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Pop Music People Who Died in the 2000s

Key Pop Music Stars and MVPs


As time marches on we lose key pop musicians, producers, songwriters and other industry personnel. Each year there are people who leave behind fans and admirers. This is a listing of some of those who left us far too soon in the 2000s giving us another opportunity to remember and say goodbye.

Aaliyah (1979-2001)

Essence Awards 2001 - Aaliyah
Evan Agostini/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Together with Timbaland and Missy Elliott as producers, Aaliyah helped forge a new direction for hip hop and R&B at the beginning of the decade. She first hit the charts as a 15 year old in 1994 with the album Age Ain't Nothing But a Number. Her 2000 single "Try Again" became the first in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 to hit #1 based entirely on radio airplay. Aaliyah was also an accomplished film actress starring in Romeo Must Die. She died at the age of 22 in a plane crash in the Bahamas August 25, 2001.

Watch "Try Again"

Purchase / Download Ultimate Aaliyah

Laura Branigan (1957-2004)

Laura Branigan
Photo by Lawrence Lucier / Getty Images

Singer Laura Branigan had a few minor chart appearances earlier in her career, but it was the release of the single "Gloria" in 1982 that led to pop stardom. The song stormed on to the charts and eventually rose to #2. It spent 36 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, a record for a female solo artist at that time. She returned to the pop top 10 twice more with "Solitaire" and "Self Control." Laura Branigan remained a popular live artist throughout the 1990's. She died from a brain aneurysm at home August 26, 2004.

Watch "Gloria" live

Purchase / Download The Platinum Collection

Johnny Cash (1932-2003)

Johnny Cash
Photo by Scott Gries / Getty Images

Johnny Cash is one of the most influential and prolific recording artists of all time. He released 96 albums in his lifetime and was a pioneer in both country and rock music. In the 1950's as a Sun Records artist he helped define the sound of rock 'n roll. Later his powerful songs that addressed the struggle with issues of personal morality brought him critical acclaim. Late in his career stark recordings with producer Rick Rubin brought Johnny Cash a new generation of fans primarily interested in alt rock music. He died September 12, 2003 less than four months after his wife June Carter Cash.

Watch "Folsom Prison Blues"

Purchase / Download The Man In Black

Ray Charles (1930-2004)

Ray Charles
Photo by Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

Ray Charles is a key figure in the development of popular music in the US. He pioneered the development of what became known as soul music by fusing together elements of gospel and R&B. Later he broke down color barriers by crossing over successfully to country music. Ray Charles has 11 top 10 pop singles to his credit and has appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 more than 70 times. He was one of the earliest members elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He continued recording throughout his life leaving the duet album Genius Loves Company, one of his most successful, when he died June 10, 2004 from liver cancer.

Watch "Hit the Road Jack"

Purchase / Download Genius!

Rosemary Clooney (1928-2002)

Rosemary Clooney
Photo by Keith D. Bedford / Getty Images

Rosemary Clooney became a pop star in the days before rock 'n roll when she hit #1 with "Come On-a My House" in 1951. She returned to the top of the charts with both "Hey There" and "This Ole House" in 1954. In 1977 she began recording for the Concord Jazz record label and became a celebrated jazz singer in her later years. She received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. Rosemary Clooney died from lung cancer June 29, 2002.

Watch "Come On-a My House"

Purchase / Download The Essential Rosemary Clooney

Perry Como (1912-2001)

Perry Como - The Very Best of Perry Como
Courtesy RCA

Singer Perry Como hit the pop singles charts over 100 times in his long career. Including the years before rock 'n roll, he hit #1 fourteen times. His final top 40 hit was in 1973 with the song "And I Love You So." Perry Como is estimated to have sold over 100 million albums in his career. However, he is probably best remembered for his Christmas TV specials broadcast in the 1970's and 1980's. Perry Como died in his sleep May 12, 2001.

Watch "And I Love You So"

Purchase / Download The Very Best of Perry Como

John Entwistle (1944-2002)

John Entwistle
Photo by Scott Gries / Getty Images

John Entwistle is remembered as one of the top rock bassists of all time. He gained fame as a member of the Who, but he also recorded a series of solo albums. John Entwistle was nicknamed "The Ox" and noted for making the bass a prominent instrument in a number of rock classics. He continued performing throughout his life and died June 27, 2002 one day before a new concert tour by the Who was scheduled to begin.

Watch "Boris the Spider"

Purchase / Download The Who: The Ultimate Collection

Dan Fogelberg (1951-2007)

Dan Fogelberg - The Very Best of Dan Fogelberg
Courtesy Sony

Singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg first hit the pop top 40 with the single "Part of the Plan" from his second album Souvenirs released in 1974. He also found success duetting with Tim Weisberg on the hit "The Power of Gold." In 1980, Dan Fogelberg's single "Longer" climbed to #2 on the charts, and he became one of the hottest pop artists. He released three more top 10 hits, "Same Old Lang Syne," "Hard To Say," and Leader of the Band." Dan Fogelberg found even greater success on the adult contemporary chart hitting the top 10 eleven times. He continued performing live and died from prostate cancer December 16, 2007.

Watch "Rhythm of the Rain"

Purchase / Download The Very Best of Dan Fogelberg

Stephen Gately (1976-2009)

Stephen Gately
Photo by Dave Hogan / Getty Images

As one of the lead vocalists for the Irish boy band Boyzone, Stephen Gately became one of the most prominent singers in the history of the genre. Boyzone hit the top 10 on the UK pop singles chart 17 times and all three of their studio albums hit #1. However, their success did not cross the Atlantic to the US. Stephen Gately generated tremendous publicity when he came out as gay in 1999. He wed his partner Andrew Cowles in a Las Vegas commitment ceremony in 2003 and later a civil ceremony in London in 2006. He released his own top 10 solo album New Beginning in 2000. Stephen Gately died suddenly October 10, 2009.

Watch "You Are Not Alone"

Purchase / Download Back Again...No Matter What

Maurice Gibb (1949-2003)

Maurice Gibb
Photo by Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Along with his twin Robin and brother Barry, Maurice Gibb formed the Bee Gees, one of the top pop groups of all time. He focused on harmony and backing vocals as well as playing a key role in putting together instrumental arrangements. On stage Maurice Gibb played mostly bass guitar. The group first had success as a pop group with five consecutive top 20 pop hits in the 1960's. Following a fade in commercial fortunes in the early 1970's, they returned to help disco music storm the pop charts with a primary role in the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever. In their career the Bee Gees hit #1 nine times and they sold over 200 million albums. Maurice Gibb died January 12, 2003.

Watch "Stayin' Alive"

Purchase / Download The Ultimate Bee Gees

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