It’s a simple fact of life that at a certain point, all of us will eventually meet our end. Sadly, understanding that this inevitable outcome is in store doesn’t help prepare us for the shock that comes with the news that people and figures we love and admire have moved on. In 2017, we lost a great deal of some of the most important and impactful musicians from a wide berth of different genres. Though they are longer here to entertain us, to write and record new musical gifts for us all to enjoy in the years and decades to come, their memories will live on every time we push play on a cherished song. Let’s raise a toast to them one more time as the year comes to a close.
Early in 2017, Tom Petty warned that his latest tour with the Heartbreakers might be his last. Little did he or the rest of us know the prescience of that statement. Petty wrapped up his final performance at the Hollywood Bowl with his fabled band then died of a heart attack just a couple of days later. As our own Steven Hyden wrote in his touching elegy, “Tom Petty’s music truly achieved the ubiquity of a public utility — you can hear it in bars, cars, supermarkets, sports stadiums, gas stations, movies, TV shows, and pretty much everywhere else…His songs are in the atmosphere.”
Of all the losses in the music world this year, Chris Cornell’s death was perhaps the most shocking. Shortly after playing a gig with his iconic group Soundgarden while in Detroit in May, Cornell retired to his hotel room and took his own life. It was a tragic end for one of the most gifted singer’s and songwriters of his heralded generation. That otherworldly voice that propelled tracks like “Black Hole Sun,” “Outshined,” “Fourth Of July,” and “Cochise” will reverberate through eternity.