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Music Deaths

When the music dies: Star musicians who passed away in 2013 leave a powerful legacy

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Chris Kelly
Chris Kelly Courtesy of Music Legends
Patti Page
Patti Page Courtesy of Music Legends
Van Cliburn c. 1962
Van Cliburn Wikimedia Commons
Chris Kelly
Patti Page
Van Cliburn c. 1962

Oliver Wendell Holmes once mused, “Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.”

2013 saw time run out for many brilliant musicians. From rock, to jazz, to hip-hop, the world of music has lost a little more of its sound. Fortunately for us, the music they did leave us lives on. Here are a few of the artists we lost this year. Feel free to add any missed in the comments section.

Lou Reed

March 2, 1942 to October 27, 2013 / Age 71

Lou Reed was a guitarist/vocalist and member of the Velvet Underground, an influential band that did not enjoy much commercial success, but inspired a generation of musicians. Known for his “deadpan” singing, Reed went on to a solo career and released Transformer in 1972. The hit single "Walk on the Wild Side" was a semi-tribute to Andy Warhol and the entourage that followed him.

When first introduced to Reed's music, David Bowie had said, "I had never heard anything quite like it. It was a revelation to me."

J.J. Cale

December 5, 1938 to July 26, 2013 / Age 74

One of the originators of the Tulsa Sound, J.J. Cale, was an American singer-songwriter and musician who drew on a genre of influences and thus influenced a genre of artists. Songs written by Cale that were covered by other musicians include "After Midnight" by Eric Clapton, Phish and Jerry Garcia, "Cocaine" by Eric Clapton, "Clyde" by Waylon Jennings and Dr. Hook, and "Call Me the Breeze" by Lynyrd Skynyrd, John Mayer and Bobby Bare. In 2008 he was a Grammy Award winner, jointly with Clapton.

George Jones

September 12, 1931 to April 26, 2013 / Age 81

The unrivaled George Jones was best known for his baritone ballads who notched five No. 1 hits in five separate decades. The legend known as “Possum” recorded more than 150 albums and countless hearts. Born in Texas, Jones was often overlooked as a songwriter; writing such hits as "The Window Up Above" and "Seasons Of My Heart."

Van Cliburn

July 12, 1934 to February 27, 2013 / Age 78

Perhaps, the most renowned American classical pianist ever, Cliburn was thrust into fame after winning the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow at the impressive age of 23. When it was time to announce a winner, the judges were obliged to ask permission of the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to give first prize to an American. "Is he the best?" Khrushchev asked. "Then give him the prize!"

His accomplishment was so impressive, he received a New York ticker tape parade when he returned, the first time a classical musician was ever honored. Cliburn has performed for every president since Harry Truman and opened the door to other pianists with the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

Chris "Mac Daddy" Kelly

August 11, 1978 to May 1, 2013 / Age 34

One-half of the 1990s hip-hop group, Rapper Chris "Mac Daddy" Kelly literally jumped into the music scene when he and his bandmate Chris 'Daddy Mack' Smith" were discovered at a local mall. Kriss Kross is best known for their single, 'Jump’ which flew on the charts in 1992, was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks and certified double platinum as a single. Kris During performances, Kris Kross wore their clothes backward which became their signature look.

Patti Page

November 8, 1927 to January 1, 2013 / Age 85

Page achieved a list of accomplishments second to none. She had more than 100 million record sales and had 24 records in the Top 10, including four that reached No. 1. Page made 'Tennessee Waltz' one of the best-selling recordings ever. She was also the first singer to have television programs on all three major networks, including The Patti Page Show on ABC.

Richie Havens

January 21, 1941 to April 22, 2013 / Age 72

Born in Brooklyn, Richie Havens was Woodstock’s first performer. Havens was told to keep playing for almost three hours because many of the artists scheduled to perform after him were delayed in getting there due to the gridlock traffic. Known for his unique strumming style, Havens requested his ashes be scattered from a plane over the site of the Woodstock festival.

Bobby Smith

April 10, 1936 to March 16, 2013 / Age 76

As the original lead singer of the soul music group The Spinners, Bobby Smith helped the group earn almost a dozen gold records and several Grammy award nominations. The Spinners dominated the radio airwaves in the 1970s with songs like 'I'll Be Around,' 'Could It Be I'm Falling In Love' and 'Games People Play.’ They scored their only No. 1 hit in 1972.

Slim Whitman

January 20, 1923 to June 19, 2013 / Age 90

The undisputed king of the country yodel, Slim Whitman’s career began in the late 1940s. His tenor falsetto and dark mustache and sideburns were to become a signature look. While well-known in Europe, it was the TV albums that made Whitman a household name in America.

Whitman also spent time touring with a young artist named Elvis Presley in the 1950s. His 1955 single "Rose Marie" was on the UK Singles Chart for 36 years, holding the Guinness World Record for the longest time at number one until 1991.

Donald Byrd

December 9, 1922 to February 4, 2013 / Age 80

A noted jazz trumpeter, composer and educator Donald Byrd was a top hard-bop trumpeter of the 1950s. After playing in a military band during a term in the United States Air Force, Byrd obtained a bachelor's degree in music from Wayne State University and a master's degree from Manhattan School of Music. Byrd recorded scores of albums.

Ray Price

January 12, 1926 to December 16, 2013 / Age 87

In 1953, Price formed the Cherokee Cowboys. Its members read like a who’s who among country music legends featuring Roger Miller, Willie Nelson and Johnny Paycheck. Price had three No. 1 country music hits during the 1970s: "I Won't Mention It Again", "She's Got To Be A Saint", and "You're the Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me." Price was the first artist to have a success with the song "Release Me" in 1954, which later became a signature song of Engelbert Humperdinck.

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