Reaching for Heaven: Musicians with that magical spark that arrived, shone brightly, and was extinguished too soon...

4년 전

Regardless of your religion or lack there of many people still feel that spiritual mystery that almost seems like fate or thought shaping greatness. Many of you likely heard the tale of Icarus and how he flew too close to the sun.

In history there are musicians that seem to touch some almost mystical place. If you happen to notice them while they are still alive there will be an almost supernatural musical quality to them. They will be unlike anyone around them at the time and their skill will be unquestionable. They may or may not be the most technical (though often they are that as well) but there will be some untouchable quality. Watching them perform is akin to a religious experience. It is almost as if they are the outward expression of something greater.

I've seen a pattern of such people that seem to appear, be like no one else around them, burn so brightly, inspire so many, and then be ripped from the world in some untimely death.

Now I know of a few people I would classify this way. I suspect there are others in other genres of music that I did not explore as fully, but I have a sense they are there. I even have some suspicions of who a few of them may be, but since they are not genres I know well enough and I don't know the history of those individuals I will be left wondering.

Instead I would like to talk to you about the few that I do know. They all shared a quality of having an absolute love of their music. They were uncompromising on the sound of their music, and who people tried to make them be. They knew what they wanted and they would often go against the grain an make what was in their mind, in their spirit. In all cases the fools who tried to shape them would eventually realize how blind they were. This is not surprising as it is unusual to encounter those musicians that seem to embody some divine spark.

The mark they leave on the world is often unprecedented. It continues to shape things long after they are gone.

I will say now that the person I speak of last in this post is the one who impacted me personally the most. He is the only one of these that I was alive and aware of his death. I saw it as a tragedy then. I was watching an interview with his sister just a few moments ago talking about aspects of his life people didn't really know, and I was inspired to write this piece.

Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly was a unique person from Lubbock, Texas that had his own style of Rock N' Roll as well as his own look. He also very much did his own thing and really created a new sound. He would be killed in a plane crash on February 3rd, 1959. I was born in 1970, so this was well before my time.

I was still aware of his name. I also happened to see the movie The Buddy Holly Story and as I learned more and more music throughout my life I kept seeing the impact of what he created and how it spread through other people.

Buddy Holly Documentary. - 1:05:24

Ritchie Valens

In this particular case the tragedy took two different musicians with their own career. Ritchie Valens died in the same plane crash that killed Buddy Holly. Ritchie was inspired by Buddy Holly, but he has a completely unique sound. He also was adamant about doing things his way. The movie La Bamba is based upon his life.

From the movie La Bamba

Jimi Hendrix

As a guitar player myself Jimi Hendrix is something of a legend. He burst onto the scene when people like Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page were tearing up the scenes and people saying things like "Clapton is God!" and writing such graffiti on walls was not uncommon. Some people might believe that until they saw Hendrix. Hendrix himself looked up to Eric Clapton, but Jimi was clearly one of those people that was touched by something magical. Everything he played had this untouchable quality that people could attempt to mimic and they could get the sound close, but some magical element would be missing.

Jimi Hendrix is one of those like Janis Joplin that asphyxiated on his own vomit. The partying and experimenting with drugs and alcohol were very common and mainstream during the time Hendrix was active. Perhaps his love of things like LSD also influenced his work, but I've known other people who partake of such things and while they may indeed have creative moments, that very visible magical spark is still not there.

Jimi Hendrix died September 18th, 1970 two months before I was born. I heard his songs growing up though he wasn't one of those my parents listened to often. I'd certainly notice the song Purple Haze a lot in my youth, but I didn't really find out much about Jimi until I was playing guitar and I started doing my own research and exploration.

He was so ahead of other players when he was alive I have little doubt had he survived that some very interesting things would have happened in music. Yet, as with all of those I write about here perhaps he was only allowed to go so far, before he was taken from us. Push the envelope just enough to expand the instrument and the sound beyond the places people think it can go.

These days I know plenty of guitarists that have mastered and exceeded the technical skills of Hendrix at his time. Yet they learned from him and those that came after him. Even though technically they may have gone further, I don't know of any of them with that magical spark. If you look close, and you listen, you might just see it.

Cliff Burton

This person Cliff Burton had a big impact on my mid-teens and still does to this day. I was a big Metallica fan before they had any videos and before they became accepted mainstream. In fact, perhaps the only reason they didn't become accepted and didn't have videos is that Cliff Burton loved the music, and wanted to be the best musician he could be. He did not however, like the fame that came with it. He didn't want to wear the spandex, dress certain, ways or even get a new car when he could afford one. He just made his music.

When it came to the bass guitar watching him play was a religious experience. There was no one like him. At the technical level he was top of the game, but he also pushed it into areas it had never been pushed by anyone before.

He was the only member of Metallica with formal music training in the early days of the music. As such he had a huge impact on the albums he wrote music for.

Metallica moved to San Francisco from LA just so Cliff could join their band. They had seen him perform with Trauma and they just had to have him in the band. His condition was they move to San Francisco.

They moved. He joined. Magic happened. They would be signed fairly soon after that by Megaforce records. Cliff Burton would be with them throughout the Kill Em' All, Ride The Lightning, and Master of Puppets albums. To many Metallica fans those are arguably some of the bands best work.

During the tour for Master of Puppets in Europe the tour bus slid, and tumbled and it had outwards opening windows by bunks of which Cliff was sleeping next to one having won that right in a card game with Kirk Hammett. Cliff was thrown out the window and the bus fell on top of him. As they were lifting the bus off the crane malfunctioned and it fell on him a second time.

That was September 27th, 1986. I remember it. My friends and I mourned his passing for quite some time.

I am a guitarist. I wanted to play bass, but I didn't have access to a bass initially so I learned guitar. Cliff was the reason I was inspired to play bass. I was not the only one. I knew many people similarly inspired then, and I still encounter or hear of people like that since then.

I happened to see a new video today from his older sister Connie Burton. It is what inspired me to make this post.
The Salvation Kingdom - Connie Burton / Cliff Burton Exclusive - 1:02:54

That video has information and insights into Cliff that I'd never heard before. I found it interesting that both he and his sister sensed he shouldn't go on that tour. He was almost saying goodbye to her at the airport as though he knew he wouldn't be coming back. What is the significance of that? Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens are said to have had similar premonitions at times, though I don't know how much of that was fabrications of Hollywood.

EDIT: There is another one that deserves to be in here. He had the same spark, was and is a huge inspiration and was taken from us too soon.

Randy Rhoads

Amazing guitarist. Quiet Riot in its early days, and then the first guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne when he went solo after leaving Black Sabbath.

He was an amazing metal guitarist who was also passionate and studying classical guitar.

He died March 19th, 1982.

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And thus, the phrase, "It is better to burn up, then fade away."

So many bright stars burned up. So many you would think it was a conspiracy. And it may have been. The dark forces have really done all the can to control music and what people can listen to.

The problem with the psychopathic elite is that they can't really make music themselves. So, they can only try to manipulate and control talent.
But some musicians have a story that has to get out, and then their light gets extinguished.


Randy Rhoads is someone I should ahve included in this post as well.

Sometimes I ask myself what would have been today Jimi Hendrix if he was still alive. How far away on guitar sounds could have reach, if he innovated a lot during his short career, can you imagine the ways could have opened if he hadn't died at 27? Of course we'll never know.

Randy Rhoads was so special! His lost was hard to believe. Playig with Ozzy he became one of the best, and I think that what he gave to Ozzy no other guitarist who has played with Ozzy has arrived near him.
I had the chance to see Bernie Tormé live and talk to him. Tormé was the guitarist who supplied Randy Rhoads for some concerts when Randy died on tour. Bernie has been always grateful to Ozzy for trust him for those concerts, but was not the one that could do the works of Randy. Because Randy was one of his kind.

Bernie Tormé took the guitar on Ozzy Osbourne's band when Randy Rhoads died. I saw him live in 2013.

With certain personality types, when a person dedicates their life to the love of music, you run the risk of early death and burn out. This also happened with the great classical composers, jazz musicians and so many others. You can also find this trend in artists and writers. It can be found in those with a creative brain type. They are so dedicated to their love that their life lacks the balance thus they burn out early. Their contributions are ingenious but at the cost of their life. Thanks for sharing @dwinblood


All of them I presented here died in a tragic death that was accidental before they could burn out. You are correct though.

Though in Hendrix and Burton if you watch them play there is some magic there. I can play some of their stuff. Yet that magic is not in me. I can watch other skilled people play their stuff and that magic is not there.

I mean Stevie Ray Vaughn did some good covers of Hendrix tunes and while they were damn good there was still something missing. Some spark. That spark is very rare.

There are still many creative people that are amazing, but I believe the people with that something special spark are a much rarer breed and they often move the needle on what is possible into new territories.

Though yeah I was also thinking of people like Mozart, Paganini, Robert Johnson, and others.

Some Jazz people are extremely skilled and can play anything, same with many modern metal musicians (especially if they are from the Prog Metal sub-genre or its offspring). Yet being able to play it doesn't always mean that magic is there. It is some little unteachable, unlearnable thing that is either there or it is not. Those that study can technically play it and it is still great. Yet that spark adds something extra that cannot be trained into existence.

nice music image source photo. I enjoyed your music video.

So beautiful music Compton.
Thanks for sharing this post.

Nice post! I didn't know this about all of these legends.

wow great metal. This band is good enough. Nice song.