Christine McVie: She was a major force in Fleetwood Mac, writing and singing many of the songs deeply embedded in a generation (or two or three) of listeners.
Mickey Gilley: Gilley was a hit-making country music artist who appeared in television shows and movies. He was the cousin of Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swagger—bet you didn’t see that coming? He continued to perform right up until his passing.
Henry Mollicone: Mollicone was a composer and educator who worked with the New York City Opera and Leonard Bernstein. He composed a number of operas, including “Coyote Tales,” “Hotel Eden,” and “Gabriel’s Daughter.”
Benjamin Moore, Jr.: He sang with the gospel group Blind Boys of Alabama. Before joining the Blind Boys of Alabama, Moore sang and played guitar in several groups, including the Moore Family Band—run by his father. Take the high road, sir.
Bob Neuwirth: He collaborated with the likes of Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, and T Bone Burnett. He was a folky and a painter and a musician. Bob Dylan wrote of Neuwirth in his memoir Chronicle: Volume 1, writing, “Like Kerouac had immortalized Neal Cassady in On the Road, somebody should have immortalized Neuwirth. If ever there was a renaissance man leaping in and out of things, he would have to be it.”
Bernard Wright: Wright wrote the jam “Who Do You Love,” in 1983 at the age of 19. Wright was the Godson of Roberta Flack, born in Queens, New York. He played with jazz greats like Miles Davis and Funk legends like Cameo. He was an accomplished pianist and keyboardist.
Alan White: He was the longstanding drummer of the group Yes. White was an Englishman whose drumming reached across the pond, as they say. He drummed on John Lennon’s Imagine album and played as a part of the Plastic Ono Band.
Andrew Fletcher: Another Englishman whose reach in the Americas gets him on this list. Fletcher was the keyboardist and a founding member of the electronic group Depeche Mode.
Ronnie Hawkins: Hawkins was a larger-than-life showman whose backing band “The Hawks” became one of the most important rock groups in the history of American music—The Band.
Paul Vance: He wrote songs like “Itsy Bitsy,” inspired by his day at the beach with his young daughter and her brand new bathing suit. He also hit the charts with “Catch a Falling Star” for Perry Como.
Ingram Marshall: Marshall was a composer who fused electronic music with sophisticated compositions such as Fog Tropes. His reach includes holding teaching and visiting positions all over the United States, from Yale University to the California Institute of the Arts, from Brooklyn College to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Deborah McCrary: She was one-quarter of the gospel group The McCrary Sisters, taking the low notes. Check out this version of “Amazing Grace” set to “House of the Rising Sun” the group performed a few years back.
Dave Smith: He founded Sequential and created synthesizers. His instruments, including the Prophet-5, were and continue to be used by musicians everywhere. Pitchfork writes that Smith was known as the “father of MIDI” for the work he put into creating the standard. MIDI is short for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, and it is used in virtually all (if not all) digital tools used by musicians, both amateur and professional.
Jim Seals: He was half of the 1970s hit-making group Seals and Crofts. Seals was the primary singer in the soft rock duo, with hits like “Summer Breeze” and “Diamond Girl.”
Grachan Moncur III: A jazz trombonist who came of age during the post-bop era of the 1960s.
Alec John Such: He was a co-founder and original bassist of Bon Jovi. While he left the band in 1994, Such was there for the big highs of the ride.
Julie Cruise: Was best known for her work with the B-52s and the haunting theme music to the television show Twin Peaks.
Gabe Baltazar: He was a Hawaiian-born saxophonist and flutist legend. His 70-year-long jazz history is an American music history, through wars and relocations and Asian-American jazz.
Brett Tuggle: Tuggle was reunion-era Fleetwood Mac’s keyboardist as well as David Lee Roth’s keyboardist. When the Fleetwood Mac reunion ended, Tuggle found himself out of the band and playing with Lindsey Buckingham.
Dennis Cahill: Cahill was a folk guitarist with The Gloaming, who worked on all kinds of musical projects over the years. His specialty was carrying the flame for traditional Irish folk music, and lighting the way into today.
Artie Kane: You may not know the name, but you know his piano work on films such as The Poseidon Adventure, Chinatown, The Cincinnati Kid, Wait Until Dark, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Deep, The Americanization of Emily, and McQ. His decades-long history as a composer and keyboard player in Hollywood took him out of Ohio, where he was born, and into the world.
Bernard Belle: Bernie, as he was known to his friends and family, was a music producer, composer, and arranger, as well as a multi-instrumentalist. He wrote songs for everyone from Michael Jackson to Whitney Houston. He helped produce and write songs with the New Jack Swing era of musicians that came under the umbrella of Terry Riley—acts like Guy, Keith Sweat, and Al B. Sure.
Adam Wade: Wade began as a crooner, appeared in films and television as an actor, and pioneered the game show space as the first Black person to host a network game show, Musical Chairs. After early success as a singer, working with Nat King Cole’s brother, Freddy. According to Wade himself, he had wanted to be the next Nat King Cole, but more people seemed to connect him with Johnny Mathis. “When I left Pittsburgh to come to New York City, I was trying to imitate Nat King Cole, my boyhood idol, not Johnny Mathis. So I guess that tells you how good my imitating skills were.”
Randy Rand: Rand was a founding member and the bassist of the 80s glam metal band Autograph. The group’s big hit came in 1984 with the song, “Turn up the Radio.”
Monty Norman: An English composer, Norman is known best for writing the James Bond Theme that everybody—and we mean everybody—can recognize instantly. It first appeared in the 1962 film Dr. No.
William Hart: Hart was the lead singer and songwriter for the Delfonics. The Delfonics hit the scene in the 1960s, out of Philadelphia, with songs like “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” and “La-La (Means I Love You).”
Vincent DeRosa: A legendary French horn player, DeRosa passed away at the tender age of 101. He played for decades and taught at the University of Southern California in the music department from the 1970s on. His talents were employed by other composers on films such as Jaws, The Sound of Music, and Rocky.
Michael Henderson: He played bass and he sang. He was sought after by greats, such as Miles Davis, Doctor John, Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Wonder.
Sidney Kirk: Kirk was a jazz pianist, based in Memphis. He was a part of The Isaac Hayes Movement. He played with many other artists as well. But let’s enjoy some keyboards.
Jimmy Sohns: The song was originally written and performed by Van Morrison, but it wasn’t until Shadows of Knight and Sohn sang “Gloria” in 1966 that it hit. When he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005, he told an interviewer: “When I was really young, and you’re growing up, and the relatives come over at Thanksgiving and Christmas and always ask you what you’re gonna be when you grow up. I always told them a baseball star or a rock ’n roll singer. And it was weird that it happened.”
Lamont Dozier: He was part of the songwriting team that put together hits like “Baby Love,” “Nowhere to Run,” “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” “Heatwave,” “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch),” “Band of Gold,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” and “You Keep Me Hangin On”—to name a few. Elon with The Holland brothers and Smokey Robinson, Dozier wrote almost every Motown hit you remember.
Sam Gooden: He was a founding member of the important soul group the Impressions. The group, which frequently focused on social issues of the day, and featured a young Curtis Mayfield, influenced artists such as Bob Marley over in Jamaica.
Mike Lang: Was a jazz pianist who made a career of playing anything with keys on “an estimated 2,000 film and TV scores dating back to the mid-1960s, including scores by virtually every great film composer of the past 50 years.”
Bill Pittman: He was a guitarist in the legendary sessions musicians known as the Wrecking Crew. He accompanied singers like Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Barbra Streisand. The talent of the Wrecking Crew lay in their ability to not only play well but their ability to play just about anything in any genre.
Olivia Newton-John: A huge pop star of the 1980s and the co-star of the film Grease, Newton-John was ubiquitous in the 1970s and 1980s.
Della Griffin: Griffin was a jazz vocalist and a drummer who was also a member of the first all-female R&B group in the 1950s, The Enchanters, which later evolved into The Dell-Tones.
Butch Thompson: He’s a jazz pianist who played all over the world. Millions knew his sound as part of the band on “A Prairie Home Companion.”
Helen Grayco: She was an actor and singer seen by Americans on The Spike Jones Show, where she would sing some of the standards of the day.
Dr. Mable John: She was Motown’s first female soloist. She was a member of Ray Charles’ Raelettes. She recorded at Stax. She wrote three novels as well. She even showed up in John Sayles’ film Honeydripper.
Monnette Sudler: The Philadelphia jazz guitarist was a part of an early 1970s Avant-guard movement. She became a bandleader, releasing albums at the end of the 1970s, and releasing her final album, Stay Strong, last year.
Ted Butterman: He played a jazz trumpet and entertained fans with his Ted Butterman’s Cubs Quintet at Wrigley Field for over 30 years.
Jerry Allison: The drummer and songwriter helped write songs like “Peggy Sue” and “That’ll Be The Day” for Buddy Holly and the Crickets. The backing band, who ended up being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well, got their name from Allison and Holly. “Buddy and I were practicing one day and decided we needed a group name. We liked a record by the Spiders called ‘Witchcraft,’ so we decided to be insects. We looked in the dictionary under insects and stopped at cricket. We had a lot of crickets in Texas that year, too.”