Friday, December 22, 2006

People... in memory of, 2006

Another end of the year reminiscence, this time about people who died this year. First of all I think about people I met or knew in some respect. I think the toughest one to lose was ev brown (a.k.a. Jeen Lilly) (my posts: [1] [2] [3]), someone I corresponded with a lot online, and got to hang with a little after she moved to Austin. I really do miss her. Second there was Pat Cieply, who I knew through having done his band's cover art and from going to see them play a lot. Third was Clifford Antone (my posts: [1] [2]) who I saw so many times all over Austin, spoke with him many times just like nearly everybody else in this town has. He still seems like a ghost at Antone's -- when I go there I'm still looking for him to take the stage. I saw him at his visitation... no, I don't mean as a ghost. It was very sad. I think they should make him a statue, show him just standing there in Guero's Courtyard in his baseball hat and sport coat.

As far as losing more famous people, here's a site which has a picture of each person, and I find that sometimes I didn't recognize the names when I heard the obit, but the face was familiar. Here are a couple more. This one offers lots of links on the people, and this one has a longer listing.

Here are some that stand out with me. I edited down some of the descriptions taken from the second link in the above paragraph. Italics are my comments and afterthoughts.

EDIT Dec 25: James Brown -- only 73, too young. His influence on music is hard to measure. I think I still have one or two of his 45s from when they were still new. He was one of a kind with lots of imitators, but nobody close.

Lou Rawls (singer, philanthropist) -- "You'll Never Find, Another Love Like Mine", performed music for the Garfield specials, major fundraiser for the United Negro College Fund.

Shelley Winters (actress) -- Won two Oscars for supporting roles; exact opposite (in real life) of the bigoted mother in A Patch of Blue, married to Vittorio Gassman and Tony Franciosa (who died a few days after Shelley), wrote two tell-all memoires, played Roseanne's grandmother.

Wilson Pickett (singer) -- "In the Midnight Hour", "Mustang Sally".

Phil Brown (actor) -- An actor blacklisted during the McCarthy era, George Lucas cast him as Uncle Owen in Star Wars. Just playing Uncle Owen has made him memorable for me.

Don Knotts (actor) -- Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show, the TV repairman in Pleasantville.

Dennis Weaver (actor, philanthropist, environmentalist) -- Duel, Chester on Gunsmoke.

Darren McGavin (actor) -- The Night Stalker and the classic A Christmas Story.

Buck Owens (singer) -- "Act Naturally", co-host of Hee-Haw, died hours after performing in his club. It's hard to magnify Buck Owens' influence on country music, and rock music too.

Gene Pitney (singer) -- Wrote "24 Hours from Tulsa", died while on tour.

Scott Crossfield (pilot) -- Died in a small plane crash. First pilot to break Mach 2, he helped train pilots for a re-enactment of the Wright Brothers flight in 2003.

Senator Lloyd Bentsen (politician) -- Democratic senator from Texas, Dukakis' running mate in 1988, Treasury Secretary under Clinton. You're no Jack Kennedy!

Billy Preston (singer/songwriter) -- Performed with The Beatles ("Get Back", "Let It Be"), wrote "Nothing from Nothing". I got to see Billy playing up close at Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2004.

Arthur Lee: Leader of the '60s rock group Love, their most famous album was "Forever Changes". I was a big fan of this band. I am old.

Bruno Kirby (actor) -- Ed in City Slickers, Jess in When Harry Met Sally. I will always think of him as the Frank Sinatra-obsessed limo driver for Spinal Tap. He has a larger role in the deleted scenes that you will have to see on the DVD. Those are just unforgettable.

Steve "The Crocodile Hunter" Irwin (TV personality/zoo director/conservationist) -- Popular host of "dangerous" nature series, bitten in the leg by a croc. I believe this is the celebrity death that grieved me the most. It took me at least 2-3 weeks to get over the pure sadness of it.

Ann Richards (commentator/politician) -- The only deliberately amusing Texas governor of recent times, she famously said of George H. W. Bush's gaffes, "Poor George. He can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth." I wonder if they make them like her anymore. I hope so.

Ed Bradley (journalist) -- Longtime CBS correspondent, on 60 Minutes for 25 years.

Jack Palance (actor) -- Won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for City Slickers; scary in Shane.

Robert Altman (director) -- Brilliant, innovative director of The Player, Nashville, M*A*S*H, and Gosford Park.

Peter Boyle (actor) -- The father on Everybody Loves Raymond, and in Young Frankenstein as The Monster. To me he was even more memorable as Clyde Bruckman on the X-Files.

Joseph Barbera (cartoon creator) -- Creator of Quick Draw McGraw and Top Cat, partner of William Hanna.

Painting is Death in the Sickroom by Edvard Munch, c. 1895; Oil on canvas, 59 x 66 in; National Gallery, Oslo

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