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The New Year is still relatively fresh, but 2016 has thus far been deadly for music icons.
To date, we have lost David Bowie, Natalie Cole, Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister and now founding Eagles’ guitarist Glenn Frey, who died Monday from complications related to Rheumatoid Arthritis and Pneumonia. He was 67 years old.
Frey burst onto the music scene in 1971 when he, Don Henley, Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon formed The Eagles, a band known for producing radio-saturating hits like “Hotel California”, “Life in the Fast Lane” and “Desperado”. They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
Like many music lovers of my generation, I grew up listening to The Eagles on AM and FM radio—long before I ever knew the names of the band members. In fact, I first learned who Glenn Frey was in the 1980s when he released “The Heat is On” as part of the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. I always recognized the talent, though, and I assure you that he will be missed.
Enjoy that peaceful, easy feeling, my man. Always.
I’m stepping through the door
And I’m floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today…
“Space Oddity” (1969)
Growing up in America during the 1970s and 80s was an experience that I will never forget. And memories of those eras are as fresh in my mind today as they were when I was a child and teenager living through them. Of course, nothing takes me back there more than the music I love and the artists who created it. And one of my favorite artists of the era was none other than David Robert Jones, otherwise known as David Bowie.
Unfortunately, Bowie passed yesterday after battling cancer for the last 18 months. He was 69 years old.
The first David Bowie song I remember hearing is the same one I quoted at the beginning of this post: Space Oddity. I can’t pinpoint exactly when I heard it for the first time, but I know it was on the radio of my mother’s station wagon when I was a “wee lad” of only six or seven years. I eventually heard many of his other 1970s hits—like Young Americans, Rebel Rebel, Jean Genie and, of course, Golden Years—but my love for Bowie really took hold in the 80s.
During a decade famous for hair metal, teased bangs, friendship bracelets and denim coats, Bowie truly found his place in pop culture. And thanks to MTV—a cable station that once focused on playing music videos, if you can believe that—Bowie and his songs quickly became part of the zeitgeist. I still remember seeing the video for Blue Jean for the first time, slow dancing to Let’s Dance at a teenybopper birthday party and driving my first car down the highway with Modern Love blasting from the cassette player. Those certainly were the days.
Sadly, I lost track of David Bowie a little during college and beyond—at least in terms of his newer material—but my love for the man and his music never waned. In fact, I was excited to hear he was releasing a new album, Blackstar, and plan to purchase it later today. I’m sure it will be awesome, but there’s one thing that would make it better, and that’s having its creator around to enjoy it with his fans. That obviously isn’t going to happen—at least not in the physical realm—but I know Bowie will always be with us in spirit. And for fans like me, he will always have a special place in our hearts and minds.
Farewell, my friend. And thanks for making weirdness and eccentricity hurt so good…
I just heard that one of my favorite singers from my youth—Stone Temple Pilots’ front man Scott Weiland—passed away at the age of 48… just four years older than I am right now.
The news is depressing, to say the least, since I equate so many happy memories with STP songs like Plush, Vasoline and Interstate Love Song. Sure, I knew that Weiland was a pretty serious drug abuser, having been in and out of rehab over the years. It seemed as if he had turned a corner, though, as he sang with Velvet Revolver and his newest band, Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts. And maybe he had, but it was likely too late. The damage of drugs and a rock & roll lifestyle had already taken its toll.
Based on reports from TMZ, Weiland died in his sleep on Thursday and was found dead on the tour bus outside his next show in Minnesota. A cause of death has not yet been determined, but Wildabouts guitarist Jeremy Brown died of a drug overdose in March, so it’s possible that drugs played a role in Weiland’s ultimate demise, as well.
Basically, this sucks, so please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers since he was a talent lost far too soon. Farewell, Scott—and thanks for the memories.
Calling Kanye West special is an understatement, to be sure. Constantly inviting him to music awards shows so he can wreak havoc? Now that’s just crazy.
In his latest spectacle—this time during last night’s 2015 Grammy Awards broadcast—West nearly repeated his 2009 MTV Video Music Awards performance, when he stormed on-stage and cut off Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech for Best Female Video. West felt the award should have been given to Beyoncé and made sure the whole world knew it.
Unfortunately, it looked as if West was going to do the same thing when Beck won Album of the Year over Beyoncé last night. He stepped onto the stage, then suddenly turned around and returned to his seat. Most viewers thought it was a joke, but interviews with West after the show proved otherwise.
“I just know that the Grammys, if they want real artists to keep coming back, they need to stop playing with us,” West told Vanity Fair later. “We ain’t going to play with them no more. ‘Flawless,’ Beyoncé’s video. And Beck needs to respect artistry, and he should have given his award to Beyoncé.”
I’m sorry, but is Kanye West in love with Beyoncé or something? It seems like something is going on.
The good news is that Beck didn’t take offense to West’s outburst. When asked later about the near intrusion, he said, “You can’t please everybody, man. I still love him and think he’s a genius. I aspire to do what he does.” What a good sport.
Of course, West should probably do a little research before trying to steer another Grammy towards Beyoncé and away from other performers. To date, Beyoncé has collected twenty Grammy awards; Beck has only five, despite his career stretching back to the early 1990s.
In other words, Kanye should probably focus more energy on keeping his wife’s frumpy, amorphous booty off tabloid magazine covers than questioning a system that provided him with more than twenty Grammy awards himself! Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, punk!
Although this post has no real merit—beyond sheer, testosterone-fueled entertainment, that is—I ran across this video today and simply had to share.
It shows tattooed model Sara X in a video posted to her YouTube channel… wiggling her fake boobs to the rhythm of Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik.
Check it out by going HERE.
Some critics claimed the performance was as “fake” as the breasts she was jiggling, but Sara quickly addressed them.
“While my boobs are very fake, the video is very real,” she wrote on Facebook. “I am flexing my pectoral muscles and it’s moving my implants.”
Whatever the case may be, all I know is that I am suddenly turning into a fan of classical music… and would gladly play Sara’s instruments anytime!
If you grew up in America in the 1980s, odds are you’ve heard the 1982 John Cougar Mellencamp hit “Jack and Diane.” It’s a “little ditty” about a couple of American kids “sucking down chili dogs outside the Tastee Freez.” Ring a bell?
Well, here’s something you probably didn’t know about the song: it was originally written about an interracial couple!
During an interview on HuffPost Live yesterday, Mellencamp confirmed that in his original lyrics, Jack was actually a black guy.
“Originally the line was Jack was not a football star, Jack was an African American,” the popular singer confessed. “In 1982, when I turned the song in to the record company, they went, ‘Whoa, can’t you make him something other than that?”
Mellencamp wasn’t interested in changing his lyrics initially, but did so “because he thought it was a little much for the early eighties.” And a brother has to get paid, right?
Fortunately, Mellencamp doesn’t regret his decision—most likely because the song is so popular, even today—and as someone who grew up in the 1980s, he likely made the right choice. Of course, he could reissue the song with his original lyrics… and I even provided him with a new title.
“Little ditty about Jacquan and Diane…”
Death is something I read about every day—given how dark and depressing most news stories are—but in general, I try not to ponder my own inevitable demise. Granted, this is something I was preoccupied with in my youth, but as I grew older, I decided life was too short to worry about dying. Death is inescapable and spending too much time dwelling on it can distract from what little life we all have left. Focusing on the days ahead rather than the end of those days is preferable, after all.
Then I started watching documentaries on Netflix and came across a Dave McRae series entitled Final 24, which chronicles the final day in the lives of famous people, all of whom died under mysterious circumstances. And now, much to my chagrin, I find myself thinking about death yet again.
The first episode focused on Sid Vicious, the bassist for the punk band The Sex Pistols who died of a heroin overdose in 1979. After being arrested for the murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen—a murder he could not remember perpetrating—Vicious went on a drug-fueled bender, sponsored in large part by his own mother. In fact, some believe his mother gave him a fatal overdose on purpose, to spare him from another traumatizing stint in prison. Whatever the case may be, Vicious’ final 24 hours were dark and depressing—as they likely are for most just before they die.
Episode two turned a lens on one of the greatest comedic performers of all time, the great John Belushi. Like Sid Vicious, Belushi spent his final day of life blitzed out of his mind on drugs, including cocaine, marijuana and—go figure—heroin, a drug he had just begun using during his final trip to New York City. Unfortunately, he didn’t just shoot up heroin; he injected speedballs, deadly combinations of heroin and cocaine. As you might imagine, things didn’t go well for Belushi and he overdosed on the concoction, which ultimately caused his death and put an end to one of the most promising careers in entertainment history.
The remainder of the Final 24 series includes stories about other famous people and their tragic deaths: Marvin Gaye, John F. Kennedy, River Phoenix and Hunter S. Thompson. I plan to watch them all, of course, but I am trying hard not to dwell on my own impending death. I say “impending” because it could be today, next week or even fifty years from now. You just never know.
Of course, I hope that when my number is finally up, death comes in the most peaceful and painless way possible. Isn’t that something we all wish for? I mean, the last thing I want is to die while doing something embarrassing—not to me, necessarily, but to my friends and family members. One such scenario might involve masturbation—having a heart attack while stroking off and being discovered in a compromising position. Nothing would be more embarrassing, especially if rigor mortis set in and my hand had to be pried off my junk with a crowbar or something.
We can’t all die in our sleep, after all!
In 2004, a pine tree was planted in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park to honor legendary Beatles guitarist and avid gardener George Harrison, who died in 2001. The sapling was planted near the Griffith Observatory with a plaque commemorating the famous musician.
Sadly, the plaque is all that remains thanks to an insect infestation… of beetles!
Yes, in an ironic turn of events, beetles actually killed the tree planted for a Beatle—a fact many feel would have been appreciated by the famous musician for whom it was planted.
“Except for the loss of tree life, Harrison likely would have been amused at the irony,” LA Times reporter Randy Lewis wrote recently. “He once said his biggest break in life was getting into the Beatles; his second biggest was getting out.”
The good news is that plans to replant the tree are underway—and it should last as long as “The Beetles” don’t stage a reunion anytime soon!