Remembering Those Lost In 2015

American+blues+legend+B.B.+King+is+just+one+of+the+many+influential+public+figures+who+passed+away+in+2015

American blues legend B.B. King is just one of the many influential public figures who passed away in 2015

[ot-caption title=”American blues legend B.B. King is just one of the many influential public figures who passed away in 2015. (via Heinrich Klaffs/ Wikimedia) “]

As we make our way into the New Year, it is important to remember and commemorate the lives of those who passed away in 2015. Here is a brief list of some of the most influential musicians, actors, politicians, and athletes who were unable to live to see the ball drop on the eve of 2016.

5. Ben E King– Benjamin Earl King, a prominent R&B musician, died on April 30, 2015 at the age of 76. King started his career in the late 1950s with a band called the Drifters, and wrote his first solo hit, “Spanish Harlem,” in 1961. In that same year, he wrote “Stand By Me,” the song for which he is most known today. Between 1961 and 1975, he had six of his songs reach the US Billboard top 40 chart. He also established the Ben E King Stand By Me Foundation, his charitable organization that helps deserving youths receive education and assists various civic organizations in their efforts to improve the lives of others.

4. Yogi Berra– Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra passed away on September 22, 2015, at the age of 90. This New York Yankees player won three Most Valuable Player awards during his career and had more World Series appearances and victories than any other baseball player in the history of the game, winning ten of his fourteen appearances. Although he was a respected champion on the field, his off-field antics could be what he is best known for. He will be remembered for his many invented comedic aphorisms, coining phrases such as “When you come to a fork in the road, take it” and “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

3. Stuart Scott– ESPN anchor Stuart Scott lost his life after a long-fought battle with appendiceal cancer on January 4, 2015 at the age of 49.  Many remember hearing his signature catch phrases “Boo-Yah!” and “As cool as the other side of the pillow” as they watched SportsCenter.  At the 2014 ESPYS, he accepted the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. He brought the audience to tears as he recounted his and his family’s struggles throughout his battle with cancer.  To viewers at home struggling with the same issues, he inspired new hope through his speech, saying “When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer.  You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live.”  Although many say that he lost his fight with cancer, he made it very clear that during each and every day of his life that he defeated his disease by making the best of his situation, enjoying the life that he was given, and appreciating the support of his loved ones.

2. Leonard Nimoy– Acting legend Leonard Nimoy died of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, attributed to years of smoking, on February 27, 2015 at the age of 83.  He will be forever remembered as the original Mr. Spock in the television and movie series Star Trek.  He loved playing the iconic character, writing in one of his autobiographies: “In Spock, I finally found the best of both worlds: to be widely accepted in public approval and yet be able to continue to play the insulated alien through the Vulcan character.”  The son of two Ukrainian Orthodox Jewish immigrants, Nimoy found acting inspiration in Judaism.  In fact, his famous Vulcan hand signal used by Spock throughout the Star Trek series was originally meant to represent the Hebrew letter Shin, the first letter in one Hebrew name for God.

1. B.B. King– Riley B. King, a legend in American blues music, died on May 14, 2015 at the age of 89 from complications involving Alzheimer’s disease, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.  Rolling Stone lists him as No. 6 on its 2011 list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.  His original style of playing, with his signature breathtaking string bends and voluminous vibratos, got him inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  He is remembered for his blues hits, such as  “To Know You Is To Love You,”  “I Like to Live the Lone,” and “The Thrill Is Gone.”  Songs like these earned him the nickname “The King of the Blues.”  B.B. King was exceptional at pushing back father time, appearing at over 200 concerts per year into his 70s.  He will be forever remembered as one of the greatest blues guitarists of all time.

All five of these celebrities led influential and inspiring lives. Their legacies will live on forever, and their lives will never be forgotten.

Sources: Rollingstones, New York Times, ESPN, Washington Post, BBC, and https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:B.B._King_3011710050.jpg