They told him don't you ever come around here
Don't wanna see your face, you better disappear
The fire's in their eyes and their words are really clear
So beat it, just beat it
- Michael "Jacko" Jackson (Beat it)
Michael Jackson was nothing short of a genius, a true ambassador of not only POP music, but of all music, whose popularity spanned generations and the globe. Rarely has the world received a gift with the magnitude of talent and artistry as Michael Jackson. A true musical icon, whose instantly recognizable voice, stunning musical versatility, awe-inspiring dance moves and sheer star power catapulted him from his glitzy and controversial childhood into famedom. I still remember, back in my childhood, how I used to go crazy everytime I saw him performing the moonwalk, or when the video of "In the closet" was played on MTV.. I must confess I was also unclear of his gender until around the age of 8, after having endless debates with dad about the same. :) He shall truly be memorialized as the '83 Moonwalking, MTV owning, mesmerzing, unstoppable, invincible Michael Jackson.
But as the world mourns the death of one of the most influential artists and performers of our times, I can't help but wonder, are all great musical legends (with the exception of a handful of them, like Johnny Cash or even Mick Jagger, who's several years older than my granpa and still shows no signs of stopping) destined to die sooner than.. well... say.. the mortality table's estimate??
Buddy Holly, who is often described as the "single most influential creative force in early rock and roll" died in plane crash ( The Day the Music Died ) in 1959, at the young age of 22!!
Jim Morrison, lead singer and lyricist of The Doors, was one of the most charismatic frontmen in rock music history, and died at the age of 27 under suspicious circumstances. The cause of death was never determined.
Jimi Hendrix, without doubt, the GREATEST guitarist of all time, and one of the most important and influential musicians of his era across a range of genres, had asphyxiated in his own vomit (mainly red wine) and died at the age of 27.
Elvis Presley, a cultural icon and "The King of Rock and Roll" died at the age of 42, due to combined drug intoxication. One of the biggest heartthrobs of his era, towards the end, he had become a grotesque caricature of his sleek, energetic former self, barely able to pull himself through his abbreviated concerts. H was found dead in his bathroom, and medical reports revealed that he had stumbled or crawled several feet before he died.
Marvin Gaye, one of the top selling solo artists of the 60's, whose career spanned the entire history of rhythm and blues from fifties doo-wop to eighties contemporary soul, who influenced a generation of recording artists of various genres, was shot to death at point blank range by his father after a domestic argument. He was 45 then.
Freddie Mercury, frontman of the rock band Queen, was famous for his vocal prowess and flamboyant performances. Few can ever match his levels of grace and showmanship. He was described as " a performer out to tease, shock and ultimately charm his audience with various extravagant versions of himself". He died of AIDS induced bronchopneumonia at the age of 45.
Jeff Buckley, one of the most promising singers/songwriters of the 90's, whose cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah is a constant presence in most IPODs, in 1997, went for a swim in a channel of the Mississippi river singing Led Zeppelin's "Whole lotta love" . He drowned and his body was found by a tourist on a riverboat a week later. He was aged 30 then. And he was NEVER an abuser of drugs, and was in a good frame of mind prior to the accident.
There are many more instances similar to the ones stated above... and one can't help but wonder, does early death come as a part of the package of a rockstar's life? Why are some of the greatest gifted legends pulled away from us so soon? Either God (if there IS something of that sort) must be a huge rock fan who doesn't mind abusing his almighty powers, or there must be a SERIOUS lack of entertainment up there (one's NEVER heard of cable TV or internet in heaven, have they?) or we are clearly not considered to be worthy enough of enjoying the divine music produced by these gifted bunch of people. Whatever the reason may be, it's a big put-off for budding rock musicians... :x
Another thing that worries me is how drugs and alcohol invariably end up becoming an important part of a rock musician's life. I myself have worked with many bands in the past, and I couldn't help but notice the number of drug abusers I was working amongst. And these were regular college going kids belonging to my age group. Before and after every jam session, show or band meets, there used 2 be a dope session. And we consider ourselves to be mature enough to decide our nation's leaders after the age of 18!!
Hopefully, sense shall prevail soon enough and these young guys and girls will learn the harmful effects of their habits sooner rather than later. And I dearly hope there's an increase in the average life expectancy of people involved in the music industry. I'm sure hundreds of thousands echo the same feeling as mine.. No one would wanna see their favourite musicians pass away when they're at the peak of their careers (oh wait, i guess Britney Spears or Paris Hilton would be exceptions.. and yeah, maybe those bunch of guys who comprised Westlife :P )
Until then.... rock on!!
"Its a long way to the top, if you wanna rock and roll" - AC/DC