Prior to social media and the Internet, music fans found out about the deaths of their favorite artists in a variety of ways, while watching TV, listening to the radio or in some cases, they received the news as they were attending a concert.
On Dec. 8, 1980, Stevie Wonder shared the sad news regarding the tragic death of John Lennon with his fans during his performance at the Oakland Coliseum. “I want you all to understand that I’m not a person who likes to be the bearer of any bad news,” he said. “Someone has recently been shot. He was shot tonight. Three times.”
With his voice breaking, he continued, “I’m talking about Mr. John Lennon.”
News of the 1994 death of Kurt Cobain, later ruled a suicide, spread quickly across the radio and television airwaves. MTV’s Kurt Loder opened up his normal weekly broadcast in the first week of April with a somber tone, “This is an edition of ‘The Week in Rock’ we hoped we’d never have to do, a memorial for Kurt Cobain.” He informed his listeners that a county medical examiner in Seattle had identified the body found on Friday morning as the Nirvana frontman.
Maryland listeners were among the first to learn the news of the tragic plane crash that would claim the lives of several members of Lynyrd Skynyrd in October of 1977. DJ Randy Roberts broke regular programming on WMJS-FM to make the announcement that the Federal Aviation Administration was reporting the crash of a plane “carrying 25 passengers in Southwest Mississippi.”
Among those on board, he shared, were the “Lynyrd Skynyrd rock group.” In his initial reporting, Roberts also gave some specifics of the FAA bulletin which noted that there were “multiple fatalities and some survivors.”
Watch News Reports of Legendary Musicians Who Died
In Memoriam: 2021 Deaths
Remembering the musicians, actors, producers and others who have died in 2021.