On March 10, we lost yet another pop singer, as Joni Sledge, the second oldest Sledge sister, passed away at the age of 60 from causes that are, as of two weeks ago, unknown. While it was youngest sister Kathy who sang lead on most of the Sister Sledge songs that people remember, Joni sang lead on a few as well.
One of the lesser-publicized deaths of 2016 was that of Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Isidore “Toots” Thielemans, who passed away at the age of 94. (In fact, his death was so little publicized that it was at least a month afterward before I ever heard of it.) Though he had been well-known for his harmonica skills, I found myself unsure of where I had heard them until recently. As it turns out, I had heard what is probably his most often heard piece a lot during my life.
2016 took far too many of our favorite artists from us. 2017 continued that trend, unfortunately, with the death of Al Jarreau last month at the age of 76. The Washington Post’s obituary fondly remembered him as the “acrobat of scat”, a man who had a wide following but who never quite made it in the way so many of his contemporaries did.