With 2021 finally dawned upon us, it brings a new beginning to what was for sure one of the most tumultuous years in anyone’s recent memory in the year 2020, with a plethora of events that occurred (and many still recurring) that need no repeating. We all know of what went down and what’s going on, things which have spilled over and are still extreme challenges in this new year. In short, 2020 was a year most of, if not all, of us would soon rather forget.
However, what shouldn’t be forgotten are the names of the many luminaries in entertainment that we lost last year, also a stunning amount of creatives and well-knowns of seemingly every type and stripe. While in a lot of ways an “in memoriam” list seems rather arbitrary and irrelevant considering the hundreds of thousands of lives lost in the United States alone last year during the pandemic and of people who became global martyrs by way of insurrectional behaviors by authoritative figures all across America, a list like this becomes in a way necessary, as it’s important to give the proper respect and final send off to some of the individuals who touched our lives in so many ways, especially during last year, when all forms of entertainment became not only entrenched in its typical “escapism,” but also became a healing balm in a sense, something that helped people push through during the darkest times of necessary state and governmental-enforced bondage on us all. And it is for that reason, that we present some of our heroes, guiding lights, inspirations, and illuminations who left us in 2020.
Neil Peart, the legendary drummer and brilliant lyricist of Canadian rock trio Rush, died in Santa Monica, California on January 7, 2020 of glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. He was 67. After going strong for over 40 years and releasing 19 studio albums, Rush retired at the end 2015. Peart, meanwhile, reportedly had been quietly battling his illness over the last three and a half years.
Here’s the official statement, which was posted to Rush’s official social media accounts, from bandmates Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson.
It is with broken hearts and the deepest sadness that we must share the terrible news that on Tuesday our friend, soul brother and band mate of over 45 years, Neil, has lost his incredibly brave three and a half year battle with brain cancer (Glioblastoma). We ask that friends, fans and media alike understandably respect the family’s need for privacy and peace at this extremely painful and difficult time. Those wishing to express their condolences can choose a cancer research group or charity of their choice and make a donation in Neil’s name.
Ginger Baker, the highly influential and irrepressible drummer, who gave the backbeat to bands such as Cream and Blind Faith not to mention adventurous side projects, died today. He was 80. The news was posted to his social media account today, where his family announced that he’d “passed away peacefully in hospital this morning.” No cause of death was given. The family had posted on September 25 that Baker was critically ill in the hospital.
Born Peter Edward Baker in Lewisham, South London in 1939, red hair not withstanding (hence the nickname Ginger), the drummer was a fiery tour-de-force on the drumkit, one of the first of his peers, starting and ultimately trailblazing in a late 1960s electric blues boon that found him toe to toe with other contemporaries, like the equally incendiary Keith Moon, Carl Palmer, Mitch Mitchell, Ian Paice, and John Bonham.
Ric Ocasek, lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, and frontman for the rock group The Cars, was found dead today in his Manhattan townhouse, per the NY Post, who confirmed the news with an NYPD spokesperson. The musician reportedly was found unresponsive in his bed by his estranged wife, the model/actress Paulina Porizkova, and appeared to have died of natural causes. He was 75.
Born Richard Theodore Otcasek on March 23, 1944, the singer, guitarist, and songwriter grew up in Baltimore, Maryland before moving with his family at 16 to Cleveland, Ohio, where he went on to meet future Cars bassist/singer Benjamin Orr. After several musical projects together after relocating to Boston, the duo formed The Cars in late 1976 along with lead guitarist Elliot Easton, keyboardist Greg Hawkes, and drummer David Robinson.
Rutger Hauer, the Dutch wunderkind of an actor whose steely intensity made his presence unforgettable in films like Blade Runner, Nighthawks, and other challenging projects, died on July 19 2019 at his home in the Netherlands after a short illness, per Variety. He was 75.
The blond-haired actor with piercing blue eyes was a force majure on screens big and small. There was always an expected nervousness he gave the viewer when playing characters, there was always a wonderful unsettling feeling he gave to the energy of whatever might have been going on in a picture, and his magnetism went toe to toe with screen stalwarts like Harrison Ford in Blade Runner and Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams in the underrated crime yarn Nighthawks.