2019 has been a wonderful year for music, but it’s also seen a number of iconic musicians pass away. Here’s a recap of those we’ve had to say goodbye to this year, with a defining song by each.
Keith Flint, frontman and heart and soul of The Prodigy, died in March at the age of 49. Flint initially joined the Prodigy as a dancer, but his vocals became a defining feature of the band’s crossover success. Beginning with the 1996 single ‘Firestarter’ Flint’s vocals and grotesque appearance were an indispensable feature of the UK outfit’s rave/rock combination.
American vocalist and experimental songwriter Scott Walker (born Scott Engel) passed away in March 2019. He was 76 years old. Walker started making eloquent chamber pop as one third of the Walker Brothers in the mid-‘60s. He was just 22 when the trio’s first album came out, which featured compositions by Bacharach and David, Bob Dylan and Randy Newman.
Walker’s defining records were all made as a solo artist, however. The cream of the crop is 1969’s Scott 4, which showcases Walker’s pop smarts and brewing irreverence.
Malcolm John Rebennack Jr., aka Dr John, passed away in June at the age of 77. Dr John’s music teemed with the spirit of New Orleans. He combined psychedelic rock’n’roll with boogie-woogie and jazz. His debut LP, 1968’s Gris Gris, laid the blueprint for artists like Tom Waits.
Indie rock songwriter and poet David Berman had just released his first record in 11 years when he passed away this August. He made his name under the Silver Jews moniker, often collaborating with Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich, but Berman’s 2019 release was his first under the Purple Mountains banner.
While loaded with enduring songcraft, the self-titled LP contains a number of incredibly candid depictions of his declining mental health.
The Cars’ Ric Ocasek passed away in September at the age of 75. Ocasek is best known for penning hits like ‘Just What I Needed’ and ‘My Best Friend’s Girl’ for the Cars, but he was also an excellent producer. In this capacity, he worked with the likes of Suicide, Weezer, Guided by Voices and even No Doubt.
Ginger Baker, the unbridled drummer of Cream and Blind Faith, passed away in October at age 80. Anyone who’s seen the documentary Beware of Mr Baker will know the British musician was a tough customer. His drumming, however, was truly revelatory, leading to collaborations with everyone from Fela Kuti to Public Image Ltd.
Swedish pop singer Mari Frediksson passed away in December at age 61. Frediksson is best known for being half of the globally successful band Roxette, which she formed with guitarist Per Gessle in 1986.
They went on to score a number of chart hits through the late-‘80s and early’-90s, including ‘The Look’, ‘Listen to Your Heart’ and ‘It Must Have Been Love’.