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2016 has been an interesting year hasn’t it? It has seen highs and lows as any other year, but it seems to have seen far more famous people passing away than normal. According to the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-38329740) twice as many notable people had died in the first few months of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015, and five times as many as in 2012. As the year draws to a close, our Head of Music takes a few moments to remember those from the world of music we have lost over the last 12 months.

At around 6.45am on the morning of Monday 11th January 2016, I saw something on Twitter that I really hoped was a really bad joke, because it couldn’t be true…shivers went down my spine, no word of a lie. Which is strange because I’m not a super fan or anything, but if this true, it was big news!

DAVID BOWIE HAS DIED?? 6:38 AM – 11 Jan 2016

I put BBC Breakfast on – nothing, then Sky News, nothing. Then I saw another tweet with a link to Bowie’s Facebook account, and this post…..

January 10 2016 – David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.

Surely this was some kind of sick hoax and his account had been hacked. Sky News started to run with the Facebook post and then within a few minutes got confirmation from Bowie’s spokesperson – David Bowie had indeed died and the world for so many had changed for ever.

We knew he had health problems, keeping him from the limelight for many years until his surprise return 3 years ago. And then nothing again until the latter part of 2015, when news was released that another new album was to be released on his 69th birthday. Also on his birthday, one final video was released. The words and imagery now even more poignant than we could ever imagined, it was his goodbye to us. Something producer Tony Visconti confirmed with this Facebook post after the passing of the artist.

Also in January we said a sad farewell to the singer Colin Vearncombe who had a global hit in 1987 as Black with Wonderful Life, and The Eagles guitarist and cofounder Glenn Frey. And if that wasn’t enough, we lost one of the greatest broadcasters of all time as Sir Terry Wogan died too. Not a great start to the year.

In February founding member of Earth, Wind & Fire, Maurice White passed and then in March one of the greatest and most important producers of all time, the Fifth Beatle, Sir George Martin, passed away. As well as the Fab Four, he also worked with artists including Gerry and the Pacemakers, Dame Shirley Bassey and Cilla Black. Keith Emerson, the founder and keyboardist of the rock band Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Sadly we lost his bandmate Greg Lake in December too.
In April, it was Twitter that once again alerted us to another shocker. Thursday 21st April was the day that Prince left us. He had been ill the week or so before his death, having to cancel a performance in Atlanta. However, he re-scheduled and performed the show and was also seen around his hometown. A press release from the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office on June 2 stated that Prince had died of an accidental overdose at the age of 57.

We move to October and a true music character past away. Pete Burns was known for his flamboyance and outgoing character. He had hit the big time by having a number one in the 1980s with his band Dead or Alive. His management issued a statement saying “He was a true visionary, a beautiful talented soul, and he will be missed by all who loved and appreciated everything he was and all of the wonderful memories the has left is with’. Like Prince, he was just 57.

Also in October, the American singer Bobby Vee passed away aged 73. He was a teen idol in the early 1960s, and according to Billboard magazine, he had thirty-eight Hot 100 chart hits in the USA, while here in the UK he was probably best known for the top 3 hit The Night Has A Thousand Eyes.

And finally in November, we lost one of the most influential and highly respected songwriters of the last 60 years, Leonard Cohen. He was 82 when he died and had just released a new album You Want It Darker three weeks before he died. Among his best-known songs is Hallelujah, which has been covered hundreds of times by other artists.

Away from music, we have lost so many talented people this year, from Alan Rickman to Victoria Wood. Thanks for the memories everyone.