Coconut Times - Ocean City Maryland
Home | Contact | About Us | Advertise | Archives | Site Map
ADD THIS - Bookmark and Share
Written By: Stone Scruggs
*Click images below to view larger versions.
Phil & Lemmy, just two of the many music icons to pass on in recent weeks.

    “Here’s to long life and a merry one; a quick death and an easy one; a pretty girl and an hones one; a cold beer and another one.” – William Butler Yeats.
    The long dark night of the soul. The winter of our discontent.  Another headclear New Year, dry January (drynuary), Febrewlessary. To paraphrase Bubba: "tried to amend my bibulous habits/made it nearly seventy days". I see from my seat on the water wagon the light at the end of the tunnel; the name of the flame is Jameson and it's the whiskey wagon from there. This is why I've been bereft: The Paddy festival lasts through April this year with the Irish Centennial, and Guinness is good for you. But that's another story/stories. And there's one to tell ahead of that, and it's a sad one.
    This has been a deathly cold winter in music history, perhaps unprecedentedly so. Three months, six musicians. The winter metaphor is relevant in mortal terms as it seems a critical mass approaches: all the alumni of the British Invasion are superannuated, having reached seventy.  As Musos we will now hold our collective breath as the inevitable other shoes drop. They may be our heroes, but they are not immortal, and they aint gettin’ any younger. But by any standard this November-January has been remarkable.
Rock biographer Stephen Davis quoted poet Robert Graves for the title of his millennial entry: Old Gods Almost Dead.
    Fifteen years later The Greatest Rocknroll Band In The World live on. Keith Richards personifies the last act of defiance, having been number one on the most likely to die list for over forty years. The tired joke about the survival of Keef and cockroaches may have been expanded to include "we are Motorhead and we play rocknroll"'s Lemmy Kilmister, who in 1990's "Im So Bad Baby I Don’t Care" declared he was "older than the Rolling Stones" (well, Ron Wood at least). While The Human Riff sniffed his last of the powder a decade ago after bruising his brain falling like an old bag of bones from a coconut tree, Lemmy's lifestyle concession, after refusing to abide diabetes, was switching from whisky colas to vodka and oj and limiting the cigarettes after a heart attack a couple years ago. We have lived with the coolest rock stars in the world so long we tend to take them for granted, so it was a shock when the iconic front man followed his ex bandmate, Philthy Taylor, to rocknroll heaven a month after the drummer succumbed to liver disease, a loss I lamented in this space as one of my last hearticles before my annual hibernal. Lemmy was the only rival to Richards as the definition of cool, and may have been even more widely respected. As Dave Grohl acidly observed in the 2009 rocumentary of the man, while Richards lived the lazy limo lifestyle of the rich and famous Lemmy was still making- and touring- a consistent new album every other year. Until death. While younger bands with lesser legacies to exploit than Motorhead's took the pathetic nostalgia trip to artistic insignificance and obsolescence. So chop that up and snort it, has been. And in the couple months a year he wasn't fronting the same basic metal/punk (OK, Lem: rocknroll) trio he was as accessible as any other punter sitting at the bar playing the poker machine.
    Lit'l Philt'y was preceded in death by a couple of days by New Orleans musical factotem Allen Toussaint, whose epitaph appeared, like Taylor's, here post fact. Which brings us to number four.
    Bowie was a household name to the extent that he was referred to with one word, like Miles, or Morrissey. Or for that matter Lemmy. By now little is left to be written by any scribe, let alone Stone, but it should be mentioned that David Jones was the single most influential artist in the history of music, good band wise. And I can prove that empirically. Mr Changes' Thin White Duke era was my personal fave: 1975's Station To Station and 1976's Low - conceptually krautrock w/rnb rhythm. But that's just me.
    The media circus that came to town in January pitched the biggest tent seen since  Bowie's partner in "Fame," John Lennon in 1980, and adumbrated recognition of the last of the fallen five. Another bassist, Scotsman Jimmy Bain, was lost to lung cancer at 68. Bain was a well respected man about town by the in-the-know muso to the extent that in 1983 alone he was chosen by Ronnie James Dio for his first solo band, and by Scorpions over their own bassist of seven albums and a decade to demo breakthrough album Love At First Sting. The Black Knight himself, Ritchie Blackmore, featured Jimmy on the second and greatest Rainbow record, Rising, in 1976. In between days the great Scot fronted his own good band, Wild Horses, alongside Thin Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson, co writer of the 1980 debut and co producer of 1981's Stand Your Ground. While Dio would have preferred to take credit, Bain wrote the music to several seminal songs on the first three albums and cowrote half of the fourth, Dream Evil (the good Dio albums): "Stand Up And Shout"/"Straight Through The Heart" (1983), "Always A Mystery" (The Last In Line, 1984), "Hungry For Heaven"/"Like The Beat Of A Heart" (Sacred Heart, 1985).
    That Dead Pool list was made infamous by the Dirty Harry film of 1988 ("maybe I'll make my own...and put you on it!") and featured a cameo by an ascendant GunsnRoses. Ironically, Slash may well have appeared on that paper at the time, and Duff would have figured prominently had he not put the plug in the jug after his pancreas exploded in May 1994. And another member of the dubious club fulfilled the prophecy in early December. As a pop figure, Scott Weiland received extensive coverage of his fatal overdose. To compare his relative youth to an over 60 collective would not be in the interest of classy journalism. Nor shall I endeavor to attempt a comprehensive encomium, as much has been written. In the interest of critical analysis I offer this: in the same paragraph as the GnR reference, it's arguable that Velvet Revolver amounted to less than the sum of its parts. Stone Temple Pilots were useless in Weiland's absence; his 1997 solo album was by contrast one of the best heroin albums ever made by a single artist.
    By the middle of winter I was turning on my tablet every morning with accompanying apprehension: who's next? Strictly chronologically, it should be Bill Wyman, who as the jurassic Stone retired from the group after Steel Wheels and is the eldest (79) of the sixties rockers. Ginger Baker has been sidelined by a heart issue, all the more reason the appreciation Beware Of Mr Baker (2012) is mandatory viewing.  As to the first wave, Chuck Berry, who Keef would agree is the first and foremost founding father of rocknroll, the topper most of the poppermost as The Beatles would have him, will be 90; Little Richard, arguably the next best thing from the fifties, is 83.
    But to speculate is tasteless and gauche. Let’s dig them while we got them. Mark your calendars and spin them thusly: Woody, 69 June 1; Brian Wilson, 74 June 20; Ginger Baker, 77 August 19; Chuck October 18; Bill October 24; Little Richard December 5; Keith Richard, 73 December 18.
    Honourable mention: Lemmy 71; Jimmy Buffett 70; Shane Macgowan (seemingly similarly indestructible at) 59.
    All at Christmas!
«Go back to the previous page.
Calendar Of Events
< July `20 >