MAY

?
​Little Johnny Harper, ??

Maxwell Street singer and frequent performer at The Water Hole in Chicago


5

Hillard "Sweet Pea" Atkinson, 74
BORDERLINE BLUES

R&B singer and one of the vocalists for Was (Not Was)


6
Merlin " Bronco" Brunkow, 79

Longtime sax player in the Twin Cities R&B scene; of natural causes


9
Little Richard, 87

BLUES-ISH

Pianist and singer who was a rock and roll trailblazer; of bone cancer


Betty Wright, 66
Soul blues singer famous for the classic, Clean Up Woman


11
Darick Campbell, 53
GOSPEL
Lap steel player with the Campbell Brothers


13

Lee O. Ellis Jr., 68

BLUES ADJACENT

Husband of Indianapolis-based blues singer Queen Delphine (of Queen Delphine and the Crown Jewels)


14
Melva Houston, 70

BORDERLINE BLUES

Backup singer on many Isaac Hayes-produced sides for Stax; of lung cancer


15
Phil May, 75

Member of the British band, Pretty Things


17
Lucky Peterson, 53

Master of the guitar and Hammond B3


17
Bob Levis, 68
Chicago area guitarist known as Barstool Bob and most famous for his association with Otis Rush 


18
Stan Mixon, 59

Chicago bass player


18

Willie K, 59
William Kahaiali'i, Hawaiian guitarist and son of jazz guitarist Manu Kahaiali'i who played jazz, blues and traditional Hawaiian music; of lung cancer


25
John H. Burnett, 81

BLUES ADJACENT

Former WDCB jazz DJ and leader of the jazz/swing band, the John Burnett Orchestra


JUNE
2

Carl "SweetMeet" Green, 71
San Francisco bay area sax player


4
Peter Clan Crawford, 69

Guitarist, founder of Red Beans Records, owner of B.L.U.E.S Etc.
and much more


7
Floyd Lee, 86

(aka Theodore Williams)

Mississippi vocalist/guitarist who played in the NY subway system for 30 years


7
Frank Bey, 74

Soul blues singer


8

Bonnie Pointer, 69

BLUES-ISH

One of the Pointer Sisters; of cardiac arrest


21

Walkin' Cane Mark, 53
Phoenix-based harp player and vocalist


27
Peter Carr, 70

Session musician who was a member of the famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section


27
Khari Parker, 46

BORDERLINE BLUES

Chicago-based jazz and gospel drummer


JULY

7
Ron "Spin Daddy" Regnas, 68

Bass player with Cadillac Groove and also  with Studebaker John and the Hawks andBilly King Band


16
Jamie Oldaker, 68

Drummer for Leon Russell, Eric Clapton and more


25
Peter Green, 73

Founding member of Fleetwood Mac, widely considered the best guitarist to come out of the British blues scene


25

Helen Woods Jones, 96
BORDERLINE BLUES

Groundbreaking female trombonist and member of all-female jazz band, the International Sweethearts of Rhythm in the 1940s


AUGUST
17
Cleother (Cleo) "Pete" Williams, 81

Chicago drummer who played with many of our local legends, including Howlin' Wolf,  Willie Kent and Buddy Guy


20
Justin Townes Earle, 38

BORDERLINE BLUES
Americana singer/songwriter and musician and son of musician Steve Earle; of suicide


21

Bryan Lee, 77
Blind blues guitarist and singer who, for many years, fronted the house band at the Old Absinthe House on Bourbon Street in New Orleans


31

Willis Prudhomme, 88
ZYDECO

Leader of the band The Zydeco Express


Rest in Peace


SEPTEMBER

2

Donald "Duck" Jennings, 82

BLUES-ISH

Austin, TX-based trumpet player who was a member of The Texas Trumpets 


6
Stering Magee, 84
(aka Mr. Satan)

Harlem street musician who played with harp player Adam Gussow in the duo, Satan and Adam; of complications from COVID-19


7
Big Doo Whopper, 67
(aka Cornell Williams)

Singer, who was about to release a new recording on Delmark


12

Robert Smith Hagan, 61
Memphis street musician who performed as Beretta Mo Betta
 


16
​Roy "C" Hammond, 81

Southern soul blues singer, songwriter and producer; of liver cancer


23

Sidney Selby, 89

(aka Guitar Crusher)
American blues guitarist/harp player/singer, based for many years in Berlin; of complications from an operation on his spine


26

Mark Stone, ??
BLUES ADJACENT

Original bass player for Van Halen, who was replaced by Michael Anthony


OCTOBER

4
John Valenteyn, 73

Co-founder of the Toronto Blues Society, a DJ and member of the Maple Blues Awards Steering Committee


6
Eddie Van Halen, 65
BLUES ADJACENT

Rock god and leader of the band, Van Halen; of throat cancer


6

Reverend John Wilkins, 76
Singer and son of blues singer Robert Wilkins; of COVID-19


12

Kim Massie, 63
St. Louis-based singer


17
Bob Biggs, 74

BLUES ADJACENT
Founder of Los Angeles independent label Slash Records; due to complications from Lewy body dementia


18

Larry Van Loon, 69
Nashville keyboardist who played with Andy T. Nixon, Shaun Murphy and others


19
Spencer Davis, 81

Welsh musician who founded the. blues-ish band, The Spencer Davis Group; of pneumonia


21 
Gavin. Andrew McKee, 35
(aka Ben Richards)

Road manager for the Eric Gales Band


28
Angela Kilgo-Cunningham, ?

Vocalist for the Chris Canas Band; of cancer


31

Rance Allen, 71

GOSPEL
Singer for the Rance Allen Group; of complications from surgery


NOVEMBER

6
Scrap Iron, 69
(aka Frank Robinson Jr.)
Longtime road manager for Little Milton and in recent years a fixture on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruises; the result of a car accident in Memphis


19
Hal Yeagy, 63

Owner of the Slippery Noodle Inn in Indianapolis, who transformed it from a lunch counter with two employees to an esteemed blues music destination; of cancer


26

Herman Green, 90
​BORDERLINE BLUES

​Sax player and Memphis jazz and blues icon


DECEMBER

10
Joseph "Mojo" Morganfield, 56

The youngest son of Muddy Waters, who was pursuing a music career of his own and was working on a CD at the time of his death; of a heart attack


16

Carl Mann, 78

BLUES-ISH

Rockabilly singer who was one of the last artists that Sam Phillips recorded


23

Leslie West, 75

BLUES-ISH

Rock guitarist and founder of the band, Mountain, ​most famous for the song, Mississippi Queen; of cardiac arrest

OTHER PASSINGS

Several Chicago blues musicians also lost family members this year:

Mzz Reese lost her father, the Legendary Godfather

Chick Rodgers lost her mom

Shorty Mack lost his wife

Rico McFarland lost his niece

JANUARY

1

Marty Grebb, 74

Chicago-based musician who worked with everyone from Eric Clapton and Etta James to Leon Russell;  keyboard player for the Chicago band, The Buckinghams


2

Tom Hyslop, 56

Staff writer and contributing editor for Blues Revue and Blues Music Magazine


19 
Robert Parker, 89

BORDERLINE BLUES

New Orleans singer know for the 1966 song, Barefootin'


22

Brett Champlin

Guitarist and founder of the Chicago Blues Camp, which he sold in late 2019


FEBRUARY

4

Reggie Wayne Morris, ??

Baltimore-based guitarist


7
​Jack Cohen

A member of the San Francisco blues community who tirelessly promoted the blues scene in the Bay area.


10

Scott Sessions
Trumpet player for the Denver-based band, The Movers and Shakers, a band that made to the 2020 semifinals at the International Blues Challenge; murdered


15

Ron Thompson, 66

San Francisco Bay area guitarist who worked with many musicians during his career, including John Lee Hooker,  Lowell Fulson and Big Mama Thorton; complications from diabetes-related illnesses


15

Jan Michael Faircloth, 43
Kansas City area blues drummer; of terminal cancer


17

Henry Gray, 95

American blues piano player who played with Chicago blues royalty–Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Junior Wells


19
Little Al Thomas, 89

Local Chicago musician


28
Paris Delane
BORDERLINE BLUES

Vocalist with the R&B band, Sonia Dada


19

Little Al Thomas, 89

Local Chicago musician who often played on Maxwell Street


MARCH

6

Little Charlie Baty, 66

One of the most respected guitarists of his generation, best known as the leader of Little Charlie and the Nightcats (now Rick Estrin and the Nightcats); of a heart attack


6
McCoy Tyner, 81 
BORDERLINE BLUES

Jazz pianist known for his work with the John Coltrane Quartet


9

Snooky Flowers, 79
Sax player and member of Janis Joplin's Kozmic Blues Band


17
George "Duke" Albiez, 69

Owner of Duke's Bistro, a blues and jazz club in South Bend, IN


25
Fantastic L'Roy, 74
aka Leroy Perryman

Soul blues singer who co-owned the South Side club, Linda's Lounge, with his wife; of COVID-19

25

Landon Cecil Spradin, 66

Evangelical Christian pastor and blues musician in Virginia; of COVID-19


29

David Edmond, 62

Blues singer and bassist who played in the Lafayette, LA, blues and soul scene; Was a longtime member of Roscoe Chenier's Inner City Blues Band


30
Bill Withers, 76

BLUES-ISH

Singer/songwriter famous for Ain't No Sunshine

APRIL

1
Marcus "MG" Gibsons, 41

Milwaukee area drummer


2

Lysa Dawn Robinson, 55
BLUES ADJACENT

Percussionist and former drummer for the Grammy Award-winning soul singer Billy Paul


5

Ben Elliot, 67
BLUES ADJACENT

Engineer and record producer who recorded many musicians, including Levon Helm and Huber Sumlin


5

Neil Lasher, 72
BLUES ADJACENT

Industry executive and MusiCares supporter


6

Berry T. Harris, 90
Wichita-based blues singer/guitarist


7
John Prine, 73 
BLUES-ISH

Chicago's own  master storyteller and American roots singer/songwriter; of complications from COVID-19


8

Peter Ecklund, 74

BORDERLINE BLUES
Cornetist, composer and arranger specializing in American pre-swing jazz who played with Leon Redbone, the David Bromberg Band, Gregg Allman and others; of complications due to Parkinson's Disease


9

Doug Rice,72
South Bend, IN, blues musician


10
Big George Brock, 87

One of the last of the great Mississippi Delta bluesmen


15

Lee Gates, 82

Milwaukee guitarist, singer and songwriter who was a cousin of Albert Collins


14
Roosevelt E. Johnson, ??

Chicago bass player who played with a number of different bands, including Low-reen and the Maxwell St. Market Blues Band; of COVID-19


15
Knox Phillips, 65

Son of Sun Records founder Sam Phillips


16

Sir Walter Scott, 76

Chicago guitarist who had a regular gig at the xxx on Chicago's far Southeast side


21
John Cole, 78

Rochester, NY-based singer/guitarist who formed the John Cole Blues Band


​26
Alton " Big Al" Carson, 66
New Orleans blues singer/traditional jazz tuba player and trumpeter; of a heart attack


27
Troy Sneed, 52

GOSPEL
​Grammy-nominated American gospel singer, songwriter, and musician; of COVID-19


28

Bobby Lewis, 95

BORDERLINE BLUES

R&B singer best know for the 1960s megahit Tossin' and Turnin'

A look back at the musicians and members of the blues
(and blues-ish) communities who left us in 2020

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