I first saw Linda Ronstadt perform in 1971. I don’t remember much about that concert. She was the opening act for two other bands, neither of which I remember. I liked her but never thought that she was a few years away from becoming a huge star. I also didn’t think that forty-five years later I would be writing stories about her because we shared the same neurological disease. For sure, I didn’t think we’d share a disease that would change the rest of our lives.
It’s been a bad month of death in the popular music world. Five are gone in the first twenty days. As many have said, they’re dropping like flies.
Rock stars dying is nothing new. We are used to that. It’s the way they’re dying that’s more than a little disconcerting. They’re dying like we are. Scary!
I first started following music seriously in 1964. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks, Animals, etc. It was a time of freedom, love and expression. Death was the last thing on our minds…but not for long.
The first one I remember was Brian Jones of the Stones. Within a year came Jimi and Janis. All by some form of an overdose. Could kids of my generation relate to this…yes and no. Yeah, we were engaging in the same behaviors that killed these rockers but for most of us, not to that excess. Yeah, there were occasions when we were out of control but not to that extent and not every night.
It didn’t stop with the above three. Keith Moon, John Bonham and so many others. In the 70’s-80’s, whenever we heard about a musician dying we inevitably heard the following words…overdose and addiction. When we heard of one of these deaths we were shocked but not surprised. It came with the lifestyle.
At some point these guys got smarter as did we. Maybe they saw too many of their friends dying young and it scared them. They wanted to be around to see their children grow up, so they got clean and got healthy…became adults. Sound familiar?
Eric Clapton…heroin addict, alcohol addiction, cleaned up, young family. Ringo Starr…same story. Joe Walsh…Same story. Keith Richards..same story and he’s going to outlive us all. You get the point.
But let’s fast forward to the last few years.
Here’s a list of the biggest musicians to die…David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Joe Cocker, Jack Bruce, Lou Reed, Lemmy Kilmister, I can go on and on. They have one thing in common. Death by natural causes….if you call Cancer and Heart Attacks natural causes. For those of us who are closer to the end than the beginning, we can relate. We know plenty of people who have died this way. Most likely we have close friends and family who have died this way. Hell…some of us have had our own bouts with these diseases. Yeah…we can easily relate.
And that’s what scares us.
It’s not just that we’re saddened by the loss of our favorite stars, we are. We also see our own mortality. We knew these people when they were young. Now they’re older and leaving….same as us. It’s that damn circle of life thing again…and again….and again. For some reason we seem more shocked when it happens now than we did back in the 70’s.
When it comes to our personal lives as well as the musicians we follow, we’re asking one question…who’s next?
Here’s a look at the musicians who died in 2015.
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