Bear with me while I try to parse this.

With the reports out of Minneapolis confirmed, it’s official: he’s now “The Former Artist Formerly Known As The Artist Formerly Known As Prince.”

What, too soon? We’ll have to agree to disagree on that. I’m firmly in the “laughing so you don’t cry” camp whenever possible. It’s the same principle (no pun intended) that encourages wakes to emphasize music, jokes, and happy memories of the dead. If I’d had an equivalent line on tap for David Bowie back in January, I would have used it just as quickly.

I’ll freely admit that I’ve never been a big fan of Prince’s music; I enjoyed it when I heard it, but didn’t seek it out. But the loss of a unique voice can’t help but diminish the world, and Prince’s was, if you’ll forgive a misuse of the English language, more unique than most.

I just know we’re in for a rehash of “The Year of Death for Rock Stars”. Please, everyone, try to resist the temptation. Yes, we’ve had several more well-known musician deaths. Yes, I know Prince was only 57. But again, a certain number of deaths are statistically expected across any field of endeavor. And, probably more to the point, the media hype has sensitized our brains to deceased musicians. I’ll confidently assert that we’ll lose at least three more rock musicians who can legitimately be described as “famous” before the end of the year. I’d love to be wrong about that, naturally, but the odds don’t favor it–have you looked at last year’s list of deaths on Wikipedia?

But back to Prince.

He’ll be missed, just as we’re missing all of the creators–famous or otherwise–who’ve died, retired, or otherwise stopped creating. And, as always, the proper response is to step up and create something yourself.

And if you’re inspired to do something to memorialize Prince, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. Me, I’d be tempted to go buy a Corvette–red, of course–but the $23.09 in my pocket isn’t going to cut it. On the other hand, I rock a pretty mean beret. Amazon’s got those starting at $0.99.

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 clich√© 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.