We are barely into the New Year and the entertainment industry has been rocked by the loss of six great performers. All of them couldn’t be more different.
On December 28, Lemmy Kilmister who founded and fronted the heavy metal rock band Motorhead died of prostate cancer at the age of 70. Kilmister was the band’s lead singer, bassist, songwriter and frontman and their music and influence were everywhere on DVDs, video, band collaborations, film soundtracks, tributes, and road tours until his death last month.
Three days later on December 31, R&B singer Natalie Cole and Vancouver’s beloved big band leader Dal (King of Swing) Richards died. Cole died of congestive heart failure at age 65 and Richards was 97.
American singer, songwriter and performer Natalie Cole was, course, the daughter of Nat King Cole and her hits This Will Be, Inseparable and Our Love in the mid-1970s took her to huge musical success. But her virtual ‘duet’ with her father Unforgettable was, well, utterly unforgettable.
Dal Richards was born and raised in Vancouver. He formed his band in the late 1930s and by 1941 he was leading his band at Vancouver’s hottest dance venue, the Panorama Roof at the Vancouver Hotel. He played 79 consecutive New Year’s Eve gigs and had shows at the PNE for 70 years. He was honoured with the Order of Canada, the Order of B.C., and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal and was inducted into the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame to name just a few.
Then last week rock icon David Bowie passed away from cancer at age 69. Bowie was all about creativity and persona and flamboyant fashion. Bowie didn’t have to think outside the box. He was never in one. After all, his alter ego was Ziggy Stardust. He was talented as a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, painter, and actor.
His music and his performances changed people and he changed the way they thought about music. He was just the boy in Brixton, south London, when his father brought home a box of 45 RPM records of the Platters, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, and Little Richard. His future in music was set right to the days before his death with the release of Blackstar. By the numbers, he sold 140 million albums since his first release in 1967.
Then, later last week, British film and stage actor Alan Rickman died of pancreatic cancer at age 69. Tragically he was only aware of it a few months before he died but it didn’t stop him from helping students raise money for the refugee crisis in December. He began his career in theatre and his film debut was as the German terrorist Hans Gruber in Die Hard. The multi award-winning Rickman was the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves and Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series.
This week, Glenn Frey died at age 69 from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia. He and Don Henley co-founded The Eagles, the fabulous 1970s pop and rock band with unmatched harmonies that sent Hotel California, Life in the Fast Lane, Lyin’ Eyes, Take it Easy, and One of These Nights to the top of the charts. They became one of rock history’s most successful song writing teams no matter how much they fought and feuded offstage.
Henley is quoted as saying that Frey was the spark plug, the man with the plan. His knowledge of popular music was huge and he had an unstoppable work ethic.
So often we take for granted the performers that put music and imagination in our lives. They were so brilliant in their chosen fields of entertainment. They’ll be missed.