Yesterday morning I heard that Dale Griffin had died at the age of 67. Although not a household name, I enlighten you. He was the drummer with the 70’s British band, Mott the Hoople, who are probably best known for their famous anthem, “All the Young Dudes,” penned by David Bowie, which went on to become a staple song of the glam rock era. That’s right, David Bowie, who died only a few days earlier at the age of 69, only a few days after Ian “Lemmy” Kilmiser, at 70 years old. As I was contemplating this, I heard than Eagles co-founder, Glenn Frey, also died the same day at the same age as Dale Griffin.
My initial thought was WTF is happening to the musicians that shaped my youth? They’re dropping like flies! Who will be next? Given I have a fairly eclectic musical taste and I have already lost Frank Zappa, Ian Dury, Joe Strummer, and too many others to mention who provided background to my adolescent years and beyond, or possibly shaped it, it’s hard to say but one thing is for sure: this trend ain’t ever gonna stop. After all, as the oft quoted adage goes: only two* things in life are certain – death and taxes. We can perhaps avoid or defer the latter but the first is unavoidable, even for the rich and famous.
When I was much younger I would have probably made some smart-alec remark like, well they were old, what did you expect? But now I have grey hair and ache a bit more in the morning I seem to see it a little differently. Lemmy only made the traditional “three score years and ten” by a few days and the others didn’t quite get there. We live In an era where magazines espouse that “60 is the new 50,” life expectancy is generally rising, and people who we would originally classed as “the elderly” when I was a kid (i.e., people who are of retirement age) are now expected to have gym membership.
Perhaps we need to be reminded sometimes that it’s not the length of time we have lived but how we have lived and the impact we have made.
And look at the lives these guys led! They sure packed a lot of living into their time on earth. Being a rock star may be a hedonistic lifestyle, but it’s also creative: listen to what they left for us. They represented different musical genres but they each allowed their millions of followers, be they angst-ridden teens, partying youths, or older adults to indulge in their creativity for a while. They made us smile, cry, and just think about life, the universe and everything, even if only for the length of a single song. We should celebrate that, and not dwell unnecessarily on their deaths.
So, as I bid farewell to these great artists I unashamedly steal some lyrics from the Hoople/Bowie song in celebration of how their musical legacies “carry the news (there you go)…”
* or three, if you know the old adolescent joke, but that’s another story.