Forever Young & Never Crap; Death Protects The Icon

9 12 2011

I shout all my obscenities from steeples,
But please don’t label me a madman
I’m off to see the Bootleg Beatles
As the bootleg Mark Chapman

Taken from ‘When The Evening Sun Goes Down’ by Half Man Half Biscuit

Thirty-one years ago on December 8,  John Lennon died in New York.

This was very sad and although I have never been a big fan of The Beatles, I appreciate that they were partly responsible for dragging English music away from  copy-cat product of the 1950’s and being at the forefront of the British Invasion that was welcomed by American audiences. John and his mates produced  radio-friendly-unit-shifters that appealed to a broad base of fans and have lasted for longer than two members of the band.

In death, John Lennon has achieved a lasting fame and a legacy that (for many) is hard to criticize. But what would have happened if Chapman hadn’t gunned down the Scouse legend outside his apartment all those years ago?

Lennon would have been 71 this year.

He would probably be still recording music, playing the occasional live show and been inducted into various Halls of Fame. He would probably still be married to Yoko, joined the Occupy Movement and would have advised Julian to not release any music at all.

But then we would never had the dubious pleasure of watching a bloke (who looked a bit like John) sitting on a stage singing ‘Much Too Late For Goodbyes’ while wearing a very shiny suit. Or maybe Julian would have been inspired anyway by his old man to follow him into the business.

We shall never know.

What if he had lived (John, not Julian)? Would he have continued to make “good” music or would he now be performing in Vegas on a regular basis? Perhaps he would have tried to re-unite The Beatles for a tour that wasn’t about money but about giving something back to the fans? Or maybe he would be a judge on American Idol/The Voice/X Factor (delete or apply as necessary).

In all likelihood, Lennon may have managed to remain relevant in a way that Paul McCartney has failed to do – and he would never have recorded ‘The Frog Chorus’.

John Lennon died and assured himself of a place in the “What If” category of pop culture legends whose membership includes Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, James Dean, Buddy Holly and Marilyn Monroe. All destined to remain forever young in our eyes and with a catalogue of work that showcases their talent.

Lets face it, James Dean made three films that are considered classics and then shuffled off this mortal coil at the age of 24. He was named 18th Best Male Movie Star by the AFI in 1999 and is a cultural icon. His death elevated him to a level that would ensure that he would never have to be the voice for an animated character or appear in a film with Ben Stiller.

Jimi Hendrix is considered the greatest guitarist of all time. He re-invented how the instrument could be played and spawned a series of imitators that drooled over his fretwork. By partying a tad too hard, he made sure that he never released a Christmas single or played on the soundtrack to a Lethal Weapon movie.

Marilyn died and never got the chance to sell her secrets to the popular press, Morrison managed to avoid becoming a lounge singer or a politician, Buddy Holly didn’t become the face of Specsavers and Cobain avoided a messy divorce.

Death kept their memory alive and made sure that their fans were never disappointed with their latest record or movie. Their legacy remained intact, their reputation unsullied by embarrassing pictures, rubbish films, inappropriate product placement, appearances on Dancing With The Stars or by leaked sex-tapes.

Pop Culture Icons For All Eternity – and all they had to do was die.

For someone like Nicole Sherzinger, this could be the attractive option – especially if Simon Cowell has his way. But then we run the risk of making her relevant and it’s more fun to watch her self-destruct.

After all, death is really a final solution that leaves answered questions. And who wants to be the one to ask those?




One response

9 12 2011

Brilliant Dave!

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