This year we lost some of our brightest stars: artists that spanned the genres of rock, hip-hop and pop, as well as TV and film. They were at different stages in their careers — some just starting to rise, others already legends — but all left a distinct mark on pop culture, and their deaths affected us deeply.
Beloved hip-hop icons Nate Dogg and Heavy D influenced the generations of artists who followed them. Nate (born Nathaniel Hale) died at age 41 after suffering several health setbacks related to a stroke. One of the key players in the birth of the West Coast G-Funk sound, the crooner's silky smooth vocals touched classic tracks from Snoop Dogg and Warren G to 50 Cent and Ludacris. Fun-loving Heavy D, a major force in the New Jack Swing era, had hits with songs like "We Found Love" and "Nuttin' But Love," but he had also branched out into film and theater. He was 44 when he died this past fall.
We lost Mike Starr, former bassist for the groundbreaking Seattle grunge band Alice in Chains. Like Amy Winehouse, who also died this year at the age of 27, Starr's talent was often overshadowed by dependency on alcohol and drugs.
Gun violence claimed the life of 22-year-old Montae Talbert, the Cali Swag District dancer otherwise known as M-Bone. And Australian actor Andy Whitfield, who got his big break when he was cast as the lead in the Starz TV series "Spartacus: Blood and Sand," was 39 when he succumbed to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Finally, the MTV family mourned the death of "Jackass" daredevil and "Viva La Bam" star Ryan Dunn. The 34-year-old died on a rural Pennsylvania road along with his 30-year-old passenger, Zachary Hartwell, when their car slammed into a guardrail and caught fire.
Share your memories of those we lost this year in the comments below.
MTV continues our Best of 2011 coverage by looking back at the biggest pop-culture stories of the year. As we count down the newsmakers that mattered to you most, also check out our Best Artists, Best Songs, Best MTV Live Performances and Best EDM Artists of 2011.