2016: The year the music died

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Move over, 1959. Step aside, 1970.

When it comes to the deaths of musical icons, 2016 may be the worst year ever.

Sunday’s startling death of pop singer George Michael caps 12 wretched months in which we’ve already said goodbye to David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Prince, Merle Haggard and Leonard Cohen, to name just a quintet of hugely popular and influential performers.

It might be the deadliest era for pop music legends since 1970-71, when we lost Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Louis Armstrong in a sorrowful span of 11 months.

February 3, 1959, when young rockers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson were killed in a plane crash, has been called “the Day the Music Died.” This may become known as the Year the Music Died. And it’s not even over.

Come on 2016, give it a rest.

Here’s a quick recap of some of the musical talent that’s been silenced this year. At least we’ll always have their songs.

January 10: David Bowie

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David Bowie was a master of music and makeovers, famous both for his talent and gender-bending artistry. The iconic “Ziggy Stardust” singer, who died at 69 after a quiet, 18-month battle with cancer, defied labels while producing a long string of acclaimed hits in a range of genres, from glam rock to funk to hip hop. His final album, “Blackstar,” was released just days before his death.

January 17: Glenn Frey

Glenn Frey attends the 29th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on April 10, 2014, in New York City. (Credit: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Glenn Frey attends the 29th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on April 10, 2014, in New York City. (Credit: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

The Eagles co-founder, who died at 67, was known for his laid-back persona and country-tinged California sound. Along with Don Henley, Frey co-wrote such indelible Eagles songs as “Best of My Love,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” “One of These Nights” and “Hotel California” before going on to a ’80s solo career.

January 28: Paul Kanter

Jefferson Airplane co-founder and guitarist, Paul Kantner, dies at age 74.

Jefferson Airplane co-founder and guitarist, Paul Kantner, dies at age 74.

Guitarist Paul Kantner was a founding member of the ’60s psychedelic-rock band Jefferson Airplane, which later morphed into Jefferson Starship. The 74-year-old was heralded as the architect of what was then known as San Francisco sound, exemplified by such trippy songs as “White Rabbit.”

February 4: Maurice White

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES:  Maurice White (C) reacts to the crowd as his group, Earth, Wind and Fire, are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during the 15th annual induction ceremony 06 March 2000 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: Maurice White (C) reacts to the crowd as his group, Earth, Wind and Fire, are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during the 15th annual induction ceremony 06 March 2000 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

Maurice White, founder and leader of sprawling R&B group Earth, Wind & Fire, died at age 74, leaving behind a legacy of funky, spiritually uplifting hits that were loved by black and white audiences alike. Many, including “Shining Star,” “Sing a Song” and “September,” will stand the test of time.

March 4: Joey Feek

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Joey Feek was one half of the country duo Joey + Rory, most famous for competing on CMT’s music competition show “Can you Duet.” Feek died at 40 of cervical cancer, her husband said.

March 11: Keith Emerson

UNIVERSAL CITY,CA - NOVEMBER 26: Keith Emerson performs at Universal Amphitheatre on November 26 2004 in Universal City, California.(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

UNIVERSAL CITY,CA – NOVEMBER 26: Keith Emerson performs at Universal Amphitheatre on November 26 2004 in Universal City, California.(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Keyboardist Keith Emerson co-founded Emerson, Lake & Palmer, which Billboard calls progressive rock’s first supergroup. The British outfit thrilled audiences with florid instrumentation and elaborate stage shows, including pyrotechnics. Emerson, 71, died in Santa Monica, California, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, a coroner said.

March 23: Phife Dawg

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 29:  Phife Dawg performs onstage at the 2012 BET Hip Hop Awards at Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center on September 29, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Chris McKay/Getty Images for BET)

ATLANTA, GA – SEPTEMBER 29: Phife Dawg performs onstage at the 2012 BET Hip Hop Awards at Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center on September 29, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Chris McKay/Getty Images for BET)

Born Malik Taylor, he found fame as rapper Phife Dawg, a founding member of pioneering group A Tribe Called Quest. Pitchfork published some of the most epic rhymes by the diminutive, 45-year-old rapper and lyricist who spit serious magic on the mic before dying of complications from diabetes.

April 6: Merle Haggard

INDIO, CA - APRIL 24:  Musician Merle Haggard performs onstage during day one of 2015 Stagecoach, California's Country Music Festival, at The Empire Polo Club on April 24, 2015 in Indio, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Stagecoach)

INDIO, CA – APRIL 24: Musician Merle Haggard performs onstage during day one of 2015 Stagecoach, California’s Country Music Festival, at The Empire Polo Club on April 24, 2015 in Indio, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Stagecoach)

Singer-songwriter Merle Haggard was a grizzled country music legend who became a voice for the working man with classics like “Okie from Muskogee” and “Fightin’ Side of Me.” He was 79 when he died from complications from pneumonia.

April 21: Prince

US singer and musician Prince (born Prince Rogers Nelson) performs on stage at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, outside Paris, on June 30, 2011. (Photo: BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)

US singer and musician Prince (born Prince Rogers Nelson) performs on stage at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, outside Paris, on June 30, 2011. (Photo: BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)

Prince Rogers Nelson’s music — a brilliant mix of pop, rock and stripped-down funk — transcended genres and generations. His best songs, from “When Doves Cry” to “Purple Rain” to “Kiss,” somehow sound both timeless and fresh some 30 years later. His shocking death at 57 drew an international outpouring of grief that showed the breadth of his influence in popular culture.

November 10: Leonard Cohen

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 20:  Leonard Cohen performs live for fans at Rod Laver Arena on November 20, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Graham Denholm/WireImage)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 20: Leonard Cohen performs live for fans at Rod Laver Arena on November 20, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Graham Denholm/WireImage)

Canadian crooner Leonard Cohen’s songwriting and poetry influenced countless musicians with its dark sensibility and ironic humor. Just before he died at 82, he released an album, “You Want It Darker,” that explored big questions about mortality and God.

November 13: Leon Russell

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 09:  Leon Russell performs onstage during the Agency Group Party at at IEBA Conference Day 3 at the War Memorial Auditorium on October 9, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for IEBA)

NASHVILLE, TN – OCTOBER 09: Leon Russell performs onstage during the Agency Group Party at at IEBA Conference Day 3 at the War Memorial Auditorium on October 9, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for IEBA)

Rocker Leon Russell, who died in his sleep at 74, worked for years as an acclaimed session pianist before finding fame in his own right in the 1970s. His distinctive look and stage presence earned him the nickname, “The Master of Time and Space.” Russell played on the famed 1971 “Concert for Bangladesh” at Madison Square Garden.

November 18: Sharon Jones

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 22:  Singer Sharon Jones performs onstage at the 26th Annual Tibet House U.S. benefit concert at Carnegie Hall on February 22, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tibet House)

NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 22: Singer Sharon Jones performs onstage at the 26th Annual Tibet House U.S. benefit concert at Carnegie Hall on February 22, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tibet House)

Soul and funk singer Sharon Jones spent decades in anonymity before audiences discovered her in the mid-2000s. With her backing band, the Dap-Kings, she became legendary for her fiery live shows, earning comparisons to her idol James Brown. Jones died at 60, but not before she defiantly told Rolling Stone in July, “I have cancer; cancer don’t have me.”

December 7: Greg Lake

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The prog-rock singer and bassist died at 69 after a battle with cancer, leaving Carl Palmer as the only surviving member of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Lake also co-founded King Crimson and later scored a big solo hit in the UK with “I Believe in Father Christmas.”

December 25: George Michael

SAN DIEGO - JUNE 17:  Singer George Michael performs at the Sports Arena on June 17, 2008 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO – JUNE 17: Singer George Michael performs at the Sports Arena on June 17, 2008 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Singer George Michael burst onto the scene with ’80s pop duo Wham! before reaching greater heights as a charismatic — and controversial — solo artist. With such monster hits as “Faith” and “Freedom! ’90,” Michael blended danceable pop with progressive social commentary. The British pop star and gay icon was 53.