31 Musicians That Died In 2023

The case could certainly be made that 2023 hasn’t exactly been a kind year toward musicians.

Of course, we still need to review the facts. In most countries, COVID-19-related precautions and restrictions were only lifted in 2022. Plus, many of the legendary musicians we’ve come to respect and admire as children and adults are now among the aging population. This isn’t to say there weren’t also some untimely deaths…

Nevertheless, we like to focus on the positive and celebrate the lives of those who’ve contributed greatly to music and the world at large. Here are some notable musicians that died in 2023.

Tina Turner

1939 – 2023

There are few figures as influential as Tina “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll” Turner in musical history. Rising to prominence as the lead singer of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, Turner would go on to launch an insanely successful solo career.

Turner originally entered the music scene in the late 1950s, finding early success in the early to mid-1960s, and going mainstream in the mid to late 1960s, continuing well into the 1970s.

The 80s, however, would be especially good to her, with a string of unforgettable hits like “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” “Private Dancer,” “The Best,” and “I Don’t Wanna Fight,” among many others.

Turner had multiple life-threatening illnesses, including high blood pressure, kidney damage, stroke, and intestinal cancer, to name a few, with some issues cropping up as early as 1978.

Turner passed away on May 24, 2023.

Tina Turner

Jeff Beck

1944 – 2023

A case could be made that Jeff Beck is one of the unsung guitar heroes of a generation. As a virtuoso guitarist Yardbird alumnus – a distinction he shares only with Clapton and Page – Beck would go on to collaborate with the likes of Rod Stewart (The Jeff Beck Group), Jon Bon Jovi, Roger Waters, Ozzy Osbourne, Eric Clapton, and many others throughout his lifetime.

Lest you think him less than Clapton or Page, in the guitar community, Beck is largely considered one of the most creative guitarists ever to exist, with an immediately identifiable signature sound. Many even say he’s unmatched.

If you aren’t familiar with Beck’s work, it’s time to explore “Hi Ho Silver Lining,” “I Ain’t Superstitious,” “People Get Ready,” “Led Boots,” “Heart Full of Soul,” “Freeway Jam,” and “Blue Wind.”

Beck passed away of bacterial meningitis on January 10, 2023, at 78.

Jeff Beck

Burt Bacharach

1950 – 2023

Burt Bacharach was one of the most influential songwriters, composers, record producers, and pianists of all time.

Bacharach wrote songs for the likes of Perry Como, Dusty Springfield, and Tom Jones, among many others. He also collaborated with Elvis Costello (one of the collaborations he’s probably best known for – also see the 1999 comedy film Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me), Ronald Isley, and Daniel Tashian, to name a few.

Bacharach won many Academy, Golden Globe, and Grammy Awards, and was nominated for many more.

See “Walk on By,” “The Look of Love,” “Alfie,” “Mexican Divorce,” “Knowing When to Leave,” and of course, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.”

Burt Bacharach

Ryuichi Sakamoto

1952 – 2023

Ryuichi Sakamoto was a Japanese composer, record producer, and actor. He is well known for his work with Yellow Magic Orchestra as well as his solo works.

What is missing from most mentions of Sakamoto (we’re not sure why, maybe people just don’t know) is his enormous influence on video game music. Sakamoto contributed to soundtracks for Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and even Final Fantasy, some of the most influential video game franchises in existence.

Sure, Nobuo Uematsu and Koji Kondo may be the most prominent figures associated with these titles, but Sakamoto’s work isn’t anything to sneeze at.

Have a listen to “Tong Poo,” “Bibo No Aozora,” “Technopolis,” and “Rain.”

Ryuichi Sakamoto

Lisa Marie Presley

1968 – 2023

It doesn’t feel all that long ago that singer Lisa Marie Presley’s questionable romantic chemistry with Michael Jackson was the talk of the town. Unfortunately, as of 2023, she is no longer.

Lisa Marie Presley was born to the legendary Elvis and Priscilla Presley. With the passing of her grandparents and great-grandparents, she became the sole heir to Elvis’ estate.

As a musical artist, she would release three albums – To Whom It May Concern, Now What, and Storm & Grace. Have a listen to “Dirty Laundry,” “I’ll Figure It Out,” “Nobody Noticed It,” “Storm & Grace,” and “Idiot.”

Lisa Marie Presley

Gordon Lightfoot

1938 – 2023

Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist Gordon Lightfoot is considered one of Canada’s greatest songwriters. He found international success and even played a pivotal role in shaping the sound of folk-pop in the 60s and 70s.

Lightfoot is well remembered for hits like “For Lovin’ Me,” “Early Morning Rain,” “Ribbon of Darkness,” “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Carefree Highway,” “Sundown,” and “Rainy Day People” among others.

Lightfoot died of natural causes.

Gordon Lightfoot

David Crosby

1941 – 2023

Singer-songwriter and occasional actor David Crosby initially found success as a member of The Byrds and continued to write and perform with the supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash (and sometimes Young). The group is credited with popularizing the “California sound” of the 70s. Crosby’s prolific contribution to music also includes eight solo albums.

Some of his best works include “Almost Cut My Hair,” “Laughing,” “Long Time Gone,” “Teach Your Children,” “Our House,” “Judy Blue Eyes,” and “Carry Me.”

Crosby died on January 18, 2023, at the age of 81. Though officially his cause of death has been attributed to a long-standing illness, unofficially his death came as a surprise to colleagues and friends who described it as “sudden.”

David Crosby

Blackie Onassis

1965 – 2023

Johnny “Blackie Onassis” Rowan was the drummer of Urge Overkill. The band’s rendition of Neil Diamond’s “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” appeared in the Quentin Tarantino crime / drama film Pulp Fiction, and that is quite possibly their greatest claim to fame.

That said, Urge Overkill also opened for Nirvana on their Nevermind tour and had a bit of a hit with “Sister Havana” as well.

Blackie Onassis’ cause of death is unknown.

Blackie Onassis

Astrud Gilberto

1940 – 2023

Brazilian samba and bossa nova singer and songwriter Astrud Gilberto played a significant role in popularizing “The Girl from Ipanema,” a Brazilian jazz and bossa nova staple. Her recording even earned her Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

Gilberto would remain active in her music career from the early 60s up to the early 2000s.

You may also want to check out “The Gentle Rain,” “So Nice,” “A Certain Sadness,” “How Insensitive,” “Once I Loved,” and “The Shadow of Your Smile.”

Astrud Gilberto

Cynthia Weil

1940 – 2023

American songwriter Cynthia Weil is best known for writing an array of songs alongside her husband Barry Mann.

Weil was a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee, and she was influential in molding the sound of rock and roll in the 60s besides.

Weil will be remembered for penning hits like “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” “Just a Little Lovin’,” “Home of the Brave,” “Don’t Know Much,” “Here You Come Again,” and “On Broadway,” among others.

Weil died in her home on June 1, 2023, aged 82.

Cynthia Weil

Kirk Arrington

1962 – 2023

American drummer Kirk Arrington is best remembered for his work with Metal Church, which got its start in 1980. He left the band as early as 2006 for health issues resulting from diabetes.

Metal Church found a bit of a footing in the 80s musical landscape that was more favorable towards glam metal and has been considered a key influence in shaping power metal as well.

Metal Church remains active as a five-piece, in their third official run beginning 2012 after two hiatuses sandwiched in between.

Kirk Arrington

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