In Memoriam: remembering the musicians we lost in 2022

A montage of musicians who died in 2022, including Taylor Hawkins, Christine McVie, Wilko Johnson and Mark Lanegan

Every death brings its own measure of sadness, but some seem more part of the natural order of things than others. A respected musician who lived a full life passing peacefully at home in comfortable old age seems different somehow to a musician – or anyone else for that matter – taken in their prime.

We lost many more good people in 2022. Not just musicians but artists, producers, record executives and others who add to the richness of our various scenes. As the year comes to a close it’s time to reflect on those who have gone – but also to celebrate the music they helped create.

Here’s to you and thank you for the music!

Burke Shelley (April 10, 1950 – January 10, 2022)

Burke Shelley was best known as the frontman and bassist with Welsh rock trio Budgie – contemporaries of Black Sabbath and one of the progenitors of heavy metal. His daughter announced that he died in his sleep at a Cardiff hospital, aged 71.

Ronnie Spector (August 10, 1943 – January 12, 2022)

Ronnie Spector was the co-founder and singer with 60s pop icons The Ronettes, who had a tumultuous marriage with producer Phil Spector. She lent her voice to numerous hits including Be My Baby, which Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys has said was his biggest influence and the greatest record he had ever heard. She died after a short battle with cancer and her family said she lived her life with “a twinkle in her eye, a spunky attitude, a wicked sense of humor and a smile on her face”.

Meat Loaf (September 27, 1947 – January 20, 2022)

Born Marvin Lee Aday, Meat Loaf found global stardom after teaming up with writer and producer Jim Steinman. His Steinman-penned debut album Bat Out of Hell remains one of the biggest-selling albums in history and the Bat Out of Hell trilogy sold more than 65m copies worldwide. He also had small but scene-stealing roles in films including The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Fight Club. Alice Cooper called him “one of the greatest voices in rock’n’roll” after his passing – the cause of which was not officially disclosed.

Jon Zazula (March 16, 1952 – February 1, 2022)

Also known as Jonny Z, Zazula was instrumental in bringing the music of Metallica and many other bands to the world. He co-founded Megaforce Records to create a home for the thrash legends after hearing their No Life ‘Til Leather demo. A label rep said he died from complications of the rare neuropathic disorder CIDP, COPD and osteopenia. Daughter Rikki said: “Our Dad lived a life as fast, hard, heavy, powerful, and impactful as the music he brought to the world.”

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Ian McDonald (25 June 1946 – 9 February 2022)

Not many musicians get to play a part in creating one hugely influential band, let alone two. Ian McDonald co-founded prog progenitors King Crimson in 1968 and his mellotron, sax and flute formed a huge part of their sound on seminal debut album In the Court of the Crimson King. He left the band shortly after but went on to co-found Foreigner, appearing on their first three albums. A rep said he passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family.

Gary Brooker (May 29, 1945 – February 19, 2022)

Gary Brooker was the frontman of Procul Harem throughout their 55-year history, writing and singing their signature hit A Whiter Shade Of Pale. The band said he died at home of cancer, adding that he “was notable for his individuality, integrity, and occasionally stubborn eccentricity”.

Mark Lanegan (November 25, 1964 – February 22, 2022)

Mark Lanegan rose to fame as frontman with the influential Screaming Trees, who were caught up in the 90s grunge explosion but actually predated it by several years. Lanegan was also a member of Queens Of The Stone Age and The Gutter Twins with the Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli, as well as a successful solo artist and author. He died at home at the age of 57, with the cause of death not revealed.

Taylor Hawkins (February 17, 1972 – March 25, 2022)

Taylor Hawkins’ death at the age of 50 shook the music world. He was best known as the drummer for the Foo Fighters but had also been the live drummer for Alanis Morissette and formed side projects including Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail Riders and The Birds Of Satan. Two huge concerts at Wembley Stadium and the Kia Forum in California saw dozens of bands and artists pay tribute, with rock royalty including Paul McCartney and members of the Foos, Queen, Rush, Motley Crue, Metallica and many more taking part.

Chris Bailey (November 29, 1956 – April 9, 2022)

Chris Bailey was the founder and frontman with Australian punks The Saints. The band had their first hit with (I’m) Stranded in 1976, predating debut release by English contemporaries like The Damned and Sex Pistols. He was also a prolific solo artist. The band announced his passing with a statement saying: “Chris lived a life of poetry and music and stranded on a Saturday night.”

Sylvia Lancaster (November 26, 1952 – April 12, 2022)

Sylvia Lancaster was a tireless anti-hate crime campaigner and educator who set up The Sophie Lancaster Foundation following the brutal murder of her daughter Sophie in August 2007. She was a regular at festivals including Download and Bloodstock – with the latter naming its second stage after Sophie. Former youth worker Sylvia was awarded an OBE in 2014 for her work in reducing hate crime and community cohesion.

Klaus Schulze (August 4, 1947 – April 26, 2022)

As a former member of Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel, Klaus Schulze was in at the beginning of the krautrock movement.  He also released dozens of solo and collaborative albums, some under the alias Richard Wahnfried and was widely recognised as a pioneer in electronic music.

Gabe Serbian (May 1, 1977 – April 30, 2022)

Best known as the drummer with San Diego mathcore outfit The Locust, Gabe Serbian also played with Cattle Decapitation, Dead Cross, Holy Molar, Head Wound City and more. He was just 44 when he passed away, with no cause of death confirmed.

Ric Parnell (August 13, 1951 – May 1, 2022)

Although Ric Parnell played drums in blues rockers Atomic Rooster, he was perhaps best known for his role as drummer Mick Shrimpton in iconic mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap. Harry Shearer, aka Spinal Tap’s Derek Smalls, broke the news on Twitter, writing: “Ric Parnell, our drummer in This is Spinal Tap, passed away today. No one ever rocked harder.”

Howie Pyro (June 28, 1960 – May 4, 2022)

Having been a part of the New York punk scene in the 70s and 80s, bassist Howie Pyro (born Howard Kusten) went on to found glam punk band D Generation. He also played with Danzig for a period in the early 2000s. D Generation bandmate Jesse Malin said that Pyro died from Covid-19-related pneumonia yesterday (May 4) following a long battle with liver disease.

Trevor Strnad (May 3, 1981 – May 11, 2022)

Trevor Strnad, frontman and co-founder of melodic death metal band the Black Dahlia Murder, died in May aged just 41. The cause of death was not given but his bandmates shared contact information for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline with the announcement. They added: “His lyrics provided the world with stories and spells and horror and whimsy. It was his life to be your show.”

Ricky Gardiner (August 31, 1948 – May 13, 2022)

Having enjoyed moderate success with his own band, Scottish progressive rockers Beggars Opera, Ricky Gardiner really made his name collaborating with musicians including Iggy Pop and David Bowie. He contributed classic riffs for Bowie’s Low and Pop’s The Passenger, amongst others.

Vangelis (March 29, 1943 – May 17, 2022)

Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou, known professionally as Vangelis, was a composer and arranger working in fields ranging from ambient and electronic to classical. He was known for his soundtrack work, including the theme music to Chariots Of Fire and Blade Runner.

Cathal Coughlan (December 16, 1960 – May 18, 2022)

Irish singer-songwriter Cathal Coughlan co-founded indie-pop band Microdisney in 1980 and formed the acclaimed Fatima Mansions eight years later. Neither band enjoyed major mainstream success but were well respected for their eclectic, inventive and uncompromising approach.

Andy Fletcher (July 8, 1961 – May 26, 2022) 

Andy Fletcher’s keyboards were an integral part of Depeche Mode’s sound for more than four hugely successful decades. The band revealed that Fletch, as he was commonly known, died aged 60 from an aortic dissection – a tear in a main artery from his heart.

Alan White (June 14, 1949 – May 26, 2022)

Although he originally joined seminal prog rock band Yes in 1972 as a replacement for original drummer Bill Bruford, Alan White went on to become the outfit’s longest serving member. He passed away aged 72 after a short illness.

Ronnie Hawkins (January 10, 1935 – May 29, 2022)

Nicknamed ‘The Hawk’, Ronnie Hawkins was an American-born musician who became a pivotal player in the Canadian rock scene of the late 1950s and 60s. He had a flare for showmanship and his live shows incorporated backflips and a ‘camel walk’ move that would influence Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk. His wife Wanda said he passed peacefully, aged 87.

Ken Kelly (May 19, 1946 – June 2, 2022

Ken Kelly was a fantasy artist who lent his epic style to a host of rock and metal album covers. Some of his best known include KISS classics Destroyer and Love Gun, Rainbow’s Rising, Coheed and Cambria’s Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow and a whole slew of Manowar albums. KISS frontman Paul Stanley posted: “His fantasy art captured the larger than life image of KISS perfectly. Rest In Peace.

Alec Jon Such (November 14, 1951 – June 4, 2022)

American bassist Alec John Such was a founding member of Bon Jovi and appeared on the band’s first five albums. Although they parted company in 1994, Such was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame with his former bandmates in 2018.

Manny Charlton (July 25, 1941 – July 5, 2022)

Manny Charlton was a founding member and the lead guitarist with Scottish rock band Nazareth through their 70s heyday right up to the end of the 80s. He also produced a number of their albums, leading to Axl Rose requesting him to work on Guns N’ Roses’ debut full-length Appetite For Destruction. While Mick Clink would end up producing the album, Charlton helmed the original demos, which eventually surfaced as bonus tracks on the 2018 reissue of Appetite…

Paul Ryder (April 24, 1964 – July 15, 2022)

Along with his brother Shaun, Paul Ryder was a founding member of Mancunian indie icons the Happy Mondays. His grooving basslines were a big part of the band’s sound. He died aged 58, the night before the band were due to play the Kubix Festival in Sunderland.

Colin Harkness (1959 – July 21, 2022)

Col Harkness was a founder member of British boogie-rockers Spider, who were frequently compared to Status Quo during their 80s run. The remaining band members said in a statement that their former frontman and guitarist had been in poor health and in and out of hospital in the months preceding his death.

Mo Ostin (March 27, 1927 – July 31, 2022)

Record company executives can get a bad rap but sometimes they really are on the side of the music. This was the case with Mo Ostin, who had a reptation for giving artists creative freedom. In an extraordinary career at Warner, Reprise and more he signed or oversaw the signing of artists including the Kinks, Jim Hendrix, Prince, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, R.E.M., the Red Hot Chili Peppers and many more.

Nicky Moore (June 21, 1947 – August 3, 2022)

When Bruce Dickinson left Samson to join Iron Maiden in 1982, Nicky Moore plugged the gap. After leaving Samson in the late 80s he joined heavyweight rockers Mammoth – the name being a tongue-on-cheek nod to the fact that all its members were on the larger side. He died at the age of 75 from Parkinson’s disease.

Steve Grimmett (August 19, 1959 – August 15, 2022)

Steve Grimmett’s distinctive style and impressive range was one of the defining features of New Wave of British Heavy Metal stalwarts Grim Reaper through the 80s. He also appeared on a single album with thrashers Onslaught (1989’s In Search Of Sanity) and joined Lionsheart in the 90s. In 2016 Grim Reaper released their first new album in decades (under the name Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper) and their final album, 2019’s At The Gates was inspired by Grimmett losing his leg following an infection on tour in Ecuador. The singer had said they were working on new material as of the start of 2022.

Stuart Anstis (May 2, 1974 – August 21, 2022)

Guitarist Stuart Anstis joined British extreme metallers Cradle Of Filth after the release of their first album, making his debut on the 1996 EP V Empire or Dark Faerytales in Phallustein. While he only played with the band for four years he made his mark, especially on enduring Filth fan favourite Dusk…And Her Embrace. Frontman Dani Filth said Anstis was an “amazingly talented guitarist who brought a real sense of magick to everything he wrote in Cradle of Filth”.

David Andersson (February 25, 1975 – September 14, 2022)

David Andersson joined Swedish metallers Soilwork in 2012 and appeared on four albums, including the recent Övergivenheten. He also played in The Night Flight Orchestra alongside Soilwork vocalist Björn ‘Speed’ Strid. The cause of death was not officially announced but the band said in a statement: “Sadly alcohol and mental illness took you away from us.”

John Hartman (March 18, 1950 – September 22, 2022)

The Doobie Brothers were known for employing a dual drumming attack but John Hartman was the sole sticksman when he put the nucleus of the band together with frontman Tom Johnston. He played on all their 70s hit before leaving the band, returning for a brace of reunion albums in 1989’s Cycles and 1991’s Brotherhood. His former bandmates called him “a wild spirit, great drummer, and showman during his time in the Doobies”.

Loretta Lynn (April 14, 1932 – October 4, 2022)

Loretta Lynn was a country icon who recorded 60 albums in a career spanning almost as many years. She only ended 57 years of touring after she suffered a stroke in 2017 and broke her hip in 2018. She collaborated with Jack White on 2004 album Van Lear Rose when she was 72. She died at home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, at the age of 90.

D.H. Peligro (July 9, 1959 – October 28, 2022)

Darren Eric Henley, better known by his stage name D.H. Peligro, was the drummer for San Francisco punk legends Dead Kennedys for most of their initial eight-year run. He didn’t play on 1980  debut album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables but made his debut on the In God We Trust, Inc EP the following year. He also played on the Red hot Chili Peppers’ 1989 album Mother’s Milk and fronted his own band Peligro in the 90s and 2000s. According to a post made by the Dead Kennedys, he died from head trauma resulting from a fall at his home.

Mimi Parker (September 15, 1967 – November 5, 2022)

Mimi Parker’s haunting vocals and sparse drumming helped define the minimalist sound of alt-rock trio Low, who were an influential act for nearly three decades. Her husband and bandmate Alan Sparhawk revealed that she died at home from ovarian cancer.

Dan McCafferty (October 14, 1946 – November 8, 2022)

William Daniel McCafferty fronted Scottish rock band Nazareth from their foundation in 1968 until he retired due to ill health in 2013, some 45 years later. He died at the age of 76, a little over three months after his former bandmate Manny Charlton.

Garry Roberts (June 16, 1950 – November 9, 2022)

Garry Roberts was the lead guitarist and a founder member of the Bob Geldof-fronted Irish punk/new wave band The Boomtown Rats. They originally went by the name The Nightlife Thugs but Roberts threatened to quit if they didn’t change it. In a statement the band said they were “driven by that sound of his, a storm of massive considered noise that punched out from his overtaxed amplifier”.

Nik Turner (August 26, 1940 – November 10, 2022)

Nik Turner was one of the founding members of space-rock legends Hawkwind and played alongside Lemmy in the band’s early years. He played saxophone and flute, sang and generally added to the weirdness with his wild costumes and jazz stylings. A statement posted on his Facebook page read: “We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Nik Turner – the Mighty Thunder Rider, who passed away peacefully at home on Thursday evening.”

Keith Levene (July 18, 1957 – November 11, 2022)

Although he never recorded with them, Keith Levene was an original member of The Clash. It was as guitarist with the post-punk outfit Public Image Ltd (PiL) that he came to prominence however, teaming up with former Sex Pistol John Lydon. He passed away at 65, having reportedly battled with liver cancer.

Wilko Johnson (July 12, 1947 – November 21, 2022)

John Andrew Wilkinson, better known by his stage name Wilko Johnson, was the guitarist in Dr. Feelgood – the pub rock band who influenced many of the figures that would rise to prominence in the British punk rock explosion of the late 70s. He went on to form The Wilko Johnson Band and also appeared as the mute executioner Ser Ilyn Payne in the HBO series Game Of Thrones. The cause of death was not confirmed but Johnson had been battling cancer for several years.

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Christine McVie (12 July 12, 1943 – November 30, 2022)

When Christine McVie joined Fleetwood Mac as a full-time member in 1970 they were already four albums in, but their biggest triumphs were all still to come. McVie’s keyboards and vocals became an integral part of the band and she remained a constant through numerous line-up changes. After her passing the band said she was “truly one-of-a-kind, special and talented beyond measure”. According to a statement on her Facebook page, she passed away peacefully in hospital following a short illness.

Jet Black (August 26, 1938 – December 6, 2022)

Before plunging into punk rock with The Stranglers, Brian John Duffy was a successful businessman who owned an off-licence and a fleet of ice cream vans (which were later pressed into touring duty!). Luckily, the band were hugely successful with hits including Peaches, No More Heroes and Golden Brown and an evolving sound that was hugely influential on post-punk. According to a rep he died “peacefully” following years of ill-health. Stranglers bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel said: “He was a force of nature. An inspiration. The Stranglers would not have been if it wasn’t for him. The most erudite of men. A rebel with many causes.”