Local Current Blog

In memoriam: Music greats we lost in 2019

Wee Willie Walker and PaviElle duet at the Fitzgerald Theater, 2017. (Steven Cohen for MPR)

The end of a year is a time to celebrate the best new music that hit our ears in the past 12 months — and also to remember the remarkable lives and storied careers of people on the music scene who passed on. For the Honey Do list this Saturday, Dec. 28 on The Current, Bill DeVille and Mac Wilson will be playing music by some of the artists we lost this year. Here are some people we’re thinking of as the calendar closes on 2019, a group of artists and music supporters who gave us so much.


Singer-songwriter-pianist-producer Willie Murphy, whose Willie and the Bees were a hub of the diverse and vibrant West Bank scene in Minneapolis.

William “Hollywood” Doughty, a lifelong musician best known as a member of Prince’s high school band Grand Central.

Singer-songwriter Tucker Jensen of Dirt Train, “a five-piece Americana Rock & Roll band greasy enough to spread on toast.”

Musician and sound professional Trevor Engelbrektson of Southside Desire, lost in a tragic Arizona highway crash that also claimed both members of the British band Her’s.

Blues-folk master Tony Glover, a local legend who mentored Dylan, showed Jagger some licks, and played on one of the most important albums of the folk revival.

Duluth music advocate Rick Boo, who helped launch the Homegrown Music Festival and revitalize the NorShor Theatre.

Singer-songwriter and studio owner Ed Ackerson, a prolific artist in his own right who also helped generations of Minneapolis musicians to shine.

Archivist Terry Katzman, whose tireless work preserved priceless recordings of bands like Hüsker Dü and the Replacements.

Soul legend Wee Willie Walker, part of the generation that showed Prince and his peers how to throw down.

Beyond Minnesota

Ginger Baker, Cream drummer who helped define the power trio.

David Berman, frontman and lyricist for acclaimed NYC band Silver Jews.

Hal Blaine, studio drummer heard on countless classics.

Doris Day, pop singer and movie star of the ’60s.

Daryl Dragon, “the Captain” of the Captain and Tennille.

Roky Erickson, psychedelic rocker who led the 13th Floor Elevators.

Keith Flint, singer in U.K. ’90s rave favorites The Prodigy.

Nipsey Hussle, hip-hop artist and Los Angeles community leader.

Dr. John, pianist whose sound was inseparable from New Orleans.

Singer Marie Frederiksson of Roxette, a Swedish duo whose breakout came when a Minneapolis fan brought their album home for airplay.

Lyricist Robert Hunter, who wrote with the Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan.

James Ingram, R&B hitmaker of the ’80s.

Daniel Johnston, revered outsider artist.

Eddie Money, good-natured pop rock stalwart with “Two Tickets to Paradise.”

Ric Ocasek, who drove new wave from Boston clubs to the Top 40 with the Cars.

Juice WRLD, “Lucid Dreams” rapper who helped define the rising SoundCloud generation of hip-hop artists.

Pianist Art Neville, a founding member of the Neville Brothers.

Leon Redbone, ragtime revivalist.

Jackie Shane, pioneering transgender R&B singer.

Peter Tork, bassist who raised the Monkees’ ambitions.

Pegi Young, singer-songwriter known for decades-long collaboration with, and marriage to, Neil Young.