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Thursday 11 August 2022


More sad losses to the world of music this week with the deaths of Olivia Newton John, Lamont Dozier, Darryl Hunt and (slightly outside music) Raymond Briggs. All of them have work that will outlive them. 

Olivia Newton John, forever famous as Sandy in Grease and as such a formative influence on those of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s, died age 73. Her earlier career as a singer of country, soft rock and Dylan songs and her 80s success with singles such as Physical made her a part of the pop firmament. 

Lamont Dozier, as part of Motown's in house signwriting team along with Eddie and Brian Holland, wrote more great songs than almost anyone else I can think of. That song you love, that makes you hit the floor when it's played at a wedding or a party, that makes you turn up the radio and sing along- Lamont wrote it. This one, as performed by Martha And The Vandellas, for example...

Heat Wave

Darryl Hunt, bassist in The Pogues, died aged 72. He joined the band in 1986 when Cait O'Riordan left and played on If I Should Fall From Grace With God, Peace And Love and Hell's Ditch while Shane was still in The Pogues and then the post- Shane albums Waiting For Herb and Pogue Mahone. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah was a single in 1988, The Pogues in full on rocking mode. 

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

Raymond Briggs was a writer and illustrator whose books had a massive impact on many of us. His Father Christmas books were brilliant for children in the 70s and 80, depicting Santa as a grumpy and contrary man who had the misfortune to work on Christmas Eve. We read it every year at Christmas. Even more than that though, Briggs wrote and illustrated When The Wind Blows, a horrific tale of nuclear destruction published in 1982, at the height of tension between Reagan's USA and the crumbling Soviet Union. For those of us growing up in the early 80s a nuclear war in Europe seemed like a possibility. Briggs' tale of a couple, Jim and Hilda, attempting to survive a nuclear attack, taking the doors of their hinges to construct an inner refuge shelter and eventually succumbing to radiation sickness, with bleeding gums, vomiting, diarrhoea, hair falling out and lesions, was terrifying to read and never forgotten. Threads, the Protect And Survive adverts and Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Two Tribes, When The Wind Blows- it's a wonder we ever got out of bed. 'Another sausage dear?'

RIP Olivia, Lamont, Darryl and Raymond. 


Khayem said...

Terribly sad news, all round. I posted about Olivia and Lamont on consecutive days but I couldn't keep up as the news about Darryl Hunt then Raymond Briggs came in.

I know that they're not necessarily held in the same regard, but I really like The Pogues' last three albums with Shane.

Great that you highlighted When The Wind Blows which, for me, was Briggs' true masterpiece. I've not seen the animated film very often but I read and re-read the book when it came out. Not to take away from the other great work that Briggs created - this captured the zeitgeist, articulating our fears and ignorance brilliantly and has remained an enduring work.

Martin said...

Agree with you and Khayem about When The Wind Blows, as powerful an anti-war message as anyone should ever need.

Rol said...

It's been one of those weeks. I missed the news about Darryl amid the other names. It seems like When The Wind Blows is becoming relevant all over again, sadly.

C said...

Lovely to see your great tribute to Raymond Briggs here, very much a part of my world! He was a huge inspiration and hero, and was quite defiant about working traditionally, a rare thing now.
I also remember vividly first seeing both the book and the film of When The Wind Blows and how chilling it all was - as you say, especially to those of us whose youthful minds were filled with thoughts that nuclear war was a real possibility in the early '80s (sadly I had hoped those days had passed..) Also, of course, The Snowman, which was really meant as a way to gently introduce the concept of death, rather than the Christmas TV staple it became. Still, it's a beautiful thing.
RIP to all three, but Raymond had a special place in my heart.

Anonymous said...

I've barely allowed myself time to accept that Bernard Cribbins had died before Olivia, Lamport, Darryl and Raymond had passed. I adore 'When the Winds Blows' and shed more than one tear when reading it last night.

Swiss Adam said...

I missed Bernard Cribbins- not his death but writing about him here and should have done so.

I never really took to the Snowman but my younger brothers and sisters did and you're spot on there C about gently introducing the concept of death (wrapped up in Aled Jones and Christmas tv)

Anonymous said...

....and a few weeks ago, the visionary environmental scientist, James Lovelock. The man who could have saved the world, if the world had listened. RIP

Jase said...

...but of course it wasn't Aled Jones singing in the animated Snowman, it was Peter Auty (apparently) :)

Anyhoo, you're not the first person (and I'm sure won't be the last) who has made reference to how the impending apocalypse made the '80s so effing scary for our generation. Over the last 10-15 years though, through posts and articles such as yours, I've come to realise how much I took it for granted that that was just the way things were at the time. Now I look back and think, Christ, that was a bit too close for comfort.