The Music They Left Behind

Originally published on December 30, 2011 8:07 am

2011 inches toward its close, and we here at NPR Music are close to wrapping up our look back at the year in music. Today, Morning Edition looks back at some of the musicians who died in 2011.

Following the deaths of Gil Scott-Heron, in May, and Amy Winehouse, in July, tributes and remembrances ricocheted around the music world for weeks, but we lost many more songwriters, instrumentalists, singers and producers who will leave behind rich legacies. A few: E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons, Cape Verdean singer Cesaria Evora, cellist Bernard Greenhouse, singer Trish Keenan, jazz drummer Paul Motian, and songwriters Jerry Leiber and Nickolas Ashford. You can hear more from these musicians, share your thoughts and find links to obituaries, interviews and more by visiting our In Memoriam interactive feature.

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Let's say good-bye next to 21 musicians, composers and producers we lost in 2011, from Clarence Clemons to Phoebe Snow, Milton Babbitt to Sylvia Robinson, Charlie Louvin to George Shearing.


WERTHEIMER: You can find more music, plus interviews and remembrances of more musicians we lost in 2011 at

And here's a nod to Jerry Leiber who, along with Mike Stoller, wrote some of the biggest hits of the 20th century, including this one.


BEN E. KING: (Singing) So, darling, darling stand by me. Oh-oh, stand by me...


You know, it's tempting to say what a snake-bit year this was; a year when American troops were lost abroad, a year of economic struggle and cynical politics - that's all true. But it was also a year when troops came home and people started new jobs, and more.

The other day, I saw one of those children's Christmas pageants acting out a Nativity scene. The actors included a baby carried on stage by her parents, a baby born in 2011. It's really too soon to judge this year when we set so much in motion. We don't know what that kid will grow up to be. For all we know, this will be remembered as the year she was born.

We'll be with you next year on MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

WERTHEIMER: And I'm Linda Wertheimer. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.