Black Artists Who Died In Their Prime

August 1, 2011  |  

With the music world still reeling over the death of British songstress Amy Winehouse, sales of her career-defining album Back to Black (released in 2006) have soared. This is usually the case for most musicians who pass unexpectedly, as fans and even past haters clamor to acquire something to remember them by for the long term. Now that all the talk of the un-lucky 27 is over, and we’re forced to think about some of our own favorite celebrities who were gone to soon, our friends over at Black Enterprise compiled a list of 15 black musicians and actors who they feel passed way too young. From Dorothy Dandridge and Aaliyah to Otis Redding, I’m sure you’ll agree with their picks, and also let us know who you would like to see added to the list. Enjoy!

For the entire list, click over to

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  • tori

    Saw some folks list a lot of great artists and actors but the piece is about musicians that were on a contiuous climb up, some the greats not listed that everyone wanted on here were at their plateau and coasting out or almost to the point to retire and produce others or some complilations here and there. I’m no music inndutry expert but I do know a few things. Michael was great but he hit his stride and was about to tone down once he did his concert…sadly that didn’t happen. I can see him behind the scenes like Quincy. Gerald hit his stride in the 80s and 90s and was doing a few hits here and there before he died. Granted great artists but not climbing up the status ladder like the ones listed. I know some folks will bad mouth this response but if you think about it, truly sit there and think about it…what I’m saying is true.

  • tori

    I don’t think amy was “included” in the list. It says 15 black artists and when you click the link there are 16 photos. She was recent and the possible inspiration for the artist to write this column. They were paying their respects to a fellow artist THEN started the photo list of 15. “Pays to pay attention to detail”

  • Smh

    @jenita EXACTLY!! ppl don’t fckin read! & I’m sure the idea came from thinking about how young Amy was..

  • Jenita

    This list is about celebrities that died IN THEIR PRIME…

  • Cassandra

    Admittedly Amy Winehouse was a very talented artist but she is NOT a black artist. That this list didn't include Michael Jackson, Gerald Levert, Florence Ballard, Tenor Saw, Luther Vandross, E.Lynn Harris, Phyllis Hyman, Bernie Mac, Robin Harris, Michelle Thomas (Family Matters), Lamont Bently (Moesha), Easy E, George Howard, Waymon Tisdale, Gary Coleman, Nate Dogg, and so many more….

    Check out the link below for even more black talented people who died with no fanfare,

  • Hezikiah

    Teddy P , Luther Vandross, Curtis Mayfield, Roger from Zapp, Gil Scott Heron, Michael Jackson, Sam Cooke, Walter Payton, Hank Gaithers, Len Bias, Eazy E, Tupac, Michael Jackson……….

  • Steph

    There are several Black Artists that we have lost that were in there prime, but there legacy is lived on through their music. They are all missed.

    One person I would add to this list is Keven "Dino" Conner from the R&B Group H-Town.
    He was only 28 years old when he (and his girlfriend) got into a tragic car accident in January 2003.
    It was really unfortunate that such an incident had to occur. Also, the group was reuniting to do their fourth studio album, but the project was halted due to Dino's passing.

    However, H-Town is still making records, which is great, and they are still one of my favorite R&B acts today.

    Overall, the loss of Dino Conner from R&B group H-Town, was really unfortunate.

    We/the Fans really do miss Dino.

    H-Town 4 Life

  • dragongirl

    Amy Winehouse was Jewish…not black…she should not be on this list. Gerald Levert should have been on this list. The people at your magazine need to pay better close attention to detail.

    • IndigoMyDear

      She's not part of their (as in Black Enterprise) list dragongirl, her death influenced the list, hence her picture being included in the post. Thanks.