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I suppose you heard the kerfuffle caused by the Charlie Watts Quits Rolling Stones headlines which cropped up at the beginning of September. It kind of got me to thinking “What if that had been true?” I mean, The Stones have survived other members leaving. Brian Jones left (was kicked out) the band and was replaced by a painfully young Mick Taylor. Mick Taylor quit the band, just as they were going to go into rehearsals for an upcoming tour of North America. Ron Wood stepped into Taylor’s shoes as a temporary replacement and has just never had the good manners to leave. Bill Wyman, stoicism incarnate decided that, after the bands 1989 – 1990 comeback tour, he’d had enough. Journeyman bassist Darryl Jones stepped into his shoes most admirably and has been there ever since.
So, what then if Charlie had quit The Stones? If Mick Jagger or Keith Richards leave the band, well, the band has come to it’s end; but Charlie? Hmmm. In a word, yes. That spells trouble for The Rolling Stones. Charlie is the one that keeps the beat. So what, you may think. So, Charlie is from the old school; the less is more school; the “shit, drum solos even bore me” school. Could any other drummer honestly step into Charlie’s shoes and steer the mighty ship along it’s course?
We may never know. The Rolling Stones camp, understandably, categorically denied these rumours. So Charlie remains with The Worlds Greatest Rock and Roll Band. At least until tomorrow.
Still, it got me to thinking of other bands from my youth that do not have those options; bands who had an integral member of the band kick the bucket before their time. Sure Brian Jones formed the Rolling Stones, and most likely named them, but by the time he left (was kicked out) he had pretty much become an also ran in the massive tsunami that was the writing partners Jagger / Richards.
Freddie Mercury, flamboyant lead singer for Queen came immediately to mind. A favourite band of mine who I saw live three times during their ’70s heyday. The band disbanded after Mercury’s death. They did reform (kinda) for a few years with ex Free / Bad Company vocalist Paul Rogers but without long-time bassist John Deacon. Did it work? Yeah, to a point it did. Paul Rogers is an awesome vocalist in his own right (check out Muddy Water Blues: A Tribute to Muddy Waters if you need any proof). He never was nor did he ever try to be Freddie, which is the only way anyone can hope to pull something like that off.
In the end he tired of the whole thing and handed in his resignation. No more “Queen”.
Then there is the case of John Henry Bonham; an integral part of the engine that drove the mighty Led Zeppelin. When Bonham died during rehearsals for the 1980 North American tour (from and alcohol overdose no less (how rock ‘n’ roll is that?)) the band formally retired, citing the difficulty in finding someone else to helm the ship as good old Bonzo had.
For years afterwards Plant eschewed all things Zeppelin. Finally, in the early 90’s he recorded and toured with Jimmy Page once again. But Plant eventually tired of that pursuit and quit. Then Ahmet Ertegun died. Who was Ahmet Ertegun I hear some of you asking? Why, none other than the person who assured Led Zeppelin was signed to their record contract with Atlantic Records.
So, when Ahmet passed on and joined the choirs invisible, the mighty Led Zeppelin took flight once more, with the late great John Bonham’s son Jason at the helm. Even with the accolades ringing in their ears and the other two (three) members of the band ready, willing and able to tour behind their resurrected success, Robert Plant demurred.
Randy Rhodes (Blizard Of Oz), Steve Clark (Def Leppard), Joey Ramone (The Ramones), Bon Scott (AC/DC); the list goes on and on. And The Who. How could I ever forget The Who. Manic drummer Keith Moon and the Ox himself, John Entwistle have both died while active members of the band. A full 50% of the original lineup have snuffed it and still Roger Daltry and Pete Townsend continue. But they are a bit of a rarity in that respect.
Now the point of this little ramble isn’t to question the relative wisdom of continuing on or breaking up once a member has joined that great big jam session in the sky. However, it did get me to thinking how many of the bands that I have loved growing up are no longer active.
So I Googled “Dead Rock Stars”. Holy crap Batman, I don’t think I am the only person who has considered this subject (Well no shit Sherlock). So, for your amusement, edification, rock and roll knowledge and just basically why the fuck not, here are some of my favorites:
Now, admittedly, this first one does have an axe to grind; witness “For their rock is not as our Rock… Deuteronomy 32:31. Still, that being said, it is a pretty comprehensive list of who died and what from. Premature Death Of Rock Stars
How could I ever hope to say it any better than this; Welcome to the club rock stars are dying to get into. Rock and Roll may never die but rock stars do! This site is a list of dead rock stars, dead people associated with rock and dead people whose music helped influence and create rock (which I feel includes Jazz and Country artists), sorted by the date of their demise. This is a tribute to them. LONG LIVE ROCK!! The Dead Rock Stars Club
Now this one kind of rocks; that and it has a cool title. The 50 Most Awesomely Dead Rock Stars
Since so many rock stars that we here admire in North America originally either came from or cut their teeth in swinging London Town, here is a tour for you to take the next time you find yourself in that fair city. Dead Rock Star Tour Of London
Last but not least, one of my favorites. Find A Death. The link below will take you to a brief synopsis of Brian Jones, founder of the Rolling Stones (no Mick Jagger and Keith Richards did not found the band, regardless of what the spin doctors have managed to feed you over the years). But the website is so much more than that. In depth discussions of famous peoples deaths. More importantly there is a link to a site which will predict when it is that you are going to die. Creepy, n’est pas? My personal Day of death is Monday, August 22nd, 2033. I currently have 749,018,944 seconds left to live. O.K., so who’s opening the book? Find A Death