By, Saffron Sener | News Editor
January 27, 2016
Over the past month, three of the most influential and well-known people have been lost to cancer. Lemmy Kilmister, David Bowie, and Alan Rickman were all Englishmen who stood out as visionaries for each of their respective realms. From heavy metal to rock and roll to acting, these three men exuded talent throughout their entire lives and left as legends.
On December 28th, 2015, the first of the trio passed. Motörhead founder and front-man Lemmy Kilmister was killed by a currently unnamed form of cancer, of which he had only been diagnosed with two days prior. Four days before that, he celebrated his seventieth birthday.
Often referred to as the man who was “born to lose, [but] lived to win,” Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister and his unprecedented guitarist skills have been revolutionizing the music world since the sixties. Born on Christmas Eve of 1945 in Stroke-upon-Trent, a town in Staffordshire, Great Britain, he was the son of a ex-Royal Air force chaplain and stay-at-home mother.
In 1965, Lemmy joined band the Rockin’ Vickers, who released only three singles and toured Europe. This introduced him into the music industry. Though being a member of several other smaller groups, Kilmister’s next largest venture was with the space-rock band Hawkwind. It was during this time that he became a bass guitarist and developed his distinctive style, utilizing double stops and chords rather simply single notes. After being fired from this band for a run in with the law, Lemmy began his greatest endeavor: founding Motörhead.
During a time in which the popularity of punk rock was growing, Motörhead and their heavy metal, rock and roll sound became a favorite of many people, and was known for Lemmy’s recognizable vocals and bass playing. Though they were formed in 1975, Motörhead’s true fame came in 1980s, with numerous chart-topping hits, from “Ace of Spades” to “Killed by Death.”
Throughout his life, Lemmy Kilmister served as an influence over not only the heavy metal world, but the punk rock one一 his career as a bass guitarist, singer, and songwriter was far-reaching and unheard of. He collaborated with bands such as the Damned and the Ramones, staking his claim throughout music history forever. Lemmy was one-of-a-kind, and will be greatly missed.
The next of the triad and born to a waitress and a promotions officer in Brixton, South London, in 1947, David Robert Jones, or David Bowie, lived a childhood that revolved around music. Largely influenced by artists such as Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, the Platters, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and Charles Mingus, Bowie studied art, music, and design at the Bromely Technical High School.
At age 15, Bowie created his first band, the Konrads. This stint lasted for little over a year, until he next joined the King Bees. Leslie Conn, a British music manager, took interest in Bowie, signing him to his first professional contract. For the next few years, he traveled in and out of a slew of bands, putting out several albums and singles, none of which took off. However, after meeting dancer Lisa Kemp in 1967 who helped him to explore his more Bohemian side, Bowie’s tracks blew up. Space Oddity, released a few days before the Apollo II landing on the moon, quickly rose to chart-topping heights and established Bowie as a solo artist.
Though being a mainly solo artist, Bowie did become a part of a few bands between the releasing of Space Oddity and his next huge album, Hunky Dory. This is when he delved himself in glam rock. In his band, the Hype, each member took on a character imitating something from the Spiders From Mars. The band eventually dissipated into a one man show of just Bowie heading it as his androgynous alter ego, Ziggy Stardust.
Throughout the progression of the 70’s, David Bowie continuously gained popularity and grew to new levels of fame. Many abstract, glam-rock, proto-punk albums and songs lay in the wake of Ziggy, The Thin White Duke, and Bowie, and their fluency with sexuality and gender revolutionized society. In the words of Jahfreen Alam, a junior, “He broke gender norms and stereotypes, and showed so many people that sexuality is fluid, which is extremely important.” By the turn of the decade, he entered a new phase: an exploration into New Wave, electronic, and pop. From then on, he anchored himself as a celebrity by creating numerous more chart-topping hits and appearing in several movies, arguably his most famous being Labyrinth.
His last album and apparent “swan song” was Blackstar, released on his birthday. This was two days before his death. This album debuted as number one on many countries’ charts and broke the Vevo record for most viewed music video by an artist in a single day.
An undeniable legend in so many aspects of music itself, David Bowie revolutionized several generations’ idea of the industry and its product. His influence is one that is deep and lasting. He will be deeply mourned, and his presence will live on through all that he created.
The closer to the triplet, Alan Rickman died on January 14, 2016 at age sixty-nine. From Acton, London, Rickman was born to a factory worker and housewife on February 21, 1946. His father died when he was eight, leaving behind a widow and three children. Though this, Rickman was a lively child, interested in calligraphy and watercolor.
When it came time, he attended the Royal College of Art, studying graphic design. Once he graduated, he and a few friends had started studio named Graphiti. Its success convinced him that he enough stability to seek an acting career. He quickly enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Though innumerable performances with many small acting troupes and theaters, Rickman’s first call to fame came with Christopher Hampton’s variation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, wherein he was the male lead of the Vicomte de Valmont. This show presented on Broadway, and won Rickman a Tony Award nomination as well as a Drama Desk one.
Rickman’s acting career was extensive and wide-reaching. With roles from Metatron in Dogma, to Sir Alexander Dane/Dr. Lazarus in Galaxy Quest, to Marvin the Paranoid Android in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, to Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series, Rickman’s talent is undeniable. Though his being typecasted often as villainous characters, his abilities were unlimited. Alan Rickman and his indisputable gift will forever live on through his movies and theatrical performances alike. With an acting range that could fit nearly any character, his abilities were seemingly inexhaustible. He will be missed and mourned profoundly. As said by junior Kelsey Morales, “Alan Rickman will be a part of the childhood and lives of countless people for years to come, and this is why his influence will never die.”
All English, all either 69 or 70 years in age, and all afflicted with cancer, these three men created legacies upon this earth and its innumerable facts that are vast and extensive. Each are and will be missed in ways that are both meaningful and special. This world has suffered the loss of three celebrated megastars, whose influence can never be resembled.