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Died April 21

Published: 4/21/2015
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Nina Simone (David Redfern / Staff / Getty Images)

Nina Simone was one of the great jazz vocalists of the 20th century, but jazz was far from all she sang. A pianist as well as a singer, she covered a wide range of styles and included gospel, blues, folk and even classical, and her version of George Gershwin's "I Loves You, Porgy" was her biggest hit. Her music has influenced musicians as diverse as Bono, Christina Aguilera and Van Morrison, and she was honored with a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 2000. In addition to her passion for music, Simone was also devoted to the fight for civil rights. We remember Simone's life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.

Click to discover notable people who were born this day in history.

2013: Chrissy Amphlett, Australian singer who was the lead singer for the rock group Divinyls that had a hit song with "I Touch Myself," dies of breast cancer at 53.

Chrissy Amphlett (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)Amphlett met musician Mark McEntee at a concert at the Sydney Opera House in 1980 and the pair formed the Divinyls. The band released six albums between 1982 and 1996, peaking in 1991 with the success of the single "I Touch Myself," which reached No. 1 in Australia, No. 4 in the United States and No. 10 in Britain. Read more




2012: Charles Colson, U.S. politician who served as special counsel to President Richard M. Nixon during the Watergate scandal and founded a prison fellowship ministry, dies at 80.

Charles Colson (Associated Press Photo)Colson once famously said he'd walk over his grandmother to get the president elected to a second term. In 1972 The Washington Post called him "one of the most powerful presidential aides, variously described as a troubleshooter and as a 'master of dirty tricks.'" Read more




2010: Juan Antonio Samaranch, Spanish administrator who served as president of the International Olympic Committee from 1980 until 2001, dies at 89.

Juan Samaranch (AP Photo)Samaranch, a courtly former diplomat who served as Spanish ambassador in Moscow, led the IOC from 1980 to 2001. He was considered one of the defining presidents for building the IOC into a powerful global organization and firmly establishing the Olympics as a world force. Read more




2008: Al Wilson, U.S. soul singer who had a million-selling hit with "Show and Tell," dies at 68.

2003: Nina Simone, U.S. singer and civil rights activist who won a Grammy Hall of Fame Award for her career achievements, dies at 70.

Simone's voice was like no other. Her rich, low tenor was rare among women – we usually expect high and light tones from female singers – but Simone made her low range soar. And she was more than a singer: She also was a classically trained pianist, using both skills in her marvelous recordings. Read more




2000: Neal Mathews Jr., U.S. singer who was a member of the well-known country group the Jordanaires, who were a backup band for Elvis Presley, dies at 70.

1999: Buddy Rogers, U.S. jazz trombonist and actor who starred opposite Clara Bow in Wings, dies at 94.

1996: Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder, U.S. sports commentator who was well-known for his appearances on the CBS show The NFL Today, dies at 77.

1989: James Kirkwood Jr., U.S. playwright and actor who co-wrote the book for the Broadway hit A Chorus Line, dies at 64.

1983: Walter Slezak, Austrian character actor who appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat and Bedtime for Bonzo, dies at 80.

1982: Joe Sawyer, Canadian actor who played Sergeant Biff O'Hara on the TV series Rin Tin Tin, dies at 75.

1978: Sandy Denny, English musician known best as the lead singer of the folk rock band Fairport Convention, dies at 31.

In addition to her many albums and singles, Denny holds a unique distinction: She was the only guest vocalist ever to sing on a Led Zeppelin studio album. Her duet with Robert Plant in "The Battle of Evermore" is as ethereally beautiful as her solo work. Read more




1977: Gummo Marx, U.S. actor and theatrical agent who represented his brother Groucho Marx, dies at 83.

1971: Edmund Lowe, U.S. actor who appeared in more than 100 movies including What Price Glory?, dies at 81.

1956: Charles MacArthur, U.S. screenwriter who co-wrote the movie Wuthering Heights, dies at 60.

1918: Manfred von Richthofen, German fighter pilot who was known as "The Red Baron" and was considered the top ace of World War I, dies when his plane is shot down in France at 25.

1910: Samuel Clemens, U.S. author known by his pen name Mark Twain and whose classic books include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, dies at 74.

Twain is remembered best as the author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but he also made a name for himself as the pre-eminent speaker and humorist of his time. His essays, speeches and personal letters are full of his unique wit, providing readers with laughter and thought-provoking quotes that continue to stand the test of time. Read more



Click to discover notable people who were born this day in history.

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