If there’s an ‘up there’ it’s rockin’

Once Christmas is out of the way and I’ve got through another anniversary of becoming a widower, my mind spends the next six weeks building up to the dreaded birthday.

I guess you know you’re getting old when most of the music you listen to is by people who are dead.

And the daft thing is, as another one pops his clogs it’s like they’ve let me down by dying.

As each one goes, it’s another aspect of our own lives melting away.

When Alex Harvey died of a heart attack on a cross channel ferry in 1982, I was angry because it meant that the Sensational Alex Harvey Band (who from 1973-76 were MY band) would never get back together and put right the disappointment of that final album, 1978’s Rock Drill. How dare he die!

Similarly, when Lowell George passed away prematurely in 1979, the sadness was tinged with anger that Little Feat would never again reach the level of Dixie Chicken or Waiting For Columbus.

The same can be said for Jeff Buckley. Why jump into the Mississippi with your clothes on you numbtie? Look what you did. Why did you have to go and spoil everything?

It’s only for the very special and influential that we reserve our grief.

I’m not particularly a fan of Rush (12 intros, 12 outros and a twiddly bit in the middle with a bloke on helium singing), but the passing of drummer Neil Peart last week did resonate with me, firstly because he was undeniably a master of his craft (as a drummer, not as a lyricist – don’t get me started on that) and secondly because I can empathise with the fellow musicians and fans who are feeling as if a family member had died.

The death of John Lennon at the end of 1980 hit me in the same way because he had been the catalyst for me. It was seeing him on Thank Your Lucky Stars 57 years ago this very week that planted the seed in a five year-old’s head that the reason I could pick tunes out of any toy trumpet, piano or guitar put in front of me at such a young age was because I was a musician.

It’s probably the only moment of complete clarity in my entire life and I owe it to him.

He obviously never knew that and he wouldn’t have cared even if he did, but that’s the point. These people happened to create something which affected us deeply and we rewarded them by purchasing it. Beyond that transaction they owe us nothing.

We expect too much of our heroes. The payback for our adoration is that they must not only live forever, they must do it while keeping to the artistic standard that made us love them in the first place.

And that’s a very tall order.

Royal flushed

Speaking of being let down, when I said last week that Prince Harry and Meghan should hand back their HRH titles and repay the £2.4 spent renovating Frogmore Cottage, I didn’t for one minute think it would actually happen.

But for once, the Royals have correctly gauged the mood of a nation.

That the duchess has been treated differently in the national media to her sister-in-law is inescapable. It’s there for all to see and it brings shame on my profession.

But the people paying for that are all those supporters of the monarchy across the commonwealth (and indeed, the world) who have basically been dismissed as inconsequential by a couple they felt were in tune with them and, of course, a 93-year-old woman who is looking sadder by the day.

Deal done, now off you go.

Stupid TV quiz answers of the week:

Two crackers from the same contestant on Monday’s Tipping Point.

Question 1: Which Rowan Atkinson character created in 1990 is known for his distinctive tweed jacket?

Answer: Black Adder

Question 2: In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the fairy Robin Goodfellow is better known as what?

Answer: Tinkabell

He also didn’t know what an oxymoron was (well, if the cap fits…)



Edward Case