daddy history has actually prepare you for the method Bowie succumbed. In the past, boulder superstars who knew they were dying manufactured music that addressed the fact before they did Queens Innuendo is carried with psalms that seem to allude to the fact that Freddie Mercury is not long for this earth; Warren Zevons final album The Wind ends with a ballad called Keep Me In Your Heart. But unless youre the type of person or persons conceives the conspiracy possibilities about the continued existence of Tupac Shakur, Elvis Presley or Jim Morrison , no one had stage-managed their demise fairly like this: the hugely acclaimed, but apparently impassable brand-new book, the contents of which suddenly plucked into focus three days after its liberation with the report of his death; the footpath of evidences left in the accompanying videos and the albums sleeve; the direction followers were forcing them detective work, proposing different meanings for Blackstars title. His death would have been an happening anyway, but Bowie carefully manufactured it a bigger episode still, without returning it into a circus. There was something nearly joyful about it.

Leonard Cohen, 21 September 1934 7 November 7 2016. Picture: Antonio Olmos for the Observer

But if Princes death was the most shocking, and Bowies the most spectacular, then Leonard Cohens move in November was the most disclose. The traditional narrative of a pop-star demise is that of George Michael: of talent cruelly grasped away by a premature collapse, usually be complemented by lurid supposition about what had been going on in their private lives. The one thing papa stars never did was die of ageing. But Cohen was 82, a pretty good innings by anyones standards: a few weeks before he passed away in his sleep, he told an interviewer he was ready to die. And thats the kind of pop virtuoso death of which were going to see more. Were 60 years away from the rocknroll blowup as far from being Heartbreak Hotel and Blue Suede Shoes as they were from the premiere of La Bohme and Mahlers Third Symphony and half a century has passed since 1966, arguably the crucial time in the development of 60 s pop.

It seems faintly magical that any of the designers of the former are alive, but the objective is: Little Richard is 83, Jerry Lee Lewis is 81, Chuck Berry is 90, and his first book in 36 years is due for release in 2017. The inventors of the latter are now into their 70 s: you didnt have to be a cynic or unbelievably ghoulish to sense that impending fatality was a factor in beings up to $1,599 for tickets to this years Desert Trip festival that brought together the Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Pink Floyds Roger Waters, the Who, Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney. Whether we is becoming more immune to pop lores passing away, or whether 2016 s outbursts of heartache become a regular manifestation, remains to be seen.

As the leader of Earth, Wind& Fire not just a vocalist, but a songwriter, arranger, make and bandleader Maurice White has a claim to be one of the most important point beings in pop record, producing his stripe to the forefront of subsequent actions in black music: funk, disco, electronic R& B. He died on 4 February, aged 74.

Maurice White, 19 December 19 1941 4 February 2016. Photograph: Rob Verhorst/ Getty Images

And let us not forget

Merle Haggard , by oppose, offered little in accordance with the rules of good times, lyrically at the least. He pioneered the Bakersfield sound, a Californian take over country that didnt sink into Laurel Canyon introspection, but considered the plight of fighting driving Americans to a hard-country endorsement that shaped him a geographically distant but artistically close cousin of the proscribe country artists in Texas. Haggard croaked on 6 April, his 79 th birthday.

Equally important in their own domains were the innovators of ska and prog. Prince Buster ( above ), who died on 8 September at persons under the age of 78, was one of the great legends of Jamaican music, and someone whose music gained a second life when he became one of the brainchildren for the 2 Tone movement in the late 70 s. Not simply was Madnesss immense early pop One Step Beyond a Prince Buster cover, the band too appointed themselves after one of his songs.

The theatrical excess of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, meanwhile, might have been one of the causes of punk, but they bestride prog like cape-wearing, knife-wielding, concept-developing superheroes, and even those who never cared for them should consider the work of Keith Emerson ( who died on 11 March, aged 71) and Greg Lake ( 7 December, 69) preserved with the Nice and King Crimson respectively before filing them in the not-for-me pile.

George Martin, 3 January 1926 8 March 2016. Photograph: John Dove/ Abbey Road Studios

And that is still scarcely scratching the surface of the years descended enormous. Congolese music lost a monster in Papa Wemba ( 24 April, 66 ); Sir George Martin , who was so crucial to the Beatles, died on 8 March, aged 90; Glenn Frey of the Eagles, whose Their Greatest Makes( 1971 -1 975) is the sixth-bestselling book of all time, passed away on 18 January, aged 67; Rod Temperton , who went from working in a frozen food factory in Grimsby to writing megahit after megahit for Michael Jackson, been killed in October, aged 66.

Every kind of music lost heroes. Hip-hop investigated the tragically early deaths of Phife Dawg ( above ) of A Tribe Called Quest( 22 March, 45) and Prince Be of PM Dawn( 17 June, 46 ). R& B legend Otis Clay croaked on 8 January, aged 73, his death completely overshadowed by Bowies two days later. Funk lost the great Bernie Worrell of Parliament/ Funkadelic( 24 June, 72) and tribe determined the leaving of the brilliant fiddler Dave Swarbrick of Fairport Convention whose obituary had first been printed, much to his surprise, times earlier, on 3 June, aged 75. Mose Allison , one of the greats of jazz, was 89 when he passed away on 15 November.

Let us recollect, more, those figures from the leading edge and the backrooms who contributed so much better to music. Parties such as Alan Vega of Suicide, who showed the punks what confrontational actually represented( 16 July, 78 ). Or Scotty Moore , the guitarist on those great early Elvis sections( 28 June, 84 ). Or David Mancuso , whose flawless flavour and form influenced generations of DJs and clubbers alike( 14 November, 72 ). Or Chips Moman , the producer who also co-wrote two of people greatest sungs: Do Right Woman, Do Right Man and The Dark End of the Street( 13 June, 79 ).

And all this without mentioning Sharon Jones or Vi Subversa or Paul Kantner or Colin Vearncombe or Pete Burns or Bobby Vee, or many, many more. It was a sad, lamentable time for music.

Michael Hann


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