1. Entertainment
Send to a Friend via Email

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:


was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Gone But Not Forgotten: 2011

Musicians of the 50s, 60s, and 70s who passed away in 2011


Gone But Not Forgotten: 2011

Gladys Horton of the Marvelettes

Far too many of oldies music's greats -- the ones who made the music you love, even if you don't realize it -- have passed away unsung, the result of an industry that rewards celebrity, sometimes to the point of ignoring hard work and talent. Here's a day-by-day list of the rock, soul, and R&B artists who passed away in 2011, the famous and the not-so-famous, just a few names in the crowd that create the music millions of us sometimes take for granted.


Grady Chapman was the lead singer of doo-wop favorites The Robins, and can be heard on their big hit "Smokey Joe's Cafe." (age 81, heart failure)

Gerry Rafferty was the 70s soft-rock icon who was one half of Stealers Wheel ("Stuck in the Middle With You") before striking it big as a solo act with "Baker Street," (age 63, liver failure)

Margaret Whiting was the big-band vocalist behind "That Old Black Magic," "Moonlight in Vermont," and "A Tree in the Meadow." (age 86, natural causes)

Don Kirshner was the legendary promoter behind The Monkees, the Archies, and the first American live rock concert series. (age 76, heart failure.)

Gladys Horton was the lead singer of The Marvelettes, the main voice on "Please Mr. Postman," "Playboy," and "Beechwood 4-5789." (age 65, stroke)


Gary Moore was the famous Irish blues guitarist who was also a member of Thin Lizzy in their earlier days. (age 58, heart attack)

Jean Dinning was the sister of 50s teen idol Mark Dinning, and wrote his big hit "Teen Angel." (age 86, natural causes)

Rick Coonce was the drummer for the power-pop pioneers The Grass Roots, and can be heard on the big hits "Let's Live for Today," "Midnight Confessions," and Sooner or Later." (age 64, heart failure)

Mark Tulin was the bass player for psych-punk legends The Electric Prunes ("I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night"). (age 62, heart attack)


Johnny Preston was one of the first Cajun rockers, scoring a big hit with a song written by The Big Bopper, "Running Bear." (age 71, heart failure)

St. Clair Lee was the baritone in the Hues Corporation, the vocal group that helped kickstart disco with their '74 soul classic "Rock the Boat." (age 66, natural causes)

Joe Morello drummed with the Dave Brubeck Quintet, and can be heard on their hits "Take Five," "Unsquare Dance," and "Blue Rondo a la Turk." (age 82, natural causes)

Ferlin Husky was a honky-tonk icon who helped country cross over in the Fifties with "Gone" and "Wings of a Dove." (age 85, heart failure)

Jet Harris was the bassist for the highly influential British instrumental rockers The Shadows (age 71, throat cancer)

Loleatta Holloway was the disco diva who ruled the R&b and dance charts with "Love Sensation" and "Cry to Me." (age 64, heart failure)

Pinetop Perkins was one of the oldest living blues pianists; his "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie" was later redone by Ray Charles as "Mess Around." (age 97, heart attack)

Carl Bunch performed as Buddy Holly's drummer on his ill-fated Winter Dance Party tour but missed being on the doomed plane due to frostbite. (age 71, diabetes)


Gil Robbins was best known as a singer and guitarist in the pioneering folk group The Highwaymen -- until he helped bring his son, actor Tim Robbins, into the world. (age 80, prostate cancer)

Randy Wood founded Dot Records in Nashville, which simultaneously brought R&B to Tennessee and helped white artists cover black rock and roll artists. (age 94, natural causes)

Tom King played lead guitar for Cleveland band The Outsiders and co-wrote their '66 smash "Time Won't Let Me." (age 68, heart failure)

Huey P. Meaux was a legendary producer who helped create the "swamp pop" and "Tex-Mex" sounds in his Houston studio. (age 82, natural causes)

Phoebe Snow captivated millions with her four-octave vocal range and jazz-folk stylings on "Poetry Man," "Gone at Last," and "Something Real." (age 60, brain hemorrhage)

David Mason was the horn player who was called in by the Beatles to play a piccolo trumpet solo on their 1967 smash "Penny Lane." (age 85, leukemia)


Odell Brown made some impact as a jazz-soul organist in the '60s but is perhaps best known for co-writing Marvin Gaye's comeback hit "Sexual Healing." (age 70, natural causes)

John Walker was a guitarist and vocalist for the mid-60s dramatic pop trio The Walker Brothers ("Make It Easy on Yourself," "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore"). (age 67, liver cancer)

Norma Zimmer was Lawrence Welk's "Champagne Lady" in the '60s and '70s, and, in addition to her vocal duties, often danced with him at the end of his TV show. (age 87, natural causes)

Lloyd Knibb was the original drummer for the Jamaican band The Skatalites, and was therefore the primary architect of the ska beat. (age 80, liver cancer)

Jack Richardson was the producer responsible for all the big hits of the Canadian rockers The Guess Who ("These Eyes," "American Woman") as well as Bob Seger's "Night Moves." (age 81, natural causes)

Bob Flanigan was the original lead singer, trombonist, and string bassist of pop vocal legends The Four Freshmen. (age 84, heart failure)

Joseph Brooks worked mostly in film, but also wrote commercial jingles and, later, the Grammy-winning Debby Boone smash "You Light Up My Life." (age 73, suicide)


Ray Bryant was a jazz pianist whose Ray Bryant Combo will be best remembered for its giant dance hit "The Madison Time." (age 79, natural causes)

Benny Spellman was a New Orleans Soul legend who provided the bass voice on Ernie K=Doe's "Mother-In-Law" and had his own hit with "Lipstick Traces." (age 79, respiratory failure)

Andrew Gold was a prime L.A. session guitarist (Linda Ronstadt's "You're No Good") before going solo with "Lonely Boy" and "Thank You For Being a Friend." (age 60, heart attack)

Alan Rubin was the trumpet player in the original Saturday Night Live band before becoming the Blues Brothers' own "Mr. Fabulous." (age 68, lung cancer)

Steve Popovich was a prime A&R man and the youngest Vice President at Epic Records before forming Cleveland International Records and making Meat Loaf a superstar. (age 68, unknown)

Carl Gardner was the founder and lead singer of The Coasters, the first doo-wop group to make lasting inroads into the mainstream ("Charlie Brown," "Yakety Yak," "Poison Ivy"). (age 83, heart failure)

Mack Self was one of the original Sun Records rockabilly pioneers ("Easy to Love," "Mad at You"). (age 81, natural causes)

Wild Man Fischer was a favorite of Dr. Demento listeners and novelty fans for his strange style of singing ("My Name is Larry"), which also attracted famous fans like Frank Zappa. (age 66, heart failure)

Clarence Clemons was The Big Man, the legendary saxophonist of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. (age 69, stroke)

  1. About.com
  2. Entertainment
  3. Oldies Music
  4. Oldies History
  5. Oldies Music News
  6. Musicians who died in 2011 -- Celebrity rock deaths -- Oldies Music

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.