Last year, we had to say goodbye to many musical icons, but they will forever remain in the hearts of their loyal fans. Look no further for a brief informational overview of three great artists (and an excuse to listen to great music, too)!
David Bowie passed away in New York on Jan. 10, 2016 from cancer at the age of 69. Bowie’s first big hit came from “Space Oddity,” which BBC sampled when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. His heavy metal and hard rock album “The Man Who Sold the World,” released in 1970, made yet another hit, but not before he drastically changed his look and envisioned a science fiction character two years later in “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.”
In 1975, “Fame,” co-written with Carlos Alomar and John Lennon, was a No. 1 single hit in the U.S., and in 1980, from the album “Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps),” “Ashes to Ashes” was a darker, art rock evolution from “Space Oddity” and hit No. 1 in the U.K. once more. Bowie’s ever-changing form and innovation in music and film made a large impact across multiple genres. I recommend last year’s “Blackstar” (2016) released on his birthday, just two days before his death.
Another great musical artist known for eclectic, diverse works was George Michael. George Michael passed away in his home in England on Dec. 25, Christmas Day, due to heart failure. He was 53.
Michael was one-half of the famous duo Wham!, which first got its break with the 1984 hit “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” Wham! experienced yet another international hit with “Last Christmas” two years later.
Michael gradually moved away from a mainly pop genre to include more R&B, soul, jazz and funk aspects of music. Public acts of generosity include donating sales from “Last Christmas” and “Everything She Wants” (along with singing in a group performance of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”), which went to the charity Band-Aid for famine relief in Ethiopia.
Meanwhile, profits from “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” with Elton John went to helping the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity and AIDS patients through London Lighthouse. But the music icon was also known for his private philanthropic acts, such as anonymous donations to charities. His documentary film, “Freedom,” will air in March. To remember George Michael, or to simply listen to good music, I would recommend listening to “Faith” (1987).
Sharon Jones passed away aged 60 on Nov. 18 due to pancreatic cancer in New York. Jones was scouted by the Dap-Kings, an R&B band that soon became popular under its first album “Dap Dippin’,” as Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings.
The Dap Kings played on Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” album in 2006 and after the release of albums “Naturally” in 2005, “100 Days, 100 Nights” in 2007, and “I Learned the Hard Way” in 2010. It was during this time that the band became increasingly popular as a revival of soul, R&B and funk. For a revival of Sharon Jones, I recommend “Give the People What They Want” (2014) and “Miss Sharon Jones!” (2016).
Contact Maimi Higuchi at maimi ‘at’ stanford.edu.