Showing posts with label Rock stars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rock stars. Show all posts

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Twitch And Shout

The death of a rock star is not without commercial potential. I was reminded of this truth by this afternoon’s programming on TV LAND, which has devoted several hours of its programming to Elvis Presley, whose birthday is fast approaching (January 8). While the deaths of Buddy Holly, Sam Cooke, and Brian Jones antedated the 1970s, the sheer number of deaths of rock stars in the 1970s—Elvis’s among them—was significant, and the number of books published since serve as constant reminders that they are still dead (see the partial bibliography below).

Having recently submitted a book proposal on the subject of Neil Young’s Tonight’s the Night (June 1975), the issue of those who “lived and died for rock and roll” has preoccupied me (even if that dedication is perhaps ironic). Young’s album is dedicated to his friends, guitarist Danny Whitten (died 1972) and roadie Bruce Berry (died 1973), but there were any number of other deaths that preceded the release of Young’s classic album:

Duane Allman (The Allman Brothers Band), 1971
Darrell Banks (“Open the Door to Your Heart”), 1970
Bobby Bloom (“Montego Bay”), 1974
Graham Bond (Graham Bond Organization), 1974
Bill Chase (Chase), 1974
Miss Chrissie (GTOs), 1972
Arlester Christian (Dyke & the Blazers), 1971
Brian Cole (The Association), 1972
Jim Croce, 1973
King Curtis (“Charlie Brown”), 1971
Bobby Darin (“Splish Splash”), 1974
Nick Drake, (Bryter Later), 1974
Don Drummond (The Skatalites), 1971
Cass Elliot (The Mamas & the Papas), 1974
Mary Ann Ganser (The Shangri-Las), 1971
Pete Ham (Badfinger), April 1975
Lee Harvey (Stone the Crows), 1972
Jimi Hendrix (The Jimi Hendrix Experience), 1970
Janis Joplin (Big Brother & the Holding Company), 1970
Jerry Lee Lewis, Jr. (son of Jerry Lee Lewis), 1973
Billy Marcus (New York Dolls), 1972
Clyde McPhatter (Dominoes; Drifters), 1972
Robby McIntosh (Average White Band), 1974
Jim Morrison (The Doors), 1971 (Parisian grave is pictured)
Barry Oakley (The Allman Brothers Band), 1972
Lowman Pauling (The “5” Royales), 1973
Rod “Pig Pen” McKernan, 1973
Gram Parsons (The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers), 1974
Steve Perron (The Children) 1973
Bobby Ramirez (White Trash), 1970
John Raynes (Monotones), 1972
James Sheppard (The Heartbeats; Shep & the Limelights), 1970
Billy Stewart (“Summertime”), 1970
Rory Storm (The Hurricanes), 1972
Vinnie Taylor (Sha Na Na), 1974
Tammi Terrell (duo partner with Marvin Gaye), 1970
Gene Vincent, 1971
Clarence White (The Byrds), 1973
Paul Williams (The Temptations), 1973
Al Wilson (Canned Heat), 1970
Harris Womack (Valentinos), 1974

Gary J. Katz, Death By Rock ‘n’ Roll. Citadel Press, 1995.

R. Gary Patterson, Take a Walk on the Dark Side: Rock and Roll Myths, Legends, and Curses. Fireside, 2004. Note: A revision and expansion of Hellhounds on Their Trail: Tales From the Rock ‘n’ Roll Graveyard. Dowling Press, 1998.

Jeff Pike, The Death of Rock 'N' Roll: Untimely Demises, Morbid Preoccupations, and Premature Forecasts of Doom in Pop Music. Faber & Faber, 1993.

Jeremy Simmonds, The Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars: Heroin, Handguns, and Ham Sandwiches. Updated Edition. Chicago Review Press, 2008.

Dave Thompson, Better to Burn Out: The Cult of Death in Rock ‘n’ Roll. Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1998. Note: Dave Thompson is also the author of Never Fade Away: The Kurt Cobain Story.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Memento Mori

I may have missed it, but Bill Wyman’s website made no mention of his birthday yesterday—his 72nd. The former Rolling Stone didn’t acknowledge his latest mile marker, preferring to let it go unremarked. Perhaps he no longer finds it worthy of mention, age being an aspect of our lives that seems to have only a slight connection to our subjective, lived experience. Born 24 October 1936, he was born only about a year and ten months after Elvis Presley, who had he lived would have turned 73 years old this year, and roughly three months from his 74th birthday. According to this interesting blog entry, Bill Wyman “has the distinction of being one of the last of the Sixties rock and rollers to do national service in Britain.” And as the author points out, the last American rock 'n' roller of historic significance who was conscripted was Jimi Hendrix. Had he lived, Hendrix would have turned 66 years old next month (born 27 November 1942).

Perhaps as a consequence of Bill Wyman’s age, I woke up today think of my father, who at age 72 had full-blown leukemia, and died about a month and a half after his 73rd birthday. Subsequently, my thoughts turned to the written epilogue at the end of Stanley Kubrick’s film Barry Lyndon, which despite its specific historic reference contains an insight I think we’d all do well to remember:

It was in the age of George III that the aforesaid personages lived and quarreled. Good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor, they are all equal now.

Memento mori