Monday, October 29, 2012

The Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars

Once you’re dead you’re made for life.

--Jimi Hendrix

Halloween, the Day of the Dead and All Soul’s Day are perfect times to ruminate on death.  It is a time of the year when it is perfectly acceptable, even creditable, to indulge your morbid side by reading the obituaries, necrographies and death trivia of your favorite musicians.  To that end, we irreverently recommend The Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars by Jeremy Simmonds.

Are you familiar with the Curse of the Buzzcocks? Do you know which popular singing group has more deceased members than any other pop act?  [The Drifters.]  Or which 1991 accident is considered “the biggest single band wipe-out ever in popular music history?”  [Plane crash, the Reba McEntire Band].

The Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars consists of succinct articles arranged chronologically, in order of death date.  Each entry is preceded by symbols indicating cause of death, whether it be natural, heart attack, murder, accident, poisoning, and so on.  Indulge in the multi-icon artists!  Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Jim Morrison, and David McComb of the Triffids have five or more such symbols indicating complicated deaths (as well as lives, apparently).

This book is also peppered with interesting and prophetic quotes, such as:

‘You’re drinking with Number Three.’  
-- Jim Morrison, to friends after hearing of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix’s deaths.

‘I’ll probably be popped off by some loony!’ 
--John Lennon, interviewed during the sixties.

‘You win -- I gain.’ 
--Karen Carpenter’s cryptic crocheted message above her New York hospital bed, 1982.

Reading List:

Better to Burn Out: The Cult of Death in Rock 'n Roll by Dave Thompson (Thunder's Mouth Press, 1999).

The Encyclopedia of Rock Obituaries by Nick Talevski (Omnibus Press, 1999).  

"Rock Death in the 1970s: A Sweepstakes," from In theFascist Bathroom: Punk in Pop Music, 1977-1992 by Greil Marcus.

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