David Bowie's death in mid-January, at 69, was sad and shocking -- but I will admit he was never one of my favourites, growing up -- although I certainly knew his music, and grew to like and respect it more in later years. As a teenager in the '70s, growing up in a small town on the Prairies, he just seemed kind of weird, lol.
"Grace Slick is 76??!!" I noted as I shared the post on Facebook. And a few days later, Paul Kantner, her bandmate in Jefferson Airplane (and father of her daughter, China), was dead at 74 -- as was Signe Anderson, the singer Slick replaced.
But Glenn Frey's sudden death at the age of 69, not long after Bowie's, was a shocker. Suddenly, it seems like the musical heroes of my growing up years, the guys (and girls) who provided the soundtrack of my youth -- at least, the ones who survived into middle and older age -- are starting to drop like flies. :(
It's not like I had posters of the Eagles on my bedroom wall or anything like that. (That honour was reserved for David Cassidy, Donny Osmond and, later, the Bay City Rollers, lol. And, at university, Peter Frampton, Bruce Springsteen -- and Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, lol.)
But they were THERE -- always there -- a constant presence on the airwaves and on the stereo, from the time I was entering my teens in the early 1970s, through "The Long Run" which came out in the fall of 1979, just as I was entering university, to their breakup the following year -- and ever since then, on the classic rock radio stations I've always loved to listen to.
I remember taking a multi-day high school band trip, where one of the guys brought along a boombox (powered by slowly dying batteries, lol) and three cassette tapes, which we played ad nauseum. I forget what one of them was, but the other two were Frank Zappa's "Sheik Yerbouti" and the Eagles' "Hotel California." Needless to say, I knew "Hotel California" inside and out by the time the trip was over. (And, for a while, was thoroughly sick of it, lol.)
The Eagles played a concert locally in late July 1978 -- the Steve Miller Band was the WARMUP act (can you imagine??!). They were also huge at the time -- but nobody was bigger than the Eagles. I don't know why I didn't go -- many of my friends did. I did some Googling to confirm the date and found a news story that mentioned tickets were just $13!!! I wound up babysitting for a couple who went. I remember thinking how cool that was, to have a mom & dad going to a rock concert. They threw some blankets and bottles of beer in the back seat of the car, and returned home several hours past midnight ( = big payday for me!). No cellphones back then to call to check on the kids!
My future husband -- an even bigger Eagles fan than I am -- saw them a few days later in Toronto. In 1994, the band reunited for their "Hell Freezes Over" tour. Ticket prices were exhorbitant, and hard to get, so we didn't go. A young girl at dh's office asked him if he was going. "No," he responded, "but I saw them on the Hotel California tour in 1978." Her jaw dropped. "HOW OLD ARE YOU???" she gasped. (Answer: In his late 30s at the time.) We laughed about it, then and now, but it was a reminder of the passage of time, and the growing generation gap we were starting to feel.
We watched "History of the Eagles" on CNN last weekend (parts 1 & 2, over four hours, including commercials). It opened with a clip of the band backstage, singing the first lines of "Seven Bridges Road," a cappella. Those harmonies!! Instant chills.
And a profound sense of loss.
A couple of great related articles on this:
- Reading Rock Star Obituaries by Timothy Egan (New York Times)
- David Bowie, Glenn Frey and the End of the Classic Rock Era by David Browne (Rolling Stone)