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Celebrity deaths 2016: Why this year won't be considered unusual – eventually

A variety of factors means the past 12 months could well be considered in the new norm

By Chris Maume

The 2016 death list seems to go on forever. Forget the rest of the year – just take the last week or so: George Michael, Carrie Fisher, Richard Adams, Rick Parfitt, Rabbi Lionel Blue, Zsa Zsa Gabor…

A few months ago a New Yorker cartoon depicted an angel advising Death: “Maybe cool it on the beloved celebrities for a bit”, and there were suggestions on social media that Time magazine’s Person of the Year shouldn’t be Donald Trump but the Grim Reaper himself. The comedian and writer David Baddiel tweeted: “Starting to think it might be a serial killer, with a grudge against people who are massively loved."

Even early in the year there were suspicions that celebrity mortality was on the rise. In April – by which time we had already said goodbye to David Bowie, Pierre Boulez, Cecil Parkinson, Alan Rickman, Umberto Eco, Anita Brookner, Johan Cruyff, Ronnie Corbett, Sir Terry Wogan, Harper Lee, Sir George Martin, Keith Emerson, Nancy Reagan, Zaha Hadid and Paul Daniels – the BBC responded to the noise on social media that this was shaping up to be a record year by counting the number of pre-prepared BBC obituaries that had run in the first three months of each year from 2012 to 2016.

They found that there had indeed been a spike in celebrity deaths: twice as many “famous” people (defined as having a BBC advance obituary) died in January, February and March of this year as had done during the corresponding period of 2015 – and five times as many as in the first three months of 2012. However, the BBC’s obituaries editor Nick Serpell reported that things began to level out somewhat after that, and that the second half of the year was not especially unusual. But still, in the whole of 2016, the BBC has used 30 per cent more pre-prepared obituaries compared to the previous year.

That corresponds with a slight increase in deaths generally: for the first three months of the year in Britain 156,041 people died, up from 151,801 in 2015 – so there were more deaths, but only a few per cent more, and not statistically significant, which suggests that the death ratio of celebrities to the unsung is higher than normal.

So are there good, solid reasons behind the surge in celebrity deaths, or is it just one of those things, a statistical blip? I suspect the former, for one good reason: the Sixties.

In the late 18th century, when Gentleman magazine expanded its list of death notices into the first full-blown obituaries section, the principal criterion for inclusion was whether the subject was an “Eminent Person”, as the magazine put it. For more than a century that would have encompassed what we used to know as the great and the good: politicians, royals, businessmen, diplomats, but not too many actors or musicians.

What we now call celebrity culture probably kicked off with the rise of Hollywood and of professional sport in the first decades of the 20th century, and things began to resemble the modern day with Frank Sinatra’s “bobby soxers”, and, a few years later, Elvis. But it was in the first few years of the 1960s, when four moptopped chaps from Liverpool took the world by storm, that the cult of the celebrity really got into gear.

It was the decade that promised a classless, meritocratic future, when young working class people could rise to stardom fuelled by talent and ambition alone rather than by privilege and breeding.

The Beatles were rapidly followed by the Stones, the Who and the Kinks, and by a stampede of rising stars from other metiers: Muhammad Ali, Michael Caine, Terence Stamp, Julie Christie, George Best, Davids Bailey, Frost and Hockney… modern popular culture as we know it took flight.

Those people who came to fame in the ’60s are now in the autumn and winter of their years, so there’s bound to be an increase in celebrity mortality. And in the case of musicians, death comes sooner: an 2014 academic study in Australia which looked at 13,000 rock and pop stars found that they die on average 25 years younger than the rest of the population (Keith Richards, still hale and hearty a few days after his 73rd birthday despite a lifestyle to fell an elephant, is clearly the rule-proving exception).

Then there’s social media: the rise of Facebook – which grew by 250 million subscribers during 2016 – and of Twitter means that each notable death becomes known about and commented upon around the world within seconds of an announcement. Outpourings of grief go rapidly viral, and celebrity deaths seem to mean and matter far more than they ever did.

For these reasons, I don’t see any change on the horizon: there are more famous people than ever before, and they’re all on the Grim Reaper’s to-do list. I suspect that this time next year we’ll be telling ourselves that in celebrity-death terms, 2016 wasn’t so unusual after all.
Entertainment's long list of losses in 2016

The world of entertainment has lost stars from all genres of the industry in 2016.

Here is a list of some of the biggest names to die so far this year:

:: Singer David Bowie died aged 69 on January 10.

Wham's George Michael (left) and Andrew Ridgeley. Pop superstar Mr Michael has died peacefully at home, his publicist said. 30/03/84
Wham's George Michael (left) and Andrew Ridgeley. Pop superstar Mr Michael has died peacefully at home, his publicist said. 30/03/84
George Michael with BBC Radio 1 DJ Steve Wright. 31/08/90
Princes Diana, Patron of the National Aids Trust talking to George Michael as Mick Hucknall looks on ahead of a concert of Hope at Wembley Arena in London, to mark World Aids Day. 01/12/93
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of Wham at Heathrow Airport before leaving for a tour of Japan. 05/01/85
George Michael outside his house in Highgate, north London, after being released from prison, as the pop superstar has died peacefully at home, his publicist said. 11/10/10
George Michael collecting his Ivor Novello award at London's Grosvenor House for his album Faith to be international hit of the year, as the pop superstar has died peacefully at home, his publicist said. 04/04/89
Paul McCartney with George Michael performing during the LIVE8 Concert in Hyde Park, London, as George Michael has died at the age of 53 from suspected heart failure. 11/05/11
Wham's Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael (right). Pop superstar Mr Michael has died peacefully at home, his publicist said. 08/10/84
George Michael leaving Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court in north London, after he appeared charged with driving under the influence of drugs after his car crashed into a high street shop.
George Michael performing at Wembley Stadium in London, as the pop superstar has died at the age of 53 from suspected heart failure.
George Michael of Wham performing at the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium in London, as the pop superstar has died at the age of 53 from suspected heart failure.
George Michael and Kenny Goss arriving for Attitude Magazine's 10th Birthday Party at the Atlantic Bar & Grill in central London. Pop superstar Mr Michael has died peacefully at home, his publicist said.
File photo dated 24/08/10 of the Snappy Snaps store in Hampstead, north London, which George Michael crashed into in his Range Rover, as the pop superstar has died peacefully at home, his publicist said.
File photo dated 19/04/2000 of George Michael and Geri Halliwell arriving for the 95.8 Capital FM London Awards in London, as the pop superstar has died peacefully at home, his publicist said.
File photo dated 11/04/99 of Tom Jones (left) and George Michael performing a duet during a tribute concert to Sir Paul McCartney's late wife Linda, held at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Pop superstar Mr Michael has died peacefully at home, his publicist said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday December 25, 2016. See PA story DEATH Michael. Photo credit should read: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire
File photo dated 07/12/06 of George Michael performing at the Point Depot in Dublin, as the pop superstar has died at the age of 53 from suspected heart failure. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday December 26, 2016. See PA story DEATH Michael. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
(FILES): This file photo taken on September 6, 1997 shows pop stars George Michael (L) and Elton John (R) leaving Westminster Abbey following the funeral service of Diana, Princess of Wales. British pop singer George Michael, who rose to fame with the band Wham! and sold more than 100 million albums in his career, has died aged 53, his publicist said on Sunday, December 25, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / AFP POOL / Adam ButlerADAM BUTLER/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES): This file photo taken on September 6, 1997 shows pop stars George Michael (L) and Elton John (R) leaving Westminster Abbey following the funeral service of Diana, Princess of Wales. British pop singer George Michael, who rose to fame with the band Wham! and sold more than 100 million albums in his career, has died aged 53, his publicist said on Sunday, December 25, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / AFP POOL / JOHNNY EGGITTJOHNNY EGGITT/AFP/Getty Images
George Michael performing during the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games at the Olympic stadium in London.
(FILES) This file photo taken on May 8, 2007 shows British pop star George Michael (L) arriving at Brent Magistrates Court in west London, as he faces charges of driving while unfit through drugs. British pop singer George Michael, who rose to fame with the band Wham! and sold more than 100 million albums in his career, has died aged 53, his publicist said on December 25, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / CHRIS YOUNGCHRIS YOUNG/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on June 09, 2007 shows British pop singer George Michael performing during his 25 Live concert at the Wembley Stadium in London. George Michael died aged 53, according to his publicist on December 25, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNISADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images

:: Actor Alan Rickman died aged 69 on January 14.

:: Eagles frontman Glenn Frey died aged 67 on January 18.

:: Broadcaster Sir Terry Wogan died on January 31 aged 77.

:: Author Harper Lee, who wrote To Kill A Mockingbird, died aged 89 on February 19.

:: Actor Frank Kelly, who played Father Jack in the comedy series Father Ted, died aged 77 on February 28.

:: Coronation Street creator Tony Warren died aged 79 on March 1.

:: Nancy Reagan, actress and former first lady of the United States, died aged 94 on March 6.

:: Beatles producer Sir George Martin died aged 90 on March 8.

:: Magician Paul Daniels died aged 77 on March 17.

Prince pictured in 1986
Prince pictured in 1986
(FILES) This file photo taken on March 15, 2004 shows, Inductee Prince performing a song of George Harrison along with Tom Petty after the late Beatle was inducted during the 19th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in New York City. Pop icon Prince -- whose pioneering brand of danceable funk made him one of music's most influential figures -- died on April 21, 2016 at his compound in Minnesota. He was 57. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images
This photo taken on June 16, 1990 shows musician Prince performing onstage during his concert at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. Pop icon Prince -- whose pioneering brand of danceable funk made him one of music's most influential figures -- died on April 21, 2016 at his compound in Minnesota. He was 57. The announcement came just a week after the Grammy and Oscar winner was taken to hospital with a bad bout of influenza, although he made light of his health problems after the scare. / AFP PHOTO / Bertrand GUAYBERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images
This photo taken on June 16, 1990 shows musician Prince performing onstage during his concert at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. AFP/Getty Images
This photo taken on May 4, 1994 shows musician Prince (R) acknowledging applause after receiving from Italian tenor Placido Domingo (L) the "Outstanding Contribution to the Pop Industry" award during the World Music Awards ceremony in Monaco. Pop icon Prince -- whose pioneering brand of danceable funk made him one of music's most influential figures -- died on April 21, 2016 at his compound in Minnesota. He was 57. The announcement came just a week after the Grammy and Oscar winner was taken to hospital with a bad bout of influenza, although he made light of his health problems after the scare. / AFP PHOTO / Patrick HERTZOGPATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on February 4, 2007 shows US musician Prince performing during half-time at Super Bowl XLI at Dolphin Stadium in Miami between the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts. Pop icon Prince -- one of the most influential but elusive figures in music -- died suddenly at his compound in Minnesota on April 21, 2016, a representative said. He was 57. / AFP PHOTO / JEFF HAYNES AND Roberto SCHMIDTJEFF HAYNES,ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on February 4, 2007 shows US musician Prince performing during half-time at Super Bowl XLI at Dolphin Stadium in Miami between the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts. Pop icon Prince -- one of the most influential but elusive figures in music -- died suddenly at his compound in Minnesota on April 21, 2016, a representative said. He was 57. / AFP PHOTO / Roberto SCHMIDTROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images
This June 7, 1984 photo, Prince performs in Minneapolis. Prince, widely acclaimed as one of the most inventive and influential musicians of his era with hits including "Little Red Corvette," ''Let's Go Crazy" and "When Doves Cry," was found dead at his home on Thursday, April 21, 2016 in suburban Minneapolis, according to his publicist. He was 57. (David Brewster/Star Tribune via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS OUT; MAGS OUT; TWIN CITIES LOCAL TELEVISION OUT
This June 7, 1984 photo, Prince performs in Minneapolis. Prince, widely acclaimed as one of the most inventive and influential musicians of his era with hits including "Little Red Corvette," ''Let's Go Crazy" and "When Doves Cry," was found dead at his home on Thursday, April 21, 2016 in suburban Minneapolis, according to his publicist. He was 57. (David Brewster/Star Tribune via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS OUT; MAGS OUT; TWIN CITIES LOCAL TELEVISION OUT
In this March 17, 1983 photo, Prince appears at the Met Center in Minneapolis. Prince, widely acclaimed as one of the most inventive and influential musicians of his era with hits including "Little Red Corvette," ''Let's Go Crazy" and "When Doves Cry," was found dead at his home on Thursday, April 21, 2016 in suburban Minneapolis, according to his publicist. He was 57. (David Brewster/Star Tribune via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS OUT; MAGS OUT; TWIN CITIES LOCAL TELEVISION OUT
In this Dec. 25, 1984 photo, Prince performs at St. Paul Civic Center in St. Paul, Minn. Prince, widely acclaimed as one of the most inventive and influential musicians of his era with hits including "Little Red Corvette," ''Let's Go Crazy" and "When Doves Cry," was found dead at his home on Thursday, April 21, 2016 in suburban Minneapolis, according to his publicist. He was 57. (David Brewster/Star Tribune via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS OUT; MAGS OUT; TWIN CITIES LOCAL TELEVISION OUT
This May 1, 1990 photo, Prince performs a benefit in memory of ex-bodyguard Chick Huntsberry in Minneapolis. Prince, widely acclaimed as one of the most inventive and influential musicians of his era with hits including "Little Red Corvette," ''Let's Go Crazy" and "When Doves Cry," was found dead at his home on Thursday, April 21, 2016 in suburban Minneapolis, according to his publicist. He was 57. (David Brewster/Star Tribune via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS OUT; MAGS OUT; TWIN CITIES LOCAL TELEVISION OUT
In this May 2, 1990 photo Prince performs a benefit concert for the family of Charles (Big Chick) Huntsberry in Minneapolis. Prince, widely acclaimed as one of the most inventive and influential musicians of his era with hits including "Little Red Corvette," ''Let's Go Crazy" and "When Doves Cry," was found dead at his home on Thursday, April 21, 2016 in suburban Minneapolis, according to his publicist. He was 57. (David Brewster/Star Tribune via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS OUT; MAGS OUT; TWIN CITIES LOCAL TELEVISION OUT
(FILES) This file photo taken on February 26, 2005 shows, Performer Prince arrivING for the 77th Academy Awards 27 February, 2005, at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California. AFP/Getty Images
This photo taken on August 25, 1986 shows musician Prince performing onstage during his concert at the Zenith venue in Paris. Pop icon Prince -- whose pioneering brand of danceable funk made him one of music's most influential figures -- died on April 21, 2016 at his compound in Minnesota. He was 57. The announcement came just a week after the Grammy and Oscar winner was taken to hospital with a bad bout of influenza, although he made light of his health problems after the scare. / AFP PHOTO / PASCAL GEORGEPASCAL GEORGE/AFP/Getty Images
This photo taken on August 21, 1998 shows musician Prince performing onstage during his concert in Paris. Pop icon Prince -- whose pioneering brand of danceable funk made him one of music's most influential figures -- died on April 21, 2016 at his compound in Minnesota. He was 57. The announcement came just a week after the Grammy and Oscar winner was taken to hospital with a bad bout of influenza, although he made light of his health problems after the scare. / AFP PHOTO / Bertrand GUAYBERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images
This photo taken on August 25, 1986 shows musician Prince performing onstage during his concert at the Zenith venue in Paris. Pop icon Prince -- whose pioneering brand of danceable funk made him one of music's most influential figures -- died on April 21, 2016 at his compound in Minnesota. He was 57. The announcement came just a week after the Grammy and Oscar winner was taken to hospital with a bad bout of influenza, although he made light of his health problems after the scare. / AFP PHOTO / PASCAL GEORGEPASCAL GEORGE/AFP/Getty Images
This photo taken on June 17, 1987 shows musician Prince performing onstage during his concert at the Bercy venue in Paris. Pop icon Prince -- whose pioneering brand of danceable funk made him one of music's most influential figures -- died on April 21, 2016 at his compound in Minnesota. He was 57. The announcement came just a week after the Grammy and Oscar winner was taken to hospital with a bad bout of influenza, although he made light of his health problems after the scare. / AFP PHOTO / Bertrand GUAYBERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images
This photo taken on June 17, 1987 shows musician Prince performing onstage during his concert at the Bercy venue in Paris. Pop icon Prince -- whose pioneering brand of danceable funk made him one of music's most influential figures -- died on April 21, 2016 at his compound in Minnesota. He was 57. The announcement came just a week after the Grammy and Oscar winner was taken to hospital with a bad bout of influenza, although he made light of his health problems after the scare. / AFP PHOTO / Bertrand GUAYBERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images
This black and white photo taken on June 17, 1987 shows musician Prince performing onstage during his concert at the Bercy venue in Paris. Pop icon Prince -- whose pioneering brand of danceable funk made him one of music's most influential figures -- died Thursday at his compound in Minnesota. He was 57. The announcement came just a week after the Grammy and Oscar winner was taken to hospital with a bad bout of influenza, although he made light of his health problems after the scare. / AFP PHOTO / Bertrand GUAYBERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images
File photo dated 14/11/06 of Prince, who has died at the age of 57, his publicist said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 21, 2016. His body was discovered at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota, where his recording studio is located early on Thursday. See PA story DEATH Prince. Photo credit should read: Johnny Green/PA Wire
File photo dated 25/02/97 of Prince, who has died at the age of 57, his publicist said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 21, 2016. His body was discovered at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota, where his recording studio is located early on Thursday. See PA story DEATH Prince. Photo credit should read: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire
File photo dated 17/09/88 of Prince, who has died at the age of 57, his publicist said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 21, 2016. His body was discovered at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota, where his recording studio is located early on Thursday. See PA story DEATH Prince. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 10/08/88 of Prince, who has died at the age of 57, his publicist said. PA
File photo dated 24/02/97 of Prince arriving at the Brit Awards in London, as the singer has died at the age of 57, his publicist said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 21, 2016. His body was discovered at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota, where his recording studio is located early on Thursday. See PA story DEATH Prince. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 12/02/85 of Prince who has died at the age of 57, his publicist said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 21, 2016. His body was discovered at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota, where his recording studio is located early on Thursday. See PA story DEATH Prince. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 20/09/95 of Prince, who has died at the age of 57, his publicist said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 21, 2016. His body was discovered at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota, where his recording studio is located early on Thursday. See PA story DEATH Prince. Photo credit should read: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire
File photo dated 25/02/07 of singer Prince who has died at the age of 57, his publicist said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 21, 2016. His body was discovered at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota, where his recording studio is located early on Thursday. See PA story DEATH Prince. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
FILE - 21 APRIL 2016: Musician Prince has reportedly Died at 57 on April 21, 2016. LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 28: ***EXCLUSIVE*** Musician Prince performs his first of three shows onstage during "One Night... Three Venues" hosted by Prince and Lotusflow3r.com held at NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE on March 28, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images for Lotusflow3r.com)
File photo dated 02/10/02 of Prince, who has died at the age of 57, his publicist said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 21, 2016. His body was discovered at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota, where his recording studio is located early on Thursday. See PA story DEATH Prince. Photo credit should read: Tim Whitby/PA Wire
File photo dated 08/05/07 of singer Prince who has died at the age of 57, his publicist said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 21, 2016. His body was discovered at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota, where his recording studio is located early on Thursday. See PA story DEATH Prince. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
File photo dated 20/09/95 of Prince, who has died at the age of 57, his publicist said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 21, 2016. His body was discovered at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota, where his recording studio is located early on Thursday. See PA story DEATH Prince. Photo credit should read: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire
(FILES) This file photo taken on February 08, 2015 shows Prince presenting an award at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in this February 8, 2015. Pop icon Prince has died at his compound in Minnesota, entertainment website TMZ reported April 21, 2016, citing unnamed sources. The musician's publicist confirms Prince's death. / AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECKROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
File photo dated 15/02/06 of Prince performing on stage at the Brit Awards, as the singer has died at the age of 57, his publicist said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 21, 2016. See PA story DEATH Prince. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
FILE - 21 APRIL 2016: Musician Prince has reportedly Died at 57 on April 21, 2016. LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 22: Recording artist Prince (L) and singer Mary J. Blige perform onstage during the 2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 22, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Clear Channel)
File photo dated 15/02/06 of Prince performing on stage at the Brit Awards, as the singer has died at the age of 57, his publicist said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 21, 2016. See PA story DEATH Prince. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
FILE - 21 APRIL 2016: Musician Prince has reportedly Died at 57 on April 21, 2016. MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 04: Prince performs during the "Pepsi Halftime Show" at Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears on February 4, 2007 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
FILE - 21 APRIL 2016: Musician Prince has reportedly Died at 57 on April 21, 2016. MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 04: Prince performs during the "Pepsi Halftime Show" at Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears on February 4, 2007 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
FILE - 21 APRIL 2016: Musician Prince has reportedly Died at 57 on April 21, 2016. HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 6: Singer Prince (R) and his wife Manuela Testolini sit in the audience at the 35th Annual NAACP Image Awards held at the Universal Amphitheatre, March 6, 2004 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
FILE - 21 APRIL 2016: Musician Prince has reportedly Died at 57 on April 21, 2016. HOLLYWOOD - FEBRUARY 27: Singer Prince and Manuela Testolini arrive at the 77th Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater on February 27, 2005 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)
FILE - 21 APRIL 2016: Musician Prince has reportedly Died at 57 on April 21, 2016. HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Singer Prince walks on stage during the 77th Annual Academy Awards on February 27, 2005 at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
FILE - 21 APRIL 2016: Musician Prince has reportedly Died at 57 on April 21, 2016. LOS ANGELES - MARCH 19: Musician Prince performs onstage at the 36th Annual NAACP Image Awards at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on March 19, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
FILE - 21 APRIL 2016: Musician Prince has reportedly Died at 57 on April 21, 2016. NEW ORLEANS - JULY 2: Prince performs at the 10th Anniversary Essence Music Festival at the Superdome on July 2, 2004 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
FILE - 21 APRIL 2016: Musician Prince has reportedly Died at 57 on April 21, 2016. PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 9: Musician Prince presents the award for "Favorite Leading Lady" onstage during the 31st Annual People's Choice Awards at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on January 9, 2005 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
File photo dated 09/06/99 of Prince, with his former wife Mayte Garcia, as the singer has died at the age of 57, his publicist said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 21, 2016. His body was discovered at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota, where his recording studio is located early on Thursday. See PA story DEATH Prince. Photo credit should read: John Stillwell/PA Wire
FILE - In this Nov. 14, 2010 file photo, musician Prince performs in Yas Island, on the final night of the F1 motor race meeting in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Prince's publicist has confirmed that Prince died at his his home, Thursday, April 21, 2016. He was 57. (AP Photo/Nousha Salimi, File)
FILE - In this April 10, 1997 file photo, Prince performs a medley of "Take Me With U" and "Rasberry Beret" at the 4th annual VH1 Honors in Universal City, Calif. Prince's publicist has confirmed that Prince died at his home in Minnesota, Thursday, April 21, 2016. He was 57. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 22, 1985 file photo, Prince performs in concert at Riverfront Coliseum during his Purple Rain Tour in Cincinnati, Ohio. Prince's publicist has confirmed that Prince died at his his home in Minnesota, Thursday, April 21, 2016. He was 57. (AP Photo/Rob Burns, File)
FILE - In this April 26, 2008 file photo, Prince performs during the second day of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif. Prince's publicist has confirmed that Prince died at his his home, Thursday, April 21, 2016. He was 57. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 11, 1985 file photo, Prince performs before a sold-out audience, in Houston. Prince's publicist has confirmed that Prince died at his his home in Minnesota, Thursday, April 21, 2016. He was 57. (AP Photo/F. Carter Smith, File)
File photo dated 08/05/07 of singer Prince who has died at the age of 57, his publicist said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 21, 2016. His body was discovered at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota, where his recording studio is located early on Thursday. See PA story DEATH Prince. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
File photo dated 08/05/07 of singer Prince who has died at the age of 57, his publicist said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 21, 2016. His body was discovered at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota, where his recording studio is located early on Thursday. See PA story DEATH Prince. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
File photo dated 15/08/07 of singer Prince who has died at the age of 57, his publicist said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 21, 2016. His body was discovered at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota, where his recording studio is located early on Thursday. See PA story DEATH Prince. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
File photo dated 08/05/07 of singer Prince who has died at the age of 57, his publicist said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 21, 2016. His body was discovered at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota, where his recording studio is located early on Thursday. See PA story DEATH Prince. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
FILE - 21 APRIL 2016: Musician Prince has reportedly Died at 57 on April 21, 2016. MIAMI - FEBRUARY 01: Musician Prince performs during the Super Bowl XLI Half-Time Press Conference at the Miami Convention Center on February 1, 2007 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
FILE - 21 APRIL 2016: Musician Prince has reportedly Died at 57 on April 21, 2016. LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 22: Musician Prince speaks onstage during the 2015 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
(FILES) This file photo taken on February 09, 2013 shows Musician Prince speaks onstage at the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. Pop icon Prince -- one of the most influential but elusive figures in music -- has died at his compound in Minnesota, entertainment website TMZ reported on April 21, 2016, citing unnamed sources. Local authorities said a death investigation was underway at Prince's Paisley Park complex, but did not give the identity of the fatality. / AFP PHOTO / KEVORK DJANSEZIANKEVORK DJANSEZIAN/AFP/Getty Images
File photo dated 12/08/86 of Prince Rogers Nelson, known by his mononym Prince, who has died at the age of 57 at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota, according to celebrity website TMZ. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 21, 2016. See PA story DEATH Prince. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
(FILES) This file photo taken on June 30, 2011 shows US singer and musician Prince performing on stage at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, outside Paris. Pop icon Prince -- one of the most influential but elusive figures in music -- has died at his compound in Minnesota, entertainment website TMZ reported on April 21, 2016, citing unnamed sources. Local authorities said a death investigation was underway at Prince's Paisley Park complex, but did not give the identity of the fatality. / AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND GUAYBERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images
File photo dated 12/08/86 of Prince Rogers Nelson, known by his mononym Prince, who has died at the age of 57 at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota, according to celebrity website TMZ. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 21, 2016. See PA story DEATH Prince. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
(FILES) This file photo taken on February 10, 2013 shows musician Prince as he presents the winner for Record of the Year during the 55th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California. Pop icon Prince -- one of the most influential but elusive figures in music -- has died at his compound in Minnesota, entertainment website TMZ reported on April 21, 2016, citing unnamed sources. Local authorities said a death investigation was underway at Prince's Paisley Park complex, but did not give the identity of the fatality. / AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMARJOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images
File photo dated 12/08/86 of Prince Rogers Nelson, known by his mononym Prince, who has died at the age of 57 at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota, according to celebrity website TMZ. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 21, 2016. See PA story DEATH Prince. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 12/08/86 of Prince Rogers Nelson, known by his mononym Prince, who has died at the age of 57 at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota, according to celebrity website TMZ. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 21, 2016. See PA story DEATH Prince. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 12/08/86 of Prince Rogers Nelson, known by his mononym Prince, who has died at the age of 57 at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota, according to celebrity website TMZ. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 21, 2016. See PA story DEATH Prince. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
FILE - In this Nov. 22, 2015 file photo, Prince presents the award for favorite album - soul/R&B at the American Music Awards in Los Angeles. Authorities are investigating a death at Paisley Park, where pop superstar Prince has his recording studios. Jason Kamerud, Carver County chief sheriff's deputy, tells the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the investigation began on Thursday morning, April 21, 2016. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File)

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:: Jimmy Perry, screenwriter known for shows including Dad's Army and It Ain't Half Hot Mum, died aged 93 on October 23.

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:: The death at 82 of Canadian singer, songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen, who penned the classic song Hallelujah, was announced on November 11.

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:: Restaurant critic AA Gill died aged 62 on December 10.

:: Status Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt died in Spain at the age of 68 on Christmas Eve.

:: Liz Smith, who played the Royle Family's Norma (Nana), dies aged 95 on Christmas Eve.

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