The year will go down in history as one of the most shocking years in popular culture, in terms of those who passed away. Friends, family and fans alike lost a saddening number of influential creatives across the industries. From Hip Hop legends like Mobb Deep’s Prodigy, to industry thought leaders like Combat Jack, the list seems to go on for 2017.
There’s no age that makes celebrity deaths any less shocking, as it’s always too soon to lose admirable talent. Here, we remember the much-loved figures we lost in the last 12 months.
1. Combat Jack
Entertainment lawyer turned podcast pioneer, formally known as Reggie Osse, passed away recently. He was diagnosed with colon cancer this past Fall. He under went surgery and kept us updated along the way. But unfortunately, he lost the battle on December 20th.
2. Della Reese
More than half of the Harlem Nights cast is in heaven. This year, actress and singer Della Reese joined them. The Touched by an Angel star “passed away peacefully surrounded by love,” on November 19th, according to her husband. The cause of death is still unknown, but she was diagnosed with diabetes 17 years ago. Reese was 86.
3. Lil Peep
Lil Peep was found dead on his tour bus ahead of a performance in Arizona. His autopsy suggests that his cause of death was an accidental overdose due to the effects of the pain medications fentanyl and alprazolam. His blood also tested positive for marijuana, cocaine, and the painkiller, Tramadol. Peep’s death sent shockwaves through the youthful Hip Hop community, and brought light to the severity of opioid usage. Even his colleague Lil Uzi Vert pledged to sobriety, following Peep’s fatal dosage.
4. Earle Hyman
Many may know Hyman for his role on The Cosby Show as Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby’s) father. He was never married, and didn’t have any kids. But he died at the age of 91 at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey.
5. Hugh Hefner
The Playboy CEO died in his California home at the age of 91 on September 27th. The cause of death was a combination of a cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, sepsis and an E. coli infection.
6. Robert Guillaume
Grammy-award winning actor, Robert Guillaume passed away on October 24. Popularly known as Benson from the series Soap and the spin-off series, he died of prostate cancer at his California home. He was 89.
7. Charlie Murphy
Charlie Murphy died of leukemia on April 12. He was 57.
This death felt like a member of the family. The Mobb Deep rapper died in Las Vegas on June 20 of accidental choking. He was diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia and devoted his life to properly treating the life-long condition.
9. Tom Petty
Petty was found unconscious in full cardiac arrest on October 2nd. He was rushed to UCLA Medical Center and died that evening. He was 66.
10. Dick Gregory
Comedian, civil rights activist, writer, social critic, and entrepreneur Dick Gregory died of heart failure at a Washington, D.C., hospital at age 84 in August 2017.
11. Chester Bennington
The Linkin Park lead singer hung himself on July 20th in his California estate. There was an empty bottle of alcohol on the scene, but no drugs were found.
12. Nelsan Ellis
Ellis died at the age of 39 on July 8, 2017, in Woodhull Medical Center, New York, after complications from heart failure. Two days after his death, his family announced he was trying to quit alcohol and the alcohol withdrawal symptoms led to the heart failure.
13. Christopher “Big Black” Boykin
Big Black had a defibrillator implant for his heart. In early May he was placed on a heart monitor, and his heart stopped on May 9th. They tried to revive him for 30 minutes, and was pronounced dead in the evening.