All-purpose rock star obituary

The R stands for "rock."

The R stands for “rock.”

Music lovers were A) saddened B) shocked C) not surprised at all today to learn that A) rock legend B) one-hit wonder C) bong aficionado XYZ had died after a courageous battle against A) cancer B) Alzheimer’s C) a small pack of Girl Guides. He was [insert age; probably 69].

Fans learned of XYZ’s death A) through his record label B) via Facebook C) by deciphering clues in the musician’s final game of online Scrabble.

“Today, the world has lost a great A) artist B) humanitarian C) napper,” said his A) wife B) manager C) long-time divorce lawyer in a written statement. “XYZ’s music brought A) joy B) hope C) heartburn to millions of people. He will be deeply A) missed B) buried.”

XYZ was best known for his string of A) top 40 hits B) underground cult classics C) wrecked hotel rooms and had a reputation for being A) a cantankerous perfectionist B) a blissed-out man-child C) a couple dollars short every time it was his turn to pick up the check.

Born A) in London B) in New York C) nowhere important and the product of A) a hard-scrabble, working class background B) private school privilege C) an unfortunate gene pool, XYZ began his musical career by A) busking in the streets of Dublin B) playing small clubs in the Midwest C) crooning “I’m a Fart, You’re a Fart” into the foolishly unprotected school microphone at Genghis Kincaid Elementary.

After being discovered A) by a talent scout at a small rock festival B) by legendary music producer [insert name] C) urinating in public by the police, XYZ quickly A) shot to fame B) released a series of critically acclaimed but poor-selling records C) ran out of things to say to his wife, leading him to wonder whether this painful silence would be his fate until death do they part.

XYZ’s big break came when he was asked to A) open for [legendary band] B) fill in for [legendary musician] C) make brunch for [15 to 20 guests].

Known for his A) sophisticated songcraft B) high-energy performances C) unsettling impressions of racial stereotypes, XYZ reached [chart position] in [year] with [that song in the insurance commercial].

Fame, however, came with A) a price B) two-for-one coupons. XYZ began experimenting heavily with A) drugs B) Eastern religion C) radioactive isotopes. Matters degenerated to the point where, in a moment caught A) by documentary filmmakers B) on “Saturday Night Live” C) with a fake ID, XYZ A) collapsed onstage B) assaulted a fan C) wore white after Labour Day.

As quick as XYZ’s rise, so too was his A) fall B) heartrate C) stay in rehab. Unable to fully recover from the incident, XYZ withdrew A) into isolation B) his support for Palestine C) $10,000 from the bank in small denominations.

Although XYZ stopped recording through the [decade], his reputation continued to grow, with his songs becoming staples on A) classic rock radio B) college radio C) those scenes in the movie where the director wants to evoke a feeling of a time and place but is too lazy to do it through the script. Before long, XYZ was being cited as an influence by such bands as [famous band; probably REM].

In [year], XYZ released a comeback album and went on to collaborate with an assortment of artists, including [famous musician; probably Elvis Costello]. In one of his last interviews, XYZ attributed his newfound inner peace to A) his family B) meditation C) multivitamins.

At the news of XYZ’s death, rock writers were A) quick to rhapsodize about his impact B) begrudgingly compelled to write something flattering about an artist they’d been snarky about for years C) already half in the bag as usual.

“XYZ had this way of A) mesmerizing B) invigorating C) unclothing a crowd, a sort of A) gentleness B) rambunctiousness C) wetness that A) drew you in B) made you want to dance C) cost you 50 bucks for the cheap seats,” said [random music blogger]. “He will forever be remembered as A) a lesser god among the rock deities B) a musician’s musician C) “Spunky.”

XYZ will be A) cremated B) honoured at the Grammys C) heard a lot on the radio for the next few days.

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About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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43 Responses to All-purpose rock star obituary

  1. I could write a little iPhone app for that. Then the reporter would just have to pick up a phone, do a few clicks and presto, obit published.

  2. List of X says:

    Anyone responding to this post is welcome to use the following comment template:
    I think this post was A) funny B) inappropriate C) hard to follow. I’m literally A) LOLing B) suing C) still trying to finish it.

  3. Excellent choices. Especially the radioactive isotopes. A real blast. 🙂

  4. DavidAlanGlenn Bowie-Rickman-Frey will be stomping on your face tonight 🙂 –
    I had made Wedding Present ‘Thank You’ notes of a similar manner – if you’re going to insult one person, you might as well insult them all, I say.

    That obit was seriously lacking in Funiculars, Rosemary.

  5. Ned's Blog says:

    When I die (I’m assuming I’ll go first because of the time zone), I’d like you to write my obituary as a Mad-Lib.

  6. Good one on Elvis Costello. He’d collaborate with an otter if T. Bone Burnett produced… (Love the guy, though…)

  7. Elyse says:

    I got a distinct sense of deja vu when I read this because I’ve been reading it all year.

  8. walt walker says:

    Well, I do think this post just about covers all the possibilities. You’ve saved rock star obituary writers a lot of work, Ross. Well done!

  9. This is the plot to every episode of Behind the Music.

    Keith Richards outlived Glenn Fry AND Natalie Cole. Where’s the logic in that?

  10. pinklightsabre says:

    When Alan Rickman went, I said things happened in 3’s, and I’m hoping I’m right, because I can live with that, with all due respect, #3. And my friends back in Seattle said there weren’t any special shows or homages to him like there was with Bowie, on the radio. Not fair, to die right after Bowie and Rickman and kind of miss your time in the sun, your last media moment.
    I’m reading Catch-22 now, loving it, and thinking of you often.
    ‘I will sing…this victory song…woo-hoo hoo, uh-huh, woo-hoo hoo….’

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Statistically, these guys are hitting the age, so hang onto your black crepe. Poor Glenn Frey never managed to enjoy the latter-life re-evaluation and respect that some artists do. (I’ve seen a fair bit of ELO revisionism lately.) And of course Bowie fairly well orchestrated his legacy with his last release, which luckily is quite brilliant. Even in death, there is marketing.
      Catch-22. It’s been years, but that’s good stuff. I’m reading Middlesex. Who knew that a song about Greek immigrants and hermaphroditism could be so charming.

  11. Trent Lewin says:

    Ah the generic obituary… but I have to admit, I felt weepy when some of these fine folks passed away. Quickly remedied via healthy draughts of the wineskin. But what I want to know is: what is the level at which you must be respected to have a global moment or two of recollection in your honour? I mean, does this apply to Vanilla Ice? Corey Hart? Is Vanilla Ice actually Corey Hart? I’ve always wondered.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Bit of an ass-hat piece, I know, but not trying to downplay anyone’s grief. There certainly is a pattern, though, to the writing. I think the criteria for global grief is that you have to have filled arenas or cineplexes (cineplexia?) and died younger than average life-expectancy.
      Leave Corey alone.

      • Trent Lewin says:

        Hey, he tried hard, I’ll give that to him. But then he did “Dancing with my Mirror”, and it was all over after that.

        I still mourn the Cobain. There is nothing worse than losing the Cobain.

        • rossmurray1 says:

          I missed the Cobain train. That whole trend, actually, which is a topic for another time, no-fun grunge. I can’t think of an artist I’ve actually mourned, maybe because they haven’t left yet. Or because I’m dead inside.

  12. Your template is brilliant. I’ll never fear a celebrity death again. This will help me know how to feel.

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