RIP Chris Kelly of Kris Kross

4 05 2013

Another one-hit-wonder has died of an apparent drug overdose. It seems That fleeting fame can be as damaging to the soul as excess fame. Another troubled soul, Chris Kelly, has died of what appears to be a mix of cocaine and heroin. He was only 34 years old.

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September 18, 1970

18 09 2011

Not only did the idealism of the mid to late 60’s come crashing down (arguably) following Altamont, the Manson family killings, the seeming failure of the (music-driven) anti-war movement to end the war, the break up of the Beatles, and election of a law and order president like Nixon, but pop stars seemed to drop like flies as the 60’s ended and the 70’s began.  Rolling Stones founder, Brian Jones, died in July 1969, after being booted out of the band.  Janis Joplin died in October 1970, of an apparent heroin overdose.  Depending on whom you ask, Jim Morrison died in July 1971, most likely due to the affects of years of heavy boozing.  That’s to say nothing of the numerous 60’s and 70’s rockers who, over the years, have come unglued, destroying their families and careers, due to substance abuse and the inability to handle the challenges of fame and fortune.

The most significant of those late 60’s/early 70’s losses was the untimely death of Jimi Hendrix.  He was found dead in his London apartment on this day in 1970.  There is some debate over the precise cause of death, but both (prescription) drugs and alcohol played significant roles.  When Jimi died, the most influential player to ever pick up the guitar was lost forever.

Not only was a great guitarist lost, but the 60’s died with him and his contemporaries.  All the hope held out for mankind in psychedelics was dashed.  That drugs could change society for the better, bring about world peace as well as individual spiritual growth, was shown to be a lie.  John Lennon summed this up when he said in 1971:

Okay, so Flower Power didn’t work. So what? We try again.

Jimi is not and never will be my favorite rock guitarist.  As amazing as he was, and as utterly mindblowing some of the sounds he created were, I think others that followed were able to get more out of the instrument.  I think some others that followed were cleaner, better technical players.  But they wouldn’t have done what they did had Jimi not paved the way.  What I like about Jimi’s sound, especially some of his later work, is that it really had a lot of jazz, funk and fusion sounds in it.  The music might not have held a pop appeal, but it was unique.  No one can copy Jimi.  He was like the Miles Davis of electric guitar.