June 24, 2024

Victims of coronavirus from the world of music and comedy

Coronavirus is claiming lives around the world. The reach of coronavirus has been of such a scale that it has claimed several victims from the world of music and TV. To date thirteen people from the world of music and comedy, have died from coronavirus:

  • Five jazz musicians, Ellis Marsallis, Manu Dibango, Wallace Roney, Lee Konitz and Bucky Pizzarelli.
  • British comedians Eddie Large and Tim Brooke-Taylor.
  • American rock and pop artists Alan Merrill, Adam Schlesinger and Christina Monet Zilkha.
  • American folk singer John Prine and country singer Joe Diffie.

Because of the burden put on the body Coronavirus can lead to the death of people affected by existing health conditions, or whose bodies have a weakened immune system. The death of Eddie Large appears to have fallen into this category. Eddie Large was admitted to a hospital in Bristol for heart failure, where he then contracted coronavirus. He was 78 when he died.

The virus tends to kill more elderly people, because more elderly people have such health conditions or have a weaker immune system. Both Eddie Large and Tim Brooke-Taylor were in their late 70s when they died from coronavirus. Ellis Marsalis Junior and Buckey Pizzarelli were 85 and 94 respectively. Manu Dibango was 86.

However coronavirus has killed young as well as old. Adam Schlesinger was only 52 when he died from coronavirus.

The United States has been one of the most affected countries in the world, and New York has been one of the most affected cities in the world (to date, 19th April 2020). Several of the musicians who have died have lived in and around New Work. These include Adam Schlesinger, Lee Konitz, Wallace Roney (who died in New Jersey), Christina Monet Zilkha and Alan Merrill. Laura Merrill, son of Alan Merrill described how she walked home through an empty New York City the night that her father was admitted to hospital with breathing problems:

I walked 50 blocks home still with hope in my heart. The city that I knew was empty. I felt I was the only person here and perhaps in many ways I was.

There are relatively few details about the manner in which people die of coronavirus, but of the few accounts that have been provided, a common theme is the swiftness with which the victim deteriorates. Steve Wasserman, commenting on the death of his friend, the new wave singer, Cristina Monet Zilkha, noted,

She fell ill a few days ago, posted yesterday that despite a fever that spiked at 105 degrees, her lungs were clear. Then, with appalling swiftness, she was gone this morning.

On a personal note, the death of Eddie Large probably affected me the most just because Eddie was a household name that I grew up with in the 1980s. Over the years various people from the world of music and television that I grew up with, have passed away. Each death has triggered a sense of nostalgia, reminded me of the vulnerability of people who I had considered as deities and reminded me of my own mortality. However in this time of coronavirus, and in the absence of knowing someone personally who has died from the virus, the passing away of someone with whom I was acquainted through music or television, has produced a different type of grief. Its different in two ways. First the grief is shared more widely than with just those people who were acquainted with the work and persona of the person who has died. It is shared with the hundreds of thousands of people across the country and the world, who will have lost a loved one to the virus. Second, it also triggers a sense of sadness that coronavirus is taking people before their time, and a sense of terror that the virus is quite ruthless, and seemingly quite random, in who it strikes. Finally, when the virus takes someone from the world of music or comedy, for whom I have fond memories, I think its reminding me of a suppressed fear that I have of what the virus might do to those in my immediate circle of loved ones. That’s why I feel quite affected by the death of Eddie Large. He was always a jovial, warm-hearted and cheeky presence on British television screens.

Tim Brooke-Taylor

Tim Brooke-Taylor died on the morning of Sunday April 12th 2020. Tim was best known for being a member of the comedy trio The Goodies, who had a television series in the UK in the 1970s.


Eddie Large

Eddie Large died on April 2nd 2020. He had been in hospital in Bristol suffering from heart failure, when he contracted coronavirus. Eddie was part of the comedy duo Little & Large, who starred on British television in the 1970s and 1980s.

Alan Merrill

Alan Merrill wrote ‘I Love Rock n Roll’. He recorded the song in 1975 with his band The Arrows. However in 1982 the song was covered by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts and reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Laura Merrill, Alan’s daughter, was reported as saying that Alan had had a cold for about 10 days in March 2020, but was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New Work on the morning of Saturday 28th March because when he woke up he found that he was struggling to breathe. In the hospital he was put on a ventilator. Later that night he died.

Adam Schlesinger

Adam Schlesinger died on the 1st April 2020 from complications caused by the coronavirus. He was a song writer and musician for the US rock pop band Fountains of Wayne.

Cristina Monet-Palaci 

Cristina Monet-Palaci wrote ‘Things Fall Apart’ a dirge like, slightly punk, new wave Christmas track.

Ellis Marsallis Jr

Ellis Marsallis Jr died on the 2nd April, after having been admitted to hospital with coronavirus symptoms. He was reported to have passed away owing to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Manu Dibango

Manu Dibango died in Paris, aged 86, on 24th March 2020.

Wallace Roney

Wallace Roney died in a hospital in New Jersey, USA on March 31st 2020, aged 59. He died from complications caused by coronavirus. Roney was a trumpeter and composer.

Bucky Pizzarelli

Bucky Pizzarelli died on 1st April 2020 in New Jersey after having tested positive for coronavirus. He was a guitarist who played a lot of jazz.

Lee Konitz

Lee Konitz died on 15th April 2020 from pneumonia related to coronavirus. He died at the age of 92.

Joe Diffie

Joe Diffie died of complications owing to coronavirus, at the age of 61, on Sunday, March 29th 2020. He sang country and bluegrass and was a name in the United States.

John Prine

John Prine died of complications caused by coronavirus on the 7th April 2020. He was an American singer-songwriter. He died in at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University Medical Center in the United States. Elvis Costello wrote a tribute to John Prine on John’s death.

Relevant Links



Alan Merrill





Manu Dibango








Wallace Roney




Ellis Marsallis Jr


Bucky Pizzarelli


Lee Konitz



Joe Diffie


John Prine




Cristina Monet-Zilkha



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