By our count, 93 musicians or music industry figures passed away in 2016, up from 62 in 2015 (a 33% increase). They include: David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Maurice White, Glenn Frey, Paul Kantner, Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Leon Russell, Leonard Cohen, Merle Haggard, Phife Dawg, Bobby Vee, Billy Paul, Sharon Jones, Guy Clark, Mose Allison, Buckwheat Zydeco, Bernie Worrell and Dan Hicks.
There 20 celebrity drug arrests in 2016, up from 8 in 2015 (a 60% increase). Fifteen of them were college and professional football players, two were rappers (Twista, Montana Millz), another was NBA player Travis Outlaw and the others were "Chumlee" Russell from "Pawn Stars" and Madonna's son, Rocco Ritchie.
George Michael's career had cooled off quite a bit around the time he first ran into problems with the law over his marijuana use when he was busted for possession in London in 2006. Eight months later, Michael explained: "This stuff keeps me sane and happy… I'd say it's a great drug."
Sting, Sarah Silverman, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Etheridge, Jay Z, Harry Belafonte, Tim Robbins, Herbie Hancock, Common, Danny Glover, Bill Kreutzmann, Ricky Williams and Al Harrington are among the many celebrities who have endorsed the marijuana legalization initiative, Prop 64, in California.
During Pres. Barack Obama's first-ever appearance on "Real Time with Bill Maher," he told the host that "we're going to have to have a more serious conversation about how we are treating marijuana and our drug laws in general."