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Reelin’ In the Years 161: Such a Night. RIP Dr John

Last week Dr John died.

In his early years known as The Night Tripper, he never troubled the UK charts much. (At all? Well a no. 54 with Right Place, Wrong Time).

I featured Marsha Hunt’s version of Walk on Gilded Splinters – a song from Dr John’s first album Gris Gris – in Friday on my Mind 11.

Hunt’s single was weird enough but Dr John’s original – as I Walk on Guilded Splintersis even eerier.

Here’s Dr John playing Such a Night live.

Dr John: Such a Night

Malcolm John Rebennack (Dr John:) 20/11/1941 – 6/6/2019. So it goes.

Murray Gell-Mann

For those of you who haven’t heard of him Murray Gell-Mann was to the forefront in the field of elementary particle Physics in the mid-twentieth century.

He died on May 24th and his Guardian obituary is here.

It was Gell-Mann who named the building blocks of hadrons as “quarks” after a sentence from James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake. He also dubbed the classification system for hadrons as the “eightfold way” in a nod to Buddhism.

Who says scientists aren’t widely read?

Murray Gell-Mann: 15/9/1929 – May 24/5/2019. So it goes.

Paul Darrow

I was sad to see that Paul Darrow has died.

As Avon in the BBC TV SF series Blake’s 7 he provided the grit in the oyster which turned it into a pearl. (There wasn’t much TV SF about in those days in the UK – Doctor Who apart – so we were grateful for what we could get.)

There’s a hint of Davros in some of Darrow’s delivery of his lines in this compilation of Avon’s put-downs.

Paul Valentine Birkby (Paul Darrow): 2/5/1941 – 3/6/2019. So it goes.

Worst Prime Minister

So the tenure of one of the two worst Prime Ministers the UK has ever had is almost over.

(I wasn’t, by the way, convinced by the crack in Mrs May’s voice at the end of her resignation speech. The tone behind it was too like the one she was wont to use in order to indicate resolve and which to me always seemed more like outright refusal to take any notice of alternative viewpoints.)

That the two politicians who hold the (lack of) distinction implied by my first paragraph happened to follow one after the other is merely a reflection of what a state the UK has fallen into.

Not that their position in that top two is secure. As I suggested here, Theresa May’s successor is likely to be even more of a disaster.

O tempora! O mores!

Friday on my Mind 179: Move Over Darling – RIP Doris Day

While I was away Doris Day died. Her heyday was in the 1940s and 50s – the latter mostly as a film star – but her recording career spilled over into the 1960s and included this belter, part-written by her son, 1960s record producer Terry Melcher.

The song has a peculiarity in that of the fourteen times the title’s words are sung during it, only two of these are uttered by Day herself.

This is an unusual stereo version.

Doris Day: Move Over Darling

Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff (Doris Day:) 3/4/1922 – 13/5/2019. So it goes.

Niki Lauda

One of motor racing’s greats, Niki Lauda, has died.

Though he only won the F1 World Championship three times, his talent was acknowleged as being of the highest quality.

His courage in coming back from a horrific accident in which he almost died at the 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring to race again only 40 days later was incredible. Arguably though, his withdrawal from the final Grand Prix that year in Japan, where the weather conditions were appalling, took even more courage as that year’s World Championship was on the line. As a result his great friend and rival James Hunt won the Championship – by one point. Lauda’s team, Ferrari, was not best pleased.

It marks Lauda’s resolve that he made that decision and still came back to win the World Championship the next year – and again seven years later.

Andreas Nikolaus (Niki) Lauda: 22/2/1949 – 20/5/2019. So it goes.

Not Friday on my Mind 56: There’s a Kind of Hush – RIP Les Reed

Songwriter (well, tune writer: he collaborated with lyricists to complete his songs) Les Reed died last week.

Writing for the likes of Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck, Reed was never the most credible with the rock crowd but he helped create a formidable catalogue of notable songs of the 1960s.

It’s Not Unusual, The Last Waltz, I’m Coming Home, Delilah and I Pretend all made No 1 or 2, not a bad achievement for anybody – even if these were mostly bought by Mums and Dads.

Then there’s this song from 1967 (lyric by Geoff Stephens,) and later recorded by The Carpenters.

Herman’s Hermits: There’s a Kind of Hush

Leslie David (Les) Reed: 24/7/1935 – 15/4/2019. So it goes.

Stevie Chalmers

Barely a week after the sad demise of Billy McNeill comes news of the death of his Lisbon Lion teammate Stevie Chalmers.

But Chalmers wasn’t just a teammate. He was the scorer of that goal. Not the best, not the most spectacular, not the most intricate, but perhaps the most precious goal in the history of Scottish football. It was the foot of Chalmers that deflected the course of Bobby Murdoch’s shot into the Inter Milan net and so made sure that Celtic would become not only the first (and so far – and likely forever – the only) Scottish, but also the first British (and first North European) team to lift the European Cup.

Bill Shankly is reported to have said to Celtic’s manager that day, Jock Stein, when they won the trophy, “Jock, you’re immortal.” Well, so too is Chalmers; or at least his memory is.

Looking at his Wikipedia page I see Chalmers turned out for the Sons of the Rock (for one game; as a trialist. Looks like we missed a good one there.) Our loss was Celtic’s gain. He ended up the club’s fifth highest ever goalscorer.

Thomas Stephen (Stevie) Chalmers: 26/12/1935 – 29/3/2019. So it goes.

Billy McNeill

The word legend is bandied about very frequently in football circles usually about players who have not really done much to deserve it.

Today, though, came news that someone who truly warrants that accolade has died.

Billy McNeill will live in history as the first British man to lift the European Cup. The whole 1967 Celtic team can be described as legends – that was an incredible achievement, to win that trophy previously only acquired by teams from southern Europe, with players all born within a tewnty mile radius from the stadium of the club for whom they were playing. It was almost inconceivable at the time. It is utterly impossible now.

McNeill himself always came across as a gentleman – though doubtless the centre forwards he played against may have a different perspective. He presented as articulate and thoughtful in interviews.

Such a pity that his later years were blighted by dementia. I don’t suppose all those years heading a heavy rain-soaked leather football can have helped in that regard.

Not that I wish to end on a sad note as his life and achievements ought to be celebrated.

But words are inadequate.

William (Billy) McNeill: 2/3/1940 – 22/4/2019. So it goes.

Gene Wolfe

And they keep coming. (I suppose, really, that should be going.)

Yesterday, via George R R Martin’s Not a Blog, I learned of the death of Gene Wolfe.

I have been an admirer of his work ever since his novel The Shadow of the Torturer, the first of his sequence set in Urth, with the overall title The Book of the New Sun.

This was followed by Soldier of the Mist set in ancient times, whose hero, Latro, can not remember things from one day to the next, and two more books with the same protagonist.

Two other series, The Book of the Long Sun and The Book of the Short Sun, appeared in the 1990s and early 2000s along with two books related to each other The Wizard and The Knight.

Many stand alone novels were published before, during and after these series books.

I have 24 of Wolfe’s books, 20 novels and 4 collections of his shorter work, but have not yet read them all. (So many books to read, so little time.)

Ursula Le Guin was a great admirer of Wolfe’s writing, calling him “our Melville”, (our in the context of the SF and Fantasy field.)

The last of his novels to be published, A Borrowed Man, 2015, I had the privilege of reviewing for Interzone. I had the impression that was to be the first in another series of books, which sadly are now probably lost for ever.

I’ve got those unread ones to look forward to though.

Gene Rodman Wolfe: 7/5/1931 – April 14/4/2019. So it goes.

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