R&B Artists We Lost Too Soon

Over the years, the music industry has lost a number of truly talented souls. An unfortunate truth of the entertainment industry is that those in it have a higher chance of losing their lives at an early age, well before their time, whether it’s by travel, violence, drugs, or one of the many other ugly things that accompany the glitz and glamor of fame. Here are just a few who left us too soon, but will most certainly not be forgotten.

#1: Aaliyah

Meta: Aaliyah and backup dancers on site filming the Rock the Boat music video.
Source: Yall Know What

No list like this would be complete without Baby Girl. Aaliyah could do it all, and then some. She could sing and dance, her stunning looks made her an incredible model, and she starred in some of her day’s most iconic films, Romeo Must Die and Queen of the Damned. Aaliyah was just 22 years old, on her way home from shooting the video for Rock the Boat, when the private jet she was on crashed in the Bahamas, killing everyone on board. Those of us who are old enough likely still remember hearing the news about the crash coming over the radio, and this is one that still hits us hard to this day.

#2: Luther Vandross

Meta: Luther Vandross performs on stage.
Source: The Sun

While the Grammy-winning Vandross had his share of health struggles during his life, the heart attack that ultimately lead to his hospitalization and death in 2005 was still a shock to the public. He left us with his final album, Dance With My Father, in 2003.

#3: Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes

Meta: Lopes, center, pictured with the rest of TLC.
Source: NBC News

Lisa Lopes was one-third of the legendary 90s group TLC; a spunky, free spirit, and a big personality packed into a tiny 5’1” frame. In the early 2000s, Lopes had begun taming her wild-child persona and started spending a lot of time in Honduras with family, working with charities. It was there that she lost her life on August 25, 2002, when the SUV she was driving crashed, killing her instantly and injuring the other passengers in the car. She was just 30 years old.

#4: Whitney Houston 

Meta: Whitney Houston performs on stage in 2010.
Source: Rolling Stone

Whitney Houston was undeniably one of the greatest voices of our time. Her powerful vocals won her six Grammy awards, her acting chops earned her two Emmys, and she managed to rack up dozens of other accolades during her lifetime, giving her the title of most-awarded artist of all time. But Whitney’s story quickly soured, right around the time she met Bobby Brown. Together, the two were heavily into cocaine, contributing to her increasingly erratic behavior. Her decline was evident on Bobby’s ill-fated reality show, Being Bobby Brown, and Whitney became the butt of many jokes. On February 11, 2012, Whitney was found deceased in her hotel room bathtub, a result of accidental drowning with a number of drugs later found in her system. Houston was 48 years old. Unfortunately, Whitney’s daughter Bobby Kristina met an eerily similar fate in 2015 at age 22. Whitney’s legacy was, and is, legendary, but her story is a cautionary tale of the dangerous side of the entertainment industry.

 #5: Michael Jackson

Meta: Portrait of the King of Pop
Source: Medium

Michael Jackson set and broke records throughout his entire career. As of 2009, he was the most awarded person, artist, entertainer with 372 recognized awards. This was excluding Diamond, Platinum and Gold Certifications. In 2000, he became the biggest selling artist of all time, with 380 million records sold. His song, “Thriller,” still hold the record for most copies of a single sold — 110 million. At his Super Bowl half time show in 1993, he attracted the biggest TV audience of all time — 133.4 million. His impact was immense and undeniable. The list of records he broke is seemingly endless. However, his real influence took place in the cultural changes he made within our society.

#6: Prince

Meta: The impact of Prince’s death
Source: Inc. Magazine

Not only did Prince write songs, but he played most instruments and produced music. His hands-on approach gave creative power back to artists. By taking full control over the direction of his work, Prince was able to shape the sounds that still influence countless musicians to this very day. Prince stood up for artists everywhere who were facing tension with their record labels. He wasn’t scared to take a stand against anyone who was a threat to his art.

#7: Gerald LeVert

Meta: Still photography of Gerald LeVert
Source: Biography Mask

Levert further cemented his reputation as an R&B writer and producer. In addition to selling more than nine million albums, he has produced or written more than 15 number one hits, including Barry White’s “Practice What You Preach” and Chuckie Booker’s “Games.” Early in his career, he produced albums for new R&B groups Men at Large and Drama, a solo album for Rude Boys lead singer Joe Little, and tracks for a Barry White album.

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