The musicians we lost in 2020 were highly influential and contributed immensely to culture.
In a year that brought us an unprecedented pandemic, we also had to cope with the death of some of our idols. And even though death is the only certainty in life, it can shake us to our core sometimes. Despite this, the art that these musicians created will always remain in our hearts. They touched so many lives and so deeply, that although gone, they will not be forgotten. Here is a tribute to the musicians we lost in 2020.
Eddie Van Halen
There is a before and after for the electric guitar with Eddie Van Halen. He inspired legions of guitarists to practice and get better and made others understand how good you have to be as a professional musician. His music expressed the elixir of life. His songs were incredibly well crafted and his guitar playing just otherworldly. He brought tapping to the forefront; music was never the same after he hit the scene. Van Halen had it all: incredible solos, uncanny rhythmic sense, and everything he played was profoundly musical. The world had not seen such a unique, gifted, ferocious, and widely influential guitarist since Jimi Hendrix.
The ultimate drummer, Neil Peart was also Rush’s main lyricist. And that statement alone is proof of how special he was. Peart was an avid reader and published author. He was also a virtuosic drummer whose solos became the paradigm for drummers everywhere. It is very uncommon to be such a good drummer in such an influential band. It is truly unique to also be a wordsmith and the one responsible for the lyrics of the band that you drum for.
Lyle Mays was Pat Metheny Group’s piano player and music force for 15 years. He was central to Pat Metheny’s success and overall output. Both Metheny and Mays composed and arranged nearly all of the Pat Metheny Group’s material. For this, May won 11 Grammy Awards. His way of playing defines an era in Jazz and beyond and his sound will forever be associated with the legend of Pat Metheny.
Peter Green was a founding member of the iconic band Fleetwood Mac, and a great guitarist and songwriter. Green was inducted in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, and with good reason. B.B. King said that Peter Green’s tone is the sweetest ever, to the point of giving him cold sweats. And such praise from arguably the greatest bluesmen of all time is as noteworthy as Greens’ awards and accolades, if not more.
The Architect of Rock N Roll was an unparalleled performer with charisma to boot. His career spanned seven decades, even though the pinnacle of his success was in the late fifties. Little Richard influenced scores of musicians in many styles, particularly funk, R&B, and soul. Along with Chuck Berry and others, Little Richard propelled Rock N Roll to the front and center of culture and was the springboard from which acts like Elvis Presley exploded.
Bill Withers was truly a unique character. He only worked in the music business for 15 years, and then moved on to other professions. That is unheard of, especially for someone that experienced stratospheric success like Bill Withers. He penned classics such as “Ain’t No Sunshine”, “Just the Two of Us”, “Lean on Me” and more. Withers won three Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of fame in 2015. A legend that had enough of the music business and walked away in his peak.
Mr. Rogers charted over 120 hits across several genres. However, he was a staple of country music, and one of its best songwriters and performers. Kenny Rogers is one of the best selling music artists of all time, with over 100 million copies of records sold. His signature song “The Gambler” won him a Grammy Award in 1980 and became a staple of country songs. It even became the basis for a few T.V. movies. One of those is Kenny Rogers as The Gambler, which received an Emmy nomination.
The musicians we lost in 2020 were some of the most profoundly admired ever. Many of them left before their time. However, their level of artistry and influence cannot be measured, only felt. Their music will remain for generations to come. Feel free to leave us a comment below.