In Memoriam

2011/05/28

Mourning the very recent passings of:

GIL SCOTT-HERON

JEFF CONAWAY

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My personal tributes:

As a child of the seventies, my first memory of revolutionary urban griot-poet Gil Scott-Heron was skipping rope to the beat of “The Bottle” as Gil’s voice raspily singing “Nah-nah, nah-nah, nah-nah, nah-nah, nah-nah, nah-nah …” crackled out of our overblown speakers at a family BBQ that continued into the night.  At that young age, though, the meaning of Gil’s lyrics to that R&B-jazz suite went as high above my head as the airplanes that seemed ready to land in our backyard as they approached JFK Airport.

My fave adult memory of Gil was his performance as part of a socially conscious concert at New York City’s Beacon Theatre in the early nineties.  By that time, I had formed a worldview, protested domestic and international injustices from police brutality and apartheid to imperialism.  Hmmm …  Perhaps Gil’s lyrics on that summer day back in the early seventies weren’t beyond the grasp of my subconscious mind.

As a young teen in the late seventies, my first memory of Jeff Conaway was of him skidding across the silver screen as “Keneckie” in the blockbuster Grease.  His tidal wave of blond hair slicked back on the sides, he gyrated sensually opposite John Travolta in the “Greased Lightning” number until I blushed and clapped simultaneously.  And thus was born my love of car racing — OK, viewing on television only, where I can’t get mowed down in the stands, but where my face still can flush from the high-octane rush.

My favorite memories of Jeff are too many to mention because he was the only reason I watched “Taxi,” on which he (as “Bobby”) often out-heartthrobbed Tony Danza with his megawatt smile.  (I also tuned into the sitcom because I dug jazz musician Bob James’ ” Theme from ‘Taxi.’ “)  If you had to grill me for my fave “Taxi” episode, though, it would have to be the one in which the very talented ensemble cast performed an ode to Broadway.  In that tribute, oh, how Jeff shined.

 

May their artistic contributions live on like every sunrise and sunset.

May their souls rest in peace.

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