Each year comes with loss and change. 2020, in particular, has been one with an overwhelming amount of grief. It’s hard to know what to say when you lose people you admire, whether you know them personally or were inspired by the art they created. Hold the people you care about close and thank them. Thank them for their work, guidance and share their legacy.
Today, we want to specifically honor rock musicians and pop culture icons who have changed our world for the better and created bright spots for their fans and peers. We remember those we lost and celebrate their contributions to the entertainment landscape.
Neil Peart was both a talented drummer and lyricist for the legendary band Rush. He was a part of the progressive-rock trio for more than 45 years. Members of bands, from Foo Fighters and Coheed And Cambria, all reflected on how Peart greatly influenced rock drumming during his career.
In January, the world mourned the loss of former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter accident with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, along with seven other passengers. He will be remembered as one of the greatest basketball players in NBA history, and “The Black Mamba” will live on in each person who loves basketball and is inspired to play because of him and his work ethic.
Guitarist Andy Gill was a founding member of Gang Of Four prior to his death in February. Gill was also a respected producer who worked with a diverse range of artists. His credits include records by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Jesus Lizard, INXS frontman Michael Hutchence and Killing Joke.
Diego Farias (Volumes)
Diego Farias was a founding member and guitarist for Volumes. He had been with the band since they began in 2009 and left the group one week prior to his death in February. He passed at 27 and will be remembered by fans for his awe-inspiring music.
Genesis P-Orridge was an icon, culturally and musically. Before passing away in March, they paved the path for those wanting to do body modification and reject the gender binary. P-Orridge founded the iconic British band Throbbing Gristle and performed with Psychic TV.
Mark Blum (You)
We are deeply saddened by this news. Thank you Mark, for bringing Mr. Mooney to life with your tremendous talent. We will miss you dearly. https://t.co/BXlNR958gZ
— youwriters (@youwriters) March 27, 2020
Actor Mark Blum appeared as Ivan Mooney on season 1 of Netflix’s hit show You alongside Penn Badgley. The actor was an important figure in the New York theater community, and he also had roles in Crocodile Dundee, Frasier, The Sopranos and Law & Order. He passed from coronavirus complications in March.
Alan Merrill, lead singer and bassist of Arrows and the co-writer of the hit song “I Love Rock ‘N Roll,” passed at 69 due to coronavirus complications. The song grew massively in popularity seven years later when it was famously covered by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. Jett sent her condolences to his family and friends.
Fountains Of Wayne founding member Adam Schlesinger will live on through smash hits such as “Stacy’s Mom.” He was also a prolific songwriter who collaborated with Dashboard Confessional and Motion City Soundtrack. During his career, he won three Emmys and a Grammy for his work in film and theater. He passed at 52 due to coronavirus complications.
Jimmy Webb, beloved stylist and buyer at New York City’s Trash And Vaudeville and his own shop I NEED MORE passed away in April. Rock legends Joan Jett and Billie Joe Armstrong, among others, remembered him for his vibrant, funny personality and amazing fashion sense.
Derek Jones (Falling In Reverse)
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Falling In Reverse guitarist and former A Smile From The Trenches member Derek Jones passed at age 35 in April. Jones appeared on all four of FIR’s studio albums to date, with the most recent being Coming Home in 2017.
Little Richard is known as one of the most influential figures in rock ’n’ roll and will always be remembered for his dynamic stage presence and how he played with gender norms. His song “Tutti Frutti” was an immediate hit on the charts. “Long Tall Sally (The Thing)” and “Lucille” are also some of his most well-loved songs. This artist undoubtedly paved the way for the modern rock we cherish today, influencing other artists such as Kurt Cobain and David Bowie.
Throughout her career, Cady Groves released notable pop-rock singles such as “This Little Girl,” “We’re The Shit” and “Love Actually.” In addition to collabs with the Ready Set, Christofer Drew and Stephen Jerzak, Groves also hit the road with many scene favorites including All Time Low, Boys Like Girls, LMFAO, Good Charlotte and Third Eye Blind on the Bamboozle Roadshow in 2010. She passed at 30 in May, and a posthumous EP, Bless My Heart, was released shortly after.
Corey La Barrie
Gregory Tyree Boyce (Twilight)
Gregory Tyree Boyce played student Tyler Crowley in Twilight in 2008, appearing in one of the saga’s more notable scenes where Edward Cullen saves Bella Swan from being hit by a car. He was 30 years old when he passed along with his girlfriend, 27-year-old Natalie Adepoju.
Well-known and well-loved session guitarist Bob Kulick was responsible for countless projects, including music with KISS, Meat Loaf, Lou Reed, Diana Ross, W.A.S.P. and SpongeBob SquarePants, among others. Kulick passed away at age 70 in May.
Joey Image served as the drummer for some of Misfits’ early releases in 1978 and 1979. He also played in other punk bands, including Human Buffet, Psycho Daisies, the Mary Tyler Whores, the Bell Ringers and the Undead.
Naya Rivera (Glee)
Glee star Naya Rivera starred on the show as cheerleader Santana Lopez. She used her large platform to contribute to causes relating to women’s, LGBTQ+ and immigration rights before passing away in July.
Olympia, Washington-based Unwound lost their founder and bassist Vern Rumsey this year. He was 47 and adored in the underground scene, where he performed with the post-hardcore band for just over a decade. The group released eight albums, with 2001’s Leaves Turn Inside You marking their last.
Pete Way helped form UFO back in 1969 and played with the band for 31 years throughout various lineup changes. He also formed Waysted and Fastway with Motörhead’s “Fast” Eddie Clarke and played bass for Ozzy Osbourne’s British leg of the Speak of the Devil tour. Passing away in August, he will be missed by classic-rock fans everywhere.
Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He joined the popular ’80s metal band in 1982, and he went on to play on 13 of the band’s records. Banali was also the drummer for W.A.S.P. and performed on seven of their albums. Outside of music, Banali was a longtime advocate for animal rescues.
Riley Gale (Power Trip)
Riley Gale, lead singer of thrash-metal favorites Power Trip, passed suddenly in August. On social media, the band described how he “touched so many lives through his lyrics and through his huge heart. He treated everyone he met as a friend, and he always took care of his friends.” Gale’s legacy will live on in Texas as Dallas Hope Charities named a new transitional home for LGBTQ+ youth in his honor.
The world lost an actual superhero when Chadwick Boseman passed Aug. 28. He was best known for his role as Black Panther. Boseman first entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Captain America: Civil War in 2016. Black Panther premiered in 2018, and he put on the super suit again later that year for Avengers: Infinity War and for Avengers: Endgame in 2019. He was dedicated to his career and family and will be greatly missed by fans and friends all over the world.
Sid McCray (Bad Brains)
Hardcore-punk outfit Bad Brains lost their original lead singer Sid McCray in September. He was the frontman from 1977 to 1978, leaving before they recorded any music, but he reunited with the group 39 years later in 2017.
Eddie Van Halen
Eddie Van Halen is one of the most legendary guitarists in the world. Throughout Van Halen’s career, the band released 12 studio albums, with hits such as “Runnin’ With The Devil,” “Panama” and “Why Can’t This Be Love.” Eddie passed away at the age of 65 in October following a stroke. To this day, with Eddie’s contributions, Van Halen remain one of the most influential bands in history.
Aaron Melzer (Secrets)
Aaron Melzer was the frontman of Author & Finisher before joining Secrets in 2013. He recorded vocals that same year for Fragile Figures and joined the band on Warped Tour in 2014 before departing in 2015.
Alex Trebek served as the Jeopardy! host for 37 seasons and worked on more than 8,000 episodes. He was a calming and consistent voice in the everyday lives of TV watchers spanning generations. He was awarded five Daytime Emmy Awards for his work. He passed away at 80 years old after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg changed the lives of Americans and actively fought against sex discrimination her whole life. She progressed women’s, immigrant, LGBTQ+ and voting rights during her 27-year career on the bench. Individuals across the nation mourn her loss and hope to preserve her legacy through grassroots activism. The music community joined together to honor her memory, with Hayley Williams, Kesha and Phoebe Bridgers among the acts who performed to honor RBG.
EDM producer Garrett Falls Lockhart, known by his stage name i_o, passed at a young age but left a major mark on the music industry. He worked with the likes of LIGHTS and Grimes and was slated to play several festivals in 2021.
Brian Howe (Bad Company)
English singer Brian Howe was best known for fronting rock group Bad Company. He also worked with Ted Nugent, had a stunning solo career and even co-wrote a song with Megadeth. He passed at 66.