Remembering Bowie, Lemmy, and Rickman
By Julia Day
Three English creative legends including David Bowie, Lemmy Kilmister, and Alan Rickman passed away from cancer at the start of the new year. Despite their passing, the impact they have left on the music, television, and film industries has been monumental.
David Robert Jones, known as David Bowie, passed away from liver cancer on Jan. 10 at the age of 69. Born in London in 1947 with a natural inclination towards music and arts, Bowie was inspired by rock and roll pioneers Elvis Presley and Little Richards. Following school he chose to pursue his passion professionally, a decision that would forever change the world of rock.
His self-titled debut album “David Bowie” was released in June 1967, the same day The Beatles released their critically acclaimed album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” and was considered a commercial failure.
Bowie’s fourth and fifth albums, “Hunky Dory” in 1971 and “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” in 1972 are what put Bowie permanently on the map, having finally perfected his signature art rock and glam pop sound. The rest is rock and roll history. Through a career spanning four decades Bowie would go on to produce 25 studio albums, all diverse and unique using his fusion of progressive rock, new wave, and pop styles. Bowie ended his career with “Blackstar” which was released only two days before his death.
Bowie further pursued his love of the arts by acting in several films, including his role in the 1986 fantasy film “Labyrinth,” and acting in the Broadway production of “The Elephant Man” in 1980.
He leaves behind his wife of 24 years, Somali fashion model Iman, as well their 15-year-old daughter Alexandria. Like the works of Presley and Little Richards that had inspired him, Bowie’s work has and will continue to inspire future generations of musicians to come.
Ian Fraser Kilmister, known as Lemmy, passed away from cancer on Dec. 28 at the age of 70. Born in Staffordshire in 1945, Lemmy was inspired by the The Beatles and learned how to play guitar to their album “Please Please Me.”
Throughout the ‘60s and early ‘70s, Lemmy joined several local bands including the Rainmakers, Motown sect, the Rockin’ Vickers, Sam Gopal, and Opal Butterfly. He also worked as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix for a brief time.
Lemmy performed as a bassist and vocalist for the space rock band Hawkwind from 1971 until 1975 when he was fired from the band following his arrest on drug possession. Following his dismissal, Lemmy formed his own band titled Mötorhead, acting as the group’s bassist, singer, and songwriter. The band’s sound has been noted for its use of heavy metal, hard rock, and serving as a foundation for early punk.
Mötorhead spiraled into the spotlight with its successful second and third albums “Overkill” in 1979 and “Bomber” the same year. Over the course of their career, Mötorhead would go on to record 22 studio albums, 10 live recordings, 12 compilation albums, and 5 EPs, selling over 15 million albums worldwide. Their last album, “Bad Magic” was released in August 2015. Although the band has had many members through the years, Lemmy is noted as being the only consistent member present during the band’s career.
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, fellow musician Ozzy Osbourne remembered his friend, stating “There’s a big hole in the music industry as far as I’m concerned…There goes a hero for me.”
Alan Rickman passed away from pancreatic cancer on Jan. 14 at the age of 69. Born in London in 1946, Rickman’s father passed away when he was only eight years old. Living with his mother and three siblings, Rickman took up a career as a graphic designer following college, citing it as a more stable career for him at the time than pursuing acting.
After having success as a graphic designer, Rickman made the decision to go back to school to pursue his dream of acting and attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for two years. From there he joined numerous theater groups including working for the prominent Royal Shakespeare Company. During the early ‘80s he appeared in several BBC produced television shows and films.
In 1988, Rickman was cast as German organized crime villain Hans Gruber in the wildly popular action film “Die Hard.” He is also widely known for his role as professor and wizard Severus Snape in the “Harry Potter” series.
He has starred in films including “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” “Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny,” and “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” Although being typecast as an antagonist, Rickman’s career has actually encompassed a wide variety of genres. He has starred in numerous romantic films including “Truly, Madly, Deeply,” “Sense and Sensibility,” and “Love Actually.” He is also known for his role as Alexander Dane in the science-fiction comedy “Galaxy Quest,” as well as voice acting Marvin the Paranoid Android in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”
Rickman leaves behind his wife Rima Horton, whom he started dating in 1965 at the age of 19 and stayed together until his death. A highly skilled actor and well respected by fellow co-stars, Rickman’s presence is sure to be missed. His last two films “Eye in the Sky” and “Alice Through the Looking Glass” will be theatrically released later this year.
Other deaths this year include The Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey, “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams” star Dan Haggerty, Nat King Cole’s daughter and singer Natalie Cole, country singer Craig Strickland, and Celine Dion’s husband and manager René Angélil.