In the words of Samuel L. Jackson, “it matters not how a man dies, but how he lives.”
Throughout 2022, we have lost significant contributors, pioneers, trailblazers, trendsetters, and innovators to Black culture and the world at large. From TV and film, sports, music, politics, art, beauty, comedy, philanthropy, we’ve witnessed the transition of some of the most beloved, barrier-breakers, and warriors in their respective fields. From one of our greatest warriors, Chadwick Bowman in Black Panther said, “In my culture…Death is not the end”.
At Classix Philly, we pay homage to the lives who have passed away in 2022 and the legacies that will continue to live:
Rest In Power: Notable Black Folks Who We’ve Lost In 2022 was originally published on wrnbhd2.com
1. Philly Legendary Producer and Songwriter Thom Bell Dead At 79
2. Tina Turner and Ike Turner’s Son Ronnie Turner Dead at 62
3. Clarence Gilyard Jr., Famous For ‘Die Hard’ and ‘Top Gun’, Has Died at 66
Clarence Gilyard Jr., famous for his roles in Die Hard and Walker Texas Ranger, has died. He was 66.
The cause of death has yet to be revealed.
Gilyard was working at the University of Nevada as an associate professor for the College of Fine Arts. They released the following statement yesterday in regard to his passing. Read more here
4. Migos Rapper Takeoff Shot And Killed In Houston [November 1, 2022]
Details are scarce, but multiple outlets have reported the sad news that Takeoff, from the popular rap group Migos, has passed away. He was 28 years old. According to early reports, Takeoff, real name Kirshnik Khari Ball, was in Houston, Texas along with fellow Migos member Quavo. The pair were reportedly attending a dice game when a confrontation occurred. The situation escalated and gunfire erupted. Read more here.
5. Davido’s 3yr Old Son Passes Away From Drowning [Oct. 31, 2022]
6. Former NFL Player, Antonio Dennard, 32, Shot & Killed in Pennsylvania
7. PnB Rock, Philly’s Iconic Rapper, Shot & Killed in LA [Sept 12, 2022]
8. Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson Passes Away at 50
9. 90’s Rapper Coolio Dead at 59
We are sad to report that Coolio, the Grammy-winning rapper best known for hits like “Fantastic Voyage” and “Gangsta’s Paradise,” has died at the age of 59.
TMZ reports that the MC was visiting a friend in Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 28) when he passed. His longtime manager, Jarez, said that Coolio went into the bathroom but didn’t come out. After a while, his friend called for him, and eventually went to the bathroom. It was there that he found Coolio laying on the floor. Paramedics were called, but Coolio was pronounced dead at the scene. An official cause of death has not been determined, but paramedics believe that he may have suffered cardiac arrest.
Born Artis Leon Ivey Jr. on August 1, 1963, the Pennsylvania-born, Compton-raised rapper hit the music scene with a bang in the 1990s. His commercial debut single, his take on funk group Lakeside’s 1981 hit, “Fantastic Voyage,” peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1994. He would follow that with the monster hit, “Gangsta’s Paradise” featuring L.V., which was the lead single of the Dangerous Minds soundtrack. Coolio’s take on Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise” would become one of the biggest selling rap singles of all time. It stayed at #1 on the Hot 100 for three weeks and earned Coolio a Grammy in 1996 for Best Rap Solo Performance. It would also spawn a Weird Al Yankovic parody, “Amish Paradise,” which Coolio didn’t agree to at first. Thankfully, they reached an understanding afterward.
Following his 90s heyday, Coolio would go on to appear on various reality shows, including Celebrity Big Brother and Food Network’s Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off. He would also find his footing as a chef, releasing a cookbook and launching his own web series, Cookin’ With Coolio.
10. Jesse Powell, 90s R&B Singer Passes Away At Age 51 [Sept. 14]
11. PnB Rock, Philly’s Iconic Rapper, Shot & Killed in LA [Sept 12, 2022]
12. Comedian David Arnold
13. Pioneering Black CNN News Anchor Bernard Shaw Dies At 82
14. Comedian Teddy Ray Reportedly Died By Drowning [August 12, 2022]
15. Lamont Dozier, “Motown Songwriter & Producer” Dies at 81 [August 9, 2022]
Lamont Dozier, one-third of one of the most iconic songwriting/production teams in music history, has passed away at the age of 81.
His son, Lamont Dozier Jr. confirmed the news of his passing on Instagram. A cause of death is…click here to read more.
16. Nichelle Nichols, “Star Trek” Icon Dies at 89 [July 30, 2022]
17. Basketball Legend Bill Russell Passes Away At 88 [July 31, 2022]
18. William Hart, Lead Singer Of The Delfonics, [July 14, 2022]
19. Jaylon Ferguson, 26 [June 21, 2022]
20. Caleb Swanigan, 25 [June 20, 2022,]
21. Darius Lee, 21 [June 21, 2022]
22. Trouble [June 5, 2022]
23. Former Cowboys Running Back Marion Barber Found Dead at 38
24. Arizona Cardinals Cornerback Jeff Gladney, 25, Dies in Fatal Car Crash With Girlfriend
25. Master P’s Daughter
26. Bernard Wright (May 19, 2022)
27. Andrew Woolfolk (April 24, 2022)
28. DJ Kay Slay (April 17, 2022)
“From the mixtapes to helping him launch Straight Stuntin‘ magazine and the whole What The Science project, the world not only lost a real dedicated person to the culture of Hip Hop but a source of bridging the gap in Hip Hop. I’m gonna miss my little brother.” Read more here.
29. Cedric McMillan, Bodybuilder, dead at 44 (April 12, 2022)
“Our entire family at the Arnold Sports Festival is heartbroken to learn of the passing of 2017 Arnold Classic Champion Cedric McMillan.
Known for his larger than life personality, his infectious smile, a gentle heart, and a sense of humor that was loved by fellow competitors and fans alike, Cedric will be deeply missed.”
30. Archie Eversole (April 3, 2022)
31. News Anchor & Journalist, Bruce Johnson (April 3, 2022)
Bruce Johnson, a longtime Washington, D.C. news anchor of WUSA9, died at the age of 71 on Sunday.
Johnson anchored the news for 44 years before retiring in 2020, winning 22 Emmys. Johnson was also a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Hall of Fame, the Washington, D.C. Hall of Fame and the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame at the University of Kentucky.
The legendary journalist retired in December 2020 after taking a hiatus in 2018 after announcing he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Read more here
32. LaShun Pace (March 21, 2022)
33. Traci Braxton (March 11, 2022)
Traci Braxton, the singer, and member of the famous Braxton Family passed away on Friday (March 11th) after a bout with cancer. TMZ reports that Braxton has been battling cancer for about a year. Her family were by her side at the time of her death. Read more here
34. Good Times’ Actor Johnny Brown (March 2, 2022)
35. Tyrese’s Mother
36. Queen of Funk, Betty Davis Has Passed at The Age Of 77
Prayers are in order as it is being reported that the pioneering Queen of Funk, singer, Betty Davis, has passed away at the age of 77 from natural causes in Homestead, Pennsylvania.
Betty Davis passing was confirmed by her close friend Danielle Maggio. In a statement from, Connie Portis, another long time friend of Betty Davis.
Read more here
37. Singer Donny Gerrard Known For Classic Hit ‘Wildflower’ Has Died
It’s one thing to hit charts at number one but the true testament of the greatness of a song is if that song is being sung for generations to come, and Donny Gerrard’s spirit will live on forever through his lead vocals on the classic hit ‘Wildflower’ but it is with great sadness that it is being reported that the ‘Skylark’s’ lead singer, Donnie Gerrard, has passed away at the age of 75 after a long battle with cancer.
Let her cry, for she’s a lady, Let her dream, for she’s a child, Let the rain fall down upon her, She’s a free and gentle flower, growing wild.
Donny Gerrard died on Thursday, February 3, and had been under hospice care amid a battle with cancer, publicist Bill Carpenter
Read more Here
38. Mississippi Blues Brothers Syl and Jimmy Johnson Have Died: Lives in Music
The soul-lacious Johnson brothers have both died within a week of each other. Jimmy died on January 31, 2022 and Syl died on February 6, 2022. Jimmy died at the age of 93, whilst Syl died at the age of 89.
The Johnson family made a statement regard each brother’s passing.
“Our Dad (Syl Johnson) has gone on to heaven to be with him and many of his loved ones and fellow musicians who have passed as well. The world has lost two musical giants,” the family continued, “They came up the hard way, and they blazed a trail with hits and [became] major forces in music.”
The two were both born as James and Sylvester Thompson in Holly Spring, Mississippi. Inside a packed household of 10 children, the Thompson brothers sought to live a more independent life.
Read more here
39. Regina King’s Son Dead at 26 by Suicide on Birthday
In a statement exclusively to PEOPLE, King said “Our family is devastated at the deepest level by the loss of Ian. He is such a bright light who cared so deeply about the happiness of others. Our family asks for respectful consideration during this private time. Thank you”.
40. Fashion Icon, Journalist & Vogue Legend, André Leon Talley, Dies at 73
André Leon Talley quickly gained his fame and notoriety as the creative director of Vogue as he worked alongside Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour.
As reported by TMZ, Vogue’s former creative director had been in the hospital battling unknown illnesses. Sources say that Talley passed away Tuesday at a hospital in New York.
André was a key component to the vision and overall aesthetic of Vogue in the 80’s and 90’s. He climbed the ladder in the ranks of Vogue’s magazine, becoming the news director from 1983-87 and then in ’88, ascended to Vogue’s creative director.
Talley was also influential fashion journalist who worked at Women’s Wear Daily and Vogue and was a regular in the front row of fashion shows in New York and Europe. Standing at 6-feet-6 inches tall with a loud personality, bold looks and originality at it’s finest, you could not miss, André Leon Talley.
In a 2013 Vanity Fair spread titled “The Eyeful Tower,” Talley was described as “perhaps the industry’s most important link to the past.”
41. Ronnie Spector, Lead Singer Of The Ronettes, Dies At 78
It’s been less than two weeks since 2022 began and we’ve already had to say goodbye to more entertainers than we’d like to believe, including iconic P-Funk member Calvin Simon, heavily-sampled jazz legend James Mtume, and historic Hollywood leading man Sidney Poitier amongst others.
The latest person we unfortunately have to say farewell to is Ronnie Spector, lead singer of the ’60s girl group The Ronettes who died today at the age of 78.
TMZ reports that Ronnie died earlier today in the arms of her husband and manager Jonathan Greenfield after battling cancer. With The Ronettes, which included her late elder sister Estelle Bennett and cousin Nedra Talley, Spector enjoyed major success on the Billboard Hot 100 with hits like their 1963 game-changer “Be My Baby.” The group went on to become one of the biggest music groups of their time, eventually being voted into the prestigious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
Take a brief look at the life story of Ronnie Spector below, via Vanity Fair:
“Born Veronica Bennett in 1943 in Harlem, Ronnie rose to fame as the lead vocalist of the Ronettes, a group she formed with her sister Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedre Talley. Their song ‘Be My Baby’ was their biggest hit, and they joined the Beatles on their U.S. tour in 1966.
42. Philly’s R&B Legend, James Mtume Passes Away at 76
Philadelphia’s very own, Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter, producer and activist, James “Mtume” Forman has reportedly passed away at 76.
Mtume was a percussionist who’s music catalog consisted of jazz, contemporary R&B and disco-club songs. Born as James Forman, James added “Mtume” to his stage name, meaning “messenger” in Swahili.
James received the name Mtume after he joined Hakim Jamal and Maulana Karenga’s US Organization, a Black empowerment group. Mtume saw this as a quintessential name for a singer as he was not afraid to break barriers and deliver messages to all through his musical gifts.
“Music is a unique art form. I mean all art is special,” he said during his 2019 TedTalk. “But music is unique. It’s the only art form I know that can touch you, but you can’t touch it. What do I mean by that? I can touch a sculpture, I can touch a painting, I can touch a book of poetry. How do you touch a note? How do you touch sound? It runs through your body.”James Mtume Forman grew up in a household where jazz music lived and danced on the the walls of his parent’s home. What many don’t know about James is that not only did he learn how to play the piano and percussion, but he also received in athletic scholar-sip for swimming to Pasadena City College in 1966.
43. Sidney Poitier Dead at 94, First Black Man to Win Oscar
Sidney Poitier was the first black actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1964 for his starring role in “Lilies of the Field” in 1963.
Our beloved, Sidney Poitier, the legendary actor, pioneer, trailblazer and activist who broke many racial and color barriers in the entertainment industry, starring some of Hollywoods most iconic movies ever, has passed away at 94.
Mr. Poitier’s death was confirmed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell, however the circumstances surrounding his death have not yet been revealed.
Sir Poitier, a beyond great man and activist was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by President Barak Obama for his outstanding work and contributions.
44. Jessie Lee Daniels Of The Force MD’s Dies At 57
It’s a sad day for Staten Island Hip-Hop and R&B, and the world. Jessie Lee Daniels of The Force MD’s has reportedly died at 57.
The singer’s management confirmed his passing on Facebook.
“Please put a heart up for him. He was loved!!!!!!!!!! TO the family, friends and fans today we lost a real talent. Our condolences goes out to his siblings, kids and the Force MDs,” reads the post as reported by The Mirror.
Hailing from Staten Island, the Force MD’s were originally known as the Force MC’s. However, at the height of their popularity they were an R&B vocal group with hits like the Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis-produced “Tender Love” and “Love is a House” that are certified classics.
Daniels, who was the uncle of members Stevie D., Antoine “T.C.D.” Lundy, and Rodney “Khalil” Lundy, is credited as a founder of the group.
Rest in Power Jessie Lee Daniels. Read More at ClassixPhilly.com
45. Max Julien
Born Maxwell Banks, Julien was 88. Despite various birth dates listed for Julien online, TMZ confirmed that he was born on Jan. 1, 1933. The Washington, D.C. native was a Howard University alum and member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.
Best known for his role as the pimp Goldie in the Blaxploitation film “The Mack,” Julien also co-wrote the screenplay for “Cleopatra Jones.” By the time Julien starred in “The Mack” and “Cleopatra Jones,” he had been acting for over 20 years.
He appeared in “The Mod Squad” and his big-screen debut in the 1966 film “The Black Klansman,” not to be confused with the 2018 Spike Lee film with a similar title. Lee’s movie is an adaptation of a memoir by Ron Stallworth, while the 1966 version was initially released under the title “I Crossed the Color Line.”
Julien remained an active presence on screen with a scene-stealing performance in the 1997 Def Jam film “How To Be A Player.” In a statement provided to TMZ, Julien’s PR team said his wife Arabella discovered him early Saturday morning.
“During Julien’s decades-long career, he was known for being bold, honest and straightforward,” read the statement. “He would live and speak his own truth both professionally and privately. He was thought of as a rare ‘man among men.’”
Actor and direct Robert Townsend paid tribute to Julien on Twitter.
“My first cinematic heroes has passed. Today we lost actor, writer, producer and director Max Julian,” tweeted Townsend. “In college, I would act out scenes from THE MACK, it’s still one of my favorite movies. Thank you Mr. Julian for making me think outside the box… God bless his soul.”