Monthly Archives: December 2016

How Many People Have Died This Year

Hi folks. It is near the end of 2016, the year of the Grim Reaper. Yes, this year will go down as the year the Grim Reaper made headlines by killing off many celebrities who have entertained us throughout our lives. Can you possibly count how many people have died this year? I mean, counting all the big-name celebrities who are no longer with us. Just recently within the past hour or so I learned that Debbie Reynolds, the mother of Carrie Fisher, the voice of Princess Leia has just died, shortly after her daughter has joined the parade of dead people.
Obviously, death is a natural part of life but let’s be honest here, this year was a real downer, if you are a fan of nearly all kinds of music: from country to metal, from jazz pop to dance Pop. Let us not forget the actors who have passed on leaving their mark on such things as the Harry Potter movies, the TV show Growing Pains and The Brady Bunch. We are being robbed of our favourite entertainers and unfortunately, that is the way the cooky crumbles for this year.
Let’s not forget how young most of the people who have passed on. Most of them haven’t even reached the age of 70 and David Bowie, who was the first one to fall this year was only 69, along with Alan Thicke. Singer George Michael was only 53, when he died Christmas Day. Even the two recent passing of legendary North American broadcasters (Bob Coburn and scruff Connors) were only 68 and 64 respectively. I’ve talked with both men on their respective radio shows at least once and in the case of Bob Coburn and his radio show called Rockline, I managed to call in and talk to The Cult. Actually, I had a chance to ask Singer Ian Asberry and guitarist Billy Duffy about writing songs on the road. I should also mention that this was when the album Electric was out and I was 14 years old and, my voice hadn’t changed yet.
In the case of scruff Connors, I had heard him on at least three radio stations in my lifetime and his lifetime, for that matter. I called in when he was working at Mojo Radio and his guest was David Phillips of Environment Canada. I never got to meet either of those people but they both left an impression on me, which was positive and I’m very grateful that they were in my life, if even only from a distance via the radio.
Even The Simpsons wasn’t spared from the year of death. A couple of guest starres and a writer had been taken from us, way too soon. I’m just glad that none of the voice actors have bought the farm yet and I hope they are with us for a long time.
If we could stop all these deaths from happening I would be the first one to try and do it.  I’ve never had to touch a dead body and I don’t want to either. I’ve heard about what it is like and it sounds really awful, that someone you knew and loved who was breathing is now lifeless and their skin is all dry, with all the moisture taken out of their body. The death that surprised me the most  was Frank Sinatra Junior. From where I sit, he sounded to me like a very nice man, compared to his father and people had said he was one of the good ones. how many good guys do you know who have passed on? My guess is many, especially in the entertainment business. somehow I believe that George Carline was also a good guy, despite that his comedy in his more recent years was very dark. oh yeah, let us not forget that the album I Kinda Like It When A Lotta People Die came out this year, as George Carlin’s second posthumous release. His first was his 2008 album It’s Bad For Yah. All though it could also be his final album, recorded while he was alive. Anyway, I digress.
Will 2017 be another year of entertainers buying the farm at a high rate? I don’t know but I have to say possibly yes. We are going to see more and more of our celebrity heroes dying off and there will be more and more people from the current generation, paying tribute and talking about how they grew up with the celebrity Who had just died. Also, some talkshows Will focus on how people died and they already are, in some cases. For example: after Alan Thicke, George Michael and Carrie fisher had died, a talk radio station in Toronto, focussed on how they died and that their deaths were caused by either heart attack, heart failure or aortic dissection, which I had never even heard of until Alan Thicke passed away.
I wonder who will buy the farm this year. There are many big names reaching past 70 years old and some are even hitting 80 this year. Bill Cosby will be 80 years old on July 12 and Tommy Chong will be 79 this year, although he sounds years younger than that. We even have many people who are just turning 90 this year or older and could they be on the way to see the Grim Reaper? Even vera Lynn is still alive and she was one of the big singers during World War II And she is well into her 90s.
Anyway, let’s hope this year is done with, without anybody passing away today, tomorrow or New Year’s Eve.

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Three Christmas Favourites For 2016

Hi folks. This post is my pre-Christmas post in this blog, about 3 of my favourite Christmas songs. The one thing they have in common is that they are not traditional Christmas carols and are original songs written by the artists. Something else they have in common is that they are not necessarily well known by the mainstream and only to the audience of the band and or radio format they are played on.
The first song on my list is Thank God It’s Christmas by Queen, which is written by guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor. This song was released in December 1984 at the end of The Works’s album cycle and it has appeared on a couple of Queen albums since. The most recent appearance is on the 2011 Deluxe version of The Works. I had performed it in 1992, with my best friend Bob Reid at our school and it went over well.
Fairytale of New York by The Pogues is my second choice as one of my favourites. I had actually heard it for the first time, during Christmas 1995 and it didn’t really catch on with me, until some time in the last 7 years or so when I had heard it on more radio stations and recently read about the song on Wikipedia. It’s the second least known of my choices but I like it because of the dialog in the song and the fact that the woman refers to the man as “you scumbag you Magette, you cheap lousy faggot” probably referring to the man’s drunkenness.
My third choice and the least known for sure, of all three songs is x-M@$ by Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour. It was release in 2010 as a Christmas single, with any money from sails going to charity. In the song, The protagonist is a man who hates Christmas and all that goes with it and would rather be drunk or stoned on this Yuletide holiday. There are even a few four letter words in the song and a clean version was also produced for radio and for people who would be offended.
To those who would expect a more traditional song from Corey, I say that it isn’t surprising that he wrote a song for those who hate Christmas and also, Corey plays music that is subversive and is not for the Grandma’s and Grandpa’s of the world. It’s for the younger croud of 50 and under who would get that the song is not a serious hatred of Christmas tune, from the singer. I’ve heard that Corey actually likes Christmas and I believe him. I’ve met him and despite him throwing people out of Slipknot shows and throwing water on people, who are texting during the concert, I have nothing bad to say about him. He was great to me and we had Tim Hortons coffee together and he had it black and I had a double-double.
I have other songs which I could have chosen but I will leave them for future Christmas posts. If you want to hear any of the three I have listed here, you can find all three on Youtube and I will leave that to you to look for them. Have a great Christmas and a happy and healthy 2017.

The Day The Music Was Murdered

Hi folks. Today is a sad day for me, when it comes to some of my favourite bands and I will explain why, as you read the rest of this post.
Today marks the anniversaries of two murders in rock and heavy metal music and they have both affected me in varying degrees. On December 8, 1980 John Lennon, probably the most famous of the Beatles was shot and killed by mark david chapman, outside of his apartment in New York City. This took place after both him and Yoko Ono had finished a recording session for a song, which would appear on a Yoko Ono album years later. It’s all there on Wikipedia if you would like more information about the events that day. However I will say that John conducted his last interview that day, a few hours before mark david chapman murdered John. You will notice I didn’t capitalize his name because like the other murderer in this post, they don’t deserve to have their names written out properly, as they have killed two important iconic musicians who were and are loved by millions around the world.
Also on December 8th 2004, guitarist Dimebag daryl Lance Abbott was also murdered by a piece of nothing named nathan gail. The difference being that this murder took place in full view of everybody, who was at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus Ohio. This merger took place while Daryl was on stage with his band Damageplan and his brother Vincent Paul Abbott on drums, as they both were on their respective instruments and Pantera. The other big difference with the story is that in this case the murderer was killed, after he had shot, killed and or wounded various members of the road crew or fans. Then, a policeman came in and fired one shot and killed nathan gail, thus saving the lives of many people including Vinny Paul.
Now I will talk about where I was when I heard about both murders. In the case of John Lennon, I heard about it when I was at school when one of the staff mentioned it to me. He said something like “he was shot and he fell down” and I immediately thought that he was killed. I didn’t know yet that you could be shot and survive! I and many other fans of The Beatles were very saddened to hear of this and years later, it finally clicked and how important a figure John Lennon was to not just music but other things like politics. We’ve been robbed of a man who was a very good wordsmith and brought genres like musique concrete almost to the mainstream. If he was alive today I think he would be quite impressed with all the music out there, including the grunge, industrial, Brit pop and even ban such as Radiohead. Of course, he would always go back to his childhood music such as: Gene Vincent, Elvis Presley, buddy holly and the other people he listen to before getting full-time into music. Also, I learned to write songs through a radio program about him called The Lost Lennon Tapes. Most of the demo recordings ended up on the Beatles Anthology albums and elsewhere and that gave me more of the drive to want to try to be a musician.
In the case of Dimebag Darrell, I had actually seen him back in June 2001, when Pantera and a number of other bands played at what was then known as Copps Coliseum, now known as First Ontario Center in Hamilton Ontario Canada. One thing I can talk about is that some asshole threw a beer on me during the first song of one of the opening bands sets. In case you’re wondering, I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt plus my shoes and socks at the time and yes, I did kind of smell like a brewery for a while. However, it was a great show and of course, the last time Pantera would set foot in Canada before both the September 11 attacks and their break up.
 When the album New Found Power from Damageplan was released in 2004, I bought it on CD the day it came out and I loved it instantly. A highlight for me is the guitar solo on the song Moment Of Truth, which should have been released as a single. Then December 8th happened and I had actually heard about it the next morning at home on the radio. At first nobody said if any one was killed but I learned soon after hearing about it that it was Daryl, who had been murdered. It also happened that I was doing my grocery shopping that day and as you can imagine, it was difficult to concentrate after hearing such tragic news.
As for how heavy music has changed since then, not much has changed except the increase in guitar solos from newer bands like: Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch. Even bands like Mud Vayne decided to start putting guitar solos on their albums to augment the sound.
As a guitar player, I was and still am impressed with all the things he is done on Pantera albums and on New Found Power. I’m also quite happy that Brian May of Queen spoke up about the death of Daryl and I have a sneaking suspicion that Daryl was influence partly by Brian and his playing as well. However, he has never said that in interviews that I know of. If Daryl was alive today, I think that he would still be making music and still have the chops. Both of these guys were taken from us too early and if I could go back in time, I would make sure that they were both out of the way, of any danger to their lives.
As for the killers, I am glad that mark david chapman hasn’t been allowed to be paroled and I hope it stays that way. He can say sorry for what he did all he wants but it won’t change the fact that he did what he did to John Lennon. As for nathan gail, he got what he deserved and I’m happy. As for the families, I am glad that everyone is doing what they are doing and I am on their side, with all the annual events and such. I the case of the Lennon estate, keep fighting to keep mark david chapman behind bars and when he dies I will be happy. Shouldn’t he be on death row? After all, he did kill somebody and he knew what he was doing.
Anyway, I will be listening to an album with John Lennons last interview, which is available on iTunes and as for Daryl, I will probably be listening to New Found Power today as well.