Musicians We Lost in 2023


Promo image of Riley's LA Guns in black and white.

Steve Riley of Riley’s LA Guns – Author Anne Erickson

Each year, it’s heartbreaking to see beloved entertainers pass away, and 2023 was no exception. Plenty of significant names in music, theater, sports, politics and more passed away this year, and they all left voids that will never be filled. So, what are some musicians who died in 2023?

Depending on your interests and which celebrities you’ve felt “closest” to, some celebrity deaths probably hit you different than others. For me, Tina Turner passing away was really a shock. Coincidentally, I saw “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” at the Michigan State University Wharton Center on April 22. It felt like I had actually gone to a Turner concert after seeing that musical. Then, just a few weeks later, on May 24, Turner passed away. I couldn’t believe it. She was an icon and the Queen of Rock ‘n Roll. Tina Turner was truly one of a kind.

Here are a collection of musicians who died in 2023.

Robbie Bachman

Bachman-Turner Overdrive original drummer Robbie Bachman passed away on Jan. 12 at the age of 69. His brother Randy Bachman announced the show, stating, “The pounding beat behind BTO, my little brother Robbie has joined Mum, Dad & brother Gary on the other side. Maybe Jeff Beck needs a drummer! He was an integral cog in our rock ‘n’ roll machine and we rocked the world together.”

Jeff Beck

The legendary guitarist passed away on Jan. 10 at the age of 78. He was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis in late 2022, and sadly, the sickness took him quickly.

Tony Bennett

The loss of Tony Bennett was a huge one this year. Bennett passed away on July 21 age 96 in New York City. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2016.

Jimmy Buffett

Good times singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett passed away Sept. 1 at the age of 76. He fought Merkel cell skin cancer for years. Of course, his hits include “Margaritaville,” “Come Monday” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise.”

Van Conner

Longtime Screaming Trees bass player Van Conner passed away on Jan. 17 at the age of 55. He died after a battle with an extended liver illness.

David Crosby

David Crosby died on Jan. 19 at the age of 81. He was a founding member of the Byrds and, of course, a big part of the band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Steve Harwell

Smash Mouth frontman Steve Harwell passed away on Sept. 4 at the age of 56. He was a big name with Smash Mouth in the ’90s and churned out hits such as “All Star” and “Walkin’ on the Sun.” He passed away from liver failure at his home in Boise, Idaho.

Denny Laine

Denny Laine passed away on Dec. 5 at the age of 79. The co-founder of The Moody Blues and Wings died after a battle with intestinal lung disease.

Gordon Lightfoot

Canadian folk-rock singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot passed away on May 1 at the age of 84. The news came from his social accounts, stating, “It is with profound sadness that we confirm that Gordon Meredith Lightfoot has passed away.” They added that he died of natural causes. Listen to a lost interview with Lightfoot here.

Randy Meisner

Co-founding Eagles member Randy Meisner passed away on July 26 at the age of 77. He was the bassist of the band and helped shape some of their greatest hits.

Sinead O’Connor

Fans of ’80s and ’90s alternative are very familiar with Sinead O’Connor. The famed singer and songwriter passed away on July 26 at the age of 56. Who can forget her mesmerizing cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U?”

Lisa Marie Presley

Lisa Marie Presley surprisingly passed away at the age of 54 on Jan. 12. The daughter of Elvis Presley and his wife Priscilla Presley experienced a heart attack in her Calabasas, California home.

Steve Riley

Steve Riley was a regular guest on the Audio Ink Radio podcast for years. The L.A. Guns drummer passed away on Oct. 24 at the age of 67. According to his family, Riley had been dealing with a “severe case of pneumonia for several weeks” before he passed.

Gary Rossington

Gary Rossington passed away on March 5 at the age of 71. He was the last surviving original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd. He even survived the horrific band plane crash in 1977 plane that killed singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines.

Andy Rourke

The Smiths bass player Andy Rourke passed away on May 19 at the age of 59. According to his bandmate Johnny Marr, the cause of death was pancreatic cancer.

Wayne Swinny

Wayne Swinny of Saliva passed away on March 21 at the age of 59. Current Saliva vocalists Bobby Amaru confirmed the news, stating that the cause of death was a brain hemorrhage. “I’m not even sure what to think or how to feel right now,” Amaru said. “My heart aches for Wayne’s family, his friends, and anyone who had the joy of being around him.”

Tina Turner

As I mentioned above, this one hit me extra hard. Tina Turner passed away on May 24 at 83 years old. The news came on her social media account, stating, “Today we say goodbye to a dear friend who leaves us all her greatest work: her music. All our heartfelt compassion goes out to her family. Tina, we will miss you dearly.”

Tom Verlaine

Tom Verlaine co-founded and served as lead vocalist in legendary post-punk band Television. He passed away at the age of 73.

Of course, many other great musicians passed away in 2023. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those greats who left us this year.

Anne Erickson
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