Clockwise from top left: Leon Russell, Prince, David Bowie, Phife Dawg, Leonard Cohen and Sharon Jones are all featured on Retrofit: Bye Bye 2016.

(Photos: Phife Dawg by Mikael 'Mika' Vaisanen; Sharon Jones by kallerna; Leon Russell by Carl Lender; Prince by Scott Penner))

If 2016 felt like the Grim Reaper was working overtime in the music world, he was. Every year is tough, and artists in all fields make their departures over 12 months.  

It's especially difficult with musicians. The person leaves but the passion stays forever in state-of-the-art audio. Otherwise the losses would be unbearable.

When people announce they are ready to close the book on 2016 because of the death count, they usually cite the obvious: Prince was way too young. Bowie is someone we never imagined dying. And Leonard Cohen? Well, surely he was going to spin his poetry forever, wasn't he?

The list of the deceased is intricate, sad and completely unfair. Sharon Jones was such a fighter. Merle Haggard was a branded man out in the cold, but he was timeless. George Martin spent 90 years with us, a handful of those adding magic to every Beatles song.

Phife Dawg should have been on hand for the return of A Tribe Called Quest. Maurice White summoned the basic elements of Earth, Wind, and Fire. Two-thirds of Emerson, Lake & Palmer? Really?

What appears to be a total bummer is in reality a celebration that only music could birth. All these people had nothing in common except their creations were meant to be heard, and they exited in the same year.  

Let's hope next year's show is shorter.

Bye Bye 2016 -- a special edition of Retrofit that rounds up music from these artists and more -- airs New Year's Eve at 5 p.m. and New Year's Day at midnight and noon.

Listen to a Spotify playlist featuring musicians who passed in 2016 below.