He’s back and this week our resident classic rock columnist discusses the issue on every music fan’s lips: who’s next?

As we mourn the passing of three legendary musicians it’s time for Self Made Man to reflect on a troubling time for the rock fraternity.


Who’s next? They’re the two words every rock fan is thinking right now.

Three of the past four weeks have kicked off with the awful news that first, Lemmy, then David Bowie and most recently Glenn Frey have passed away. All of them either 69 or 70. Far too early.

I recall as a teenager being shocked by the deaths within 18 months of each other of Bon Scott, John Bonham and John Lennon, all of whom would have been around about the ages of Lemmy, Bowie and Frey had they lived longer.

For those of us aged between 45 and 60, the classic rock generation so to speak, those three deaths in the space of a month have affected us in different ways.

On a personal level, I’ve probably listened to more Bowie in the past fortnight then I had in the previous two years, downloading Diamond Dogs and Low and dusting down old copies of Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust and Heroes.

As a kid, I loved his Ziggy period without realising the significance of his Top Of The Pops appearance alongside Mick Ronson during Starman.

And to be honest, I regarded Bowie much in the same way as his rock peers of the era – bands like Deep Purple, Nazareth, Led Zeppelin and even Sweet and Slade!

Back then, young music fans were very compartmentalised in their tastes so when Bowie’s music changed, a lot of us did not travel down the same journey as this fabled chameleon.

Yet four decades on, it is remarkable just how popular Bowie is with musicians and fans whatever their genre.

The genius of the man was that he truly transcends the genres, appealing to those who headed off into the direction of new wave, new romantic, electronica and even hip-hop as well as the rest of us whose preference is for rock.

Who else would receive tributes from Jimmy Page, Boy George and Midge Ure, not to mention David Cameron and the Vatican office!

Bowie had not played live for many years but one of his finest performances this century was when he reprised the role of Roger Waters singing Comfortably Numb and Arnold Layne when David Gilmour appeared at the Royal Albert Hall a decade ago. It’s well worth watching.

Frey’s death resulted in my playlist switching from Bowie to the soft rock of The Eagles. His passing did not receive anything like the same publicity, partly because he was American, rather than British, and partly because his name was known a lot less than his music.

It’s worth remembering that The Eagles sold almost twice as many records as Bowie mainly due to their incredible popularity in the United States.

If that Gilmour DVD represents a fitting tribute to Bowie, can I recommend the recent History of The Eagles, Parts One and Two which is readily available.

As for Lemmy, just carry on drinking your Jack Daniels and coke and playing your music loud. That’s all the Motorhead frontman would want.

Ian Murtagh