Obits: The musical Departed
SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil () - October 31, 2011 - 12:00am

It is once again the time for remembering the dear departed. And while death is inevitable, it still makes me feel good that nobody from around here made this list. Still, these people affected a lot of lives and they were a huge loss to music. Do you think anybody kept track of how many soap operas made use of Autumn Leaves and Till by Roger Williams or of how much greater Amy Winehouse might have become or if Motown would have been as successful without Nick Ashford? And can you imagine how it was like before without all those music files and apps and other goodies that Steve Jobs laid at our fingertips? They have all gone to the great beyond and we wish them eternal rest.

Steve Jobs. Feb. 24, 1955 to Oct. 5, 2011. I think of Steve Jobs and I think of the apple. I have to come up with a logical connection somewhere but don’t you think it propitious that when he was set to make his mark as the greatest visionary of his time, he chose as his symbol, the apple. You know, there were Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Sir Isaac Newton and the theory of gravity and later, the Beatles. And now we have the apple on the cover of all those mac products, which include iTunes

Jobs made computers easy and in the process brought music within the reach of everybody. How many songs do you think are now preserved in the iTunes library? How many artists have learned to better their craft because of mac apps? Do you know how much easier, less expensive and better recording has become because Jobs knew how to make it so? We owe the guy a lot. Fate was in an inventive mood when Steve Jobs was born. It stacked a lot of things against the kid but also later on rewarded him with the whole world.

Amy Winehouse, Sept. 14, 1983 to July 23, 2011. Amy Winehouse was the most exciting thing to happen to British pop music in recent times. Young, talented, unpredictable and blessed with an astonishing contralto voice, she was definitely born to accomplish big things. She also had this unique look that a lot of girls have since adopted for themselves, a big beehived hairdo and lots of eye make-up like Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra. But Amy’s promise was never fulfilled. She was at the peak of her career when she was found dead in her London apartment last July 23. The coroner’s report said that 27-year-old Amy died of alcohol poisoning.

Amy battled drug and alcohol addiction most of her short life. She also had a brief marriage that was characterized by violent fights and suicide attempts. Despite these though, she came up with two memorable albums, Frank and Back To Black. The latter has since been named the biggest selling recording of the century in the UK. It also won her five Grammys, including the major awards, Best New Artist, Best Recording and Best Song. Released last Sept. 14, which would have been her 28th birthday, was Body And Soul, a duet she did for Tony Bennett’s Duets II album.

Nick Ashford: May 4, 1941 to Aug. 22, 2011. We know him best as one half of the singing, producing and songwriting duo of Ashford and Simpson which created many of Motown’s biggest sellers. He died of cancer of the throat with his wife and favorite working partner Valerie Simpson by his side. They met in New York in 1963 and had been inseparable ever since. They owned a club that is the favorite watering hole of music people and aspiring artists in New York at the time of his death.

Along the way they wrote songs like Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, You’re All I Need To Get By and Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing for the team-up of solo stars Marvin Gaye and Tammi Tirell; Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand) for the Supremes; I’m Every Woman for Chaka Khan; The Boss for Diana Ross; Solid and Found A Cure for themselves as Ashford and Simpson. Nick also produced the trendsetting duet of I’m Gonna Make You Love Me by The Supremes and the Temptations and one of his last works was Tears Dry On Their Own for Amy Winehouse.

Roger Williams. Oct. 1, 1924 to Oct. 8, 2011. Never had the chance to watch Roger Williams perform live but it has often been said that he was great on stage. He could play anything, from classical to jazz. But it was when he was at his most romantic that fans like him best. His rendition of Autumn Leaves with those elaborate flourishes remains a big favorite. It was the only piano instrumental recording to make No. 1 in the charts and it is the biggest selling piano record of all time with over two million pieces sold. 

Williams recorded 116 albums. He also had hits with Till, Born Free, The Impossible Dream, Somewhere In Time, Yellow Bird and Somewhere My Love from Doctor Zhivago. My favorite though is To Be With The One You Love to which then producer Tito Sotto asked me to write Filipino lyrics for Anthony Castelo. I still like the way the song turned out up to now. Williams was 87 years old. He died from complications of liver cancer.

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