Ian Streeter ‘20, Social Media Manager
Though the most notable and tragic global news story is undeniably the COVID-19 pandemic, the unusual uptick in celebrity deaths as of recently provides it with significant competition. In the first two months of 2020, we lost basketball legend Kobe Bryant and up-and-coming rapper Pop Smoke, but since the beginning of the peak of COVID hysteria in March even more notable people have tragically passed away. For example, country and soft rock singer Kenny Rogers died at age 81 on March 20, soul artist Bill Withers died also at 81 on March 30, power pop band Fountains of Wayne founding member Adam Schlesinger died at age 52 on April 1, electronic band Kraftwerk founding member Florian Schneider died at age 73 on April 21, rock and roll pioneer Little Richard and “Double Rainbow” YouTube sensation Paul Vasquez died at ages 87 and 57 respectively on May 9, R&B artist Betty Wright died at age 66 on May 10, and actor Jerry Stiller died at age 92 on May 11. Despite all of these deaths coinciding with the pandemic, most people on this list did not die of the virus; in fact, the only one that did was Adam Schlesinger.
These celebrities were paid tribute to by many people. Withers was paid tribute to by an livestream hosted by the 11E1even Group that included over a dozen performers including reggae singer Stephen Marley and producer Finneas O’Connell, and Country Music Television hosted a similar event for Rogers that included fellow country singers Dolly Parton and Jason Isbell. Little Richard was paid tribute to by social media posts and comments bade in interviews by fellow rock pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis, Beach Boys member Brian Wilson, The Roots drummer Questlove, and rapper Chuck D.
If there is one thing that both this epidemic of celebrity deaths and the COVID-19 pandemic have taught us, it is that the value life can never truly be overstated—so, though these two epidemics are mostly coincidental, in some ways they are entirely fitting for each other.
Photo courtesy of dailytelegraph.com.au