Tuesday, 17 January 2012

2011 Round Up. People What Have Done Died.

Yes, yes, I am aware that we are in mid January now but honestly, I really couldn't be bothered to write anything of interest until now! The boyfriend is at work until around midnight and the kids are asleep and I've got nothing else to do so I may as well talk about all the famous people that died last year. Well not all of them, just the ones I was aware of and/or had actually heard of. I would write something on a more personal note but 2011 was such a mixed up year that I'm not entirely sure I've got it straight in my head yet and lets be honest, all it would say is "wow 2011 sucked huh?" so lets discuss something slightly more interesting yeah?

"Celebrity" Deaths! Huzzah! What a joyful topic!

Well it all started on January 2nd 2011 when British actor Pete Postlethwaite died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 64. This was a particularly saddening death for me as he was actually one of my favourite actors. Not in a sense that I thought he was amazing at everything he did, just in the sense that he was IN everything I loved. I'd put on a film and go "Oh it's 'im!" in my best cockney accent and guaranteed I would love that film. I don't know whether that was anything to do with him being in it or whether we both just had REALLY similar movie tastes... Here's a picture.

Contemplative Pete.

Another death on the same day doesn't exactly qualify as a celebrity death but still made me look up from my beans on toast when it was announced on the news was that of  Major Richard "Dick" D. Winters.  It's not a name that many people know but I was fortunate the year before to have watched the entirety of Band Of Brothers in just 2 days and this show, set in WWII was about Company "E" which Major Richard Winters was in charge of. The entire thing is based on stories and interviews from him and his regiment, diary entries and whatever news clippings the producers could get hold of and it's a pretty accurate portrayal of what the Company experienced. Knowing it was all true and seeing the soldiers as old men talking about their time serving in the army and talking about those no longer with us had me reduced to tears so many times that I almost had a toilet roll fort around me as I watched it all. I'm welling up now as I remember it. Winters died, having suffered from Parkinsons Disease, aged 92 on the 2nd January 2011 and was buried next to his parents in a family plot 6 days later. It's sad that a re-enactment show had to bring his existence to my attention but I'm so glad that it did, he may not have agreed with me on this, but the man was a hero and he inspired an entire regiment to become heroes with him. 

Dashing Dick.

Then on the 4th author Ronald Gordon King-Smith otherwise known as Dick King Smith passed away aged 88. Dick King Smith was famous for writing The Sheep-Pig (otherwise known as Babe), A Mouse Named Wolf and The Invisible Dog. All excellent books that I intend to read my children at some point!

You can't take the farm out of
the farmer.

After that on the 4th January there was also Gerry Rafferty which quite royally sucked, this man was responsible for at least 2 of my alltime favourite songs. "Stuck In The Middle With You" when he was with the band Stealers Wheel (although admittedly it's not my favourite song for the reason it should be, mainly because of a very famous scene in a film that it is used in where an american police officer has his ear cut off...) and Baker Street, when he was not. He was 63 years old and died of liver failure after battling alcoholism for most of his life.

Gerry Rafferty. Nice glasses.

That was it for 20 more days until suddenly, on the 24th Jaunuary, death struck again. This time a name that none of you will recognise, it is only by lookig at his achievements that you will know who he was. Bernd Eichinger was a producer and director and was famous for making such movies as... The Neverending Story, Resident Evil and The Fantastic Four. He sadly died of a heart attack at the age of 61 at his home in Los Angeles. 

 Bernd Eichinger weilding an award of some kind...

Then on the 31st of January, Mark Ryan passed away. Another name that wont mean much unless you look at his achievements. He was a guitarist during the 70's and in 1977 he joined Adam and the Ants. After leaving them, he joined The Photons, and was involved with The Moors Murderers. The vocalist in both bands was Steve Strange, who later became the singer for Visage. He also was in King, alongside The Damned's Captain Sensible. This guy had connections! He died aged 51 from complications caused by liver damage.

This is his best Dara O'Brian 

February passed fairly quietly in the morbid world of celebrity death spotting, but soon came March with a new wave and the first to fall was American musician Mike Starr who was famous for being the original bassist in Alice In Chains. He died after a tumultuous career on the 8th March 2011 aged 44 of a prescription-drug overdose. 

The only pose he had...

March 15th saw the death of another musician, this time from the world of rap. Nate Dogg was known for his fine collection of hats, his rap trio 213 and his solo career in which he collaborated with Dr. DreWarren GTupac and Snoop Dogg. He released 3 solo albums between 1998 and 2008 and passed away aged 41 from complications of multiple strokes. Not a nice way to go. 

Nate Dogg. Feat, a rather nice hat.

On the 17th March 2011 we lost Alfred. Known to his friends, family and fans as Michael Gough he was best known for playing Alfred in the Batman films between 1989 and 1997. He was also in Dracula, Alice In Wonderland, Dr Who, A Christmas Carol and Sleepy Hollow. He died aged 94 after a short illness. 

Alfred! You're needed!

On March 23rd Liz Taylor passed away aged 79 due to complications related to heart failure. If you don't know who Liz Taylor is then you've obviously been living under a rock since the early 40's. She was a screen siren known for such movies as Cat on a Hot Tin RoofCleopatraWho's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Doctor Faustus and she was beautiful.
 Liz Taylor.

April kicked in and the first 2 weeks passed by quietly, which was nice as my birthday falls in that time. Then on the 14th Trevor Bannister of Are You Being Served and Last Of The Summer Wine passed away aged 76 due to a heart attack at his allotment. I loved watching both Are You Being Served and Last Of The Summer Wine when I was a kid, I remember sitting with my parents on a sunday evening watching one or both (I forget which) of  these classic british programmes. Fond memories indeed :)

Are you being served? At all?

Then on the 19th a personal blow for me, Elisabeth Sladden passed away from cancer. She was better known as Sarah Jane in Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures. Although she was only the doctors assistant between the years of 1973 and 1976, she reprised her role so many times in subsequent years that she never really left and became instead, like a permanent cast member. When she rejoined the 10th doctor (David Tennant) for the last time none of us realised it would be her last and I was thrilled to see her again. It is with sorrow that I write this entry.
Good dog K9, gooooood doggy...

On the 25th April punk lost an icon. The enamouring Poly Styrene from band X-Ray Specs. She died aged 53 from breast cancer that had spread to her lungs and her spine. The punk world was silenced this day as we all mourned for a pioneer of women in punk. 
All her real hair.

On May 7th music lost another legend.  This time from 60's band The Walker Brothers, John Walker. John died aged 67 from liver cancer. I don't have very much say about this except that the music created by John and Scott (Engel) has helped me through a lot of bad times, especially this one: Make It Easy On Yourself. 

Such nice looking boys. Your Nan would be proud. Or not...

Probably not.

May was a very quiet month, death wise (although not as quiet as February) but then on the 20th the wrestling world was rocked by news of the death of WWE legend Macho Man Randy Savage. Randy died aged 58 from a heart attack that occured while he was driving with his wife. He apparently became unresponsive and lost control of his vehicle, crashing into a tree. Initial reports indicated that it had been the collision that had killed him, despite the fact that both he and his wife had been wearing seatbelts and she had suffered only mild injuries (you know, besides the shock at seeing your husband dead in the seat next to you and all...) but later tests revealed that Savage had suffered from an enlarged heart and advanced coronary disease which had basically built up and caused a fatal heart attack. 

So macho he's The Macho King. 
Or Mr. Madness. 

In New Zealand there isn't really much to do except raise sheep, sell wool and star in dodgy day time television Soaps such as Shortland Street. (I apologise, I know that none of that is true!)  So on June 6th 2011 New Zealand was rocked by news of the death of one of their most famous farmyard animals, national icon Shrek.  Shrek the sheep died aged 16 after being put to sleep on the advice of a local vet. Shrek gained fame in 2004 after he avoided being caught and shorn for six years. After finally being caught on 15 April 2004, the sheep was shorn by a professional in 20 minutes. The shearing was broadcast on national television in New Zealand, which delayed the airing of the easter special episode of Shortland Street by 45 minutes. There were literally tens of complaints.
See how he blends into the rock? That's how you evade
capture for 6 years.

On June 20th news hit us of the death of Ryan Dunn. Ryan was famous being a part of Jackass and Viva La Bam alongside Bam Margera. This death made me angry because it was a needless death. As well as himself, Ryan Dunn managed to kill a production assistant, Zachary Hartwell in what has been described as a car crash of epic proportions. Don't get me wrong, death is a sad business, especially when it happens to someone so young (Dunn was just 34) but Dunn had been drinking. 2 hours before his death he had posted a photo to twitter of himself and Hartwell drinking at a local bar. A toxicology report after death showed Dunn had a blood alcohol level of 0.196% — more than twice the state's legal limit of 0.08%. Police have also added that the speed that the pair were travelling at may have been a contributing factor. They were apparently travelling at between 132 and 140 miles an hour in a 55 mile an hour zone. Really Mister Policeman? Y'think? Now I'm not saying Ryan Dunn is fully to blame, both of the passengers in that car were very drunk and either one of them could have ended up driving that night but that's exactly my point. Neither of them should have been driving and the fact that they were was just plain stupid. I can feel my blood boiling as I write this as I think about the loss that their friends and family must be feeling. How needless it all is and what a waste. Ryan Dunn died aged just 34 on the 20th June 2011, his death was caused by stupidity.

The photo uploaded to Twitter.
The wreckage of the car after it was discovered.
Ryan Dunn.

On June 23rd my personal world was rocked when I heard about the death of Peter Falk. Although most will know him as Columbo, I will always know him as the kindly grandfather from my favourite childhood film The Princess Bride.  Falk died at his home on the evening on June 23rd aged 83 . The cause of death was revealed as cardiorespiratory arrest, with pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease as underlying causes. I'm not ashamed to admit that I had a little cry over this news. 
Just one more thing...

July only had one celebrity death but it was a shocker all the same. 27 year old singer Amy Winehouse was found dead at her home at around 4pm on the 23rd July 2011. The cause of death was alcohol poisoning as Winehouse's blood alcohol content was 416 mg per decilitreat the time of her death, more than five times the legal drink-drive limit. I'm not going to say it wasn't coming, she had battled alcohol addiction for most of her career if not life, but she was 8 months younger than me so it was a bit of a shock that it happened now. Would be that I start to enjoy her music now! Here's a classic song that I fully identify with. (Minus the drug refrences)

We only said goodbye with words...

See how pretty you look when you're not drunk Amy? Amy?
Ah crap...

August only saw the death of Khamis Gaddafi, son of Muammar Gaddafi who was caught and shot by american troops in October of 2011. Neither of which I will go into as politics aren't my strong point. 

September held The Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash which I am only mentioning as I was literally gobsmacked when I heard about it on the news because of the sheer scale of it. On the 7th of September 2011 a plane carrying the players and coaching staff of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl professional ice hockey team, crashed near the Russian city of Yaroslavl. The aircraft ran off the runway before lifting off, failed to gain altitude, struck a tower mast, caught fire and crashed 2 km from Tunoshna Airport. Of the 45 on board, 43 died at the scene. One of the two rescued from the wreck, Alexander Galimov, died five days later in hospital  and only the flight engineer Alexander Sizov survived. Investigations of the crash focused on pilot error and technical failures. An investigative committee was set up which examined Yak-Service's records, conditions at the airport, plane wreckage and flight recorder data. Simulations of the plane takeoff were held to compare with recovered flight recorder data. Testing discovered that pilot error was the cause as a braking force was found to have been applied by the chief pilot during takeoff. According to the chief of the investigative commission: "the immediate cause of the Yak-42 plane crash was the plane crew's erroneous actions, namely the pilot stepping on the brake pedals before raising the nose wheel because of the wrong position of the feet on the brake platforms during takeoff." An entire hockey team wiped out in one day, in one moment. It doesn't bear thinking about.

She's definitely a write-off.

On October 8th the music world was rocked once again by news of the death of former Weezer bassist Mikey Welsh. He had been found dead in a hotel room in Chicago, from a suspected drug overdose leading to a heart attack. He had posted less than a fortnight before on his twitter: "dreamt i died in chicago next weekend (heart attack in my sleep). need to write my will today" followed by "correction - the weekend after next". Now there's some creepy prophecy shizz right there. Mikey was 40 years old and he was part of one of my favourite bands of all time for one year, in which time they released an album (The Green Album) which has one of my favourite Weezer songs on it - Island In The Sun. 

I've just noticed he had a leopard print guitar strap on his bass!
This loss is even worse!
Leopard printey... With a hint of Freddy Kreuger...

On the 29th October Sir Jimmy Saville passed away aged 84. He was best known for the long running television series Jim'll Fix It which ran from 1975 to 1994. He was also a well known radio voice, presented Top Of The Pops and a huge advocat for charity. He is estimated to have raised some £40 million for various charities throughout his life. Jimmy was, in my opinion, a British Icon, as famous as Big Ben or the Houses of Parliament. 

Now then, now then...

After that the only death worth mentioning is that of Mutassim Gaddafi and even then only because I mentioned his brother and father up there. 

November hit and on the 3rd we heard of the death of Flattus Maximus, known to his friends and family as Cory Smoot. Flattus Maximus was the the name of a former character and guitarist in the heavy metal band Gwar. Cory wasn't the first person to play Flattus, there have been others before him, but after his death the character was officially retired out of respect for him, which is nice I think. Cory was 34 years old and a medical examiner concluded that he died from "coronary artery thrombosis brought about by his pre-existing coronary artery disease". In his system also was found "cocaine and opiates". The band quit the tour they were on and are still on a break now as they mourn the loss of their friend.

I've woken up looking like this before.

In December Twitter went absolutely insane over reports of the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Twitter was, as usual, correct and Kim Jong had indeed passed away. He was 70 years old and died of a suspected heart attack while on a train on the 17th December. He was batshit mental, looked a bit look my great Nan (at least before she died)  and probably shouldn't have been in charge of an entire country, however I did love him in Team America.

I'm not entirely sure if this photo is of Kim Jong Il
or my great Nan...

So in conclusion, 2011 FULL OF DEATH!!!!!!!!!! Less of that this year 2012 ok? And yes, that also includes the Mayan end of the world prophesy. Lets not do that, eh? There's a good 2012...