8 Music Greats We Lost This Year

From George Michael to Prince to Bowie, it's been a "just brutal" year in music.

— -- It's been a tough year for the music industry, which has said goodbye to some of its greatest artists.

From David Bowie to Prince to George Michael, the losses have been "brutal," as more than one star has remarked in the last couple days.

"This is a tough day in a brutal year," DJ and producer Mark Ronson remarked after Michael's death on Christmas Day.

Chaka Khan said, "2016 is just brutal" and comedian Stephen Merchant lamented, "2016 just won't give us a break."

Heartbroken over Michael's death, Madonna was ready to turn the page on 2016.

"Another Great Artist leaves us," she wrote on Twitter. "Can 2016 F*** Off NOW?"

Here's a look back at some of the music legends we lost this year:

David Bowie

Not long after the year began, Bowie died on January 10 at the age of 69. The singer had been privately battling cancer for more than a year, according to a statement on his official Facebook page. "David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer," the Jan. 10 statement said. The singer, songwriter, actor and fashion icon was an influence in some way on nearly every modern artist, from Kanye West to Madonna to U2 to Lorde to Lady Gaga -- and they all paid tribute to him.

Glenn Frey

A week later, on January 18, Eagles frontman Glenn Frey died at age 67 from complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia. Along with Don Henley, Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon, Frey formed the Eagles, which quickly became one of the most popular rock bands of all time, with hits including "Take It Easy," "Desperado" and "Hotel California."

Maurice White

The co-founder of the pioneering funk-soul band Earth, Wind & Fire, Maurice White died February 4 at the age of 74 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. He was the group's leader, sharing lead vocal duties with Phillip Bailey, and co-writing and producing most of the band's hits, such as "Shining Star," "Sing a Song," "September," and "Boogie Wonderland," which blended funk, soul, R&B, pop and rock with elements of Latin and African music.

Phife Dawg

Phife Dawg, one of the founding members of the pioneering hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, died March 22 at age 45 from complications resulting from diabetes. Born Malik Taylor in Queens, New York, Phife, along with his classmate Q-Tip, DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White formed Tribe, which would become part of the "Native Tongues" clique and help create a new sound in hip hop with humor, thoughtful flows and jazz-inflected beats.

Merle Haggard

Country Music Hall of Famer Merle Haggard passed away April 6 on his 79th birthday. After a troubled youth and a stint in the notorious San Quention Prison, Haggard was encouraged by an appearance there by Johnny Cash and a chance meeting with his idol, Lefty Frizzell, to pursue his musical dreams. Haggard would go on to become one of the architects of the Bakersfield sound, producing such hits as "I'm a Lonesome Fugitive," "Mama Tried," "Okie From Muskogee" and "If We Make It Through December."


The sudden and unexpected death of Prince at age 57 stunned the world on April 21. Perhaps more shocking was learning a month later that the music icon had died from an opioid overdose and was struggling with opioid use. Born Prince Rogers Nelson, the singer, songwriter, multiple instrumentalist, producer and actor was recognized as a musical genius, trend setter and advocate for artists’ rights. The artist left behind hundreds of unreleased tracks, a $300 million estate and no will.

Leonard Cohen

Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen died suddenly at age 82 after a fall on November 7, according to his manager. Starting out as a poet and novelist, Cohen began putting his words to music. His songs were made popular after they were recorded by other artists, including the late Jeff Buckley, who recorded the definitive version of "Hallelujah." Cohen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

George Michael

Michael's death at age 53 on Christmas Day was "unexplained but not suspicious," according to the Thames Valley Police, who said a post mortem will be done to determine cause of death. One of pop's reigning stars in the 1980s and 90s, Michael drew on R&B and soul to write ballads and dance tracks that crossed genres and racial lines. He was also one of the industry's biggest stars to come out as gay during a time when that was uncommon and later became an advocate for gay rights and AIDS prevention.