Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 8 December 2012


Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012), the architect, who has died aged 104, was best known as the designer of Brasilia, the daringly futuristic capital city of Brasil, completed in 1960. His buildings are a tour de force of sculptural and technical invention, began in 1957 they combine modernist geometrics with lyrical fantasy, curves and clean white lines which seem to defy structural logic.
Born December 15 1907 (a Sagittarius like me, and Dave Brubeck below) in Rio De Janeiro, he became a prolific designer with hundreds of buildings designed to his specifications. He designed buildings all over Europe and continued to work into extreme old age. He certainly caught the spirit of the age and that mid-20th Century look. What amazing futuristic beautiful bold buildings, ahead of his time, waiting for us to catch up.

Dave Brubeck (1920-2012) also lived to a good age, dying the day before his 92nd birthday on 6 December. The musician, whose recordings included "Take Five" and "Blue Rondo a la Turk", enjoyed phenomenal success with The Dave Brubeck Quartet in the 1950s and '60s, selling millions of albums. He made the cover of TIME in 1954. Their 1959 album "Time Out" was significant for its use of uncommon, complex time signatures - influenced by the pianist's classical training. The record spawned "Take Five", the biggest-selling jazz single of all time - even people who did not like jazz knew "Take Five". Brubeck toured endlessly, into his late 80s. His final release was the 2007 solo piano album "Indian Summer". I am sure he appeared at a local theatre near here some years ago ....

2012 has certainly seen the departure of a lot of singers and musicians, as noted here (RIP label): Brubeck, Andy Williams, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Etta James, Whitney, Donna Summer, a Bee Gee, a Monkee, a member of The Band, Dory Previn, Joe South, Marvin Hamlish, Hal David, Tony Martin, etc.

And now another titan of world music dies, also at a venerable age, 92: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012). George Harrison of the Beatles once called Shankar "the godfather of world music".
He played at Woodstock and the 1967 Monterey Pop festival, and also collaborated with violinist Yehudi Menuhin and jazz saxophonist John Coltrane. Shankar also composed a number of film scores - notably Satyajit Ray's celebrated APU trilogy (1951-55) and Richard Attenborough's GANDHI (1982). Born into a Bengali family in the ancient Indian city of Varanasi, he gave up dancing to study the sitar at the age of 18. We liked that sitar sound back in the 1960s, which Harrison introduced.

Sir Patrick Moore (1923-2012), a mere 89 - the great astronomer was a genuine and much-admired eccentric who never took himself too seriously and played up to his image as a "mad professor", ideal for television and his writing; just like Jacques Cousteau under the oceans, Moore became an essential guide for generations of children to the wonders of the skies and heavens above ... 

One more 'oldie': Norman Woodland, 91 - the co-inventor of the barcode, which certainly merits a mention! 

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