Knock It Off

No, it’s not.

Yes, I heard that Glenn Frey died.

It’s still not “The Year of Death for Rock Stars” that some members of the media are hyping.

Two deaths, even a week, apart do not make a trend.

Some of the press are apparently so desperate to make this a story, that they’re stretching the concept totally out of shape. So far I’ve seen lists including Lemmy (died in December–hardly “this year”), Dallas Taylor (died last January), and Alan Rickman (hint for the clueless writer who came up with that one: he wasn’t a rock star).

Give it up, gang. Suggesting that the universe is out to get rock stars only makes you look stupid. As has been pointed out many times, humans’ brains are optimized to look for patterns, so much so that we find them where they don’t exist. Events cluster all the time–one might even say that’s the way time works (it’s a device to keep everything from happening at once, but nothing in the specifications says it has to space similar events at equal intervals).

Let’s face it: rock star is a risky profession. “Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll” is a cliché for a reason. Hell, professional entertainer is a risky profession for exactly the same reason: add a constant high-pressure environment on top of easy access to a variety of interesting chemical compounds, and you get a cornucopia of health hazards. It’s a wonder we don’t lose a well-known, much-beloved musician, actor, or sports star every day

Screaming about an epidemic of rock icon deaths is more than a bit ghoulish, too. Where’s the value* in cultivating a “Who’s going to be next mentality?

* Other than selling newspapers or the electronic equivalent, I mean.

Let’s get real. Nobody, not even the universe as a whole, is doing in rock gods. Just ask Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, and Elton John, all of whom are still alive and singing, and planning to remain that way for the indefinite future. Or goddesses, for that matter. I’m sure Stevie Nicks, Tina Turner, and Grace Slick are planning to hang around at least as long as the guys do.

4 thoughts on “Knock It Off

  1. With the average lifespan at 79 years, we will begin to see a whole caboodle of rock stars from the 1960s and 1970s wandering into the Dead Zone. (And, likely starting with a few more Bowie’s and Frey’s who smoked like chimneys.) There weren’t a lot of rock stars before then but the ’60s and ’70s gave us plenty. This notion that suddenly these first rock star generations are starting to pass on is probably statistically correct. They’re going to start dying off … along with the rest of their generation. We just notice them more, right?

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    • No question you’re right about that. Heck, you don’t have to look any further than Lemmy and Dallas to see that. The only only reason the whole Death Year concept is getting such a play is that David and Glenn are calling attention to your Dead Zone–that notice you mentioned.

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      • I love watching reporters do the “It Comes In 3’s” thing … So maybe Natalie Cole gets in there … or maybe they’ll wait until someone else better fits their three-some. When Alan Rickman died last week and pushed David Bowie off of my Facebook newsfeed I said to a friend, “Apparently death is both permanent and fleeting.”

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      • Oy. Don’t get me started on the Rule of Three. It’s a handy literary device, but as a predictor of mortality, it’s, well, let’s be generous and call it shitty.

        That said, I doubt Ms. Cole will make anyone’s list. Not because she died in December, and certainly not because she isn’t enough of a star. But because she’s a gurrl. There seems to be a desire to keep those “threes” lists single-sex, for no reason I’ve ever understood.

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