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Robin Williams’ friendship with the Stranglers
12.19.2014
07:10 am

Topics:
Punk
R.I.P.

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When Robin Williams died in August, one of the most unexpected eulogies came from JJ Burnel, the bassist and singer in the Stranglers, who says that he and Williams struck up a friendship in the early 80s. Burnel writes that Williams visited England in 1982 and stayed at the house of drummer Jet Black, where the Stranglers were rehearsing the songs for Feline. Williams then stayed at Burnel’s house in Cambridgeshire, where the comedian and his first wife, Valerie Velardi, reportedly conceived their son Zak. Burnel remembers:

It is with great sadness that I woke up on Tuesday 12th of August to learn of the death of Robin Williams, the actor, comedian, musician and all round genius.

The word genius is often too readily used but having known the man I can vouchsafe the term is appropriate in his case.

I met him through a girlfriend of mine in the early eighties. She had met him in Los Angeles through a film cameraman called Dave Stump, a friend with whom he played in a band. At the time he had just become famous through a tv series called Mork and Mindy and the film Popeye.

When the Stranglers were to play on the west coast of the US he had invited me to stay at his house on his ranch in the Napa valley. He was a wonderful host and I soon started to appreciate his fame when I went out to dinner with him in San Francisco and saw the effect he had on a whole restaurant when he entertained them as a distraction to afford us, his guests, a diversion from the attention.

I reciprocated the gesture when he flew over to Europe with his then wife Val and met him at Heathrow. The Stranglers were in the middle of preparing Feline at Jet’s house in the west country and he was going to hang out with us at Jet’s and then come over to my house in Cambridgeshire for a few days.

Every evening we would stop rehearsals to go down to a local pub before resuming work. He would come down with us and that was when we would discover the multiple personalities and the continuous flow of ideas and comic repartee that had us all in stitches. He would literally have conversations with himself and the other personalities he inhabited.

After a week at Jet’s I drove him over to my house. I would like to think that it was the laid back atmosphere on the Fens that allowed him to conceive his son Zak at my house in the summer of 1982. At least that’s what his wife told me later.

After that, as his Hollywood career took off, he would call me whenever he was in London.

Over the years we lost touch but I have nothing but very fond memories of a very talented and genuine person.

If it is true as to the way of his death it is only testimony to his great sensibility and humanity and the world is a much poorer place for his disappearance.

The Stranglers’ original vocalist and guitarist, Hugh Cornwell, devoted two pages of his 2004 book A Multitude of Sins to memories of encounters with singer Robbie Williams, drummer Robert Williams, and comedian Robin Williams. Cornwell’s account would put Robin Williams’ visit with the Stranglers about a year earlier than Burnel’s, but Zak was born in 1983, so Cornwell is either mistaken about which album they were working on or recalling a separate visit.

I’m jogging with Robin Williams in Gloucestershire. John Burnel has met him somewhere at a celebrity dinner and he’s come down to hang out with us while we rehearse before recording the La Folie album. He’s a lovely bloke and expresses a desire to come running with me first thing every morning. He’s in good shape and is keeping up with me, even though I’ve been doing it regularly. He’s a bundle of energy and constantly comes up with funny life observations. Jet’s got a souped-up Fiesta with lots of lights mounted on the front bumper and Robin asks me if he has to pull a trailer carrying a battery for the extra lights.

 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Norma Bates: Woman slept with dead mother for five years
11.20.2014
08:22 am

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R.I.P.
Unorthodox

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smmpsych123.jpg
 
The emotional trauma caused by the death of a loved one can cause humans to grieve in some tragic and bizarre ways. I was once at a funeral where a distraught wife attempted to hurl herself on top of her husband’s coffin as it was lowered into the ground. This is nothing compared to the poor grief-stricken 55-year-old German woman who slept beside the mummified remains of her dead mother at their home in the suburb of Blumenau, Munich, for five years.

As The Local reports, neighbors became suspicious over the mother’s disappearance and contacted authorities. A local social worker then tried several times by telephone to arrange a visit to the daughter, but was fobbed off with various excuses. The social worker then decided to visit the apartment in person.

When the daughter wouldn’t open the door, he called the police. They and the fire service were able to get the door open and discovered the body inside in a double bed which the daughter had been sharing.

The daughter later admitted during questioning that her mother had died during March of 2009. She has been sent to a psychiatric institution.

An autopsy produced no evidence of foul play in the mother’s death.

Sleeping with the bodies of dead partners or relatives is not that uncommon. In 2013, New York police made a grim discovery when they visited the apartment of 28-year-old Chava Stirn, where they found the distraught young woman had been living with the skeletal remains of her dead mother. Stirn would sleep beside her mother’s remains she had placed on a chair. She would also lay the body on the table during meal times.
 
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The body of Marcel H.
 
In 2013, Belgian police discovered a 69-year-old woman had been sleeping with the mummified remains of her dead 79-year-old husband, Marcel H. for almost a year. The woman had been too distraught to notify the authorities over her husband’s demise after an asthma attack and had kept him in bed. The police were only notified after the woman had failed to pay her rent.

Le Van, a 55-year-old Vietnamese man, exhumed his dead wife, wrapped her in a paper effigy, and slept with the corpse for five years.
 
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Le Van and his dead wife.
 
In 2003, Xie Yuchen was found to have slept with his dead wife for eight years, after she died of a cerebral haemorrhage in 1995, while a woman in Argentina traveled to Mexico to sleep in the mausoleum of her dead husband. She told police:

“When you love someone, you do all sorts of things.”

 

 
H/T The Local.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
R.I.P. Jack Bruce of Cream
10.25.2014
09:22 am

Topics:
Heroes
Music
R.I.P.

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This morning, the home page of the great British blues/rock bassist Jack Bruce announced his passing, of unspecified causes.
 

 
Bruce was of course best known as the bassist and singer of Cream, the heavy blues-rock band of the late ‘60s that is justly credited with contributing to the invention of heavy metal, and which also featured guitarist Eric Clapton and completely insane drummer Ginger Baker. After that band’s dissolution, Bruce was the only band member not to join Blind Faith, instead pursuing a career playing bass in jazz and blues trios, and working solo, and notably, he was the bassist on almost all of Lou Reed’s high-watermark album Berlin.

Just six months ago, Bruce released his first solo album in over ten years, Silver Rails. It will presumably be his last word, though there will surely be some posthumous blood-from-a-stone compilations in the offing. There’s excellent background info on Bruce’s early career (and terrific recent interview footage with him) in the must-see Ginger Baker documentary Beware of Mr. Baker, which is streaming on Netflix. The 1969 documentary on Bruce, Rope Ladder To The Moon details his early solo career. You can watch it here. Among other great performance moments to be seen here, about 17 minutes in there’s some SCORCHING live footage of Bruce playing upright jazz bass with Dick Heckstall-Smith and John Hiseman of the British prog/jazz/rock band Colosseum. The song is “Over the Cliff” from the 1970 LP Things We Like. Naturally there’s Cream footage included, as well.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Guided By Voices have broken up
09.18.2014
03:25 pm

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Music
R.I.P.

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Fans of that great Dayton, OH indie band Guided By Voices have been greeted with a rather startling and not terribly informative goodbye on the band’s tour date page:

Guided By Voices has come to an end. With 4 years of great shows and six killer albums, it was a hell of a comeback run. The remaining shows in the next two months are unfortunately canceled. Our sincere apologies to those that have purchased tickets and made travel plans. Thanks to everyone who has supported GBV.

The band’s classic lineup from the 1993-‘96 era reunited in 2010, and immediately set about becoming as insanely prolific as they were the first time around. 2014 alone saw two full length releases, Motivational Jumpsuit and Cool Planet. The band’s fall tour would have kicked off in Portland, OR next week. Given the number of incarnations the band has been through, though, it hardly seems out of the question that one of the 1998-2005 lineups could be resurrected if Doug Gillard could be tempted away from Nada Surf.

Here’s one of the band’s last songs (unless/until singer Robert Pollard gets a wild hair up his ass to do it again…), “Planet Score” from Motivational Jumpsuit.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘Dick’ Butt, rest in peace
09.03.2014
11:17 am

Topics:
Amusing
R.I.P.

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They played it straight when they posted this one over at Death and Taxes this morning, for obvious reasons:

On Friday, 93-year-old Richard A. “Dick” Butt passed away in his hometown of Spokane, Washington, after struggling with heart disease for several months. He was born in Washington state on April 4, 1921, and had seven siblings. His parents, Will and Helen Butt, raised him on a farm. The obituary in the Spokesman Review noted that, in high school, Dick “was remembered for his pitching prowess.”

He’s probably recalled for something else, too…

 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Robin Williams immortalized in street art
08.14.2014
03:25 pm

Topics:
Art
R.I.P.

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A nice Robin Williams tribute spotted in Belgrade, Serbia. The artist at this time is unknown. If you know who did this I will update the post.

Apparently Williams was in early stages of Parkinson’s disease according to his widow’s statement.

via ANIMAL

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Classic album covers minus deceased band members
07.15.2014
06:21 am

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture
R.I.P.

Tags:
Jeff Buckley
Ol Dirty Bstard


 
Over the weekend, when the sad news spread about the passing of Tommy Ramone, a really touching image circulated online, showing the Ramones debut LP, then the same cover with Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee Photoshopped out, and then, at last, Tommy removed as well. Dangerous Minds even shared it on our Facebook page.
 

 
The middle image, of Tommy standing alone in front of that iconic brick wall, seems to have come from a Tumblr called “Live! (I See Dead People),” which is devoted entirely to skillfully removing deceased musicians from their LP covers—sort of like “Garfield Minus Garfield,” but with a more serious intent. The subjects range from cult figures like Nick Drake to canonical rock stars like Nirvana and The Doors, and the results are often quite poignant. The blog hasn’t been updated in almost three years, so it seems unlikely the artists behind this project, Jean-Marie Delbes and Hatim El Hihi, will re-do that Ramones cover. Indeed, their Morrison Hotel still features Ray Manzarek, who passed on a little over a year ago.
 

New York Dolls, s/t
 

Ol Dirty Bastard, Return to the 36 Chambers
 

Nick Drake, Bryter Layter
 

The Who, Odds & Sods
 

Johnny Thunders, So Alone
 

George Harrison, All Things Must Pass
 

Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit
 

Jeff Buckley, Grace
 

The Doors, Morrison Hotel
 

John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Double Fantasy
 

The Clash, s/t
 

Elvis Presley, s/t
 

 
Hat-tip to Derf for this find.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Tommy Ramone, RIP: Last original member of Ramones passes
07.11.2014
09:09 pm

Topics:
Punk
R.I.P.

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Tommy Ramone, aka Thomas Erdelyi, the last surviving member of the original Ramones died today at his home in Ridgewood, Queens. He was 62 (several sources say 65) and had been in hospice care following treatment for cancer of the bile duct. The time of death was 12:15pm. Claudia Tienan, his partner of 40 years, asked Andy Schwartz, former editor of NY Rocker (among many other things) to make the announcement of his passing.

Tommy and guitarist John Cummings (Johnny Ramone) first got together in a high school garage band called the Tangerine Puppets. When the Ramones formed, he was supposed to be their manager, but ended up becoming the drummer from 1974 to 1978 and producing several of their albums. Tommy was always considered the most “normal” Ramone.

Post Ramones, Erdelyi produced the Replacements Tim album and Redd Kross’s Neurotica. In recent years he’d been playing bluegrass and folk with Claudia Tienan as Uncle Monk.

Below, The Ramones perform “Havana Affair” and “Listen to My Heart"at Max’s Kansas City, October 8th, 1976:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Rik Mayall in ‘Don’t Fear Death,’ one of his final works
06.09.2014
01:03 pm

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R.I.P.
Television

Tags:

llayamkir0101.jpg
 
You know how we’re all affected by certain celebrity deaths that shock and sadden, and knock the wind from you, making the world seem that little less exciting? Like the end of the summer holidays, or clearing up after that great party, when all the presents have been opened, the guests have all gone, the food and drink taken, and there’s only the clearing up and hangover to be faced. That’s kinda how I feel about Rik Mayall, who died today at the age of 56.

Some of you will say Elvis or Lennon or Cobain, or maybe Tupac or Winehouse or Hoffman, and of course I’ll agree, but they didn’t sink as deeply or sting as much as Mayall’s death did today. I thought him the funniest, most joyous and fearless comic I’d ever seen, and someone who was admirable because of that. He never stuck with the “a man walked into a bar” jokes,” or easy targets of politics that many of his contemporaries did, or even tried to win over the audience and pick on people for a cheap laugh, no. Rather, Mayall made himself the focus of the comedy, he was his own punchline, and as such was exuberant, joyful, yes often juvenile, and daft, but never, ever dull.

One of the last things Rik Mayall did for TV before his untimely death was to voice an animation for Channel 4 called Don’t Fear Death. Written and produced by Louis Hudson and Ian Ravenscroft, this three-minute animation explores the “benefits” of being dead, ironically suggesting that death “is your passport to complete and utter freedom. No pulse, no responsibilities. Carpe mortem – seize death.”

RIP Rik Mayall comedy genius 1958-2014.
 

 
Via Daily Telegraph, with thanks to Michael Gallagher
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
H.R. Giger and Debbie Harry interview, 1981
05.13.2014
06:40 am

Topics:
Art
Movies
Music
R.I.P.

Tags:


 
Sad news is spreading this morning: Swiss surrealist artist H.R Giger has died. Giger is famous as the designer of the eponymous creature and bizarre sets for the film Alien, and for a lifetime’s worth of beautiful and disturbing organic/machine hybrid body-horror paintings (he called them “biomechanoids”). He also became a part of the music world when his works were used as album covers for the likes Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Magma, Celtic Frost and Danzig, among many others. Notoriously his “Penis Landscape” was included as a poster in Dead Kennedys’ Frankenchrist LP, setting in motion an avalanche of censorship and legal difficulties which derailed the band.

Here’s a 1981 British television interview with Giger and Blondie singer Debbie Harry. The occasion for the seemingly odd pairing is Giger’s portrait of Harry for her debut solo LP, KooKoo. Giger also made videos for the album’s songs “Backfired” and “Now I Know You Know.”
 

 
The music videos are seriously dated by a quaint, acutely ‘80s video cheapness, but they’re still pretty damn cool. They’re by Giger, after all.

 

 
Many thanks to the ever-resourceful Beth Piwkowski for this find.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
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