I have always been passionate about my sports and my music. Through my formative years I spent most of my time either playing sports or watching football, baseball or basketball on the television. When I wasn’t doing that I was listening to the AM radio, or pulling one of my 300 albums out of the bin to relax and enjoy.
Thus it has hit me with heavy heart with the back-to-back deaths of two rock legends, David Bowie and Glenn Frey. In writing about the latter, Frey, a metro-Detroiter, who broke away from Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band in the early 1970’s to form the Eagles with Don Henley, was one of my all-time favorites.
I was there when he sang back-up to Seger, when Ramblin Gamblin Man hit the charts. Seger, with Frey played all over metro-Detroit and one of their favorite haunts was Mt. Holly, a ski resort that doubled as a rock emporium on weekend nights.
Later, I was also there at several concerts when Frey and his bandmates were on top of the music charts playing their California-style easy rock. Frey, of course, went on from The Eagles to have a successful solo career as well.
Last night, I googled one of my favorite Eagles and Glenn Frey, tunes, Desperado. Unlike the much more popular Hotel California, Desperado to me was the ultimate Frey tune. His vocal range was on display as he sung the story of a young person discarding love.
RIP Glenn Frey.
At the same time The Eagles were topping the charts, David Bowie was doing the same with an entirely different style of music. In the early 1970’s, Bowie burst upon the music scene with weird lyrics, and even more outrageous costumes. I always considered him more of an actor, a showman extraordinaire, and not so much a singer.
His Ziggy Stardust character was new to rock music. Few bands had ever personified a make believe character. But there was Bowie, in full outrageous costumes, acting the part of an unearthly being, and belting out some amazingly good tunes.
It was the later Bowie that attracted me. I think Changes is one of my all-time favorite songs. His latest album, Blackstar, which ironically debuted as #1 on the Billboard charts shortly before his death, is hauntingly good. The video that has scenes of Bowie wrapped from head to toe in bandages with only a slit for his mouth gave me the shivers. Bowie knew he was going to die, and wanted to write and sing music about his preparation for death. Only Bowie could pull off such an off-beat concept.
Ironically, a couple days after Bowie’s death, Bowie former drummer and Mott the Hoople founder, Dale Griffin died. Mott the Hoople was shortlived, but they did have one amazingly chart-topping song in 1972, All the Young Dudes. Amazingly, Bowie gave Griffin the song. It was written by Bowie for Ziggy Stardust, but Mott the Hoople asked to record it, and Bowie said “sure.” It became one of the early 70’s top songs.
RIP David Bowie and Dale Griffin
Early January has also seen the death of another drummer, Dallas Taylor of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and Celine Dion’s longtime husband and manager, Rene Angelil. Most of us don’t know Angelil in his early years had a successful singing career. Of course in his latter year’s he guided Dion, who I consider one of the better vocalists to inhabit this earth.
I remember Angelil as a kind man who enjoyed his blackjack. I once sat at a table with him in Vegas. I would be playing $25 chips, as if it were the last dollar in my pocket. Not Angelil. He would be betting $100, $200 or $300 at a time. He would tell me to get more money out, and a few times he would toss me a $25 chip so that I would be more.
RIP Rene Angelil
I wonder why so many rock stars, famous ones at that, have died so quickly in 2016. I wonder if there is any meaning behind the numerous deaths. Then I remembered. I’m getting of the age where a lot of my boyhood heroes will die. It’s part of life but it is still sad to see great artists like Glenn Frey and David Bowie in heaven, and not on earth.