Tribute to musicians lost in 2023

Published: 1/12/2023 | Updated: 4/12/2023
Music legends lost in 2023
Music legends lost in 2023

As 2023 draws to a close, we pause to remember and pay tribute to the remarkable musicians we lost this year. From rock legend Tina Turner to the timeless compositions of Burt Bacharach these artists transcended boundaries, leaving an enduring legacy that will resonate with generations for years to come. Join us in reflecting on the lives and achievements of these great musical luminaries who graced the stage but have now taken their final bow.

Tony Bennett

3 August 1926 - 21 July 2023

Musicians lost in 2023, jazz legend Tony Bennett.
Musicians lost in 2023, jazz legend Tony Bennett.

An enduring voice in the world of jazz and popular music, Tony Bennett's career spanned over seven decades. His velvety tones and interpretive skill brought classics like I Left My Heart in San Francisco to life, making him a beloved and influential figure in the American musical landscape.

Harry Belafonte

1 March 1927 - 25 April 2023

Singer, actor and activist Harry Belafonte dies aged 96 Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences' 2014 Governors Awards - Show
Singer, actor and activist Harry Belafonte dies aged 96 Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences' 2014 Governors Awards - Show

A trailblazer in the world of calypso and folk music, Harry Belafonte was a Grammy-winning artist and social activist. His timeless classics, including Banana Boat Song (Day-O) and Jamaica Farewell, not only entertained but also carried powerful messages of social justice, cementing his legacy as a musical and humanitarian icon.

Burt Bacharach

12 May 1928 - 8 February 2023

In 2006, Burt Bacharach poses with his award for Best Pop Instrumental Album in the press room at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)
In 2006, Burt Bacharach poses with his award for Best Pop Instrumental Album in the press room at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

A maestro of composition and arrangement, Burt Bacharach was a legendary figure in the world of popular music. His collaborations with lyricist Hal David produced timeless hits like Raindrops Keep Fallin on My Head and What the World Needs Now Is Love, earning him multiple Grammy Awards and a place in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Joy McKean

14 January 1930 - 23 May 2023

Country music legend lost in 2023, Joy Mckean
Country music legend lost in 2023, Joy Mckean

Known as the Queen of Country Music, Joy McKean was an Australian singer-songwriter who, alongside her late husband Slim Dusty, played a pivotal role in shaping the country music landscape. Her poignant lyrics and captivating performances made her a beloved figure and she will be remembered for generations for her significant contributions to Australian music.

Rudolph Isley

1 April 1939 - 11 October 2023

A founding member of The Isley Brothers, Rudolph Isley played an important role in shaping the landscape of R&B and soul music. With hits like Shout and Twist and Shout, the Isley Brothers became synonymous with infectious grooves and smooth harmonies, leaving an enduring impact on the evolution of popular music.

Tina Turner

26 November 1939 - 24 May 2023

Sir Elton John says Tina Turner was “untouchable”. Picture: John/Singer Turner/Singer
Sir Elton John says Tina Turner was “untouchable”. Picture: John/Singer Turner/Singer

A global icon of rock and roll and soul, Tina Turner's powerful voice and electrifying stage presence made her a legend. From her early success with Ike Turner to her solo triumphs with hits like What's Love Got to Do with It, Turner's career spanned decades, earning her multiple Grammy Awards and universal acclaim.

Sixto Diaz Rodriguez

10 July 1942 - 8 August 2023

Musicians lost in 2023 Sixto Diaz Rodriguez
Musicians lost in 2023 Sixto Diaz Rodriguez

Sixto Rodriguez, was an American folk musician who gained international recognition through the documentary Searching for Sugar Man (2012). Despite initial obscurity, Rodriguez's soulful lyrics and unique folk-rock style earned him a cult following. His legacy as a symbol of anti-apartheid resistance in South Africa and his timeless music continue to resonate with generations globally.

Randy Meisner

8 March 1946 - 26 July 2023

The band’s 1970s line up included drummer Don Henley, guitarist Joe Walsh, bass Randy Meisner, and guitarists Glenn Frey and Don Felder.
The band’s 1970s line up included drummer Don Henley, guitarist Joe Walsh, bass Randy Meisner, and guitarists Glenn Frey and Don Felder.

American singer-songwriter and founding member of the Eagles, Randy Meisner's bass playing and harmonies contributed to the band's iconic sound. His work on hits like Take It to the Limit and One of These Nights helped shape the landscape of 1970s rock.

Jimmy Buffett

25 December 1946 - 1 September 2023

Jimmy Buffett plays at Bluesfest 2017 in Byron Bay at Tyagarah.
Jimmy Buffett plays at Bluesfest 2017 in Byron Bay at Tyagarah. Marc Stapelberg

Known for his laid-back style and tropical-infused music, Jimmy Buffett was a singer-songwriter and best-selling author. A pioneer of the tropical rock genre, Buffett's hits like Margaritaville and Cheeseburger in Paradise became anthems to the spirit of island living.

Gary Rossington

4 December 1951 - 14 July 2023

Gary Rossington member Lynyrd Skynyrd musicians lost in 2023
Gary Rossington member Lynyrd Skynyrd musicians lost in 2023

A founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Gary Rossington's guitar work and songwriting played a pivotal role in defining Southern rock. Hits like Sweet Home Alabama and Free Bird showcased his musical prowess.

Renee Geyer

11 September 1953 - 17 January 2023

Renee Geyer had a lengthy career spanning five decades. Musicians lost in 2023. Picture: Mike Flokis/Getty Images
Renee Geyer had a lengthy career spanning five decades. Musicians lost in 2023. Picture: Mike Flokis/Getty Images

Renowned for her soulful voice and dynamic stage presence, Renee Geyer was a trailblazer in the Australian music scene. With a career spanning over four decades, she achieved widespread acclaim for her powerful performances, earning her the status of an Aussie soul, jazz and blues icon that will forever remain etched in Australian soul music.  

Jack Sonni

9 December 1954 - 30 August 2023

Dire Straits guitarist Jack Sonni dead at 68
Dire Straits guitarist Jack Sonni dead at 68

A guitarist recognised for his work with Dire Straits, Jack Sonni contributed to the band's distinctive sound during the 1980s. His skillful playing on albums like Brothers in Arms added depth to Dire Straits' music and secured his place among the era's prominent guitarists.

Fred White

13 January 1955 - 1 January 2023

NETHERLANDS - MARCH 14:  AHOY  Photo of EARTH WIND & FIRE and Fred WHITE, Drummer Fred White performing on stage  (Photo by Rob Verhorst/Redferns)
NETHERLANDS - MARCH 14: AHOY Photo of EARTH WIND & FIRE and Fred WHITE, Drummer Fred White performing on stage (Photo by Rob Verhorst/Redferns)

As the drummer for Earth, Wind & Fire, Fred White was a driving force behind the band's legendary rhythm section. With his impeccable timing and infectious energy, White played a vital role in creating the iconic sound that made Earth, Wind & Fire one of the best-selling music bands of all time.

Paul Woseen

2 April - 15 September 2023

Paul Woseen has died aged 56, his bandmates from The Screaming Jets have announced. Musicians lost in 2023
Paul Woseen has died aged 56, his bandmates from The Screaming Jets have announced. Musicians lost in 2023

Paul Woseen, together with frontman Dave Gleeson, was one of the only original members of the legendary Newcastle rock band, The Screaming Jets. A key songwriter for the band, Woseen's bass guitar skills and soulful vocals added a unique dimension to the group. Coupled with his dedication to his craft and unwavering commitment to the band, he has left an indelible mark on the legacy of The Screaming Jets.

Steve Mackey

10 November 1966 - 2 March 2023

The band won the award for Outstanding Song Collection during the Ivor Novello Music Awards in 2017. Picture: Alamy
The band won the award for Outstanding Song Collection during the Ivor Novello Music Awards in 2017. Picture: Alamy

Best known as the bassist for Pulp, Steve Mackey contributed to the band's success during the Britpop era. His melodic bass lines added depth to Pulp's sound, and his musical prowess left an indelible mark on the alternative music scene of the 1990s.

Sinéad O'Connor

8 December 1966 - 26 July 2023

Sinead O'Connor posed at her home in County Wicklow, Republic Of Ireland in 2012.
Sinead O'Connor posed at her home in County Wicklow, Republic Of Ireland in 2012.

Irish singer-songwriter and activist, Sinéad O'Connor's haunting voice and emotional depth captivated audiences worldwide. Her iconic rendition of "Nothing Compares 2 U" and her fearless approach to addressing social issues through her music made her a trailblazer and a symbol of artistic integrity.

Steve Harwell

9 January 1967 - 4 September 2023

Steve Harwell lead singer of 1990s rock band, Smash Mouth
Steve Harwell lead singer of 1990s rock band, Smash Mouth

As the lead vocalist of Smash Mouth, Steve Harwell brought infectious energy to the alternative rock scene during the 1990s. Smash Mouth's hits, including All Star and Walkin' on the Sun, became anthems of the era and Harwell's charismatic stage presence were loved by fans worldwide.

Jacqueline Dark

1967 - 3 October 2023

Jacqueline Dark was a multi-award winning opera singer and beloved performer. Picture: Supplied
Jacqueline Dark was a multi-award winning opera singer and beloved performer. Picture: Supplied

Australian mezzo-soprano Jacqueline Dark graced opera stages with her powerful and emotive performances. Her contributions to the world of classical music, particularly in opera and musical theatre, showcased her exceptional talent and left an indelible mark on the Australian music community.

Lisa Marie Presley

1 February 1968 - 12 January 2023

Lisa Marie Presley musicians lost in 2023
Lisa Marie Presley musicians lost in 2023

The famous daughter of Elvis Presley, Lisa Marie Presley made her mark as a singer-songwriter. Her debut album, To Whom It May Concern, showcased her distinctive voice and songwriting skills, reflecting her unique perspective on life and love. A humanitarian, Presley was also known for her many charitable efforts.

In honouring these musicians, we pay tribute to the profound impact they had on the world of music and the many family, friends and fans hearts they touched. Let their collection of melodies stand as a testament to the enduring power of their art. To all the musicians we lost in 2023, rest in peace.

By Kirsten Jakubenko

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