This Is a Tribute

by L-Johnson

John Fogerty wrote Big Train (from Memphis) in memory of Elvis Presley.

Don McLean’s 1971 folk rock hit American Pie is well known as a tribute to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper, who all died in a tragic plane crash in 1959. Did you know that Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd is a tribute to the memory of Duane Allman from the Allman Brothers Band? Gary Rossington used a glass bottle for slide guitar, to emulate Duane Allman who was one of his heroes. “When we would play it, we would dedicate it to Duane, and Ronnie (Van Zant) would say, ‘He’s a free bird now’”, says Rossington. After a well known and admired person dies, there are often several tribute songs released. Often, tributes songs are dedicated to someone who is not known in the public eye, such as a partner, fan or mentor of the artist. These songs becomes hits without most of the public knowing it was for someone who has passed on. Here are some songs that were written in memory of those who are no longer with us:

(I admit, there are very many missing from this list! Feel free to share more tribute songs in the comments and we can add them to the article. Any links are to articles we have about that person and their deaths and sendoffs)

Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd – in memory of Duane Allman

Winsor McCay by 20 Minute Loop – in memory of Logan Whitehurst

Nightshift by The Commodores – in memory of Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson

I’ll Be Missing You by Puff Daddy - in memory of Notorious B.I.G.

Let Me In by R.E.M. – in memory of Kurt Cobain

The Mighty KC by For Squirrels – in memory of Kurt Cobain

Monty Got a Raw Deal by R.E.M. – in memory of Montgomery Clift

Fire and Rain by James Taylor – in memory of Taylor’s girlfriend, Suzanne

Man on the Moon by R.E.M. - in memory of Andy Kaufman

Big Train From Memphis by John Fogerty - in memory of Elvis Presley

Sean by The Proclaimers – in memory of Elvis Presley

Black Velvet by Alannah Myles - in memory of Elvis Presley

Empty Garden by Elton John – in memory of John Lennon

Here Today by Paul McCartney - in memory of John Lennon

All Those Years Ago by George Harrison – in memory of John Lennon

Never Without You by Ringo Starr - in memory of George Harrison

Pure Smokey by George Harrison – in memory of Smokey Robinson

Midnight in Montgomery by Alan Jackson - in memory of Hank Williams, Sr.

Has Anybody Seen Hank? by The Waterboys - in memory of Hank Williams, Sr.

Under a Raging Moon by Roger Daltrey – in memory of Keith Moon

Angel of Harlem by U2 – in memory of Billie Holiday

Pride by U2 – in memory of Martin Luther King

The God That Failed by Metallica - in memory of James Hetfield’s mother

To Live Is To Die by Metallica – in memory of Cliff Burton

Can’t Stop This by The Roots – in memory of James “J Dilla” Yancey

Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder – in memory of Duke Ellington

Ripchord by Rilo Kiley - in memory of Elliott Smith

Late by Ben Folds - in memory of Elliott Smith

Candle in the Wind by Elton John – in memory of Original: Marilyn Monroe; 1997 Version: Princess Diana

Incommunicado by Jimmy Buffett - in memory of John Wayne

Tonight’s The Night (album) by Neil Young – in memory of Young’s friend and roadie, Bruce Berry

Back in Black (album) by AC/DC - in memory of Bon Scott

Doornails by NOFX – in memory of Derrick Plourde, Jim Cherry and Bradley Nowell, among others

Life in a Northern Town by The Dream Academy - in memory of Nick Drake

Memphis Skyline by Rufus Wainwright - in memory of Jeff Buckley

He Would Have Laughed by Deerhunter - in memory of Jay Reatard

My Lovely Man by Red Hot Chili Peppers – in memory of Hillel Slovak, former guitarist

Jam For Jerry by Holy Ghost! – in memory of Jerry Fuchs

White Shadows by Coldplay - in memory of Bruce Paltrow, Hollywood producer

Stuck In a Moment by U2 – in memory of Michael Hutchence

The Circus Left Town by Eric Clapton – in memory of Conor Clapton, who died at 4

Detroit Rock City by Kiss – in memory of A fan who died in a car accident on his way to a Kiss concert

Justin by Korn – in memory of A fan dying of cancer whose last wish was to meet the band members

Amy by Green Day – in memory of Amy Winehouse

Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton – in memory of Eric’s son, Conor, who died at 4 years old.

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