Not Ready to Say Goodbye: Mac Miller, Anthony Bourdain and More of 2018's Most Shocking Deaths

This was a year full of the sort of untimely passings that leave the world stunned.

By Billy Nilles Dec 27, 2018 11:00 AMTags
Watch: The Year In: Mac Miller & More Unexpected Celeb Deaths

Loss is a part of life.

Our time on this rock is finite. It's precious, fragile, and has an expiration date. It's sad, but it's just part of the deal. And that means that everyone we love and admire is living on borrowed time, as it were—from our family members to our favorite celebrities. And 2018 was full of reminders of that very thing, with legends and icons spanning the likes of Stan Lee and Aretha Franklin, Penny Marshall and Burt Reynolds passing away, having lived lives well spent.

But 2018, too, was a year full of the sort of untimely passings that leave the world stunned. While all death is certainly sad, these were the losses that came out of nowhere, felling people seemingly in their primes. These were people who provided the soundtracks to our lives or the wardrobe in our closets, people who we watched on TV and who, though we didn't know personally, somehow felt like family. And they were people that we simply were not ready to say goodbye to just yet.

Celebrity Deaths: 2018's Fallen Stars

The music world was hit especially hardest this year when it came to people being taken far too soon, beginning with the shocking loss of The Cranberries' lead singer Dolores O'Riordan in mid-January. Fans of the band, best known for their early '90s hits "Linger" and "Zombie," were rocked when, after police were called to a hotel in London, where a woman in her mid-40s was pronounced dead on the scene, the singer's publicist confirmed to BBC News that it was O'Riordan whose body had been discovered.

"The lead singer with the Irish band The Cranberries was in London for a short recording session. No further details are available at this time," the publicist's statement read. "Family members are devastated to hear the breaking news and have requested privacy at this very difficult time."

O'Riordan's bandmates—guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan and drummer Fergal Lawler—whom she'd reunited with in 2009 following a six-year hiatus, took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the passing of their friend, writing, "We are devastated on the passing of our friend Dolores. She was an extraordinary talent and we feel very privileged to have been part of her life from 1989 when we started the Cranberries. The world has lost a true artist today. Noel, Mike and Ferdal."

David Wolff - Patrick/Redferns

The mother of three, whom she shared with ex-husband and former Duran Duran tour manager Don Burton, was mourned by thousands of fans from all over the world during a four-hour open-casket public repose at St Joseph's Church in her native Limerick on Sunday, Jan. 21, beginning three days of mourning that culminated in her funeral that Tuesday at Caherelly Cemetery, where she was laid to rest alongside her late father Terry. O'Riordan's mother and six siblings were present at the repose, as were her bandmates, who left a wreath next to her coffin that read, "The song has ended, but the memories linger on."

While the world had to wait quite an unusual amount of time for the cause of death to be announced, there was plenty of speculation over what, exactly, caused the sudden death. Was it possibly related to the health issues that caused the band to cancel a majority of their 2017 European tour dates, blamed on "medical reasons associated with a back problem" on the band's website, and all of their subsequent North American dates when it was deemed her recovery had not progressed far enough to allow her to participate? Nine months after her passing, on September 6, it was finally revealed that she'd died by drowning, the result of a "tragic accident," BBC News reported. With a blood alcohol level of over four times the legal limit for driving, she'd simply sedated herself, with no evidence of injuries or self-harm.

2018 Billboard Music Awards Pay Tribute to Avicii

Three months later, music fans were rocked yet again when Swedish DJ Avicii was found dead in a hotel room in the Middle East on April 20, just days after he'd tweeted in celebration of his 2018 Billboard Music Award nomination, at the tender age of 28. "It is with profound sorrow that we announce the loss of Tim Bergling, also known as Avicii," the musician's rep statement, obtained by E! News, read. "He was found dead in Muscat, Oman this Friday afternoon local time, April 20th. The family is devastated and we ask everyone to please respect their need for privacy in this difficult time. No further statements will be given."

Immediately, fans and his contemporaries began mourning the artist on social media, with Calvin Harris tweeting, "Devastating news about Avicii, a beautiful soul, passionate and extremely talented with so much more to do. My heart goes out to his family. God bless you Tim x," while Zedd, sharing a photo of him with the "Don't Wake Me Up" musician on Instagram, wrote, "Can't find the right words to express how sad I am to find out Avicii passed away. He was so kind, humble, talented and inspiring. Gone far too soon. RIP Tim."

Amy Sussman/Invision/AP, File

Over the last few years of his life, Avicii was no stranger to health woes. In 2014, after falling ill in Miami, he was hospitalized and had to have his gall bladder removed, forcing him to cancel his headlining performance of that year's ULTRA Music Festival. And two years later, he announced that he was retiring from live touring in a letter to fans on his website, explaining that he had "too little left for the life of a real person behind the artist" and "needed to make a change." As he revealed in a Billboard interview following the announcement, he'd been suffering acute pancreatitis due, in part, to excessive drinking. 

"To me it was something I had to do for my health," he told the publication of his decision to quit touring. "The scene was not for me. It was not the shows and not the music. It was always the other stuff surrounding it that never came naturally to me."

Three days after his passing, his family—which includes his parents, two brothers and a sister—released their first statement on the loss of their loved one, expressing appreciation for the outpouring of love they'd witnessed since his passing. "We would like to thank you for the support and the loving words about our son and brother. We are so grateful for everyone who loved Tim's music and have precious memories of his songs," it read. "Thank you for all the initiatives taken to honor Tim, with public gatherings, church bells ringing out his music, tributes at Coachella and moments of silence around the world. We are grateful for the privacy during this difficult time. Our wish is that it continues that way. With love, The Tim Bergling Family" 

Days later, a second statement was released, offering insight into the cause of death, which was never confirmed, and seeming to imply that he'd taken his own life. "Our beloved Tim was a seeker, a fragile artistic soul searching for answers to existential questions. An over-achieving perfectionist who travelled and worked hard at a pace that led to extreme stress," the statement issued by his family began. "When he stopped touring, he wanted to find a balance in life to be happy and be able to do what he loved most—music. He really struggled with thoughts about Meaning, Life, Happiness. He could not go on any longer. He wanted to find peace. Tim was not made for the business machine he found himself in; he was a sensitive guy who loved his fans but shunned the spotlight."

He was laid to rest in a private funeral in Stockholm in early June, with his family inviting hundreds of their son's biggest fans to honor him during an elaborate memorial service held inside the Hedvig Eleonora Church in mid-November. A source who attended the service told E! News that his father, Klas Bergling, delivered a "beautiful" speech that touched on his son's life while members of the choir sang several of his hit songs. "The entire service was very moving," the insider added.

Mac Miller Posthumously Nominated for His First-Ever Grammy

The next major loss to strike the music world came in September when rapper Mac Miller was found dead at the age of 26. The Los Angeles County Coroner confirmed in a statement that authorities had been called to the artist's (real name Malcolm McCormick) house in Studio City, Calif. on Friday, Sept. 7, where he was pronounced dead on the scene. While a cause of death wouldn't be revealed for two months, early speculation pegged his passing to an apparent overdose, as Miller, who split from Ariana Grande in May of this year, had reportedly struggled with addiction issues for some while. His passing occurred just days before he was due to appear in court over the DUI charge he incurred from the car crash he'd been involved in after his break-up from the "thank u, next" singer, wherein in he fled the scene, later confessing to police after he was located.

Engaged to Pete Davidson at the time of Miller's passing—an engagement that soon crumbled under the weight of her grief—Grande took to social media to mourn her loss, posting a video of the rapper from their time together, writing, "i adored you from the day i met you when i was nineteen and i always will. i can't believe you aren't here anymore. i really can't wrap my head around it. we talked about this. so many times. i'm so mad, i'm so sad i don't know what to do. you were my dearest friend. for so long. above anything else. i'm so sorry i couldn't fix or take your pain away. i really wanted to. the kindest, sweetest soul with demons he never deserved. i hope you're okay now. rest."

Christopher Polk/Shutterstock

"Malcolm McCormick, known and adored by fans as Mac Miller, has tragically passed away at the age of 26," read his family's statement. "He was a bright light in this world for his family, friends and fans. Thank you for your prayers. Please respect our privacy. There are no further details as to the cause of his death at this time."

As fans and friends continued to pay tribute to the rapper in various ways, Miller's family was forced to condemn unsanctioned memorial events in October, as they made clear that the Mac Miller: A Celebration of Life tribute show, which was held at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on Oct. 31 and featured performances from Travis Scott, John Mayer, SZA, Chance the Rapper and more, was the only event sanctioned by the family.

A week after the memorial, the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner—Coroner announced that Miller had died from mixed drug toxicity, with an autopsy performed the day after his passing determining that the combination of fentanyl, cocaine and ethanol in his system had killed him, with the manner of death certified as an accident.

Kate Spade Fashion Show Pays Tribute to Late Designer's "Sparkle"

Over just a few days in early June, both the fashion and culinary worlds were rocked to the core by the losses of luminaries in their respective worlds who'd both tragically made the decision to take their own lives. On June 5, fashion designer Kate Spade was found in her Manhattan apartment by her housekeeper, unconscious and unresponsive. Pronounced dead on the scene by EMS, the designer had apparently hung herself while her husband Andy Spade was also at home. A family statement, made available to The New York Times after the 55-year-old was revealed to have died, read, "We are all devastated by today's tragedy. We loved Kate dearly and will miss her terribly. We would ask that our privacy be respected as we grieve during this very difficult time."

A day after her death, Andy, whose brother is comedian David Spade, issued a lengthy statement, setting the record straight on some of the reports that had been circulating in the hours since he'd lost his wife and mother of his daughter, Frances Beatrix Spade. "Kate suffered from depression and anxiety for many years. She was actively seeking help and working closely with her doctors to treat her disease, one that takes far too many lives. We were in touch with her the night before and she sounded happy. There was no indication and no warning that she would do this. It was a complete shock. And it clearly wasn't her. There were personal demons she was battling," he revealed, before admitting that he and Kate had been living separately for the last 10 months, within a few block of each other. 

Walter McBride/Getty Images

"We were not legally separated, and never even discussed divorce. We were best friends trying to work through our problems in the best way we knew how," he continued. "We were together for 35 years. We loved each other very much and simply needed a break."

"This is the truth. Anything else that is out there right now is false. [Kate] was actively seeking help for depression and anxiety over the last 5 years, seeing a doctor on a regular basis and taking medication for both depression and anxiety. There was no substance or alcohol abuse. There were no business problems. We loved creating our businesses together. We were co-parenting our beautiful daughter. I have yet to see any note left behind and am appalled that a private message to my daughter has been so heartlessly shared with the media," the statement concluded. "My main concern is Bea and protecting her privacy as she deals with the unimaginable grief of losing her mother. Kate loved Bea so very much."

Spade, whose niece is The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel star Rachel Brosnahan, was laid to rest on June 21 in private service held in her home town of Kansas City. Following her passing, the Kate Spade New York brand announced plans to donate more than $1 million to suicide prevention and mental health awareness causes in honor of their late founder. Her famous brother-in-law also made a $100,000 donation to the National Alliance on mental Illness following her death. "More people suffer from mental health issues than we may realize but no one should ever feel ashamed to reach out for support," David said in a statement to People. "If you or anyone you know is in need of help or guidance please contact the national suicide prevention hotline at 800-273-8255 or go to to learn more and help those who may be in need."

Chef Who Found Anthony Bourdain Dead Remembers His "Loyal" Friend

No more than three days after Spade's shocking suicide, the world was rocked once more by the revelation that culinary giant and travel host extraordinaire Anthony Bourdain had also taken his own life. CNN reported that the Parts Unknown host had hanged himself in a hotel room near Strasbourg, France where he was readying an episode of his food and travels how that had aired on the cable news network since 2013. 

"It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain," a spokesperson for the network said in a statement at the time. "His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller. His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time."

The 61-year-old chef and TV personality who gained notoriety in 1999 after publishing a New Yorker article that became the best-selling 2000 book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, was found unresponsive in his hotel room by close friend, French chef Eric Ripert. "Anthony was a dear friend. He was an exceptional human being, so inspiring and generous," Ripert said in a statement in June. "One of the great storytellers of our time who connected with so many. I wish him peace. My love and prayers are with his family, friends and loved ones."


Before beginning his career on TV, hosting A Cook's Tour on Food Network before jumping to Travel Channel with No Reservations and, eventually, CNN, Bourdain had overcome both a dire drug addiction and financial hardships. Despite speculation that perhaps a relapse factored into his passing, the local prosecutor in charge of the investigation, Christian de Rocguignytold The New York Times two weeks later that he only had a "trace of nonnarcotic medicine in a therapeutic dose" in his body at the time of his death.

The father of one—11-year-old Ariane Bourdain from his relationship with estranged second wife Ottavia Busia—was immediately and profusely mourned by the world at large, with girlfriend Asia Argento, who became embroiled in a #MeToo scandal of her own shortly after Bourdain's passing, tweeting, "Anthony gave all of himself in everything that he did. His brilliant, fearless spirit touched and inspired so many, and his generosity knew no bounds. He was my love, my rock, my protector. I am beyond devastated. My thoughts are with his family. I would ask that you respect their privacy and mine."

In early December, GQ ran a profile on the chef, who was cremated a week after his passing, as part of their Men of the Year series. Among the chef's loved ones who spoke candidly about the man they'd loved and lost was friend Doug Quint, who opened up about how how Bourdain's daughter reacted to the passing of her father. "I heard my phone going off in the middle of the night, and it was a text from Ottavia saying, 'He's killed himself, and I wanted you to know before the news came out.' I [drove] to O'Hare and went to their house. The whole morning, I was sitting head down, making sure I didn't look at the TV. It's just so f--kin' lousy. It feels like you're speeding into a black hole," he shared. "That day, Ariane said to me something like, 'Is this something that people outside of New York are gonna know about?' And we were like, 'Yeah. All around the world, people are sad about this.' Telling her that made me realize, Jesus, God, this is world news. He changed lives around the world."

During a November appearance on CBS This Morning, Ripert spoke about the legacy his friend had left behind through his celebrated travelogues. "Anthony was very curious by nature. Very respectful of cultures and he wanted to share with the public, his discoveries," he explained "The idea was do not be scared of traveling and do not be scared going to other countries and do not stay at the resort, do not stay at the hotel and eat the normal menu. Just go out, go in the street and engage with people. Try the food and learn the culture from that experience and I think he did really well in breaking walls, right, in between us and other countries that we sometimes are a bit scared or nervous to visit and that was really a great part of his legacy."

Diddy Navigates His ''New Life'' as a Single Father Following Kim Porter's Death

In mid-November, the world watched stunned as Sean "Diddy" Combs and his family had their world rocked by the sudden passing of his ex-girlfriend and mother of three of his children, Kim Porter. The 47-year-old model and actress, who was with the music mogul for over a decade until 2007, was found dead in her bed in her Los Angeles-area home on Thursday, Nov. 15. "Sadly, I can confirm the passing of Kim Porter," Diddy's rep told E! News that day. "I ask that you give the families privacy at this time."

According to TMZ, the emergency dispatch call reported a patient in cardiac arrest, while a source told E! News that Porter had been suffering pneumonia and had been seeing a doctor. As of press time, an official cause of death has yet to be confirmed

As witnesses outside Porter's home spotted a stream of friends and family members arriving at the scene, including Diddy and Kimora Lee Simmons, detectives told the media that they "[did] not suspect foul play," while adding that her famous former beau was "extremely cooperative and understandably upset" when speaking with detectives.

Lawrence Lucier/FilmMagic

While tributes from the likes of 50 Cent, Missy Elliot, Drake and many more began to immediately pour in on social media, Diddy himself didn't break his silence until three days had passed and he began posting photos and videos of Porter on Instagram. 

For the last three days I've been trying to wake up out of this nightmare. But I haven't," he captioned a video of the two posing for an Essence magazine photo shoot. "I don't know what I'm going to do without you baby. I miss you so much. Today I'm going to pay tribute to you, I'm going to try and find the words to explain our unexplainable relationship. We were more than best friends, we were more than soul mates. WE WERE SOME OTHER S--T!! And I miss you so much. Super Black Love [black heart emoji]."

Porter and Diddy shared a son, Christian, 20, and 11-year-old twin daughters, D'Lila Star and Jessie James. The rapper also helped raise Porter's son Quincy Brown, 27, from a previous relationship with Al B. Sure!

"I am broken...& the only thing that makes sense right now is that you were way too good for this silly world we live in," Brown wrote on Instagram in his own first statement about Porter's death, alongside a photo of him, his sisters and his mother. "I love you so much MOMMY. Please give Mee-Maw the biggest hug and kiss for me."

Hollywood's Most Shocking Moments of 2018

Diddy hosted a private "homegoing celebration" at his home on November 18, allowing those closest to her to pay their respects, with the likes of Pharrell, French Montana and Mary J. Blige in attendance. Her funeral was held in her hometown of Columbus, Georgia on Nov. 24, with Simmons, Blige, Tichina Arnold, NeNe Leakes, Kandi Burruss, Lil' Kim, and more in attendance. Diddy gave a eulogy at the funeral, held at Cascade Hills Church, wherein he talked about his relationship with Porter.

"As time went on, our relationship took so many different changes, from being boyfriend and girlfriend to being lovers to being best friends," he said, according to audio posted by TMZ. "Somebody that you know you can count on, somebody that has your back, you have their back." He also made a public pledge to his and Porter's children, which also include his 24-year-old son Justin and 12-year-old daughter Chance, from two separate relationships. "I will always be there for you," he said, drawing cheers. "I will always take care of you."

Porter was buried at the Evergreen Memorial Gardens cemetery alongside her mother, Sarah Lee Porter, who died in 2014.

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Of course, it's hard to talk about sudden deaths in 2018 without making mention of two individuals who left behind much more complicated legacies than anyone else on this list. On January 30, a month after he issued a guilty plea in a case involving possession of child pornography, Glee actor Mark Salling took his own life. The 35-year-old actor was found dead outside in the northeast San Fernando Valley in an apparent suicide by hanging.

"I can confirm that Mark Salling passed away early this morning," the actor's lawyer, Michael J. Proctor, told E! News in a statement. "Mark was a gentle and loving person, a person of great creativity, who was doing his best to atone for some serious mistakes and errors of judgment. He is survived by his mother and father, and his brother. The Salling family appreciates the support they have been receiving and asks for their privacy to be respected." 

According to Salling's plea agreement, revealed in court documents obtained by E! News, the actor planned to serve four to seven years behind bars with supervised release for 20 years, if agreed upon by the judge. He would register as a sex offender and pay restitution to each victim who requested it. At the time of his death, he was set for sentencing in early March. As a result of his death, the case was dismissed.

As his autopsy revealed in March, cause of death was ruled asphyxia by hanging. The report stated that Salling was "last known to be alive watching television with his father, in the living room" on the evening of January 29. His mom noticed he and his vehicle were missing around midnight, and his roommate found Salling's house arrest tracking device "down the street" from their residence.

The actor, who a source told E! News had "totally isolated himself in that house in Sunland" while awaiting sentencing and "was a very depressed, lonely human," was cremated in early February.

Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images

On June 18, rising rapper XXXTentacion (real name Jahseh Onfroy) was gunned down in South Florida at the age of 20, with the Broward County Sheriff's Office confirming in a tweet that the musician was pronounced dead after being taken to a local hospital. The Florida native was leaving RIVA Motorsports when two armed suspects approached his vehicle. At least one of the suspects fired a gun before both fled in a dark-colored SUV.

Homicide detectives later arrested suspects Dedrick Devonshay Williams and Michael Boatwright, both 22, on charges of first-degree murder, with 20-year-old Robert Allen arrested in late July.

Much of XXXTentacion's career was overshadowed by violent legal issues, which included charges related to domestic battery, false imprisonment and aggravated battery of a pregnant woman. As his star continued to rise, so too did the accusations, which the rapper claimed were fabrications. In an apparent Instagram livestream posted just hours before his death, he eerily reflected on his legacy.

"Worst thing comes to worse, I f---king die a tragic death and I'm not able to see out my dreams, I at least want to know that the kids perceived my message and were able to make something of themselves and use it to turn it into something positive," he said into the camera. "If I'm going to die or ever be a sacrifice I want to make sure that my life made at least 5 million kids happy." 

Despite all the rather ugly stories that surrounded him, which continued to mount in death, as a 27-minute-long recording in which he seemingly confessed to domestic abuse and stabbing eight people was released in October, his career only continued to grow. By early October, he'd posthumously sold more than 4.5 million copies of his records, while receiving major award nominations for the first time. 

"XXXTentacion touched the lives of millions around the globe and will forever reside in the hearts of countless fans who listened to his music, attended his concerts, and felt the glow of his uncontainable, undeniable, and unique spirit," his rep shared in a statement at the time of his passing.

He was laid to rest in a private funeral on June 28 with Erykah Badu, Lil Uzi Vert and Lil Yachty reportedly in attendance.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).