A Few Words in Passing Author: BobRDate:09/18/2019 13:24:44
"They" say these things happen in threes... When it's someone who was a part of your young adulthood, it really hits home. This is the case with three recent public figures passing. I was a teenager in the 70s, and playing in bands in the 80s. To me, the 80s had some of the best (and worst) songwriting, arrangements, and performances of my lifetime. So without further ado...
Eddie Money: First, the disclaimer: I was never a big fan of his. I thought his songs were trite and simplistic. Nonetheless, it was impossible to turn on the radio (remember radio?) and not hear one of his songs. His first hits were in the late 70s ("Baby Hold On", "Two Tickets to Paradise") and they continued through the 80s. Things dried up for him after that, but his songs have continued to get airplay, providing him with the residuals.
The common story is that he was once a police officer, and his fellow officers heard him sing and encouraged him to try to make a living at it. The reality is that he started police training, but left before becoming an officer because he was required to have short hair.
He died at the age of 70 due to complications from stage 4 esophageal cancer due to smoking.
Ric Ocasek: The transition from 70s arena rock to 80s "New Wave" seems rather abrupt. Whenever music makes a hard turn, there are always a couple bands one can point to that really pushed that change. The Cars was one of those bands. Like Eddie Money, they released their initial album and had hit songs in the late 70s ("Just What I Needed", "My Best Friend's Girl", "Good Times Roll"). Their sound was rocking enough to keep the rock fans happy, but quirky and flashy enough to set a new tone for the 80s. They had a string of hits and popular videos throughout the 80s (winning the first VMA award for best video).
Ric Ocasek was visually a perfect representation of the band's sound and the look of the 80s - strange, geeky, and yet fashionable. He was also assumed to be the lead singer on very song, although bassist Benjamin Orr (d. 2000, RIP) was also a lead vocalist (most notably on "Drive"). Tall and lanky, with an unusual face, he stood out among all the typical "pretty boy" faces.
This one hit particularly hard for me. The Cars were very influential on my songwriting and the type of music I still play to this day. Ric Ocasek was a huge part of that style. It's like a part of my 20s died too. He was 75, and died due to complications from hypertension and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
Cokie Roberts: For a long time, journalism was a man's world (to be fair - so were most "career" jobs other than teaching and nursing). By the mid-70s, Barbara Walters had broken the glass ceiling. Cokie Roberts was one of the first female journalists at NPR when she started there in 1978. After 10 years, she moved to ABC News as a political correspondent. Through the 90s she worked for both NPR on "Morning Edition" and the ABC Sunday news program "This Week...".
She won numerous awards for journalism, and her role as a women in broadcasting served as inspiration for all of the women who now "man" the news desks for all of the various broadcast and cable news outlets. Very early in her career, a woman news anchor, political correspondent, or analyst was unheard of. She was one of the pioneers who helped create our current reality, where a woman at the news desk is not even something we notice.
She died at the age of 75 due to complications from an earlier case of breast cancer.
One thing these people all had in common was that they were felled by the same diseases that take so many "normal" people. Cancer and heart trouble do not discriminate. Despite successful people having access to the best health care money can buy, we are all human after all.