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This Is Happening: For Death And Glory

Written by Anthony Hess on February 20, 2012

It’s sad to say it but we all know it is true. Society loves to kill their idols. You might say this is insensitive to say, so soon after the death of Whitney Houston but there really isn’t a more appropriate time to say it.

This notion was introduced to me by Marilyn Manson in an article published in both Kerrang! and Rolling Stone magazines. It is human nature to want what we can’t have and to only realise what we did have when it is gone; but does it have to be like this?

First there was Michael Jackson. The years prior to his untimely death were rife with child sex scandals, plastic surgery investigations and the overall invasion of his life and privacy to the point where we knew him more as Wacko Jacko than the King of Pop. But since his death in 2009, his records have flown off the shelf, his This Is It DVD post-mortem release deal includes a $60 million upfront payment for the rights, and a Cirque du Soleil show on his music have all helped the megastar earn almost half a billion dollars since passing.

Then there was Amy Winehouse.  One day she is a drug addled crazy English-woman, comparable to the likes of Pete Doherty, the next she is a beautiful young woman who went too soon, after contributing so much to music with her soulful voice. Both are pretty spot on descriptions of the late Winehouse but only after she passes do we remember her for her talent and not her poor life choices.

Then there is the most recent member to the club, Whitney Houston. Top of pops star from the 80’s and 90’s, the new millennium didn’t really bode well for Houston.  Her alcohol and crack problems well outweighed the relevance of her past hits. Tragically, Houston is not likely to rake in the big money like Jackson’s estate because she didn’t write most of her hits and didn’t have any unreleased material waiting to be released. But sure enough, tributes and radio play have been higher for Whitney now than in the past twenty years.

Is this what music has to resort to, in order to sell? A life on the cross and a funeral of broken hearts? I sincerely apologise to anyone who takes offense to anything that is said in this, that is not my goal. I simply hope to magnify this sad state of affairs in both celebrity and appreciation, particularly in music because it seems that only in death do we acknowledge something beautiful.

But it shouldn’t take an epitaph to make people remember truly good music or a truly talented artist. If you can love it in death than you can love it in life.

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