Each year in the music industry brings both happy and sad moments. On one hand, new and established artists continue to release new music that delights fans. On the other hand, some of our favorite musicians pass away. In 2022, we lost greats such as Meat Loaf, Taylor Hawkins, and Olivia Newton-John. Sadly, 2023 has also taken away some of our beloved musicians, but their music will live on forever.
On January 10th 2023, the music world lost Jeff Beck, one of the greatest guitarists of all time, to bacterial meningitis at the age of 78. Beck was known as the “guitarist’s guitarist” and had a profound impact on many musicians. He started his career with The Yardbirds in the late 1960s and later formed the Jeff Beck Group and Beck, Bogert & Appice. He was also a successful solo artist and received multiple Grammy Awards for his instrumental performances. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, first as a member of The Yardbirds and then as a solo artist. In the summer of 2022, Jeff Beck went on a UK tour where he was joined by his friend Johnny Depp on guitar at several shows.
Robbie Bachman, the drummer, and co-founder of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, passed away on January 12, 2023 at the age of 69. Upon hearing the news, his older brother and bandmate Randy expressed his sadness in a message mentioning Jeff Beck’s recent passing. Robbie played an important role in the band and contributed to its sound on eight studio albums, including popular hits such as “Takin’ Care of Business”, “Hey You”, and “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”. He was also responsible for creating the iconic BTO gear logo.
Bassist and songwriter Van Conner of the band Screaming Trees passed away on January 17, 2023, at the age of 55 due to pneumonia. He co-founded the band with his brother Gary Lee and singer Mark Lanegan in 1984 and remained a consistent member until the band’s split in 2000, appearing on all of their eight studio albums. His brother wrote about his passing, saying that Van was one of his closest friends and that he would miss him deeply forever. This loss comes 11 months after the passing of Screaming Trees bandmate Mark Lanegan.
David Crosby, a renowned American songwriter and member of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, passed away on January 19th, 2023 at the age of 81. His wife, Jan Dance, announced his death and said that he was surrounded by his family before he passed away. Crosby was recognized for his legendary music and will continue to inspire and guide people with his humanity and kindness. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, once as a member of the Byrds in 1991 and then with Crosby, Stills & Nash in 1997. The family has requested privacy as they grieve and deal with their loss.
Anthony ‘Top’ Topham, the founding guitarist of The Yardbirds, passed away on January 23, 2023, at the age of 75. He had been struggling with dementia in his final years. He was surrounded by his family at the time of his passing. Topham was the original guitarist for The Yardbirds and played before Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page. He went on to play with several other artists, including Christine McVie, Duster Bennett, and Peter Green, and was considered one of the most original blues guitarists in the UK. Topham was also a talented mural and fine artist, as well as an interior designer.
Tom Verlaine, a renowned singer, guitarist, and songwriter, passed away on January 28th, 2023 at the age of 73. The cause of death has not been made public, but according to Jesse Paris Smith, the daughter of Verlaine’s ex-partner and frequent collaborator Patti Smith, he died after a short illness. Verlaine was the lead figure of Television, a significant band in the New York punk scene of the late 1970s. He wrote the iconic album “Marquee Moon” in 1977, which has been an influence on many musicians and was a success in the UK. Television had three Top 40 singles in the UK during their peak, but they failed to replicate this success in the US. Verlaine was scheduled to tour the UK with Billy Idol in October 2022, but he had to cancel due to illness.
Fred White, the drummer for Earth, Wind & Fire, passed away on January 1st, 2023. No cause of death was given. Fred was 67 years old and was known as a drum prodigy, touring with artists like Donny Hathaway before joining Earth, Wind & Fire at the young age of 20. He played a major role in the band’s commercial success with hit songs like “Shining Star” and “Saturday Nite.” The band became popular in the disco era and gained international fame with their songs “September” and “Boogie Wonderland.”
Alan Rankine, the guitarist, and keyboardist who co-wrote the hit song “Party Fears Two” with singer Billy Mackenzie, passed away at the age of 64 on Jan. 3, 2023. The song, which was known for its elaborate piano melody and Mackenzie’s powerful vocals, was created on a Sunday in 1977 but was considered too excessive for the punk and disco era. However, in 1982, they felt the time was right to release the song and performed it on Top of the Pops. Their unique performance, with Mackenzie emoting in a trenchcoat and beret and Rankine playing the banjo, quickly made them one of the most popular alternative indie bands in the UK.
Lisa Marie Presley
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis Presley, passed away at the age of 54 on January 12th, 2023, in a California hospital after paramedics were called for a woman in cardiac arrest. The cause of death has not yet been determined by the Los Angeles County Coroner. On January 22nd, she was buried at Graceland, her family home.