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Died January 4

Published: 1/4/2015
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Phil Lynott (Fin Costello / Staff / Getty Images)

Phil Lynott led Irish rock band Thin Lizzy to stardom in the 1970s on the strength of hits including "The Boys Are Back in Town" and "Jailbreak." In addition to singing lead vocals and writing most of the band's songs, Lynott played bass on their infective, high-energy tracks. Lynott also published books of his poetry, recorded solo albums, and appeared as a team captain on the BBC quiz show Pop Quiz. We remember Lynott'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: Sammy Johns, U.S. folk-rock musician who wrote and sang the hit song "Chevy Van," dies at 66.

2011: Gerry Rafferty, Scottish singer-songwriter who notched solo hits with "Baker Street" and "Right Down the Line" and co-wrote the Stealers Wheel hit "Stuck in the Middle With You," dies of liver failure at 63.

As Gerry Rafferty (Wikimedia Commons/Eddie Mallin)a solo artist, Rafferty was a bit of a one-hit wonder. True, he had success with his band Stealers Wheel, and their song "Stuck in the Middle With You" is a classic rock favorite, achieving even more prominence after it was used in an unforgettable scene of Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs. On his own, Rafferty released 11 albums, many of which – especially his earlier outputs – were critically acclaimed. He charted a handful of moderately successful singles from these albums, hitting his greatest groove between 1978 and 1980. Read more.

2007: Steve Krantz, U.S. film and TV producer whose animated works include the film version of Robert Crumb's Fritz the Cat comic strip, dies of pneumonia complications at 83.

2005: Robert Heilbroner, U.S. economist whose books include The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers, dies at 85.

2004: Jake Hess, Grammy Award-winning U.S. gospel singer, dies at 76 after having a heart attack.

1999: Iron Eyes Cody, U.S. actor who impersonated American Indians in motion pictures including The Big Trail and Sitting Bull, dies at 94.

Cody, who actually was Italian by ancestry, appeared in more than 200 movies, but there's one iconic role for which he's known best – a TV commercial that inspired many children of the 1970s to stop littering. Cody played a Native American who shed a single poignant tear at the sight of a bag of garbage tossed from a car window. Read more.




1998: John Gary Strader, U.S. singer who went by the stage name John Gary and sang on Broadway, in films and on his own television show, dies of prostate cancer at 65.

1991: Berry Kroeger, U.S. actor who played bad-guy roles in Act of Violence and The Iron Curtain, dies of kidney failure at 78.

1986: Phil Lynott, Irish bassist and a founding member of the rock band Thin Lizzy that scored hits with "The Boys Are Back in Town" and "Jailbreak," dies of pneumonia and heart failure at 36.

1986: Christopher Isherwood, British-born U.S. novelist whose works include Berlin Stories and The World in the Evening, dies of prostate cancer at 81.

1967: Donald Campbell, British boat racer and breaker of world speed records, dies at 45 while attempting to break 300 mph on water.

1965: T.S. Eliot, Missouri-born British poet, playwright and winner of the 1948 Nobel Prize in literature, dies of emphysema at 76.

1964: Ralph Dumke, U.S. actor whose film credits include Invasion of the Body Snatchers, All the King's Men and Lili, dies at 64.

1961: Erwin Schrodinger, Austrian physicist whose work in quantum theory earned him the Nobel Prize in physics in 1933, dies at 73.

1960: Albert Camus, Algerian-French Nobel Prize-winning author and philosopher, dies in an automobile accident at 46.

Camus was often called an "existentialist," and his philosophical antecedents include Friedrich Nietzsche, Søren Kierkegaard and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Camus disliked being labeled an existentialist. He also later disliked being associated with absurdism, and at one point began refraining from saying "that's absurd" in everyday conversations because people mistakenly thought he was making philosophical pronouncements. Read more.


1941: Henri-Louis Bergson, French philosopher who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1927, dies of bronchitis at 81.

1931: Arthemus A. "Art" Acord, U.S. actor, stunt performer and rodeo champion whose film credits include Loco Luck and Spurs and Saddles, dies at 40 after intentionally taking poison.

1908: Anthony Winkler Prins, Dutch writer and encyclopedia editor, dies at 90.

1877: Cornelius Vanderbilt, U.S. railroad and shipping tycoon, dies at 82.

1821: Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton of Texas, the first native-born American saint, dies of tuberculosis at 46.

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

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