In Memoriam 2023

In memoriam 2023. This is a list of well-known celebrities and public figures that have passed away this year, in reverse chronological order. You might take note of the unusually high number of people in this list who lived to age 100 or older.

December 27. Gaston Glock (b. 1929), age 94. Austrian engineer and founder of the company that makes Glock pistols.

December 26. Tommy Smothers (b. 1937), age 86. Part of the Smothers Brothers comedy duo, alongside brother Richard. Also known for playing Guitar with John Lennon during the Montreal bed-in for the song “Give Peace a Chance”.

Laura_Lynch
Laura Lynch

Decenmber 22. Laura Lynch (b. 1958), age 65. One of the founding members of The Dixie Chicks.

December 16. Pete Lucas (b. 1950) age 73. Former singer and guitarist of the British group Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich. Also played with The Troggs.

December 16. Colin Burgess (b. 1946) age 77. Original drummer for AC/DC.

December 15. Bob Johnson (b. 1944) age 79. Former guitarist, singer and songwriter for Steeleye Span.

December 14. Joseph Wilson (b. 1996) age 27. YouTuber known as “Mitten Squad” with 1.4 million viewers and subscribers.

Norman_Lear
Norman Lear

December 6. Norman Lear (b. 1922), age 101. Producer of All In the Family, and a host of other highly-rated sitcoms in the 70s and 80s. Spinoff series included The Jeffersons and Maude. Lear was also the founder of the organization “People for the American Way”. Other sitcoms included Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, and Good Times.

December 5. Denny Lane (b. 1944), age 79. Former band member with the Moody Blues, and later, Wings.

myles goodwin
Myles Goodwyn

December 3. Myles Goodwyn (b. 1948), age 75. Founding member and lead singer of April Wine. Also named to the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Readers of my blog might remember my chiding April Wine for their crappy album covers, inside which had real gems of rock music, which contributed to earning the band a place on the Candian Walk of Fame, as well as the Canadian Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

December 3. Geordie Walker (b. 1958) age 64. One of the original guitarists of the post-punk band The Killing Joke.

chad allan
Chad Allan

December 2. Chad Allan (b. 1943), age 80. Founding member and lead singer of The Guess Who. The Vancouver Sun has him as passing about a week earlier, but a Facebook post from Burton Cummings and a CBC report are in agreement with December 2.

December 1. Sandra Day-O’Connor (b. 1930), age 93. Former chancellor of the College of William and Mary; retired American Supreme Court justice – the first woman to have ever served in the Supreme Court.

November 30. Shane MacGowan (b. 1958) age 65. Former songwriter and frontman for The Pogues.

November 29. Henry Kissinger (b. 1923), age 100. Served in the US governmentt as Secretary of State; Chairman of the 9/11 Commission; and was also chancellor of the College of William and Mary just before Sandra Day O’Connor.

Rosalynn_Carter
Rosalynn Carter

November 19. Rosalynn Carter (b. 1927), age 96. Former first lady to President Jimmy Carter; and before that first lady in Georgia when Jimmy Carter was governor there.

November 11. Peter Moore (b. 1956), age 67. Produced The Trinity Sessions, an album by The Cowboy Junkies, a popular album known for its sparse production and shoestring budget.

October 28. Matthew Perry (b. 1969), age 54. Actor appearing on Friends, and earlier on Ally McBeal.

October 25. Elizabeth Gray (b. 1937), age 86. Producer for CBC Radio and TV, producing for Cross-Country Checkup, The Journal, This Country in the Morning, and Morningside. Also guest hosted for As It Happens, replacing Barbara Frum.

Carla Bley
Carla Bley

October 17. Carla Bley (b. 1936) age 87. American Jazz musician best known for being part of the Free Jazz movement in the 1960s.

October 15. Suzanne Somers (b. 1947), age 76. Best known for her work as Chrissy Snow in the sitcom Three’s Company, but also played the hooker driving the Thunderbird in American Grafitti, who courted a naive Curt, played by a boyish Richard Dreyfuss.

Karthyayani Amma
Karthyayani Amma

October 10. Karthyayani Amma (b. 1922) age 101. Wikipedia refers to this native of India as a “mature student”, which is an understatement, having passed a literacy exam with top marks at age 96, five years before her death. She became a Commonwealth of Learning Goodwill Ambassador in 2019, and was awarded the Nari Shakti Puraskar award the following year, which is the highest civilian honor in India, when she was 98.

September 29. Diane Feinstein (b. 1933), age 90. American Senator, and before that, Mayor of San Francisco. She died while holding office as a Senator.

September 7. Peter C. Newman (b. 1929), age 94. Canadian journalist, editor and author. Wrote The Canadian Establishment in three volumes in 1975, which raised the bar on business reporting.

Gary Wright
Gary Wright

September 4. Gary Wright (b. 1943), age 80. American musician, wrote, composed and sung 70s hits Dreamweaver and Love is Alive.

September 1. Jimmy Buffet (b. 1946), age 76. Was the ‘roguish bard of island escapism’ (NYT). Grand Poobah of the Parrot Heads. Sang of the woes of tropical pirates, smugglers, beach bums and barflies that otherwise only they would know. Also, owner and CEO of the Maragritaville chain of restaurants and resorts.

August 28. Samuel Wurzelbacher (b. 1974), age 49. Known as Joe the Plumber, who became an icon of the middle class by politicians like John McCain who used his name in televised debates in 2008 against Barack Obama. I have written about him before.

Bob Barker
Bob Barker

August 26. Bob Barker (b. 1924), age 99. Host of The Price is Right, and for a time, Truth or Consequences. The Price is Right was the longest-running game show in television history.

August 18. James Buckley (b. 1923), age 100. U. S. Senator and son of William F. Buckley.

August 9. Robbie Robertson (b. 1943), age 80. Canadian solo artist and founding member of The Band.

July 31. Paul Reubens (b. 1953), age 70. Known as Pee Wee Herman.

Sinead O'Connor
Sinead O’Connor

July 26. Sinéad O’Connor (b. 1967), age 56. Famous Irish pop singer. But she wouldn’t be famous for singing Danny Boy.

July 25. Pat Carney (b. 1935), age 88. Was a Conservative MP under the Mulroney conservatives; later appointed to the Senate.

July 21. Tony Bennett (b. 1926), age 96. Successful singer and actor. Won 20 Grammies and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Daniel Ellsberg
Daniel Ellsberg

June 16. Daniel Ellsberg (b. 1931), age 92. Leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press, disclosing many American lies about Vietnam. He also was intricately involved in Watergate, since his psychiatrist’s office was being wiretapped.

June 12. Treat Williams (b. 1951), age 71. Played in scores of major films and television shows; winner of a Golden Globe.

June 8. Pat Robertson (b. 1930), age 93. Teleevangelist and one-time host of The 700 Club. Also held a job as chancellor of Regents University, whose campus is in Virginia.

Astrud Gilberto
Astrud Gilberto, looking straight ahead, not at the camera.

June 6. Astrud Gilberto (b. 1940), age 83. Brazilian vocalist, who sang the 1963 bossa nova hit The Girl From Ipanema, and is partly responsible for popularizing the bossa nova genre outside of Brazil. Made dozens of albums and compilations up until 2008, mostly all bossa nova.

May 24. Tina Turner (b. 1939), age 83. Had several hits since the 1960s with ex-husband Ike Turner. Hit her career peak as a soloist in the 1980s and later.

Gordon Lightfoot
Gordon Lightfoot

May 1. Gordon Lightfoot (b. 1939), age 84. Canadian Music Hal l of Famer, as well as a Canadian Country Music Hall of Famer, winner of 16 Juno awards for his contribution to folk, rock and pop music genres.

April 27. Jerry Springer (b. 1944) age 79. Had his heyday during the ’90s “tabloid talk show” craze. Before that he was mayor of Cincinati for two years.

Harry Belafonte
Harry Belafonte

April 25. Harry Belafonte (b. 1927), age 96. Had the first million selling album Calypso, on Billboard, and penned many chart-topping singles in the Calypso genre which crossed over into popular music. Had a high profile in the civil rights movement, having helped to get Rev. Martin Luther King out of Birmingham Prison. At age 32 he was the most highly paid black performer in the United States. I have written about him before. Here is another article.

April 25. Harry Potts (b. 1921), age 102. Oldest survivor of the sinking of the USS Arizona, which was part of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour.

Al Jaffee
Al Jaffee, seen here holding the Eisner Award, also won a Reuben Award from the National Cartoonists Society.

April 10. Al Jaffee (b. 1921), age 102. Cartoonist for Mad Magazine in the 1970s and onward, and was known for the Mad Fold-In on the inside back cover of every issue of the magazine. Also known for his “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” comics which sporadically appeard in many issues. All of his work for Mad was freelance. Despite that, he was a regular contributor that helped set the style for Mad. Winner of the Reuben award in 2007, which put him up there with Charles Schulz, Matt Groening, Gary Larson, Scott Adams, Garry Trudeau, and other cartooning bigwigs. He was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2013. The Eisner Awards are comic industry awards, comparable to the Academy Awards.

March 26. Paul Schmidt (b. 1986), age 37. Famous for being murdered in front of a Starbucks in Vancouver by Inderdeep Gosal, who chose to murder him rather than not vape in front of Paul’s toddler. Or was he famous because his bleeding to death from the neck after being stabbed was being filmed on cellphone by Alex Bodger, a clueless kid who uploaded it to TikTok for the lulz and didn’t call the police, choosing instead to stand there and watch him die? Not sure.

March 23. Tony Abbott (b. 1930), age 92. Former Canadian MP (Peel South, Lib.), holding several portfolios in Pierre Trudeau cabinet.

Jim Gordon
Jim Gordon

March 13. Jim Gordon (b. 1945), age 77. Drummer for Traffic and Derek and The Dominoes; wrote Layla; murdered his mother because “the voices told him to”. Was diagnosed with schizophrenia while in jail for murder. He died while still incarcerated, after 39 years in a California prison.

March 10. Jerrold Samuels (b. 1938), age 84. Famous for his 1966 one hit wonder They’re Coming to Take Me Away! Ha-Haaa!, which reached #3 on Billboard, under his pseudonym Napoleon XIV. He also wrote hits for other artists, including Sammy Davis Jr.

March 2. Wayne Shorter (b. 1933), age 89. Famous jazz saxophonist. Co-founder of the 1970s jazz-fusion band Weather Report. Before that, he played with the Miles Davis Quintet. Winner of 12 Grammy awards over his career.

Gordon Pinsent
Gordon Pinsent

February 25. Gordon Pinsent (b. 1930), age 92. Famous Canadian actor, playing in mostly Newfoundland-themed and Canadian-themed film, TV and theater. He was a recipient of The Order of Canada, as well as having been awarded several Genies, and Actra awards.

February 21. Paul Berg (b. 1927), age 96. Won the Nobel Prize for his work in genetic engineering. Invented the concept of “recombinant DNA”.

February 19. Richard Belzer (b. 1944), age 78. The recognizable face from Law and Order SVU was a former standup comic at an earlier time. He was the warm-up comedian for Saturday Night Live, between 1975 and 1980.

Raquel Welch,
Raquel Welch,

February 15. Raquel Welch (b. 1940), age 82. A successful actress who became an interenational sex symbol in the 1970s and 1980s.

February 8. Burt Bacharach (b. 1928), age 94. One of the most influential popular musical composers of the 20th century. Composed, wrote lyrics and produced songs for Marty Robbins, Perry Como, Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones, B. J. Thomas, The Carpenters and Dionne Warwick, often in collaboration with Hal David.

Cindy Williams
Cindy Williams, alongside Ron Howard, in the 1973 film American Grafitti.

January 30. Cindy Williams (b. 1947), age 75. Played Shirley Feeney in the sitcom Laverne and Shirley. Earlier roles were in the series Room 222, and Love, American Style. She also appeared in the 1973 film American Grafitti as Laurie Henderson, the date of character Steve Bolander, played by Ron Howard. She had also played in scores of other film and TV roles before and since.

January 30. Bobby Hull (b. 1939), age 84. Ontario-born player for the Chicago Black Hawks in the NHL. He had set many points records in the 1960s and 1970s. Joined the WHA and played for the Winnipeg Jets in 1972. After he retired, he was made Officer of the Order of Canada in 1978.

David Crosby
David Crosby

January 19. David Crosby (b. 1941), age 81. Member of The Byrds, and then the group Crosby, Stills and Nash. And he, like many, protested Vietnam. He also had 8 solo albums during his life. He also appeared as a guest musician on the albums of many other artists such as Joni Mitchell, Jefferson Airplane, Jackson Browne, Dave Mason, Art Garfunkel, Elton John, Bob Dylan, and dozens of others.

Gina Lollobrigida
Gina Lollobrigida, as she looked in 1956.

January 16. Gina Lollobrigida (actress) (b. 1927), age 95. Another international sex symbol with a high profile in Europe in the 1950s and 1960s, although she began her acting career working for Howard Hughes at RKO in America. She was later a photojournalist, and later, a politician. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

January 12. Lisa Marie Presley (b. 1968), age 54. American singer and songwriter; most famous for being the only daughter of Elvis Presley, although she did produce two studio albums that reached the top 10 on Billboard in the States between 2003 and 2005.

January 10. Jeff Beck (b. 1944) age 78. In 1965, he Replaced Eric Clapton in The Yardbirds, joining Keith Reif, Chris Dreja, Paul Samwell-Smith, Jim McCarty and later Jimmy Page to help release the only hits The Yardbirds had during his 20-month stay. In 1971, formed the Jeff Beck Group which lasted about 2 years; and went mostly solo or had brief collaborations with other major artists in the years since. He has reiceved 8 Grammy awards.

Visits: 125

Getting My Teeth off My Chest

Don’t put me down for writing this, for if you are reading this, you are counting yourself in the equal company of bloggers who do not have a life. I just want to get this off my chest.

I never thought about being passionate about flossing my teeth, but dog-gone it, there are standards. For one thing, nothing beats the old-school floss that consists of a thin thread of wound unwaxed nylon (or whatever they use). It is easy, it is a strong thread, it gets the job done.

Recently I made the mistake of purchasing that fancy-dancy floss they have these days which consists of some kind of flavour-coated teflon. The teflon slips past the teeth, and the plaque. Nothing sticks to it. Not the plaque, and nothing else. It’s crap. Expensive crap. There. I’ve said it. OK, you can go to another blog, now.

Visits: 121

Getting away from it

“Getting Away From It”

At a Tim Horton’s, we ordered coffee, I ordered a doughnut. Denise wouldn’t have doughnuts. She seemed a little upset. I later found it was because she had visited her mother and became victim of her latest insensitive remarks.

“Why do you bother visiting your mom if all she does is hurt your feelings,” I ask. This always seems to happen, almost like a weekly routine.

“Well, she is my mother, and I am the only daughter, so I am seen as the only one who can do certain things for her once in a while. But when she says something hurtful, what I normally do is go home, think about it, write my feelings down somewhere, and then try to go about my life again.”

She went on, mostly elaborating. I was silent as she was explaining this to me. I could say that writing is only a temporary measure. It helps you to figure things out, but it doesn’t solve your problems. It might be a way of licking your wounds, but it alone doesn’t fix things in the outer world. As I saw it, the only way she could heal was to not visit her mother, and to try to steer clear from any other source of hurt.

I don’t think she wanted to hear that. There was a sense of security she seemed to feel about the rut she was in. She was, in her mind, coping splendidly. She would be hurt by people in the world around her, she’d retreat home, lick her wounds, then do the same thing again. With all that hurting and healing, there was no room left for anything positive. Certainly no room to make a positive contribution to society in general.

Visits: 123

Completely believing people’s wildest stories

I’m into totally believing people’s wildest stories. Sometimes, when people tell me their problems, it’s complete horse-crap, with only the flimsiest relation to reality. But I sit in wide-eyed fascination of these artistic bullshitters. I’m just along for the ride, and sitting and listening to these tall tales aren’t really going to hurt me. So I believe it. All of it. With all my heart. It has nothing to do with me, so who cares? I even offer to help out with their “predicament” (which they fabricated of course). And it never amounts to anything anyway.

Here’s how you play: you completely, without holding back, believe everything a bullshitter tells you. If they falter, help them out in order to get their story right. In order to win the game, you have to “land on your feet”, and neither player gets hurt. Those are the rules.

OK? Ready to rumble?

I saw Karen again, and this time it was in the Student Building on campus. She asked me if I remember bumping into her a month ago near the Harbour Front with her mother. I vaguely remembered, and said so.

She said if I could clearly remember this, that she wanted me to testify that in court, because she thought the police were giving her trouble. I was not able to find out what kind of trouble. She was evasive. I didn’t want to pry, but my naturally supportive self wanted to jump in and help her out. I told her so. But, funny thing, none of it amounted to anything. The conversation about court just evaporated. Living in fear of the police didn’t seem all that important, all of a sudden, and I never heard about it again.

It was just like the day later on when she spoke about the fact that her parents were Nazis. She was in her 30s when she spoke to me on this (and that would make her parents, what, oh 50 or 60 years old when they gave birth to her)? She went on about how they used to operate the torture chambers in some part of Poland. She lived in mortal fear of her parents, apparently, because they ruined the livelihood of her brother and set his house on fire. She was now living in fear of them coming for her.

Now did I react and say “Come off it, Karen”? Nooooo. I was the proud picture of gullability itself. I listened to her for hours, in fascination of her and this incredible story. The next day I ran to the university library and took out an atlas of Nazi prison camps. There were hundreds of small camps dotting Poland. I laid it out for her to jog her memory. She pointed at one called Treblinka, but she was no longer going into the same level of fine detail that she was regaling to me earlier with.

The subject was dropped, and never pursued again. For some odd reason, the topic of her parents about to kill her any day now did not seem to inspire as much fear and was no longer important, and she never brought it up again.

Visits: 137

Remember, when the air was free?

One of the most reassuring things about gas stations is that sign many of them have, advertising “free air”. Yes, those were the days, the days when air was free… I now go to the same gas station, and they now have a coin-operated air pump, which now charges 50 cents for air. The first time I used it, it didn’t stay on long enough for me to inflate all 4 tires. Not wanting to spend a buck just to inflate the fourth tire, I asked the manager to turn on the pump for maybe an extra minute. Would you believe I had to argue this with him?

Oh, how I long for the return of the days when the air was free. We didn’t have to pay for air. Air at one time was not a commodity to be packaged and sold. I guess there is an air shortage. There is not enough to go around. It is a wonder that after all of the tires in the world are filled with air, that there is still enough air left in the atmosphere to sustain life and for us to grow.  Of course, the oil companies would hold all living things responsible for creating an air shortage, such that there is not enough air left to put in the tires after all the living things in the world are done with it. That would be the reason for them charging us half a buck at the air pump.

Visits: 178

Forgiveness

As I understand it, forgiveness is something that is given after the other party has admitted wrongdoing. If they had not, then forgiveness is futile, except maybe in one’s mind. In other words, if I had wronged you, and I don’t say I am sorry — in fact, I refuse to even acknowledge that wrong was done — then it would sound absurd for you to say to me “I forgive you”. It falls on deaf ears. I know I said that before, but it is worth repeating. There are a lot of wrongdoers in my life, who seem to have a warped sense of morals, who think in their own minds they have done nothing wrong; that they are perfect somehow.

I guess for some people, the two simple words “I’m sorry” are the most difficult words to say in the English language. It is an admission that you are not perfect, and with it an acceptance, I guess, of a certain loss of self-esteem (which seemed too high to begin with). After that, there should be an attempt to make up for it — a reparative justice, like the Greeks used to do.

But it seems for some people, it has gone beyond that, especially where rape and other forms of irrepairable harm was committed.

Other brief articles touching on the theme: 18 Oct 2022; also 21 Nov 2022.

Visits: 151