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Art of Obituary

The Art of the Obituary (5): Ike Turner


Ike Turner (November 5, 1931 – December 12, 2007)

Though his musical and entrepreneurial talent was enormous, he had been slow to break out of the “chittlin circuit” of black southern clubs. When he and Tina took off at last—with “A Fool in Love” in 1960—it was Tina’s raucous voice, not his pounding guitar in his own song, that made the difference. The same was true of their first million-seller, “Proud Mary” (1971), where the gyrating Tina stole the show from Ike, unsmiling behind her in his high fedora and dark glasses. With “River Deep—Mountain High”, it had been worse: Tina sang, Phil Spector produced his waterfalls of sound, and Mr Turner was barred from the recording sessions.

Perhaps that was why he beat her.

Excerpted from The Economist.


The Art of the Obituary: Janet Frame


Janet Frame (August 28, 1924 – January 29, 2004)

She needed ‘treatment’— electro-convulsive therapy at the Seacliff hospital in Dunedin.

Every part of this therapy was horrific to her. The sleek, cream-painted machine with its knobs and lights; the smell of methylated spirits, rubbed on her temples so that the shock would take; the grey woollen socks she would compulsively wear on treatment days, ‘to ward off death’; the stifled, choking cries of other patients; and the shock itself, a trap door dropping open on darkness. As she came round afterwards her tears kept falling ‘in a greif that you cannot name’.

Excerpted from The Economist


The Art of Obituary: Anna Nicole Smith


Anna Nicole Smith (November 28, 1967 – February 8, 2007)

She acted too, though it was the Breasts that stole every scene, full in Leslie Nielsen’s astonished face in “Naked Gun 33 1/3”. The spotlight loved her, but unlike Marilyn she was not favoured by high flying politicians; there was always too much of the tabloid queen about her… Her fame came, in the end, from being in court.

Excerpted from the Economist.