It is well-known by now that a number of musicians have died in the last few weeks, most notably three giants in the industry, David Bowie, Glenn Frey and Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister.
David Bowie, the iconic and shape-shifting British singer whose illustrious career lasted five decade with hits like "Fame," ''Heroes" and "Let's Dance," died Sunday 10 January at 69 years of age after a secret, 18 month battle with liver cancer. This was two days after his birthday and release of his latest album, “Blackstar”.
As the Eagles co-founder, singer and songwriter Glenn Frey mastered the mix of rock 'n' roll and country music, and the band's hits — including "Hotel California" and "Take It Easy," both co-written by Frey — helped define the 1970s. Frey died Monday of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia in New York at age 67.
Lanky and long-haired, with mutton chops and moles, Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister looked and lived like a hard-rock hero. He founded Motorhead in 1975, and continued recording and touring with the band until his death. He began every legendary live show with the announcement, "We are Motorhead, and we play rock and roll!” The singer and bassist died Monday at age 70 a mere two days after being diagnosed with aggressive cancer in his brain and neck.
The Malta Independent spoke to three major music critics in Malta, Michael Bugeja, Nigel Camilleri and Noel Mallia, to get their comments about the deaths of these music moguls. Namely the effects of their death on the music industry as a whole, the effects on their respective genres and even what they meant for the critics on a personal level.
Michael Bugeja – “Generally speaking, and somewhat based on the rapidity with which so many Bowie albums have (re)charted in the few days since he died, I’d say the immediate impact of the death of a high profile artist on the music industry is primarily of a lucrative nature. From a non-commercial point of view however, I believe the true and lasting impact tends to be rather more personal, especially if one happens to be a dedicated fan of one or more of the artists we have lost. Irrespective of genre, the effect of a star’s death, apart from the sense of loss it obviously brings to those closest to him or her, can, and often does, translate as the ultimate seal of legendary status, some everlasting, others less so. I wouldn't say the artists meant something to me personally, but I will be forever grateful to them for creating music that has been part and parcel of my life so far, Bowie and Lemmy perhaps more than the rest.”
Nigel Camilleri – “When an icon is lost, there is obviously a void especially when still providing valuable input. These musicians are still relevant to the genre and they were all leaders within their own sphere so all movements have lost an irreplaceable figure. They were all inspirations to the people in their genre. Ultimately there will be no changes in the genres themselves in reaction to their death because they have all been active long enough to leave a permanent footprint. It has actually opened up the possibility for people to rediscover their music, especially David Bowie’s. In fact his albums got back into the charts now so the good thing about it is that it’s a breath of fresh air within the current wave of modern music. Personally, Lemmy was the closest to me as I am more into rock music. That being said, David Bowie was definitely the most creative of the three, he has always been a trend-setter. The Eagles were more of a touring band than one with constant output and production.”
Noel Mallia – “In the short term, the industry will gain as sales of all related music, whether on CD, vinyl, streaming or downloads, will Increase. Lemmy’s and Glenn Frey’s deaths will stylistically have little effect on the rock genre. Both were trading on past glories. The Eagles gave their final concerts in summer 2015, with according to latest interviews with Don Henley, a remote possibility of the band coming together ever again live or in the studio. Motorhead, although still active, in fact they released “Bad Magic” in 2015, were in musical terms, stuck in a rut. Besides, many of their recent concerts had been cancelled owing to Lemmy’s ill-health. The greatest loss is Bowie’s. His final two albums “The Next Day” of 2013 and “Blackstar” released two days before his death, show the artist still on a creative high. He was also working on a musical “Lazarus’ based on Nicholas Roeg’s film “The Man Who Fell to Earth”, in which Bowie had the leading role. In an interview published before Bowie’s death, his longstanding producer Tony Visconti remarked the artist was also very prolific and had written quite a number of new songs, which could now appear on a posthumous album. Personally Bowie’s death is the most unfortunate. In my opinion, he is one of the Top five greatest and most influential artists or groups in rock history along with Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley.”