The H2G2 Obituary Page
This is a place dedicated to the memory
of the many people who have influenced our lives.
Some of them are famous, others are not.
All of them are people we care not to forget.
In memory of the victims of the
Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Maria Klueznick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte.
Submissions are welcome. Please post in a forum below. Obituaries are listed in alphabetical order.
Most recent additions:
Many millions gave their lives to the fallacy that war could end war. For this we stand in the cold on the Sunday nearest November 11 and observe a minute's silence.
William T. Capps (1943-1999) - William T. Capps passed away on September 26th, 1999. He was a computer engineer from Pensacola, Florida, USA. He was employed by the United States Navy at the time of his death. He is survived by his wife, his daughter, and his sister. Mr. Capps grew up in a small town in Alabama, where his mother served the community as a Baptist preacher. He received a great deal of harassment as a boy because his father's identity remained clouded in mystery. The local mythology had the father pegged variously as a black man or a Jew. He joined the United States Army to escape his small community, and served with honors in the Korean War. He was the first in the recorded history of his family to attend college. He graduated, and went on to get his graduate degree a couple of years before his death. He was a good provider and, more importantly to me, a good father. Mr. Capps moved several times during his career and left behind him a trail of friends, who continued to rely on his endless supply of free computer technical support. His optimism for the future and trust in the inherent goodness of mankind inspired many, as did his exuberant love of knowledge and frequent pep talks to friends and enemies alike.
Dame Barbara Cartland (1901-2000) - The pink clothed queen of romance fiction was born in Birmingham, England July 9, 1901 and died on 21 March 2000. She wrote a staggering 723 books, writing them at the rate of one every two weeks for 20 years, working daily at a rate of 6000 words per day! She has appeared in the Guinness book of records as the most prolific living writer. Always dressed in Pink, she didn't succumb to the liberated, sex filled novels spawned in the 60s, but conutinued in the the purity style, where the romantic lead merely sweeps the woman off her feet, which she adopted with her first novel at the age of 21. In 1981, the Queen of Romance shared a family occasion with Queen Elizabeth II, when her Diana (the step-daughter of her daughter Raine) married the Prince of Wales in St Pauls Cathedral, London, UK. One of the reasons to her success is that she believed that 'an Englishman should always be a gentleman, the church should take a lead on matters of morals, and young people should be brought up in a happy family environment, where the wife does not go out to work'. As well as writting, she organised the first all-woman car race, campaigned for gypsies to be given permanebt sites, and served as a local councillor. She married twice and was survied by two sons, a daughter, six grandchilren and five great-grandchildren.
Daniel Warder Cassel (1875-1914) - Corporal, US Marine Corps. Daniel, the oldest son in a family of prosperous store owners and farmers in eastern Pennsylvania, was a scrappy and uncontrollable but good-natured young man who finally found an outlet for his energy and non-conformism by joining the Marines in 1901. He was shipped out to the Philippines and was initially on combat duty until struck with intermittent fevers and swelling, due to dengue. For the rest of his tour, which he deliberately extended for the duration of his enlistment, he served as Company Clerk in Cavite. He wanted to re-enlist and remain in Manila, but his health was ruined. So he came home to the family farm and worked as a hand until his death at age 38. I know all this about him because he kept a journal, news clippings and even some photos which I restored. He was my great-uncle. His relatives also preserved all his letters from the Philippines. Dan Cassel became a living window into history, and it was his old, faded photos which launched me into my present career path of research and photo restoration. Semper Fi, Uncle Dan.
Joey Dunlop (1952-2000) - William Joseph Dunlop was an unassuming man from Armoy, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland, yet a mechanical giant who knew how to race motorcycles on the tight unforgiving road circuits of Ireland and the fast physically mountain circuit of the TT races on the Isle of Man. He was still competitive and feared until his dying day, when on July 2, 2000 he died in a racing accident on a newish circuit in Estonia, miles away from the loyal and fanatical base of fans who loved him back in Ireland. He holds numerous records, including a record 26 wins in the various TT classes and his latest hattrick in the year 2000. He also holds the record for the most laps of the mountain circuit in excess of 100 mph, as well as being the only man to win three titles on the
Island in the same year three times. He also holds numerous records at the famous Irish events the North West 200, Dundrod
et al. He was a family man; brother Robert, a fellow racer, was badly hurt and out for a few years recently. He leaves a wife and five
children as well as an army of mourning fans in Ireland and the rest of the world. Yer Man Joey Dunlop left racing the way most of us feared he would, but in the way he would love: with a motorcylcle under him, a sporting great who will never be just another statistic in a sport so full of tragedy.
Ian Dury (1942-2000) - I greatly admired his tenacity in overcoming a physical disability and actually getting on stage and performing in front of crowds of young teenagers. Although struck by polio at age 7, he still conveyed a zest for life, to the extent of working for the United Nations as a youth representative. His music wasn't always the most tuneful, but he always seemed to be able to communicate with his audience. Goodbye Ian, and watch out for any 'Blockheads' wherever you are now!
Michael Fenton (1945?-1999) - Instigator of Pegasus Juniors Football Club and Pegasus Adventure holidays for children. A quiet, shy man with a genuine enthusiasm for children, who made a positive impact in my life. Still can't believe you're gone Mick.
58 Unkown People - On Monday June 19, 2000, 54 men and four women were found dead in the back of a lorry by British customs officials. They had been trying to gain illegal entry into the UK. They died a terrible death, crowded in a dark place with a dwindling supply of fresh air. They were people who represent the desperation of the vast and anonymous multitude of human beings who are born into torment. We should remember these 58 people; and we should remember the untold millions who never come so close to escaping their misery.
Sir John Gielgud (1904-2000) - Knight of the theatre and Shakespearian great, Sir John Gielgud died at his home is Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, UK on May 21, 2000. He had always said he wished to die on stage in the middle of a good performance; but old age finally forced him to quit acting and claimed him in his sleep. His career on the stage began at the age of 21, when he played a herald in Shakespeare's Henry V. He went on to play lead roles and became recognized as the greatest Hamlet of his time. His film performances include many of his Shakespeare roles, as well as appearing in Elizabeth. In 1981, he won an Oscar for best supporting actor for his performance, against type, as the uncouth butler in Arthur. His last TV performance was in Merlin, in April 1999. He appeared in many productions, including Brideshead Revisited, along with Sir Laurence Olivier, his great compatriot, contempory and foil on stage and screen. In 1994, the Globe Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, London paid him the rare tribute of being renamed the Giegud. He never married; but in 1974 abandoned the clamour of London for the manor where he died, which he shared with Martin Hesler, his companion since shortly after the war.
Charles Gray (1928-2000) - Most famous as Ernst Stavro Bloefeld, James Bond's cat cradling arch-enemy in Diamonds are Forever, Mr Gray also played Dikko Henderson in You Only Live Twice, the film in which Bloefeld (played by Donald Pleasence) first appeared. In this film, the character was killed shortly after serving Bond a vodka martini... 'stirred not shaken' (he was lucky Bond didn't get him first). He was also the narrator in the film Rocky Horror Picture Show, as well as playing Mycroft Holmes in the mid 1980s TV adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. The term 'character actor' is sometimes said with a sneer; but the characters portrayed by a master like Charles Gray transcend screen and stage, and leap to life whenever we imagine an evil genius, a self-righteous colonial administrator, or a sadistic general. He was an artist whose lifework lives on as the very definition of those roles.
Sir Alec Guinness (1914-2000) - One of the greatest actors of a generation that included John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson and John Mills, Sir Alec is perhaps most famous (perhaps regrettably) for his role as Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars. However, this role was the one he like the least, as he often seemed to prefer stage to the screen. He was one of the first great actors, who fully embraced acting in both cinema and on the stage. Known primarily as a character actor, rather than a leading man, he showed great daring in chosing his roles; he wanted to perform in the first staging of Waiting for Godot, and played 8 roles - including one female - in the classic Ealing comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets. He received two Oscars; a Best Actor award for The Bridge on the River Kwai, one of several collaborations with director David Lean, and also a Lifetime Achievement Award. He first appeared on television as George Smiley in the BBC adaptation of John Le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; and his last role was in Jack Rosenthal's Eskimo Day. He also produced three volumes of memoirs Blessings in Disguise, My Name Escapes Me, and A Positively Final Appearance.
Hillsborough - On Saturday 15 April 1989, thousands of Liverpool fans made their way to Sheffield on what was hoped to be a joyous trip to Hillsborough Stadium. The occassion was Liverpools 17th FA Cup semi-final. The opposition on the day was Nottingham Forest. 95 people lost their lives in the
Hillsborough Tragedy, and the Shankly Gates at Anfield became a shrine within hours.
Cynthia Jacobsen was my favourite editor at The Sentinel, a daily newspaper in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She cared passionately about the craft of writing. And if you mangled a sentence and she knew you could do better, you
could be sure she would be waiting for you after deadline to talk about it. Cynthia was our resident grammarian, and while she had forsaken teaching, she was an exacting teacher to our reporters who cared to learn or wanted to improve. Even after her diagnosis of cancer she came to work and did her job. She died on a cold Thursday morning in January 1998. She helped make me a better writer because of her passion. She taught me that every story is worth telling. But she was passionate about life as well. She loved the great outdoors and horses and the theatre and art. She loved to act and was in seventh heaven when she directed the one-act play, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon's Marigolds. When my first daughter was born, she was excited and gave us a wonderful bedtime storybook that we still read. My daughter once asked me who the inscription was from and I told her, 'a wonderful lady named Cynthia' and that I think sums her up best.
Joan of Arc (1412-1431 ) - The Maid of Orléans, Jeanne d'Arc, Joan was born in Domrémy, in northeastern France. At the age of 13, Joan had a mystical experience in which the Archangel Michael told her to take up arms to drive the English out of France. Burgundy and England were allies, the Dauphin was a weakling, and Joan was a mere child... the situation looked bleak; but Joan was a remarkable young girl, and not to be underestimated by anyone. By virtue of her strength of character and her uncanny ability to know things she had no business knowing, she gradually won enough influencial support to raise an army. She was 17. Riding at the head of her army, she relieved the English siege of Orléans, and, later, defeated the English army of Lord Talbot outright at the battle of Pathay. Then things started to go badly. Then worse. On October 23, 1430, Joan was captured by the Burgundians and sold to the English. Charles VII of France, whose crown she had fought to save, turned his back on her; and, in May 1431, after a show trial, Joan of Arc, Jeanne d'Arc, the Maid of Orléans, was burned alive at the stake... at the age of 19. She was canonized in 1920. To the end, she remained sure of her faith and her 'voices', and confident that her suffering would be rewarded after death. Let's hope so; she was certainly misused by the representatives of earthly power. However strong one's faith in the supernatural may be, it's hard to overcome the notion that the world would have been richer with Joan in it for a few more years, and that burning such a remarkable young woman was rather a tragic waste.
Carolina Johansson - While camping with six of her friends in Äppelträdgården in Orrefors, Småland, Sweden, 10-year-old Carolina got stabbed to death. She was murdered in the night of Friday May 26-27th, 2000. Such a tragic waste of a young life!
|"And Peter Jones as the Book"... Thus ended the credits of the Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy... and thus on April 10, 2000, after a short illness, ended the life of Peter Jones. He was 79. His best known on-screen performance was as Mr. Fenner in 'The Rag Trade'. For over 25 years, he was part of the golden quartet on 'Just a Minute', his dry wit and distinctive manner of speech ensuring his permanent spot on the team. He was also the question master on 'Twenty Questions'... but for us, he was, and always will be, the beloved voice of The Book. Rest in Peace.|
DeForest Kelley (1920-1999) - As Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, it was his mission to carry the hopes and fears of the average television viewer into deep space aboard the USS Enterprise. As a counterpoint to Captain Kirk's brash heroics and Mr Spock's clinical rationality, he accomplished this with wit and down-home good humour that endeared him to millions. So long, Bones!
Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) was a painter. He did all those pictures that look like big pictures of comic strips. He died because when he went to the hospital, he was misdiagnosed. He was a really nice guy, and I miss him. Whenever I go to a museum and see one of his paintings, I get really sad. He was my great-uncle.
Phil Lynott (1949 - 1985) - 'I cried the night the King died...' Phil Lynott passed away not because of any disease, he died
of a lifestyle; the same lifestyle that turned him into the first Irish Rocker. He was infamous for his abuse of whatever stimulant he
could find, topped with large amounts of alcohol. One would therefore think that he was a typical self-destructive rocker. He certainly was self-destructive, but by no means a typical rocker. I think of his music with great admiration: he was able to write rock songs that quite often weren't rock songs at all. His songs have been covered by many artists; and these covers reveal that Phil wrote truly universal songs. Being somewhat of a songwriter myself, I never cease to be amazed how simple his songs seem because the moment you try to play them they cease to be just that : simple. Although the name Phil Lynott is well-known, I think his versatility is still much underestimated. Every Christmas-Eve, I organize a wake for the people who are no longer with us but who influenced us during their lifetime. It's an alternative wake : we have a drink to the memory of all those we wish to remember. Phil has been on my list for years, what better way to honour him than with a drink ? The Gaelic inscription on his stone reads, 'Go dtuga Dia suaimhneas da anam' - 'May God give peace to his soul.'
Peter McWilliams - best-selling author, medical marijuana advocate, and passionate defender of individual freedoms, died
on June 14, 2000 at the age of 50. His books, which included Ain't Nobody's Business if You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in Our Free Country are all available to read for free at his website along with the unfinished A Question of Compassion. During his last few years, McWilliams was fighting cancer and AIDS, and used medical marijuana to control nausea caused by the medicines. In his home state of California, USA, medical marijuana is legal; but the federal government does not recognize its legality. When McWilliams started to write about medical marijuana, the federal government arrested him for 'possession with intent to sell'. Because the federal government does not recognize any valid use for marijuana, McWilliams was not allowed to even mention the medical use of marijuana in his trial. He was forced to plead guilty and was awaiting sentencing at the time of his death, confined to his home. He was also denied the medicine that controlled his nausea. On Wednesday, he was found dead, having choked in his own vomit. The cause of death was listed as asphyxiation. It appears that he was alone, vomited, and was unable, in his weakened state, to clear his airway. Peter spent his life working for personal liberty. His passion for that often seemed more important to him than his own life. Up until the end, he kept a journal on his web site detailing his trial and his political battles. His case was profiled on ABC television's 20/20 one week before he died. McWilliams particularly fought for the compassionate use of marijuana for medical purposes and for the end of the war on drugs. There is no doubt that his great wish would be for others to continue the fight that he championed. His passion and voice will be sorely missed.
Spike Milligan (1918-2002) - Spike Milligan was my favourite Goon. A lot of people didn't like him when he was in his prime, because they thought he was mad as a hatter. Well, he did have a bit of trouble with not letting the world get the better of him. He was a genius, and, like many geniuses, saw things that other people didn't, couldn't, or wouldn't, and that upset him. Now, of course, he is being hailed as the man who re-invented comedy for the post-Neanderthal generation... well, not quite. But he did change things a lot. He taught us that seeing the world through the bottom of a jam jar is funny mainly because it reminds us that the way we usually see it is just as much an illusion. Spike wouldn't have been content to tell us that the Emperor is not wearing any clothes; he would have gone on to say that he had four legs, a tail, and a fat naked bloke sitting on his back. Cheers, mate.
Johny Morris -Recent exploration of several very good nostalgia sites on the Net brought a flood of old memories back. It reminded me of how much we owe people like Johny Morris. The programs Mr. Morris, and others like him, presented were good entertainment, and I well remember spending many happy hours watching them; but their real value is what they contribute to our memories of childhood. Programs like Animal Magic and Tales From The Riverbank were the backdrop against which our childhoods were played out. Thanks to conservators and Internet aficionados, we still have access to some of those programs. But, alas, Johny Morris is now gone; and I for one, recently reminded of his contribution to my life, will miss him.
Ivan Owen - Died on 18 October 2000 aged 73 after a battle with cancer. Most people would never have recognized the name, and certainly not the face. His voice, however, would be recognized instantly by generations in the UK and worldwide. He was Basil Brush, the country fox, the one with the corny jokes, the outrageous laugh and the final 'Boom, Boom' catch phrase. Ivan was also the voice of Yoo-Hoo in the now mainly forgotten Billy Bean and his Funny Machine from the 1950s. Through the 1970s he had numerous TV shows as well as appearing in pantomime, royal performances and the London palladium. In this period he also released 2 LPs. But Basil Brush is the legacy that millions of middle aged kids will miss him for the most.
Nauzer Nowrojee (1917-2000) - A shopkeeper, visionary, and humanitarian, Nauzer Nowrojee was responsible for transforming a half forgotten hill station in India, a relic of the British Raj, into the seat of the Tibetan government in exile, a cultural lifeboat floating in the foothills of the Himalayas. Mr Nowrojee moved to Dharamsala from Karachi in 1938, in order to take over from his father the shop which his great-grandfather had founded in 1860. In 1959, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his family, along with an estimated 100,000 other Tibetan refugees, were forced to escape into India during the brutal Chinese repression of the Lhasa uprising. Mr Nowrojee suggested the use of his hill station as a sanctuary; and in 1960, the Tibetan Government in Exile was established in Dharamsala, along with the Tibetan Children's Village and other hospices, and work began to salvage what the Chinese had meant to destroy. Nauzer Nowrojee died in his sleep at the age of 83, after a walk to greet his old friend the Dalai Lama. He is survived by his wife, a brother, and two sons.
Ani Pachen (1933-2002) - Better known as 'Tibet's Warrior Nun', Ani Pachen la passed away on Saturday, 2 February, at her home in Dharamsala, India. She escaped into exile after 21 years in jail for leading her Khampa warriors against the Chinese. It's hard to imagine anyone wanting to hurt this sweet and tiny person. But people did hurt her... a lot and for a long time. Nevertheless, Ani Pachen had a smile to rival a sunrise. She endured the worst of human cruelty and triumphed, living and loving and vanquishing the darkness with a smile that shone from her enormous heart.
Donald Pleasence (1919-1995) - A prolific actor, who appeared in over 170 films as well as on stage, he may be most remembered for his portrayal of Dr. Loomis in the Halloween movie series. However, Donald shared screen time with many of the greats in the film industry. One of his most memorable scenes must surely be in The Great Escape; playing a tailor who is going blind, he practices picking up a needle from the floor to enable himself to join the escape party... only to die when the plane crashes into a lake.
Jean-Pierre Rampal (1922-2000) - He was the first musician to establish the flute as a virtuoso instrument, putting it on a par with the piano and strings. He was best known for championing the cause of Baroque music, although his repertoire also included Jazz, English Folk Songs and Japanese Classical music. He also gained international recogmition as a conductor; although his first love was always the flute. As a flute player and teacher I have much to be grateful to him for! He died today ( 20th May )following a heart attack at his Paris home.
Dr Hugh Richardson (1905-2000) - Dr Hugh Richardson OBE was a British diplomat who served in India and Tibet. He was the first European to be permitted to reside in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital; where, against heavy odds, he succeeded in establishing close personal and professional ties. He made himself unpopular with his former political masters by speaking out against the Chinese invasion of Tibet, in Britain and at the UN. When most of the world turned its back on the plight of Tibet, he was one of the very few who refused to let political expediency subvert the true nature of the tragedy taking place in the Himalayas. He is considered to be a uniquely qualified scholar of Tibetan culture, the author of a number of books, including Tibet and Its History (1962), A Cultural History of Tibet (1968), and innumerable essays. A member of Royal and Ancient Golf Club in his native St Andrews since 1946, he was a keen gardener and a popular member of St Andrews society.
Joachin Rodrigo (1901-1999) - Sadly, the gentle man of passion. creator of some of the world's most beloved
music, is no more.
Roskilde 9 - On Friday June 30, 2000, at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark, 9 people died. During a performance by Pearl Jam, several people fell to the ground (slipped?). Due to the huge pressure of the crowd many more fell on top of them. At the time, it was found that 8 people had died. The victims were a 26-year-old cadet police officer from Hamburg, a 23-year-old Dutchman and three Swedes, two of them aged 22 and one 20. Three Danes, including a 17-year-old, also died. Afterwards an Australian died in hospital. I don't know what those guys would have wanted; but I do know that, if I had been one of them, I would want everyone to keep going to the festivals. Peace.
Carl Sagan (1934-1996) - Dr Sagan, professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences at Cornell University, New York, USA is fondly remembered as the man who brought the universe into our homes and gave science a human face. A true renaissance man in the age of ultra-specialization, he was admired and scorned for the seemingly limitless scope of his interests. These ranged from the nature of intelligence to the 'Greenhouse effect' to 'Nuclear winter' to life beyond our planet. He soared in flights of fancy to realms of possibility that thrilled his lay audiences and infuriated his more stolid colleagues; but he ruthlessly attacked the crackpot notions of pseudo-science with a laser sharp logic. His greatest passion, a theme that endured from boyhood to his untimely death, was the search for extra-terrestrial life. The message carried to the stars by Pioneer 10, on behalf of our species and our world, was penned by Sagan's hand; and the gold disks aboard the Voyager space probes may someday play, to listeners we cannot imagine, a medley by a DJ named Sagan.
Telly Savalas (1924-1994) - Born Aristotle Savalas, Telly was best known for his portrayal of police Lt. Theo Kojak, the gruff cop with the catchphrase 'Who loves you baby' and the manditory lollipop, in the long-running TV series Kojak. His film roles include Big Joe in Kelly's Heroes, Archer Maggott in The Dirty Dozen and Ernst Stavro Bloefeld in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. His bald head and Mediterranean looks made him a popular character actor, and often allowed him to carry sinister roles including Pontius Pilot off with aplomb. His service in the Second World War gave him a deep understanding of the characters he played in war films. Since succumbing to prostate cancer in 1994, he has reached new fame posthumously as the godfather of star Jennifer Aniston, star of the TV series Friends
Owen John Scott (1927-1994) - Known to the world as Terry Scott, his career encompassed radio, film, and theatre, as well as television. The British comic actor starred alongside June Whitfield in the TV sit-coms Happy Ever After and Terry and June from 1974 -88. He also voiced Dangermouse's sidekick Penfold in the Cosgrove Hall classic animated series. He was a supporting film actor appearing in 7 of the Carry On films, and appeared in pantomime as well as the West End Stage.
Sir Harry Secombe (1921-2001) - Known and loved around the world as Neddie Seagoon, Sir Harry Secombe must take the credit or the blame for defining comedy for a generation. He and his Goon Show mates Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, and Michael Bentine made radio comedy not merely an art form but a language, a culture... a religion! Sir Harry will also be fondly remembered for his fine Welsh tenor voice, which made the music of Christian praise a thing of beauty and found true glory in the music of the male voice choir. He was knighted in 1981. The very model of a jolly fat man, his brand of jollity was a powerful thing, which taught by example that life is a thing to cherish and to celebrate. He died at the age of 79, a victim of prostate cancer. In the words of Prince Charles, himself a devoted fan, 'He will be profoundly missed by all those people who appreciate wit and unmalicious humour.'
Bob Stanley was also a painter, but he wasn't famous like Roy Lichtenstein. He was my grandmother's second husband, and I saw him a lot. In the 60s, he made paintings with only two colors. Later on he painted nudes. He died of mouth and throat cancer a few days before my 12th birthday.
World Trade Center - On Tuesday, 11 September, 2001, four passenger airliners were hijacked shortly after take-off from airports in the eastern United States of America. Not long afterwards, two of them were deliberately crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City; another crashed into the Pentagon in Washington DC; and the fourth crashed on the wooded hills of southeastern Pennsylvania, presumably en route to its target. All on board the four aircraft were killed, and many more died in and around the targeted buildings. The magnitude of the tragedy guarantees that this barbarous act of terrorism will be remembered in history. What should also be remembered is that each of those who died were simply people, going about their lives as usual, on a sunny Autumn day. Each of these lives, cut short so brutally, represents a story of its own. And each of these deaths represents a tragedy of its own in the lives of those who knew and loved them.
Frank Zappa (1940-1993) - Born in Baltimore, Maryland, USA on December 21, 1940, the son of a meteorologist who researched poison gas for the US military, Frank Vincent Zappa moved to California with his parents at the age of ten and grew to become the patron saint of west coast non-conformity. Most revered by 'serious' fans for his early work with the Mothers of Invention and for his little-known instrumental albums, such as Shut up 'n play yer guitar, he is most famous for writing rude and often rather silly songs about sex and going to the toilet... which is a shame, because much of what he wrote is brilliant. The music produced by Zappa and the Mothers is first rate stuff which describes in poetic, often surreal, terms the 60s counterculture that swept across America and much of the western hemisphere. 'Plastic People' from the Mothers' second album, Absolutely Free, was adopted by the Czech underground movement, as an anthem against the suppression of individuality and free expression in the Stalinist state. Vaclav Havel, the playwrite who became Czechoslovakia's President after his country's liberation, appreciated the poetry and musicality of Frank Zappa's work so much that he wanted to make him a special ambassador to the West for culture. Unfortunately this idea was squashed by the US State Department... which obviously didn't see beyond the superficial rudeness of some of his lyrics. Frank Zappa died of prostate cancer at the age of 52. He is survived by Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Rodan, and Diva.