Bad Things In Threes, Again

Certainly not comparing it to earthquake, tsunami, nuclear meltdownbut yeah, famous deaths have a tendency to triangulate. and with Elizabeth Taylor passing today, that’s three in four days, albeit three who outlived their atomic half-life and made tremendous contributions to their art.

Ralph Mooney left us on March 20th. A celebrated musician’s musician, he basically pioneered the steel guitar sound in popular country music and worked with a Who’s Who of famous names. A critical element of the Bakersfield Sound, you can hear that Buck Owens and Merle Haggard influence across the board in Americana and country-rock music. And you rockers, check those Burrito Brothers and Neil Young albums where his sound appears even when his name doesn’t.

Pinetop Perkins walked offstage on Monday the 21st at ninety-seven (!) years old. Last month, he won a Grammy for Joined at the Hip (with Willie “Big Eyes” Smith) so he wasn’t exactly slouching. A bluesman from Mississippi like Muddy Waters, he played in the latter’s band for years and was most famous as a sideman…until he was in his eighties. He won a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement and was featured in the Martin Scorsese / Clint Eastwood film Piano Blues. Check his website for much more information on the American treasure.

And Elizabeth Taylor shipped off today, March 23rd

I prefer to remember the younger vibrant actress rather than the perfume-pimping Jacko compadre of later years, although during that period she did yeoman’s work on behalf of AIDS. I’ll forever remember her in Giant with James Dean and Rock Hudson, although she interacted with a tremendous cast including Sal Mineo, Dennis Hopper, Earl Holliman and Rod Taylor. It was near the beginning of a great run of movies flanked on both sides by forgettable flicks.

I’ll remember the debacle about Cleopatra and the odd relationship she had with Richard Burton and how my Mom was a dead ringer for her when she was young. I’ll try to forget that she was better known for tabloid fodder than natural talent, but I’ll never forget those violet eyes.

They don’t make movie stars like that anymore.

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2 Comments

Filed under Editorials, Film/TV, Music

2 responses to “Bad Things In Threes, Again

  1. Paul Sikorski

    Had a chance to see Pinetop Perkins when I was living in North Carolina about 12 years ago. Very hot 4th of July, outdoors, he played with Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin (they both had played together with Muddy Waters, whose son also played with them that day) and he *boogied*! He also sang, surprisingly strongly. A cherished memory.

    For the most powerful Ralph Mooney playing, go straight to the Waylon Jennings stuff, especially the magnificent “Honky Tonk Heroes” era. He was a “Waylor” (Jennings’ band’s name) for more than ten years and created a steel style that was country but somehow still screamed along with the rest of Jenning’s band.

    Rough couple of days for my vinyl collection.

  2. Michael Toland

    Or it comes in fours: Zoogz Rift also passed away a few days ago.

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