The deaths of icons sometimes more difficult than real deaths

hollyToday is, in the lexicon of Don McLean (and no I am going to make no judgment on allegations he has chronically smacked his wife around; that’s for the McLeans to sort out) “the day the music died.”

I am aged enough that I remember that day as the first time some rock-and-roll heroes bit the dust. Actually, and I wouldn’t hesitate to assert this, Holly, the rube from Lubbock. Texas was arguably a musical genius of rock or any genre – miles ahead of Presley, who never wrote a damn thing in his life – and on a par with Elvis as a stylist. Very young at the time of death Ritchie Valens was no slouch, either. And the Big Bopper was just sheer bawdy fun.

Over the years since a lot of youth musical icons died; some by misadventure and bad habits, like Janis, Hendrix, Garcia, Cobain and countless others going right through to the brilliant and much-lamented Amy Winehouse. And some died through misfortune like Stevie Ray Vaughn, John Denvier, most of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Duane Allman and so forth. And, of course, the ultimate indignity was the assassination of John Lennon. And finally there were those who died of illness, like Bob Marley and George Harrison.

It’s the latter category that has become prevalent of late. And it has been largely the illness that comes with age like heart disease and cancers. That’s a difficult one to get around, especially for those of us who are advancing in our years. Within the past few weeks we have lost the iconic and inestimable talent of David Bowie and the wonderfulness of Glen Frey of the Eagles. I for one happen to think Hotel California is the best rock song ever and the only other one that comes close, in terms of emotional impact on me is Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street.

The thought that strikes me about these demises, premature or of natural years is, I didn’t personally know any of these individuals, I only emotionally so is my (or your) emotional grief any less valid. I truly have no answer for that, but such deaths can seem just as real.

Maybe that is just a silly thought. But about certain things I am prepared to be silly.



6 responses to “The deaths of icons sometimes more difficult than real deaths

  1. I was too young to be affected by the deaths of Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent etc. By the time I appreciated their music they were already singing in the heavenly choir.

    John Lennon’s death was so unexpected and shocking: it really wasn’t part of my life. Freddie Mercury’s passing was premature. But Bowie’s, he was of my generation, his music resonated with my early twenties and he died in my 69th year.

    All those possibilities, all the imaginings that Bowie, the Beatles, the Stones, the Kinks, the Byrds, Love etc. All that their music promised, in some way has been closed off/shut down by death.

    Hell, there’s only one cure for these wintertime blues. That is to put on a 45 rpm and play air guitar to “All Right Now”.


    I think their deaths touch us is because they are a part of our lives, a way of retaining our youth. When they pass on, we feel like a part of our lives is passed and we realize we are aging!

  3. I’ve rarely felt touched when a rock or movie star died. I don’t know them so all things considered I don’t much care. I’m hard that way. But Bowie? Yeah, that one pinched my heart a little.

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