In the words of Samuel L. Jackson, “it matters not how a man dies, but how he lives.”
Throughout 2022, we have lost significant contributors, pioneers, trailblazers, trendsetters, and innovators to Black culture and the world at large. From TV and film, sports, music, politics, art, beauty, comedy, philanthropy, we’ve witnessed the transition of some of the most beloved, barrier-breakers, and warriors in their respective fields. From one of our greatest warriors, Chadwick Bowman in Black Panther said, “In my culture…Death is not the end”.
At WRNBHD2, we pay homage to the lives who have passed away in 2022 and the legacies that will continue to live:
Rest In Power: Notable Black Folks Who We’ve Lost In 2022 was originally published on wrnbhd2.com
1. Mississippi Blues Brothers Syl and Jimmy Johnson Have Died: Lives in Music
The soul-lacious Johnson brothers have both died within a week of each other. Jimmy died on January 31, 2022 and Syl died on February 6, 2022. Jimmy died at the age of 93, whilst Syl died at the age of 89.
The Johnson family made a statement regard each brother’s passing.
“Our Dad (Syl Johnson) has gone on to heaven to be with him and many of his loved ones and fellow musicians who have passed as well. The world has lost two musical giants,” the family continued, “They came up the hard way, and they blazed a trail with hits and [became] major forces in music.”
The two were both born as James and Sylvester Thompson in Holly Spring, Mississippi. Inside a packed household of 10 children, the Thompson brothers sought to live a more independent life.
Read more here
2. Regina King’s Son Dead at 26 by Suicide on Birthday
In a statement exclusively to PEOPLE, King said “Our family is devastated at the deepest level by the loss of Ian. He is such a bright light who cared so deeply about the happiness of others. Our family asks for respectful consideration during this private time. Thank you”.
3. Fashion Icon, Journalist & Vogue Legend, André Leon Talley, Dies at 73
André Leon Talley quickly gained his fame and notoriety as the creative director of Vogue as he worked alongside Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour.
As reported by TMZ, Vogue’s former creative director had been in the hospital battling unknown illnesses. Sources say that Talley passed away Tuesday at a hospital in New York.
André was a key component to the vision and overall aesthetic of Vogue in the 80’s and 90’s. He climbed the ladder in the ranks of Vogue’s magazine, becoming the news director from 1983-87 and then in ’88, ascended to Vogue’s creative director.
Talley was also influential fashion journalist who worked at Women’s Wear Daily and Vogue and was a regular in the front row of fashion shows in New York and Europe. Standing at 6-feet-6 inches tall with a loud personality, bold looks and originality at it’s finest, you could not miss, André Leon Talley.
In a 2013 Vanity Fair spread titled “The Eyeful Tower,” Talley was described as “perhaps the industry’s most important link to the past.”
4. Ronnie Spector, Lead Singer Of The Ronettes, Dies At 78
It’s been less than two weeks since 2022 began and we’ve already had to say goodbye to more entertainers than we’d like to believe, including iconic P-Funk member Calvin Simon, heavily-sampled jazz legend James Mtume, and historic Hollywood leading man Sidney Poitier amongst others.
The latest person we unfortunately have to say farewell to is Ronnie Spector, lead singer of the ’60s girl group The Ronettes who died today at the age of 78.
TMZ reports that Ronnie died earlier today in the arms of her husband and manager Jonathan Greenfield after battling cancer. With The Ronettes, which included her late elder sister Estelle Bennett and cousin Nedra Talley, Spector enjoyed major success on the Billboard Hot 100 with hits like their 1963 game-changer “Be My Baby.” The group went on to become one of the biggest music groups of their time, eventually being voted into the prestigious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
Take a brief look at the life story of Ronnie Spector below, via Vanity Fair:
“Born Veronica Bennett in 1943 in Harlem, Ronnie rose to fame as the lead vocalist of the Ronettes, a group she formed with her sister Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedre Talley. Their song ‘Be My Baby’ was their biggest hit, and they joined the Beatles on their U.S. tour in 1966.
5. Philly’s R&B Legend, James Mtume Passes Away at 76
Philadelphia’s very own, Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter, producer and activist, James “Mtume” Forman has reportedly passed away at 76.
Mtume was a percussionist who’s music catalog consisted of jazz, contemporary R&B and disco-club songs. Born as James Forman, James added “Mtume” to his stage name, meaning “messenger” in Swahili.
James received the name Mtume after he joined Hakim Jamal and Maulana Karenga’s US Organization, a Black empowerment group. Mtume saw this as a quintessential name for a singer as he was not afraid to break barriers and deliver messages to all through his musical gifts.
“Music is a unique art form. I mean all art is special,” he said during his 2019 TedTalk. “But music is unique. It’s the only art form I know that can touch you, but you can’t touch it. What do I mean by that? I can touch a sculpture, I can touch a painting, I can touch a book of poetry. How do you touch a note? How do you touch sound? It runs through your body.”James Mtume Forman grew up in a household where jazz music lived and danced on the the walls of his parent’s home. What many don’t know about James is that not only did he learn how to play the piano and percussion, but he also received in athletic scholar-sip for swimming to Pasadena City College in 1966.
6. Sidney Poitier Dead at 94, First Black Man to Win Oscar
Sidney Poitier was the first black actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1964 for his starring role in “Lilies of the Field” in 1963.
Our beloved, Sidney Poitier, the legendary actor, pioneer, trailblazer and activist who broke many racial and color barriers in the entertainment industry, starring some of Hollywoods most iconic movies ever, has passed away at 94.
Mr. Poitier’s death was confirmed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell, however the circumstances surrounding his death have not yet been revealed.
Sir Poitier, a beyond great man and activist was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by President Barak Obama for his outstanding work and contributions.
7. Jessie Lee Daniels Of The Force MD’s Dies At 57
It’s a sad day for Staten Island Hip-Hop and R&B, and the world. Jessie Lee Daniels of The Force MD’s has reportedly died at 57.
The singer’s management confirmed his passing on Facebook.
“Please put a heart up for him. He was loved!!!!!!!!!! TO the family, friends and fans today we lost a real talent. Our condolences goes out to his siblings, kids and the Force MDs,” reads the post as reported by The Mirror.
Hailing from Staten Island, the Force MD’s were originally known as the Force MC’s. However, at the height of their popularity they were an R&B vocal group with hits like the Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis-produced “Tender Love” and “Love is a House” that are certified classics.
Daniels, who was the uncle of members Stevie D., Antoine “T.C.D.” Lundy, and Rodney “Khalil” Lundy, is credited as a founder of the group.
Rest in Power Jessie Lee Daniels. Read More at ClassixPhilly.com
8. Max Julien
Born Maxwell Banks, Julien was 88. Despite various birth dates listed for Julien online, TMZ confirmed that he was born on Jan. 1, 1933. The Washington, D.C. native was a Howard University alum and member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.
Best known for his role as the pimp Goldie in the Blaxploitation film “The Mack,” Julien also co-wrote the screenplay for “Cleopatra Jones.” By the time Julien starred in “The Mack” and “Cleopatra Jones,” he had been acting for over 20 years.
He appeared in “The Mod Squad” and his big-screen debut in the 1966 film “The Black Klansman,” not to be confused with the 2018 Spike Lee film with a similar title. Lee’s movie is an adaptation of a memoir by Ron Stallworth, while the 1966 version was initially released under the title “I Crossed the Color Line.”
Julien remained an active presence on screen with a scene-stealing performance in the 1997 Def Jam film “How To Be A Player.” In a statement provided to TMZ, Julien’s PR team said his wife Arabella discovered him early Saturday morning.
“During Julien’s decades-long career, he was known for being bold, honest and straightforward,” read the statement. “He would live and speak his own truth both professionally and privately. He was thought of as a rare ‘man among men.’”
Actor and direct Robert Townsend paid tribute to Julien on Twitter.
“My first cinematic heroes has passed. Today we lost actor, writer, producer and director Max Julian,” tweeted Townsend. “In college, I would act out scenes from THE MACK, it’s still one of my favorite movies. Thank you Mr. Julian for making me think outside the box… God bless his soul.”