Obituary – Dennis Waterman- Actor in Minder, the Sweeney and New Tricks

Legendary TV actor Dennis Waterman has died at the age of 74, his family has announced.

Waterman was one of the most popular television actors of the 1970s and 80s. He starred as bodyguard Terry McCann in Minder after first finding fame as tough nut cop George Carter in The Sweeney.

In more recent years, he starred as Gerry Standing in the BBC’s New Tricks, and throughout his career other TV roles included ITV’s Where The Heart Is, The Canterbury Tales and Moses Jones, both for the BBC.

  • Died: May 8th, 2022
  • Details of death: Unknown at the time of writing this obituary.

The London-born actor, who launched to fame with a BBC drama based on the Just William books in his teens, had a major role in 1967 film Up the Junction.

He then went on to become one of Britain’s most popular TV stars in the 1970s and 1980s.

One of his most famous roles included Detective Sergeant George Carter in ITV police series The Sweeney, which he starred in alongside John Thaw.

He went on to play Terry McCann in Minder from 1979 to 1989. His character was the bodyguard of Arthur Daley (George Cole).

In the 1990s, he appeared in TV shows Stay LuckyOn the Up and The Knock. In 2003, he made his debut as a detective in the long-running BBC drama New Tricks.

He was the only constant cast member to star in the series. His co-stars included Amanda Redman, Alun Armstrong, Nicholas Lyndhurst and Tamzin Outhwaite. The show came to an end in 2015.

Waterman was also a singer who performed the theme tunes for both Minder and New Tricks.

The actor had two daughters, one of whom was Hannah Waterman, who is best known for playing Laura Beale in EastEnders.

He was married four times, including to actors Patricia Maynard for 10 years (1977-87) and Rula Lenska for 11 years (1987-98). He married Pam Flint in 2011.

Date of birth: February 24th 1948

Date of Death: May 8th 2022 (aged 74 years)

 

 

 

 

Sources:

The Independent – https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/dennis-waterman-death-cause-b2074193.html

Daily Mail – https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10794769/Dennis-Waterman-dies-aged-74.html

Obituary – Tony Brooks – 1950s Formula One Legend

The trainee dentist Tony Brooks was poised over a patient’s mouth when he received a phone call offering him his first drive in Formula One. The dental student almost dropped the filling down his patient’s throat. Rodney Clark, principal of the Connaught team, had to wait for his answer as Brooks sought permission from his tutor to race at the Syracuse Grand Prix in Sicily in 1955.

  • Died: May 3rd, 2022
  • Details of death: Unknown at the time of writing this obituary.

Tony Brooks was taking a weekend off from the final year of his dental studies in Manchester when, in October 1955, he became the first British driver to win a postwar grand prix in a British car.

The Gran Premio di Siracusa was not a world championship race, and the field was not of the highest quality, but to beat the Italian teams – and particularly the mighty Maseratis – on their home ground with his humble Connaught was a noteworthy feat, particularly since he had never taken the wheel of a Formula One car before the previous day’s practice session.

Brooks, who has died aged 90, was as surprised as anyone by the result he achieved on the Sicilian roads, but it led to a distinguished career at the top level. He went on to win six world championship grands prix – and in 1959, while driving for the team of Enzo Ferrari, he came close to capturing the drivers’ championship itself.

That he did not win it – and was widely criticised in Italy as a result – came about through circumspection. He had travelled to the last race of the season, the US Grand Prix at Sebring, in contention for the title with Jack Brabham and Stirling Moss. To see off Brabham, Brooks needed to win and take the extra point awarded for the fastest lap, with the Australian finishing no higher than third. To beat Moss, he needed to win with his fellow Englishman no higher than second and without taking the extra point.

On the first lap of the race, however, Brooks was accidentally rammed in the rear by his young teammate Wolfgang von Trips, triggering a promise to himself – following two big accidents earlier in his career caused by mechanical problems – never again to compete in a potentially dangerous machine. Now, fearing that his rear suspension had been damaged in the collision, he called in at the pits and asked his mechanics to investigate. Their examination revealed nothing amiss and he was able to resume, but could finish only third, leaving Brabham to take the title. Enzo Ferrari was not best pleased.

Tony Brooks raced as he lived. Quietly, intelligently and modestly. Blessed with exceptional ability in a racing car, he was happy to let his achievements speak for themselves, never seeking the limelight.

An intellectual driver and a deep thinker who could see the larger picture, he was amazingly just 29 when he decided to retire. He’d just finished third for BRM at the 1961 US GP at Watkins Glen, he had a garage business to build up, and the time seemed right. He didn’t really like the 1.5-litre cars, with their excess of grip over horsepower, but his main reason was his growing family.

At the 1998 Goodwood Festival of Speed he was reunited with the 1957 Aintree-winning Vanwall, and none less than Mario Andretti pointed him out to Chris Mears, wife of Indianapolis legend Rick. “That,” Mario said, “is the best of the best of the best…”

In retirement, he ran a highly successful motor dealership, and more recently all that mattered to Tony was his lovely Italian wife Pina, his children and his privacy. Tony met Pina at a race in Italy, they married in 1958, and their everlasting bond was the bedrock of his life.

Date of birth: February 25th 1932

Date of Death: May 3rd 2022 (aged 90 years)

 

 

 

 

Sources:

The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2022/may/04/tony-brooks-obituary

Formula One – https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.obituary-tony-brooks-formula-1s-racing-dentist-remembered.25Cx3ogmFmnkoNgZXADjm4.html

Goodwood – https://www.goodwood.com/grr/race/historic/2022/5/obituary-tony-brooks-1932-2022/

Obituary – June Brown – EastEnder’s Dot Cotton

Among all the outstanding actors who have appeared in the BBC’s television soap EastEnders over the years, none lasted longer, nor retained such huge popular affection, as June Brown, who has died aged 95.

  • Died: April 3rd, 2022
  • Details of death: Died peacefully in her sleep aged 95.

June Brown, who has died at the age of 95, won her place in British hearts playing the chain-smoking washerwoman, Dot Cotton in EastEnders.

It was a part she would play for more than 30 years – well past her 90th birthday.

In person, Brown was a riot. One Guardian writer described her as “Kenneth Williams trapped in the body of Cilla Black”.

But like her on-screen persona, her private life was touched by extremes of emotion – with great happiness, romantic love affairs, terrible heartache and family tragedy.

Childhood tragedy

June Muriel Brown was born in Needham Market, Suffolk in 1927. Her father, Harry, was a wealthy businessman who went bust investing money in German banks before World War Two.

Her mother, Louisa, was a milliner – who June was convinced loved her far less than her four other siblings. Brown would describe herself as a “mongrel”. Her grandfather was from Scotland, her mother from Italian stock.

On BBC One’s Who Do You Think You Are? she discovered one of her great-great-great grandfathers had been a famous Jewish bare-knuckle fighter in London’s East End.

Her younger brother, John, died of pneumonia in 1932 when he was just 15 days old. Two years later, June lost her elder sister to meningitis. The loss of 8 year old Marise affected her deeply.

It “shaped the way I behaved for a long time”, she wrote in her autobiography, Before The Year Dot.

“In particular, it influenced my expectations of men,” she said. “Too dependent, I found it impossible to be happy alone. I was constantly in and out of love, always looking for the kind of caring she had given me.”

Dot Cotton

She joined the cast of EastEnders in 1985, playing for eight successive years until 1993, when she took a break – and appeared in Rodney Ackland’s Absolute Hell, a vivid chronicle of bohemian low-life in London just after the second world war, at the National Theatre, alongside Judi Dench – before returning to the fray in 1997 and continuing for more than 20 years more, announcing in 2020 she had left the soap “for good”.

As Dot, she gossiped for Britain, battled heroically with a wayward son, lost her job, helped her best friend to a comfortable death, married and lost a husband, Jim Branning (John Bardon), and maintained a running sparring match with Leonard Fenton’s kind GP, Doctor Legg. She often came out with the unexpected, and a nation hung on every word, inhaled every puff, as she gallivanted spikily among her neighbours.

Only an actor of vast experience, in life and in show business, could possibly have played, and sustained, such a role, and Brown qualified gloriously on both counts. Apart from anything else, she produced six children in seven and a half years with her second husband, all of them in her fourth decade.

“And here’s a funny thing,” she said, quoting Max Miller, “when I was in hospital, having given birth to my first child, I did my ballet exercises every day at the end of my bed. A week later, when I left the hospital, my waist had reduced to 24 inches; ironic, given how much I shunned exercise as a girl – and how little I do now!”

When she appeared in Calendar Girls in the West End in 2009, aged 82, she claimed she was the only one of the replacement cast who stripped completely naked for the photo call. She simply could not care less about propriety or coy camouflage. She was one of those rare people in life, let alone the theatre, who simply said what she thought, did what she felt like and got away with it.

Four years after Calendar Girls, in 2013, she bonded big-time with Lady Gaga on the Graham Norton television chat show, to such an extent that it was she who came across as the more outlandishly eccentric and hilarious of the two. Sipping from a large glass of red wine, she had the audience, and her fellow couch squatters, who included Jude Law, eating out of her hand for half an hour.

The Real June Brown

Inevitably, June Brown would often be asked how much she resembled her most famous creation. There were many similarities.

She chain smoked from the age of 16 and would claim that tests had proved her blood was the colour of nicotine. She was a devout Christian and consummate chatterbox – in turn prone to bursts of melancholy followed by gales of gravelly laughter.

But the comparisons only go so far. June Brown was an avid supporter of the Conservative Party.

Her favourite TV shows were not the soaps – but Newsnight and Panorama. Ironically, for a soap star, she thought the time children spend watching television is abominable. As for Twitter, her views were withering.

She once told The Times that she was “never going to be made a Dame doing Dot” – but she was awarded the MBE for services to drama and charity, before that was upgraded to an OBE in the last New Year Honours.

And she claimed to have planned her funeral carefully.

“I want to be buried at sea,” she told one interviewer. “The Britannia Shipping Company drops you off round the Isle of Wight. I’ll be in a nice white nightie and they wrap you in a balsa wood coffin and weight it.”

It’s probably not what Albert Square’s scriptwriters would have planned for Dot Cotton. But – for June Brown – it would be a fitting send-off for such a “one of a kind”.

Date of birth: February 16th 1927

Date of Death: April 3rd 2022 (aged 95 years)

 

 

 

 

Sources:

BBC – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-43476603

The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2022/apr/04/june-brown-obituary

Obituary – Tom Parker – The Wanted Star

Tom Parker‘s first brush with fame on The X Factor, aged 16, was short and brutal. The born-and-bred Bolton singer, who went on to storm the UK and US charts with boy band The Wanted, lasted less than a minute before Simon Cowell stopped his audition and sent him off stage.

  • Died: March 30, 2022
  • Details of death: Died due to terminal brain cancer aged 33.

 

Tom Parker, who has died of cancer aged 33, was a singer with the boy band The Wanted, who sold millions of records around the world with hits such as Glad You Came and All Time Low; when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October 2020 he became an activist and fundraiser and had the support of millions of fans as he documented his struggles with the disease.

Thomas Parker was born on August 4, 1988, in Bolton, north-west England. He taught himself to play the guitar and auditioned for The X Factor talent show but failed to progress beyond the first round.

He went to Manchester Metropolitan University to study geography but was unable to set his musical ambitions aside, and took a small step on the path to stardom when he joined a Take That tribute band.

In 2009 the manager Jayne Collins, who had masterminded the rise of the girl band The Saturdays, which included Tipperary’s Una Healy, held auditions for a male version, seeing more than 1,000 men over nine months. Parker was chosen along with Nathan Sykes, Dubliner Siva Kaneswaran, Max George and Jay McGuiness to form the group that would become known internationally as The Wanted.

The group flew to No 1 in the UK charts with their debut single All Time Low, followed by a No.2 hit with their second single, Heart Vacancy. Glad You Came, the first single off their second album, was another UK No.1 and climbed to No.3 in the US charts.

When The Wanted announced a hiatus in 2014, he took up DJ-ing and reached the semi-finals of Celebrity MasterChef in 2015. Three years later, he stripped off for ITV’s The Real Full Monty: Live to raise funds for male cancers.

But in 2020, after suffering a seizure, Parker announced that he had been diagnosed with inoperable grade 4 glioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumour that is notoriously difficult to treat.

Last December 2021 Parker addressed the House of Commons all-party parliamentary group on brain tumours, telling them: “I’m staggered they can find a cure for Covid within a year, but for decades on end they haven’t found better treatments, let alone a cure, for brain tumours.”

Parker married Kelsey Hardwick in 2018.

She survives him, along with their young daughter Aurelia and son Bodhi.

Date of birth: August 4th 1988

Date of Death: March 30th 2022 (aged 33 years)

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Express – https://www.express.co.uk/news/obituaries/1594461/the-wanted-tom-parker-singer-obituary

Independent – https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/music/music-news/obituary-tom-parker-singer-with-the-wanted-who-became-a-cancer-campaigner-following-his-own-diagnosis-41514497.html

Obituary – Taylor Hawkins – Foo Fighters Drummer

Taylor Hawkins played the drums exactly how he lived his life – at full pelt and with vigour. The longhaired blond musician spent 25 years as the celebrated drummer for American rock band Foo Fighters.

  • Died: March 25, 2022
  • Details of death: Died in Bogota, Colombia at the age of 50. Cause of death is unknown at the time of writing this obituary.

 

An arms flailing showman, he combined passion with technical ability. Hawkins joined the band in 1997, three years after it was formed by former Nirvana star Dave Grohl, and his creativity helped elevate them to their first Grammy award win in 2000. Across nine albums, he enjoyed writing credits on transatlantic hits including All My Life, Best Of You, Learn To Fly and Run.

Off stage, he partied hard and spoke openly of his love of drugs but never let his wild side diminish his performances.

Hawkins also recorded for Brian May, Roger Taylor and guitarist Slash – he also formed supergroup

NHC with band members from Jane’s Addiction.

He got his break as the tour drummer for rock singer Sass Jordan and, later, played with Alanis Morissette on her 1995 breakthrough album Jagged Little

Pill, which sold more than 33 million copies worldwide.

Foo Fighters

Taylor Hawkins began playing drums at a young age and was inspired by the band Queen and their drummer Roger Taylor. In 1995, he became the tour drummer for Alanis Morissette’s band, supporting her “Jagged Little Pills” tour, and appearing in music videos for the album. Hawkins joined the Foo Fighters after William Goldsmith left the band during the recording of their 1997 release “The Colour and the Shape.” Foo Fighters leader Dave Grohl knew Hawkins and called him to see if he could recommend a new drummer for his band and Hawkins volunteered himself. The two became great friends.

Hawkins was a frenetic drummer which was a great fit for the Foo Fighters powerful rock sound. In addition to drums, he occasionally sang vocals including on the single “Cold Day in the Sun.” He had a side project titled Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders, releasing three albums including “Get the Money” in 2019, featuring guest appearances by the Eagles Joe Walsh, Chrissie Hynde, and Nancy Wilson of Heart. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2021 with the Foo Fighters.

At the time of Hawkins deaths, the Foo Fighters were on tour and were scheduled to play a concert that night in Bogota, Columbia.

Hawkins is survived by his wife Alison and their three children, Oliver, Annabelle and Everleigh.

Date of birth: February 17th 1972

Date of Death: March 25th 2022 (aged 50 years)

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Express – https://www.express.co.uk/news/obituaries/1591639/Taylor-Hawkins-drummer-rock-Foo-Fighters-Obituary

Legacy.com – https://www.legacy.com/news/celebrity-deaths/taylor-hawkins-1972-2022-foo-fighters-drummer/

Obituary – Shane Warne- Cricket Legend

Shane Keith Warne (13 September 1969 – 4 March 2022) was an Australian cricketer. A right-arm leg spinner, he is widely considered as one of the greatest bowlers in cricket history, and in 2000 he was selected by a panel of cricket experts as one of five Wisden Cricketers of the Century, the only specialist bowler and the only one still playing at the time.

  • Died: March 4, 2022
  • Details of death: Died of natural causes at the age of 52.

 

On 4 June 1993, a 23-year-old Australian with a cocky manner and peroxide blond hair ran up to the wicket at Old Trafford to deliver his first ball in Ashes cricket, said Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail. Although considered a bright prospect in Australia, nothing Shane Warne had done to this point had suggested he was anything out of the ordinary. His early Tests had been unremarkable, and a few weeks previously, in a warm-up game at Worcester, Graeme Hick had hit him to all parts of the ground. Now, from a short, casual-looking run-up, he bowled to Mike Gatting, who was on four. “Two-thirds of the way down the pitch the ball dipped into the leg-side, opening Gatting up like a can of beans, before ripping diagonally across his body to clip the outside of off-stump”, reported Mike Selvey in the next day’s Guardian. “Gatting stood his ground, not in dissent or disappointment, but in total, utter disbelief.”

The “Ball of the Century”, as it became known, turned Warne into a “cricketing superstar”, said Mike Atherton in The Times. And he remained one throughout his career, which ended 14 years later with the leg-spinner having taken 708 Test wickets, then more than any other bowler in history. But Warne wasn’t just the “greatest leg-spinner in the history of the game”, he was also one of its biggest personalities, a “force of nature” who “lived his life to the full, fitting more in one year than many others would” in a lifetime. That was why his death from a suspected heart attack last week came as such a blow. It seems inconceivable someone “so full of energy, so fizzing with the enjoyment of life’s rich possibilities” should be dead at the age of just 52.

Warne was born in 1969 in the Melbourne suburb of Ferntree Gully, said The Daily Telegraph. His father, an insurance consultant, and his German-born mother were both “natural athletes” who encouraged Shane and his brother Jason to try “all kinds of sports”. Warne’s first love was Australian rules football, which he dreamed of playing professionally. He only took up cricket seriously in his late teens, after being rejected by one of Melbourne’s biggest Aussie Rules clubs. It soon became apparent that he “possessed an extraordinary capacity to spin the ball”, largely due to his phenomenal upper body strength: something he attributed to a period as an eight-year-old which he’d spent dragging himself around in a cart, after breaking both legs in an accident.

 

Once Warne hit his stride in the Test arena, his impact on the game was incalculable, said Matthew Engel in The Guardian. He joined an already formidable Australian team and made it “overwhelmingly stronger”. And he “single-handedly revived the discipline of leg-spin”, which had become “almost a lost art” in a sport dominated by fast bowlers. Combining his prodigious spin with “rare consistency for a wrist-spinner”, Warne would “attack right from the start of a spell”, said Vic Marks in the same paper, staring down batsmen in a cocksure manner and often sledging them mercilessly as well. Under such pressures, batsmen would often cave in psychologically, resorting to “desperate acts of foolishness”.

 
Warne embodied the Australian archetype: a “larrikin” – a scrape-prone young man with a heart of gold, said The Times. And over time, his off-field antics became almost as notorious as his cricketing achievements. “There were brawls, betting scandals, drug controversies and sexual peccadilloes, such as in 2006, when he was secretly filmed ‘romping’ with two models who sold the story to a tabloid.” While none of this dented his popularity, it put paid to his hopes of ever captaining his country. And that’s arguably a shame, said Ed Smith in The Sunday Times, because “Warne’s cricketing intelligence was superb”. He planned each over meticulously, and had “great insights about wider trends” in the sport. In retirement, at least, his more reflective side got a chance to reveal itself, as he became a respected commentator.
Warne was someone with “no airs”, said Mike Atherton. Like most great sportsmen, he was “often surrounded by the monied” – but he always treated “ordinary folk” as he would anyone else. His death took place at a resort in Thailand, where he was holidaying with friends. One revealed that he and Warne had shared a meal of toast and Vegemite hours before the cricketer died. “Geez,” the friend reported Warne remarking, “you can’t beat Vegemite with some butter, always great wherever you are in the world.” He was an Australian “through and through”, to the last. 

Date of birth: September 13th 1969

Date of Death: March 4th 2022 (aged 52 years)

 

 

 

 

Sources:

The Week – https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/sport/cricket/956033/shane-warne-obituary-australias-favourite-larrikin-son

Obituary – Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell singer known for his powerful maelstrom of sound and spectacular live shows

Meat Loaf was a singer known for his top-selling album “Bat Out of Hell” and for songs including “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” and “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).”

 

Meat Loaf’s bombastic rock operas catapulted him to the status of musical icon.

His breakthrough album, Bat Out Of Hell, is one of the best-selling albums of all time.

But beneath the public face of the hard-rocking extrovert was a man who professed to be a shy and retiring individual.

Off stage, he was actually a non-smoking family man, who’d never owned a motorbike and was “constantly on a diet”.

 

He was born Marvin Lee Aday on 27 September 1947 in Dallas, Texas – the son of an alcoholic police officer.

His mother was a school teacher who sang in a girls’ gospel quartet; she instilled a love of performing in her only child.

The singer told Oprah Winfrey in 2016 where the name Meat Loaf came from. “I got it when I was four days old,” he said. “Not the Loaf part, just the Meat, because I was born bright red.

“The doctor suggested they should keep me in the hospital for a few days and my dad said, ‘He looks like nine-and-a-half pounds of ground chuck [meat]. I want you to put a name tag on the front of that plastic crib with Meat on it.'”

The second part of his name arrived when he was in school, in eighth grade. “I stepped on a [football] coach’s foot, and he screamed, ‘Get off my foot you hunk of meat loaf!'”

 

Meat LoafIMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES
Image caption,

Fronting his band in LA in 1970

 

Although he played football, he was more at home with the dramatic society. When his mother died prematurely, he left Dallas, and his combative father, to forge a career in music.

In his new base in Los Angeles he formed a band, Meat Loaf Soul, and his distinctive voice, which ranged over three octaves, brought a number of offers of recording contracts.

The band, which underwent a series of name changes, was good enough to open for a number of top acts including the Who, The Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin.

Meat Loaf quit the band to join the cast of a touring production of the musical, Hair, a role that led to an offer to record with Motown Records.

Rock Superstar

Meat Loaf (born Marvin Lee Aday) was a rock star best known for his 1977 album “Bat Out of Hell,” one of the best-selling albums of all time. He was an actor and a singer in various rock bands and duos that skirted with success. He was in the cast of the original L.A. Roxy musical “The Rocky Horror Show,” playing Eddie and Dr. Everett Scott. He then played Eddie in the enduring cult film version “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” released in 1975. Meat Loaf met songwriter Jim Steinman (1947–2021) when he performed in Steinman’s musical “More Than You Deserve” in 1973. The two collaborated on the operatic rock album “Bat Out of Hell,” which was produced by Todd Rundgren. The release became an international hit, selling more than 40 million copies and featuring the songs “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” and “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.” The duo found success again with the 1993 sequel album “Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell,” which featured the international number one song “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).”

As an actor, Meat Loaf had roles in “Leap of Faith,” “Wayne’s World,” and “Fight Club.”

Notable Quote

“This is what people don’t understand. Anybody in their right mind would not have chosen that, okay? My father started calling me that when I was a kid. When I went to the first grade, my teacher said, ‘Meat, sit down.’ I would go to church and the minister would say, ‘Meat, we’re glad to see you here.’ I can’t win. But I don’t think it’s any funnier than other people’s names. Start saying ‘Bruce Springsteen’ over and over again. Everybody’s name is weird.” – on his nickname in a 2003 interview with Entertainment Weekly

 

Date of birth: September 27th 1947

Date of Death: January 20th 2022 (aged 74 years)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

BBC – https://www.theguardian.com/music/2021/apr/22/steinman-obituary-bat-out-of-hell

Legacy.com – https://www.legacy.com/news/celebrity-deaths/jim-steinman-1947-2021-paradise-by-the-dashboard-light-songwriter/

Obituary – Jim Steinman – Composer and songwriter who masterminded Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell, one of the biggest-selling albums of all time

Jim Steinman was a songwriter whose hit compositions include Meat Loaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” and Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

  • Died: April 19, 2021
  • Details of death: Died at a hospital in Connecticut of kidney failure at the age of 73.

His own website described him as “The Lord of Excess”, and the Los Angeles Times dubbed him “the Richard Wagner of Rock and Roll”. Jim Steinman, who has died of kidney failure aged 73, made a spectacular career of being bigger and more bombastic than the rest, and his achievement in masterminding Meat Loaf’s album Bat Out of Hell will guarantee his immortality.

Bat Out of Hell

Steinman’s songwriting career took off after he wrote Meat Loaf’s 1977 debut album, “Bat Out of Hell.” It included the iconic “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” as well as the No. 11 hit single “Two out of Three Ain’t Bad.” It took Steinman and Meat Loaf years to find a record label that would take on the sprawling, operatic album that was a reworking of Steinman’s earlier musical, “Neverland.” But when they finally found a home for their vision, the record became a classic. Later, the songs from “Bat Out of Hell” became the backbone of the 2017 musical “Bat Out of Hell: The Musical.”

Hitmaker

Steinman went on to write Meat Loaf’s 1993 follow-up album, “Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell,” including the No. 1 hit single “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).” He also wrote hit songs for other artists, including “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Holding Out for a Hero” for Tyler, “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” for Celine Dion, “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” for Air Supply, and “Read ‘Em and Weep” for Barry Manilow. Steinman was also a record producer for artists including Billy Squier, Barbra Streisand, and Sisters of Mercy.

Notable quote

“My songs are anthems to those moments when you feel like you’re on the head of a match that’s burning. They’re anthems to the essence of rock & roll, to a world that despises inaction and loves passion and rebellion. They’re anthems to the kind of feeling you get listening to ‘Be My Baby’ by the Ronettes. That’s what I love about anthems — the fury, the melody and the passion.” —from a 1978 interview with Rolling Stone

Date of birth: 1 November 1947

Date of Death: April 19, 2021 (aged 73 years)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/music/2021/apr/22/steinman-obituary-bat-out-of-hell

Legacy.com – https://www.legacy.com/news/celebrity-deaths/jim-steinman-1947-2021-paradise-by-the-dashboard-light-songwriter/

Obituary – Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Getty Images

Getty Images

HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh sadly passed away on 9th April 2021 at the age of 99. He will go down in history as the longest reigning consort in British history. It would be a difficult role for anyone, let alone a man who had been used to naval command and who held strong views on a wide range of subjects. Yet it was that very strength of character that enabled him to discharge his responsibilities so effectively, and provide such wholehearted support to his wife in her role as Queen.

Childhood

Prince Philip was born in Greece on 10 June 1921 on the island of Corfu. His father was Prince Andrew of Greece, a younger son of King George I of the Hellenes. His mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, was the eldest child of Prince Louis of Battenberg and sister of Earl Mountbatten of Burma.

After a coup d’etat in 1922, his father was banished from Greece by a revolutionary court.

A British warship sent by his second cousin, King George V, took the family to Italy.

In 1933, he was sent to Schule Schloss Salem in southern Germany, which was run by educational pioneer Kurt Hahn. But within months, Hahn, who was Jewish, was forced to flee Nazi persecution. Hahn moved to Scotland where he founded Gordonstoun school, to which the prince transferred after only two terms in Germany. With war looming, Prince Philip decided on a military career. He wanted to join the Royal Air Force but his mother’s family had a seafaring tradition and he became a cadet at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth.

Meeting, then, Princess Elizabeth

While there he was delegated to escort the two young princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, while King George VI and Queen Elizabeth toured the college. According to witnesses, Prince Philip showed off a great deal. But the meeting made a deep impression on the 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth.

Philip quickly proved himself an outstanding prospect, passing out at the top of his class in January 1940 and seeing military action for the first time in the Indian Ocean. By October 1942, he was one of the youngest first lieutenants in the Royal Navy, serving on board the destroyer HMS Wallace.

Throughout his time in the Royal Navy, he and the young Princess Elizabeth had been exchanging letters, and he was invited to stay with the Royal Family on a number of occasions. It was after one of these visits, over Christmas 1943, that Elizabeth placed a photograph of Philip, in naval uniform, on her dressing table.

Their relationship developed in peacetime, although there was opposition to it from some courtiers – one of whom described Prince Philip as “rough and ill-mannered”. But the young princess was very much in love and, in the summer of 1946, her suitor asked the King for his daughter’s hand in marriage. However, before an engagement could be announced, the prince needed a new nationality and a family name. He renounced his Greek title, became a British citizen and took his mother’s anglicised name, Mountbatten.

The wedding took place in Westminster Abbey on 20 November 1947. It was, as Winston Churchill put it, a “flash of colour” in a grey post-war Britain.

Becoming a British Prince

When Elizabeth became Queen in 1952, Philip retired from active military service and five years later was made a British Prince. Until August of 2017, when he officially retired from public life, he was a very active working royal, serving as patron or president of more than 780 organizations. He is survived by not only the Queen but also their four children, eight grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren.

Children

Their son, Prince Charles, was born at Buckingham Palace in 1948, and a daughter, Princess Anne, arrived in 1950. They were later joined by Prince Andrew (1960) and Prince Edward (1964).

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

One of Prince Philip’s main concerns was for the welfare of young people, and in 1956 that interest sparked the launch of his phenomenally successful Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Over the years it enabled some six million 15-to-25-year-olds – many with disabilities – the world over to challenge themselves physically, mentally and emotionally in a range of outdoor activities designed to promote teamwork, resourcefulness and a respect for nature.

“If you can get young people to succeed in any area of activity,” he told the BBC, “that sensation of success will spread over into a lot of others.”

Throughout his life the duke continued to devote much time to the scheme, attending various functions and involving himself in its day-to-day running.

“..her husband wears the trousers”

Philip was known for both his sense of duty and a blunt sense of humor. Despite their unique dynamic, Philip’s marriage to Elizabeth was seen as a true partnership, and their union is the longest in the history of the British royal family. He also holds the title of the oldest-ever male member of the British royal family and was the longest-serving British consort.

“The Queen wears the crown, but her husband wears the trousers,” Gyles Brandreth, author of 2004’s Portrait of a Marriage said. “He is the power behind the throne: steadfast, never-failingly supportive.”

 

Date of birth: 10 June 1921

Date of Death: 9 April 2021 (aged 99 years)

 

 

 

 

Sources:

BBC News: Obituary: HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

The Guardian: Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, obituary | Prince Philip.

Towns & Country: Prince Philip Obituary – Queen Elizabeth Husband Has Died

Obituary – Sabine Schmitz

Sabine Schmitz was a much loved, respected and inspirational racing driver who was the first and, to date, only woman to win the famed 24 Hours Nürburgring race. She was also a repeat star of TV’s “Top Gear” as well as other TV shows such as “D Motor” and “5th Gear.”

Sabine Schmitz was born in Nürburg, Germany, on May 14, 1969, next door to the Nürburgring, where her parents owned a hotel next to the race track. She was six months old when she first drove the circuit (in the back seat of her father’s car), and from the age of 13 knew she wanted to be a racing driver. She did her first lap behind the wheel, in her mother’s BMW, at 17.

She and her three sisters all started racing, but it was only Sabine who continued professionally. She was also a helicopter pilot, and co-owner of a bar-restaurant in Nürburg until 2003, when she decided to focus on racing full-time.

Queen of the Nürburgring

Schmitz became known as the “Queen of the Nürburgring” for her familiarity with the 15.8-mile track in Western Germany. She won the 24-hour endurance race in 1996 and repeated her success again the very next year in 1997. Schmitz was also known for entertaining racing fans by taking them for a high-speed, adrenaline filled lap around the track in a BMW, calling herself “the fastest taxi driver in the world.” She first appeared on the BBC automotive show “Top Gear” in 2004, beating presenter Jeremy Clarkson with a lap time of nine minutes and 12 seconds around the Nürburgring. Later, she drove a Ford van around the track in 10 minutes and eight seconds. After several more appearances over the years, Schmitz joined “Top Gear” as a presenter in 2016.

 

In a Facebook post in July 2020, Schmitz revealed that she had been suffering from “an extremely persistent cancer” since late 2017, for which she had been treated, but the cancer had returned. Which unfortunately led to her untimely death just 8 months later in March of 2021. She is survived by her husband Klaus Abbelen.

 

Date of birth: 14 May 1969

Date of Death: 16 March 2021 (aged 51 years)