Busbee, a Grammy-nominated songwriter and producer, has died at 43 — and the music community is paying tribute to him.
Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Shakira, Adam Lambert and Maren Morris are among those posting social media messages after the death of the music maker (real name: Michael James Ryan). The California native had worked with many popular acts, also including Pink, Lady Antebellum, Christina Aguilera, Florida Georgia Line, Katy Perry and the Backstreet Boys, but was best known for his work with country acts.
No cause of death has been announced, but Variety reports he had recently been diagnosed with Glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer, and had started treatment.
Busbee’s death was confirmed Sunday by Warner Records followed by Warner Chappell Music. He was called “one of the best and brightest creative minds in music.”
Today we lost busbee, a dear friend, business partner with his company Altadena, and one of the best and brightest creative minds in music. busbee’s kindness and legacy will never be forgotten and our hearts and prayers go out to his family at this very difficult time. pic.twitter.com/9jLoL0JaCf
— Warner Records (@warnerrecords) September 30, 2019
Our hearts are broken by the loss of our friend busbee. His generosity, spirituality and humor inspired everyone around him. An amazingly gifted songwriter, he used his talent, music and love to break down boundaries and bring people together. We love you. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/nts8hsk9hE
— Warner Chappell Music (@WarnerChappell) September 30, 2019
Soon after, Shelton wrote that he “absolutely can’t accept the loss” of Busbee, whom he called he a friend of his and girlfriend Gwen Stefani’s. “Too much pain and unfairness,” he wrote.
I absolutely can’t accept the loss of mine and Gwen’s friend Michael (Busbee)..Too much to say for social media. Too much pain and unfairness period. I guess sometimes you gotta dig extra EXTRA deep for peace to continue to have faith. And I will because Michael ALWAYS had faith.
— Blake Shelton (@blakeshelton) September 30, 2019
Urban shared a photo and sweet message about his “brother Michael.”
Shakira shared a studio shot of them, saying that an “uncanny talent and unique soul has departed.”
Today an uncanny talent and unique soul has departed.
Busbee you left us so early, but your music and your passion will be among us and forever cherished.
My condolences to his family and the music community in Nashville. pic.twitter.com/g9ya0eeNav
— Shakira (@shakira) September 30, 2019
Lambert said he was “so grateful I was able to have collaborated with him,” calling Busbee “brilliant and warm, with palpable joy for his craft.”
Shocked and saddened by the news today that we have lost Busbee. I am so grateful I was able to have collaborated with him. He was brilliant and warm, with palpable joy for his craft. RIP Sir.
— ADAM LAMBERT (@adamlambert) September 30, 2019
Morris shared a snapshot with Busbee backstage. “This just doesn’t seem fair,” she wrote. “I will always love you and the songs and albums I was lucky to make with you, Busbee. Rest well, my sweet friend.”
Carly Pearce shared a slideshow of photos and videos. She wrote, “You gave my music a place in this world. I’ll cherish the 2 albums, songs, talks, laughs & memories we shared over the years. My heart is broken, but the legacy of your talents and your heart will live on in all of the artists and people you touched.”
Ross Golan, who is also a songwriter and producer, referred to Busbee’s diagnosis in his tribute. “We texted every day since the diagnosis,” he wrote. “I didn’t understand why you didn’t respond today. I’m so sad. Thank you for being there for me and Jac when we were hurting. I tried to be there for you but no one’s heart is bigger than yours. Love you, brother.”
😞 I love you, Busbee. We texted every day since the diagnosis. I didn’t understand why you didn’t respond today. I’m so sad. Thank you for being there for me and Jac when we were hurting. I tried to be there for you but no one’s heart is bigger than yours. Love you, brother. 💔
— Ross Golan (@rossgolan) September 30, 2019
Some more reactions from Ingrid Michaelson, Andy Grammer and others:
I wrote some beautiful things with Busbee. His kind spirit was effortlessly woven into his work. He loved his work. But he loved his family more. You were a special one Busbee. All the songs that could have been...we will miss you so dearly.
— Ingrid Michaelson (@ingridmusic) September 30, 2019
A dear friend and incredible songwriter known as Busbee passed away today. Busbee was a HUGE HEART and a rare friend. What a lot of people don’t know is in this tight songwriting community you write with tons of people that never make it on your record... https://t.co/8PHyPq3Wau pic.twitter.com/olMPzibm2E
— Andy Grammer (@andygrammer) September 30, 2019
Had the pleasure of working with busbee starting this time last year. In such a short amount of time, he taught me so many things that I will remember for the rest of my life. Thank you for everything. RIP legend 💔
— Connor McDonough⇞ (@connormcdonough) September 30, 2019
RIP Busbee. Thank you for your talent and for sharing a little bit of it with me. Glad I got to spend some time with you on this crazy ride. ❤️
— Alex Gaskarth (@AlexGaskarth) September 30, 2019
Busbee is survived by his wife Jessie and their three children, including a baby girl, according to Variety.
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