Gilbert “Gil” Scott-Heron (April 1, 1949 – May 27, 2011) was an American soul and jazz poet, musician, and author, known primarily for his work as a spoken word performer in the 1970s and ’80s. His collaborative efforts with musician Brian Jackson featured a musical fusion of jazz, blues, and soul, as well as lyrical content concerning social and political issues of the time, delivered in both rapping and melismatic vocal styles by Scott-Heron. His own term for himself was “bluesologist”, which he defined as “a scientist who is concerned with the origin of the blues.”[note 1] His music, most notably on Pieces of a Man and Winter in America in the early 1970s, influenced and helped engender later African-American music genres such as hip hop and neo soul.
Joseph William “Joe” Frazier (January 12, 1944 – November 7, 2011), also known as Smokin’ Joe, was an Olympic and Undisputed World Heavyweight boxing champion, whose professional career lasted from 1965 to 1976, with a one-fight comeback in 1981.
Frazier emerged as the top contender in the late 1960s, defeating opponents that included Jerry Quarry, Oscar Bonavena, Buster Mathis, Eddie Machen, Doug Jones, George Chuvalo, and Jimmy Ellis en route to becoming undisputed heavyweight champion in 1970, and followed up by defeating Muhammad Ali on points in the highly-anticipated “Fight of the Century” in 1971. Two years later Frazier lost his title when he was knocked out by George Foreman. He fought on, beating Joe Bugner, losing a rematch to Ali, and beating Quarry and Ellis again.
Frazier’s last world title challenge came in 1975, but he was beaten by Ali in their brutal rubbermatch. He retired in 1976 following a second loss to Foreman. He made a comeback in 1981, fighting just once, before retiring for good. The International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO) rates Frazier among the ten greatest heavyweights of all time. He is an inductee of both the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame.
Dwight Arrington Myers (May 24, 1967 – November 8, 2011), better known as Heavy D, was a Jamaican-born American rapper, record producer, singer, actor, and former leader of Heavy D & the Boyz, the first group signed to Uptown Records, with Heavy D as the frontman and only rapper, and the other three members were dancers. Their debut, Living Large, was released in 1987. The album was a commercial success; Big Tyme was a breakthrough that included four hits. Dancer Troy “Trouble T. Roy” Dixon died at age 22 in a fall on July 15, 1990, in Indianapolis. Dixon’s death led to a tribute on the follow-up platinum album, Peaceful Journey. Pete Rock & CL Smooth created a tribute to Trouble T. Roy called “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” which is regarded as a hip-hop classic.Heavy D gained even more fame by singing the theme song for the television program In Living Color and also MADtv. Heavy D performed the rap on Michael Jackson‘s hit single “Jam” as well as sister Janet Jackson’s hit single “Alright“. Heavy D then began focusing on his acting, appearing in various television shows before returning the music charts with Nuttin’ But Love. After appearing in the off-Broadway play Riff Raff at Circle Repertory Company, Heavy D returned to recording with the hit Waterbed Hev. In 1997, Heavy D collaborated with B.B. King on his duets album Deuces Wild rapping in the song “Keep It Coming.” Heavy D was referred to in the song “Juicy” by the Notorious B.I.G., and appeared in his music video for “One More Chance“.In the mid-1990s,djj Myers became the first rapper to head a major music label, when he became the president of Uptown Records. Myers helped to develop rhythm-and-blues singer Mary J. Blige‘s career and hired Sean “Diddy” Combs as an intern. During this time, Myers also developed the sensational R&B boy band Soul for Real, and was the executive producer and principal writer of several songs on the group’s breakout album, ‘Candy Rain’.  He later became the senior vice president at Universal Music
Nathaniel Dwayne Hale (August 19, 1969 – March 15, 2011), better known by his stage name Nate Dogg, was an American musician. He is noted for his membership of rap trio 213 and his solo career in which he collaborated with Dr. Dre, Warren G, Tupac and Snoop Dogg on many hit releases. Nate Dogg released three solo albums, G-Funk Classics, Vol. 1 & 2 in 1998, Music and Me in 2001 and Nate Dogg in 2008.Nate Dogg died in 2011 in Long Beach, California, the cause of the death was from complications of multiple strokes.[
Amy Jade Winehouse (14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011) was an English singer-songwriter known for her powerful deep contralto vocals and her eclectic mix of musical genres including R&B, soul and jazz. Winehouse’s 2003 debut album, Frank, was critically successful in the UK and was nominated for the Mercury Prize. Her 2006 follow-up album, Back to Black, led to six Grammy Award nominations and five wins, tying the then record for the most wins by a female artist in a single night, and made Winehouse the first British female to win five Grammys, including three of the “Big Four“: Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Song of the Year.In 2007 she won a BRIT Award for Best British Female Artist; she had also been nominated for Best British Album. She won the Ivor Novello Award three times: once in 2004 for Best Contemporary Song (musically and lyrically) for “Stronger Than Me“, once in 2007 for Best Contemporary Song for “Rehab“, and once in 2008 for Best Song Musically and Lyrically for “Love Is a Losing Game“.Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning on 23 July 2011. Her album Back to Black subsequently became the UK’s best selling album so far in the 21st century
Ashford was born in Fairfield, South Carolina, and Simpson in Bronx, New York. They met at Harlem‘s White Rock Baptist Church in 1963. After having recorded unsuccessfully as a duo, they joined aspiring solo artist and former member of the Ikettes, Joshie Jo Armstead, at the Scepter/Wand label where their compositions were recorded by Ronnie Milsap (“Never Had It So Good”), Maxine Brown (“One Step At A Time”), as well as the Shirelles and Chuck Jackson. Another of the trio’s songs, “Let’s Go Get Stoned”, gave Ray Charles a number one U.S. R&B hit in 1966. That same year Ashford & Simpson joined Motown, where their best-known songs included “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough“, “You’re All I Need To Get By”, “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing“, and “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)“. Ashford and Simpson wrote many other hit songs including Chaka Khan‘s “I’m Every Woman” (1978) and Teddy Pendergrass‘s “Is It Still Good to You“. As performers, Ashford and Simpson’s best-known duets are “Solid” (1984 US and 1985 UK), and “Found a Cure” (1979). The duo was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002
Mary Vesta Williams (December 1, 1957 – September 22, 2011) was an American R&B singer. Originally credited as Vesta Williams, she was sometimes simply billed as Vesta beginning in the 1990s. She was known for her four-octave vocal range. Although Williams never had any albums certified gold nor any Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, she scored six Top 10 hits on the US Billboard R&B chart from the mid 1980s to the early 1990s. Williams was known for the hits “Once Bitten, Twice Shy,” “Sweet Sweet Love,” “Special”, and her 1989 #1 hit and signature song, “Congratulations”.
Sylvia Robinson (March 6, 1936 – September 29, 2011) was an American singer, musician, record producer, and record label executive, most notably known for her work as founder/CEO of the hip hop label Sugar Hill Records. She is credited as the driving force behind two landmark singles in the genre. The first was “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang, which was the first rap song to be released by a hip hop act. The second was “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five
Patrice Lumumba Malcolm Oneal (December 7, 1969 – November 29, 2011), usually credited as Patrice O’Neal, was an American stand-up comedian, radio personality, and actor. He was known for his cutting, often confrontational crowd work during which he often played couples against each other. Originally from Boston, he was a resident of Jersey City, New Jersey in his later years
Steven Paul Jobs (; February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011) was an American businessman and inventor widely recognized as a charismatic pioneer of the personal computer revolution. He was co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Apple Inc. Jobs was co-founder and previously served as chief executive of Pixar Animation Studios; he became a member of the board of directors of The Walt Disney Company in 2006, following the acquisition of Pixar by Disney.In the late 1970s, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak engineered one of the first commercially successful lines of personal computers, the Apple II series. Jobs directed its aesthetic design and marketing along with A.C. “Mike” Markkula, Jr. and others.
Charles Aaron “Bubba” Smith (February 28, 1945 – August 3, 2011) was an American professional football player who became an actor after his retirement from the sport. He first came into prominence at Michigan State University, where he twice earned All-American honors as a defensive end on the Spartans football team. He had a major role in a 10–10 draw with Notre Dame in 1966 that was billed as “The Game of the Century.” He was one of only three players to have his jersey number retired by the program. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988During his acting career, he mainly specialized in comedic roles in films, television advertisements and programs. For about a decade following his retirement from football, he appeared in various commercials for Miller Lite. His best-known role was as Moses Hightower in the first six Police Academy movies
Gladys Catherine Horton (May 30, 1945 – January 26, 2011) was an American R&B and pop singer, famous for being the founder and lead singer of the popular Motown all-female vocal group The MarvelettesFormerly calling themselves The Casinyets (can’t sing yet), the group eventually auditioned for Motown after a talent contest, and while the audition was successful, the group was requested to return to Hitsville with an original song. After member Georgia Dobbins co-created the song “Please Mr. Postman“, Dobbins suddenly left the group after her father forbade her to be in nightclubs. Dobbins, who was also the group’s original lead singer, gave Horton the spotlight to be the lead vocalist, a spot Horton was not comfortable with in the beginning. The group changed their name to the Marvelettes shortly after Motown signed the act and released “Please Mr. Postman” in the summer of 1961 when Horton was just sixteen