Lemmy Kilmister, 70; Natalie Cole, 65; David Bowie, 69; Glenn Frey, 67
In less than a month, we’ve lost four incredibly opposite and almost equally impactful personalities and musicians.
Lemmy, founder and frontman of Motörhead. A personality to match the heavy metal “foundation” he literally was and created. When you hear Mötley Crew or Slipknot or Iron Maiden, you are hearing what evolved from Lemmy’s vision of what he wanted heavy metal to be for the world – which was a constant “screw you, I’m doing what I want!”
Natalie Cole, the incredibly talented musician who grew up in her father’s musical shadow, stepped out into the funky music scene in the 70’s to help define her voice. Eventually she fully embraced her natural swooning voice to inspire singers like Norah Jones and others with several beautifully arranged hits in the 90’s.
David Bowie, what can you say? He defined a sound, a look, a poetry. And then he redefined it multiple times. Ziggy to “Let’s Dance,” Bowie’s style kept you guessing. But whatever he produced, we took notice, all the way to Blackstar. It felt like everything he did was a secret message which we all were let in on the meaning of after he faded for the last time.
Glenn Frey, when you hear his name you immediately think of the Eagles, “Hotel California,” and the still beautiful “Lyin’ Eyes.” He spent years creating, writing and producing brilliance with the Eagles. Eventually hitting it big with “The Heat is On,” for Beverly Hills Cop. His voice and words defined a unique sound of soul, rock and country.
Like many of you, I have very specific memories of first hearing all four of these artists:
Lemmy – My friend’s brother blasting Orgasmatron in his room and the music was insane! And, of course, the album title ticked off the parents.
Natalie – It was my aunt or uncle who had the 45 of “Sophisticated Lady,” in the 70s. It was my next step to going all funk.
David – “Ashes to Ashes” hooked me in and I worked my way backwards in the Bowie collection to catch up. I stayed with him the rest of the way.
Glenn – It was the 8-track of “Hotel California” and the dark storytelling inside the music that had me following him and the band for years.
Four people, four musicians, four unique sounds and talents. It feels like we’ve lost an entire band.
I plan on having more discussions about them at NAMM with those who were lucky enough to work inside their musical worlds.