The Grim Reaper continues his May sweep through the pop world, now he’s taken Robin Gibb.
Though I think the Bee Gees have gained some appreciation and even cred in recent years, some people still regard them as being a bit naff. I saw them live in the late 1980s and it was a terrific concert, they really were excellent, but the other week I told someone that and he said “You saw the Bee Gees???” with the tone of someone who thought I was a bit soft in the head. It makes you wonder how many great hit songs a band has to write to be considered serious artists, I certainly don’t have a problem saying that the Gibbs are up there with Lennon & McCartney as the best pop songwriters that England has ever produced.
Though Barry’s falsetto was the sound most people associate with them, Robin’s voice was no less distinctive. His quivering tone often sounded like a fragile little boy on the verge of tears which added an intense, melodramatic sadness to early ballads like the ones below. As Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne says in his tribute here, his voice “sounded like no one else before or since.”
And spare a thought for Barry, that’s all his brothers gone now.
If you’re of my generation (which I think most of you are), then Where The Wild Things Are was one of the books you grew up with. It certainly fired up my childhood imagination in a big way and I still remember trying to copy Sendak’s beautiful drawings, especially those fabulous monsters. Even today when I draw a monster for my kids they look like the ones in that book with pointy teeth, shaggy hair, and horns.
I came across this clip while reading a bit about the late Dick Clark and it’s one of the most magnificently surreal things I’ve ever seen on pop television, like alien creatures have landed in some small Midwestern town in the 1950s.
Watching the Grammys on Sunday night they did their usual “In Memoriam” thing about the people who’d died recently and in among Whitney Houston, Etta James, Amy Winehouse, Dobie Gray and all the others there was Andrew Gold. That was a shock because I had no idea he’d died. Why didn’t someone tell me???
I wouldn’t claim that he was some kind of musical giant or anything but this was/is one of my favourite singles of the 1970s.
I’m very sad to hear about the death of the great illustrator Ronald Searle. His black humour and scratchy, inky drawings pretty much defined English cartooning when I was growing up and, though he produced a lot of other work through his very long and brilliant career, he’ll be best remembered (much to his chagrin) for creating the girls of St. Trinian’s and illustrating the Molesworth books.
The great thing about the worlds of St. Trinian’s and Molesworth — and why we kids loved them — was they showed life in an English school as an only slightly more darkly exaggerated version of the reality as we knew it, a Darwinian jungle with useless teachers trying to keep a lid on total anarchy. I was a bully-hating daydreamer like Nigel Molesworth (though with better spelling I hope) and we all joked and sang songs about setting the school on fire the way the St. Trinian’s girls did.
Searle was a legend to me, one of the greatest illustrators — hell, artists even – that England has ever produced. As any fule kno.
Did anyone ever know Jimmy Savile (apart from his mother)? Behind the hair, the cigar, the tracksuits, the jewelry, the charity work, and the colourful, now then now then public personality he was a peculiar old bird with perhaps some dark and dodgy corners and a lot of whispers about his private life. But I don’t want to go there because I have no idea and neither does anyone else either, for someone who was famous for so long he remains a bit of an enigma. But his place in British pop history is secure at least because he was there from the beginning on our televisions and radios and, like him or not, was the face presenting many of our happiest pop memories.
All the old TOTP presenters liked to have pretty young girls standing next to them but none more than Jimmy (who sometimes veered into dirty old man territory) and this must have taken some determined organizing.
PS: Don’t Frida and Agnetha look terrific in this?