In Memoriam: remembering the rock musicians we lost in 2023

Late musicians David Crosby, Jeff Beck, Tina Turner and Gary Rossington
(Image credit: Gijsbert Hanekroot/Ian Dickson/Redferns/Dave Hogan/Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Stagecoach)

Here's to the rock'n'rollers – among them musicians, producers, writers and more – who have sadly left us in 2023. Thank you for the music.

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Lightning bolt page divider

Jeff Beck (24 June 1944 – 10 January 2023)

Ground-breaking British guitarist who revolutionised the instrument during a 60-year career that saw him play in Screaming Lord Sutch And The Savages, The Yardbirds, The Jeff Beck Group and Beck, Bogert & Appice, as well as releasing 12 solo albums that spanned blues, hard rock and jazz fusion.

Frank Wyatt (Died January 10, 2023)

Keyboard player, saxophonist and flautist with US progressive rockers Happy The Man, appearing their albums Happy The Man (1977) and Crafty Hands (1978).

Yukihiro Takahashi (June 6, 1952 – January 11, 2023)

The lead vocalist, drummer and a co-founder of Yellow Magic Orchestra, who also guested on albums by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Bill Nelson and more.

Robbie Bachman (February 18, 1953 – January 12, 2023)

The drummer and co-founder of Canadian hard rockers Bachman-Turner Overdrive, who he played with from 1973 to 1977.

Lisa Marie Presley (February 1, 1968 – January 12, 2023)

Singer, actor and the daughter of Elvis Presley, who released three albums between 2003 and 2012.

Van Conner (March 17, 1967 – January 17, 2023)

The founding bassist and songwriter with proto-grunge band the Screaming Trees, who went on to success with the albums Sweet Oblivion (1992) and Dust (1996).

David Crosby (August 14, 1941 - January 18, 2023)

Singer and guitarist who helped popularise folk rock with The Byrds, Crosby, Stills & Nash/Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and his own solo albums.

Alex Napier (Died January 19, 2023)

Original drummer with Uriah Heep, who played with the band for four years, appearing on their 1970 debut album …Very ’Eavy… Very ’Umble.

Anthony ‘Top’ Topham (July 3, 1947 – January 23, 2023)

Original guitarist with The Yardbirds, who he co-founded at the age of 15. Left the band after five months, and went on to play with Peter Green and Christine McVie.

Dean Daughtry (September 8, 1946 – January 26, 2023)

Co-founding pianist with the Atlanta Rhythm Section who played with the southern rockers for nearly 50 years.

Floyd Sneed (November 22, 1942 – January 27, 2023)

Longtime drummer with Three Dog Night, who enjoyed 21 US Top 40 hits in the late 60s and 70s.

Barrett Strong (February 5, 1941 – January 28, 2023)

Songwriter behind Money (That’s What I Want), I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone and more. His songs were recorded by The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Marvin Gaye and Led Zeppelin among others.

Tom Verlaine (December 13, 1949 – January 28, 2023)

Guitarist and singer with New York punk band Television, whose landmark debut album, Marquee Moon, was an  influence on everyone from Red Hot Chili Peppers to The Strokes.

Phil Spalding (November 19, 1957 – February 5, 2023)

Bassist with 80s prog supergroup GTR, playing alongside Steve Hackett and Steve Howe. Also played bass for The Who, Mick Jagger, Joe Cocker, Elton John and more.

Burt Bacharach (May 12, 1928 – February 8, 2023)

Legendary songwriter behind innumerable 20th century staples, including I Say A Little Prayer For You, Walk On By, I’ll Never Fall In Love Again. His songs have been covered by everyone from Rod Stewart to The Stranglers.

Bruce Barthol (November 11, 1947 – February 20, 2023)

Original bassist for psychedelic folk-rockers Country Joe And The Fish, who appeared on the Bay Area band’s first three albums.

Steve Mackey (November 10, 1966 – March 2, 2023)

Bassist with UK band Pulp, who rose during the Britpop era. Joined the band in 1989, playing on every studio album from 1992’s Separations onwards.

Michael Rhodes (September 16, 1953 – March 4, 2023)

Acclaimed bassist, who appeared on albums by Steve Winwood, Joe Bonamassa, Beth Hart and countless more.

Gary Rossington (December 4, 1951 - March 5, 2023)

Founding guitarist and longest-serving member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, who played with the band from their inception in 1964, surviving the 1977 plane crash which killed singer Ronnie Van Zant and five other people.

Jim Durkin (February 7, 1965 – March 8, 2023)

Longtime guitarist with California thrashers Dark Angel, playing with them from 1981 until their split in 1992, and re-joining them in 2002 and again in 2013.

Joshua Madsen (Died March 9, 2023)

Former drummer with cult Danish thrashers Artillery, playing on four albums between 2013 and his death in a vehicle accident in 2013.

Jim Gordon (July 14, 1945 – March 13, 2023)

Drummer with Derek And The Dominos, Steely Dan, Joe Cocker and elite session collective The Wrecking Crew. Jailed in 1983 for the murder of his mother following a psychotic episode linked to undiagnosed schizophrenia.

Mick Slattery (Died March 17, 2023)

Original Hawkwind guitarist, who co-founded the space rock linchpins as Hawkwind Zoo with Dave Brock in 1969 before departing shortly afterwards. Went on to play with ex-Hawkwind colleague Nik Turner’s Space Ritual.

Tom Leadon (September 16, 1952 – March 22, 2023)

Guitarist with Tom Petty’s pre-fame country rock band Mudcrutch in the 1970s and again when they reconvened in 2007. Also played bass for Linda Ronstadt and Silver, while his brother, Bernie, was guitarist with the Eagles.

Wayne Swinny (Died March 22, 2013)

Guitarist with Memphis rockers Saliva, who notched up a run of US Top 40 albums in the early 2000s. Died at the age of 59 following a brain haemorrhage.

Keith Reid (October 19, 1946 – March 23, 2023)

English-born lyricist most famous for his with work with Procol Harum, notably their enigmatic 1967 hit A White Shade Of Pale

Ryuichi Sakamoto (January 17, 1952 – March 28, 2023)

Composer, record producer and actor, most famous for being a founder member of pioneering Japanese electronic music band Yellow Magic Orchestra.

Ray Shulman (December 8, 1949 – March 30, 2023)

Co-founding bassist and composer with progressive rockers Gentle Giant. Appeared on all of their albums from 1970’s self-titled debut to 1980’s Civilian, while his later production credits include the Sugarcubes.

Seymour Stein (April 18, 1942 – April 2, 2023)

Music industry mogul who co-founded Sire Records. His early US signings included Barclay James Harvest, The Deviants and Focus, but was most famous for launching Ramones, Talking Heads and Madonna, among countless others.

Guy Bailey (October 15, 1960 – April 6, 2023)

Co-founding guitarist with UK rockers the Quireboys, who played with them from 1984 to 1993. He had recently reunited with former singer Spike, writing a new set of songs the latter says will be released under the Quireboys name.

John Regan (October 28, 1951 – April 7, 2023)

New York-born bassist most notable for playing with ex-Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley in his band Frehley’s Comet. He also appeared on albums by Peter Frampton, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, David Lee Roth and more.

Ian Bairnson (August 3, 1953 - April 7, 2023)

Former guitarist with the Pilot and the Alan Parsons Project, with whom he played between 1975 and 1990. The Shetland-born Bairnson also played the solo on Kate Bush’s debut single Wuthering Heights.

Johnny Fean (November 17, 1951 – April 28, 2023)

Guitarist with veteran Irish rockers Horslips, playing on all of the Dublin groups best-known albums.

Gordon Lightfoot (November 17, 1938 – May 1, 2023)

Canadian singer-songwriter most famous for If You Could Read My Mind, Sundown and The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald.

Frank Kozik (January 9, 1962 – May 6, 2023)

Underground artist whose work appeared on record sleeves and posters for the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and more. He also ran influential independent label Man’s Ruin until 2001.

Francis Monkman (9 June 1949 – 12 May 2023)

Keyboard player and guitarist with Curved Air, Sky, Matching Mole and short-lived Brian Eno/Phil Manzanera collaboration 801. His solo career took in original songs as well as soundtrack and library music.

Algy Ward (July 11, 1959 – May 17, 2023)

Former bassist with punk bands The Saints and The Damned, who went on to front cult NWOBHM outfit Tank, cited by Metallica as an influence.

Pete Brown (25 December 1940 – 19 May 2023)

Poet and lyricist noted for his collaborations with Cream and Jack Bruce. Also fronted Pete Brown And His Battered Ornaments, which featured guitarist Chris Spedding and sax player Dick Heckstall-Smith.

Andy Rourke (January 17, 1964 – May 19, 2023)

Former bassist with The Smiths, playing on the four studio albums they released between 1984 and 1987.

Tina Turner (November 26, 1939 – May 24, 2023)

Legendary R&B singer who notched up a string of hits with then-husband Ike Turner in the 60s and early 70s, including River Deep – Mountain High, Proud Mary and Nutbush City Limits, before launching a hugely successful solo comeback in the 1980s.

Cynthia Weil (October 18, 1940 – June 1, 2023)

US songwriter who, with her husband Barry Mann, wrote countless iconic hits, including We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, covered by The Animals.

Tony McPhee (March 23, 1944 – June 6, 2023)

Guitarist, singer and leader of influential British blues rockers The Groundhogs, fronting the band from their inception in 1963 through to their initial split in 1976, and again from the mid-80s until his retirement in 2015 following a series of strokes.

Blackie Onassis (August 27, 1965 – June 13, 2023)

Former drummer with US alt-rock band Urge Overkill between 1991 and their hiatus in 1997, appearing on their hit cover of Neil Diamond’s Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon.

Teresa Taylor (November 10, 1962 – June 18, 2023)

Drummer with cult Texas alt-rockers Butthole Surfers, playing with them between 1983 and 1989 under the name Teresa Nervosa and again from 2008 to 2009.

George Tickner (September 8, 1946 – July 5, 2023)

Co-founder and rhythm guitarist with Journey, appearing on the hard rock band’s first three albums.

Randy Meisner (March 8, 1946 – July 26, 2023)

Founder and bassist with country rock pioneers Poco and, later, the Eagles. Appeared on the latter band’s first five albums, singing on the 1975 hit Take It To The Limit.

Sinéad O’Connor (December 8, 1966 – July 26, 2023)

Irish singer who rose to international fame with her 1990 cover of the Prince song Nothing Compares 2 U and parent album I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.

John Gosling (February 6, 1948 – August 4, 2023)

Former keyboard player with The Kinks, who joined in 1970 and left seven years later, playing on the albums Lola Versus Powerman and Muswell Hillbillies.

Jamie Reid (January 16, 1947 – August 8, 2023)

Artist and designer famed for his provocative work with the Sex Pistols, designing the sleeves for iconic singles God Save The Queen and Anarchy In The UK, and their album Never Mind The Bollocks.

Robbie Robertson (July 5, 1943 – August 9, 2023)

Guitarist and co-founder of The Band, who, under their previous name of The Hawks, had worked with Bob Dylan at the start of his ‘electric period’. He later went on to collaborate with filmmaker Martin Scorsese, including on 2023’s Killers Of The Flower Moon.

Jerry Moss (May 8, 1935 – August 16, 2023)

Music mogul who co-founded A&M Records with Herb Alpert, helping propel Styx, The Police, Bryan Adams, Peter Frampton and more to stardom.

Chris Overland (October 24, 1956 – August 22, 2023)

Co-founder and guitarist with British melodic rock mainstays FM. He played on their first two albums before leaving, later becoming a professional guitar tutor.

Bernie Marsden (7 May 1951 – 24 August 2023)

Guitarist with Wild Turkey, Cozy Powell’s Hammer, Babe Ruth and, most famously, Whitesnake, with whom he played with between 1978 and 1982, contributing to albums including Ready An’ Willing and Live… In The Heart Of The City.

Jimmy Buffett (December 25, 1946 – September 1, 2023)

Popular American country rock singer responsible for enduring 1977 hit Margaritaville. He sold more than 23 million albums in the US, and authored several books, including Tales From Margaritaville and Where Is Joe Merchant?.

Gary Wright (April 26, 1943 – September 4, 2023)

US-born singer and keyboard player with British blues rockers Spooky Tooth, who went on to score a solo hit with the 1976 single Dream Weaver.

Steve Harwell (January 9, 1967 – September 4, 2023)

Singer with Grammy-nominated US ska-punk band Smash Mouth, of All Star fame, from their inception in 1994 until his retirement in 2021 due to health issues.

Tom Davies (December 14, 1975 - September 5, 2023)

Long-serving bassist with US stoner rock linchpins Nebula.

Bruce Guthro (August 31, 1961 – September 5, 2023)

Canadian-born singer with influential Celtic rockers Runrig, who joined the band in 1998 and played with them until their dissolution in 2018.

Kent Stax (July 4, 1962 – September 20, 2023)

Drummer with early 80s Washington DC hardcore crew Scream, who was replaced by Dave Grohl when he left in 1986 due to personal reasons. Rejoined the band for their 2009 reunion.

Ron Howden (January 5, 1945 – September 29, 2023)

Founder and drummer with cult UK prog band Nektar, playing with them from 1972 until their split in 1978 and again in the reunited line-up between 2002 and 2016.

Mr Udo (February 5, 1931 – October 15, 2023)

Powerhouse concert promoter who was widely recognised for bringing Western artists to Japan, including Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Kiss, David Bowie and more.

Steve Riley (January 22, 1956 – October 24, 2023)

Former drummer with Keel, WASP and LA Guns, playing with the latter for two spells in the late 80s and late 2000s. He most recently led his own version of the band, Riley’s LA Guns.

Scott Kempner (February 6, 1954 – November 29, 2023)

Guitarist and songwriter with 70s punks The Dictators and garage rockers The Del-Lords.

Pete Solley (October 19, 1948 – November 16, 2023)

London-born keyboard player who founded prog rock band Paladin, before going on to play with The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, Procol Harum and Whitesnake.

Charlie Dominici (June 16, 1951 – November 2023)

Former singer with Dream Theater, who appeared on the prog metal band’s 1989 debut album When Dream And Day Unite before leaving shortly afterwards.

Mars Williams (May 29, 1955 – November 20, 2023)

Illinois-born sax player with The Psychedelic Furs, who played with them for six years from 1983. He was also a member of The Waitresses.

Brian Godding (August 19, 1945 – November 26, 2023)

Guitarist with cult 60s band Blossom Toes and early pioneer of the twin-guitar sound later popularised by the likes of Wishbone Ash.

Geordie Walker (18 December 1958 – 26 November 2023)

Influential guitarist with post-punk band Killing Joke and, later, Murder Inc. and The Damage Manual.

Shane MacGowan (25 December 1957 – 30 November 2023)

Singer and lyricist with The Pogues, who he fronted from their inception in 1982 until his departure in 1991 and again during sporadic reunions from 2001. Also fronted his own band, Shane MacGowan And The Popes.

Myles Goodwin (June 23, 1948 – December 3, 2023)

Singer and guitarist with multi-platinum Canadian rockers April Wine, with whom he released 16 albums, as well as two solo albums.

Denny Laine (October 29, 1944 – December 5, 2023)

Co-founder, guitarist and sometime vocalist with The Moody Blues and, later, Wings, singing on the former’s 1965 hit Go Now and playing between 1971 and 1981, co-writing their Number One hit Mull Of Kintyre.  

Bob Johnson (18 March 1944 – 15 December 2023)

Longtime bassist with folk rockers Steeleye Span, whose time in the band took in two tenures, from 1972 to 1977 and again from 1980 to 2001.

Colin Burgess (16 November 1946 – c. 15 December 2023)

Original drummer with AC/DC, playing with the Australian rock icons between November 1973 and February 1974. Was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association Hall Of Fame with his other band, The Master’s Apprentice.

Jim Ladd (January 17, 1948 – December 17, 2023)

Influential US radio DJ and author. Appeared on Roger Waters’ 1987 album Radio Kaos and inspired Tom Petty’s 2002 album The Last DJ.

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