With the year everyone has had, the passing of famous rock and metal musicians sometimes feels like a drop in the bucket. Thus far, COVID-19 has caused a reported 1.8 million deaths worldwide, sending everyone across the globe into a frenzy of paranoia and panic. But when the smoke clears and the absolute insanity of 2020 becomes a historical footnote, we will look back on the passing of these rock and metal legends — some veteran guitar heroes who’ve earned their eternal rest, others young up-and-comers taken far too soon from a scene excited by their promise — and mourn them no matter what year they died in.
This list shouldn’t be seen as a sorrowful one — rather, it’s a monument to those who we’ll remember long after 2020 is over and gone. These are the immortals of rock and metal, those who will live on no matter what comes our way. Raise a glass and scream to the heavens for these artists, who may be gone but will never be forgotten.
Corrosion of Conformity co-founder and drummer Reed Mullin died January 27th, 2020. He was 53 years old.
Drummer Bill Rieflin, whose past bands included R.E.M., King Crimson, and Ministry, died on March 24th, 2020. He was 59.
Original Machine Head drummer Tony Costanza died this year at the age of 52. His passing was announced by frontman Robb Flynn on August 4th.
Frankie Banali, drummer for seminal hair metal act Quiet Riot, died on August 20th, 2020. He was 68 years old.
Riley Gale, frontman of Texan up-and-comers Power Trip, died on August 24th, 2020. He was 34 years old.
Jay White, bassist for Tulsa, Oklahoma band The Agony Scene, died this year. His passing was announced on September 1st.
Original Bad Brains vocalist Sid “Sidmac” McCray died on September 9th, 2020. He was survived by his seven children.
Brent Young, the bassist who played on Trivium’s debut album Ember to Inferno, died in September of this year. His passing was announced on September 28th, 2020.
Eddie Van Halen, the revolutionary guitarist behind legendary hard rockers Van Halen, died on October 6th, 2020. He was 65.
Founding Uriah Heep keyboardist Ken Hensley died on November 4th, 2020. He was 75.
Sean Malone, longtime bassist for Floridan progressive death metallers Cynic, passed away on December 9th, 2020.
Mike McPadden, author of the book Heavy Metal Movies, passed away on December 16th, 2020. No cause of death was given.
Words by Chris Krovatin