10 Greatest Posthumous Albums

When an artist passes away, it feels like the end of all the music we loved. However, sometimes albums come along in which the artist can live on. Whether it was an album in the works or a compilation of previously unreleased material, posthumous albums are a bittersweet gift.

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Here are 10 of music’s greatest posthumous albums.

1. The Notorious B.I.G. – Life After Death

Rap legend The Notorious B.I.G.’s sophomore album would be his last. Widely considered among the greatest hip-hop albums, Biggie’s 1997 double album, Life After Death, was released sixteen days after his murder. Life After Death acts as the sequel to his 1994 debut, Ready to Die, and features nearly three years worth of new material.

2. Otis Redding – The Dock of the Bay

Soul sensation Otis Redding’s iconic The Dock of the Bay had been completed just two days before the artist’s sudden passing in a plane crash in 1967. The album, which features his biggest hit “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” would be released a few months later in 1968.

3. Janis Joplin – Pearl

Pearl would have been rock frontwoman Janis Joplin’s sophomore solo release, instead it was her final album. Released three months after her death, Pearl contains her classic rendition of “Me and Bobby McGee.”

4. Jimi Hendrix – The Cry of Love

Jimi Hendrix’s The Cry of Love was released in 1971 a few months after his passing in late 1970. The record features material the guitar icon was working on for what would have been his fourth album.

5. Makaveli (Tupac Shakur) – The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory

The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory was the first of many posthumous releases of Tupac Shakur material. At the time of the rap legend’s passing in September 1996, the album was complete. It was released in November of that year under the pseudonym Makaveli.

6. Elliott Smith – From A Basement On The Hill

From A Basement On The Hill features material recorded by indie singer-songwriter Elliot Smith from 2000 until his untimely passing in 2003. Incomplete at the time of Smith’s death, his friends and family worked to bring it to completion. It was released in 2004 almost exactly a year after his death.

7. Selena – Dreaming Of You

Tejano icon Selena was poised to release a crossover album at the time of her murder in March 1995. That album was meant to be Dreaming Of You. It was released in July of that year and featured her posthumous hit “I Could Fall in Love.”

8. David Bowie – Blackstar

While it was released two days before his death in January 2016, Blackstar was created to be David Bowie’s swan song. He had kept his cancer diagnosis and the recording of the album a secret from the public, releasing it as a farewell to fans.

9. Gram Parsons – Grievous Angel

What was meant to be cosmic country pioneer Gram Parson’s second solo release was instead his final album. Grievous Angel was compiled from recording sessions that took place in the summer of 1973 just before his passing in September of that year. It was released four months later in January 1974.

10. Bob Marley & The Wailers – Confrontation

Bob Marley’s final studio album, Confrontation, was released two years after his death from cancer. His family compiled the album from his recorded, but still unreleased material. Confrontation most notably included the posthumous hit “Buffalo Soldier.”

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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