Stars We Lost In 2011
This year, we lost some of our brightest stars in everything from athletes to rock to hip-hop and pop, to TV and film. They were all at different stages in their careers, some working on a come back, some just starting to rise, others already legends — but all left a distinct mark on pop culture, and their deaths left one on our hearts.
Nate Dogg (born Nathaniel Hale) died at age 41 in March after suffering several health setbacks related to a stroke. One of the key players in the birth of the West Coast G-Funk sound, the rap legend’s silky smooth vocals touched classic tracks from Snoop Dogg and Warren G to 50 Cent and Ludacris. Another shocker was the untimely death of Heavy D. The fun-loving rap icon was a major force in the New Jack Swing era. Heav had recorded 11 albums monster hits with songs like “Now That We Found Love” and Nuttin’ But Love”, but he had also branched out into film and theater. He was 44 when he died this past November.
We lost Mike Starr, former bassist for the groundbreaking Seattle grunge band Alice in Chains. Like Amy Winehouse, who also died this year at the age of 27, Starr’s talent was often overshadowed by his dependency on alcohol and drugs. Amy’s death was sadly no surprise, however ironically a autopsy proved that she didn’t have drugs in her system. Rather, she had drank herself to death and died from more or less alcohol poisoning.
Gun violence claimed the life of 22-year-old Montae Talbert, the Cali Swag District dancer otherwise known as M-Bone. Montae was sitting in his car at a local convenience store when a vehicle pulled up a long side his and fired two shots hitting in the head. Australian actor Andy Whitfield, who got his big break when he was cast as the lead in the Starz TV series “Spartacus: Blood and Sand,” was 39 when he succumbed to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Finally, the MTV family mourned the death of “Jackass” daredevil and “Viva La Bam” star Ryan Dunn. The 34-year-old died on a rural Pennsylvania road along with his 30-year-old passenger, Zachary Hartwell, when their car slammed into a guardrail and caught fire.
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died on October 5 due to complications from pancreatic cancer. French DJ/Producer DJ Mehdi died on September 13 from fatal injuries after the roof of his Paris home collapsed. ‘Treme’ actor Michael Showers was found dead in the Mississippi River in New Orleans on August 22.
Ashford & Simpson’s Nick Ashford died on August 22 of throat cancer. Legendary saxophone player Clarence Clemons died on June 18 from complications from a stroke.
TV On The Radio bassist Gerard Smith died on April 20 from complications from lung cancer. Legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor died on March 23 after spending two months in a Los Angeles hospital for treatment of congestive heart failure. Actress and legendary pinup model Jane Russell died at the age of 89 on February 28.
Former heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier died November 7th, after he was diagnosed with liver cancer, Frazier was 67.