Recent Celebrity Deaths: 2016, The Year The Music Died As Celebrity Death List Grows

Across the country, celebrities will be hoping that they do not add to the long list of celebrity deaths in 2016. For many people, 2016 will go down as the year that saw an unusually high number of celebrity deaths. When it was reported in the Inquisitr on Christmas Eve that Status Quo’s Rick Parfitt had joined the 2016 celebrity death list, you would have been forgiven for thinking that this year had thrown everything it could at us. Sadly, this was not to be the case.

As the world knows by now, singer and former Wham! star George Michael joined 2016’s long list of celebrity deaths on Christmas Day. Michael was just 53-years-old when he passed away, reportedly from heart failure. Just a day later, on December 26, it was announced that beloved TV actress Liz Smith, best known for her role in British comedy the Royle Family, had also joined the celebrity death list.

In many ways, it has seemed that 2016 saw an unusually high number of celebrity deaths. The Mirror reports that these recent celebrity deaths are only the latest in 2016’s “shockingly high list.” The deaths of Prince, David Bowie, and Glenn Frey certainly rocked the music world, but we also lost comedy greats Victoria Wood and Caroline Aherne, sporting legend Mohammad Ali, and actor Alan Rickman.

Rick Parfitt Recent Celebrity Deaths
(Image by Keystone/Martial Trezzini/AP)

The Mirror speculates that the population explosion after the end of World War 2 means that there are a proportionally higher number of “baby boomers” who are reaching old age. The long list of celebrity deaths is a natural consequence of the aging population. They go on to suggest that many of those “baby boomers,” especially those in the music industry, rose to fame at a time when the drugs culture was taking root. Bowie, Prince, Rick Parfitt and George Michael all had well-publicized addiction problems at some point in their lives.

So, Have There Been More Celebrity Deaths In 2016?

It does seem that 2016 has seen a higher-than-usual number of celebrity deaths. Recent days seem to bear this out. Others argue that the number of celebrity deaths is not statistically significant given population growth. It may be that people are noting a higher-than-usual number of celebrity deaths simply because the celebrities are more visible to us. News of the death of a celebrity spreads like wildfire through social media. That said, the BBC have set out to examine the numbers, albeit in a somewhat unscientific manner.

Big news outlets, like the BBC, have pre-prepared obituaries written for famous faces. It is sad but true that celebrity deaths are big news, and once a celebrity death is announced the race is on to be the first to run the story. The BBC report that the number of pre-prepared obituaries that it has used has risen by 30 percent in 2016. What is more, the numbers have almost tripled since 2012.

David Bowie, Recent Celebrity Deaths
(Image by Robb D. Cohen/Invision/AP)

Of course, the reason we seem to be seeing a rise in the numbers of celebrity deaths in 2016, may simply be because there are more celebrities. The “Baby Boomer” years also saw something of a cultural revolution, the spread of television into homes across the world.

The world of music and cinema has always had big name celebrities, but it is the spread of television that has made celebrities more visible. In the computer and social media age, and with the advent of 24-hour news, those celebrities are even more accessible and visible. In the past, you may have seen a passing reference to a celebrity death in the newspapers, but even 20-years ago a celebrity death like George Michael’s would not have had saturation news coverage.

As the New York Post says, “it’s been a tragic year for celebrity deaths” but it looks like we will need to become accustomed to reading about the most recent celebrity deaths.

[Featured Image by Tim Ireland/AP Photo]