1970s Musicians You Probably Didn’t Know Died
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One of the most memorable decades of rock music ever was the 1970s. Leaving the groovy and bombastic ‘60s behind, the music of the ‘70s was innovative while carrying on the counterculture’s spirit of rebellion. Popular groups from the ‘60s continued to thrive in the ‘70s, including Pink Floyd, The Who, and the Grateful Dead. Although rock & roll still reigned supreme, newer musical styles such as punk, heavy metal, new wave, and even disco began to vie for air time. Years after their heyday, rock icons and iconic artists from the 1970s have begun dying at a distressingly rapid pace, now that we are five decades removed from their heyday. Below are some of them.
John Entwistle: d. 2002
Tragedies struck The Who in late June 2002, just before they were to begin a U.S. tour. John Entwistle, a longtime bassist, was found dead in a hotel room in Las Vegas. Entwistle was a founding member of the band and had participated in all of their reunions since their initial breakup in the early 1980s. Cocaine contributed to Entwistle’s heart attack, and his longtime cigarette habit also played a role in his untimely demise at the age of 57.
Richard Wright: d. 2008
Until his untimely death, Richard Wright was the keyboardist for the legendary rock band Pink Floyd. More than 60 million copies of Pink Floyd’s music have been sold thanks to his contributions. Wright was a founding member of the group and remained a constant presence in their lineup. At 65, he succumbed to cancer in 2008.
Ronnie James Dio: d. 2010
Dio’s voice has been regarded as one of the most powerful in rock and metal since his days fronting Rainbow and Black Sabbath in the 1970s. After quitting Black Sabbath in the 1980s, he established a solo career in the 1980s using the name Dio; his most well-known Sabbath song is “Holy Diver,” released in 1983. In 2010, at the age of 67, Dio passed away in Los Angeles, California from stomach cancer. He was accompanied by family at the time of his death.
Jon Lord: d. 2012
“Smoke on the Water,” by Deep Purple, was a defining song for its time. One of the most fundamental tunes a budding axe-wielder can learn, thanks to its basic yet potent beat, simple chord structure, and endless recurrence. Keyboardist Jon Lord passed away on July 16, 2012, tragically losing a member of the band responsible for the song’s creation.
Gregg Allman: d. 2017
Together with his brother Duane, Gregg Allman is best known for establishing the Allman Brothers Band. He was the primary lyricist and performed on organ and vocals for several of the tracks. Gregg Allman, a great musician, and composer passed suddenly on May 27, 2017, and the music industry has not been the same since. Allman, who was 69 years old when he died, suffered from liver cancer.
Walter Becker: d. 2017
From its inception under Donald Fagen and Walter Becker in 1972, Steely Dan has been making music that perfectly captures the spirit of the 1970s. Becker, who was 67 years old when he died in 2017, succumbed to esophageal cancer, as disclosed by his wife four months after his diagnosis.
Neil Peart: d. 2020
After joining Rush in 1974, Neil Peart quickly gained a reputation as a groundbreaking drummer with unparalleled precision and originality. Though he was widely regarded as one of the best drummers of all time, his talents extended well beyond the drum set. Many aspiring drummers owe their craft in part to him, and he has made important contributions to other sectors of the rock music industry. Several of Rush’s songs use his lyrical creations, and he also produced their albums and wrote multiple books. He was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2016, and his death was recorded on January 7, 2020.
Dusty Hill: d. 2021
ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill will be remembered for his huge beard, black plastic sunglasses, and a fistful of rings. When Hill passed away on July 27, 2021, Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard were left to carry on ZZ Top without him. When he passed away at the age of 72, Hill was widely considered a cultural icon.
Charlie Watts: d. 2021
Charlie Watts was one of the most influential members of the Rolling Stones band from its inception in 1962 until he died in 2021, and he is largely regarded as one of the best drummers in rock and roll history. Watts continued with the group through several lineup shifts and experimental phases; he also went on to have a successful solo career, where he focused on jazz rather than the usual rock music.