25 Incredible Tribute Songs For Dead Musicians
The Doors for the Light My Fire music video - The Doors / Youtube
Immortalizing deceased musicians through songs is such an incredible way to pay respects to them. Whether it’s a former or a current bandmate, a friend, an idol, or a legend, artists have come far enough to give tribute to the people that remained impactful for the rest of their lives. Below, we’re here to present these 25 tribute songs that encapsulated the legacies of the late classic rock legends.
George Harrison – “All Those Years Ago”
Harrison’s song about John Lennon, his former bandmate from the Beatles was supposed to be a Ringo Starr song. The recording turned out to be a mini-Beatle reunion when Paul McCartney tagged along with the recording, and Starr played drums.
Paul McCartney – “Here Today”
Macca also gave a solo tribute to John. “Here Today” declares the love and longing of Paul to his dear old friend.
Elton John – “Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)”
The whirlwind friendship of Elton John and John Lennon in the 70s became iconic; Lennon’s final concert (at the Madison Square Garden) was altogether shared with his buddy, John. “Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)” was the tribute to that memory.
Bob Dylan – “Roll On John”
Bob Dylan became one of the reasons why The Beatles became excellent songwriters— he’s the one who taught them how to write by heart. Dylan, just like the others, also wrote a song about Lennon.
Don McLean – “American Pie”
The ever-famous Don McLean classic “American Pie” is a tribute to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. McLean referred to the deaths in the song as “the day the music died.”
Alice Cooper – “Desperado”
This swagger song is a tribute to the late Doors frontman and Alice Cooper’s friend, Jim Morrison.
Roger Daltrey – “Under a Raging Moon”
Daltrey made sure that his bandmate and the Who drummer Keith Moon would have the most insane tribute ever. He did, of course, by letting at least 7 well-known drummers perform for the song.
The Who – “Old Red Wine”
Just a few months after The Who bassist John Entwistle died, Pete Townshend wrote a song about Entwistle by combining his favorite pastime drink and the band’s eulogy letter.
Bruce Springsteen – “Johnny Bye-Bye”
Hearing about Elvis Presley’s death and imagining what it would be like to create a funeral for the king of Rock n’ Roll is pretty much what Bruce Springsteen has in mind when he wrote “Johnny Bye-Bye.”
Neil Young – “Sleeps With Angels”
Kurt Cobain’s suicide note referenced a Neil Young line “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” With that, Young made sure to give Cobain a proper song that talked about the singer’s everlasting impact on the people.
Leonard Cohen – “Chelsea Hotel #2”
Singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen wrote “Chelsea Hotel #2” about the one-night stand with Janis Joplin at the Chelsea Hotel. Cohen later regretted the name-dropping the artist, since the song pretty much depicted some of the intimate scenes that “they did.”
David Gilmour – “A Boat Lies Waiting”
Gilmour wrote the song as a tribute to fellow Pink Floyd Richard Wright, whose death in 2008 shocked the fans.
U2 – “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)”
U2’s tribute song for Joey Ramone can also be associated with the Ramones’ serrated sound.
AC/DC – “Back in Black”
Perhaps the most badass tribute song to be created, AC/DC’s “Back in Black” is a mighty nod to the late frontman Bon Scott.
Brian Wilson – “Lay Down Burden”
After his long battle with lung cancer, Carl Wilson died in 1998. To pay his respects to his brother, Brian Wilson wrote “Lay Down Burden” for him.
Ringo Starr- “Never Without You”
“Never Without You” is Starr’s lovely tribute to his dear friend and former bandmate George Harrison. Eric Clapton played the moving guitar for this one.
Eagles – “My Man”
Ex-Eagles guitarist Bernie Leadon wrote this one in memory of his former bandmate Gram Parsons of The Flying Burrito Brothers. The Eagles recorded it in 1974.
Chicago – “Oh, Thank You Great Spirit”
Chicago’s warm and psychedelic tribute to the greatest guitarist of all time, Jimi Hendrix, came through this song.
Deep Purple – “Above and Beyond”
With souls “forever entwined,” Deep Purple gave tribute to Jon Lord, a co-founder of the band. Another song, “Uncommon Man,” is also dedicated to him.
Def Leppard – “White Lightning”
Def Leppard honored their bandmate Steve Clark with “White Lightning.” The title came from Clark’s nickname and is also slang for drugs and alcohol— the cause of Clark’s death.
Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Tomorrow’s Goodbye”
Following the traumatic plane crash that killed some of Lynyrd Skynyrd members, the remaining members paid tribute to the fallen heroes with “Tomorrow’s Goodbye.”
Queen – “No One But You (Only the Good Die Young)”
The final song to feature all the remaining members of Queen, “No One But You (Only the Good Die Young)” is the band’s tribute to the legendary frontman, Freddie Mercury.
Quiet Riot – “Thunderbird”
Quiet Riot’s lead singer Kevin Dubrow wrote the song in memory of his dear friend and former bandmate Randy Rhoads. Rhoads took part in the songwriting before his death.
Rod Stewart – “Muddy, Sam, and Otis”
Rod Stewart’s nod to the American Blues legends Sam Cooke, Muddy Waters, and Otis Redding is ingrained inside the song.
Jon Lord – “The Sun Will Shine Again”
John Lord co-wrote the song with Sam Brown to pay tribute to Ronnie James Dio. The track is sung by ABBA’s Anni-Frid Lyngstag.