2017 was a year! Many experienced great success, incredible revivals, and amazing glow-ups. Our favorite artists provided the perfect soundtrack for the year, with their new releases, from DAMN to 4:44 to Grateful. But, with all the ups experienced throughout the year, we’ve had even more downs. 2017 claimed the lives of many people, leaving the world to mourn the loss of some of our favorite celebrities, leaders, activists, and icons.
As we gear up to leap into the New Year, it’s time to remember all of those that we lost in 2017.
Mary Tyler Moore – December 29, 1936-January 25, 2017
Actress Mary Tyler Moore was best known for her role in the television sitcoms “The Mary Tyler More Show,” as well as the “Dick Van Dyke Show.” After her time on television and film, she extended her reach to charity work and politics. At the age of 8, Moore died from cardiopulmonary arrest due to pneumonia.
Al Jarreau -March 12, 1940- February 12, 2017
Singer Alwin Lopez “Al” Jarreau’s rise to fame came in 1975 when Warner Bros Records noticed him. Years later, he released his most successful album, “Breakin’ Away,” and was among the performers on the hit charity song “We Are The World.” On February 12, Jarreau died of respiratory failure at the age of 76, just days after retiring from music.
Bill Paxton – May 17, 1955 – February 25, 2017
Actor and film director Bill Paxton was best known for his role in ‘The Terminator,” “Aliens, “Twister,” “Titanic,” and “Nightcrawler,” as well as his Golden Globe nominated performance in HBO’s “Big Love.” At the age of 61, Paxton died from a stroke, which came after complications of a heart surgery.
Norma McCorvey – September 22, 1947 – February 18, 2017
Norma McCorvey Nelson was best known by her legal pseudonym “Jane Roe,” when she was the plaintiff in the groundbreaking “Roe v. Wade” case in 1973. The case led U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibited the banning of abortions by individual state laws.
Chuck Berry – October 18, 1926 – March 18, 2017
Singer Chuck Berry rose to fame after developing a new music style, which would label him as one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. After years of lucrative touring career, with several hit records, film appearances, and businesses, Berry was found unresponsive at his home. He was 90-years-old.
Charlie Murphy – July 12, 1959 – April 12, 2017
Actor and comedian Charlie Murphy was best known for his role on Dave Chappelle’s sketch-comedy series “Chappelle Show.” As the older brother of comedian and actor Eddie Murphy, Charlie made a name for himself in Chappelle’s “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories” sketches as the late Rick James and Prince. The actor also appeared in several critically acclaimed films and TV shows, including Adult Swim’s “The Boondocks.” At the age of 57, Charlie died from leukemia on April 12, 2017.
Big Black – January 13, 1972 – May 9, 2017
Christopher “Big Black” Boykin was a television personality, who was best known for his role on MTV’s “Rob & Big, “ with skateboarder Rob Dyrdek. Big Black also had other MTV appearances on several Dyrdek shows, including Ridiculousness. On May 9, Boykin died from heart failure as a direct result of a heart attack
Adam West – September 19, 1928 – June 9, 2017
Actor William West Anderson, better known as Adam West, is best known for his role as Batman in the 1960s ABC series. Three films came from the series, one of which released posthumously after his 63-year career. During that time, he did several other voice-overs for animated series, including “The Fairly OddParents,” “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy.” At the age of 88, West died from leukemia.
Prodigy – November 2, 1974 – June 20, 2017
Rapper Albert Johnson, better known by his rap name Prodigy, rose to fame as one half of the rap duo, Mobb Deep. After several successful releases as a group, Prodigy went on to release his own solo projects, as he continued his run with his group member and friend, Havoc. Years later, after being hospitalized for complications related to Sickle Cell Anemia, the rapper died from accidental choking. He was 42.
Nelsan Ellis – November 30, 1977- July 8, 2017
Actor Nelson Ellis is best known for his performance in the HBO TV series, “True Blood,” as Lafayette Reynolds. He also held a role in the 2014 James Brown biopic, “Get on Up.” He also had a small role as Martin Luther King Jr. in Lee Daniels’ “The Butler.” On July 8, Ellis died from complications of heart failure. He was 39.
Chester Bennington – March 20, 1976 – July 20, 2017
Singer and songwriter Chester Bennington was the lead singer for the rock band Linkin Park, who rose to fame after the group’s debut album, “Hybrid Theory.” Bennington was also part of the collaborative EP with Jay-Z and Linkin Park, “Collision Course,” which was released four years after the group’s debut album. On July 20, 2017, Bennington committed suicide by hanging at his home in California.
Dick Gregory – October 12, 1932 – August 19, 2017
Comedian and activist Dick Gregory rose to fame as a pioneer in stand-up comedy for his sets that mocked controversial topics, such as racism and bigotry. His work catapulted him into a life of political activism, where he protested war and racism. In his later years, Gregory used his knowledge to become a speaker and author to promote spirituality. At the age of 84, Gregory died from heart failure.
Hugh Hefner – April 9, 1926 – September 27, 2017
Businessman and magazine publisher Hugh Hefner rose to fame as the founder and editor-in-chief of the legendary Playboy magazine. After creating a new genre of men’s entertainment material, he expanded his career through politics and philanthropy. At the age of 91, Hefner died from cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, and an E. coli infection.
Fats Domino – February 26, 1928 – October 24, 2017
Pianist and singer Antoine Dominique “Fats” Domino Jr., best known as Fats Domino was also a pioneer of rock and roll music. In 1949, Fats released “The Fat Man,” which has since been deemed the first million-selling Rock n’ Roll record. On October 24, 2017, Fats was found dead at his Louisiana home. He was 89.
Della Reese – July 6, 1931 – November 19, 2017
Gospel singer and actress Della Reese rose to fame as a singer with her 1959 hit, “Don’t You Know?” After her illustrious singing career, Reese moved to television, scoring major success from her religious series, “Touched by an Angel,” as Tess. At the age of 86, Reese died in her California home on November 19, 2017.
Combat Jack – July 8, 1964 – December 20, 2017
Hip Hop music attorney and executive Reggie Joseph Ossé, better known as Combat Jack, is best known for his work in the industry, representing the likes of Jay-Z and Damon Dash before retiring to work for The Source. He then went on to dominate the podcast industry with his own Internet radio show, which then catapulted into the Loud Speakers Network, which includes “The Read” with Kid Fury and Crissle, as well as “The Brilliant Idiots” with Charlamagne the God and Andrew Shultz. On December 20, Jack died from colon cancer just two months after announcing he’d been diagnosed.
We tried to fit in as many as we could, but for a more complete list, Click Here