In 2010, we lost notable musical icons and civil rights trailblazers. Famous actors and everyday people caught in the sting of potential police abuses also passed away. Let's take a look back at the names and faces of those we lost this year.
Gospel great Albertina Walker recorded 71 albums and wrote more than 100 songs. A member of The Caravans, a group that would launch the careers of Shirley Caesar, the late Cassietta George, Dorothy Norwood, Inez Andrews, Delores Washington and the late Rev. James Cleveland, Walker was singing by age 4. Her first solo album, 'Put A Little Love in Your Heart,' was released in 1975 and produced by Donnie Hathaway. In 2002, President George W. Bush acknowledged Walker's contributions to gospel music. The 81-year-old vocalist died on Oct. 8, after a long battle with emphysema.
We loved his chubby cheeks and smile on the 1980s television show 'Diff'rent Strokes,' and he stole America's heart with his witty sense of humor. Life outside of the spotlight, though, wasn't easy for actor Gary Coleman. After the show ended, Coleman's fame subsided. He sued his adopted parents, alleging that they stole the $18 million he made during his career. He struggled with kidney disease and had multiple run-ins with the law, some with overzealous, mocking "fans." On May 26, Coleman was admitted to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, after suffering an intracranial brain hemorrhage when he fell in his Utah home. He eventually slipped in to a coma and was placed on life support at a Utah hospital. Coleman was taken off life support on May 28 by his ex-wife, Shannon Price. Not surprisingly, a dispute broke out after Coleman's death about whether Price, whom he had divorced, had the right to take him off of life support (she did) and his parents' feelings that there may have been foul play in their estranged son's death. A dispute also broke out over Coleman's estate that remains unresolved.
George E. Clinton Jr.
The son of funk legend George Clinton, 68, was found dead in his Florida residence on Feb. 1. There was a concern about the younger Clinton's whereabouts, so authorities entered his Tallahassee apartment, where they found him dead. Natural causes are suspected in the death.
It was the late 1970s, and the NAACP was no longer the bold civil rights organization that brought landmark cases about school segregation to the forefront of the struggle. Hooks inherited the organization, which was deeply in debt in 1977. By the time he left his position as executive director in 1992, Hooks had helped breathe life in to the NAACP. He spent most of his life advocating for civil rights. In 2007, President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Hooks words to Ebony magazine upon taking over the struggling NAACP will surely inspire generations to come: "Black Americans are not defeated. The civil rights movement is not dead. If anyone thinks that we are going to stop agitating, they had better think again. If anyone thinks that we are going to stop litigating, they had better close the courts. If anyone thinks that we are not going to demonstrate and protest, they had better roll up the sidewalks.'' Hooks died on April 15 from a chronic illness.
When he took office in 2007, Yar'Adua promised a new era of prosperity and an end to the corruption. Trained as a chemist, he also promised to help repair Nigeria's crumbling infrastructure, including its electrical grid. He also granted amnesty to militants in the Delta region. Despite the deeply flawed circumstances surrounding his election, including reports of election fraud, Yar'Adua was seen as a step forward from the military dictatorship that had ruled the country in recent years. Any hope of being remembered as a transformative political presence fled out the window, though, when he left the country for emergency medical treatment in Saudi Arabia without leaving anyone in charge. He made no public statements and then snuck back into the country in the middle of the night, still not seeking to reclaim the power handed over to an acting president in his absence. He died May 5 and left behind a wife, nine children and a country still in turmoil.
A member of the famed Gap Band, Wilson died at his home, after suffering a massive heart attack on Aug. 15. Wilson, 53, was known as the "Godfather of Bass Guitar." The Gap Band is band best known for hits such as Yearning for Your Love,' 'Early in the Morning,' 'Outstanding,' 'You Dropped a Bomb on Me' and 'Burn Rubber on Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me).' Wilson left behind a wife and two daughters. He was working on a new album and was due to headline a music festival just weeks after his untimely death. "My brother Robert was a bad boy on the bass," Charlie Wilson said in a statement. "We shared a bond as brothers, musicians and friends. I loved him and losing him is difficult for both Ronnie and I. The music world has lost a very talented man."
Millions of people probably owe the late soul singer Teddy Pendergrass a debt of gratitude. Teddy P's soulful, seductive and sexy voice has likely been the soundtrack to romantic encounters around the world for the last few decades. Best know for his deep, rich baritone, Pendergrass sang with Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes before moving on to a solo career. Songs such as 'If You Don't Know Me by Now,' 'The Love I Lost,' 'Close the Door,' 'Turn Off the Lights' and 'Love T.K.O.' are modern-day classics and sound as fresh today as they did when listeners rocked bell bottoms and Afro puffs while grooving to those love anthems. Women tossed their panties onstage at ladies-only concerts. Pendergrass's sound also continues to inspire R&B singers and has been sampled by countless rappers. In 1982, the singer was paralyzed from the chest down when his Rolls-Royce crashed because of vehicle failure. He was only 31 at the time. After rehabilitation, Pendergrass continued to perform and had several hits. He also formed the Teddy Pendergrass Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people with spinal cord injuries. Pendergrass died Jan. 13, after battling prostate cancer.
Ali "Ollie" Woodson
How many performers can say they were part of three legendary musical groups? Not many, but Ali "Ollie" Woodson could claim membership in the Temptations, the Drifters and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. Woodson was a lead singer for the Temptations from 1984 to 1986 and penned the hit 'Treat Her Like a Lady.' He replaced Teddy P. in the Blue Notes. The Detroit native was a well-rounded musician who played several instruments. He died May 30 from leukemia.
Some people thought radio and television personality Bo Griffin could have been the next Oprah Winfrey. Griffin, 51, was a guest host for the Game Show Network's 'GSN Live,' and was to set begin correspondence work for 'Extra.' Griffin was known for her work on 'Knock Knock Makeovers' on the nationally syndicated 'Good Day Live.' She was also an entrepreneur who owned her own boutique and was engaged to be married at the time of her death. Sadly, Griffin died on Feb. 16, after a brief battle with cancer.
Floribert Chebeya Bahizire
Floribert Chebeya Bahizire fought for human rights in the Congo and may have paid the price with his life. He meticulously kept track of the people who were killed, jailed or missing and then spoke out about his findings. His wife says he took a trip to the police station and never returned. On June 2, Bahizire was found dead in his car, his hands tied behind his back. The New York Times wrote: He pursued multiple investigations at the same time from his spartan, unmarked offices on a hillside here: the repression of political opposition, awful conditions in the prisons. ...To the outside world he was the vital on-scene witness, through the carefully documented bulletin of the organization he led, La Voix des Sans Voix, or Voice of the Voiceless, to what Human Rights Watch called "the systemic nature of political repression under President Kabila."
Dorothy Height, an activist in the struggle for civil rights since her teenage years, was on the stage at the Lincoln Memorial as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech. She said King spoke longer than he was supposed to, but that when he finished, she knew the speech would have a monumental impact "because it gripped everybody." She later said she wished that someone had spoken on women's equality that day. Height, who led the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years, started her advocacy when she marched in New York City, yelling, "Stop the lynching." In the 1950s, she pushed President Dwight D. Eisenhower to move more quickly on school desegregation. She also went on to help coordinate the Civil Rights movement. During her six decades on the national stage, Height worked to end racial segregation and fought for gender equality. Height continued to speak out about inequality well in to her 90s. Former President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994, and she was a frequent adviser to President Barack Obama. Height died April 20 of natural causes at the age of 98.
Akil LaRue Oliver
Akil LaRue Oliver was beaten to death by two Arab store owners on Nov. 18, after getting into an argument about being shortchanged 7 cents. Ragheb and Nabil Sulaiman were charged with murder and aggravated assault in Oliver's death. The Miami New Times writes: Oliver stormed in and out of the store, and police say he called one of the men a "f**king Arab" and told him he'd "f**ck his mothers and sister." That's when Nabil grabbed a bottle and hit him over the head, and Ragheb whacked him to death with a crowbar. Oliver's pastor says the man was a faithful church attendee and was getting married. Protesters fought against the store reopening.
Former University of Kentucky star Melvin Turpin, who was the sixth pick in one of the NBA's best draft classes ever, was found dead in his home from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on July 8. Turpin, 49, led his team to three conference titles and lost the national championship in 1984 to Patrick Ewing's Georgetown Hoyas. Turpin holds the record for the most field goals made in SEC tournament play and was taken at the top of an outstanding draft class that included Hall-of-Famers Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley. Turpin did not have a stellar career, averaging eight points and five rebounds in 361 games, and was out of the NBA after five seasons. Family and friends said the suicide was unexpected.
Jaesun Ingles, a 31-year-old Chicago resident, died after being Tasered by police during a traffic stop. Ingles was pulled over for several traffic infractions on March 31, police say. Police also claim Ingles had marijuana in the car. He allegedly fled when police tried to arrest him and attempted to swallow a small plastic bag. Police say he resisted arrest and was Tasered multiple times. When he began having trouble breathing, the paramedics were called.
Michael R. Bailey
At 62, Michael R. Bailey was a 20-year veteran police officer who was weeks away from retiring. At about 6 a.m. on July 18, Bailey was coming home from one of his shifts, where he was assigned to guard Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's home. When he stopped outside his own Southside home to clean the Buick he had purchased for himself as a retirement present, three men approached him in what police say was a possible robbery attempt. Bailey announced he was a police officer and then there was an exchange of gunfire. His son grabbed one of his father's weapons and ran outside after the attack, but it was too late. "We heard (his daughter) screaming, 'They shot my daddy, somebody shot my daddy!'" neighbor Angelece Cook told the Chicago Tribune. Bailey's body, still clad in his uniform, lay in front of his new Buick. Nearby was a bottle of Windex and three guns, only one of which belonged to Bailey. This was the third shooting death of an off-duty Chicago police officer in two months this summer. Bailey was described as a pillar of the community who tried to steer wayward kids in the right direction.
Thomas Wortham IV
Thomas Wortham, 30, served two tours in Iraq and patrolled the potentially dangerous streets of Chicago. When he wasn't in his Chicago police uniform, he volunteered as head of an effort to improve a local park and return it to residents. But it wasn't overseas or in the line of duty that Wortham lost his life. Chicago police say he was killed May 20 by three people trying to steal his new motorcycle. Wortham was at his parents' home when he was approached by the suspects. His father, a retired Chicago police sergeant, came to his son's aid, killing one attacker and critically wounding another. A third was able to escape but was eventually arrested.
This innocent 7-year-old girl was shot in the head by Detroit police on May 16 as part of a raid that was being filmed for the A&E show 'The First 48.' Police were looking for a homicide suspect and say an officer fired her weapon after being jostled by Jones' grandmother. Jones family members say police used a flash-bang grenade and actually fired from outside the home. The attorney for the Jones family has accused police of a cover-up and say video footage of the incident confirms the family's version of events. Jones' family has filed suit against A&E. Michigan State Police are investigating the tragedy.
William P. Foster
William P. Foster, who died Aug. 28 at the age of 91, was the founder of the Florida A&M Marching 100 band. He created the high-stepping style that so many other bands would imitate. Foster headed the Florida A&M band from 1946 until he retired in 1998. USA Today called Foster's band the best known in the country, and the New York Times called it the most imitated. Foster's band played current, popular music. "There's a psychology to running a band," Foster told The New York Times in 1989. "People want to hear the songs they hear on the radio; it gives them an immediate relationship with you. And then there's the energy. Lots of energy in playing and marching. Dazzle them with it. Energy." Because of the band's success and prominence "members of the Marching 100 have played at Super Bowls, the Olympics, the Grammy Awards and the inaugurations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama," the AP wrote.
The ground-breaking songstress and actress died on May 9 at the age of 92. She is well-remembered for singing the classics but also was a groundbreaking actress in Hollywood. She was not the first black actress signed to a major studio deal but was the first to make any lasting impact. At one point, she was the highest-paid black actor in the world. She started out as a teenager at Harlem's famed Cotton Club. Performing for the U.S.O. during the war, Horne criticized the way black soldiers were treated. "So the U.S.O. got mad," she recalled in one interview. "And they said, 'You're not going to be allowed to go anyplace anymore under our auspices.' So from then on I was labeled a bad little Red girl." But that didn't stop Horne's popularity. She continued to record films and movies. Her 1981 one-woman Broadway show was a Tony-award winning success. Horne also continued to record music into her 80s.
Isaacs was known as the "Cool Ruler," a prolific recording talent who likely released more than 500 albums in the United States, Jamaica and England. He died Oct. 25 in his London home of lung cancer. His most famous hit "Night Nurse" led to speculation that he would take the mantle left behind after Bob Marley's death. He never reached Marley's level of international fame and his last years were filled with problems with the law for drug and firearm possession. But to millions of Reggae fans around the world, there's no match for Isaacs' cool vocal stylings.
Guru's monotone delivery combined with songs with a message, blended with the incredible beats of DJ Premier, made Gangstarr, the group Guru founded, hip-hop legends. Guru, whose real name was Keith Elam, died April 19 from cancer. He was 48. Guru was actually an acronym for Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal. He spit verses about the gritty side of street life but also rhymed about fulfilling one's potential. Songs like "Words I Manifest" and "Just to Get a Rep" sound fresh even today. The hard hip-hop that Guru and DJ Premier created is associated with the powerful rap of the late 1980s and 1990s. Though he his most identified with that gritty New York hip-hop, Guru came from a middle class Boston home where his father was the city's first black municipal judge. Guru graduated from Morehouse College, took classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology and briefly worked as a social worker. Guru was also one of the first rappers to take the fusion of jazz and hip-hop seriously. Guru put out multiple Jazzmatazz albums and pursued the link between the two forms of black music even when it wasn't as trendy as it once was.
Taylor, a pioneering jazz pianist, composer and educator who sought to bring a deeper understanding of jazz to the masses, died Dec. 28 of heart failure. He was 89. Dr. Taylor, as he liked to be called, sought to counteract the image of the jazz musician as unschooled. Taylor earned a doctorate in music from the University of Massachusetts. He wrote for magazines such as DownBeat and lectured at universities while also serving as a disc jockey and jazz correspondent for "CBS Sunday Morning." "It is almost indisputable that Dr. Billy Taylor is the world's foremost spokesman for jazz," critic Leonard Feather once wrote.
Isley, a bassist, and a part of the legendary Isley Brothers, died June 6 from complications due to diabetes. Isley joined the legendary group for its greatest run of hits, including 'Fight the Power' 'That Lady' and 'Summer Breeze.' Isley graduated from C.W. Post College with a degree in music. In 1984, alongside brother-in-law Chris Jasper and brother Ernie, Isley formed the subgroup Isley/Jasper/Isley. The trio released three albums, including 'Caravan of Love' before disbanding in 1988.
Gospel singer Marvin Sapp lost his wife, MaLinda Sapp, to colon cancer on September 9. The couple had been married for 15 years and they had three children. MaLinda was an administrative pastor at the church, Lighthouse Full Life Center, that they ran together in Grand Rapids, Michigan. MaLinda had previously worked as a college professor and licensed professional counselor.
The tallest player to ever play in the NBA when he arrived in 1985, Bol was a shotblocking phenomena. He would go on to become a humanitarian, as he tried to help his country of Sudan heal from a devastating civil war. As a rookie, the 7 foot 6 inch tall Bol blocked five shots per game, setting an NBA record. Bol, a Dinka tribesman from southern Sudan, died June 19 due to complications of kidney disease and a rare skin disorder, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. He was 47. During his rookie season, Bol swatted 357 shots back into the stands. He is listed as 14th on the all-time shot block list with 2,086. Bol was not a scorer. He averaged under 4 points a year during his 10 year career with the former Washington Bullets, Golden State Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat. It was his defensive skills that kept him employed for so long. After he retired, Bol worked to heal his troubled homeland of Sudan. He helped build a school there and worked closely with the Sudan Sunrise foundation. "Sudan and the world have lost a hero and an example for all of us," Tom Prichard, executive director of the group Sudan Sunrise, told the Associated Press. "Manute, we'll miss you. Our prayers and best wishes go out to all his family, and all who mourn his loss."
Crowned the "King of Rock and Soul" Burke never achieved the wide popularity of contemporaries such as James Brown or Otis Redding but influenced singers such as Mick Jagger, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. Burke, 70, died October 10 while sitting on an airplane at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, heading out on tour. Burke, a 2001 inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was able to mix Gospel music and secular soul music with great success. Some of Burke's many hits included 'Cry to Me,' followed by 'Got to Get You Off of My Mind,' 'Tonight's the Night,' 'You're Good for Me,' 'If You Need Me,' and his most commercial hit, 'Everybody Needs Somebody to Love.' 'Cry to Me' became a hit again, when it was used in the popular feature film 'Dirty Dancing' and his music also saw a revival when "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" was featured in 'The Blues Brothers.' Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler called Burke "the greatest soul singer of all time." Burke also made no secret of his love of beautiful women. He was married three times and left behind 21 children and 90 grandchildren.
Apache made it big with a profane tribute to a certain type of woman that he wanted in his life. The hit song 'Gangsta B*tch' paid homage to rough and tumble women everywhere. Born Anthony Peaks, Apache died January 22 after a protracted illness. Peaks was signed to Tommy Boy Records and mFlavor Unit Rapanaged through Queen Latifah's Flavor Unit. He also appeared on albums by Naughty By Nature, Tupac and Fat Joe. Apache received a great compliment from one of Flavor Unit's co-founders upon his death: "Without Apache there would have been no Queen Latifah, no Naughty By Nature, no Chill Rob G., no anything," Flavor Unit CEO and founder Shakim Compere told AllHipHop.com. "Apache was the string that tied all of Flavor Unit together. Without Apache none of this would be."
The baritone voice of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes died December 26 at the age of 64. Wilson, a founding member of the legendary R&B group, passed away due to complications from a stroke and heart attack at a health care facility in Voorhees, New Jersey. Since the passing of Wilson, the only remaining member of the original five man group is Lloyd Parks. Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes helped define the famed Philly sound of the 70's. Some of the group's most timeless recordings during their 70's musical reign-- "If You Don't Know Me By Now" (1972, their breakout single), "I Miss You" (1972), "The Love I Lost (1973), and "Don't Leave Me This Way" (1975), and socially conscious songs such as "Wake Up Everybody" and "Bad Luck" (both 1975).
Bishop Walter Hawkins
Bishop Hawkins was able to combine more traditional Gospel music and a secular sound with great success. He died July 11 in Ripon, Calif. from pancreatic cancer. He was 61. Hawkins' first hit "Oh Happy Day" was meant to be a fundraiser for the Church of God in Christ. It was one of the first Gospel songs to sucessfully cross over to the mainstream charts. Hawkins, joining with siblings Edwin and Lynette, went on to record several albums. Hawkins, a Grammy-winning performer and composer, is best known for hits such as "Goin' Up Yonder." His Love Alive series of five albums topped the charts. "Love Alive III" sold a million albums and "Love Alive IV" was on the Gospel charts for almost 40 weeks. After studying for a divinity degree, Hawkins founded the Love Center Church in Oakland, Calif. where he served as pastor and formed a choir. He went on to perform with his wife, the Grammy award-winning singer Tramaine Hawkins. The couple eventually divorced. He leaves behind a son, daughter, five siblings and two grandchildren. Hawkins' music remains an important influence on many young Gospel music artists.
If you asked people what color was when Marie first began her career, most would have said she was black. That was partially because record executives kept her photo off of her early albums because they feared she would not gain acceptance from black audiences. But the other reason was the power and soul of Marie's voice sounded like it was molded by the black experience. Marie, whose real name was Mary Christine Brockert, died December 26 at her home in Pasadena, California. She was 54. There is speculation that Marie may have suffered a epileptic grand mal seizure. "Over all my race hasn't been a problem," Marie said in an interview. "I'm a black artist with white skin. At the end of the day you have to sing what's in your own soul." That's exactly what Marie did and fans, black and white, loved her for it.
May the men, women and children who passed in 2010 rest in peace.