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.
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.
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
The Cannon and Ball Saturday night TV shows were watched by millions. Those red braces! – “Rock on Tommy”
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 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
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.
“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 Woman, Delta Dawn and the very weird but strangely compelling, Angie 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.”
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.
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).
“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.
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
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
“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
“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
“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
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
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
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
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
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….