R.I.P., Chris Cornell…

Chris Cornell (B. Christopher John Boyle): 20 July 1964 – 17 May 2017

I’m a bit floored at the moment. I just heard about the death of Chris Cornell, frontman of the bands Audioslave and Soundgarden. Soundgarden is one of the top three bands synonymous with the genre of grunge music, and Chris Cornell was instrumental in helping launch grunge from the local Seattle stage to nationwide and international status. Nirvana and Pearl Jam are the other two which were the main powerhouses of the time; Alice In Chains, Mother Love Bone, and the Screaming Trees are others who were well-known in that scene and the circles at the time.

I was fortunate enough to see a good number of those bands in person as they were up-and-coming; they performed regularly at places like the Vogue, the Moore Theatre, and the Crocodile Café in Seattle, among other local hot spots. Chris’s voice was just as distinctive as that of Kurt Cobain or Eddie Vedder, and it had the power to move you through the emotional highs and lows of a song effortlessly.

There’s really not much else that I can say with words, so here’s my little musical tribute to one of the best musicians of my lifetime. Rest easy, Chris…you left us too soon. You still had so much to offer.

R.I.P., Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas: 4 August 1920 – 20 July 2013

Long-time White House reporter and journalist, Helen Thomas, passed away today following a long illness. She was 92 years old. She interviewed a number of U.S. presidents, including John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, George W. Bush, and Barack H. Obama. The BBC reports:

“Helen Thomas, a trailblazing journalist who covered the White House for nearly five decades, has died aged 92.

She died at her Washington apartment after a long illness, the Gridiron Club, Washington’s historic press organisation, said.

Ms Thomas covered the administrations of 10 presidents and was known for asking difficult questions.

She was a fixture at White House news conferences and considered a pioneer for women in journalism.

Veteran NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell tweeted that Helen Thomas “made it possible for all of us who followed”.

Questioning was ‘torture’

Born to Lebanese immigrants in Kentucky in 1920, Helen Thomas found her calling while working for her student newspaper at school.

She started out as a copy girl for a small Washington newspaper before moving to the United Press (UPI) wire service with whom she covered the presidential campaign of John F Kennedy.

Following Kennedy’s election, the huge demand for stories about First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy helped Ms Thomas secure her place within the White House press corps.”

It’s interesting to note that her career “ended under a cloud” after her comments about Israeli Jews and Palestine. Lush Dimbulb and Lard-arse Deen get book deals and shitloads of money for insulting Black people, but Helen Thomas is disgraced for her honest opinion about a country that is near her parents’ homeland…go figure! More from Al-Jazeera:

“In her long career, she was indelibly associated with the ritual ending White House news conferences.

She was often the one to deliver the closing line: “Thank you, Mister. President” – four polite words that belied a fierce competitive streak.

Her disdain for White House secrecy and dodging spanned five decades, back to President John F Kennedy.

Her freedom to voice her peppery opinions as a speaker and a Hearst columnist came late in her career.

The Bush administration marginalised her, clearly peeved with a journalist who had challenged President George W Bush to his face on the Iraq war and declared him the worst president in history.

In 2009 she asked President Barack Obama, “When are you going to get out of Afghanistan? Why are we continuing to kill and die there? What is the real excuse and don’t give us this Bushism ‘If we don’t go there, they’ll all come here.'”

Pioneer journalist

Thomas was assigned to the White House in 1961 by UPI in part because of the great interest in first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, as well as the new young president.

She would go on to become the dean of the White House media corps and her front-row centre chair in the briefing room eventually had a plaque with her name, the only seat so designated.

Thomas grew up in Detroit, the daughter of Lebanese immigrants.

Middle Eastern affairs were a strong interest and impromptu comments about Israel and the Palestinians in May 2010 were her undoing.

Asked by an interviewer from the website rabbilive.com if she had any comments about Israel, Thomas responded, “Get the hell out of Palestine”.

She said “Remember, [the Palestinian] people are occupied, and it’s their land.”

To me, she represents what real journalism and reporting used to be. You find none of that straightforward honesty anymore – so-called ‘reporters’ and ‘journalists’ are nothing more than plastic talking-heads regurgitating self-made headlines…that fiasco with the San Francisco TV station getting trolled and pwned into reporting racist, fake names of the Asiana pilots says it all!

I wanted to be a reporter when I was younger; this is why I went into the radio industry during high school, but it became rapidly apparent that honesty and truth weren’t valued qualities for a reporter. True journalism died the day the 24-hour ‘news cycle’ came into vogue, and all we see today is the animated, rotting corpse of something that used to be grand.

Rest in peace, Helen – you were the last, true, published journalist. Those of us who still exist will never be allowed to attain your legendary level…sad, no?

In Memoriam: Bob Marley

Nesta Robert “Bob” Marley: 6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981

Wednesday, February 6th, marked the 68th “birth anniversary” of Bob Marley, well-known reggae artist and political activist. He died of cancer in 1981 at the age of 36, but his legacy lives on. From the Huffington Post:

“Marley is credited with helping spread both reggae sounds and the Rastafari movement to a worldwide audience throughout his 18 years in the business.

According to Urban Islandz, “Legend: The Best of Bob Marley and the Wailers,” which was released three years after his death, is reggae’s biggest selling album to date, with more than 10 million copies sold in the United States and an estimated 25 million worldwide. And that’s no surprise.

Despite his absence, Marley has continued to garner success, being honored with such awards as BBC’s song of the millenium for “One Love” and getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Also in 1999, Time Magazine named  Bob Marley & The Wailers’ “Exodus” as the greatest album of the 20th century.”

I don’t know that I can do this legendary man due justice! He is a hero in more ways than one; a pioneer, a man with a message who was taken from this world far too soon. He is survived by Ziggy Marley and his 10 other children: Sharon, Cedella, Stephen, Robbie, Rohan, Karen, Stephanie, Julian, Ky-Mani and Damian. Check out the official Bob Marley website for music, wallpapers, and information! Rest in peace, Mr. Marley – you are truly one of the greats, and far more than a mere decoration for head-shops.

R.I.P., Donald Byrd

Donaldson Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd II: December 9, 1932 – February 4, 2013

Legendary jazz trumpeteer Donald Byrd passed away on Monday, February 4th, at the age of 80. His death was reported by his nephew, jazz pianist Alex Bugnon, on Thursday, February 7th. The Guardian reports:

“The influential jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd died on Monday at the age of 80, his nephew has said.

Alex Bugnon, a jazz pianist, reported his uncle’s death on Thursday, though it has yet to be confirmed.

Bugnon wrote on his own Facebook page: “Donald passed away Monday in Delaware, where he lived. His funeral will be held in Detroit sometime next week. I have no more patience for this unnecessary shroud of secrecy placed over his death by certain members of his immediate family.”

During his career, he performed alongside other legendary greats such as John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk and Herbie Hancock. He had musical roots in bebop, but later became equally renowned for soul, funk, and jazz fusion. From the Huffington Post:

“His career began when he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, as a replacement for Clifford Brown, in the 1950s, and formed the fusion group The Blackbyrds in the early 1970s. According to Amoeba, Byrd was a “one of a kind trumpeter,” who was known not just for his work in jazz, but also in R&B, soul and funk music, and it was his ability to transcend time and genre and remain relevant that sets his work apart from others.

The cause of death has yet to be released, and in a statement his nephew wrote:

“Let’s remember Donald as a one of a kind pioneer of the trumpet, of the many styles of music he took on, of music education. In sum, Donald was an avid, eternal student of music, until his death. That’s what I try to be, everyday!! Rest in peace, uncle!”

Rest in peace, for certain – the music world is mourning heavily this week. Another great one takes his talent to the gods…

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