Pittsburgh's independent music source
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

WYEP Remembers: Artists we lost in 2023

This past year, we lost a number of fantastic artists who contributed greatly to music and culture. From Pittsburgh's Ahmad Jamal to the powerful Tina Turner to the remarkable Sinead O'Connor, here's a list of artists who died in 2023.

January 1

Fred White | 67
Drummer of Earth, Wind & Fire from 1974 to 1984 and brother of bandmates Maurice and Verdine White, who also played with other artists including Bonnie Raitt, Little Feat, Deniece Williams, The Emotions, and most recently Diana Ross on her 2021 album Thank You.
*Inductee, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Andy Taravella | 49
Pittsburgh-area drummer, who played with a variety of local bands in different genres, including Dan Bubien & The Delta Struts, Rudy Zetz and Fourth & Main, Tyrants of Tolerance, Eviction, Rick Ramsey, Billy The Kid & The Regulators, and Nicky Mo and The Mamalukes.

January 3

Alan Rankine | 64
Co-founder and guitarist of Scottish post-punk band The Associates, who later led a solo career, produced albums for Paul Haig, Cocteau Twins, and The Pale Fountains, and helped found the record label Electric Honey, which launched the careers of Belle and Sebastian and Snow Patrol.

January 5

Gordy Harmon | 79
Founding member of R&B vocal group The Whispers who performed with the band from 1964 through 1973.

January 10

Jeff Beck | 78
Influential virtuoso guitarist and former member of the Yardbirds who played on their biggest hits, including "For Your Love," "Over, Under, Sideways, Down," and "Heart Full of Soul." He later formed successful bands The Jeff Beck Group and Beck, Bogert & Appice and was a frequent collaborator and experimental musician, who achieved several top 40 hit albums throughout his career including Truth, Wired, There & Back, Emotion & Commotion, and a rare Top 10 hit instrumental album with Blow By Blow.
*Inductee, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

January 11

Yukihiro Takahashi | 70

Electropop pioneer, drummer, and vocalist with Yellow Magic Orchestra, whose music would go on to be frequently sampled in hip-hop and house music.

January 12

Robbie Bachman | 69
Drummer for the 1970s rock band Bachman-Turner Overdrive and brother of guitarist/singer Randy Bachman.

Lisa Marie Presley | 54
Singer-songwriter and the only child of Elvis Presley.

January 14

Keith Beaton | 72
Co-founder of Philly Soul vocal group Blue Magic who had a hit with "Sideshow" in 1974.

January 17

Renée Geyer | 69
Internationally respected and sought-after backing vocalist, whose session credits include work with Sting, Chaka Khan, and Joe Cocker.

Van Conner | 55
Bassist and co-founder of the grunge band Screaming Trees.

January 18

David Crosby | 81
Singer, guitarist, and songwriter, known for his contributions to The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash (& Young)
*2-Time Inductee, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

January 23

Anthony "Top" Topham | 75
Founding guitarist of the Yardbirds who went on to play guitar for Christine McVie, Duster Bennett, and Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green.

January 28

Tom Verlaine | 73
Frontman, singer, and guitarist of groundbreaking band Television — one of the first bands to play regularly at the iconic club CBGB's — who was known for his involvement in the New York punk and new wave scene of the 1970s, as well as his innovative guitar work.

January 29

Barrett Strong | 81
Singer and songwriter who recorded Motown's first hit "Money (That's What I Want)" in 1959 and co-wrote other hits including "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," "Ball of Confusion," and "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone."

January 31

Charlie Thomas | 85
Longtime member of The Drifters who recorded on such hits as "There Goes My Baby," "Save The Last Dance For Me," and "This Magic Moment."
*Inductee, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Don Marisco | 68
Pittsburgh-area singer who fronted the band Sweet Breeze for 40 years. Also performed and recorded with local bands like with the MVPs , Souled Out, the Donnie Marsico Band, the Iron City Houserockers, and the 25th-anniversary reunion lineup of The Jaggerz.

February 8

Burt Bacharach | 94
Multi-Grammy, Emmy, and Academy Award-winning pop music composer, arranger, conductor, and producer who racked up hit songs in the 1960s into the 1970s, often with songwriting partner Hal David. His songs were recorded by such artists as Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, Herb Alpert, and Carpenters. His best-known songs include "I Say A Little Prayer," "Walk On By," "Close To You," "What the World Needs Now Is Love," "The Look of Love," and "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head."

February 12

David "Trugoy the Dove" Jolicoeur | 54
Founding member of innovative hip hop group De La Soul.

February 13

Huey "Piano" Smith | 89
New Orleans rock & roll pioneer whose hits include “Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu,” “Don’t You Just Know It” and “Sea Cruise," as well as a mentor to Dr. John.

February 16

Chuck Jackson | 85
Soul singer whose 1960s hits include "I Don't Want to Cry," "Any Day Now," "I Keep Forgettin'," and in 1989 "All Over the World."

March 2

Wayne Shorter | 89
Grammy-winning saxophonist who — in addition to his renowned albums and work with jazz supergroup Weather Report — collaborated with the likes of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Steely Dan, and Joni Mitchell.

Steve Mackey | 56
Bassist and core member of the Britpop band Pulp, featured on many of their most popular records, including His N Hers and Different Class.

March 3

David Lindley | 78
Virtuoso guitarist and multi-instrumentalist best known to many for his work with Jackson Browne, whose band El Rayo-X scored a hit with “Mercury Blues” in 1981.

March 4

Michael Rhodes | 69
Bassist and prominent Nashville session musician, who played on songs including Shawn Colvin’s “Sunny Came Home” and Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance."

Robert Haimer | 69
Half of the comedy music duo Barnes & Barnes who wrote novelty songs made popular by the Dr. Demento radio show, including the 1978 song “Fish Heads," which was played on Saturday Night Live.

March 5

Gary Rossington | 71
Founding member, guitarist, and last living original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd who survived the infamous 1977 plane crash.

March 10

Jerry Samuels | 84
Songwriter and comedic singer best known for the 1960s novelty hit “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" which he performed as Napoleon XIV.

March 13

Jim Gordon | 77
Musician who co-wrote the Derek & the Dominos hit "Layla" and performed as the drummer of the band Traffic, as well as a member of the Wrecking Crew, who would develop schizophrenia and spend the last 40 years of his life in prison for the murder of his mother, Osa Marie Gordon.

Simon Emmerson | 67
Founder of Afro Celt Sound System and The Imagined Village, as well as a record producer, guitarist, and Honorary Bard.

March 14

Bobby Caldwell | 71
R&B Singer best-known for the songs “What You Won’t Do for Love” and “My Flame” who was sampled by the likes of J Dilla and the Notorious B.I.G.

March 16

Paul Beasley | 78
Singer who performed with the Blind Boys of Alabama for the last decade, beginning with 2013's I’ll Find a Way, produced by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon.

March 17

Clarence "Fuzzy" Haskins | 81
Singer who began his career as lead singer of George Clinton's doo-wop group The Parliaments, performing on their hit “(I Wanna) Testify,” who went on to play a significant role in Parliament-Funkadelic as both a singer and songwriter, and later departed for a solo career.
*Inductee, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

March 20

"Sweet" Charles Sherrell | 80
Bassist and music director for James Brown, who played with The J.B.'s from 1973 to 1996.

March 22

Tom Leadon | 70
Guitarist and co-founder of the band Mudcrutch with Tom Petty in the 1960s, who also joined the reformed group in 2007.

March 28

Ryuichi Sakamoto | 71
Pioneering musician and composer who first came to prominence in Yellow Magic Orchestra in 1978 and impacted he development of electronic music. He was also an award-winning composer of film scores and wrote music for anime and video games.

April 2

Seymour Stein | 80
Co-founder of Sire Records, who signed and launched the careers of primarily new wave, punk, and rock artists, including Madonna, the Ramones, Talking Heads, and the Replacements.
*Inductee, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

April 4

Vivian Trimble | 59
Keyboardist of the ’90s rock band Luscious Jackson, best known for the hit "Naked Eye," who later co-formed Kostars and Dusty Trails

April 7

Lasse Wellander | 70
Long-time session guitarist for ABBA, who appeared on the soundtracks for the films Mamma Mia and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again as well as the 2021 ABBA reunion album Voyage.

John Regan | 71
Bassist and studio musician who played and recorded with Ace Frehley, Peter Frampton, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Billy Idol, and David Lee Roth.

April 9

Chuck Morris
Drummer and percussionist of the instrumental electronic jam band Lotus.

April 12

Doug Tibbles | 83
Musician and songwriter who composed soundtracks for popular TV shows including Bewitched, The Munsters, and the Andy Griffith Show. Also known for forming The Stone Coyotes with his wife, folk singer Barbara Keith, and their children.

April 14

Mark Sheehan | 46
Lead guitar for alternative pop rock group The Script, best known for their hits "Breakeven" and "Hall of Fame."

April 16

Ahmad Jamal | 92
Pittsburgh-born jazz pianist who participated in the city's vibrant jazz scene and became successful and influential as a small group leader.

April 18

Otis Redding III | 59
Singer and guitarist, son of the legendary 1960s soul singer Otis Redding, who followed in his father's footsteps as a musician in the 1980s funk band The Reddings and frequently performed his father's hits.

April 21

Mark Stewart | 62
Singer and founding member of the pioneering British post-punk band The Pop Group.

April 25

Harry Belafonte | 96
Popular calypso singer and activist, best known for his hits "Banana Boat (Day-O)" and "Jump in the Line," who was also active in the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

May 1

Gordon Lightfoot | 84
Canadian folk singer-songwriter who wrote the folk hits, "Early Morning Rain" and "For Lovin' Me," recorded by Ian & Sylvia in the 1960s and later recorded 1970s hits including "Sundown," "If I Could Read Your Mind," and "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

May 4

Rob Laakso | 44
Producer, multi-instrumentalist, and recording partner of Kurt Vile & the Violators, as well as a member of '90s shoegaze band the Swirlies.

May 7

Seán Keane | 76
Fiddle player and traditional Irish musician best known for his role in the Chieftains.

May 8

Rita Lee | 75
Singer and member of the influential Brazilian tropicalia band Os Mutantes.

May 10

George Heid | 75
Pittsburgh area jazz drummer, co-founder of Lighthouse Arts jazz organization, and audio engineer and owner of Heid Studios in Aspinwall, Pa.

May 17

Alasdair " Algy" Ward | 63
Punk rock and heavy metal bass guitarist and singer in The Saints and The Damned, playing on the album Machine Gun Ettiquette.

May 19

Pete Brown | 82
English performance poet, lyricist, and singer best known for his collaborations with Cream and Jack Bruce, and as co-writer of songs like "White Room" and "Sunshine of Your Love."

Andy Rourke | 59
Founding member of The Smiths, known for his melodic style of bass playing.

May 24

Tina Turner | 83
The "Queen of Rock 'n' Roll," known for her powerful vocal range, bold stage presence, and broad musical influence, who rose to prominence as the lead singer of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue before launching her career as one of the most successful solo performers of all time.
*2-Time Inductee, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

May 26

Jack Lee | 71
Founding member of influential power pop trio the Nerves, who composed "Hangin' on the Telephone," later recorded for Blondie's seminal album Parallel Lines.

June 1

Cynthia Weil | 82
Brill building songwriter who, with her husband Barry Mann, composed hits for artists including the Crystals, the Ronettes, the Drifters, and the Righteous Brothers in the 1960s and beyond.
*Inductee, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

June 4
George Winston | 73
Grammy-winning pianist who pioneered new age music with his platinum-selling instrumental albums, Autumn, Winter into Spring, and December

June 5

Astrud Gilberto | 83
Influential bossa nova singer who had a major international hit with "The Girl from Ipanema."

June 15

John "Blackie" Onassis | 57
Former Urge Overkill drummer, who played on their cover of "Girl You'll Be a Woman Soon" from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack.

June 18

Teresa Taylor | 60
Musician and actor, formerly the drummer of experimental rock band Butthole Surfers.

June 20

John Waddington | 63
Guitarist for the English electronic rock band the Pop Group.

June 22

Peter Brötzmann | 82
German saxophonist who played a pioneering role in European free jazz in the 1960s.

June 27

Bobby Osborne | 91
Highly influential bluegrass musician, singer, and mandolin player who founded the groundbreaking group The Osborne Brothers with his brother Sonny.

June 30

Rick Froberg | 55
Singer and guitarist for the influential post-hardcore bands Pitchfork, Drive Like Jehu, and Hot Snakes.

July 16

Jane Birkin | 76
Actress and singer known for her personal and artistic relationship with songwriter Serge Gainsbourg.

July 17

João Donato | 88
Brazilian composer, musician and producer who was a pioneer of bossa nova.

July 21

Tony Bennett | 96
Prominent singer known for his jazz-inspired interpretations of musical standards and duets.

July 24

Brad Houser | 62
Bassist for Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians.

July 26

Sinead O'Connor | 56
Irish singer, who later changed her name to Shuhada Sadaqat, known for her 1987 debut album The Lion and the Cobra, her 1990 international hit "Nothing Compares 2 U," and her political activism.

Randy Meisner | 77
Founding bassist of the Eagles who sang their 1976 hit “Take It to the Limit."
*Inductee, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

June 27

Neal Langford | 50
Bassist who played with the Shins on Oh Inverted World and in the side project Flake Music with Shins band leader James Mercer.

August 4

John Gosling | 75
Keyboardist for the Kinks from 1970 to 1978, recording on classic tracks like “Lola,” and “This Time Tomorrow."

August 8

Rodriguez | 81
Singer-songwriter, full name Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, who gained critical acclaim later in life as the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary 'Searching for Sugar Man.'

August 9

Robbie Robertson | 80
Guitarist, songwriter, and singer in The Band, best known for writing classic songs including “The Weight,” “Up on Cripple Creek,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “The Shape I’m In” and “It Makes No Difference.”

August 13

Clarence Avant | 92
Former head of Motown, whose talent as a manager, mentor and deal-maker earned him the nickname "The Godfather of Black Music."
*Inductee, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

August 17

Bobbi Eli | 77
Guitarist and co-founder of disco group MFSB, who shaped the Philadelphia sound with his playing on various Philadelphia International recordings.

August 18

Vernon Oxford | 82
Country music singer-songwriter and fiddle and guitar player.

Ray Hildebrand | 82
Singer and writer of 1963 No. 1 hit "Hey Paula" which he recorded as part of the duet Paul & Paula.

August 28

Len Chandler| 88
Folk singer, known for writing topical songs, who was part of the Greenwich Village scene in the 1950s and 1960s and performed alongside Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Pete Seeger.

August 30

Jack Sonni | 68
Former guitarist of Dire Straits, born in Indiana, PA, who played on the hit album Brothers In Arms.

September 1

Jimmy Buffett | 76
Singer-songwriter known for his beachy soft rock and the hit song “Margaritaville," who later branched out into restaurants, resorts and other products.

September 4

Steve Harwell | 56
Founding member and singer of Smash Mouth, known for the hit "All-Star."

Gary Wright | 80
Singer best known for his 1976 soft rock hits “Dream Weaver” and “Love is Alive."

September 5

Larry Chance | 82
Singer in long-running doo-wop group The Earls, best known for their 1963 balled, "I Believe."

September 6

Richard Davis | 93
Bassist and educator who played with jazz legends, pop stars, and classical composers, including artists ranging from Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, and Sarah Vaughan to Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra, and Barbra Streisand.

September 16

John Marshall | 82
Jazz drummer and long-time member of the British rock band Soft Machine and founding member of jazz band Nucleus, who also recorded on the Millie Small song "My Boy Lollipop."

September 20

Katherine Anderson Schaffner | 79
Founding member and singer in the Marvelettes throughout the 1960s who recorded on Motown's first No. 1 hit, "Please Mr. Postman."

September 23

Terry Kirkman | 83
Singer and songwriter best known for his work with the 1960s sunshine pop folk group the Association, including the Grammy-nominated song "Cherish."

September 25

David McCallum | 90
British actor who also had a significant career in music, recording albums for Capitol Records with producer David Axelrod in the 1960s.

October 11

Rudolph Isley | 84
Singer, songwriter and one of the co-founding members of the Isley Brothers, who remained with the band from the 1950s through the 1980s.
*Inductee, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

October 18

Dwight Twilley | 72
Power pop singer and songwriter known for his work with the Dwight Twilley Band and solo, including the hits "I'm On Fire" and "Girls."

October 23

Dusty Street | 77
One of the first female rock radio DJs on the west coast working at KMPX and KSAN in San Francisco from 1967 through 1978 before heading to Los Angeles where she hosted from 1979 through 1996 on KROQ, who later hosted on Sirius XM radio.

Angelo Bruschini | 62
English guitarist who toured and recorded as a member of Massive Attack on their albums Mezzanine and 100th Window.

November 16

George "Funky" Brown | 74
Drummer, keyboardist, and co-founder of R&B group Kool & the Gang, who co-write hits including “Ladies Night,” “Celebration,” and “Cherish."

November 20

Mars Williams | 68
Jazz and rock saxophonist who was a member of new wave bands The Waitresses and The Psychedelic Furs.

November 22

Jean Knight | 80
Soul singer who had her biggest hit in 1971 with "Mr. Big Stuff."

November 25

Les Maguire | 81
Keyboardist and last surviving member of the 1960s British beat group Gerry and the Pacemakers.

November 26

Geordie Walker | 64
Guitarist for industrial rock band Killing Joke.

November 29

Scott Kempner | 69
Guitarist and founding member of influential punk rock bands The Dictators and The Del-Lords.

November 30

Shane McGowan | 65
Singer and frontman for Irish punk rock band The Pogues.

December 3

Myles Goodwyn | 75
Lead vocalist, guitarist, and principal songwriter of Canadian rock band April Wine.

December 5

Denny Laine | 79
Guitarist who founded The Moody Blues, singing their 1964 hit version of "Go Now," as well as a founding member of Wings with Paul McCartney.

Essra Mohawk | 75
Singer-songwriter who had success as a professional songwriter with "Sufferin' Til Suffrage" and "Interjections!" for Schoolhouse Rock!, as well as songs recorded by Cyndi Lauper and Tina Turner.

December 11

Jeffrey Foskett | 67
Guitarist and singer, best known as a touring and studio musician for Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys since the 1980s.

Richard Kerr | 78
Singer-songwriter and composer, who co-wrote the Barry Manilow hits "Mandy," "Looks Like We Made It," and "Somewhere in the Night."

December 15
Bob Johnson | 79
Guitarist, singer, and songwriter and member of British folk rock band Steeleye Span.

December 16

Colin Burgess | 77
Founding drummer of the band AC/DC in 1973

December 17

Amp Fiddler | 65
Singer, keyboardist, and producer who worked with Parliament-Funkadelic, J Dilla, and Moodymann.

Mike Maxfield | 79
Songwriter and guitarist for British Invasion band The Dakotas, who became the backing band for Billy J. Kramer.

December 18

Ronnie Caryl | 70
Guitarist known for his work with Phil Collins, who was originally a member of Collins' first group Flaming Youth in the 1960s.

December 22

Laura Lynch | 65
Singer, bass player and founding member of The Chicks (as The Dixie Chicks), she left the group in 1995 and was replaced by Natalie Maines.

December 26

Tommy Smothers | 86
Half of the music/comedy duo, The Smothers Brothers. The Brothers also hosted a televised variety show that featured many musicians, including the infamous episode in which The Who blew up their drumset in 1967.

December 29

Les McCann | 88
Prolific and influential musician who helped found the soul-jazz genre and was frequently sampled by hip-hop artists including Dr. Dre and A Tribe Called Quest. Best known for writing the song “Compared to What," recorded by Roberta Flack.

Gretchen Unico joined WYEP in January 2022, but her love for music blossomed at the age of 14 when she discovered The Monkees. Since then, she has been captivated by the unique sounds of the ’60s and ’70s eras. Her fascination with the diverse genres of those decades is fueled by the interesting stories behind the evolution of each music scene. Gretchen’s passion for music extends to vinyl records, of which she started collecting in high school. She relishes the experience of playing vintage albums on her turntable, feeling connected to the history and memories embedded in each record. Through her love for music, Gretchen has opened herself up to a world full of endless possibilities, and she looks forward to discovering more hidden gems from the past.