I first met Elvis Presley back in 1934. He’d sit on his mother’s porch with a cheap guitar and pick out all those hillbilly Bluegrass tunes that he would later pass off as original compositions and in the process make Tom Parker a very rich man. Naturally when he later died on the toilet in a Vegas hotel suite, I felt compelled to articulate my grief in the time honoured fashion. I ran to my typewriter and wrote something truly eloquent: “R.I.P Elvis – Gone But Never Forgotten.” I didn’t actually mean it. I just couldn’t think of anything better to write. After the Alabama Gazette forgot to publish my heartfelt eulogy, however, I had the idea to gather together all the letters of condolences throughout the world and condense them into my first, soon-to-be-published book entitled Mourn A Celebrity…Pretend You Care. Of course social media makes this public display of tuppenny anguish so much easier to disseminate but you can’t roll a cigarette on the back of a smart phone.
Every human being has a shelf life and hoary old rockers are no exception. The fact that Lemmy Kilmister only just survived his 70th birthday is no more miraculous than the fact that he survived his fucking 50th. Admittedly Lemmy had been advised to slow down during his final years. He had stopped smoking cigarettes completely and swapped his customary Jack Daniels & coke for a vodka and orange. Rick Parfitt – the be-denimed Pub Rocker’s Pin-Up – died of sepsis on Christmas Eve in Marbella at the age of 68. The following morning George Michael’s leaf fell out of the celebrity tree and eclipsed Parfitt’s demise entirely. Carrie Fisher, however, exacted her own revenge upon George Michael with her death on December 27th only to then get trumped the following day by her own mother. The Reaper obviously has a keen sense of humour.
The celebrity tree undoubtedly took a hammering in 2016. The complete list of celebrity deaths is published here. The deaths of most celebrities on the list are hardly surprising due to their age. Some on the list are surprising for the very same reason. And skimming through the names you’d have to conclude that the Grim Reaper is a total son of a bitch. David Bowie, for example, is plucked from the world and Simon Cowell is allowed to survive with his magic carpet made from the wretched souls of his shameless slave things? Prince doesn’t get to celebrate his 58th birthday and yet Ozzy Osbourne still stumbles around the planet like some useless, punch- drunk party clown? And Leonard Cohen is pushed into the abyss whilst Bob fucking Dylan wins the Nobel Prize For Literature? Somebody in the Underworld needs to seriously check their database.
Obviously social media became the favoured platform from which to voice all our futile words of narcissistic grief. Facebook quickly resembled a massive Grief Club as the world lamented all the celebrities who had passed away as if they had been nothing more than pet hamsters and labradors. It soon became a charmless and transparent charade. There is a vast difference between the print media and social media. The print media has a duty to report at least their own version of world events and the deaths of those in the public eye. Lamenting some tiny fallen star on social media simply proves that not only can you read but also tries to establish that you are not the heartless bastard everybody knows you are. Remotely grieving an unknown celebrity is just a way of renting a cheap social halo for a few minutes. Look at me. I’m caring about stuff.
Narcissistic grief is a way of filling the void left behind by our own dumb existence. Personally I have more respect for those people who chose not to say a single word on social media. We all have a relationship with celebrities but we know it’s nothing personal. The only people who confuse this arrangement are serial stalkers and the mentally bewildered.
Celebrities are going to keep dying. It’s not some sick gameshow. It’s just life. I would, however, like to suggest we make a deal with the Underworld. I’m sure they have Whatsapp or Snap Chat or something. Ouija boards, after all, are soooo Victorian. Personally I’d like to organise an annual referendum. Everybody who actually cares about celebrity deaths can pay to log onto my website -www.celebritydeadpool.co.ck – and nominate the five celebrities they can happily live without. The ten celebrities with the most votes can then be plucked from this mortal coil in one fell swoop on one particular day. This in return should limit the amount of saccharine tweets and status updates the rest of us have to endure and could also get rid of Noel Edmonds.