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Bowie, Prince and Cohen: A year to remember musical genius

Neither their music, nor their stars, will fade.

PastedImage-60923 Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

ON 8 JANUARY, David Bowie released his 25th studio album Blackstar to much critical acclaim.

The 69-year-old superstar knew it was to be his swan song, a parting gift to his fans – and the world, at large.

Mere days after the record dropped, Bowie died peacefully while surrounded by his family. He had been suffering with cancer for the previous 18 months.

There was an outpouring of grief across the globe which saw crowds gather for sing-songs in London, tribute-graffiti popping up from California to Dublin and fellow musicians sharing how he had inspired and changed their worlds.

He was not the only icon to bid farewell in 2016.

On 21 April, publicist Yvette Noel-Schure confirmed that her client Prince was found dead at his home that morning.

In his tribute to the singer, US President Barack Obama said:

“Few artists have influenced the sound and trajectory of popular music more distinctly, or touched quite so many people with their talent. As one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time, Prince did it all. Funk. R&B. Rock and roll. He was a virtuoso instrumentalist, a brilliant bandleader, and an electrifying performer.

“A strong spirit transcends rules,” Prince once said – and nobody’s spirit was stronger, bolder, or more creative. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his band, and all who loved him.

All of that talent was encapsulated in what Rolling Stone has described as the greatest musical moment ever at a Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame ceremony.

In 2004, Prince joined Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood and others for an incredible live performance. His guitar solo on My Guitar Gently Weeps is one of the few clips readily available to view on YouTube and was shared widely in the wake of his untimely death.

Source: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame/YouTube

In a year that Bob Dylan was recognised by the Nobel committee for his contributions to literature, it is a time to remember reluctant singer Leonard Cohen began his career as a poet.

Much like Bowie 10 months earlier, the 82-year-old had just released his final album, You Want it Darker, when he passed away on 7 November.

“My father passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles with the knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records,” his son Adam told Rolling Stone.

He was writing up until his last moments with his unique brand of humour.

Source: LeonardCohenVEVO/YouTube

The three musical idols will be missed across the globe through the New Year but we also remember more of their colleagues today.

On 18 January, Eagles guitarist and founding member Glenn Frey died, aged 67.

Singer-songwriter Black (real name Colin Vearncombe) was best known for the mournful Wonderful Life which was released in 1985. On 12 January, he was involved in a serious car crash in Cork and his death was announced on 26 January.

Source: Jampa Web Jornal - Channel/YouTube

George Martin was a producer but was best-known as the Fifth Beatle.

“From the day that he gave The Beatles our first recording contract, to the last time I saw him, he was the most generous, intelligent and musical person I’ve ever had the pleasure to know,” wrote Paul McCartney after his death was announced on 9 March. He was 90 years old.

Frank Sinatra Jr followed his father into the music business and began singing professionally while still a teenager. He also served as a conductor and musical director for his more famous Dad until his death in 1998. Frank Jr died of a heart attack on 16 March. He was 72.

PastedImage-21572 Source: AP/Press Association Images

Country music giant Merle Haggard, who rose from poverty and prison to international fame through his songs about outlaws, underdogs and an abiding sense of national pride in such hits as Okie From Muskogee and Sing Me Back Home, died at 79, on his birthday on 6 April.

Drummer for the influential metal band Megadeth, Nick Menza died after collapsing on stage during a performance of his progressive jazz trio in Southern California on 22 May. He was just 51 years old.

Musician, songwriter and founding member of the Celtic Irish music band Clannad Padraig Brennan died, aged 67, on 9 August. Earlier in the year, his brother Leo Brennan – the man who passed on his musical talent and knowledge to Enya, Moya Brennan and their Clannad siblings – also died.

PastedImage-95745 Source: John Warburton-Lee

A popular musician in his own right, he was famous throughout his county of Donegal. He died on 22 June at his Gweedore home, aged 90. He was surrounded by his all of family in his final days.

British songwriter Rod Temperton passed away after a “brief, aggressive battle with cancer” on 5 October. His hits included Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

Later that month, on 23 October, Pete Burns suffered a massive cardiac arrest and died. He was 57 years old.

On Christmas Day came the unexpected death of George Michael, who died of a suspected heart attack at his home in the UK. He was 53.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

With reporting by AP and TheJournal.ie staff

One of a kind: How Prince broke all of pop’s rules and became an icon

The year of the RIP: Is 2016 really taking away our most loved stars?

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