It is depressing but accurate to note how inexorably the internet bends toward death, and how much of the work of professional critics these days is announcing it, verifying it, and making sense of it (often in that order, unfortunately). Michael Jackson, as in so many other things, proved prophetic in this regard; as we wrote last year, “the TMZ-led, wall-to-wall coverage of Jackson’s last hours proved to be an augur of what, by August, was being dubbed the ‘Summer of Death’–a phenomenon abetted if not entirely created by the ascendance of Twitter, where user avatars tinted green in solidarity with Iran’s dissenters solemnly announced the passing of everyone from David Carradine to DJ AM to Gidget the Chihuahua.” That’s as true as it ever was. But it also bears remembering at the end of the year–work aside–how many of our best that we’ve lost. Sometimes it’s easy to forget, but let’s not. A brief roll call:
Captain Beefheart. Ariel Panero. Gregory Isaacs. Ari Up. Abbey Lincoln. Melvin Bliss. Andy Hummel. Tuli Kupferberg. Harvey Pekar. Rammellzee. Hank Jones. Ronnie James Dio. Lena Horne. Guru. Peter Steele. Steve Reid. Malcolm McLaren. Alex Chilton. Mark Linkous. Alan Carton. Kate McGarrigle. Teddy Pendergrass. Jay Reatard.
And many others too. The New York Times put together a sound-collage-and-video tribute to the men and women in music who died this year, not all of them listed above. It’s simultaneously heartening and deeply depressing. Farewell all.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 23, 2010