Every year we lose more and more of our cultural Icons and 2014 sure had its share of them.
Jack Bruce, Phil Everly, Pete Seeger, Bobby Womack, Jesse Winchester, Paul Revere, Wayne Static, Tommy Ramone, Acker Bilk, and from the entertainment field, Joan Rivers, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Attenborough, Jan Hooks, Sid Ceaser, Lauren Bacall and Shirley Temple were just some of the Icons who departed the world in 2014, but there were 5 others who died that I were influential to me.
Gerry Goffin: A lyricist and former Husband of Carol King, Goffin was responsible for many of the songs that came out in the 1960’s such as Will You Love me Tomorrow,Take Good Care Of My Baby, The Locomotion , Go Away Little Girl, It might as well rain Until September,I’m into something Good and my favorite Up on The Roof. You can also include Pleasant Valley Sunday and You Make Me Feel( like a natural Women) and that is just songs he wrote with Carol King, with others he wrote Who Put The Bomp, among others. He was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1990, and passed away on June 19th 2014 at the age of 75.
Harold Ramis: Harold is one of two non Musicians on my list this year but for my generation was a rock and Roll personality anyway. As a writer Director he created and was involved in some of the greatest movies and TV Shows since 1970, he wrote and acted in Ghostbusters and Stripes, and he wrote and directed Caddyshack, National Lampoons Vacation ,Groundhog day and was a writer on National Lampoons Animal House. But for those of us in Canada he is probably best know for the Television series SCTV for which he was head writer. He was involved with SCTV for the first 3 years and made some memorable characters such as the Station Manager Moe Green, Swami Bananananda and Allan Crazy Legs Hirshman. He was also a co-writer on the Canadian hit Movie starring Bill Murray “Meatballs”. Harold Ramis Left us on February 24th at the age of 69.
Nash The Slash: His real name was Jeff Plewman but we all knew the bandaged leader of the Canadian rock band FM as Nash The Slash. And for me he was unique, his face completely covered in surgical bandages and playing the Violin and Mandolin among other instruments he brought a unique sound and presence that made the band FM’s first album “Black Noise” a staple on (Ironically) FM radio with the Song “Phasers on Stun” a minor hit on Am radio but a staple on cassette decks in many cars. The album was also Certified Gold in Canada the next year. Nash had a very successful solo career as well and has been made into a comic book character as well. Nash headed into another dimension on May 10th at the age of 66
Johnny Winter: One of the greatest guitarists of all time, he and his brother Edgar have were tearing up the music scene since the late 1960’s and his blues infused versions of others material set him apart from the crowd. His versions of Johnny B. Goode and Highway 61 revisited from his second album “Second Winter” established him as a force to be reckoned with, his own compositions like “Fast Life Rider” and ” hustled down in Texas are not to be ignored either. Known for his blazing guitar work and gruff vocals and along with the fact that he was classified as an albino, he had a stage presence that was hard to ignore, he battled a Heroin addiction and is one of the most bootlegged artists of all time. during his career he recorded 19 studio albums, 7 live albums, there are also 11 bootleg albums available and 14 Best Of or Compilation albums as well. He was also producer on 4 Muddy Waters Albums and one by Sonny Terry. He was found dead in his hotel room two days after his last performance, at the Cahors Blues Festival in France on July 14, at the age of 70. P.S. He is not in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
Robin Williams: Along with George Carlin and Richard Prior, Robin Williams can be considered one of the 3 comedians that defined the Rock and Roll comedian . His frantic style and his observations of life endeared him to many and he was the perfect one to take over from Carlin and Prior as they got older. He made his breakthrough of course on the TV series Mork and Mindy( 1978-1982) and his work with Jonathon Winters on that series is legendary and it allowed him to reach a bigger audience than some of his peers, and he actually was a cast member on the Richard Pryors short lived NBC Television series. He appeared in over 100 movies including his Academy award winning role in “Good Will Hunting”, he won 5 Golden Globe Awards, 4 Grammy Awards and 2 Emmy Awards, however none for Mork And Mindy. He was a popular late night talk show guest and when he was scheduled the ratings were usually higher for that particular show, Alyssa Rosenberg at The Washington Post was “struck by the breadth of Williams’ roles”, and how radically different most were, writing that “Williams helped us grow up.” Unfortunately Robin suffered from depression and that combined with recently being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease led him to leave the world under his own terms and he committed suicide on August 11th, leaving the world a little less funny.
R.I.P. to all who left us in 2014.