– Setting the tone for an extraordinarily shitty year, the iconic musician succumbed to liver cancer on Jan. 10 at age 69, just days after releasing his final masterpiece, Blackstar
– The English actor indelibly associated with his eight-time role as Professor Severus Snape from the Harry Potter films died of pancreatic cancer on Jan. 14 at the age of 69.
Clarence “Blowfly” Reid
– The raunchy, outrageously costumed soul singer was no mere gimmick. He released more than 20 albums and played shows until the end of his life, influencing punks and rappers alike. Reid died in hospice care at age 76 on Jan. 17.
– The Supreme Court Justice, aged 79, died of natural causes during the night of Feb. 12-13 while vacationing at a Texas ranch. This gave Senate Republicans yet another opportunity to not do their jobs, as they refused to even hold a hearing to confirm Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia.
– The reclusive author of To Kill a Mockingbird
died in her sleep on Feb. 19 at age 89.
Phife Dawg (Malik Taylor)
– Taylor, MC and mainstay of the essential rap group A Tribe Called Quest, died from complications of diabetes (Taylor once mordantly referred to himself as the “funky diabetic” in song) on March 22, at age 45.
– The delightfully bitter stand-up comedian and creator of the still-influential Larry Sanders Show
passed away on March 24 at the age of 66.
– Few did heartbreak or ornery better than influential country singer Haggard, who performed and recorded from the ’60s up to the present day. He died April 6 of cancer at the age of 79.
– Gersting, who first rose to prominence as a musician – most notably in the Sugar Oaks and an early incarnation of the New Lows – before pursuing stand-up comedy, passed away at his College Park home on April 19, aged 35. Gersting was responsible for setting up the Shit Sandwich comedy showcase at the Bull & Bush, a move which was instrumental to the comedy renaissance the city has experienced over the past few years. He was also one of the founding organizers of the Orlando Indie Comedy Fest.
Prince Rogers Nelson
– Doves weren’t the only ones crying when the enigmatic pop genius/singer/guitarist/actor known simply as Prince passed away unexpectedly on April 21, at the age of 57.
– The local artist was known for his primitive visionary art, particularly his recurring original character "Rativa," a spiritual inversion of Mickey Mouse. Significant examples of his work can be found gracing the walls of the restrooms at Austin's Coffee in Winter Park, as well as the covers of Orlando Weekly
's "Best of Orlando 2008" and "You're So Orlando" issues. Steele was killed in a car accident April 23, aged 47
– The local stage designer passed away on May 15
after a brief battle with brain cancer. He was 59.
– When he said he was the greatest, it wasn’t a boast. Boxer Ali, one of the most important sports icons of all time and a crusading social activist, died on June 3, aged 74.
– The inimitable New York Times
street photographer passed away on June 25 after a stroke, at the age of 87.
– Nobel prize laureate, author, Holocaust survivor and human rights crusader Wiesel passed away on July 2, at the age of 87.
– As the confrontational frontman of proto-punk electro duo Suicide, Vega and partner Martin Rev accidentally birthed countless strains of outsider music, from punk to synthpop. Vega passed away on July 16, at the age of 78.
– The sitcom mastermind (Laverne and Shirley, Mork and Mindy
) and film director (Pretty Woman, Princess Diaries
) died on July 19, aged 81.
– The executive director of the Mennello Museum from its founding in 1998 until his retirement in 2015 passed away Aug. 2
at age 72.
– The actor who made R2-D2 seem almost human in the Star Wars films over a span of decades passed away in his home on Aug. 13, at age 81.
– The boy-band Svengali (thank him for Backstreet Boys and ‘NSync) and Ponzi schemer died in prison of cardiac arrest on Aug. 19, aged 62.
Samisoni “Big Makk” Koroitamudu
– The DJ and EDM producer, a big deal locally and poised for a nationwide breakthrough on the Mad Decent label, died in a car crash on Aug. 29, at the age of 25.
– America’s most beloved neurotic since Charlie Chaplin, star of The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
, and Stir Crazy
, passed away Aug. 29, aged 83, from complications of Alzheimer’s.
– The conservative activist who worked very hard to prevent other women from being able to work outside the home was a force behind the death of the Equal Rights Amendment. She died herself on Sept. 5, aged 92.
– Crowned the “king of golf,” Palmer boosted the sport’s popularity exponentially, pitched everything from Pennzoil to flavored tea, and, closer to home, raised the funds to build the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in this very city. He passed away on Sept. 25, at the age of 87.
David “DJ Justice” Zedonek
– The local radio DJ and Full Sail educator passed away Oct. 6, aged 34, of cardiac arrest.
– Florida prosecutor and trailblazer as the first female attorney general (under Bill Clinton in the ’90s), Reno passed away on Nov. 7 due to complications from Parkinson’s, aged 78.
– Canadian poet, singer and Lothario Cohen became an icon of tortured love songs during his almost five-decade performing career. He passed away on Nov. 7, aged 82, shortly after completing his last album.
– Dynamic soul singer Jones, mainstay of the Daptone label and subject of the Miss Sharon Jones!
documentary, passed away from complications from cancer and a stroke suffered while watching the election results on Nov. 18, at the age of 60.
– The passionate environmental activist founded Eco-Action, a volunteer group dedicated to cleaning Orlando's lakes and waterways of thousands of pounds of trash every year. Hollenbeck passed away Nov. 20.
– Unflappable sitcom mom Henderson, better known as Carol Brady from The Brady Bunch
, passed away from heart failure on Nov. 24, at the age of 82.
– Communist Cuban leader and revolutionary true believer Castro passed away on Nov. 25 at age 90, after a long period of ill health.
– The local graphic designer was responsible for many of Orlando and Winter Park’s most memorable visuals, including much of the branding and signage at Church Street Station and Winter Park’s iconic peacock logo. He passed away in his sleep Dec. 6, at age 80.
– Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth (in 1962, later mythologized in Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff
) and a longtime Ohio senator, passed away on Dec. 8 at the age of 95.
– The sitcom dad, father of Robin Thicke and TV theme composer par excellence passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack on Dec. 13, age 69.