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Tribute to the artistes we have lost so far

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THOMAS RAJULA

By THOMAS RAJULA
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As of 2pm on Friday, the coronavirus pandemic had claimed more than 190,000 deaths. In the roughly 16 weeks that the virus has spread around the globe, its devastation can be felt in all spheres of life.

Art has not been spared, and below is a list of some of the famous artistes we have lost.

The internationally-renowned oud player, known as Hudeydi, died in London at the age of 92. Reports indicate he died from Covid-19 after four days in hospital.

One of the founding fathers of taking Somali music to the world, he was born in Berbera, in what is now Somaliland, in 1928. Hudeydi became a well-known figure as a composer and musician throughout the late 1950s and 1960s during the anti-colonial movement and decolonisation period.

He ended up in England after his father sent him to join the army, to keep him away from musicians, but he still pursued it. He sang Somaliland’s national anthem during their independence celebration in Hargeisa.

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His music became popular beyond Somali borders and he began to tour internationally, where he picked up his nickname, ‘Hudeydi’, and his title as the King of Oud.

The King of Oud became a part of the rich Somali cultural and artistic hub in London after he fled there in the 1990s during the Somali civil war, creating a salon in his home for artistes and music lovers alike.

British comedian Tim Brooke-Taylor, best known as one third of the popular 1970s show “The Goodies”, and “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue”, died of coronavirus at the age of 79.

Brooke-Taylor’s career spanned more than six decades and his comedic roots lay in the Cambridge Footlights Club, which he joined in 1960, where he met both his “The Goodies” co-stars, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie, as well as future Monty Python stars John Cleese and Graham Chapman.

In 2011, Brooke-Taylor was appointed an OBE for his services to entertainment, joining Oddie and Garden in having the same honour.

American actor Jay Benedict lost his fight against the disease on April 4. The 68-year-old actor is known for roles in “Dark Knight Rises”, “Aliens” and the long-running UK series “Emmerdale”. TCG Artist Management, which managed Benedict, confirmed the news.

Lee Fierro, an actress best known for playing Mrs Kintner in “Jaws”, died of complications from coronavirus at the age of 91. Fierro had been living at an assisted care facility in Ohio when she died on April 5.

Fierro starred as the mother to Alex Kintner (Jeffrey Voorhees), the second victim of the great white shark in “Jaws”. In the 1975 film, her son was attacked off the shore of Amity Island, and she walks up to police chief Brody (Roy Scheider) and slaps him in a memorable scene.

“Americana” (related to the history, geography, folklore and cultural heritage of the US) legend and revered singer-songwriter John Prine died on April 7 from complications of Covid-19.

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Prine’s family had revealed the 73-year-old, two-time Grammy-winning artiste’s diagnosis on March 29 to let fans know that he had been in the hospital for several days and that his situation was “critical”.

Banjoist Eddy Davis, who called himself the Manhattan Minstrel, also died of complications from coronavirus on April 7. He was 79 years old.

Davis was also the bandleader of the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band, most famous for its clarinettist, filmmaker Woody Allen.

Davis is a Grammy recipient for his work on the soundtrack for Allen’s film, “Midnight in Paris”. A jazz traditionalist, the Indiana native first played drums before turning to the banjo, according to wbgo.org. He is survived by his partner, Ruth Miller, and a daughter.

The Fountains of Wayne member, Adam Schlesinger, died on April 1 due to complications from the coronavirus. He was 52 years old.

Schlesinger was a highly accomplished musician, with Grammy nominations for his work with the band, Oscar and Golden Globe nods for the music he wrote for “That Thing You Do!”, Tony nominations for “Cry-Baby” musical, and an Emmy win for “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”.

The New Orleans jazz patriarch died on April 1 at the age of 85. He is survived by six sons, four of whom are musicians: Pulitzer and Grammy winner Wynton; Grammy winner Branford; trombonist and producer Delfeayo; percussionist Jason; photographer Ellis III, and Mboya.

“Pneumonia was the actual thing that caused his demise,” Ellis III told the Associated Press. “But it was pneumonia brought on by Covid-19.”

“He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz,” New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a statement.

“He was a teacher, a father, and an icon — and words aren’t sufficient to describe the art, the joy and the wonder he showed the world. This loss cuts us deeply.”

Marsalis was a music educator as well as a deft performer, having taught not just his sons but also Harry Connick Jr. and Terence Blanchard, among many others.

The Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter and composer was 59 years old when he died of complications from Covid-19 on March 31.

The musician began his long and celebrated career when he was 12 years old. He had performed with Miles Davis and was also featured in “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool”.

The influential musician died of coronavirus in France on March 24 at the age of 86. Dibango was known for fusing funk with African rhythms, and became known around the world with his 1972 song “Soul Makossa”.

The song served as an influence for songs by Rihanna and the late Michael Jackson.

The New Orleans DJ, born Oliver Stokes Jr., died at the age of 44 on March 19 after contracting coronavirus. Stokes brought bounce music to the radio, and also deejayed in New Orleans.

American Jewish musician Alan Merrill, who wrote the classic tune “I Love Rock ’N’ Roll”, which was a huge hit for Joan Jett, died of the novel coronavirus at the age of 69 in New York City.

Merrill also played in actor and legendary rock singer Meatloaf’s band for several years.



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