Today begins the long Memorial Day holiday weekend and the unofficial start of summer — a special day indeed. As such, the AccuRadio‘s music programmers agreed today’s Channel a Day in May feature should be multi-genre, mass appeal, and strive to offer something for nearly everyone.
And so today we honor the memories of those artists who have passed on, yet whose musical contributions keep their spirits alive. Welcome to The Memorial 500.
Listening to the Memorial 500 can be a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Perhaps that was inevitable, given the stylistic ground the channel covers, but we wouldn’t have made it any different even if we could. You’ll hear a classic rock track, followed by a pop oldie, an R&B “dusty,” followed by alternative rock, country, hip hop, and more. Because, as we all know, the “Man in the Bright Nightgown” visits all of us, eventually.
We hope in listening you’ll get to experience some music from artists not typically in your usual orbit. That being said, if you find the stylistic road a little too bumpy while listening, we encourage the use of the Skip and Ban artist/song features.
Our team of programmers had a great time wheeling and dealing, negotiating, demanding, and pleading to include as many tracks from those great lost artists who are still so vital to the different channels we all create and manage. We agreed on some basic ground rules in crafting the channel (it may be hard to believe, but a roomful of passionate music lovers can gobble up 500 available slots pretty quickly).
So in order to prevent it from becoming the Memorial 5000, we established some criteria:
First, the “no-brainers,” those artists whose demise is as intrinsic to their celebrity as their actual music, those textbook definition “dead rock stars:” Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse.
We also included music from other artists whose creative lives were tragically cut short, but whose circumstances may not be as well known to some listeners. We learned a lot ourselves, and encourage keeping a browser tab open to Wikipedia.org while listening, to learn about artists like: Dinah Washington, Crazy Horse, Clyde McPhatter, Donny Hathaway, Eddie Cochran, and so many more.
Perhaps the saddest examples are those duos and groups who seemed to be disproportionately touched by tragic loss of their members. We would suggest as examples Badfinger, Grateful Dead, the Temptations, the Band, the duo of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Ramones, the Stooges, and too many more.
You’ll also hear artists who in many cases didn’t perish prematurely or tragically, but whose recent passing seemed to warrant their inclusion. These would include late-greats like B.B. King, Ben E. King, Bobby Womack, Joe Cocker, Don Covay, Johnny Winter, Lesley Gore, Lou Reed, and more.
Finally, you may encounter a head-scratcher or two (We certainly have, and we built the channel!). In many cases, you may get a track from a band which recently and/or prematurely lost an important member other than its star. While Ozzy Osbourne (somehow) still walks among us, don’t forget the sad loss of guitar master Randy Rhoads. Keep cases like this in mind when you hear Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band (Clarence Clemons), Def Leppard (Steve Clark), KISS (Eric Carr), Metallica (Cliff Burton), and more.
The lives of these artists have afforded us so much beauty and joy. Crafting a channel with such a dour theme might seem bleak, but it was anything but. We had a blast, and we hope for those who listen it perhaps sparks a conversation, settles a wager, or encourages a learning moment. Most of all, we hope you really enjoy the music, and your Memorial Day holiday.