Archive for the ‘In Memoriam’ Category

Today marks the 20th and 12th anniversaries of the deaths of Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley. Take some time to reflect on them, their music, and their individual legacies.

Kurt Cobain:

Layne Staley:

Beyond these links and videos, if you want to know more about both of them and the broader Seattle scene in general, I would highly recommend reading Greg Prato’s Grunge Is Dead and Mark Yarm’s Everybody Loves Our Town.


Today marks the tenth anniversary of Alice in Chains frontman Layne Staley’s death. Check out this analysis/retrospective I filed for The Atlantic about Layne’s life and career, which includes a few interesting anecdotes and details from the research I’ve been doing for my book.

You knew this was going to happen… Somebody edited the video of North Koreans mourning the death of Kim Jong Il and set it to the “I’m So Ronery” song from Team America: World Police.

Some sad news earlier this week

Steven P. Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple who helped usher in the era of personal computers and then led a cultural transformation in the way music, movies and mobile communications were experienced in the digital age, died Wednesday. He was 56.

The death was announced by Apple, the company Mr. Jobs and his high school friend Stephen Wozniak started in 1976 in a suburban California garage. A friend of the family said the cause was complications of pancreatic cancer.

Mr. Jobs had waged a long and public struggle with the disease, remaining the face of the company even as he underwent treatment, introducing new products for a global market in his trademark blue jeans even as he grew gaunt and frail.

He underwent surgery in 2004, received a liver transplant in 2009 and took three medical leaves of absence as Apple’s chief executive before stepping down in August and turning over the helm to Timothy D. Cook, the chief operating officer. When he left, he was still engaged in the company’s affairs, negotiating with another Silicon Valley executive only weeks earlier.

“I have always said that if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s C.E.O., I would be the first to let you know,” Mr. Jobs said in a letter released by the company. “Unfortunately, that day has come.”

By then, having mastered digital technology and capitalized on his intuitive marketing sense, Mr. Jobs had largely come to define the personal computer industry and an array of digital consumer and entertainment businesses centered on the Internet. He had also become a very rich man, worth an estimated $8.3 billion.

What a shame… He really was the Willy Wonka of Silicon Valley. Perhaps the best epitaph for him is this Apple commercial from a few years ago, with voiceover narration by Richard Dreyfus, I believe:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them, because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

Also worth noting – the release date for Walter Isaacson’s forthcoming biography of Steve Jobs has been pushed up to October 24 and is now the #1 book on Amazon.

Here’s a good collection of Steve Jobs quotes compiled by the Huffington Post, and his famous commencement address at Stanford in 2005.

RIP, Steve. You truly changed the world and made it a better place.

A sad day… the last surviving member of one of rock’s great power trios has passed on.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s drummer Mitch Mitchell was found dead in a downtown Portland hotel Wednesday.

The Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s office said 61-year-old Mitch Mitchell likely died of natural causes. His body was found just after 3 a.m. at the Benson Hotel.

An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday.

Mitchell had been playing with the Experience Hendrix tour that just made a stop in Portland at the Schnitz last Friday.

Mitchell might not be one of the greatest drummers in rock history, but his style of playing suited the Experience perfectly. In order for a band to be successful, it’s not about how proficient or creative they are as individual musicians (although that certainly helps), but rather it’s about how their chemistry makes them work as a cohesive unit. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Room Full of Mirrors, Charles R. Cross’s definitive biography of Jimi Hendrix.


Posted: October 17, 2006 in In Memoriam, Music, Pop Culture

Check out this Rolling Stone report from the final performance at CBGB’s.

On that note, watch this epic 3-song, 6-minute performance by the Ramones at CBGB’s.

Gabba Gabba Hey!

Wish You Were Here

Posted: July 11, 2006 in In Memoriam, Music, Pop Culture

“Come on you raver, you seer of visions, come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!”

Several news organizations are reporting that Pink Floyd co-founder Syd Barrett has died.

Barrett was the band’s leader and creative force during its early years before he eventually left the band and was replaced by David Gilmour, and Pink Floyd went on to become one of the best selling and most influential bands of all time. More info on Pink Floyd here and Syd Barrett here.

He was also a central theme of the band’s 1975 album Wish You Were Here (hence the title of this entry and the use of the album cover). “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” is about him, and during Pink Floyd’s performance at Live 8 last summer, Roger Waters told the audience,”It’s quite emotional standing up here with these guys… We’re doing this for everyone who’s not here. And particularly, of course, for Syd,” before performing “Wish You Were Here.”

Rolling Stone has reached into its archives and dug up this 1971 interview with Syd Barrett which you should read. According to the MTV News writeup, he hasn’t given an interview since 1971, so this could be the one.

Finally, this bit of information coming in from the Department of Bad Karma: Rolling Stone is reporting that although Barrett died on July 7, it was not announced until today (July 11). Today is also the day that the DVD version of Pink Floyd’s 1995 live album Pulse is released.