Thursday, December 29, 2016

Debts of gratitude

In a year which has seen the departures of so many iconic figures, it's hard to single people out for special mention, but as 2016 draws towards its close, I wanted to express my own debt of gratitude to the ten who have had the biggest impact on my life and that of my family.

So thank you:
  • David Bowie, for providing part of the soundtrack to my teenage years and for two songs in particular - Life on Mars and Starman - whose spins on the turntable were the musical highpoint of every sixth form party.
  • Abe Vigoda, forever Salvatore Tessio in The Godfather, the greatest movie ever made and that will ever be made. 'Can you get me off the hook, Tom, for old times' sake?' 'Can't do it, Sally.'
  • Maurice White, leader of Earth, Wind and Fire, whose dynamic funk tunes in the late 70s and early 80s laid the foundations for my lasting love affair with dance music.
  • Tony Warren, creator of Coronation Street, which, in its original incarnation as a gritty portrayal of Northern working-class life as opposed to a vehicle for ever-more ridiculous and sensational storylines, was for a while the best thing on telly.
  • Keith Emerson and Greg Lake, two thirds of Emerson Lake and Palmer, whose weird albums pushed the boundaries of prog rock in the 70s and inspired numerous others, including Genesis, to do the same.
  • Johan Cruyff, whose exploits for Holland and Ajax thrilled this football-mad youngster in the 70s and whose invention of 'total football' showed the world how the beautiful game really should be played.
  • Muhammad Ali, whose dramatic recapture of the world heavyweight title from George Foreman in 1974 was, along with Boycott's 100th hundred and Viren's double Olympic distance double, the sporting highlight of my childhood.
  • Gene Wilder, whose magical portrayal of Willy Wonka in the original and best film version of Roald Dahl's tale opened up a world of pure imagination that not only had my son George captivated from an early age, but his dad too.
  • Richard Adams, whose creation of Watership Down opened up another magical world for my boy and me to enjoy together. 'We go by the will of the Black Rabbit. When he calls you, you have to go.'
RIP all.

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