The number and frequency of notable deaths in 2016 has led some to label the year an especially disastrous one. From Muhammad Ali to Fidel Castro to Leonard Cohen, we look back at the amazing people who died this year.

The world lost many world leading extraordinary performers in 2016: Prince, David Bowie, and George Michael.
The world lost many world leading extraordinary performers in 2016: Prince, David Bowie, and George Michael.

Muhammad Ali

The world first knew of Muhammad Ali as Cassius Clay, an identity the boxer quickly outgrew. Ali inspired many not only as one of the most disciplined and exceptional athletes of the 20th century, but as a black role model during the Civil Rights Movement in the US. His gift for striking language is also legendary. He famously said "Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?" Ali died on June 3 at the age of 74. (Photo by Getty)

Fidel Castro

The Cuban leader Fidel Castro died on November 25 at the age of 90. Along with his brother; Raul, and the Argentine Marxist Che Guevara, Fidel was a key leader in the Cuban Revolution, overthrowing Cuban President Fulgencio Batista and taking over in 1959. He went on to govern the island nation for close to half a century — first as prime minister and then as president — before transferring power to his brother Raul in 2008. Under Castro's leadership, Cuba aligned itself with the Soviet Union, becoming a one-party socialist state. The United States, long an enemy of Castro, tried on numerous occasions to assassinate him, and only forged diplomatic ties with Cuba under the Obama administration. (Photo by Getty)

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen was best known for writing the transcendent song "Hallelujah" and has inspired many during a career that spanned decades. The singer and poet was made Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation's highest civilian honour in 2003. Jewish by birth, Cohen was ordained as a Zen Buddhist monk in 1996. He died on November 7. (Photo by Getty)

Boutros Boutros-Ghali

Egyptian diplomat Boutros Boutros-Ghali served as UN Secretary-General from January 1992 until December 1996. He was the first Arab to be appointed to the role. He died on February 16 in Cairo, aged 93. Boutros-Ghali's critics accuse the UN of failing to protect Tutsis during the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. During his time the UN also had to deal with the breakup of Yugoslavia. He opposed NATO's bombing campaign in Bosnia, angering Washington. The US subsequently vetoed his re-election for a second term; a move Boutros-Ghali would later call a "personal betrayal". Before his stint at the UN, he was Egypt's foreign minister, playing a key role in the Camp David agreement. (Photo by AP)

Carrie Fisher & Debbie Reynolds

Generations raised on Star Wars will remember Carrie Fisher as Princess and General Leia Organa, or perhaps as Sally's (played by Meg Ryan) best friend Marie in When Harry Met Sally (1989). But Fisher's talents were not limited to acting. She also wrote about her life in Wishful Drinking, and spoke candidly of living with bipolar disorder. Fisher died four days after a heart attack on December 27.

The day after Carrie Fisher's death, her mother Debbie Reynolds, also a renowned actress, also died. Reynolds reportedly told family "I want to be with Carrie" on her deathbed on December 28. Reynolds had risen to fame with her leading role in Singin' in the Rain (1952). She received a Life Achievement Award from Screen Actors Guild in 2015, and the Academy Awards Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 2016. (Photo by AP)

Shimon Peres

The last of Israel's ‘founding fathers,' Shimon Peres died at the age of 93 on September 28. He was on the political stage for seven decades. Peres helped negotiate a peace deal between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in 1994. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, along with Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chief Yasser Arafat. Critics accuse Peres of encouraging illegal Jewish settlements on Palestinian land in the West Bank, and hold him responsible for the Qana Massacre in Lebanon which resulted in the death of 106 civilians. (Photo by AP)

David Bowie

A gangly singer, David Bowie transformed himself into a space alien called Ziggy Stardust and became the object of adoration for boys and girls alike in the 1970s. Bowie's creativity and his reinvention of his persona and music never ceased; his 25th studio album, his latest, was released on his 69th birthday on January 8. The singer, songwriter, actor and all-around innovator died two days later, on January 10. (Photo by Getty)

George Michael

Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, a British Cypriot, rose to fame as one half of the pop duo Wham! in the 1980s. He was recognised for his solo work he produced after the group's dissolution, with albums such as Faith and Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. Michael, as he was known professionally, sold more than 100 million records. After his death, many people and organisations he had supported came forward. Michael came out as a gay man in 1998; he has been a relentless LGBT rights campaigner and charity fundraiser ever since. He died on December 25. (Photo by Getty)

Malick Sidibe

Malian photographer Malick Sidibe was the first photographer and first African to receive a Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement at Venice Biennale in 2007, among other accolades won during his lifetime. A statement by Jack Shainman Gallery notes his black and white images from the 1950s, the 1960s and the 1970s document "a transitional moment as Mali gained its independence and transformed from a French colony steeped in tradition to a more modern independent country looking toward the West." (Photo by AP)

Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel's memoir chronicling his experiences during the Holocaust was first published in English in 1960 and was later translated into 30 languages, selling over 10 million copies in the US alone. Wiesel, who died on July 2 in New York, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. He spoke for the need to stand up for victims' rights: "Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant." (Photo by AP)

Zaha Hadid

A Iraqi-born British architect, Zaha Hadid was the first woman to receive the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize. She is known for fluid, expressive, fragmented structures which defy the standard concrete box that defined much of modern architecture. "Once she told me that she put all of her creative energy into the attempt to override nature's principles of gravity and death," wrote Hans Ulrich Obrist, a curator and artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries in London. (Photo by AP)

Harper Lee

Harper Lee won a Pulitzer Prize for her first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, now a classic of American literature. The book chronicled racial injustice in a small Alabama town, and was made into a movie starring Gregory Peck in 1962. She died on February 19, at the age of 89. There was controversy in the months proceeding her death, after Go Set a Watchman was published in July 2015. It received mixed reviews, and there were questions about publishing house Harper Collins' decision to publish as a book a manuscript that Lee had intended only as an early draft of To Kill a Mockingbird. (Photo by AP)

Umberto Eco

Italian author Umberto Eco gained international fame with The Name of The Rose, a historical mystery novel that was later made into a movie starring Sean Connery and Christian Slater. Eco was not only a novelist, but a semiotician and a philosopher who founded the Department of Media Studies at the University of the Republic of San Marino. In addition to academic texts and novels, Eco wrote essays and children's books. He died on February 19. (Photo by Getty)

Johan Cruyff

Regarded as one of the finest football players in history, Dutch player and coach Johan Cruyff was a proponent of "Total Football". The philosophy encourages a fluid play structure in which the outfield player can take on the role of any other player in a team, and team members switch positions. Cruyff won the Ballon d'Or award presented by France Football magazine three times. The charity he founded, Johan Cruyff Foundation, has provided street football courts for children. He died on March 24. (Photo by Getty)


Prince Rogers Nelson died on April 21. He grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and was a prolific singer-songwriter. He sold over 100 million albums worldwide during his lifetime. His achievements include seven Grammys and an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score for the film Purple Rain, in which he also acted. The innovative and flamboyant star's music spans a variety of styles, from funk to rock, from new wave to soul and many genres in between. Neither did he shy away from battling the way the music industry was run, famously taking on the name "the Artist Formerly Known as Prince" in protest against Warner Bros having trademarked his artistic name. Prince was ranked number 27 on American music journal Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Artists in 2010. (Photo by AP)

Jo Cox

British Labour Party politician Helen Joanne Cox was serving as a Member of Parliament when she was murdered on June 16. Her death came in the midst of a divisive campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, and many commentators linked her death with the rise of the far-right. Indeed, Cox's killer Thomas Mair reportedly shouted "Britain first" as he attacked her. Cox had been a champion for refugees, having founded and chaired the all-party parliamentary group Friends of Syria. She also was vocal in calling for protection measures for civilians in Syria. Cox famously said of her diverse constituency in the UK: "We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us." (Photo by Getty)

Jayaram Jayalalitha

One of India's most charismatic yet controversial politicians, Jayalalitha broke some three decades of male dominance of politics in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. She rose to political prominence in the late 1980s. Some called her a goddess and others called her "Amma," meaning mother in the Tamil language. She governed the state for most of the last three decades, and fought against the practise of aborting female foetuses, increased access to contraceptives, and introduced cheap canteens for poor. She also had her share of controversies, often facing accusations of lavish spending. Prior to joining politics, Jayalalitha had a successful stint as an actress at Tamil cinema. She died on December 5 at the age of 68. (Photo by Getty)

Philando Castile

Philando Castile was shot by police after being pulled over in Falcon Heights, Minnesota on July 6. His girlfriend Diamond Reynolds live broadcast the aftermath on Facebook, and the video was viewed millions of times. The death of yet another black man sparked outrage throughout the United States, and triggered a new wave of protests under the slogan "Black Lives Matter," with communities accusing the authorities of systemic violence and racism towards people of colour. (Photo by Getty)

Junaid Jamshed

Trained as an engineer, Junaid Jamshed initially gained fame as the vocalist for Pakistani group Vital Signs in the 1980s before embarking on a solo career. Jamshed later became devout Muslim, abandoning his careers in music and engineering. He was a televangelist, preacher and fashion designer with a clothing boutique chain called J. He died in a plane crash on December 7. (Photo by Getty)

Vera Rubin

A trailblazing female astronomer when women were rare in the field, Vera Rubin, along with Kent Ford, proved the existence of dark matter while working on spiral galaxies. Although her name had been mentioned for a Nobel Prize in her lifetime, she never received the honour (and cannot receive it posthumously because of eligibility rules). Rubin died on December 25, at the age of 88. (Photo by Getty)

Papa Wemba

Congolese singer and musician Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba died on April 24. He performed with his musical group Viva la Musica worldwide, fusing the musical genres Congolese rumba, soukous and ndombolo. The "King of Rumba Rock" was a significant figure in world music as well as a fashion icon. (Photo by AP)

Abbas Kiarostami

Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami was awarded the Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival in 1997. He only started working outside of Iran in the 2000s, directing Certified Copy (2010) in Italy and Like Someone in Love (2012) in Japan. His films, fictionalised accounts of everyday life, resemble documentaries in their apparent simplicity, but are complex and playful works upon closer inspection. (Photo by AP)

ER Braithwaite

The Guyanese-born British-American novelist Eustace Edward Ricardo Braithwaite died on December 12. He is best known for his 1959 book To Sir, With Love, an autobiographical novel set in East London that tells the tale of a teacher and his pupils in an inner city school. The book was later made into a film by James Clavell, and featured Sidney Poitier and Lulu in the starring roles. (Photo by Getty)

Bhumibol Adulyadej

The Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej died on October 13 at the age of 88. He had made it to the Guinness Book of Records, earning the title longest reigning monarch (living), having reigned for over 70 years. Lese-majeste laws prevented people from criticising the monarchy; however the king was generally revered. His son Vajiralongkorn has succeeded him as the new king. (Photo by AP)

Antonin Scalia

Antonin Scalia served as a US Supreme Court Justice for 30 years until his death on February 13. He was a conservative appointed in 1986 by Ronald Reagan, and was known for his strongly worded minority opinions. Scalia was pro-death penalty, and opposed special treatment for minorities or the underprivileged. The seat left vacant by his death, meaning has left the Supreme Court in an even conservative and liberal split — for now. Republican lawmakers have successfully prevented President Barack Obama from appointing his nominee. Instead, the seat will be filled by president-elect Donald Trump. (Photo by AP)

Source: TRT World