Friday, 22 April 2016

The reaping of 2016

Here's a non-exhaustive list of deceased persons of note thus far in 2016:

  • Natalie Cole - singing daughter of unforgettable Nat
  • David Bowie - starman
  • Alan Rickman - Hans Gruber or Snape, depending on your age
  • Glenn Frey - the heat is off
  • Colin Vearncombe - led a wonderful life
  • Dale Griffin - young dude, behind the scenes of Peel sessions
  • Frank Finlay - Porthos, Casanova
  • Sir Terry Wogan - Pudsey-loving, long-putt-holing, blankety-blanking airwave-master
  • Maurice White - earthy, windy, fiery
  • Harper Lee - killer of mockingbirds
  • George Kennedy - Cool Hand Luke's right hand man
  • George Martin - wrangler of seismic music genius
  • Richard Davalos - east of Eden, but central on Smiths sleeve art
  • Nancy Reagan - Rappin' Ronnies' better half
  • Cliff Michelmore - combined Holiday and the moon landings (sadly not simultaneously)
  • Paul Daniels - we liked it, more than a lot
  • Keith Emerson - a keyboardist in need of a Lake and a Palm(er)
  • Sylvia Anderson - your actual Lady Penelope
  • Frank Sinatra Jr. - slightly less Blue Eyes
  • Garry Shandling - comedian of two shows (eponymous and Larry Sanders)
  • Johan Cruyff - total football before total football
  • Ronnie Corbett - it was goodnight from him
  • Doris Roberts - Raymond's mother
  • Victoria Wood - beloved comic polymath
  • Prince - sexy purple MF
  • Percy Sledge - woman-loving (soul) man

That's a lot, by anyone's standards. And before you comment that I have omitted X, Y and Z this is simply a least of people I can remember dying this year that I also consider "of note". It's not meant to be inclusive, or dovetail with your definition of noteworthy, it's just illustrative. If you want exhaustive, the Telegraph maintains a celebrity death montage.

Anyway. Social media is awash with comments in the manner "what gives, 2016?" and rightly so - celebrity deaths are through the roof. So what's going on? What does give?

The simple answer is ... er ... nothing. Yes, this year seems an excessively grim year for the reaper, but it should be expected, and this trend will continue. Why? It's a numbers game, by and large. The post-war baby boomers are all getting old. The bulge in the population curve that they represent is now hitting old age. In other words, there's simply a glut of people who are now the right age to die, and this crosses all socio-demographics groups - however rich and famous they might be, the rich and famous are not immune from this. Equally, the growth in new media, social and otherwise, means that every death and every obituary is reported far more and far wider than at any point in human history. So not only are there more people to die, there are more ways for you to hear about it.

Typically, the wonderful BBC website has a terrific article on this. If the numbers are right, 2016 will continue to be a career highpoint for the Grim Reaper, only to be surpassed by 2017.

And for the morbid amongst you, Deathlist gives an idea of who might be next. Me, I still can't believe that Victoria Wood and Prince went in the space of 48 hours.


  1. Well, at least Morrissey isn't on that Deathlist. Although Stan Lee and Glenn Campbell both are. :-(((

    1. Saw Paul Simon was trending on Twitter earlier and feared the worst. Relieved to discover it was just down to a great performance on Later.