Rahul Da Cunha: The year the music died

So, since December last year, I've gone fully retro. I've opted for round black discs. I've chosen revolutions per minute (RPM), I've re-discovered rock and roll on records. I'm a member of two rock Whatsapp groups (one of them, Rhythm House devotees).

Cartridges, magnetic arms, the crackle of dust on vinyl, rewind me back to a groove driven era. There's a generation, mine actually, who are guided by their early musical weaning — '70s music to be specific — a decade, debatably, the most inventive in music folklore. Its influence very meaningful, encompassing political thought, generational angst, anti-establishment rebellion, crucial milestones in our adolescence. The music has shaped our DNA. Music from our past that's helped re-format our present. Not a DJ created, one song iTunes wonder. But a side A and side B of immortal longevity.

The '70s also gave us a palette of infinite audio possibilities — Deep Purple, thumping drum solos, Dark Side of the Moon and David Gilmour, David Crosby, The Doors, Doobie Brothers, Duane Allman, and Dire Straits. (And that's just the D's). And then on December 28, the evening my turntable came home, Lemmy died. Ian 'Lemmy' Kilmister, was the vocalist of the first definitive '70s band called Motorhead. I mourned the loss of a legend, the poster boy of classic rock.

Little could we predict, that Lemmy's passing would set off a chain of musician deaths. On January 10, David Bowie was found dead in his apartment. The great Ziggy Stardust who had created his own zeitgest. An artist who criss- crossed between music categories, a man who cross dressed with harmonic sexuality, The chameleon had hardly been laid to rest in his coffin, when on January 18, Hotel California lyricist, Glenn Frey expired. The Eagles songwriter had checked out, but how could we as followers ever leave?

Keith Emerson headed a band known as ELP — Emerson, Lake and Palmer. If the Eagles were one of the pioneers of soft rock, ELP were prophets of progressive rock. This genre characterised by complex orchestration, keyboard artistry, additions of classical music, longer songs that were not always easy listening.

Emerson was trolled mercilessly, former fans accusing him of his creativity drying up. Can there be a bigger public lynching than the damning of one's legacy. On March 10, the Picasso of progressive rock committed suicide. Soon the bodies started piling up. Nat King Cole's daughter Natalie, Mott the Hoople's bassist, Earth Wind and Fire's Maurice White, Jefferson Airplane's Paul Kantner, Rainbow/Dio bassist Jimmy Bains and country music icon, Merle Haggard all breathed their last in the following weeks.

Ironic that 'the fifth Beatle', George Martin, manager of the greatest band of all time, also died in this black phase... And then the artist always known to us as Prince, caused us purple pain — dead, aged 57. If Bowie was the chameleon of the '70s, Prince carried the androgenous torch forward.

Eric Clapton was once asked, what it felt like being the world's greatest guitarist He said, "I wouldn't know, ask Prince." It seems like God is picking genres. And it's only April.

Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62@gmail.com

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