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The Day the Music Died
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Ritchie Valens, the teen signing sensation who perished in a plane crash with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. At 28 years old, the Big Bopper (originally J.P. Richardson) was the oldest of the three, and Holly and Valens were just 22 and 17 respectively. The loss of such talents at such a young age led singer-songwriter Don McLean to label the event “The Day the Music Died.”
While the song doesn’t include mention of their names, McLean has said that he was inspired both by Holly’s music, as well as the way he felt his life — and the country, as it headed into the 1960s,
On 3rd Feb 1959, 22-year-old Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens, aged 17, died in a plane crash shortly after takeoff from Clear Lake, Iowa. The pilot of the single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza was also killed. Holly hired the plane after heating problems developed on his tour bus. All three were traveling to Fargo, North Dakota, for the next show on their Winter Dance Party Tour which Holly had planned to make money after the break-up of his band, The Crickets, in the previous year.
Dennis Carl Wilson (December 4, 1944 – December 28, 1983) was an American drummer, singer and songwriter. He is best known as a founding member of the rock band The Beach Boys, alongside his brothers, Brian and Carl, cousin, Mike Love, and Al Jardine. Wilson was a member of the band from its formation until his death in 1983, recording twenty-four studio albums. In 1977, he released a solo album, Pacific Ocean Blue, to widespread critical acclaim.
Born in Inglewood, California, Dennis was the middle brother of fellow Beach Boys members Brian Wilson and Carl Wilson. Dennis Wilson was also the only regular surfer of the group, and his personal life exemplified the beach lifestyle that the group’s early songs often celebrated. His prominence in the group as a writer and lead vocalist increased as their careers went on into the late 1960s and 1970s.
In 1968, Dennis Wilson was driving through Malibu when he noticed two female hitchhikers, Patricia Krenwinkel and Ella Jo Bailey. He picked them up and dropped them off at their destination. Later on Wilson noticed the same two girls hitchhiking again. This time he took them to his home at 14400 Sunset Boulevard near Will Rogers Park.
Wilson then went to a recording session. When he returned at around 3 a.m., he was met in his driveway by a stranger, Charles Manson. When Wilson walked into his home, about a dozen people were occupying the premises, most of them female. Wilson became fascinated by Manson and his followers; the "Manson Family" lived with Wilson for a period of time afterwards at his expense. In late 1968, Wilson reported to journalists,
"I told them [the girls] about our involvement with the Maharishi and they told me they too had a guru, a guy named Charlie who’d recently come out of jail after 12 years. … He drifted into crime, but when I met him I found he had great musical ideas. We’re writing together now. He’s dumb, in some ways, but I accept his approach and have learnt from him."
Initially impressed by Manson’s songwriting talent, Wilson introduced him to a few friends in the music business, including Terry Melcher (the son of Doris Day), whose home at 10050 Cielo Drive would later be rented by director Roman Polanski and his wife, actress Sharon Tate, and Manson family members would later murder Tate and several others at the home.
Manson held recording sessions at the home studio of Dennis’ brother, Brian Wilson. Those recordings, if they exist, have never been released. The Beach Boys released a Manson song, originally titled "Cease To Exist" but reworked as "Never Learn Not to Love", as a single B-side and on the album 20/20.
As Dennis Wilson became increasingly aware of Manson’s volatile nature and growing tendency to violence, he finally made a break from the friendship by simply moving out of the house and leaving Manson there. When Manson subsequently sought further contact (and money), he left a bullet with Wilson’s housekeeper to be delivered with a cryptic message, which Wilson perceived as a threat. In August 1969, Manson Family members perpetrated the Tate/LaBianca murders. Wilson rarely discussed his involvement with the Manson Family, and usually became upset when the subject was broached.
At the time the Family began to form, Manson was an unemployed former convict, who had spent half of his life in correctional institutions for a variety of offenses. Before the murders, he was a singer-songwriter on the fringe of the Los Angeles music industry, chiefly through a chance association with Dennis Wilson, a founding member and the drummer of the Beach Boys. After Manson was charged with the crimes of which he was later convicted, recordings of songs written and performed by him were released commercially. Various musicians, including Guns N’ Roses, White Zombie and Marilyn Manson, have covered some of his songs.
Manson’s death sentence was automatically commuted to life imprisonment when a 1972 decision by the Supreme Court of California temporarily eliminated the state’s death penalty.
California’s eventual reinstatement of capital punishment did not affect Manson, who is currently incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison.
Succeeding years saw Wilson battling alcohol abuse. Smoking had taken a toll on his voice, although the resultant gravelly effect helped define him as a singer. On December 28, 1983, shortly after his 39th birthday, Wilson drowned at Marina Del Rey, Los Angeles, after drinking all day and diving in the afternoon to recover items he had thrown overboard at the marina from his yacht three years prior.
Dennis Wilson’s body was buried at sea off the California coast by the U.S. Coast Guard on January 4, 1984. His song "Farewell My Friend" was played at the funeral. As non-veterans of the Coast Guard and Navy are not allowed to be buried at sea unless cremated, Dennis’ burial was possible due to the intervention of President Reagan.
the Beach Boys
Carl Dean Wilson Born: 12/21/1946. Died: 2/7/1998. Age: 51. Cause of death: cancer.
Noted For: singer and guitarist; founding member of The Beach Boys (1962-98). As the group’s leader after 1965, his death marked the end of the Beach Boys. Sang lead on "God Only Knows" (1966). Brother of Brian and Dennis Wilson and cousin of Mike Love.
You’re fired! Three Beach Boys founding members dumped by the band’s frontman Mike Love… via PUBLIC statement
2012 – Three of the founding members of the Beach Boys have been unceremoniously dumped midway through their UK tour.
Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks were informed of the news via a statement issued by Mike Love – the band’s frontman and Wilson’s cousin – that the tour would be continuing without them.
Their places will be filled by Bruce Johnston – a second generation member – and a selection of session musicians.
The statement read: ‘The post-50th anniversary configuration will not include Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks. The 50th Reunion Tour was designed to be a set tour with a beginning and an end to mark a special 50-year milestone for the band.’
This shocking announcement came after the reunited members had recorded their first studio album in 20 years, featuring entirely original music.
Wilson, 70, who is very much the musical maestro responsible for writing most of the band’s early singles and albums, told CNN just how confusing the situation is.
He said: ‘I’m disappointed and can’t understand why Love doesn’t want to tour with Al, David and me. We are out here having so much fun. After all, we are the real Beach Boys.’
Already a fan letter of protest has been started to reunite the original members on tour which Al Jardine, 71, has linked to through his Twitter account.
Addressed to Mike Love, the petition reads: ‘In order to preserve the validity of ‘The Beach Boys’ as a whole, and not as a ‘money saving, stripped down version’ that only contains 1 original member, and 1 member that joined in 1965, we ask you to re-instate the 3 other members to the touring group for your final years performing.’
Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley OM (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) was a Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter, musician, and guitarist who achieved international fame and acclaim.
Starting out in 1963 with the group the Wailers, he forged a distinctive songwriting and vocal style that would later resonate with audiences worldwide. The Wailers would go on to release some of the earliest reggae records with producer Lee Scratch Perry. After the Wailers disbanded in 1974, Marley pursued a solo career which culminated in the release of the album Exodus in 1977 which established his worldwide reputation and produced his status as one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time, with sales of more than 75 million albums and singles. He was a committed Rastafari who infused his music with a sense of spirituality.
In July 1977, Marley was found to have a type of malignant melanoma under the nail of a toe. Contrary to urban legend, this lesion was not primarily caused by an injury during a football match that year, but was instead a symptom of the already-existing cancer. Marley turned down his doctors’ advice to have his toe amputated, citing his religious beliefs, and instead the nail and nail bed were removed and a skin graft taken from his thigh to cover the area. Despite his illness, he continued touring and was in the process of scheduling a world tour in 1980.
The album Uprising was released in May 1980, on which "Redemption Song" is, in particular, considered to be about Marley coming to terms with his mortality. The band completed a major tour of Europe, where it played its biggest concert to 100,000 people in Milan. After the tour Marley went to America, where he performed two shows at Madison Square Garden as part of the Uprising Tour.
Bob Marley appeared at the Stanley Theater (now called The Benedum Center For The Performing Arts) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on 23 September 1980; it would be his last concert.
Shortly afterwards, Marley’s health deteriorated as the cancer had spread throughout his body. The rest of the tour was cancelled and Marley sought treatment at the Bavarian clinic of Josef Issels, where he received a controversial type of cancer therapy (Issels treatment) partly based on avoidance of certain foods, drinks, and other substances. After fighting the cancer without success for eight months Marley boarded a plane for his home in Jamaica.
While Marley was flying home from Germany to Jamaica, his vital functions worsened. After landing in Miami, Florida, he was taken to the hospital for immediate medical attention. Bob Marley died on 11 May 1981 at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Miami (now University of Miami Hospital) at the age of 36. The spread of melanoma to his lungs and brain caused his death. His final words to his son Ziggy were "Money can’t buy life." Marley received a state funeral in Jamaica on 21 May 1981, which combined elements of Ethiopian Orthodoxy and Rastafari tradition. He was buried in a chapel near his birthplace with his red Gibson Les Paul (some accounts say it was a Fender Stratocaster).
On 21 May 1981, Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga delivered the final funeral eulogy to Marley, declaring:
His voice was an omnipresent cry in our electronic world. His sharp features, majestic looks, and prancing style a vivid etching on the landscape of our minds. Bob Marley was never seen. He was an experience which left an indelible imprint with each encounter. Such a man cannot be erased from the mind. He is part of the collective consciousness of the nation.
Minnie Julia Riperton Rudolph (November 8, 1947 – July 12, 1979), known professionally as Minnie Riperton, was an American singer-songwriter best known for her 1975 single "Lovin’ You". She was married to songwriter and music producer Richard Rudolph from 1972 until her death in 1979. They had two children: music engineer Marc Rudolph and actress/comedienne Maya Rudolph.
Riperton grew up on Chicago’s South Side. As a child, she studied music, drama, and dance at Chicago’s Lincoln Center. In her teen years, she sang lead vocals for the Chicago-based girl group, The Gems. Her early affiliation with the legendary Chicago-based Chess Records afforded her the opportunity to sing backup for various established artists such as Etta James, Fontella Bass, Ramsey Lewis, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, and Muddy Waters. While at Chess, Riperton also sang lead for the experimental rock/soul group Rotary Connection, from 1967 to 1971. In 1969 Riperton, along with Rotary Connection, played in the first Catholic Rock Mass at the Liturgical Conference National Convention, Milwaukee Arena, Milwaukee, WI, produced by James F. Colaianni. On April 4, 1975, Riperton reached the apex of her career with her #1 single, "Lovin’ You". The single was the last release from her 1974 gold album entitled Perfect Angel.
In January 1976, Riperton was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a radical mastectomy.
Riperton revealed on the The Tonight Show on August 24, 1976, that she had undergone a mastectomy due to breast cancer.
By the time of diagnosis, the cancer had metastasized and she was given about six months to live. Despite the grim prognosis, she continued recording and touring. She was one of the first celebrities to go public with her breast cancer diagnosis, but did not disclose she was terminally ill. In 1977, she became a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society. In 1978, she received the American Cancer Society’s Courage Award which was presented to her at the White House by President Jimmy Carter. She died at age 31 on July 12, 1979.
Roger Keith "Syd" Barrett (6 January 1946 – 7 July 2006) was an English musician, composer, singer, songwriter and painter. A founder member of the band Pink Floyd, Barrett was the lead vocalist, guitarist and principal songwriter in its early years and is credited with naming the band. Barrett left Pink Floyd in April 1968 and was briefly hospitalized amid speculation of mental illness exacerbated by drug use.
Barrett’s innovative guitar work and exploration of experimental techniques such as dissonance, distortion and feedback influenced many musicians, including David Bowie, Brian Eno and Jimmy Page. His recordings are also noted for their strongly English-accented vocal delivery. After leaving music, Barrett continued with painting and dedicated himself to gardening. Biographies began appearing in the 1980s. Pink Floyd wrote and recorded several tributes to him, most notably the 1975 album Wish You Were Here, which included "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", a homage to Barrett.
After suffering from diabetes for several years, Barrett died at home in Cambridge on 7 July 2006, aged 60. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer. The occupation on his death certificate was "retired musician". He was cremated, with his ashes given to a family member or friend. In 2006, his home in St. Margaret’s Square, Cambridge, was put on the market and reportedly attracted considerable interest.
After over 100 showings, many by fans, it was sold to a French couple who bought it simply because they liked it; reportedly they knew nothing about Barrett. On 28 November 2006, Barrett’s other possessions were sold at an auction at Cheffins auction house in Cambridge, raising £120,000 for charity.
Items sold included paintings, scrapbooks and everyday items that Barrett had decorated. NME produced a tribute issue to Barrett a week later with a photo of him on the cover. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Barrett’s sister revealed that he had written a book: "He read very deeply about the history of art and actually wrote an unpublished book about it, which I’m too sad to read at the moment. But he found his own mind so absorbing that he didn’t want to be distracted."
According to local newspapers, Barrett left approximately £1.7 million to his two brothers and two sisters. This sum was apparently largely acquired from royalties from Pink Floyd compilations and live recordings featuring songs he had written while with the band. A tribute concert called Games for May was held at the Barbican Centre, London on 10 May 2007 with Robyn Hitchcock, Captain Sensible, Damon Albarn,
Chrissie Hynde, Kevin Ayers and his Pink Floyd bandmates performing. A series of events called The City Wakes was held in Cambridge in October 2008 to celebrate Barrett’s life, art and music. Barrett’s sister, Rosemary Breen, supported this, the first-ever series of official events in memory of her brother. After the festival’s success, arts charity Escape Artists announced plans to create a centre in Cambridge, using art to help people suffering from mental health problems.
Andrew Roy "Andy" Gibb (5 March 1958 – 10 March 1988) was an English singer, musician, performer and teen idol who was the younger brother of Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb. Andy came to international prominence in the late 1970s with three singles that reached #1 in the United States: "I Just Want to Be Your Everything", "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water", and "Shadow Dancing". Andy’s success was brief, as he battled drug addiction and depression and died shortly after turning 30.
the last surviving Bee Gee
2013 The worst part of losing my brothers? We weren’t even friends at the end: In a soul-baring confession, Barry Gibb tells of the guilt, remorse and loneliness of being the last of the Bee Gees.
Barry Gibb reveals he felt ‘pretty isolated’ without Robin and Maurice. The 66-year-old says that he always thought Robin knew he was dying. Loss of his brothers has made Barry very conscious of his own health.
‘You see, it wasn’t just the loss of my brothers, it was the fact we didn’t really get on. And so I’ve lost all of my brothers without being friends with them.
‘When Maurice passed, Robin and I just didn’t feel like the Bee Gees anymore, because the Bee Gees were the three of us.
‘So while Robin went around saying “I’ll always be a Bee Gee”, he didn’t really want that: he wanted to be Robin Gibb, solo artist. Deep inside, I think that was so. That was the competition.’
Barry realised that, as brothers, he and Robin were becoming more distant from each other.
‘During the last five years, Robin and I could not connect in any way. A similar situation, I can imagine, would probably be Lennon and McCartney. That same kind of distance occurred between them. The fact that you couldn’t get over obstacles or issues in your life.
‘What drove me down was that we didn’t get a chance to really say goodbye. The only time I felt we made up was when I kissed Robin on the head the last time I saw him before he died.
‘I didn’t get to see Andy before he died, and I never got to Maurice before he died. Mo died in two days, so that was very quick and a great shock to everyone.
‘Robin’s process took two years. I won’t go that way.
If something like that is ever diagnosed with me, I’ll find the funniest, most humorous way of checking out. Absolutely I will not be lying in a bed stuck on life support.
‘So when Robin died, I felt all those things: guilt, remorse, regret.
‘There was so much more to us, but we didn’t see it. There was so much more life in us that we didn’t attempt. So much neurosis that we could have avoided between us all. Because everyone wanted to be the individual star. And we never knew what we were.’
Barry, 66, with his trademark shoulder-length hair turned silver-grey, says that he always thought Robin knew he was dying, even though he insisted that he had beaten liver and colon cancer.
‘I didn’t realise Robin was seriously ill for about a year, when I began to see the pictures of him in the paper. I thought something’s wrong here — but I couldn’t get any answers out of anyone.
Karen Carpenter’s velvet voice charmed millions in the 70s… but behind the wholesome image she was in turmoil. Desperate to look slim on stage – and above all desperate to please the domineering mother who preferred her brother – she became the first celebrity victim of anorexia.
The Carpenters were one of the biggest-selling American musical acts of all time. Between 1970 and 1984 brother and sister Richard and Karen Carpenter had 17 top 20 hits, including "Goodbye to Love", "Yesterday Once More", "Close to You" and "Rainy Days and Mondays". They notched up 10 gold singles, nine gold albums, one multi-platinum album and three Grammy awards. Karen’s velvety voice and Richard’s airy melodies and meticulously crafted arrangements stood in direct contrast to the louder, wilder rock dominating the rest of the charts at the time, yet they became immensely popular, selling more than 100m records.
On February 4, 1983, less than a month before her 33rd birthday, Carpenter suffered heart failure at her parents’ home in Downey, California. She was taken to Downey Community Hospital, where she was pronounced dead 20 minutes later.
The Los Angeles coroner gave the cause of death as "heartbeat irregularities brought on by chemical imbalances associated with anorexia nervosa." Under the anatomical summary, the first item was heart failure, with anorexia as second. The third finding was cachexia, which is extremely low weight and weakness and general body decline associated with chronic disease.
Her divorce was scheduled to have been finalized that day. The autopsy stated that Carpenter’s death was the result of emetine cardiotoxicity due to anorexia nervosa, revealing that she had poisoned herself with ipecac syrup, an emetic often used to induce vomiting in cases of overdosing or poisoning.
Carpenter’s use of ipecac syrup was later disputed by Agnes and Richard, who both stated that they never found empty vials of ipecac in her apartment and have denied that there was any concrete evidence that she had been vomiting.
Richard has also expressed that he believes Karen was not willing to ingest ipecac syrup because of the potential damage that both the syrup and excessive vomiting would do to her vocal cords and that she relied on laxatives alone to maintain her low body weight.
Carpenter’s funeral service took place on February 8, 1983, at the Downey United Methodist Church. Dressed in a rose-colored suit, Carpenter lay in an open white casket. Over 1,000 mourners passed through to say goodbye, among them her friends Dorothy Hamill, Olivia Newton-John, Petula Clark, and Dionne Warwick. Carpenter’s estranged husband Tom attended her funeral, where he took off his wedding ring and placed it inside the casket.
She was buried at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Cypress, California. In 2003, Richard Carpenter had Karen re-interred, along with their parents, in the Carpenter family mausoleum at the Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village, California, which is closer to his Southern California home.
Philip Parris "Phil" Lynott; 20 August 1949 – 4 January 1986) was an Irish musician, singer and songwriter. His most commercially successful group was Thin Lizzy, of which he was a founding member, the principal songwriter, lead vocalist and bassist. He later also found success as a solo artist.
Growing up in Dublin in the 1960s, Lynott fronted several bands as a lead vocalist, most notably Skid Row alongside Gary Moore, before learning the bass guitar and forming Thin Lizzy in 1969. After initial success with Whiskey in the Jar, the band found strong commercial success in the mid-1970s with hits such as "The Boys Are Back in Town", "Jailbreak" and "Waiting for an Alibi", and became a popular live attraction due to the combination of Lynott’s vocal and songwriting skills and the use of dual lead guitars. Towards the end of the 1970s, Lynott also embarked upon a solo career, published two books of poetry, and after Thin Lizzy disbanded, he assembled and fronted the band Grand Slam, of which he was the leader until it folded in 1985.
He subsequently had major UK success with Moore with the song "Out in the Fields", followed by a minor hit "Nineteen", before his death on 4 January 1986. He remains a popular figure in the rock world, and in 2005, a statue was erected in his memory.
On 14 February 1980, Lynott married Caroline Crowther, the daughter of British comedian Leslie Crowther. He met her when she was working for Tony Brainsby in the late 1970s.
They had two children: Sarah (b. 19 December 1978, for whom the eponymous 1979 song was written, and Cathleen (b. 29 July 1980, for whom the eponymous 1982 Lynott solo song was written. The marriage fell apart during 1984 after Lynott’s drug use escalated.
Lynott also had a son, born in 1968, who had been put up for adoption. In 2003, Macdaragh Lambe learned that Lynott was his biological father, and this was confirmed by Philomena Lynott in a newspaper interview in July 2010.
Born in England and raised in Ireland, Lynott always considered himself to be Irish. His friend and Thin Lizzy bandmate Scott Gorham said in 2013: "Phil was so proud of being Irish. No matter where he went in the world, if we were talking to a journalist and they got something wrong about Ireland, he’d give the guy a history lesson. It meant a lot to him."
Lynott was a passionate football fan, a keen Manchester United supporter, and United and Northern Ireland star George Best was one of Lynott’s best friends.
Lynott was also a team captain on the popular 80s BBC quiz show Pop Quiz, hosted by Mike Read.
Lynott’s last years were dogged by drug and alcohol dependency leading to his collapse on Christmas Day 1985, at his home in Kew. He was discovered by his mother, who was not aware of his dependence on heroin. She contacted Caroline, who knew about it, and immediately knew the problem was serious. After Caroline drove him to a drug clinic at Clouds House in East Knoyle, near Warminster, he was taken to Salisbury Infirmary where he was diagnosed as suffering from septicaemia.
Despite regaining consciousness enough to speak to his mother, his condition worsened by the start of the new year and he was put on a respirator. He died of pneumonia and heart failure due to septicaemia in the hospital’s intensive care unit on 4 January 1986, at the age of 36.
Lynott’s funeral was held at St Elizabeth’s Church, Richmond on 9 January 1986, with most of Thin Lizzy’s ex members in attendance, followed by a second service at Howth Parish Church on 11th. He was buried in St Fintan’s Cemetery, Dublin.
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