Last night Glen Frey, founding member of The Eagles, passed away, aged 67. As a friend commented on Facebook – that’s no age these days. And it isn’t really. Only, he’s the latest in a steady stream of rockers who’ve died around the age of 70 in the past couple of years. Just check out this (far from exhaustive) list of famous musicians who’ve passed since 2014:
All of these guys have died at a relatively young age, and mostly from cancer, but it’s not really so surprising. They lived the rock ‘n’ roll life – smoking, heavy drinking, and industrial-scale drug taking. Only a few of their generation will escape the damage this will have done to their bodies and plough on into serious old age. The sad fact is; the rock ‘n’ roll graveyard is going to be filling up with all our favourite old rockers in the next five to ten years.
However, there’s no point getting down about this. Death is a fact of life. Would it have been better for Lemmy to have been a teetotal, non-smoking, vegan, so he might have lived to be 95? Would it have been better if Bowie continued singing about gnomes and doing mime instead of spawning Ziggy Stardust and Alladin Sane from his drug-addled imagination? Nah, of course not. These were lives lived to the full, with permanent memorials left behind in the form of their music. The world’s cemeteries are full of untended headstones: monuments to anonymity, transience and the ordinary. These guys won’t be forgotten and the music they’ve made is their headstone. That’s something to be celebrated, not mourned.
So, as each of your favourite artists passes on, celebrate, take solace in the music, and remember that rock ‘n’ roll will never die.
I’ll leave you in the capable hands of Lemmy and co and the song that inspired the title of this blog.