Suggested Audio Candy:
 Prince “When Doves Cry”
 David Bowie “Heroes”
 David Bowie “Let’s Dance”
If there is one inescapable truth in life then that is that, one day, we will all ultimately die. Hardly the most peppy start I know, but I don’t make the rules and, while reluctant to follow them, this particular trend is one that none of us can ever dream of bucking. The older we get, the more we accept this bitter fact, and invariably we will be faced with tragedy at numerous points in our life. The notion of having our nearest and dearest snatched away before time is unfathomable and the same can be said for personal heroes.
I have plenty of my own and one such icon was cruelly taken from me back in 2014. Philip Seymour Hoffman could do absolutely no wrong in my eyes and, when it was announced that he had passed away, I could barely register such an unforeseen disclosure. My first action was to write an affectionate tribute which you can read by clicking here and attempt at placing into 1000 words just what this great man meant to me personally. This is no small feat when his work resonated on too many levels to relay but it felt like the least I could do to honor such a luminary figure.
The reason I am writing this now is that, no less than 24 hours ago, I received news of the death of Prince. The American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, music producer, and actor was truly one of life’s one-offs and 57 years doesn’t feel anything like sufficient for a soul like his to shine. That said, his glow will never diminish, thanks to the precious gifts he has bestowed on us over the course of his four-decade strong career and this sole consolation truly is incalculable. Prince had an uncanny knack for fusing numerous genres and the likes of funk, rock, soul, and pop paraded in unison so beautifully as he effortlessly broke down musical barriers. However, it was more than this, as he helped us to recognize that it was okay to be a little different from the norm and, moreover, a gift to truly cherish. On one hand he was the very epitome of extroverted but, on the other, he was a gentle, kind, unassuming soul who very much kept himself to himself.
This is often the way with true visionary artists and it is no coincidence that many comedians suffer from clinical depression. Somehow inexplicably these rays of light manage to inspire us all and Prince has provided the motivation for so many aspiring musicians since. While the mortal shell is decidedly fickle, music possesses true immortality, and his will still be spreading joy long after we receive our own ultimate closure. Timeless would be the key word here as the likes of When Doves Cry, Raspberry Beret, Let’s Go Crazy and others too numerous to list still sound every bit as fresh now as they did back in the eighties. Indeed, 1999 offers a prime example of such endurance, as the new millennium may have long since come and passed, but its message is every bit as relevant after the fact. God bless you Prince Rogers Nelson and, while the rain is falling hard currently, I take great comfort from its purple hue.
This tragic news seems all the more devastating given that the world of music is still reeling from the recent death of another of its true elder statesman, David Bowie. While I haven’t touched on this until now, make no mistake, we lost one of the most far-sighted souls ever to grace the stage on January 10, 2016 and irreplaceable doesn’t even begin to cut it where Bowie is concerned. Words cannot ever hope to encapsulate his eminence as talent like his comes along but once in a lifetime and his influence truly is second to absolutely none. That said, the way that he departed center stage is as poetic as the man himself. Forewarned of his time coming, he took to the studio and recorded Blackstar which released just days before he dashed off back to the stars. Sure, he was taken way before time, but the manner in which he departed is a lifelong reminder that, right up until the end, he did things just as he always did – the way he wanted. This lustrous gemstone will never lose its shine and I, for one, feel immensely honored to have come of age at the same time as he was sharing his exclusive gift with the entire universe.
Celebrity deaths have been decidedly rife of late and barely a day seems to pass when another light isn’t extinguished. As a lifelong student of horror, the last year has been one of particular poignancy as we have waved goodbye to a whole host of enigmatic icons during that period. Wes Craven, Gunnar Hansen, Angus Scrimm and the great Christopher Lee are just a few of the recently departed and all of these have imparted treasures the likes of which motivated my decision to dedicate myself to the genre in the first place. Having been reared on a staple diet of Hammer and Amicus, Lee’s passing represented the end of an era for me as he was the last of a breed from another time entirely. That said, an exceedingly ripe 93-years-old is quite the achievement, and I’m assured that, when his time came, he was primed to take the final leg of his illustrious voyage.
Speaking of which, Leonard Nimoy was also quite the journeyman. While many will always refer to him as Mr. Spock, Nimoy had numerous other strings to his bow. Director, photographer, author, singer, and songwriter, his accomplishments were vast and the hero-worship stretched way farther than just the Trekkies amongst us. There was nothing illogical about his resonance and, once again, his star will continue to glimmer brightly now that he has boldly gone. Sadness is inevitable at times like these, but I prefer to focus on the gladness of having been introduced to such other-worldly majesty.
It would be all too easy to make this one long obituary as there have been an abundance of celebrity deaths of late and plenty of them tragic. As a proud Englishman, I was deeply distressed to hear of the death of Victoria Wood recently as she was one of the most naturally endowed comedians we have ever had the privilege of doubling over in sheer merriment over.
Likewise, the clock was punched way too early on Alan Rickman, and his screen presence was never anything less than masterful. Certain actors stand out from the crowd effortlessly and he was one such consummate professional. Truly, madly, deeply, a special fellow.
We are never prepared for the fall of our personal heroes, whether untimely or seasonable, and I’m convinced that others will we snatched from our grasps in the coming months as death ultimately waits for no man. That said, I prefer to consider the rise of such artistic regality and that need not ever receive closure. Being a scribe myself, I take considerable comfort from the legacy I can impart, and not one commissioned by a heartbeat. Thus, this article is not intended to be a downbeat affair but, instead, an adoring celebration of magic that knows no bounds. I’m sure that this is precisely what all the above, and countless others aside, would have desired most so it appears only fitting to raise a glass, smile widely, and continue to bask in their celestial never diminishing glow. Salut.
Rising Heroes: A Tribute in Pictures