Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 Memoriam: November and December

1st November 2016 – Bap Kennedy, 54

Singer-songwriter who worked with Mark Knopfler, and performed at the 2009 Glastonbury.

 3rd November 2016 – Kay Starr, 94

American jazz singer.

 5th November 2016 – John Carson, 89

Actor who appeared in The Avengers three times, Doctor Who (in Snakedance), and in The Man Who Haunted Himself.

“Contracted to Capitol from 1947, Starr concentrated on popular material, looking for Top 30 chart success, first striking lucky with Bonaparte’s Retreat, an old Oklahoma fiddle tune that sold just short of a million copies. She sang at Harry Truman’s presidential inauguration, flying straight from her engagement at the Casbah in Los Angeles. In 1952, Wheel of Fortune went gold and earned her a fortune. With this, Starr was made, recording prolifically as a “utility singer”, handling jazz and country, pop songs and spirituals.When she moved to RCA-Victor in 1955 for a guarantee of $250,000 a year, Starr scored again with Rock and Roll Waltz, the first song to have “rock and roll” in the name, although Starr laughed at this claim, saying: “It sure wasn’t rock.””
Peter Vacher, Guardian obit 6 November 2016

 7th November 2016 – Sir Jimmy Young, 95

1950s singer who became a DJ and broadcaster. Young had a string of chart successes in the 1950s from Faith Can Move Mountains to Chain Gang, but he reached the top of the charts twice, in 1954 and 1955 with The Man from Laramie and Unchained Melody respectively. He went onto broadcasting at Radio Luxembourg, before making the move to BBC Radio in 1967. As an interviewer, he preferred the soft approach, the antithesis of a Paxman, but he interviewed seven Prime Ministers, and famously once asked Margaret Thatcher, voice dripping with kindness: “Why do people not like you?”

 7th November 2016 – Janet Reno, 78

Attorney General of the USA from 1993 to 2001.

“Never part of Clinton’s inner circle, Reno displayed great independence, and her courage to stand behind decisions she felt were right often left her vulnerable to critics from both sides of the political fence. Her controversial decisions included the assault on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas; the return of the six-year-old Elián González to Cuba; the anti-monopoly prosecution of Microsoft and a racketeering lawsuit against the tobacco industry to recover the healthcare costs of treating smokers. Each time she would stand behind her actions publicly, often quoting Harry Truman’s “the buck stops here”.”
Michael Carlson, Guardian obit 7 November 2016

 7th November 2016 – Leonard Cohen, 82

Canadian singer who became best known to international younger audiences through never ending cover versions of his biggest song, Hallelujah. His music, which takes a cynical look at life at the best of times, transforms through his voice – a tool he had been reluctant to use, considering himself a poet until singing paid better – into a critique of the world. So a song like Hallelujah loses something in the translation of a cover. When the X-Factor winner singers it, you think she’s genuinely happy, or trying to portray it but its a false economy. With Cohen, even then, there’s the sense of “what’s the catch”.

His music success started when Judy Collins wanted to sing his song Suzanne in 1966. Like many of Cohen’s works, its based around one of his then muses, and like much of his early work, he viewed it as a piece of literature rather than a song. It was Judy Collins, also, who suggested Cohen stopped getting other people to sing his work, and sing it himself, saying that his voice made the songs. Suzanne was later covered by everyone from Joan Baez to Nina Simone to the rapper Plan B.

“Cohen wrote this perfect ballad about a night with Suzanne Verdal, who was married at the time to the Montreal sculptor Armand Vaillancourt. It was initially a poem, "Suzanne Takes You Down", collected in Parasites of Heaven, and the drenched dreamscape language situates the listener via all senses: "And she shows you where to look/ Among the garbage and the flowers/ There are heroes in the seaweed/ There are children in the morning." Suzanne, holding a mirror, supposedly really did give Cohen tea and they had some sort of slinky walking tour of Montreal and the St. Lawrence River, but, also supposedly, they didn't sleep together-- didn't want to ruin the wavelength. Still, even without the nookie, Cohen recasts the night as worthy of the Bible-- turning the simplest moment into something extraordinary.”
Brandon Stosuy, The 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s, Pitchfork 17 August 2006

In 1967 he released Songs of Leonard Cohen, and in 1971 came Songs of Love and Hate. His famous songs included Bird on the Wire and Sisters of Mercy. My own favoured Cohen track is from I’m Your Man, and is called Everybody Knows.

“Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows”
Leonard Cohen, Everybody Knows

For some reason it seems to fit with this year.

7th November 2016 – Julie Gregg, 79

Actress who played Sandra Corleone in The Godfather.

 8th November 2016 – Ian Cowan, 71

Scottish football who played for a number of teams, but was in the Partick Thistle team from 1961 to 1965, and a key part of the side which nearly won the league title in 1963, only to come undone with the mass postponements (everywhere but Ibrox) during the freeze that winter and finished 3rd.

 8th November 2016 – Raoul Coutard, 92

French cinematographer well regarded for his work with Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, on films such as Jules et Jim and La Chinoise.

 9th November 2016 – Al Caiola, 96

Musician who performed the version of The Magnificient Seven theme which charted in the UK.

11th November 2016 – Ilse Aichinger, 95

Austrian novelist.

 11th November 2016 – Alfred Schmidt, 81

German footballer who played for West Germany at the 1958 World Cup finals, and played over 160 league matches for Dortmund, before becoming the manager of Regensburg and Munster. He won the league title with Dortmund in 1963 as well as the Cup Winners Cup in 1966, and in 1970, he led Kickers Offenbach to the German Cup.

11th November 2016 – Robert Vaughn, 83

Immediately recognisable actor from The Magnificent Seven. He also had roles as a nobel but doomed senator in The Towering Inferno, and as the mentor in Hustle. To a generation, he was Napoleon Solo, however, the star of The Man from UNCLE.

 12th November 2016 – Lupita Tovar, 106

Actress who had the lead in the Spanish version of Dracula from 1931.

13th November 2016 – Leon Russell, 74

Singer/songwriter who worked with George Harrison on the Concert for Bangladesh.

 13th November 2016 – Ken Grieve, 74

Scottish TV director who worked on Coronation Street and The Bill. His work on Doctor Who, for Destiny of the Daleks, produced one of my favourite TV anecdotes of all time, which I paraphrase below:

Douglas Adams, then script-editor of Dr Who (also showrunner of the radio Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and thus in a permanent state of panic) was feeling a bit left out as he was the only member of staff who didn’t get to go to Paris for the City of Death filming. “The scripts need you” said the producer as they got their passports ready. Grumbling one night, Douglas was about to leave his office, when he got a panicked phone call from friend Ken Grieve.

“Can you meet me in the bar? I’ve just got the scripts for this Doctor Who and it’s a mess.”

Grieve had been commissioned to direct the debut story of that season, which brought back the Daleks and Davros in a script written by Terry Nation. A script by Terry Nation came with flaws and pluses, most of which had been seen in the previous Terry Nation script. So the two men started “fixing” Destiny, which might explain why the thing is routed with Hitchhiker’s Guide style jokes, and Hitchhike’s Guide in-jokes, Oolon Colluphid included. [Yes, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Doctor Who share the same fictional universe...]

Anyhow, at some point the drinks kept happening, and the bar was going to shut. “Don’t worry” said Ken Grieve, “I know one that’s open.” And so they left the BBC bar.

The bar was in West Germany.

On asking where he’d been later that week, Grieve is alleged to have told the Doctor Who producer: “You know those times when you get really drunk, and you wake up, and you’re not sure what continent you’re on?”

Destiny had a lot going against it, as a run of the mill “used the budget on the Daleks and Paris” story, but some useful direction from Grieve, and his encouraging of Tom Baker’s jokes, actually makes it memorable. Which, given the only real crime in TV drama is to be dull, and dreadfully dull, suggests to me he did a good job!

 14th November 2016 – Janet Wright, 71

Actress who was Ethel in The Perfect Storm, and Mrs Floyd in Eerie Indiana.

14th November 2016 – Gardnar Mulloy, 103

American tennis player who reached the final of the 1952 US Open, and the Semifinals of the 1947 Australian Open and 1948 Wimbledon finals. As a doubles player, he won five Slam titles, including four US Opens, and was part of the US team which won the Davis Cup three times between 1946 and 1949.

 14th November 2016 – Gwen Ifil, 61

Former PBS broadcaster and journalist.

14th November 2016 – Holly Dunn, 59

Country singer known for her song “Daddy’s Hands”. (It’s about him praying a lot.)

 15th November 2016 – Mose Allison, 89

Blues pianist who was a massive influence on the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix.

 15th November 2016 – Aki Hintsa, 58

Formula One doctor who was a mentor to the younger drivers.

 16th November 2016 – Daniel Prodan, 44

Romanian defender who played at the 1994 World Cup, and had roles at Atletico Madrid and Rangers (the latter where he never played a game due to injury). In 2006, he had a short spell in charge of the Romanian Under 21s national side.

 16th November 2016 – Melvin Laird, 94

Former US congressman from Wisconsin, who was the US Secretary of Defence under Richard Nixon from 1969 to 1973. He had previously been the chair of the House Republicans. He was heavily involved in the Vietnam war, but also ended conscription.

16th November 2016 – Len Allchurch, 83

Welsh footballer who played at the 1958 World Cup, and played over 600 games combined for Swansea, Sheffield United and Stockport County.

 17th November 2016 – Ruth Gruber, 105

Pioneering journalist.

18th November 2016 – Sharon Jones, 60

Blues singer.

 18th November 2016 – Denton Cooley, 96

Pioneering heart surgeon who performed the first artificial heart transplant.

20th November 2016 – Gabriel Badilla, 32

Costa Rican defender who made a solitary World Cup appearance in their group stage match against Poland in 2006.

 20th November 2016 – William Tevor, 88

Irish playwright and novelist who won the Whitbread Prize three times, and was known for The Old Boys and Fools of Fortune.

 23rd November 2016 – Andrew Sachs, 86

Actor best known for his role as Manuel in Fawlty Towers.

24th November 2016 – Paul Futcher, 60

English defender who played for Manchester City, Luton and Barnsley. He later managed Darlington.

24th November 2016 – Florence Henderson, 82

Actress best known for her role as the mother in the Brady Bunch.

25th November 2016 – Thomas Taylor, Lord Taylor of Blackburn, 87

Labour peer who was suspended for financial irregularities.

 25th November 2016 – Margaret Rhodes, 91

The Queen’s cousin, closest friend.

 25th November 2016 – Ron Glass, 71

Actor who appeared in Firefly as Derrial Brook.

 25th November 2016 – Fidel Castro, 90

Former Cuban leader.

26th November 2016 – Fritz Weaver, 90

American actor who appeared in hundreds of TV and film appearances. He is the State Prosecutor to match Burgess Meredith’s every man in the greatest Twilight Zone episode, and indeed, one of the finest pieces of TV ever made, The Obsolete Man.

26th November 2016 – David Provan, 75

Defender who played for Rangers and Plymouth Argyle.

27th November 2016 - Ioannis Grivas, 93

The Prime Minister of Greece from October to November 1989.

 27th November 2016 – Bernard Gallagher, 87

Actor who played Ewart Plimmer in Casualty, the Chief Whip in The New Statesman and Mr Courtenay in Tenko.

 27th November 2016 – Valerie Gaunt, 84

Actress who appeared in the Hammer films The Curse of Frankenstein and Dracula.

28th November 2016 – Chapecoense FC

An entire football team who were travelling to the Copa Sudamerica final when their plane crashed. There were only three survivors.

 28th November 2016 – Van Williams 82

Actor who played The Green Hornet on TV.

 29th November 2016 – Jo Dever, 70

Fantasy author who wrote the Lone Wolf series.

 30th November 2016 – Leonard of Mayfair, 78

British hairdresser.

30th November 2016 – Alice Drummond, 88

Actress who was the librarian in Ghostbusters.

 December 2016 – Andrew Staines

Actor who played three roles in Doctor Who. In The Enemy of the World, he is the guard who casually shoots down Fariah as she escapes, only for his captain to look at him with disgust: “Do you always follow orders?” In Terror of the Autons, he is a nuclear research scientist who really looks forward to his lunch, but before he can eat it, he gets shot by The Master. And then in Carnival of Monsters, he is the captain of a Empire sailing ship to India unaware his ship is now in a sort of alien zoo. This is a bigger role, and Staines gets to mistrust the Doctor, and even a few heroic scenes as he takes on the dreaded Drashigs.. and survives the story.

2nd December 2016 – Billy Chapin 72

Child actor who played the lead in Night of the Hunter opposite Robert Mitchum.

 2nd December 2016 – Jean Stead, 90

Guardian journalist.

3rd December 2016 – Austin Hunter, 64

Former BBC journalist.

 4th December 2016 – Wayne Duncan, 72

Bassist for Daddy Cool.

 6th December 2016 – Peter Vaughan, 93

Actor who appeared in Porridge, The Remains of the Day, Our Friends in the North and A Warning to the Curious.

 7th December 2016 – Alex Johnstone, 55

Scottish Tory MPS from 1999 to 2016.

 7th December 2016 – Allan Stewart, 74

Former Scottish Tory MP for Eastwood.

7th December 2016 – Greg Lake, 69

Prog rock musician who was one third of Emerson Lake Palmer, and also released the song I Believe in Father Christmas.

 8th December 2016 – John Glenn 95

First American to orbit around the Earth, the 5th man in space entirely, one of the oldest men to go into space (he returned aged 77), and a long running Senator and former democratic presidential contender.

He was also in an episode of Frasier.

 8th December 2016 – Sir Alan Urwick, 86

The British Ambassador to Egypt from 1987 to 1989, who later became the House of Commons Serjeant at Arms until 1995.

 8th December 2016 – Fred Secombe, 97

Vicar and novelist – How Green was my Curate – who was also brother of Goon Harry.

 9th December 2016 – Coral Atkins, 80

Actress who appeared in The Sweeney and The Avengers, who gave up acting to be a full time foster mother for vulnerable children.

 10th December 2016 – AA Gill, 62

Famously acerbic critic.

 10th December 2016 – William Usery Jr, 92

US Secretary of State for Labour under Gerald Ford.

10th December 2016 – John Montague, 87

Welsh poet.

 10th December 2016 – Iain McCaskill, 78

Former BBC weatherman.

12th December 2016 – Jim Prior, 89

Former Tory MP for Lowestoft from 1959 to 1983 (and later Waveney until 1987), who was the Leader of the House of Commons under Ted Heath, and later became the Employment Secretary and the Northern Ireland secretary under Margaret Thatcher.

12th December 2016 – Jock Moffat, 97

WW2 pilot.

 12th December 2016 – Barrelhouse Chuck, 58

Blues pianist who worked under Pinetop Perkins.

 12th December 2016 – ER Braithwaite, 104

Guyanese school teacher who came to work in the 1940s London East End, and wrote a book, To Sir With Love, about it.

12th December 2016 – Walter Swinburn, 55

Jockey who won the Derby thrice, in 1981, 1986 and 1995, and was the jockey on Shergar when the famously doomed horse destroyed the rest of the field in 1981.

13th December 2016 – Alan Thicke, 69

Actor who was Jason Seaver on Growing Pains.

13th December 2016 – Thomas Schelling, 95

Nobel Prize winning economist.

14th December 2016 – Bernard Fox, 89

Welsh actor who appeared in A Night to Remember, The Mummy and Titanic, among other film and TV appearances.

 14th December 2016 – Sir Dudley Smith, 90

British politician who was MP for Brentford and Chiswick from 1959 to 1966, and then Warwick and Leamington from 1968 to 1997. I believe that makes him the only Tory MP to lose their seat in two of the three big Labour landslides of the post-war 20th Century!

 15th December 2016 – Craig Sager, 65

American sports journalist.

15th December 2016 – Howard Bingham, 77

Americna photographer who was friends with, and took many iconic photos of, Muhammad Ali.

16th December 2016 – Michael Nicholson, 79

ITN war journalist who was known for his coverage of the Bosnian war, and his book Welcome to Sarajevo, which became a film.

17th December 2016 – Dr Henry Heimlich, 96

Doctor who came up with the Heimlich manoeuvre for choking victims.

 18th December 2016 – Zsa Zsa Gabor, 99

Actress who appeared in the original Moulin Rouge.

 19th December 2016 – Rabbi Lionel Blue, 86

First openly gay Rabbi in the UK and a common presence on BBC radio.

19th December 2016 – Fidel Uriarte, 71

Spanish footballer who played over three hundred game for Athletic Bilbao, winning the Copa Del Ray with them twice, and was manager of Villarreal for a short spell in 1995.

 20th December 2016 – Patrick Jenkin, 90

Tory politician who was the Energy Minister under Ted Heath, and later became the Industry and Environment Secretaries under Margaret Thatcher.

 21st December 2016 – Deddie Davies, 78

Actress who appeared in The Railway Children.

 22nd December 2016 – Philip Savile, 86

TV director who worked on Boys from the Blackstuff.

23rd December 2016 – Piers Sellers, 61

British astronaut.

 23rd December 2016 - Vesna Vulovic, 66

Air stewardess aboard JAT Flight 367 in 1972 when it exploded in suspicious circumstances (suspected terrorism) above the modern Czech Republic. Somehow, and no one knows how, Vulovic survived this. In later life she openly campaigned against Milosevic’s government, because why not, when you’ve already laughed at death?

24th December 2016 – Rick Parfitt, 68

Singer/songwriter and guitarist for the band Status Quo. Hits included What Everyone Wants, Rockin all over the World, In the Army Now, Pictures of Matchstick Men, Down Down, What you’re Proposing, and many more.

 24th December 2016 – Richard Adams, 96

Author of Watership Down and Plague Dogs.

25th December 2016 – George Michael, 53

Singer who was one half of Wham in the 1980s, before moving onto a successful singles career. Songs included Careless Whispers, Jesus to a Child, Faith, and as part of Wham, The Edge of Heaven, Last Christmas and Wake Me Up before you Go.

25th December 2016 – Vera Rubin, 88

Scientist who discovered Dark matter.

 26th December 2016 – Alphonse Mouzon, 68

Drummer who worked with Miles Davis.

 26th December 2016 – Liz Smith, 95

Actress best known for her roles in The Royle Family and The Vicar of Dibley

27th December 2016 – Carrie Fisher, 60

Actress known to millions as Princess Leia in the Star Wars films.

 28th December 2016 – Debbie Reynolds, 84

Actress known for Singin’ in the Rain. She was also the mother of Carrie Fisher.

30th December 2016 – Matt Carragher, 40

Footballer who played for Wigan Athletic.

 30th December 2016 – Allan Williams, 86

First manager of the Beatles

 30th December 2016 – Freddie Boardley, 66

Familar Glaswegian actor, who appeared in several episodes of Taggart and Rab C Nesbitt, as well as Coronation Street and Brookside.

 30th December 2016 – Tyrus Wong, 106

Art designer who worked on the Disney classic Bambi.