By the Way

Britney Spears, Boy George and R2D2 — who lived and died in 2016?

A woman mourns outside the home of British musician George Michael in London on Tuesday. Michael died on Christmas Day. He was 53.
A woman mourns outside the home of British musician George Michael in London on Tuesday. Michael died on Christmas Day. He was 53. AP

I believe it was Charles Dickens who said, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Although I don’t think Mr. Dickens was referencing 2016, it is a pretty fitting statement for the year. So is the great Neil Young quote, “It’s better to burn out than it is to fade away.”

Unfortunately, the candles burned out this year for many beloved entertainers.

At the top of my list are Prince, David Bowie and Merle Haggard, as well as Leon Russell, Leonard Cohen, Glenn Frey and Harper Lee.

And no one was safe this year — even Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), R2D2 (Kenny Baker) and Admiral Ackbar (Erik Bauersfeld) are now one with the Force. Fisher died on Tuesday after she suffered a heart attack on Friday during a flight to Los Angeles from London.

I was saddened to hear of the passing of blue-eyed soul singer George Michael on Christmas. I’ve always been a fan of his music, from his pop hits with Wham! to his more R&B solo outings. This was the first guy to fill in for the late Freddie Mercury in Queen. That says volumes about his vocal abilities. He was a great singer.

In an interesting side note, he recorded one of his versions of “Careless Whisper” in Muscle Shoals with Jerry Wexler behind the board and Swampers David Hood and Roger Hawkins filling in the rhythym section. The version was never released because of a battle between Wexler and Columbia Records, who ended up releasing the song. You can hear the Muscle Shoals version below.

Gone in 2016

▪ Pat Harrington, actor

▪ Alan Rickman, actor (Professor Snape)

▪ Dan Haggerty, actor

▪ Sharon Jones, musician

▪ Guy Clark, musician

▪ Glenn Frey, musician

▪ David Bowie, musician

▪ Frank Sinatra Jr., singer

▪ Denise Matthews (Vanity), musician

▪ Prince, musician

▪ Merle Haggard, musician

▪ Leon Russell, musician

▪ Leonard Cohen, musician

▪ Erik Bauersfeld, actor (Admiral Ackbar)

▪ George Michael, musician

▪ Matt Roberts, musician (formerly of 3 Doors Down)

▪ Abe Vigoda, actor

▪ George Gaynes, actor

▪ Nancy Reagan, former first lady

▪ George Kennedy, actor

▪ Carrie Fisher, actress (Princess Leia)

▪ Garry Shandling, comedian

▪ Morley Safer, journalist

▪ Muhammad Ali, boxer

▪ Anton Yelchin, actor

▪ Garry Marshall, director

▪ Arnold Palmer, golfer

▪ Gene Wilder, actor

▪ Ron Glass, actor

▪ Fidel Castro, former president of Cuba

▪ John Glenn, astronaut and senator

▪ Alan Thicke, actor

▪ Kenny Baker, actor (R2D2)

▪ Zsa Zsa Gabor, actress

▪ Paul Kantner, musician

▪ Maurice White, musician

▪ Harper Lee, novelist

▪ Sir George Martin, producer

▪ Phife Dawg, musician

▪ Patty Duke, actress

▪ Joe Garagiola, baseball player and announcer

▪ Doris Roberts, actress

▪ Billy Paul, musician

▪ Gordie Howe, hockey player

▪ Pat Summitt, basketball coach

▪ Buddy Ryan, football coach

▪ Elie Wiesel, activist

▪ Pete Fountain, musician

▪ Steven Hill, actor

▪ Jose Fernandez, baseball player

▪ Janet Reno, former attorney general

▪ Robert Vaughn, actor

▪ Florence Henderson, actress

▪ Greg Lake, musician

▪ Kevin Meaney, comedian

▪ Carrie Fisher, actress

Not dead:

Britney Spears is not dead although someone hacked Sony’s Twitter account and said otherwise.

Boy George