Many artists have changed both the lives of individual fans and the entirety of music history as it stands. Each musical contribution is immeasurable, but some bands, singers, instrumentalists, producers and more have changed the scope of our understanding of what music even is.
Within a short span of time, people such as Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse shared their sound with the world and became instantly recognizable in their own right. Though, some of these influential musicians passed before they reached their full potential. Here are just a small handful of artists who changed music forever but were lost too soon.
Kurt Cobain (1967-1994)
Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain changed grunge forever. Though he was, unfortunately, part of the “27 Club,” he still lives on as one of the most influential voices for those who exist in modern DIY, punk and grunge spaces. Cobain’s MTV Unplugged session still, and likely will always, remain one of the most iconic rock performances ever. Not to mention, Cobain made the grunge fashion of oversized flannels and ripped jeans a style that people of all ages seek to replicate. Nirvana’s 1991 album, Nevermind, has consistently been ranked as one of the greatest and most influential rock albums to date, even decades after its release.
Lil Peep (1996-2017)
Donning his trademark cursive “CryBaby” tattoo, Lil Peep legitimized SoundCloud rap in mainstream charts. He inspired other young people to put out their art on this platform and experiment with sounds without caring who may or may not like it. We recounted his life and legacy in the tribute issue 364.
Jim Morrison (1943-1971)
Jim Morrison will always be known as the iconic classic-rock frontman for the Doors. Fans, both young and young at heart, across the globe have his lyrics tatted on themselves forever. Morrison laid the groundwork for what lead singers of the ’70s, ’80s and beyond became. They sought to be both completely confident yet relaxed in their performances.
Amy Winehouse (1983-2011)
Amy Winehouse also passed away at the young age of 27. She had a bright future ahead of her and clearly had more to offer the music world. Her legacy will live on in the form of others sharing powerful tones that incorporate jazz and rock fusion.
Freddie Mercury (1946-1991)
If there’s one band almost everyone is familiar with, it’s undoubtedly Queen, fronted by the beyond-talented Freddie Mercury. He passed at 45 from AIDS-related pneumonia, a virus that’s still labeled as an epidemic by the WHO. In fact, Mercury has a day dedicated to him. It’s called Freddie For A Day, where supporters and fans are encouraged to dress up like him and donate to the Mercury Phoenix Trust. It’s celebrated on his birthday, Sept. 5.
Swedish DJ Avicii, aka Tim Bergling, worked alongside several other artists to bring EDM to the radio in full swing. The Washington Post acknowledged how Avicii managed to easily combine country and electronic influences. DJ Snake, Dan Reynolds and many other international artists cite the 28-year-old as a source of inspiration.
Brian Jones (1942-1969)
Brian Jones co-founded the Rolling Stones with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer contributed his writing and instrumentals to one of the most famous bands in the world, proving to be a true pioneer of the classic-rock era. Without him, songs such as “Paint It Black” wouldn’t exist the way we know them today.
Mac Miller (1992-2018)
Mac Miller changed the way we perceived rap. The artist is still mourned by his fans and ex-girlfriend Ariana Grande, who referenced him as “an angel” in both the literal and figurative sense in her song “thank u, next.”
Kim Shattuck (1963-2019)
Kim Shattuck will always be one of the most iconic guitarists from the ’90s between her work with the Pandoras, the Muffs and Pixies. Her work has inspired young women around the world to experiment with sounds and take zero shit from men in the music industry. She passed from ALS complications at age 56 in 2019.
Juice WRLD (1998-2019)
Juice WRLD passed at the young age of 21. In his two decades in this world, he released his record-breaking emo-rap song, “Lucid Dreams.” That track blended the deep storytelling of hip-hop with the rawness of 2000s emo, which only made it more resonating.