The List Gets Longer: Those We Have Lost In 2020, Part 2

In my first year of blogging we lost many icons from the world of music. My very first post in 2016 was in effect a tribute to David Bowie who had died the previous day. Later in the year we lost Prince, and then worst of all for me, there came the shock news of the death of George Michael on Christmas Day.

Of course it’s inevitable that the people I’ve admired from the world of entertainment throughout my life will now be of advanced years. We have to expect seeing the names of people we grew up watching in the obituary columns, but it still comes as a shock. This year there has been a steady stream of tributes to those we have lost, and as I’ve only written about a few of them, I’m going to try and make it up to them now. Working backwards, I’ll start with this chap, who sadly passed away at the weekend.

Des O’Connor

Des with Morecambe and Wise

The butt of many a Morecambe and Wise joke, but from all accounts a thoroughly nice man who had a long and varied career. I was shocked that he was aged 88 when he died as he was still appearing on stage in the West End in 2017. He had four singles that made it to the UK Top 10 and his song I Pretend sold 16 million copies.

Geoffrey Palmer

For me, best remembered as Ria’s husband Ben in Butterflies. Wonderful theme song written by Dolly Parton. We bumped into him in a restaurant just off the A9 not that many years ago – Must have been on his holidays. Weird seeing people from TV in a different context.

Sean Connery – Already written about here.

“He was a wonderful person, a true gentleman and we will be forever connected by Bond.” – Shirley Bassey

Bobby Ball

The Cannon and Ball Saturday night TV shows were watched by millions. Those red braces! – “Rock on Tommy”

Johnny Nash

As a youngster I was amused by the fact two artists had almost the same name, with only one letter of difference – The other of course was Johnny Cash. His was a very different style of music though.

“R.I.P to the reggae legend Johnny Nash. One of the artists who made me fall in love with lovers rock and reggae music in the early 70s. So many amazing tunes and a voice like silk. I have never really known a time without lovers rock and reggae music. He was one of the greatest.” – Boy George

“Another legend gone. R.I.P Johnny Nash.” – UB40

Eddie Van Halen

A talented guitarist, always smiling and loved by his family – “He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift. My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss.” – Wolf Van Halen

Diana Rigg

The only girl Bond ever married. Also played Emma Peel in The Avengers – A real role model for 1960s girls. Recently appeared in Game of Thrones. The consummate actress.

Emma Peel with Steed

“I’m so sad to hear of the death of Diana Rigg. She undoubtedly raised my acting game when we made On Her Majesty’s Secret Service together in 1968-9. I remember the press conference at the Dorchester in London, knowing she was going to play my wife. We had fun together on the set of the movie in Switzerland and Portugal. Her depth of experience really helped me. We were good friends on set. Much was made of our supposed differences but that was the Press looking for a news story. I was sorry to have lost my wife in the film at the end. The death of Contessa Teresa di Vincenzo Draco created a memorable cinema moment over 50 years ago. As my new bride, Tracy Bond, I wept for her loss. Now, upon hearing of Dame Diana’s death, I weep again. My deepest condolences for her family.” – George Lazenby

Helen Reddy – Already written about here.

She was born in Melbourne, Australia to a showbusiness family but after winning a trip to New York in a talent contest in 1966, she decided to relocate there. After getting a record contract in 1971, she went on to have many hits in the US including three which reached the No. 1 spot – I Am WomanDelta Dawn and the very weird but strangely compellingAngie Baby.

Ronald Bell of Kool & the Gang

Robert (aka Kool) Bell and his brother Ronald founded a band in New Jersey back in the 1960s. They experimented with a variety of styles but their most successful period was in the late ’70s/early ’80s, when their mainstream dance-oriented records became anthems.

Back in the 1980s, when I was a bit of a flibbertigibbet, there were lots of mid-week nights out with workmates. In some of the city nightspots you even got in free if you were female, and over 25. It was quite unglamorously called ‘Grab a Granny Night’. (I don’t think I’ll tell DD as she’s just hit the quarter century.) The record of choice at these venues was often Ladies’ Night by Kool & the Gang. Their other big hits were Celebration and Get Down on It.

Sending our Prayers and deepest condolences to Kool and family from the Sister Sledge family.”

Ben Cross

Ben Cross with Sir Ian Holm who also passed away this year

One of my favourite films of all time is Chariots of Fire. This 1981 drama starring Ben Cross and Ian Charleson was based on the true story of two British athletes who took part in the 1924 Olympics. One of the few films I watched at the cinema, then remained in my seat to watch a second time. Couldn’t be done nowadays, but back then, once you’d paid for your ticket you could stay as long as you liked. The music for the title sequence was written by Vangelis. Rousing stuff although often parodied, as it was by Rowan Atkinson for the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Naya Rivera

I have mentioned the TV show Glee around here before as DD was a great fan during her teenage years and we regularly watched it as a family. Some great performances from the cast over the years but one of the cheerleaders, played by Naya Rivera, died in tragic circumstances earlier this year. This is the third main character we have now lost, which is a truly awful statistic.

“She inspired and uplifted people without even trying. Being close to her was both a badge of honor and a suit of armor. Naya was truly one of a kind, and she always will be.” – Chris Colfer

This song a bit of an homage to someone else we lost this year (see below).

Charlie Daniels

“The country music flag is flying at half mast today. RIP Charlie Daniels.” – Luke Combs

“He was one of the nicest and kindest people I have ever met. Thanks for the musical legacy you left all of us. We will miss you Mr. Charlie!” – Jason Aldean

I only really know one song by Charlie Daniels, but as we say here in Scotland, it’s a belter.

Ennio Morricone

Who hasn’t attempted to recreate the theme to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, through voice alone? Go on, give it a try. One of the best known film themes of all time.

“Where to even begin with iconic composer Ennio Morricone? He could make an average movie into a must see, a good movie into art, and a great movie into legend. He hasn’t been off my stereo my entire life. What a legacy of work he leaves behind. RIP.” – Edgar Wright

Dame Vera Lynn

Born too late to really appreciate this tune, but there is no doubt Vera Lynn did her bit for the war effort with bells on. She had a long life, yet will probably always be best remembered for this song.

The family are deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers” – Dame Vera’s family

Ricky Valance

Is it just me or does anyone else confuse Ricky Valance with Ritchie Valens?

Ricky had a No. 1 hit in 1960 with the teenage tragedy song (it’s a genre) Tell Laura I Love Her. What can I say, a teenage boy, a teenage girl, a stock car race, a prize, a ring. Listen to the song and find out how it ends, although I’m pretty sure you can guess.

“Another sad loss in my ever decreasing circle of friends. Ricky Valance had one of the most iconic 1960s hits of all time, ‘Tell Laura I love her’. My condolences go to his lovely wife, Evelyn and family.” – Jess Conrad

Bonnie Pointer

“Our family is devastated. On behalf of my siblings and I, and the entire Pointer family, we ask for your prayers at this time.” – Anita Pointer

I had a cassette tape (acquired by nefarious means) of the album this track was from. Played often. One of my favourites of the year

Steve Priest of the Sweet – Already written about here.

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce Steve Priest, founding member of The Sweet, passed away. He is survived by his wife, Maureen, three daughters, Lisa, Danielle & Maggie and 3 grandchildren, Jordan, Jade & Hazel.” – The Sweet

Little Richard – Already written about here.

“I’m very sorry to hear about Little Richard. He was there at the beginning and showed us all how to rock and roll. He was a such a great talent and will be missed. Little Richard’s music will last forever.” – Brian Wilson

Millie Small

“We have lost Millie Small, the first Jamaican artist to achieve international pop chart success in countless countries with ‘My Boy Lollipop’. The song was so popular that it made her a household name in the UK in 1964 and blazed the way for the recognition of Ska music.” – David Rodigan

Florian Scheider

“I just heard the very sad news that Florian Schneider, the co-founder of one of my favourite bands, Kraftwerk, has died.When I first heard their song Autobahn, I was struck by how radically different it sounded from everything else on the radio. It became a surprise hit in the UK and sparked my lifelong admiration for their innovation and creativity.Kraftwerk’s influence on contemporary music is deeply woven into the fabric of our pop culture. Their albums Trans-Europe Express and The Man Machine will forever remain classics of the genre they invented.Thanks for the music, dark humour and inspiration. Long live Kraftwerk!” – Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran

Tim Brooke-Taylor

The Goodies was must watch telly when I was a teen and they ended up in the charts several times in the 1970s, often appearing on TOTP. Ridiculous songs but we probably discussed them on the way to school on a Friday morning. (Tim was the blond one.)

“I was obsessed with ‘The Goodies’ as a child, the first comedy show I really loved. I queued up to get the Goodies’ autographs as a grown-up, and got to meet Tim Brooke-Taylor more recently at a party. I was in total awe, but he was so kind and generous. It is so sad he is gone.” – David Walliams

John Prine – Already written about here.

“Words can’t even come close. I’m crushed by the loss of my dear friend, John. My heart and love go out to Fiona and all the family. For all of us whose hearts are breaking, we will keep singing his songs and holding him near.” – Bonnie Raitt

Honor Blackman

Another Lady Avenger and Bond Girl, who also recorded the song Kinky Boots with Patrick MacNee. The song was not initially a hit, but was re-released in 1990 and reached the UK Top Ten after being promoted by breakfast DJ, Simon Mayo. It’s been featured around here before.

“Today we mark the passing of a film icon, Honor Blackman who shall forever be remembered as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. She was an extraordinary talent and a beloved member of the Bond family. Our thoughts are with her family at this time.” – Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli

Bill Withers – Already written about here.

“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved, devoted husband and father. A solitary man with a heart driven to connect to the world at large, with his poetry and music, he spoke honestly to people and connected them to each other. As private a life as he lived close to intimate family and friends, his music forever belongs to the world. In this difficult time, we pray his music offers comfort and entertainment as fans hold tight to loved ones.” – Family statement

His best known song performed by the cast of Glee above.

Kenny Rogers – Already written about here.

“You never know how much you love somebody until they’re gone. I’ve had so many wonderful years and wonderful times with my friend Kenny, but above all the music and the success, I loved him as a wonderful man and a true friend.” – Dolly Parton

Roy Hudd

Another stalwart of light entertainment. He championed Music Hall and became an authority, writing several books and performing as his hero Max Miller.

“We are sad to announce the passing of the much-loved and amazingly talented Roy Hudd OBE. After a short illness, Roy passed away peacefully on the afternoon of Sunday the 15th of March, with his wife Debbie at his side.” – Agent for Roy Hudd

Caroline Flack – Already written about here.

“Today my friend slow motion walked into heaven. I will miss her always. Thank you for everything.” – Iain Stirling

Kirk Douglas

He was 103 years old, but this year we lost Spartacus (iconic moment at 1:05).

“To the world, he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years, a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard for all of us to aspire to.” – Michael Douglas

Terry Jones

Another Python leaves us.

“He was far more than one of the funniest writer-performers of his generation, he was the complete Renaissance comedian – writer, director, presenter, historian, brilliant children’s author, and the warmest, most wonderful company you could wish to have.” – Sir Michael Palin

So many names there, and I kind of ran out of steam at the end, but hope I’ve mentioned some of the entertainers you’ve also admired over the years. It’s still only mid November, so there will no doubt be more to add to the list, but hopefully not too many.

Thanks to the Digital Spy website for the quotes.

Until next time….

The Sad Loss of Sean Connery and Bond Themes, Which Is Your Favourite?

Television news is very much focused on one topic at the moment, but last Saturday we found out that Sean Connery had passed away in his sleep, and it was a big story. Sean was born in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh in 1930, and despite coming from humble origins he often found himself voted ‘The Greatest Living Scot’ or ‘Scotland’s Greatest Living National Treasure’. Quite something for someone who started life as a milkman.

The joke of course is that Sean Connery always did an excellent job of playing Sean Connery, in every film role, but we didn’t care. Whether he was a Spaniard in Highlander, an Irishman in The Untouchables or indeed the debonair James Bond, he always had the same Scottish accent, but somehow it just worked.

RIP Sean Connery

Back in the early days of this blog I once spent an entire Sunday afternoon visiting all the theme songs from over 50 years of Bond films, and put together my own list, ranked by personal preference. Now seems to be the right time to revisit that list. As I said back then, there is mixed opinion on which is the best theme song ever, but at the time my winner was You Only Live Twice by Nancy Sinatra from the 1967 film of the same name. Over the years Nancy has often appeared on these pages, and she’s my girl crush, so I’m certainly not going to depose her now.

You Only Live Twice by Nancy Sinatra:

The song has a really beautiful intro which Robbie Williams cleverly used for his recording of Millennium in 1998. In the video for Millennium, Robbie, dressed in a tuxedo, parodies James Bond and references many of the early Sean Connery films. Turned out to be a great way to get back on top after his departure from Take That.

But back to my list, Nancy was up there at the top, with Paul McCartney & Wings coming a close second. The theme from Moonraker was down at the very bottom for me at the time (also one of the worst films in the franchise). The rest of the list goes as follows:

All Bond Theme Songs – Personal Ranking (feel free to disagree)

1. You Only Live Twice – 1967 – Nancy Sinatra
2. Live and Let Die – 1973 – Paul McCartney & Wings
3. For Your Eyes Only – 1981 – Sheena Easton
4. Nobody Does It Better – 1977 – Carly Simon
5. The Living Daylights – 1987 – A-ha
6. The World Is Not Enough – 1999 – Garbage
7. From Russia with Love – 1963 – Matt Monro
8. Goldfinger – 1964 – Shirley Bassey
9. Skyfall – 2012 – Adele
10.We Have All the Time in the World – 1969 – Louis Armstrong
11.Diamonds Are Forever – 1971 – Shirley Bassey
12.All Time High – 1983 – Rita Coolidge
13.Licence to Kill – 1989 – Gladys Knight
14.A View to a Kill – 1985 – Duran Duran
15.Thunderball – 1965 – Tom Jones
16.GoldenEye – 1995 – Tina Turner
17.Tomorrow Never Dies – 1997 – Sheryl Crow
18.Writing’s on the Wall – 2015 – Sam Smith
19.Die Another Day – 2002 – Madonna
20.The Man with the Golden Gun – 1974 – Lulu
21.Another Way To Die – 2008 – Jack White & Alicia Keys
22.You Know My Name – 2006 – Chris Cornell
23.Moonraker – 1979 – Shirley Bassey

I still think the I still think the Golden Age of Bond films was the Sean Connery era or perhaps it’s just that I am reminded of watching them on television as a child. By the early ’70s they were a staple on high days and holidays and because the world was a much bigger place then, with foreign travel something very few of us experienced, it was worth watching them for the glamorous locations alone. Had another actor played the role of James Bond in those early films, they may well not have been as successful, so a franchise still going strong today, all started with the milkman from Edinburgh.

Now that I’ve done all the hard work, what’s your favourite Bond theme? I’d love to hear from you, and as you know by now, I always reply.

Until next time…, RIP Sean Connery.

You Only Live Twice Lyrics
(Song by Leslie Bricusse/John Barry)

You only live twice or so it seems
One life for yourself and one for your dreams
You drift through the years and life seems tame
Till one dream appears and love is it’s name

And love is a stranger who’ll beckon you on
Don’t think of the danger or the stranger is gone

This dream is for you, so pay the price
Make one dream come true, you only live twice

The Sweet, ‘Blockbuster’ and A Domain Name That Can Never Be Mentioned!

I’ve only had to ‘take down’ one post since starting this blog and sadly it was one I was quite proud of. As it turns out, the domain name for this place is one quite a few other parties would like to get their hands on, as it reflects the name of their product or business. Back in 2016 I had also gone down that route before deciding it all sounded a bit too Dr Who-ish so changed tack. The post that caused objection used the domain name as a title, as it was going to kickstart a new series where I journeyed back in time via a magical jukebox (yes, an idea a 10-year-old might have come up with in retrospect, but I went there). The first spin of the dial, using a random generator no less, took me back to this date:

Year – 1973
Month – 2, i.e. February
Date – 14 (St Valentine’s Day!)

This year could not have been better for me, as it was the year I became a teenager, and also the year I became obsessed with pop music and chart rundowns (already written about here). Referring to the UK Singles Chart from the 14th Feb 1973, the act at the No. 1 spot was this one, glam-rock band the Sweet with their only chart-topper, Blockbuster.

Blockbuster by Sweet:

Since first writing that post (now trashed), it’s become apparent there was much love for the band Sweet back in the day and they are often mentioned in the various blogs I visit. Mr Medd over at Are We There Yet? has a whole category dedicated to them. It still amazes me, watching footage of the band perform, how they somehow manage to look macho whilst wearing so much gold lamé and glitter. Steve Priest, the band’s bassist, sadly died in June of this year aged only 72. He was the one who always got the spoken word lines in any song:

‘We just haven’t got a clue what to do

It was also Steve who wore the most outrageous outfits and unlike the other members of the band, was always ‘plastered in makeup’ (his words). He got quite miffed when it was cited Bowie set the bar when it came to glam costumes, because he was the first to wear hot pants on TOTP. It was hot water he got himself into however when he decided to sport a German helmet on the 1973 Christmas edition of the aforementioned show. Brian Connolly (he of the long blond, not ‘long black hair’) was a great singer, but it was Steve who brought personality to the band. Unlike Bowie he was not an innovator, or an artist, he was a bloke who wanted to be in a band and had a bloody good time doing it.

The many faces of Steve Priest

There are many tributes I still have to write for people from the world of music who have died this year, but we’ve all been pre-occupied with other life-changing stuff, so I’m a bit behind. Watching this footage of the Sweet from 1973 reminds me as ever of simpler times. There were still only three channels on telly and you all sat around watching the same shows as a family. We had no central heating when I was growing up (not that we were poor, it just wasn’t a thing yet), so in the month of February there was no chance of me being anywhere else except in front of our two bar electric fire (complete with feature faux fireplace) watching the box with my parents. With no social media to mess with your head, and the concept of helicopter parenting not having been invented yet, life was indeed ‘sweet’.

I have written about the Sweet around here before when I shoe-horned Little Willy and Hell Raiser into posts, so won’t go there again. I will end with another clip however, this time of the band performing Teenage Rampage from 1974, where yet again Steve makes his own unique contribution. Sweet were incredibly successful during those post-bubblegum pop, pre-hard rock years, but the lifestyle took its toll and now only Andy Scott of the classic line-up is still with us. I accidentally caught myself watching an interview with Brian ahead of his death in 1997, but wished I hadn’t gone there. Best to remember your teen idols as they were I think.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – Well I think I’ve gotten away with it this time and not mentioned the offending term that brought about the threat of legal action. I’ve still only mentioned one of the songs however that was written about in that original ‘magical jukebox’ journey, so hopefully I’ll be able to reinstate the others at some point, by stealth.

I wonder if anyone else has had a sticky situation where they’ve had a ‘take down notice’ or been threatened with legal action? I know that Feargal Sharkey‘s name used to strike fear (no pun intended) into many a music blogger’s heart, but maybe those days have gone. I’d love to hear from you, and as you know by now, I always reply.

Until next time….

Blockbuster Lyrics
(Song by Mike Chapman/Nicky Chinn)

Ahhh, Ahh Ahhh

You better beware, you better take care
You better watch out if you’ve got long black hair
He’ll come from behind, you’ll go out of your mind
You better not go, you never know what you’ll find

Ahh Ahh, Ahh Ahhh

Can’t look into his eyes, you’ll be surprised
If don’t know what going on behind his disguse
Nobody knows where Buster goes
He’ll steal your woman out from under your nose

Does anyone know the way, did we hear someone say
(We just haven’t got a clue what to do)
Does anyone know the way, there’s got to be a way
To Blockbuster

The cops are out, they’re running about
Don’t know if they’ll ever be able to blockbuster out
He’s gotta be caught, he’s gotta be taught
‘Cause he is more evil then anyone here ever thought

Does anybody know the way, did we hear someone say
(We just haven’t got a aho)
Does anybody know the way, there’s got to be a way
To Blockbuster

Does anybody know the way, did we hear someone say
(We just haven’t got a clue what to do)
Does anybody know the way, there’s got to be a way
To Blockbuster

Ahh Ahh, Ahh Ahh
Ahh Ahh, Ahh Ahh

Buster buster blockbuster
Buster buster blockbuster
Buster buster blockbuster
Buster buster blockbuster
Buster buster blockbuster
Buster buster blockbuster

‘Angie Baby’, Living In A World Of Make-Belief – RIP Helen Reddy

I was saddened to hear of the death of Helen Reddy last week. I can’t pretend to have ever been a avid fan, but I seem to know a fair few of her songs pretty well, despite her only having had one chart entry here in the UK. I think she was one of those artists who appealed to a wide audience, so was probably a regular guest on light entertainment shows back in the 1970s.

I had always thought she was American, but it seems not. She was born in Melbourne, Australia to a showbusiness family but after winning a trip to New York in a talent contest in 1966, she decided to relocate there. After getting a record contract in 1971, she went on to have many hits in the US including three which reached the No. 1 spot – I Am Woman, Delta Dawn and today’s featured song, Angie Baby.

Angie Baby by Helen Reddy:

This song was the only one that made it into the UK Singles Chart, back in 1975, and despite coming from the ‘Easy Listening’ camp, it really isn’t an easy listen at all. As each verse goes by, the story becomes weirder and weirder. Although we start off commiserating with the girl in the song, who seems to have been one of life’s loners, by the end of it we have gone on a bit of a fantasy trip with her and the listener is left to decide what happens to the boy in the song for themselves. Alan O’Day, the song’s writer, meant for that to happen.

Looking back at it all these years later, it strikes me how much has changed. First of all, it’s clearly a song about a girl living with some kind of mental illness, and if written today, the lyrics just wouldn’t contain the same kind of language at all. ‘You’re a little touched you know, Angie baby.’

Also, although many young people are spending far too much time in their rooms at the moment because of the pandemic, if our house is anything to go by, they don’t seem to spend too much time listening to ‘the rock and roll radio’. The kind of radio I grew up with just doesn’t exist any more for young people, which makes me sad, as it certainly did offer up a level of companionship for the teenage me. I don’t remember ever reducing a boy to a soundwave however, which is one of the interpretations of the final verse. Who would it have been I wonder if I had? A teen idol from the days before we discovered ‘real boys’ probably, David Cassidy or Donny Osmond, and it would all have been quite chaste.

It wasn’t until I sat down to write this post that I discovered it was Helen Reddy who sang the song Candle On The Water from the Disney film Pete’s Dragon. This is a lesser-known film from that stable and one I can’t remember ever having watched. The song did however feature on a CD of Disney songs we had when DD was small, and as it was unfamiliar to me compared with the other more obvious inclusions on that disc, it was always the one I warmed to most when played on long car journeys. Thank you Helen for a beautiful song.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I’ve been trying to write this post since last week but have sadly been suffering from blogger’s block. Life had been getting back to some semblance of normality for a while, but we are most definitely going backwards again, and it does drag you down.

I know I’m not alone in this, but the fact I’ve not had a single night away from home all year, is really starting to get me down too. We’ve hung on in the hope work would come in for Mr WIAA, and I might get guests for the holiday hideaway, but not much going on at all at the moment. Thank goodness for my college course where I meet virtually with my classmates once a week. Perhaps it’s because I see too much of Angie in all of us at the moment that I’ve found it hard to revisit the song and write about it – A bit too close to home and a bit of an anthem for our times, except with Netflix substituted for ‘the rock and roll radio’. If I’m struggling, I can only imagine how awful it must be for young people right now.

Until next time….

Angie Baby Lyrics
(Song by Alan O’Day)

You live your life in the songs you hear
On the rock and roll radio
And when a young girl doesn’t have any friends
That’s a really nice place to go
Folks hoping you’d turn out cool
But they had to take you out of school
You’re a little touched you know, Angie baby

Lovers appear in your room each night
And they whirl you across the floor
But they always seem to fade away
When your daddy taps on your door
Angie girl, are you all right
Tell the radio good-night
All alone once more, Angie baby

Angie baby, you’re a special lady
Living in a world of make-believe
Well, maybe

Stopping at her house is a neighbor boy
With evil on his mind
‘Cause he’s been peeking in Angie’s room
At night through the window blind
I see your folks have gone away
Would you dance with me today?
I’ll show you how to have a good time, Angie baby

When he walks in the room, he feels confused
Like he’s walked into a play
And the music’s so loud it spins him around
‘Til his soul has lost its way
And as she turns the volume down
He’s getting smaller with the sound
It seems to pull him off the ground
Toward the radio he’s bound
Never to be found

The headlines read that a boy disappeared
And everyone thinks he died
Except a crazy girl with a secret lover who
Keeps her satisfied
It’s so nice to be insane
No one asks you to explain
Radio by your side, Angie baby

Angie baby, you’re a special lady
Living in a world of make-believe
Well, maybe

Well, maybe (Angie baby, Angie baby)
Well, maybe (Angie baby, Angie baby)
(Angie baby, Angie baby, Angie baby, Angie baby)


As this was a rather downbeat post, here’s a picture to bring it back up again, of Peanut, the new addition to our family. We’ve not had a hamster in the house for 12 years so I’d forgotten what a racket they make on their wheel – all through the night – but he seems to have settled in well. Of course you might suspect I’ve gone a bit stir-crazy, and converted Mr WIAA into a hamster via a radio soundwave, but no, that would just be plain weird.

Well, maybe

Peanut the hamster

Those We Have Lost in 2020 – RIP Kenny, Bill, John and Richard

Because this year has been one like no other, my blogging has changed tack and I have not been keeping up with the sad roll call of people we have lost from the world of music. It is almost inevitable that many of them would have been written about here before, as most were elder statesmen of their particular genres, but time to pay special tribute I think.

My very first post of this year led me back to the chart music of 1970, and at the top spot was Mr Kenny Rogers with his excellent story song Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town. I am not however really that familiar with the First Edition era of Kenny’s career. The Kenny I am more familiar with was his late ’70s persona which gave us the hits Lucille, The Gambler and Coward of the County. Like Ruby these were all very much story songs and their lyrics have given us some great lines which are often quoted. After the news of his death on March the 20th, just ahead of all the upheaval and distress caused by the pandemic, there were many who noted that Kenny had followed the advice within his signature song:

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em

Ten days after the death of Kenny Rogers, news came through that we had also lost Bill Withers. Last summer, after a particularly lovely day out I shared many pictures in a blog post, so the obvious accompanying song choice was Bill’s 1977 song Lovely Day. To be honest I hadn’t realised until that point just how respected Bill had been in the music world, having won three Grammy Awards and been nominated for six more. His life was even the subject of a 2009 documentary film called Still Bill. Quite something considering he worked as a professional musician for just 15 years, from 1970 to 1985, after which he moved on to other occupations.

Bill Withers, 1938-2020

My Bill song choice is going to have to be this one however, Ain’t No Sunshine. They’re not for everyone I know, but I am a bit of a fan of Richard Curtis movies, and the song certainly fitted a particularly poignant scene in the film Notting Hill very well – Poor old lovelorn Hugh Grant straddles all four seasons whilst he walks through the market with Bill’s song playing the background [spoiler alert: all turns out well in the end].

Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers:

A week after the death of Bill, we heard of the sad loss of John Prine. John was someone I only discovered since starting this blog, and when I accidentally came across his song When I Get To Heaven one evening when on my way to visit my mum in hospital, I got a bit emotional, all because of these lines of lyric:

And then I’m gonna go find my mom and dad, and good old brother Doug
Well I bet him and cousin Jackie are still cuttin’ up a rug
I wanna see all my mama’s sisters, ’cause that’s where all the love starts
I miss ’em all like crazy, bless their little hearts

Yes, there was nothing more I wanted than to go find my dad who had died 15 years earlier, and ask for his advice on decisions that were going to have to be made. Listening to the song, even us non-believers are almost prepared to be converted, as there is a definite party atmosphere going on. John Prine had apparently been treated for cancer twice, and it was after his second bout that he wrote the song about some of the things he had to give up following his illness. Here is a quote: “I wrote that song because I figured there’s no cancer in heaven. So when I get up there, I’m going to have a cocktail and a cigarette that’s 9 miles long. That’s my idea of what heaven is like.

I hope John is up there right now, sitting with Kenny and Bill, enjoying that cocktail and extremely long cigarette!

When I Get To Heaven by John Prine:

Last but most definitely not least, on the 9th May we lost the artist known best to us as Little Richard. I can’t pretend to know that much about Mr Penniman, as he was a bit before my time, but I do know he was an influential figure in popular music, often nicknamed The Innovator, The Originator, or The Architect of Rock and Roll. His best known work dates back to the mid-1950s, when his charismatic showmanship, dynamic music and frenetic piano playing laid the foundation for rock and roll. He influenced numerous singers and musicians across musical genres from rock to hip hop and in a line-up he would have been easily recognisable because of his pompadour hairstyle.

Tutti Frutti became an instant first hit for him in 1955 but as we started off with Kenny Rogers, and mentioned his song Lucille, I think I’ll come full circle and end with Little Richard’s song of the same name. Lucille became a big hit for him in 1957 but he then abandoned rock and roll for born again Christianity.  When he was persuaded to tour Europe in 1962, the Beatles opened for him and Richard even advised them on how to perform his songs. He is cited as one of the first crossover black artists, and his music and concerts broke down barriers, drawing blacks and whites together despite attempts to sustain segregation. How sad therefore to see what is going on right now as I type, 60 years on.

Until next time, RIP Kenny, Bill, John and Richard, you will not be forgotten.

When I Get To Heaven Lyrics
(Song by John Prine)

When I get to heaven, I’m gonna shake God’s hand
Thank him for more blessings than one man can stand
Then I’m gonna get a guitar and start a rock-n-roll band
Check into a swell hotel, ain’t the afterlife grand?
And then I’m gonna get a cocktail: vodka and ginger ale
Yeah, I’m gonna smoke a cigarette that’s nine miles long
I’m gonna kiss that pretty girl on the tilt-a-whirl
‘Cause this old man is goin’ to town

Then as God as my witness, I’m gettin’ back into show business
I’m gonna open up a nightclub called “The Tree of Forgiveness”
And forgive everybody ever done me any harm
Well, I might even invite a few choice critics, those syph’litic parasitics
Buy ’em a pint of Smithwick’s and smother ’em with my charm

‘Cause then I’m gonna get a cocktail: vodka and ginger ale
Yeah I’m gonna smoke a cigarette that’s nine miles long
I’m gonna kiss that pretty girl on the tilt-a-whirl
Yeah this old man is goin’ to town

Yeah when I get to heaven, I’m gonna take that wristwatch off my arm
What are you gonna do with time after you’ve bought the farm?
And then I’m gonna go find my mom and dad, and good old brother Doug
Well I bet him and cousin Jackie are still cuttin’ up a rug
I wanna see all my mama’s sisters, ’cause that’s where all the love starts
I miss ’em all like crazy, bless their little hearts
And I always will remember these words my daddy said
He said, “Buddy, when you’re dead, you’re a dead pecker-head”
I hope to prove him wrong… that is, when I get to heaven

‘Cause I’m gonna have a cocktail: vodka and ginger ale

Yeah I’m gonna smoke a cigarette that’s nine miles long
I’m gonna kiss that pretty girl on the tilt-a-whirl
Yeah this old man is goin’ to town

Yeah this old man is goin’ to town

A Memorial Bench, Another Sad Loss and “Try A Little Kindness”

Many regulars to this place will remember the series of posts I published at the end of last year following the tragic death of my friend’s daughter. She was only 18, but after a tough few months, on the 1st November she took her own life. Last week, her mum sent me a picture of the rainbow-coloured bench they have been allowed to place next to her grave. A tiny bit of comfort for those many friends and relatives who will visit her resting place.


At the time I suggested her death certificate should have stated Death by Social Media, as she had been the victim of the most awful cyber-bullying over the years. Hard for those of us of a certain age to comprehend I know, but something that is very real in today’s world. Her family therefore decided to have the words “Be Kind Always” inscribed on the bench, as a kind of long-lasting legacy.

Holly (2)

So, this was only last Friday. On Saturday afternoon, news broke that one of our best-loved television presenters had been found dead in her home, having taken her own life. Not everyone will have been familiar with Caroline Flack, but she seems to have been responsible for getting the younger generation back in love with terrestrial telly again, hosting shows that drew in large viewing figures. Sadly, her professional and personal life had hit a rocky patch of late, but rather than being left to nurse her wounds and rebuild her confidence in private, she became an absolute magnet for social media trolls, and was hounded relentlessly by the press. Her story was apparently of public interest, but was it really? She was obviously a very vulnerable young woman for whom this level of abuse was unsustainable.

Moving tributes have been pouring in from fellow celebrities, and even from our politicians. After losing her daughter at the end of last year, my friend wanted to do something to highlight the potentially tragic consequences of cyber-bullying. Tough however to get the message out to a wider audience. Now, with a high profile victim such as Caroline, the message really is starting to get out there, and change will have to come.

One politician, Lisa Nandy, has come out saying social media companies cannot be left to police themselves, suggesting the current situation is like the Wild West. “I worry about the approaches that say we allow the social media companies to regulate themselves,” she said. “In no other area of life would we allow private companies to self-police. We ought to make sure the state has a system of regulation and support around that.”

MP Kate Osamor, who appeared in the press herself for a threatening confrontation with journalists who went to her home after her son was convicted of drug offences, wrote: “The trolling & abuse she suffered at the hands of the media was relentless. Being kind is so underrated. RIP Caroline Flack.”

Since Saturday, the #BeKind hashtag has been appearing everywhere. Let’s hope there is a sea change in behaviour going forward, but you know what, I’m not holding my breath. I started to look for songs about being kind for this post, but not as easy as you would think. I did however find this oldie from 1969 recorded by Glen Campbell, who has often popped up around here. Try A Little Kindness was written by Curt Sapaugh & Bobby Austin and, I think, is just the kind of thing I want to listen to at the moment.

Try A Little Kindness by Glen Campbell:

So, “What’s It All About?” – I have been really lucky around here in that I’ve never had to suffer any unpleasantness. Of course the WordPress people do a pretty good job of filtering out spam, but my experience has been a really positive one. Sadly, if you are in the public eye, or indeed a teenager of today, this will not be the case. I really hope people start being kinder, but failing that, I hope regulation of some sort will be forced upon the social media companies. My friend won’t get her daughter back, nor will Caroline Flack’s parents, but hopefully their stories will be the catalyst for change.

Until next time….  RIP Holly, RIP Caroline Flack, #BeKind.

Try A Little Kindness Lyrics
(Song by Bobby Austin/Curt Sapaugh)

If you see your brother standing by the road
With a heavy load from the seeds he’s sowed
And if you see your sister falling by the way
Just stop and say, you’re going the wrong way

You got to try a little kindness
Yes show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness
Then you’ll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets

Don’t walk around the down and out
Lend a helping hand instead of doubt
And the kindness that you show every day
Will help someone along their way

You got to try a little kindness
Yes show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness
Then you’ll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets