I was talking to a friend yesterday about David Bowie and we were talking about all the stories we’ve heard in the media about his life and death. It’s true that we all die sooner or later (sorry for those who didn’t know this yet, looking at you man-bun wearing hipster guy) but it hits home when someone you grew up listening to dies. And now we are arriving at a time in current history that all the great musicians that changed rock are reaching their destiny. What will happen the day Jagger dies, or Paul McCartney? I personally believe music will finally die (Dan McClain) and we will see the beginning of the end of Western Civilization.
Like many who remember where they were the day Kennedy died (I was 2 months old sucking on a bottle in a cardboard box full of sticks) I remember where I was when John Lennon, John Belushi, Bob Marley, Freddie Mercury, Marvin Gaye, and Elvis died. For example, it was a hot rainy day in August, 1977 when my mom and I were driving to a mall in Guadalajara and on the radio it was announced that Elvis had left the room for good. Shortly after, we were taking the escalator up to the second floor of the mall and my mom who was in front of me thought I was standing right behind her. She turned around singing in a deep voice, “you aint nothing but a hound dog,” to a middle aged Mexican woman who then looked scared and pushed past my mom quickly walking up the rest of the escalator ride. I stood there laughing and my mom’s face turned bright red.
Ringo is 75 and Paul McCartney is 73, Jagger and Kieth Richards are both 72. Chuck Berry is 89, yes he is still alive. Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Fats Domino are all still kicking in their 80’s! In 10 years most of these guys will be dead and an era of Rock icons will be over. Ask any kid under 25 who any of these musicians are and you’ll get a blank stare in return. Yet every once in a while some kid will know about these grandpa’s of Rock and excitedly want to talk about how they’ve been influenced by them. To these few kids out there, I raise my glass and toast you. You guys are the ones who will carry the flame of true Rock & Roll to the next generation.
The other night on our way home from my son’s piano lesson, we started singing Life On Mars? and I realized if I do my job right he too will be one of the few that carries that flame. Thank you David Bowie and the rest of the artists who have influenced so many. The world would have been less without you in it.