UPDATED:11:07 a.m. ET., Oct. 31
While death is an inevitable part of life, that fact doesn’t make it any easier when it is reported that someone has died.
Aaron Spears, a Grammy-nominated drummer who has played with Usher, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande and other major pop stars, has passed away at the age of 47.
His wife Jessica confirmed the news on the musician’s Instagram account on Monday (Oct. 30) in a statement, signed by herself and the couple’s son, August.
The cause of death is not known at press time
Learn more about the who passed away in 2023
The post Rest In Power: Notable Black Folks Who We’ve Lost In 2023 appeared first on Black America Web.
Rest In Power: Notable Black Folks Who We’ve Lost In 2023 was originally published on blackamericaweb.com
1. Aaron SpearsSource:Getty
Aaron Spears, a Grammy-nominated drummer who has played with Usher, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, and other major pop stars, has passed away at the age of 47.
2. Richard RoundtreeSource:Getty
Black Hollywood has lost a true legend with the passing of Richard Roundtree. Roundtree is widely known as “the first black action hero” for his portrayal as John Shaft in the 1971 movie Shaft. The movie’s overwhelming success fostered four sequels and earned Roundtree a nomination for a Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor in 1972.
Roundtree passed away in his L.A. home at the age of 81 reportedly after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.
3. DJ Mark The 45 KingSource:Getty
DJ Premier revealed the 45 King’s death via a tribute post on Instagram. “His sound was unlike any other from his heavy drums and his horns were so distinct on every production,” reads part of Premier’s tribute, where he details 45 King’s production on an early Gang Starr single.
4. Rudolph Isley (Left)Source:Getty
Rudolph Isley, the visionary founder of The Isley Brothers, has passed away at the age of 84.
He died Wednesday, October 12th in Illinois, and the exact cause of his passing is unknown, as reported by TMZ. An inside source shared with the news outlet that it is believed he suffered a heart attack.
5. Hughes Van Ellis, Tulsa Race Massacre survivor
Hughes Van Ellis, one of three remaining survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre died Monday morning in Denver, Colorado, at the age of 102, according to KJRH.
Ellis, who was only a year old during the Tulsa Race Massacre, was a proud U.S. Army Veteran who fought in WWII alongside the British.
Ellis told KJRH during a 2021 interview that they barely escaped the massacre with their lives and losing everything made it tough to survive.
“My sister Viola told me, she said it was thought guns were going off,” Van Ellis told KJRH. “Dad looked outside to see people getting gunshot, houses getting burned. So, there’s only six little kids. I was a baby. So, my father just managed to barely get out, just with the clothes on our backs. We didn’t have time to get nothing else together.”
Ellis also talked about his time in a very segregated army.
“Back then they had a Black army and they had a white army,” said Van Ellis. “You were treated differently than the white army. Sometimes you couldn’t get supplies you needed in the Black army. Sometimes they weren’t able to get you shoes, stuff like that, you know?”
In May 2021, Ellis and his sister Viola Fletcher, 109, who also survived the massacre, testified in front of Congress, sharing their story about living through one of America’s most tragic moments in history.
“I will never forget the violence of the white mob when we left our home,” Fletcher said during his testimony. “I still see Black men being shot, Black bodies lying in the street. I still smell smoke and see fire. I still see Black businesses being burned. I still hear airplanes flying overhead. I hear the screams. I have lived through the massacre every day. Our country may forget this history, but I cannot.”
Their testimony was so compelling that President Joe Biden proclaimed May 31, 2021, a Day of Remembrance: 100 Years After The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
6. Zoleka MandelaSource:Getty
Zoleka was the granddaughter of Nelson Mandela’s second wife, Winnie and was only 10 when her grandfather was released from prison in 1990 after 27 years in detention. Nelson Mandela died in 2013 at the age of 95. Through Mr Mandela’s legacy Zoleka stood up for the betterment of her community. After her 13-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident in 2010 she campaigned for better road safety. She later lost a son who was born prematurely. She is survived by four children who she loved very much!
7. David Mack III, Lawmaker and Radio Host
Former South Carolina lawmaker and radio host, David Mack III, died September 20 at the age of 69. According to friends and colleagues, Mack had been undergoing cancer treatments, but the specific cause of death has not been announced.
David Mack III served in South Carolina’s House District 109 from 1997 to 2021. He was a committed supporter of civil rights and equality for Black people not only in his hometown of North Charleston but also state and nationwide.
Mack also served on the board of the S.C. Coalition for Black Voter Participation, the Progressive Network, Hollings Cancer Center and was a member of the North Charleston branch of the NAACP.
In the 80’s Mack wrote columns for the The Chronicle newspaper before transitioning into a radio host called the David Mack Radio Show. He was also the president of his own media company Sunrise Communications.
“A wise man always willing to find solutions rather than complain about challenges, Rep. Mack was not only a dedicated member of the SCLBC (S.C. Legislative Black Caucus) and former chairman, but also a true leader, and a friend to all,” SCLBC Chair Ivory Thigpen told the Post and Courier. “His leadership and his voice will be very much missed.”
8. Irish Grinstead, SingerSource:Getty
On Saturday (Sept 16), group member Irish Grinstead passed away, according to Lemisha Grinstead, her sister and fellow groupmate.
“It is with great sadness that I have to let you know that my beautiful sister and friend has passed away this evening,” Lemisha’s post read. “She has had a long battle and she is finally at peace. That girl was as bright as the stars! She was not only beautiful on the outside, but also within. Sharing the stage with her was a joy I will cherish for the rest of my life! We, the family ask for prayers and respect for our privacy as we grieve an outstanding loss to our family. Love always, Misha.”
9. Former NFL wide receiver Mike Williams
The Buccaneers organization released a statement sending their condolences to the family.
“We are saddened to hear of the untimely death of Mike Williams, which has left our organization, his former teammates and fans with very heavy hearts,” said the Bucs organization. “We send our deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones as they mourn this tragedy.”
10. Brandon Hunter, NBA Player
Former NBA player Brandon Hunter died this week at the age of 42. His cause of death has not been publicly released. Hunter was a standout player at Ohio University, earning three All-MAC First Team awards. The Cincinnati native was the 56th overall pick in the second round of the 2003 NBA draft. He played his NBA ball with the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic.
“We are terribly saddened to learn of the loss of our former teammate, Brandon Hunter,” the team said in a statement. “We send our deepest condolences to the entire Hunter family.”
11. Bill Pinkney, American Sailor
Bill Pinkney, the first Black American to sail around the world solo via the Capes died this week at the age of 87.
According to reports, Pinkney died after complications from falling down a staircase. He suffered a serious brain injury from the fall.
Captain Bill Pinkney was most known for his adventures on the water. In 1992 the Black sailor sailed around the world by himself, leaving from Boston, sailing around Cape Horn and returning to Boston
12. Ron Cephas JonesSource:Getty
Actor Ron Cephas Jones best known for playing William Hill on ‘This Is Us,’ passed away at the age of 66 reportedly after a “long-standing pulmonary issue.”
13. Clarence AvantSource:Getty
Clarence Avant, known as the “Black Godfather” to the world of entertainment has passed away. Avant died in died Sunday at his home in Los Angeles, No cause of death was provided
A piece of the family statement read, “Through his revolutionary business leadership, Clarence became affectionately known as ‘the Black Godfather’ in the worlds of music, entertainment, politics, and sports. Clarence leaves behind a loving family and a sea of friends and associates that have changed the world and will continue to change the world for generations to come. The joy of his legacy eases the sorrow of our loss. Clarence passed away gently at home in Los Angeles on Sunday, August 13, 2023.”
Avant was 92 years old.
Rapper Magoo, best known for his lighthearted appearances on tracks like “Up Jumps Da Boogie” and “Luv 2 Luv U,” has passed away. He was 50 years old.
15. Willie Perry Jr. AKA DJ CasperSource:Getty
Music fans got some sad news Monday (August 7) as news broke that DJ Casper, the Chicago native who birthed an international dance craze with the “Cha Cha Slide,” has passed away. He was 58 years old.
Boorn Willie Perry Jr, Casper had been diagnosed with kidney and liver cancer in 2016. His time in the limelight began with the “Cha Cha Slides” released in 2000. The record, which was accompanied by a dance, topped music charts in the United States and abroad. Even twenty years later, the track remains a popular song of choice at parties, celebrations, and sporting events.
16. Attorney-Professor and Equal Justice/Legal Rights Activist Charles OgletreeSource:Getty
Attorney-Professor Charles Ogletree also refereed as the gentleman scholar with a profound intellect and desire for “justice for all,” died Friday August 4, 2023 at age 70.
Professor Ogletree went public about his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease in 2016. He retired from Harvard Law School a few years later.
Professor Ogletree’s s scope and influence were wide and had a great impact. Harvard Law Today stated, “Throughout his career, Ogletree was a nationally recognized leader in addressing issues of race, justice, and equality. His teaching shaped generations of students working on those issues, including the future President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Ogletree’s mentorship of law students was renowned across Harvard’s campus and beyond.”
17. New Jersey Lt. Governor Sheila OliverSource:Getty
New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver was the first woman of color to serve in a statewide elected office in the history of New Jersey and served as the state’s lieutenant governor for five years starting in January 2018
18. YNG Cheese, the son of Rapper/Podcaster Gillie Da Kid
Gillie’s cousin and co-host of the Million Dollaz Worth of Game podcast, Wallo posted about Cheese’s passing on his official Instagram account, saying “Lil Cuz usually when I talk to you, I got a lot to tell you. Tonight the pain in my heart & tears spoke to you. I love you beyond life Cheese. I got your father, Rest Well!” Tap To Learn More
19. Mutulu ShakurSource:pinterest
Activist Kamau Franklin tweeted that Shakur died Thursday night. While no cause of death was immediately reported, Shakur had been suffering from terminal cancer. He was reportedly living with his family in Southern California following his release
“Comrade Mutulu Shakur: veteran of the Revolutionary Action Movement, Republic of New Afrika & Black Liberation Army leader, fighter and political prisoner of 36yrs passes on to the ancestors,” the Malcolm X Movement confirmed on Twitter late Friday morning. “We stay loyal to your path.”
20. Clark Haggans
21. Big Pokey
Late Saturday night (June 17) footage landed online of Pokey fainting during a performance in Beaumont, Texas. And as hours passed, the city prayed and hoped he would pull through. Unfortunately Pokey, born Milton Powell, has passed away at age 45. As part of the Screwed Up Click, Pokey helped plant the flag for H-Town as of a force of its own on the music scene, and his loss will be felt forever.
22. Ray Lewis, III
TMZ Sports confirmed Lewis III’s death, but there are no details as to what caused his tragic passing. Looking to follow in his father’s footsteps and hopefully make it into the NFL, he was a star running back at Lake Mary Prep H.S. in Florida, rushing for 1,898 yards and 20 touchdowns plus netting 676 yards and four touchdowns receiving.
He played at Miami (Fla.), Coastal Carolina, and Virginia Union for his college career.
23. John BeasleySource:Getty
Hollywood actor John Beasley has died at the age of 79. His death which, was confirmed by his son Tyrone Beasley, comes after John had been undergoing tests on his liver. His condition unexpectedly worsened right before his passing.
John Beasley appeared in movies and Broadway plays for the past two decades. One of his most memorable roles came in 1993 when Beasley played an assistant coach in the famous football movie Rudy. That same year Beasley also starred in Losing Isaiah across from Halle Berry.
His movie list is quite remarkable. He also starred in The Mighty Ducks, The Apostle, Little Big League, The Sum of All Fears, as well as the remake of Walking Tall and most recently the 2022 film Firestarter.
Beasley also spent quite some time onstage. He recently appeared on a Chicago Broadway musical The Notebook, which is based on the book which became a very popular film in 2004. Beasley appeared on TV as well, appearing on shows like Missing Persons, Early Edition, CSI, Judging Amy, Boston Legal, Treme and The Mandalorian.
24. Bill Perkins, Harlem politicianSource:Getty
Bill Perkins, the venerable New York City politician who served in the city council and state senate over the course of several decades representing his hometown of Harlem, has died at the age of 74. He died on the night of May 15 in his Harlem home, his wife confirmed with the Amsterdam News.
“After a lifetime fighting for justice, equality and to make the of our community heard, my husband, former City Councilman and State Senator died at his home in Harlem, the community he loved and fought for his entire life” Pamela Green Perkins said in a statement. “May he rest in peace and power.”
No cause of death was immediately reported.
Perkins, a Democrat, was remembered by the New York Daily News as a politician who “emerged as a leading progressive voice — a supporter of the Central Park Five, an early voice against the Iraq War and for LGBT rights.”
Perkins served in the New York state senate from 2007 to 2017. He was first elected to the New York City Council in 1997.
When his city council term limit expired in 2005, he ran for Manhattan Borough President. While he came up short in that race, the loss paved the way for Perkins’ successful run in the state senate, where he would serve for a decade.
25. Larry “Gator” Rivers, Harlem Globetrotters legendSource:Getty
26. Sheldon Reynolds
Philip Bailey announced the news on this Instagram page “This news of Sheldon Reynolds transition is very sad for all of us who knew and worked with him. Sheldon vocally had Reese down. That’s what Maurice said when he hired Sheldon to share vocals and play guitar. Sheldon was an excellent addition to the band, a great writer and producer, and a genuinely kind and loving person. He will be missed. Our condolences to his family.
Rest in Peace.
Listening to Sunday Morning”
27. Tina TurnerSource:Getty
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Tina Turner. With her music and her boundless passion for life, she enchanted millions of fans around the world and inspired the stars of tomorrow. Today we say goodbye to a dear friend who leaves us all her greatest work: her music. All our heartfelt compassion goes out to her family. Tina, we will miss you dearly. (© Peter Lindbergh)”
28. Jim BrownSource:Getty
Cleveland Browns legend Jim Brown has passed away. He was 87.
Jim Brown is considered by many to be the greatest football player to ever live.
Brown, a prominent civil rights leader, was the NFL’s MVP in 1965. He rushed for 12,312 yards in his 9-year career. He had 106 rushing touchdowns, 126 total touchdowns, and 15,549 all-purpose yards.
29. Tori Bowie
Three-time Olympic Gold medalist, Tori Bowie, has died. She was 32. Bowie became a standout athlete at the 2016 Rio Olympics where she put on a stellar performance as the anchor leg on the US women’s track and field team alongside Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, and English Gardner. News of her untimely death has shocked the Internet.
“We’re devastated to share the very sad news that Tori Bowie has passed away,” Icon Management said in a statement on Twitter. “We’ve lost a client, dear friend, daughter and sister. Tori was a champion … a beacon of light that shined so bright! We’re truly heartbroken and our prayers are with the family and friends.”
30. Harry BelafonteSource:Getty
Belafonte, along with Sidney Poitier, also helped bankroll the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the “Mississippi Freedom Summer” of 1964. He also served as chairman of the International Symposium of Artists and Intellectuals for African Children in Dakar, Senegal. Belafonte successfully leveraged his entertainment popularity to help drive social change all over the world.
Friends, family and fans took to social media to celebrate Harry Belafonte’s legacy and remember the leader, entertainer and civil rights pioneer.
“May Harry Belafonte, the lionhearted civil rights hero, rest in peace,” tweeted journalist Christian Amanpour. “He inspired generations around the whole world in the struggle for non-violent resistance justice and change. We need his example now more than ever.”
31. Rasheeda Williams, AKA Koko Da DollSource:Getty
From Sundance Film Festival Twitter:
32. Otis Redding IIISource:Getty
Born in 1963, Otis III was only three when his famous father died in a plane crash on December 10, 1967. However, Otis III and his older brother, Dexter, would keep their father’s musical legacy alive with their funk band, The Reddings.
The Reddings would achieve moderate success, releasing six studio albums between 1980 and 1988. Their singles included “Remote Control” (peaking at #6 on Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart) and “Call The Law” (#16 on Hot Black Singles).
33. Pianist, Ahmad JamalSource:Getty
34. Howell Wayans
Howell Wayans is the father to Keenan Ivory, Damon, Shawn, Dwayne, Kim, Nadia, Elvira, Diedra, Vonnie and Marlon. Their family is arguably the most successful Black family in Entertainment. Howell Wayans lost his wife Elvira in 2020.
Howell’s children took to social to express their emotions around their father’s loss and touched on their dad’s legacy.
“Thank you Pop for being an example of a Man to all your boys. I pray all young black boys can grow up to be a Man like you,” Marlon wrote on Instagram. “Baby boy loves you. And if ever i need you i know exactly where to find you… in my Bible that now sits by bed. Rest well. Kiss Ma for me. Tell her her babies miss her,” the actor continued. “I got two angels. I feel y’all lifting me already.”
Diedra also took to Instagram to share a heartfelt message about her father.
“My Heart is Heavy,” she wrote on her Instagram. “I thank God for allowing Us to have so many years of love, memories and great parents. The kind that never gave up on their kids. I know I was a handful but through y’all tough love, discipline and devotion, I became a phenomenal woman just like you Momta. A Spiritual woman like you Dad. And so it ends with a beautiful love story. Back together again. I can only imagine the joy y’all experienced seeing and holding each other again.”
35. Randall Robinson, Anti-Apartheid Icon And TransAfrica FounderSource:Getty
Robinson, who was also a lawyer, author, and the founder of TransAfrica, a nonprofit advocacy group that influenced U.S. foreign policy as it pertains to countries in the African diaspora, died Friday. Journalist Roland Martin tweeted on Saturday that Robinson’s sister confirmed the death in a text message that her brother “passed away yesterday at dawn.”
36. Willis Reed, NBA Legend
Willis Reed, a former 7-time All-Star for the New York Knicks, has passed away. He was 80 years old.
Reed was drafted in the second round by the Knicks in the 1964 NBA draft. He was that year’s Rookie of the Year and went to seven straight All-Star games. He also made the All-NBA Team five times. The former center and power forward helped New York win titles in 1970 and 1973, and was the league MVP in the 1969-70 season.
37. Lance Reddick, ActorSource:Getty
Lance Reddick, the actor widely known for his role in the hit cable crime drama, “The Wire,” has died, according to reports.
First reported by TMZ, Reddick was found dead at his home in California on Friday morning. His cause of death was not immediately reported.
TMZ reported that law enforcement said the death of the 60-year-old “appears to be natural.”
NBC News published a statement from Reddick’s publicist asking to respect the actor’s grieving family’s privacy.
“Acclaimed actor Lance Reddick passed away suddenly this morning from natural causes,” Mia Hansen said. “Lance will be greatly missed. Please respect his family’s privacy at this time.”
Reddick also made a name for starring in the John Wick movie series, the latest of which he had been in the middle of promoting when he died.
“John Wick: Chapter 4” is scheduled to be released in movie theaters on March 24.
Reddick rose to fame playing the character of Baltimore Police Lieutenant Cedric Daniels, who appeared in all five seasons of “The Wire” on HBO.
Acting wasn’t Reddick’s only talent in the arts.
In 2011, he released his first album, “Contemplations and Rememberances.”
He previously attended the prestigious Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where he studied classical composition. He also played piano and said he always wanted to be a musician, but the acting jobs came first, which allowed him to take care of his family.
Reddick is survived by his wife, Stephanie Reddick, and two children, daughter Yvonne Nicole and son Christopher Reddick.
38. Felton Spencer, former NBA playerSource:Getty
Before Spencer took his talents to the NBA, he was a standout student-athlete at the University of Louisville. Spencer ended his college career with h 1,168 points and 694 rebounds. He also holds the school record for career field goal percentage (62.8%). During his time at the school, he helped the Cardinals win three consecutive Metro Conference tournaments and two Sweet 16 appearances.
39. Otis Taylor, NFL Player
Former NFL wide receiver and Hall of Famer Otis Taylor died last week at the age of 80. According to his family, Taylor had been battling Parkinson’s disease and dementia for more than a decade. According to ESPN, the former Kansas City Chiefs star was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and associated dementia in 1990, and in 2012, his family filed a lawsuit against the NFL claiming it was legally responsible for health issues he experienced beginning with seizures in 1969.
Taylor spent all 10-plus years of his career in Kansas City, where he was a fourth-round pick out of Prairie View A&M in the 1965 AFL draft. He went on to have two 1,000-yard seasons during an era in which the passing game was still evolving, and he finished his career with 7,306 receiving yards and 57 touchdown catches.
“My family and I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to Otis’ wife Regina, his sister Odell and the entire Taylor family as we mourn his passing,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said in a statement. “He was one of the most dynamic receivers of his era, and he helped revolutionize the position. Off the field, he was kind and dedicated to his community. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Otis’ legacy will live forever.”
40. Wayne Shorter, jazz legendSource:Getty
Legendary jazz musician Wayne Shorter died on March 2 at the age of 89 in Los Angeles. His death was confirmed by his publicist Alisse Kingsley.
The saxophonist and composer was one of the most influential jazz musicians on the planet.
Coming in prominence in the 1950s, Shorter was the primary composer for Art Blakey’s Bass Messengers. He would later partner with Miles Davis joining his Second Great Quintet, then co-founding the world-renowned jazz fusion band Weather Report.
Shorter composed 20 albums as a bandleader of the Weather Report. He also recorded several albums for Blue Note Records, composing the majority of the music.
41. Zandra Flemister
42. Huey ‘Piano’ Smith, rock ‘n roll pianistSource:Getty
Huey “Piano” Smith, whose two-fisted keyboard style and rambunctious songs propelled the sound of New Orleans R&B into the pop Top 10 in the late 1950s, died on Feb. 13 at his home in Baton Rouge. He was 89.
His daughter Acquelyn Donsereaux confirmed his death.
Mr. Smith wrote songs that became cornerstones of New Orleans R&B and rock ’n’ roll perennials, notably “Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu,” “Don’t You Just Know It” and “Sea Cruise.”
43. Lorenzo “Lo” Jelks, pioneering TV reporter
Lorenzo “Lo” Jelks, the first Black television reporter in Atlanta, has died at age 83.
The media milestone was reached when WSB-TV hired him in 1967. He would remain with the station through 1976.
44. Thomas W. Dortch Jr.Source:Getty
Atlanta civic leader Thomas W. Dortch Jr., the chairman of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation’s board and former leader of 100 Black Men of America, has died at the age of 72. No cause or date of Dortch’s death was immediately reported. The Georgia native was also a successful businessman in his own right.
45. Stanley Wilson Jr., former NFL playerSource:Getty
Stanley Wilson Jr., a former NFL cornerback with the Detroit Lions, died on Feb. 1 in police custody. He was just 40 years old.
46. AKA, rapperSource:Getty
AKA, a South African rapper, was shot to death on Feb. 10 outside of a restaurant in the city of Durban. He was 35 years old.
The police said that AKA, 35, had been walking to his car on a popular nightlife strip shortly after 10 p.m. when two armed people approached from across the street and fired several shots at close range before running away.
AKA, whose legal name was Kiernan Forbes, and another man died at the scene, the police said. Although the police did not name the second victim, South African news reports identified him as AKA’s close friend Tebello Motsoane, a 34-year-old chef and music entrepreneur known as Tibz.
47. Roslyn Pope, civil rights leader
Roslyn Pope, who as a senior at Spelman College in Atlanta wrote a 1960 manifesto that set the stage for dramatic advances in civil rights in the city and inspired generations of activists around the country, died on Jan. 19 in Arlington, Texas. She was 84.
Spelman College confirmed the death.
48. Charlie Thomas, of the DriftersSource:Getty
Charlie Thomas, who recorded memorable songs like “There Goes My Baby” and “Under the Boardwalk” with the Drifters, the silken-voiced R&B group that had a long string of hits from 1959 to 1964 and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Fame, died on Jan. 31 at his home in Bowie, Md. He was 85.
The singer Peter Lemongello Jr., a close friend, said the cause was liver cancer.
Mr. Thomas, a tenor, was a Drifter for more than 60 years, from the version of the group that had its first hits in the late 1950s to the version he led and toured with until the pandemic struck.
49. Trugoy The Dove, 54
Trugoy The Dove, co-founder of the legendary Hip-Hop trio De La Soul has died. The cause of Death has not been released to the public. Trugoy, born David Jude Jolicoeur along with high school friends Posdnuos (Kelvin Mercer) and Maseo (Vincent Mason) would form De La Soul in the mid-80s. The group would go on to release their groundbreaking debut “3 Feet High and Rising” in 1988. Their more conscious style of rap made them known as “Hip-Hop Hippies.” De La Soul, along with A Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, and Black Sheep would be known as the “Native Tounges,” delivering more positive-minded, Afrocentric, and eclectic lyrics behind sampled beats that would inspire a generation.
50. Barrett Strong, 82
The Motown Museum confirmed the passing of singer/songwriter Barrett Strong on Jan. 29. Strong sang “Money (That’s What I Want)” which became Motown Records’ first hit in 1959.
51. Brandon Smiley, 32Source:Getty
“I just had bad news this morning. I’m on the way to the airport to get to Birmingham. I just want everybody to pray for me, pray for our family,” Rickey said in a video. “My son, Brandon Smiley, has passed away this morning.”
No official word on his passing.
52. Jesse Lemonier, 25Source:Getty
His former team, the Detroit Lions released a statement on Twitter, saying “We are shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of former Detroit Lion Jessie Lemonier,” the Detroit Lions wrote in a statement shared via Twitter. “Jessie was a model teammate and wonderful young man who is gone far too soon. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”
53. CJ Harris, 31Source:Getty
According to TMZ, the former American Idol contestant suffered a heart attack. He was only 31 years old.
54. Arthur Duncan, 89Source:Getty
55. Charles White, 64Source:Getty
56. Kevin Lemons, 44
Official Announcement from The Lemons Family 🕊️
It is with great sadness that we announce the transition of our Founder – Kevin Lemons. Please keep his wife Tiunna, Family and Higher Calling lifted in prayer as we all process this sudden loss. Thank you all for the outpouring of love already shown. We are so appreciative and grateful for each of you! 🍋🕊️
57. Gordy Harmon, 79Source:Getty
Gordy Harmon, a founding member of the R&B group The Whispers, died Thursday in his sleep at his Los Angeles home.
58. Uche Nwaneri, 38Source:Getty
Jacksonville Jaguars co-owner Tony Khan tweeted “Rest In Peace, Uche Nwaneri. Nwaneri played 7 seasons with the Jaguars, 2007-2013, and forged a strong bond with the Jags fans that’s remained to this day. On behalf of the Jaguars organization and my family, our thoughts are with Uche’s family + friends at this terrible time.”
59. Gangsta Boo, 43Source:Getty
Mitchell was the second woman to join Three 6 Mafia in the early ’90s, and after her departure from the group, she continued to record mixtapes and appear on singles from the likes of Gucci Mane, La Chat, and more. When she was fifteen, she contributed to Three 6’s Mystic Stylez album and remained a fixture in Memphis through her untimely passing.
60. Fred White, Earth Wind & Fire Drummer, 67Source:Getty
Verdine White confirmed the news on Instagram saying
Our family is saddened today. With the loss of an amazing and talented family member, Our beloved brother Frederick Eugene “Freddie” White.
He joins our brothers Maurice, Monte and Ronald in heaven and is now drumming with the angels! 🥁🥁 Child protégé, member of the EWF ORIGINAL 9, with gold records at the young age of 16 years old! He was brother number 4 in the family lineup. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
But more than that at home and beyond he was the wonderful bro that was always entertaining and delightfully mischievous!
And we could always count on him to make a seemingly bad situation more light hearted!🙏🏾😍🙏🏾
He will live in our hearts forever, rest in power beloved Freddie!!
We thank you all for your love, blessings and support at this time. Soar high baby bro, we love you to the shining ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️and back!
61. Anita Pointer, 74 (December 31st)Source:Getty
Pointer’s family, in a statement obtained by CBS News, said, “While we are deeply saddened by the loss of Anita, we are comforted in knowing she is now with her daughter, Jada and her sisters June & Bonnie and at peace. She was the one that kept all of us close and together for so long. Her love of our family will live on in each of us. Please respect our privacy during this period of grief and loss. Heaven is a more loving, beautiful place with Anita there.”
Pointer is preceded in death by her only daughter Jada, who passed in 2003, and sisters Bonnie and June, who passed in 2020 and 2006 respectively.