In Memoriam 2023



Honoring those in the music world—many legendary, some lesser known—who died in 2023: 



Icons & Pioneers  


Harry Belafonte, singer/actor/director/activist;  

Wayne Shorter, saxophonist/composer/bandleader;  

Tony Bennett, song interpreter supreme;  

Burt Bacharach, songwriter/arranger/orchestrator;  

Ahmad Jamal, master pianist;  

Tina Turner, rock & roll queen;  

Jimmy Buffett, good-time performer and entrepreneur; 

Carla Bley, composer/pianist/bandleader; 

Sinead O’Connor, singer/activist 




Robbie Robertson, songwriter/guitarist (the Band);  

David Crosby, singer/songwriter, co-founder (the Byrds, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young);  

Tom Verlaine, guitarist/songwriter (Television); 

Jeff Beck, guitarist extraordinaire (Yardbirds, Jeff Beck Group);  


Barrett Strong, Motown artist and songwriter; David Joliceur (“Trugoy the Dove”) (De La Soul);  

Steve Mackey, bassist/producer (Pulp); Gary Rossington, guitarist/ co-founder (Lynyrd Skynyrd);  

David Lindley, guitarist/string master (Jackson Browne); Jarred Samuels (“Napoleon XIV”);  

Jim Gordon, drummer (the Wrecking Crew; Derek & the Dominos); Keith Reid (Procol Harum);  


Ruichi Sakamoto, pop & film composer, co-founder, Yellow Magic Orchestra;  

Yukihiro Taakahashi, drummer, co-founder, Yellow Magic Orchestra; Gary Shulman (Gentle Giant); 

Andy Rourke, bass (Smiths); Robbie Bachman  and Tim Bachman (Bachman-Turner Overdrive);  

Mark Stewart (Pop Group); Peter Nero, pianist;  

Cynthia Weil, lyricist (“On Broadway,” “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” and many more);  


Rodriguez (Sixto Rodriguez), singer/songwriter (Searching for Sugarman); Randy Meisner (the Eagles);  

David LaFlamme (It’s a Beautiful Day); Larry Chance, doo-wop vocalist (the Earls);  


Rudolph Isley (Isley Brothers); Jean Knight, vocalist (“Mr. Big Stuff”);  

Shane McGowan (the Pogues); Denny Laine, (Moody Blues & Wings);

Amp Fiddler,  P-Funk keyboardist/record producer




Gordon Lightfoot, singer-songwriter, Canadian icon; Huey “Piano” Smith, New Orleans legend;  

Chuck Jackson, R&B vocalist; Bobby Caldwell, R&B singer (“What You Won’t Do for Love”);  

Bobby Osborne, singer & mandolinist (Osborne Brothers); Jesse McReynolds, singer & mandolinist (Jim and Jesse); Roger Spring, banjo player; Billy “The Kid” Emerson, R&B vocalist/songwriter (“Red Hot”); Laura Lynch, co-founder (original Dixie Chicks) 




Renata Scotto, soprano; Grace Bumbry, mezzo-soprano; Margaret Miller, mezzo-soprano; 

Menahem Pressler, pianist/co-founder (Beaux Arts Trio);  

André Watts, pianist; Jenö Jandő, pianist; Russell Sherman, pianist; 

Virginia Zeany, soprano; James Bowman, countertenor; Stephen Gould, tenor;  

Robert Black, bassist (Bang on a Can All Stars); 

Miles Hofmann, violist, chamber musician, NPR commentator; 

Kaija Saariaho, composer; David Del Tredici, composer; Gloria Coates, composer; Scott Johnson, composer; 

Lewis Spratland, composer; Frederich Cerhe, composer; Richard Crandell, guitarist/composer;   

Yuri Temirkanow, conductor (Baltimore Symphony, St. Petersburg Symphony);

Zita Carno, concert pianist (Los Angeles Philharmonic)/Coltrane scholar




Richard Davis, bassist extraordinaire; Carol Sloane, chanteuse; Carlos Garnett, saxophone;  

Karl Berger, vibraphonist/founder, Creative Music Studio; Curtis Fowlkes, trombone (Jazz Passangers);  

Don Sebeski, composer, arranger (CTI Records); Bill Lee, bassist/composer; George Winston, pianist;  

Kidd Jordan, tenor sax; Peter Brotzmann, saxophones; Charles Gayle, tenor saxophonist;  

Russell Batiste, Jr., drums; Mars Williams, saxophonist (Waitresses, Psychedelic Furs) 





Astrud Gilberto, bossa nova chanteuse; João Donato, composer, multi-instrumentalist; Leny Andrade, singer;  

Carlos Lyra, bossa nova singer & composer; 

Emahoy Tsegué Maryam Guèbrou, Ethiopian composer/pianist;  

Seán Keane, fiddler (Chieftains); Jane Birkin, actress and chanteuse;  

Sara Tavares, Portuguese singer/guitarist;  





Sheldon Harnick, lyricist (Fiddler on the RoofFiorelloShe Loves Me); 

Tom Jones, lyricist & librettist (The Fantasticks); 


Other Stalwarts 


Chris Strachwitz, Arhoolie Records founder, folklorist &producer; Jerry Moss, A&M Records label founder;  

Clarence Avant, record executive (“Black Godfather”); Jamie Reid, punk designer;  

Polito Vega, “Salsa King” of radio; Seymour Stein, label executive (Sire Records);  

Tom Smothers, comedic musician (Smothers Brothers) & free speech advocate





Gary Oelze, founder/proprietor, The Birchmere (the DMV’s premiere music venue); 

Donnie McKethan, long-time WPFW host (“The Great American Songbook” heard Sunday afternoons); 

Shawn “Gus” Vitale, sound engineer (9:30 Club; DC Space; Positive Force); 

Roland Freeman, photographer 

Lyn McLain, founder, D.C. Youth Orchestra