The undignified clamour for family heirlooms is sadly an all too familiar eventuality following a person’s demise, but when fêted musicians board the stygian ferry it’s not always just the artist’s flesh and blood who feel they have a claim. We all know about family members fighting tooth and nail for control of the estate of a legend like Jimi Hendrix (who ironically was proudly ‘stone free’ in life) but what happens when a whole city decides a musician “belongs” to them? Especially if the artist didn’t actually come from there. And what of the itinerant musicians and the wandering minstrels? Here are some odd examples of people or places laying claim to the memories of the dearly departed…
Kurt Cobain Day vs. Kurt Cobain Day
The Gus Vant Sant movie Last Days is a loose fictionalisation of the final tragic week in the life of Kurt Cobain, but what the director didn’t know is there’d be plenty of Kurt Cobain Days in the future. Last year Hoquiam in the North American state of Washington declared Kurt Cobain Day would take place on April 10 2014 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Nirvana frontman’s death (although he actually committed suicide on the 5th). “And I think that it's good Kurt Cobain lived in Hoquiam for a little while,” said Mayor Jack Durney last October, “he and Krist Novoselic are part of our community and I think it's good to honour our sons and their great accomplishments." Only now Aberdeen, the city Cobain grew up in, has stolen a march on Hoquiam and will be hosting its own Kurt Cobain Day on 20th February, the late singer’s birthday. Hell, they’re even threatening to extend celebrations to a week long affair and will announce further their intentions on February 12. Sit back and watch as these two proud places separated by just four miles blow their council tax coffers outdoing each other.
The London Beatles?
Boris Johnson’s buffoonery knows no bounds but even by the garrulous London Mayor’s standards claiming it was London and not Liverpool that put “the greatest band in the world” on the road to fame and fortune was an outrageous claim. It was Hamburg, right? Indignant Liverpudlians including that city’s Mayor were quick to call for an apology for “another embarrassing gaffe” concerning their homestead. In 2004, while still editing and writing for The Spectator, Boris had claimed Liverpudlians “like to wallow in a sense of vicarious victimhood” after Ken Bigley was beheaded by Iraqi terrorists, and in the same scandalous article laid the blame of Hillsborough with “drunken fans” fighting to get into the stadium. There’s not much love lost between Boris and Birkenhead or Bootle, that’s for sure.
Angus beef? Not a bit of it
A town in Scotland is looking to commemorate Bon Scott - former singer with AC/DC until he choked on his own vomit in East Dulwich in 1980 - with a statue. The organisation behind the local music festival, DD8, is looking to raise £50,000 in order to erect a statue in the vicinity of the town to honour Kirriemuir’s second most famous son (after J.M.Barrie) who was born in, er, Forfar, six and a half miles away (Forfar 4, Kirriemuir 0). The scheme is apparently backed by the famous Australian band that still features eternal schoolboy Angus Young on guitar and is now led by Newcastle’s Brian Johnson. It’s just a shame the late great Australian singer is about as Scottish as Rod Stewart.
Taking the Michael
Michael Jackson may not have lived in Fulham in London or even have been born there, but he did alight on Fulham FC’s Craven Cottage ground in 1999 to witness the Lilywhites do battle with the mighty Wigan in a glamorous second division fixture that ended 2-0 to the home side. Whether he returned again is open to conjecture. So momentous was this occasion that the then owner Mohamed Al Fayed erected a statue to the King of Pop who could also add “talisman” to his epithets (well they did win) much to the consternation of fans. Away supporters delighted in the gaudy effigy while the home supporters could only look on in bemusement, though the former could laugh no more when last year new owner Shahid Khan decided to store the statue away and cover it in a blanket like one of Michael’s own bairns. “"I respect Mr Fayed and know he had good intentions in paying an individual tribute,” said Khan, “however, the removal of the statue is the right thing for Fulham Football Club."
And finally some curios…
Were you aware Barbados celebrates Rihanna Day? Well you are now. Apparently February 22 is not a national holiday, just a day of remembrance. Meanwhile each Beatle has a street named after him in Liverpool, and John Lennon an airport, but were you aware of Flaming Lips Alley in Oklahoma City, or Run DMC JMJ Way in Hollis, Queens, New York City? Perhaps stranger is Frank Zappa Strasse in Berlin, Germany and maybe best of all US rapper and business mogul Jay-Z has a street in Ilorin, Kwara State named after him called Shawn ‘Jay Z’ Carter Rd.
Any other dedications to artists we should know about?