With 2020 not yet past its mid-point it is probably fair to say that it has been an eventful year to-date. The big news has obviously been the arrival and the effects of the coronavirus, but there has been plenty of other news as well.
Some of the events that may have been missed amidst the noise of the pandemic are the deaths of a number of musicians. If you haven’t been paying attention, here are a few of the luminaries that have thus far left the world in 2020.
The man who was the punchline to the riddle, ‘How do you make a duck sing soul music?’ Put it in a microwave until its Bill Withers. Not just a good joke though, Withers was the writer and performer of such classics as Lovely Day, Aint No Sunshine and Lean on Me. A determined and somewhat eccentric individual, Withers stopped performing and composing at the height of his fame in the early 1980s, preferring to focus on his family and business interests instead. His songs remain classics though. He passed away at the age of 81 on 30th March 2020.
The Cameroonian saxophonist might not be a name that is recognizable to everyone, but if you are even vaguely interested in music then you will undoubtedly have come across his influence somewhere, not least in the work of Michael Jackson who infamously ‘borrowed’ Dibangu’s “Ma ma-se, ma ma-sa, ma ma-kossa” hook on his hit track Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’. A huge influence on both African and Western music, Dibangu succumbed to Covid-19 at the age of 86 in March 2020.
Anyone who grew up in the ’80s will remember the smash hit ‘Islands in the Stream’ that Rogers sang with Dolly Parton. But his body of work was much bigger and included a bevvy of country hits, including The Gambler, Lucille and Buy Me a Rose. With a career that spanned more than 40 years, Rogers was an institution and one of the most respected performers in eth world of Country music. He died from natural causes, aged 80.
Founder of the band Mazzy Star along with his friend Hope Sandoval, the duo enjoyed much success in the 1990s with three critically acclaimed albums: She Hangs Brightly from 1990, So Tonight That I Might See from 1993 and the 1996 release, Among My Swan. After the end of his time with Mazzy Star Robuck went on to enjoy a successful career as a producer, working with artists like Beth Orton and Bert Jansch. Roback died from cancer in February 2020 aged just 61.