Archive for cancer

Brown Bread: Bert Jansch

Posted in Music, Obituaries with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

Bert Jansch, a leading figure in the British folk revival of the 60s and one of the most respected musicians of his generation, has died of cancer aged 67.

A founding member of Pentangle, Jansch was also renowned as a guitar virtuoso and was sometimes hailed as a British Bob Dylan. Born in Glasgow on 3 November 1943, he released 23 solo albums, the last of which, The Black Swan (2006), featured collaborations with Beth Orton and Devendra Banhart.

Jansch was the recipient of two lifetime achievement prizes at the BBC Folk awards – one for his solo achievements in 2001 and the other, in 2007, as a member of Pentangle. The band reformed in 2008.

In June 2009, he discovered he had a golf ball-size tumour on one of his lungs following what was at first a routine visit to the dentist. Following treatment, he went on to co-headline a US tour with Neil Young. Jansch had recently been forced to cancel a live show in Edinburgh due to ill health and was living in a hospice in north London at the time of his death.

Those he influenced included Jimmy Page, Nick Drake, Graham Coxon, Donovan, Bernard Butler and Paul Simon. According to fellow guitarist Johnny Marr: “He completely reinvented guitar playing and set a standard that is still unequalled today … without Bert Jansch, rock music as it developed in the 60s and 70s would have been very different.”

Jansch told the Grauniad newspaper last year: “I’m not one for showing off. But I guess my guitar-playing sticks out.”

R.I.P. Bert Jansch 1943-2011

Advertisements

Brown Bread: Miriam Karlin

Posted in Books, Culture, Obituaries with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

“The sequinned grande dame of British theatre, a Jewish legend and Equity terrorist.” Anthony Sher

“I can’t imagine being anything but left-wing. I was brought up in a home where justice was the most important quality. I’m part of a race that has survived 2,000 years of persecution. I think, if I’d had any ambition at all, I would like to have been the first female British Prime Minister. I would have been a rather lovely English Golda Meir, a benevolent dictator. I am, shall I say, a Utopian socialist. I have an idealistic dream of a wondrous socialist world where there will be a real brotherhood of man. I know it will never happen, but it doesn’t hurt to have such belief, and it keeps me going.” Miriam Karlin

Miriam Karlin, who has died of cancer aged 85, was a pillar of the British acting establishment who was also a fully paid-up member of the awkward squad. During sixty workaholic years, she acted in every area of the performing arts except ballet and the circus, and is fondly remembered as the truculent, whistle-blowing shop steward Paddy (complete with her catchphrase “Everybody out!”) in the classic TV sitcom The Rag Trade. Parallel to her life as a performer, she was a dedicated political activist, spurred on by her lifelong socialist beliefs and an unerring sense of justice, promoting broadly leftwing causes as a member of the council of the actors’ union Equity, and as a campaigner for the Anti-Nazi League, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Soviet Jewry.

She had been unwell for a number of years, suffering from peripheral neuropathy for a decade.

Here is the last page of her 2007 autobiography Some Sort of a Life, based on conversations with writer and director Jan Sargent:

I don’t think I’ll last much longer. I have to say that the contemplation of my own death only frightens me if I think it’s going to be painful and if I can’t control how I go. The idea of not being here only frightens me in terms of my vanity: I hope that I die looking good with my teeth in and that people won’t say awful things about me. I hope that the obituaries will be nice. Perhaps what I am writing now is my own; that’s what it feels like, some sort of a life story.

I don’t want another 20 years in pain; I can’t contemplate very much more of it. I want to say that’s enough, thank you, been there, done that, got all the T-shirts, let’s now finish it in a dignified fashion. I don’t want to die throwing up everywhere; I would just like to die nice and quietly. If only I hadn’t given that damn “Do It Yourself” book to somebody who never gave it back …

I love conversations and talking on the phone, but it’s probably because I have always lived alone. I’d miss gossip, not being here. I’d miss going to wonderful concerts listening to beautiful music. I don’t believe any longer in heaven; I don’t think I am going to hear beautiful harps in a mystical place. I think this is all there is. I’d miss music and my friends. I’ve got some wonderful friends that I’ve had for a very long time, and of course I’d miss my brother, my sister-in-law and my niece Vivien. I can’t really say “I’d miss” because I’d be dead, so I wouldn’t know how to; but if one could, those are the things I’d miss.

R.I.P. Miriam Karlin (Miriam Samuels) 1925-2011

Brown Bread: Elisabeth Sladen

Posted in Culture, Obituaries with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

Elisabeth Sladen has died of cancer aged 63.

This stark sentence is perhaps the saddest thing I’ve read this year. She was the reason many dads watched Doctor Who in the 1970s, and The Sarah Jane Adventures in more recent years.

As a 12-year-old boy, I suppose I had a crush on Elisabeth Sladen, who played Sarah Jane Smith in the TV series Doctor Who. My daughter loves The Sarah Jane Adventures. So Elisabeth Sladen’s a big part of my telly childhood and hers.

Oddly enough, the only other actor of whom I can say this is Tom Baker (my own favourite Doctor Who, who had a great rapport with his companion/sidekick/assistant Sarah Jane Smith – as he points out (read his tribute below), it helped that they both came from Liverpool); my children watch Little Britain and quote his random voiceovers for that show.

R.I.P. Elisabeth Sladen 1948-2011

Related:

Tom Baker’s personal tribute to Elisabeth Sladen

Brown Bread: Pete Postlethwaite

Posted in Obituaries with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

An awful start to 2011. Pete Postlethwaite, born in Warrington, has died of cancer aged 64.

The obituary in the Times was shockingly poor. They enlarged the photograph to fill out the page. Basically a list of his work. Nothing about the man.

Obituaries are in theory written well in advance and updated to reflect events (which is why so many of the Guardian obituaries of opera singers are by Alan Blyth, years after his own death). So it may be more to do with the fact that Pete Postlethwaite was not the sort of actor who appealed to the Rupert Murdoch world-view.

Anyway, Postlethwaite was one of our finest actors, I loved him with Sean Bean in When Saturday Comes. I was only talking about him the other day and I am very saddened to hear of his passing.

The great thing about this man’s acting is when watching him you never felt he was acting; everything was very real and natural to me which is what made him a cut above the rest.

I look at Ben Kingsley or Ian McKellen and I find it all so much ham and am personally unable to enjoy all their work but with Pete Postlethwaite I’m engrossed from the moment he is on the screen.

In my twenties I went to the the Royal Court to meet a girlfriend. I was always about an hour late for anything in the hazy days of my youth, so I didn’t see the play. I finally found her and she invited me to a party which was around the corner from the theatre. I got there and felt awkward, lots of older people and actors, one of whom was a very kind, down-to-earth Pete Postlethwaite. He saw that I wanted to be anywhere but with those people, and invited me to the pub round the corner. So we left the party. I had no idea who he was, in those days. I have never forgotten that gesture, although it was many years before I realized it was Pete Postlethwaite.

He’ll be sadly missed by all people who enjoy great acting.

R.I.P Pete Postlethwaite 1946-2011

Brown Bread: Malcolm McLaren

Posted in Culture, Music, Obituaries with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Malcolm McLaren, the man who irreversibly changed the face of British music as manager of the Sex Pistols, died yesterday, aged 64.

He had suffered from mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, for some time and, despite a recent period of good health, his condition had deteriorated rapidly in recent days, according to his spokesman. He died in Switzerland yesterday morning and his body is expected to be flown home to be buried in Highgate cemetery, north London.

McLaren was never troubled by the idea of failure. He once revealed that he was greatly influenced by an art teacher who told him “We will all be failures. But at least be a magnificent, noble failure. Anyone can be a benign success.”

He was to punk as Brian Epstein was to The Beatles, a facilitator, but also one who recognized that any artistic “movement” becomes a parody of itself simply by being identified as a “movement”. Punk was a corrective to disco and prog rock. We needed it at the time.

R.I.P. Malcolm McLaren 1946-2010

Related:

Dame Vivienne Westwood leads tributes to Malcolm McLaren

Classical Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory

%d bloggers like this: