Andy Gill, guitarist and cofounder of the influential British postpunk band Gang of Four, died Saturday after a brief respiratory illness, according to a statement from the band. He was 64.
“Andy’s final tour in November was the only way he was going to bow out; with a Stratocaster around his neck, screaming with feedback and deafening the front row.,” the statement reads in part.
Via songs like “Damaged Goods,” “What We All Want,” “I Found That Essence Rare” and “I Love a Man in Uniform,” Gill’s jagged, lurching, innovative guitar work, a mixture of punk noise and ’60s R&B textures, was the band’s trademark and, along with acts like Public Image Ltd. and Joy Division, defined the sound of British post-punk. Gang of Four had a wide influence on many musicians that followed — R.E.M., Nirvana and many others cited the band as an influence. Gill also worked extensively as a producer over the years, producing the debut 1984 album from the Red Hot Chili Peppers — whose fusion of funk and punk-rock showed a distinct Gang of Four influence in the band’s early days — the Jesus Lizard, Futureheads, Killing Joke and others.
Gill cofounded the band with lead singer Jon King in 1976 while both were attending art school in the Northern English city of Leeds, a fertile source of late-period punk acts (the Mekons also hailed from there). With political-leaning lyrics influenced by socialism and anti-commercialism — a stance echoed in the band’s single and album artwork — and a name from the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Gang of Four’s propulsive and confrontational music quickly drove it to underground fame, and after an independently released 1978 single (“Damaged Goods”) and an enthusiastic cosign from the influential BBC DJ John Peel, the band rather ironically signed with Britain’s largest major label, EMI.
Terry Jones, founder member of Monty Python and director of three of Python’s celebrated feature films, has died aged 77, his family have announced. In a statement they said: “Terry passed away on the evening of 21 January 2020 at the age of 77 with his wife Anna Soderstrom by his side after a long, extremely brave but always good humoured battle with a rare form of dementia, FTD.”
…Born in Colwyn Bay, Wales, in 1942, Jones moved to England as a child, growing up in Surrey. While at Oxford studying English literature, he met fellow student Palin while performing in the Oxford Revue. After university, along with Palin, Jones wrote and performed in a string of TV shows alongside other future stars of British comedy – including Cleese, Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie, Eric Idle, Peter Cook and David Jason – on The Frost Report, Do Not Adjust Your Set and The Complete and Utter History of Britain.
In 1969, Palin and Jones joined Cambridge graduates Cleese and Graham Chapman – along with Idle and animator Terry Gilliam – on a BBC comedy sketch show. Eventually broadcast under the title Monty Python’s Flying Circus, it ran until 1974, with Jones largely writing with Palin (complementing Cleese’s partnership with Chapman). Seemingly chaotic, frequently surreal and formally daring, Monty Python’s Flying Circus would became one of the most influential shows in BBC history, revolutionising comedy formats, spawning scores of catchphrases, and inspiring an entire generation of comedians. Jones’s fondness for female impersonation was a key feature of the show, as was his erudite writing.
Neil Peart, the pyrotechnical drummer and high-concept lyricist for the Canadian progressive-rock trio Rush, died on Tuesday in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 67.
The cause was brain cancer, according to a statement by the band’s spokesman, Elliot Mintz.
Rush was formed in 1968 but found its long-term identity — as the trio of Geddy Lee on vocals, keyboards and bass, Alex Lifeson on guitars and Mr. Peart on drums — after Mr. Peart replaced the band’s founding drummer, John Rutsey, in 1974.
Mr. Peart’s lyrics transformed the band’s songs into multi-section suites exploring science fiction, magic and philosophy, often with the individualist and libertarian sentiments that informed songs like “Tom Sawyer” and “Freewill.” And Mr. Peart’s drumming was at once intricate and explosive, pinpointing odd meters and expanding the band’s power-trio dynamics; countless drummers admired his technical prowess.
Peart was one of rock’s greatest drummers, with a flamboyant yet utterly precise style that paid homage to his hero, the Who’s Keith Moon, while expanding the technical and imaginative possibilities of his instrument. He joined singer-bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson in Rush in 1974, and his musicianship and literate, wildly creative lyrics – which initially drew on Ayn Rand and science fiction, and later became more personal and emotive – helped make the trio one of the classic-rock era’s essential bands. His drum fills on songs like “Tom Sawyer” were pop hooks in their own right, each one an indelible mini-composition; his lengthy drum solos, carefully constructed and packed with drama, were highlights of every Rush concert.
Dr. Gabriel G. Nahas, a controversial medical researcher who became a prominent crusader against marijuana after being shocked to hear, at a PTA meeting in 1969, about the drug’s widespread use, died on June 28 in Manhattan. He was 92.
Dr. Nahas did research to find the physiological effects of smoking marijuana, wrote 10 books on the drug and became a leader of antidrug organizations. He was a visible ally of Nancy Reagan in her “just say no” to drugs campaign as the first lady in the 1980s.
Dr. Nahas saw his antidrug campaign as nothing less than a continuation of the fight against totalitarianism, which for him began during World War II as a decorated leader of the French Resistance; like totalitarianism, he believed, drugs enslaved the mind.
In 1972, he published his first book about the dangers of the drug, “Marihuana: Deceptive Weed.” In 1974, he announced that he had discovered a link between the drug and the body’s immune system. “The findings represent the first direct evidence of cellular damage from marijuana in man,” he said in a statement.
But scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, who studied the chromosomes of volunteers who smoked marijuana, found no deficiency in immune responses and no chromosome abnormalities, which Dr. Nahas had also predicted. Nevertheless, Dr. Nahas suggested that the results prompt reconsideration of a recent government report that marijuana’s dangers were less than those of alcohol.
His willingness to make strong political and social judgments was again evident in his more popular 1976 book, “Keep Off the Grass,” which contended that every marijuana user was a “pusher” of the drug.
Dr. Nahas’s conservatism extended beyond narcotics. In the 1970s, he marshaled his newly public persona to sign newspaper advertisements criticizing opponents of the Vietnam War.
What a sad thing to be remembered by history for doing: for causing hundreds of thousands of otherwise innocent people to be incarcerated. Marijuana is a plant – consuming it should not lead to losing ones citizenship and voting rights, should not lead to being raped in prison, should not lead to destruction of one’s freedoms. Dr. Nahas was an evil, misinformed man, if he was responsible for the Drug War, and Nancy Reagan’s ill-guided crusade against cannabis.
I’ve thought about this actually – what would happen if I died suddenly?1 My family would know, eventually, but what about people I know mostly from Flickr, or Twitter, or my blog, or wherever. What is the protocol for online death notices?
Suppose that just after you finish reading this article, you keel over, dead. Perhaps you’re ready for such an eventuality, in that you have prepared a will or made some sort of arrangement for the fate of the worldly goods you leave behind: financial assets, personal effects, belongings likely to have sentimental value to others and artifacts of your life like photographs, journals, letters. Even if you haven’t made such arrangements, all of this will get sorted one way or another, maybe in line with what you would have wanted, and maybe not.
But many of us, in these worst of circumstances, would also leave behind things that exist outside of those familiar categories. Suppose you blogged or tweeted about this article, or dashed off a Facebook status update, or uploaded a few snapshots from your iPhone to Flickr, and then logged off this mortal coil. It’s now taken for granted that the things we do online are reflections of who we are or announcements of who we wish to be. So what happens to this version of you that you’ve built with bits? Who will have access to which parts of it, and for how long?
Not many people have given serious thought to these questions. Maybe that’s partly because what we do online still feels somehow novel and ephemeral, although it really shouldn’t anymore. Or maybe it’s because pondering mortality is simply a downer. (Only about a third of Americans even have a will.) By and large, the major companies that enable our Web-articulated selves have vague policies about the fate of our digital afterlives, or no policies at all. Estate law has only begun to consider the topic. Leading thinkers on technology and culture are understandably far more focused on exciting potential futures, not on the most grim of inevitabilities.
Nevertheless: people die. For most of us, the fate of tweets and status updates and the like may seem trivial (who cares — I’ll be dead!). But increasingly we’re not leaving a record of life by culling and stowing away physical journals or shoeboxes of letters and photographs for heirs or the future. Instead, we are, collectively, busy producing fresh masses of life-affirming digital stuff: five billion images and counting on Flickr; hundreds of thousands of YouTube videos uploaded every day; oceans of content from 20 million bloggers and 500 million Facebook members; two billion tweets a month. Sites and services warehouse our musical and visual creations, personal data, shared opinions and taste declarations in the form of reviews and lists and ratings, even virtual scrapbook pages. Avatars left behind in World of Warcraft or Second Life can have financial or intellectual-property holdings in those alternate realities. We pile up digital possessions and expressions, and we tend to leave them piled up, like virtual hoarders.
Not to mention, what would happen to my unpublished photos? Some of them could even be good! Or all these half-finished writings? Who am I kidding, I don’t even have a regular will, so who is going to sort through my boxes of CDs? Ahem.2
A couple of years ago, a good friend of mine died of a brain tumor. I had never met her in the flesh,3 but she was still my friend. We met through my blog, and soon expanded our relationship to become email buddies, and we just clicked, talked about whatever friends talk about. Friends are friends, right? I still tear up thinking about her untimely death, I found out about it when her husband sent out a brief email, and posted a short obit on her webpage.
How will interactions like this unfold in the future? There are a lot of folk that I know solely from online interactions, yet they are still friends. I know I’m not the only one. What happens to the digital flotsam and jetsam that makes up our 21st C.E. life?
What about future biographers? What will they use to create a compelling record of a life lived? Gore Vidal was able to recreate most of Aaron Burr’s life through records and writings, what will happen when someone wants to write the history of a contemporary of Mark Zuckerberg?
I did have some odd heart palpitations actually, a few months ago, but I didn’t go to the doctor, and they have not reoccured. So I have ignored them unless I’m feeling particularly maudlin. [↩]
I really should make a will though. Do you have one? [↩]
though I would have if I ever had been to Los Angeles, or if she had come to Chicago [↩]
Charles Pierce remembers Portland Trailblazer legend, Maurice Lucas, in a reminiscence that begins:
Thirty-nine years ago this fall, I moved into the 11th floor of a 12-story dormitory at the corner of 16th Street and Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was a freshman at Marquette University. (The dorm, McCormick Hall, is round and shaped like a beer can, which is remarkably appropriate in more than the metaphorical sense, and the building has been rumored for almost 40 years to be sinking into middle Earth.) Not long after I moved in, I found myself intrigued by the music coming out from under the door of the room next to mine — music which I now know to have been “Eurydice,” the closing track from Weather Report’s astounding debut album. (Mmmmmm. Wayne Shorter!) As I was listening, an extremely large man came out of the room and introduced himself. “Pretty cool, isn’t it?’ he said.
And that was how I met Maurice Lucas.
For the next couple of years, we talked about music, at least as much as Luke talked to anyone, him being what you call your campus celebrity and all during the glory days of Warrior basketball and the high-sun period of Al McGuire Era. Whatever I know about any jazz recorded after the big band records to which my father listened — Mmmmmmm. Basie! — I learned from Luke, with whom I don’t believe I ever exchanged four words about basketball.
Pop hitmaker, cult hero, and Memphis rock iconoclast Alex Chilton has died.
The singer and guitarist, best known as a member of ’60s pop-soul act the Box Tops and the ’70s power-pop act Big Star, died today at a hospital in New Orleans. Chilton, 59, had been complaining of about his health earlier today. He was taken by paramedics to the emergency room where he was pronounced dead. The cause of death is believed to be a heart attack.
His Big Star bandmate Jody Stephens confirmed the news this evening. “Alex passed away a couple of hours ago,” Stephens said from Austin, Texas, where the band was to play Saturday at the annual South By Southwest Festival. “I don’t have a lot of particulars, but they kind of suspect that it was a heart attack.”
The Memphis-born Chilton rose to prominence at age 16, when his gruff vocals powered Box Tops massive hit “The Letter.” The band would score several more hits, including “Cry Like a Baby” and “Neon Rainbow.”
After the Box Tops ended in 1970, Chilton had a brief solo run in New York before returning to Memphis. He soon joined forces with a group of Anglo-pop-obsessed musicians, fellow songwriter/guitarist Chris Bell, bassist Andy Hummel and drummer Jody Stephens, to form Big Star.
The group became the flagship act for the local Ardent Studios’ new Stax-distributed label. Big Star’s 1972 debut album, #1 Record met with critical acclaim but poor sales. The group briefly disbanded, but reunited sans Bell to record the album Radio City. Released in 1974, the album suffered a similar fate, plagued by Stax’s distribution woes.
The group made one more album, Third/Sister Lovers, with just Chilton and Stephens — and it too was a minor masterpiece. Darker and more complex than the band’s previous pop-oriented material, it remained unreleased for several years. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine would name all three Big Star albums to its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
I’ve loved Big Star for as long as I knew their music (probably late 1980s or early 1990s), and the box set, Keep an Eye on the Sky was my favorite collection of last year. Big Star rewards repeated listens, especially with headphones.
Sigh. I’m sure there will lots of obituaries around the web, Big Star and Alex Chilton had influence far beyond their units-sold1.
Such a clear, strong voice. If you’ve listened to The Pogues, Sinead O’Connor, or even U2, you’ve heard his influence.
Liam Clancy, an Irish troubadour and the last surviving member of the singing Clancy Brothers, who found fame in the United States and helped spread the popularity of Irish folk music around the world, died on Thursday in Cork, Ireland. He was 74.
His death was announced by his family and reported on the Web site www.liamclancy.com. He had been treated for pulmonary fibrosis, a lung disease
Liam Clancy lived in Greenwich Village, where he befriended another young folk singer, Bob Dylan. They dated a pair of sisters, Mr. Clancy told interviewers. Recalling that time in an interview on Irish television two years ago, Mr. Clancy said that he, a Roman Catholic from rural Ireland, and Mr. Dylan, a Jew from a small Minnesota town, shared an important quality.
“People who were trying to escape repressed backgrounds, like mine and Bob Dylan’s, were congregating in Greenwich Village,” he said. “It was a place you could be yourself, where you could get away from the directives of the people who went before you, people who you loved but who you knew had blinkers on.”
Mr. Dylan told an interviewer in 1984: “I never heard a singer as good as Liam ever. He was just the best ballad singer I’d ever heard in my life. Still is, probably.”
Featuring exclusive footage, interviews and additional performances from the man Bob Dylan called “the best ballad singer I ever heard in my whole life. Still is, probably”
Free delivery within Ireland. Orders will be delivered to Irish addresses from October 30th and to UK addresses from Nov 9th.
This is a Region 2 DVD and may not be viewable outside Europe.
Please be advised that we can only ship to addresses in Ireland and the UK. We can not process orders outside of these territories.
Feature Run Time: 110’
Extras: Film Trailer | Interviews | Additional Performances including “Those Were The Days” from the White Horse Tavern, New York and “Brennan On The Moor” | Liam at home with friends
In the interview he talks about The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Maken and their huge success worldwide, where they outsold the Beatles and played for JFK. The new documentary released in cinemas in 2009 is directed by Alan Gilsenan.
Today’s New York Times Magazine has an awkward typo: William Safire, who died September 27th, is listed as being on hiatus. Yikes. Last week’s NYT Magazine said Safire “is on hiatus for a few weeks.” Ok, last weeks magazine was excusable, it was only a couple of days after Mr. Safire’s death. But to alter the byline means someone edited it since last week. Awkward…
Robert Novak will always be remembered as a traitor to his country.1
Eric Alterman writes:
While six journalists were approached by Bush officials to reveal Valerie Plame’s identity as an undercover CIA agent, only Novak did so. This even though Bill Harlow, the agency’s spokesman at the time, warned Novak, as he later testified, in the strongest possible terms that Plame’s name should not be made public lest it endanger the operations and people with whom she had been secretly associated. Though Novak refused to admit it in public, he gave up his source almost immediately to Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation while other journalists–who did not out Plame–languished in jail and legal limbo. When, after the case ended, CNN finally prepared to ask Novak about his actions, he screamed “Bullshit!” on the air and stalked off the show before the questioning began. He never returned to the network that had paid him and promoted his analysis for more than two decades.
Novak also joined in on the smearing of war-hero John Kerry:
Novak also ceaselessly promoted the lies of the “Swift Boat Veterans” about John Kerry, both on television and in an admiring review of their movement bible Unfit for Command. He did so without revealing that his son, Alex, was in charge of the book’s publicity or that the book’s publisher, Regnery, was owned by the very same person whose company, Eagle Publishing, distributes the $297-per-year “Evans-Novak Political Report.
Some backstory to the Plame case here if you’ve already forgotten. There are undoubtedly much better sources elsewhere, but these links will give you a flavor at least [↩]
In 1938, the Supreme Court, in a 6-2 decision1, ruled that the segregated University of Missouri Law School had to admit Lloyd Lionel Gaines, but he never made it there.
Lloyd Gaines was moody that winter of 1939, acting not at all like a man who had just triumphed in one of the biggest Supreme Court cases in decades. And oddly, even though it was raining and the sidewalks of Chicago were clogged with slush, he felt a need to buy postage stamps one night.
Or so he told a friend just before he left his apartment house on March 19, 1939, never to be seen again. Had he not vanished at 28, Lloyd Gaines might be in the pantheon of civil rights history with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall and other giants whose names will be invoked at the centennial convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which started this weekend in Manhattan.
Instead, Mr. Gaines has been consigned to one of history’s side rooms, his name recalled mainly by legal scholars and relatives, like Tracy Berry, an assistant United States attorney in St. Louis whose grandmother was Mr. Gaines’s sister.
“He was taken away and more than likely killed,” Ms. Berry said when asked to speculate on his fate. She said Mr. Gaines was known in family lore as “a caring, loving brother and son” who would not have chosen to disappear or commit suicide, despite the pressure he was under.
I’m nearly done reading American Pharaoh, and so much of the book is about race relations in Chicago. I am amazed how virulent the hatred towards blacks was, even as late as the 1970s. Not that there isn’t still racism in Chicago2, but I can’t imagine bigots throwing rocks and burning bottles at police for daring to attempt to protect black families from harm. I’m unsure as to the exact circumstances that led to Mr. Gaines’ death (was it abduction by bigots, or something else?), but the racism was so ingrained in Chicago of the last century, I am not surprised if he was actually murdered.
update, post-racial, like in swimming pools in Huntingdon Valley, PA, as illustrated by Tony Auth.