William Onyeabor, a Nigerian funk Jesus who we can call thank for any progressive afro-dash genres we enjoy, died in his sleep on January 16 following a brief illness. He was 70 years old. The DIY champ’s music has been sampled by Jam Baxter and Daphni, but it really got a boost when David Byrnes supergroup Atomic Bomb! Band toured in support of a compilation album featuring Onyeabor tunes. By all accounts, he was a fantastic man.
See why — and see the rest of 2017 losses so far — below.
Nat Hentoff, Village Voice writer who died January 7, was an outspoken advocate of free speech and a prolific jazz writer.
DJ Crazy Toones, the West Coast DJ who worked with Ice Cube, died on January 10. Ice Cube confirmed the news on Twitter. “I just lost my homie, brother, DJ, confidant and loved one.” he wrote. “Crazy Toones passed away today and I’m fucked up about it. We miss you & love u.” Born Lamar Calhoun, Crazy Toones also worked as a producer and released albums and mixtapes of his own. He frequently collaborated with his brother, rapper WC.
Tommy Allsup, a Grammy winning Oklahoma born songwriter who was famously known for escaping the “day the music died” crash died at the age of 81 after complications from hernia surgery.
Greg Trooper, a Jersey born songwriter whose songs have been sung by Vince Gill, Robert Earl Keen and Billy Bragg, passed away at the age of 61 after a fight with pancreatic cancer.
Five people — including three security workers blocking the gunman’s entry — were killed on January 16 at Blue Parrot nightclub in Playa del Carmen in Mexico where the final night of an electronic music festival, BPM, was taking place. One victim was trampled to death, and the New York Times says the victims included two Canadians, a Colombian, an Italian and a Mexican. At least 15 other people were injured, including at least three Americans. Mexico’s Zeta Cartel is claiming responsibility for the shooting.