We Lost Two More Yesterday …

Yesterday brought the sad news that Eddie Van Halen and Johnny Nash had both passed away. Van Halen, 65, succumbed to throat cancer. Nash, 80, died of natural causes.

While Van Halen didn’t play in one of my preferred genres, there was no denying his talent.

Nash, though, had a huge hit with one of my favorite songs. “I Can See Clearly Now” is a song of tremendous hope and optimism.

Bonus Track: “Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)”

Fifty years ago today, Janis Joplin passed away at the Landmark Motor Hotel in Los Angeles. The coroner determined a heroin overdose was the cause of death.

I didn’t get to know Janis’ music until I was older; I was only 7 when she passed, and not really aware of her work. What I found was an amazingly talented, gritty singer who sent shivers up my spine. She made me feel.

“Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)” is my favorite of her songs. Rest in power, Janis.

Rest in Power, Helen Reddy and Mac Davis

Yesterday, we lost two amazing performers. Both Helen Reddy and Mac Davis were 78 years old. Their genres were different, but they were powerful in their own ways. Reddy was best known for her anthemic “I Am Woman,” but she was also an actor (she was in the original “Pete’s Dragon” as well as several other films). Davis was a noted singer-songwriter (“In The Ghetto” and “A Little Less Conversation” were just two of his works).

Sample Saturday, with Bonus Track: “Pompeii Fire”

Hi, everyone. This week’s sample is, again, from my work in progress entitled Pompeii Fire. As always, the final product is likely to differ from the current draft.

Music was a regular part of gladiatorial games, played during and between bouts. The cornu referred to in the text is a brass instrument. You have probably seen images of them in frescoes and so on. Two examples of the instrument were excavated from Pompeii during the 19th century. The cornu in the video is a reconstructon. We are very fortunate to have an opportunity to hear this ancient horn played.


After his bout ended and the cornu signaled the next event, Drusilla met Suetonius in the quadriportico. “You must come to the praedia. I have arranged for us to have the baths to ourselves, so that you may bathe and I may dress your wounds in myrrh.”

“Drusilla, this is a dangerous game for you to play. There is still time for you to change your mind.”

“I am not playing, Suetonius.”

“I will be there within the half hour, then. Kiss me, my princess, and let me count the minutes.”

Rest in Power, Tommy deVito

Not all of you know this, but I am a huge Four Seasons fan. One of the best nights of my life was seeing Frankie Valli live last year. Jersey Boys is one of my favorite musicals. I love the group’s harmonies, and Bob Gaudio’s compositions are wonderful.

Coronavirus has taken the life of one of the founding members of the group. Tommy deVito, who was 92 (yes, a ripe old age … but still), was the lead guitarist. DeVito’s good friend, Joe Pesci (as he says in the musical, “Yeah, that Joe Pesci”), introduced him to Gaudio and Valli.

DeVito left the group in 1970, selling his rights to the music to the rest of the group. While he didn’t disclose the reason at the time, in 2009 he told an interviewer that he had racked up significant gambling debts.

Nick Massi, another founding member of the Four Seasons, succumbed to cancer in 2000.