Last year was noteworthy for many reasons, but one unfortunate storyline that wouldn’t go away was the seemingly remarkable number of music-related deaths. (Not that this unfortunate trend could be contained by the calendar year. On Christmas in 2009, Vic Chesnutt died, and this year we’ve already lost Mick Karn, of the band Japan, and Gerry Rafferty, of Stealers Wheel and others.) So, as we march forward into 2011, we wanted to take a quick look back on those in music we lost in 2010. And fortunately for us, their music lives on.
Iain Burgess (Feb. 24): British record producer and audio engineer who helped shape the sound of the Chicago post-punk music scene in the 1980s and early ’90s working with such bands as Big Black, Naked Raygun, The Effigies, and Ministry. He was 57.
Solomon Burke (Oct. 10): Popular Grammy-winning singer-songwriter who successfully bridged R&B with soul and rock. Burke had over 15 R&B hits and was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. He was 70.
Alex Chilton (March 17): After finding popularity in the 60’s with the Box Tops, Chilton went on to co-found the power-pop group Big Star. Although success eluded the band, their records proved to remain highly influential for generations of bands to come. He was 59.
Ronnie James Dio (May 16): Heavy-metal singer and songwriter who over the course of his lengthy career fronted such successful bands as Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Dio. His legacy amongst metal fans is indisputable not only for his musical output but for also popularizing the “devil horns” hand gesture. He was 67.
Eyedea, a.k.a. Micheal Larsen (Oct. 16): The Minnesota-born MC came to be known for his freestyle skills before joining with his longtime friend to form the duo Eyedea & Abilities. The two released a series of records from 2001-2009 that gained notoriety among underground hip-hop circles before Eyedea’s death at age 28.
Doug Fieger (Feb. 14): Lead singer of the power pop band The Knack, Fieger co-wrote their ceaselessly popular hit, “My Sharona.” He was 57.
Guru, a.k.a. Keith Edward Elam (April 19): MC for the renowned hip-hop duo Gang Starr, Guru mixed thoughtful rhymes with tales of urban life on the East Coast over the dark, jazzy beats of DJ Premier. As a solo artist, Guru continued to explore bridging the gap between hip-hop, jazz and other genres with his Jazzmatazz series where he collaborated with such artists as Roy Ayers, Chaka Khan and Branford Marsalis. He was 48.
Gregory Isaacs (Oct. 25): Legendary Jamaican singer came to prominence through his sweet and soulfully infectious voice. Once described as “the most exquisite vocalist in Reggae” by Milo Miles in the New York Times, Isaacs went on to release over 50 records of solo material and gain international popularity. He was 59.
Mark Linkous (March 16): Best-known as the mastermind behind indie-rock band Sparklehorse, Linkous collaborated with the likes Tom Waits, PJ Harvey, Radiohead, Julian Casablancas, David Lynch, and Danger Mouse over the course of his career as singer-songwriter. He was 47.
Malcolm McLaren (April 8): Legendary manager of the Sex Pistols and the New York Dolls, McLaren helped define the aesthetic of early punk. He also released a series of eccentric solo records during his life. He was 64.
Teena Marie (Dec. 26): R&B singer, protégée of Rick James and the first white person to be signed to Motown, Teena Marie scored a number hits from the late 70’s and into the early 90’s. She was noted for writing, producing and arranging almost all over her songs since her 1980 release, Irons In the Fire. She was 54.
“Sugar” Minott (July 10): Accomplished Jamaican reggae artist and producer, Minott apprenticed at Coxson Dodd’s famed Studio One in Jamaica where he helped produce and played as studio musician. During this period, Minott began writing new songs over existing rhythms in a style that would later prove to become highly influential on the then new and emerging Dancehall style. He was 54.
Teddy Pendergrass (Jan. 13): Popular soul singer who gained fame as the front-man for Harold Melvin and the Blue-Notes before embarking on a successful solo career that was cut short after a 1982 car crash left him paralyzed. He was 59.
Peter Quaife (June 23): Bass player and founding member of The Kinks, Quaife recorded some of the U.K.-pop group’s most psychedelic and popular records including Village Green Preservation Society and Something Else by The Kinks. After leaving The Kinks in 1969, Quaife embarked on a successful career as a cartoonist and artist. He was 66.
Jay Reatard (Jan. 13): Beginning at the age of 15, Reatard recorded and self-released a countless amount of no-frills, lo-fi garage rock with numerous bands and monikers before eventually signing to Matador. Reatard quickly gained further popularity with the release of 2009’s Watch Me Fall before his death at the age 29.
Garry Shider (June 16): Longtime guitarist for Parliament-Funkadelic, Shider played an innovative brand of psychedelic-funk while regularly appearing on stage in nothing but a loincloth. He also was the musical director of the P-Funk Allstars and was inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame with 15 other members of Parliament-Funkadelic in 1997. He was 56.
Ari Up (Oct 20): At 14, Up helped form the all-girl U.K. punk-outfit The Slits as their lead-singer. Highly influenced by reggae, The Slits went on to create a unique style for the time that combined elements of dub and punk before disbanding in 1981. She was 48.
Don Van Vliet, a.k.a. Captain Beefheart (Dec. 17): Mixing Dadaist-inspired lyrics with his hoarse blues-man voice, the man better known as Captain Beefheart released a series of critically acclaimed records with his Magic Band in the late ’60s and ’70s. Despite never selling many of his lauded records, albums like Trout Mask Replica became undeniably influential. He was also an abstract painter. He was 69.
Robert Wilson (Aug. 15): Known as the “Godfather of Bass Guitar,” Wilson spent his career playing for soul-funk outfit The Gap Band, scoring such hits as “You Dropped A Bomb On Me” and “Party Train.” He was 53.
If we’ve forgotten anyway, please let us know in the comments below.