Another death. The loss of Johann Cruyff, to a not wholly unexpected cancer, adds another name to the toll of losses we have already had in 2016.
I didn’t comment upon Keith Emerson the other week because, although I was intimately familiar with ELP’s work in the Seventies, it was through the enthusiasms of others. My mate Alan, with whom I was at school, my mate Steve, who is my oldest and longest friend, were both ELP fans and played all the albums to me, over and again. Steve has taken Emerson’s death, and in particular the fact that it was suicide, very hard,
I have been lucky so far. With the exception of Alan Rickman – and his fame dates from a much later period than the others – I have yet to suffer the lost of one of my old favourites. Or rather I have, much much earlier, when Alan Hull, the leading light in Lindisfarne, died back in the Nineties. What I see around me is the winking out of lights that illuminate various periods of my life, without the central core, my personal pantheon, being affected.
But in trying to console Steve, in his confusion about Emerson taking his own life, I did understand something about why 2016 has been such a shitty year so far, and how it is only going to get worse.
I was born in November, 1955, but my first memories of the world around me begin to coalesce in about 1968 when it came to sport, and 1970 in the case of music. I was fifteen in 1970, a few months after my father died. The people who caught my attention, in whatever frame, were, on average, about a decade older than me. That puts them, collectively, at and around the age of 70.
People, our heroes when we were young, when I and my generation were young, are pushing three score and ten. It’s going to happen increasingly frequently. Time’s a passing. It’s fifty years since the World Cup Final, since England’s win in 1966, and nine of the Boys of 1966 are still with us. That’s an incredibly good average, but the longer the survivors last, the more frequent will be the times when the limits of their lives are reached.
The bands we were into, perpetually youthful and innovative in our memories, are as old, and older than our grandfathers were when they held our attention, and the last of my grandparents passed away in 1982.
We need to steel ourselves, we need to harden our hearts. We are going to be going through this regularly. Remind yourself of your heroes, quick and often, celebrate them whilst they are to be celebrated. Because the time is is now here when they’re all going to start going ahead.