Phil Spector, who revolutionised 1960s pop music with his ‘Wall of Sound’ but who was jailed for murder in 2009, dies on January 16 aged 81. A week later, Larry King, the braces-sporting US talk host who interviewed everyone who was anyone, dies at 87.
Veteran Canadian actor Christopher Plummer, star of The Sound of Music, dies on February 5 aged 91. George Shultz, Ronald Reagan's secretary of state who helped end the Cold War but contributed to conflict by advocating pre-emptive strikes, passes the next day at 100. Closer to home, former president Carlos Menem died aged 90 on February 14. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, one of the last great poets of the Beat Generation, passes eight days later aged 101.
Reggae legend Bunny Wailer passes away on March 2 aged 73. South African Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini, 72, dies on March 12. Madagascar's former leader Didier Ratsiraka, instigator of a socialist revolution on the Indian Ocean island, dies aged 84 on March 28.
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, the 99-year-old husband of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, dies on April 9. American rapper DMX, 50, dies the same day. Bernie Madoff, mastermind of the largest financial scam in history, dies in jail in North Carolina on April 14 aged 82. Two days later British actress Helen McCrory – who starred in Peaky Blinders, Harry Potter and The Queen – dies of cancer aged 52. Chad's President Idriss Deby, 68, dies from battle wounds the day after his election for a sixth term on April 20. Legendary German soprano Christa Ludwig, 93, passes away on April 24. Fashion designer Alber Elbaz of Lanvin fame dies in Paris aged 59 from Covid-19 the same day.
Nigeria's Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, of unknown age, is killed during infighting between rival factions of the extremist group on May 19.
"Africa's Gandhi" Kenneth Kaunda, 97, Zambia's founding president, dies on June 17. Former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the architect of the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan after the World Trade Center attack of 2001, dies aged 88.
Richard Donner, director of the first Superman movie and as well as The Goonies, dies on July 5 aged 91. Two days later much-loved Bollywood veteran Dilip Kumar passes away at 98.
The leader of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, 48, is killed by French forces on August 17. Former Chadian president Hissene Habre dies a week later from Covid-19 at 79. He was serving a life sentence in Senegal for crimes against humanity. Charlie Watts, the drummer of the Rolling Stones, dies aged 80 on August 24. Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, dies on August 29. The Belgian was 79. The same day Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, the wildly influential Jamaican singer and Bob Marley's producer, dies aged 85.
Renowned Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, 96, who scored the 1964 film Zorba the Greek and resisted military dictatorship in Greece, dies on September 2. Actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, star of Breathless and one of post-war French cinema's biggest names, dies aged 88 on September 6. Michael K. Williams, who played Omar in the cult US television series The Wire, dies the same day of an accidental overdose aged 54 in New York. The founder of Peru's Maoist Shining Path rebel group, Abimael Guzman, 86, dies in prison on September 11. Algeria's longest-serving president Abdelaziz Bouteflika dies on September 17 aged 84.
Kenya's world record-holding runner Agnes Tirop, 25, is stabbed to death at her home on October 13. Her husband is later charged with her murder. Colin Powell, a war hero and the first Black US secretary of state whose reputation was sullied by the invasion of Iraq, dies from complications from Covid-19 aged 84 on October 18.
FW de Klerk, the last president of apartheid South Africa, dies aged 85 on November 11. He freed Nelson Mandela from prison and later shared a Nobel Peace Prize with him. Zambia-born bestselling novelist Wilbur Smith, 88, who chronicled dramatic adventures on the African continent, passes away two days later. Formula One pioneer Frank Williams, 79, dies on November 28.
Lamine Diack, who presided over global athletics from 1999 to 2015 but was later convicted for corruption, dies on December 3 aged 88. Bob Dole, a World War II hero who became a five-term US senator and the Republican Party's 1996 presidential nominee, passes two days later aged 98. Gothic novelist Anne Rice, 80, best known for writing Interview with the Vampire, follows on December 11. Lucia Hiriart, the widow of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, dies five days later at the age of 98. British architect Richard Rogers, known for designing some of the world's most famous buildings including Paris' Pompidou Centre, dies at 88 on December 18. Joan Didion, the beloved US essayist and pioneer of "new journalism,", dies at 87 on December 23. South Africa's anti-apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a tireless campaigner against injustice, dies on December 26 at age 90.