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2016 Tributes

24 February 2017

Now that 2016 has reached it's inevitable end, Music Lovers would like to pay our respects to the fallen heroes of the music world. It only takes a brief moment to count how many universally acclaimed icons we lost, from David Bowie to Prince to George Martin, producer of The Beatles. Please make time to borrow their music by popping into your closest Kingston Library and experience why they were ultimately the best of the best.

Page image credit (right):
Brit Awards Artist/Prince. [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. http://quest.eb.com/search/158_2456982/1/158_2456982/cite

David Bowie [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. http://quest.eb.com/search/158_

David Bowie
‘We can be heroes, just for one day’ — Heroes

In early January, the music world was shocked to learn of the sudden passing of one of England’s true music geniuses, David Bowie. Since the 60’s, Bowie was one of the most courageous individuals we were gifted with, not only because of his exceptional songwriting abilities, but because he broke down the barriers of perceived sexual masculinity in rock n roll. Once dominated by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones, Bowie changed the scene of perceived masculinity in rock n roll to introduce gender ambiguity, often expressed by Bowie’s over the top costumes and the use of make-up. This reformation birthed ‘glam rock’ and paved the way for many other artists including Marc Bolan, T.Rex, New York Dolls and Iggy Pop. Bowie’s most notable works include ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust’, ‘Station to Station’ and ‘Blackstar’, the latter being Bowie’s last album, released two days after his death. Not only do we owe Bowie for his countless musical compositions, but the music world owes a debt to Bowie for helping the world become a more accepting platform for people to pursue their own works of distinctive art.


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‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust’

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Glastonbury Festival 2008 ‐ Day Three. [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. http://quest.eb.com/search/158_

Leonard Cohen
‘There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in’ — Anthem

Critically regarded for his novel, “Beautiful Losers” as well as his poetry, Leonard Cohen released his debut album, “Songs Of Leonard Cohen” in 1967. It went on to become a cult hit. Cohen's influence as a songwriter has been compared to the likes of Paul Simon, Tim Hardin and Bob Dylan. Like some of Dylan's songs, Cohen's work was embraced by other musicians, eventually a cover version, "Hallelujah", was recorded by John Cale in 1991 and later by Jeff Buckley, which alerted a much wider audience to Cohen's work. Impelled to tour for financial reasons after his former manager embezzled millions of dollars, Cohen embraced Buddhism and embarked on a series of world tours which enhanced his reputation as a live performer. Possessing a distinctive low voice, his often sombre delivery masked a joy and energy that was much apparent during his many live performances. Cohen’s vision and artistry was revered by many musicians as shown in the 2005 documentary, “Leonard Cohen : I’m Your Man” which featured Nick Cave and Jarvis Cocker among others paying tribute by performing Cohen’s songs. Leonard Cohen will always remain as one of modern music’s greatest troubadours, whose storytelling immersed in his mysterious lyrics and poetry will serve as an inspiration for generations to come.

‘Popular Problems’

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‘Songs of Love and Hate’

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George Martin, The Beatles
‘George Martin made us what we were in the studio’ — John Lennon

Whilst George Martin isn’t known for his name in the lights, he’s the man that made a band’s light shine the brightest; The Beatles. As producer of all studio Beatle albums, George Martin fed Lennon and McCartney’s musical curiosities, which ultimately flourished into an unprecedented songwriting ability the world had never seen before, breaking boundaries of studio production which resulted in songs such as ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and ‘A Day in the Life’. Beginning as an classical arranger for orchestras, Martin would utilize his formal training continuously to progress The Beatle’s own works, providing the orchestral arrangement for songs such as ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘I am the Walrus’ and ‘Hey Jude’. Whilst George may have died. his memory will live forever through the songs of the greatest band of all time.


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‘Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band’

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Music ‐ George Michael ‐ 1988. [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. http://quest.eb.com/search/158_

George Michael, WHAM!
‘So I'm never gonna dance again, the way I danced with you’ — Careless Whisper

An unfortunate late entry in the 2016 Tribute page, George Michael was one of the most successful pop artists of the past three decades, firstly as a member alongside Andrew Ridgeley as the dance-pop duo WHAM!, then as a successful solo artist, which saw his first album ‘Faith’ sell in excess of over 20 million copies worldwide. Michael was a true musical talent, having not only written the majority of his songs, but produced and mixed most of his albums as well, most notably for such songs as ‘Wake Me Up before you Go-Go’, ‘Freedom’, ‘Faith’, and his mega-popular Christmas hit, ‘Last Christmas’, which, if you pay attention to the lyrics, has barely anything to do with the holiday itself. Whilst Michael was infamously in the public eye for drug addiction and the jail time that followed, Michael shared his vast fortune donating to charity, although insisted on donating anonymously. Michael purchased John Lennon’s famous ‘Imagine’ piano for over 1 million pounds, then donated it straight to a Beatles museum in Liverpool. Whilst he came out as gay quite later in his career in 1998, Michael became a staunch campaigner for LGBTQ rights, a proclamation many people admired at a time when one’s sexuality came under scrutiny in the public eye, especially for pop stars. As a winner of 17 prestigious worldwide awards including 2 Grammys and four Ivor Novello awards, Michael’s passing ended 2016 on a much sadder note nobody was expecting.

‘The Best of WHAM!’

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Brit Awards Artist/Prince. [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. http://quest.eb.com/search/158_

‘I only wanted to see you, bathing in the Purple Rain’ — Purple Rain

In 2009 we lost our King of Pop, and in 2016 we lost our Prince. An artist whose reputation that speaks for itself, Prince is considered one of the most influential music figures of all time, dominating the charts in the 1980’s whose impeccable songwriting ability was unmatched in the pop world. Prince garnered the respect of his musical peers for his incredible musicianship, not only for writing and producing most of his records, but for his ability to play multiple, diverse instruments which gave him his distinctive pop sound; on his first album ‘For You’, Prince performed all 27 instruments. ‘When Doves Cry’, ‘Little Red Corvette’ and the unmatchable ‘Purple Rain’ ascended him to pop royalty, earning his title through sheer hard work, and his ability to craft art through distinctive songwriting and extravagant live performances. Releasing over 35 albums in 35 years (an impressive 10 albums between 1980 and 1990) and directing three films, his ability to create masterpieces at such a rapid pace is incredibly unprecedented in the current musical landscape, and another reason why his loss this year sent shockwaves throughout the world that will take years to heal.

‘Purple Rain’

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The boss man. [Photograph]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. http://quest.eb.com/search/182_

Maurice White, Earth, Wind and Fire
‘Remember how the stars stole the night away’ — September

As the founding member of the Chicago R&B/soul/funk outfit Earth, Wind and Fire, White championed the band to worldwide success and fame, selling over 100 million albums over 40 years. In the 1970’s, Earth, Wind and Fire were the dominant force in the charts, and spawned classic hits such as ‘September’, ‘Shining Star’, ‘Let’s Groove’ and countless others. Besides his signature band, White went on to become a successful producer, and worked with the likes of Barbara Streisand, Phil Collins and Neil Diamond, earning his accolades as a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Vocal Group Hall of Fame (as a member of Earth, Wind and Fire) and Songwriters Hall of Fame. Whilst White may not be universally recognized amongst the population, his considerable contributions to popular music have resonated with millions across the world and will continue to for many years to come.

‘The Best of Earth, Wind and Fire: Vol. I’

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‘The Best of Earth, Wind and Fire: Vol. II’

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