In the ending year, 2016, many music celebrities had bidden farewell to the world, permanently. Here are some of them. Considering the passion and genius of these artists—to make music and write songs—the best homage one can make is to highlight their respective contributions to music. I deliberately did not delve into the nature or cause of their respective deaths, primarily in respect to their privacy and to, instead, direct the focus of the reader to these artists’ musical works.
David Bowie (January 8, 1947–January 10, 2016)
Inarguably one of the most recognizable and fashionable icons in the Rock music scene, the English artist David Bowie began his recording career as early as 1964, as a member of the band King Bees. As a solo artist, he released his first, self-titled album in 1967. Since then, he practically did not stop making music. He also dabbled in acting; for example, as Jared the Goblin King in the 1986 Fantasy film Labyrinth. However, he remained best known as an eclectic and eccentric personality in the music scene, released albums in every decade. In his career that spanned five decades, he had released 25 studio albums, the final of which was Blackstar, released on his last birthday, two days before his death. Recommended songs include “Love You till Tuesday,” “Space Oddity,” “The Man who Sold the World,” “Starman,” “’Heroes’,” “Modern Love,” “China Girl,” “Let’s Dance,” “The Stars (Are Out Tonight),” and “Sue (Or in a Season of Crime).”
Glenn Frey (Eagles) (November 6, 1948–January 18, 2016)One of the lead vocalists and founding members of the iconic American Folk Rock band Eagles, the multi-instrumentalist Frey also embarked on a successful solo career during the hiatus of his band. With him, Eagles got to release seven albums, from 1972’s debut to 2007’s Long Road Out of Eden.
Some of the popular songs of his band include “Tequila Sunrise,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” “Desperado,” and “Hotel California.” As a solo artist, Frey had five studio albums to his credit—from 1982’s No Fun Aloud to 2012’s After Hours.
Colin Vearncombe (aka Black) (May 26, 1962–January 26, 2016)
Not really popular in the mainstream, Vearncombe, however, was known in the New Wave scene as Black, whose classic single “Wonderful Life” was a hit on many charts in various countries. His “slightly frayed baritone” may be characterized as a cross between the silkiness of Bryan Ferry’s voice and the cascading vocal grace of The Smiths’ Morrissey. As Black, Vearncombe had eight studio albums to his credit—from 1987’s Wonderful Life to 2015’s Blind Faith. Under his real name, he had four releases—from 1999’s The Accused to 2009’s The Given. Other notable songs include “More than the Sun,” “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” and “Don’t Take the Silence Too Hard.”
Keith Emerson (Emerson, Lake & Palmer) (November 2, 1944–March 11, 2016)Despite his having been a member of the band The Nice in the 1960s and a couple more other groups, the proficient and virtuosic Emerson was most well-known as the keyboardist of the Progressive Rock trio Emerson, Lake & Palmer; with which he was most prolific. The trio had nine studio albums of well-composed music, from 1970’s self-titled debut to 1994’s In the Hot Seat. Remarkable songs included “Lucky Man,” ” “Fanfare for the Common Man,” and “Karn Evil 9.”
Prince (June 7, 1958–April 21, 2016)
Another eccentric, eclectic, and prolific musician, the American artist known as Prince released his debut album, For You, in 1978. In his almost 40 years of recording career, he had contributed 39 studio albums to the music world! Recommended songs included “Dirty Mind,” “1999,” “Little Red Corvette,” “When Doves Cry,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Purple Rain,” “Raspberry Beret,” “Kiss,” “Sign o’ the Times,” and “Black Sweat.”
[The tribute continues in the next issue of Filipino Journal, which will include Pete Burns of the New Wave band Dead or Alive, Caroline Crawley of the Indie band Shelleyan Orphan, and the Pop singer George Michael, formerly of the duo Wham!]