Thursday

WELCOME TO BLITZ MAGAZINE'S WEB SITE!


ROCK AND ROLL IS HERE TO STAY: Only a month after the tragic passing of group co-founder Dave White from cancer, beloved vocal group visionaries DANNY AND THE JUNIORS suffered an immeasurable loss on 15 April with the sudden death of front man Joe Terranova at age 78.  Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell recalls the group's extraordinary 62 year run in the Bits And Pieces column. Danny And The Juniors are pictured above in 1958. Left to right: Danny Rapp, Joseph "Joe Terry" Terranova, Dave White and Frank Maffei. (Click on the Bits And Pieces link under the Previous Posts heading at right for the full story). (Click on the above image to enlarge).

WELCOME TO THE INTERET HOME
FOR BLITZ MAGAZINE
SINCE 1975 -
THE ROCK AND ROLL MAGAZINE
FOR THINKING PEOPLE

Welcome to the official web site for Blitz, The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People. Since 1975, Blitz has been the leading voice for the discerning music enthusiast. Blitz Magazine was also one of the first magazines of its kind to embrace the internet, having also been online since January 1996.

Here you will find news and updates about all of the key artists essential to the growth and development of rock and roll music and related genres, including rhythm and blues, country and western, jazz and easy listening. For highlights from recent past editions of the Bits And Pieces and Shape Of Things To Come columns, click on the archival postings on the right hand side of this page. Be sure and check back frequently for regular updates.

If you have any questions, please e-mail us at BlitzMcD@aol.com.


Michael McDowell
Editor/Publisher
Blitz Magazine
Since 1975 - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People

E-Mail us at BlitzMcD@aol.com for a list of available back issues.


Be sure to follow Blitz on Twitter:
@BlitzMagazine
and
on Facebook at:
Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People

AUDREY'S MUSICAL JOURNEY:

Follow the fascinating and unfolding tale (through her favorite music) of the life and times of Blitz Magazine's late and beloved Photo Editor, Audrey McDowell, as told by her husband, Blitz Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell. A Facebook exclusive! "Like" us on Facebook at Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People, and watch for further installments.

IN THE BITS AND PIECES COLUMN:

Blitz Magazine was tapped to assist with technical support, as big8radio.com expanded its massive six thousand record playlist with the addition of more than two dozen first generation garage rock rarities by the Unrelated Segments, Torquays, Four Of Us, Lykes Of Us, etc. into its regular rotation. Comments from station CEO Charlie O'Brien.

No sooner did the beloved vocal supergorup DANNY AND THE JUNIORS bounce back from the tragic passing of group co-founder David White in March, when on the 15th of April the group suffered the sudden and immeasruale loss of front man Joe Terranova. Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell takes a look at the veteran Philadelphia trio's unprecedented 62 year legacy.

In a free standing article (link at right under Blitz Magazine / Debbie Gibson Video). Blitz Magazine Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell discusses his cameo appearance in Lost In Your Eyes 30, the new video celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the monster classic Atlantic Records single, Lost In Your Eyes by Debbie Gibson.

Also in a free sanding article (line at right under LifeWay Stores Closing), long time Christian retailer LifeWay has announced the imminent closing of  anumber of its key outlets across the United States. Editor.Publisher Michael McDowell discusses the potential fallout within the brick and mortar contingent of the Christin music industry.

In an extraordinary sixty-two year career that took him all over the musical map, he recorded as a solo artist under his real name, fronted a beloved trio for the Smash label and counfounded expectations with a series of groundbreaking solo albums well into the twenty-first century. We take a look at the phenomenal career of Walker Brothers front man Scott Engel.

Legendary Wrecking Crew drummer Hal Blaine passed away suddenly on 11 March at age 90. Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell recalls his extraordinary legacy,

The world of psych rock also suffered a tremendous loss on 28 January with the passing of BLUE CHEER drummer PAUL WHALEY at age 73.

We pay tribute to vocalist, philanthropist, evangelist and wife of veteran musician Pat Boone, SHIRLEY BOONE, who succumbed to a lingering illness on 11 January.

Legendary vocal virtuoso Mel Carter has taken a giant leap forward by weighing in on the topic of gun violence in his most recent single, Raise The World - Sing Louder Than The Gun. Exclusive commentary by Carter himself here. 

IN THE REISSUES / ANTHOLOGIES SECTION OF
THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME COLUMN:

The classic London and Decca label 45s by veteran vocalist and composer Marianne Faithfull are celebrated in the comprehensive new ABKCO collection, Come And Stay With Me.

The notion that more than an album's worth of previously unreleased material from a top of the line artist who has been gone for more than a half century has at last been made available is nothing short of miraculous. But that is exactly the case with Both Directions At Once, the heretofore unissued March 1963 Impulse Records sessions by the legendary John Coltrane Quartet

The January 2019 passing of Germs bassist and founder Teresa "Lorna Doom" Ryan from cancer has put the veteran Southern California band back in the spotlight, making the recent Slash label vinyl reissue of their 1981 What We Do Is Secret LP all the more poignant. Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell takes a closer look at this landmark re-release.

Ash Wells' vaunted Teensville label puts a decisively fresh spin on the overly familiar with Wish You A Wish, a collection of rare cover versions of original material by the Hollies.

Fifty-three years in the making, the beloved Bayonne, New Jersey-based quintet the Ad Libs has finally seen their 1965 debut album (originally intended for release on the vaunted Blue Cat label) now available at last via the venerable Memphis, Tennessee Sun Records.

Among the many recipients of lavishly produced half century anniversary box sets is Electric Ladyland, the 1968 third album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Blitz Magazine takes a closer look at this landmark reissue from the musicologist / record collector perspective.

Roger Maglio's prolific Gear Fab label has made a significant contribution to the world of first generation garage rock with the release of the ambitious,two CD collection, Complete Recordings, which features the entire body of work to date of the Galveston, Texas-based Countdown Five.

The psych phase of the still very much active veteran rocker Marty Wilde's six decade career finally sees proper documentation with Abergavenny: The Philips Pop Years 1966 - 1971, an all new CD anthology, also on Ash Wells' Teensville label.

The late Lee Hazelwood knew no such thing as genre myopia in a career that spanned several decades. The Light In The Attic label has made available for the first time anywhere the 1964 sessions that produced the Cruisin' For Surf Bunnies album by the enigmatic instrumental outfit, Lee Hazelwood's Woodchucks.

Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell takes an in depth look at the eight volume WJBK Hits Various Artists anthology series, which chronicles a wealth of essential and obscure singles from the weekly charts published by that legendary Detroit radio station from 1956 to 1964. 

IN THE NEW RELEASES SECTION OF
THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME COLUMN:

The Victoria-based first generation garage rock greats the Tol-Puddle Martyrs return with Another Earth, their latest for the Secret Deals label.

Colin Linden and Luther Dickinson join forces for Amour, a fresh take on romance (Stony Plain Records) via their unique interpretations of monster classics by Clyde McPhatter, Leadbelly, Ray Price, Charlie Feathers, Chuck Willis and others.

Keyboardsman and Pennsylvania native Jeff Goldblum joins forces with the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra for Decca's The Capitol Studios Sessions, a live on Vine Street collection of spirited standards by the King Cole Trio, Solomon Burke, Herbie Hancock, Rosemary Clooney, Al Jolson and others.


Also on Verve is Combo 66, the latest album of original material by acclaimed guitarist John Scofield, augmented by the remarkable keyboard stylings of Gerald Clayton.


Tuesday

LIFEWAY STORES CLOSING


CROSSROADS: The imminent closure of a number of key LifeWay Christian Stores is having n impact on the world of music. In recent months, the venerable chain has released albums of new material on its own label by prominent Christian artists, including Beautiful Name, the acclaimed 2018 collection by long time Blitz Magazine favorites, Point Of Grace. Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell takes a look at the short term nd long range impact below. (Click on above image to enlarge).


CORNERSTONE:
LIFEWAY BOOK STORES
TO CLOSE SELECT OUTLETS
BY YEAR'S END 
By Michael McDowell

The timing is somewhat ironic.

Just days prior to the annual Record Store Day holiday (which falls on the thirteenth of April this year), the venerable LifeWay Christian Stores has announced that it will cease operations at an unspecified number of its brick and mortar outlets across the nation. 

LifeWay has been a fixture in the Christian book and (eventually) the Christian music industry since its founding in Nashville, Tennessee in 1891. With the closure of the Family Christian Bookstores chain in May 2017, LifeWay became the de facto industry leader across the United States.

The move comes just as major music outlets across the nation have reported modest to impressive sales gains in recent months. While the majority of LifeWay's focus has been on books, music CDs also accounted for a significant percentage of its trade. 

But such promising developments were apparently not enough to fend off what the company regards as an inevitability.

"We....continue to see an erosion in the brick-and-mortar channel", said LifeWay President Thom Rainer in an e-mail memo to employees.

In recent years, various independent churches across the North American continent have endeavored to sustain the momentum by hosting bookstores on their own campuses. The results have varied.

To wit, NorthRidge Church in Plymouth, Michigan opted to close its modest bookstore in 2018, when the church began a massive remodeling of its campus facilities. Conversely, Windsor Christian Fellowship in Windsor, Ontario has continued to enjoy brisk trade with its on site book, music and gift outlet. 

Most notable among the success stories is the thriving book store on the campus of Grace Community Church in Panorama City, California. Its sustainability is due in no small part to a significant portion of their inventory being comprised of the staggeringly prolific output of their beloved long time Senior Pastor, John MacArthur. 

So do these developments infer a victory for the online contingent?

"It does to a degree", said one LifeWay staffer.

"But there are other factors behind it".

Current plans call for the cessation of operations at key locations in the coming months. To that effect, LifeWay's outlet in Clearwater, Florida is facing what one long time customer referred to as, "immediate closing". In turn, LifeWay's heretofore successful outlet in Toledo, Ohio will remain open until late June, with other select outlets persevering until year's end.

In the wake of this announcement, related retailers have taken decisive steps to pick up the slack. To that effect, one burgeoning thrift store in the so-called Amish Country of central Ohio has done their part by offering a fascinating selection of rare early Gospel vinyl releases, which the facility touts as, "The best from back in the day". And as always, the quick to react Ollie's Bargain Outlet chain (which specializes in merchandise overstocks and close outs) has also done its part by devoting a significant percentage of its sizeable book department to Bibles and related Christian literature. 

But for the music enthusiast, LifeWay's downsizing means a setback of sorts. Lifeway has in recent years released a number of collections of new material by prominent artists on its own label, including Beautiful Name, the acclaimed 2018 release by long time Blitz Magazine favorites, Point Of Grace.

Presumed practicalities notwithstanding, LifeWay's announcement has met with no small amount of concern from staff and consumers alike. The employees of the aforementioned outlet on Talmadge Road in Toledo, Ohio took the extraordinary step of posting an oversized sympathy card on the store's bulletin board, encouraging patrons to sign the card with professions of solidarity with the staff, as well as expressing their concerns to corporate management. The response has been encouraging.

Meanwhile, for those musicologists and record collectors who include Gospel among your genres of choice, instead of waiting for the arrival of Record Store Day, stop by a LifeWay facility and offer a bit of tangible support to the artists you love, as well as to a retailer that has gone to great lengths over the years to ensure their ongoing accessibility.


BLITZ MAGAZINE / DEBBIE GIBSON VIDEO


IT'S LIKE BEING LOST IN HEAVEN: Blitz Magazine's Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell was honored to make a cameo appearance in Lost In Your Eyes 30, a commemorative video celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the release of the monster classic Atlantic label single, Lost In Your Eyes by beloved vocalist, composer, producer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist Debbie Gibson. Blitz Magazine takes a closer look below at how this unique and remarkable project came to pass. (The original 1989 Atlantic Records picture sleeve for the single is pictured above) (Click on above image to enlarge).

LOST IN YOUR EYES 30:
BLITZ MAGAZINE'S MICHAEL McDOWELL
MAKES A CAMEO APPEARANCE IN
NEW DEBBIE GIBSON VIDEO

To be certain, thinking outside of the box upon occasion calls for thinking on the spur of the moment.

As many among our long time audience are fully aware, Blitz Magazine was commissioned on a regular basis by Rhino Records in the early days of the label to compose sleeve notes and/or provide technical research for a wealth of reissue projects that ultimately became a key foundation of the Rhino catalogue. They included various releases by Dionne Warwick, the Monkees, the New Colony Six, the Vogues, Nancy Sinatra, Gene Pitney, Brian Hyland, the Platters, the Outsiders, Joe Tex, Brenton Wood, the Olympics, Bobby Day, the Diamonds, the Chocolate Watchband, Bill Deal And The Rhondels and many others. 

Recently, a Rhino social media post commemorated the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Lost In Your Eyes, the immensely successful Atlantic Records single by the beloved and extraordinarily gifted vocalist, composer, producer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist, Deborah Ann "Debbie" Gibson. Lost In Your Eyes was also featured in Gibson's landmark and duly successful second Atlantic album, Electric Youth. Atlantic's vast and essential catalog is presently overseen by Rhino Records.

In turn, Blitz Magazine has championed Debbie Gibson's work extensively since her late 1980s debut. To that effect, her 1989 We Could Be Together single for Atlantic was Blitz's pick for Best Single of that year. Likewise, her duly named, comprehensive, 13-disc career box set for Edsel Records took top honors from Blitz for Best Reissue / Anthology Of 2017.  Most recently, Gibson again got the nod from Blitz Magazine for Single Of The Year in 2018 for her utterly stupendous Your Forever Girl.

As such, it seemed in keeping with the spirit of the occasion to comment in a matter of fact yet upbeat manner on Rhino's social media post. In doing so, the question was posed by Blitz Magazine, "So how come during all of that time that we never got to work on a project with Debbie Gibson?"

And at that point, the thinking outside of the box perspective indigenous to many of the most gifted of artists availed itself. 

Moments later, Debbie Gibson weighed in on Rhino's post with an affirmation of sorts of our not so tongue in cheek observation. And with that, the proverbial light bulb went off in the minds of all concerned.

In keeping with her unwavering commitment to creative autonomy, Gibson had come up with her own ideas on how to commemorate the occasion at hand. A populist visionary with the rare gift of technical acumen combined with heart, Gibson had envisioned celebrating not so much that classic ballad's early mainstream successes (which are not necessarily an accurate barometer of aesthetic merit). Rather, she opted to showcase its timeless and universal appeal, which continues to resonate with both the hardcore faithful and the peripheral observer. 

To that effect, Gibson put out a cattle call to a trusted inner circle of friends, family, colleagues, confidantes and supporters. That group included unwaveringly faithful members of the media (such as Blitz Magazine), as well as her supremely loyal and hardcore fan base, who are affectionately referred to as Deb Heads. 

The idea was to produce a thirtieth anniversary commemorative video of Lost In Your Eyes. Therein, Gibson would reprise the classic single from a more universal perspective, excerpted from the so-called "Dream Mix" that was featured in the Hallmark Channel's acclaimed September 2018 motion picture, Wedding Of Dreams (in which Gibson starred as school teacher Debbie Taylor). The project would be visually augmented by the aforementioned colleagues, confidantes and supporters professing their solidarity in various ways, from holding up placards featuring their favorite couplet from the lyrics to improvising their own renditions of the piece. 

True to form, the faithful rallied to the cause in short order. Inspired in no small part by the aforementioned Rhino Records social media post, Blitz Magazine opted to answer the cattle call and join in on the fun. 

Therein, Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell invoked a bit of method acting by assuming a blissed out look while holding up a handmade placard (in keeping with the homegrown mission statement of the project) with the lyrics, "It's like being lost in heaven". Gibson and her world class team painstakingly meshed the various contributions together, and the finished video was released on 18 March to considerable acclaim.

"Crying happy tears", Gibson said on the evening of the video's release.

"Thank you all for your contribution to this epic video and for your loyalty".

Likewise, Blitz Magazine reciprocates with a heartfelt "thank you" to Debbie Gibson for three decades of thinking outside of the box with optimum results. It was indeed a pleasure and privilege to have been a part of this "better late than never" collaboration. From our perspective, the red carpet remains rolled out for any such subsequent projects. 

And here is a direct link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsXfLSDTXsQ





EDITORIAL: LUKE PERRY'S EXAMPLE


THE KILLER ROCKS ON: Beloved rock and roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis (pictured above) is expected to make a miraculous recovery after suffering a minor stroke in February 2019. Sadly, the same cannot be said for Riverdale and Beverly Hills 90210 star, Luke Perry, who succumbed to a major stroke on 04 March. Perry's death most disconcertingly parallels that of many a pioneering giant in the world of music, and tragically hits too close to home due to the horrific passing of Blitz Magazine's own Audrey McDowell under similar circumstances in October 2014. Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell takes a closer look as some of the major losses in music in that respect, and calls for an increase in research and tangible support (Click on the above image to enlarge).

YOU'VE GOT ME CRYING AGAIN:
DEATH OF RIVERDALE'S LUKE PERRY
IS AN ALL TOO FAMILIAR SCENARIO
By Michael McDowell
On a typical day, dozens of music-related news items find their way to Blitz Magazine's headquarters.

Inevitably (and most disconcertingly), a number of those news items are obituaries, chronicling the passing of many a beloved veteran musician. 2019 to date alone has already seen the untimely homegoing of beloved Monkees bassist and keyboardsman Peter Tork, Marmalade front man Dean Ford, the Captain And Tennille's Daryl Dragon, Angels co-founder and original lead vocalist Linda Jansen, One Hundred Ways vocalist James Ingram, Broadway legend Carol Channing, Talk Talk's lead vocalist Mark Hollis, bluegrass pioneer Mac Wiseman, R&B visionary Jackie Shane and Browns co-founder Maxine Brown. 

Because of the sheer volume and magnitude of the losses, sometimes it becomes necessary to detach one's self from the impact of such news, simply because of the emotional toll that it can take.

But in some cases, doing so is simply not possible. 

The horrific passing of veteran actor Coy Luther "Luke" Perry at age 52 on the morning of 04 March after suffering a major stroke the previous week was one such case. Since 2016, Perry has starred as construction boss Fred Andrews in the CW Network's acclaimed drama, Riverdale. Currently in its third season, Riverdale basically reimagines in dramatic fashion the lives of the primary characters of the long running Archie Comics series: Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper, Forsythe "Jughead" Jones, Veronica Lodge, Cheryl Blossom, Marmaduke "Moose" Mason and Reggie Mantle. 

Ironically, Perry was not the only prominent entertainment figure to have suffered a stroke in recent days. On the evening of Thursday 28 February, beloved rock and roll giant Jerry Lee Lewis also endured what was termed a "minor stroke" at age 83 in Memphis, Tennessee. Miraculously and thankfully, Lewis is expected to make a full recovery and resume his rigorous recording and live performance schedule later this year. 

Given Lewis' trademark intense on stage persona, there has been a degree of speculation as to whether that attribute contributed in any way to his current health challenges. But some maintain that is not the case.

"Living legend, icon and sweetheart", veteran comedienne and former Laugh In great, Ruth Buzzi said in an online tribute to Lewis.

"We enjoyed working together onstage. Sending prayers to Memphis. We need ya and love ya, Killer!"

While current medical industry wisdom infers that that maintaining a certain decorum and life style can contribute to reducing an individual's risk of a stroke, the evidence at hand suggests that is not always sufficient in and of itself.

Among the outpouring of testimonies and tributes from colleagues and friends in light of Perry's passing, a number of them maintained that he was invariably selfless, genial and affable in his off stage demeanor. And while in his signature role of Dylan McKay in the Fox Network's long running, iconic Beverly Hills 90210 series, Perry rarely veered from the sullen and moody persona that was his character's trademark, such attributes rarely followed him off camera. 

In turn, friends and acquaintances who interacted with Perry during the course of the past two weeks also maintained that there was nothing in his demeanor to suggest any sort of imminent heath concern. In other words, his sudden illness pretty much came as a complete shock to all.

And that is exactly where his passing has hit far too close to home.

It was of course in October 2014 that my own world was shaken to the core by the nightmare of the passing of my beloved Princess and wife of nineteen years, Audrey from a major stroke and brain hemorrhage. And while Audrey had exhibited occasional symptoms of fatigue during her final weeks, there was nothing to suggest that such horrible circumstances were imminent.

Audrey had always maintained a deep appreciation for Jerry Lee Lewis' work, and had several of his recordings in her archives. However, her admiration for Luke Perry's work ran much deeper, and on a more personal level.

When Audrey relocated from Metro Manila to Van Nuys, California in August 1991 in the wake of her own father, Alfred's own sudden passing from a major stroke and brain hemorrhage, she immediately turned tragedy into triumph by embracing her new found home and immersing herself not only in her relationship with Jesus Christ as a believer, but in the prolific culture of a nation that she had previously admired from afar. 

Not surprisingly, one of the first television programs with which Audrey was enamored was Beverly Hills 90210, which at that time was entering its second season on Fox. As she diligently researched and caught up on American culture, she found herself invariably drawn to programs that depicted an idyllic life style, with an emphasis on characters that were in their high school years. 

For Audrey, that included everything from such classic fare as Bachelor Father, Leave It To Beaver and My Three Sons to more recent offerings, including Saved By The Bell, California Dreams and the aforementioned Beverly Hills 90210. Audrey had attended a parochial high school in her native San Fernando, Pampanga, and found such American television offerings far more in line with the sort of academic experience she had envisioned for herself. 

Meanwhile, although we were still months away from our initial meeting in 1993, I in turn was an ardent fan at that time of both Beverly Hills 90210 and its acclaimed spin off series, Melrose Place. From my perspective, both series personified the Southern California dream of the early 1990s about as well as could be expected. All of which made our recreational television viewing all the more enjoyable when Audrey and I eventually became a couple. 

As such, when the news of Perry's passing arrived this morning, the inevitable sadness and magnitude of the loss were exacerbated exponentially by the circumstances in which he met his untimely end. 

In recent years, there have been considerable efforts on the part of many to combat some of the most prominent diseases currently plaguing our society. Diligent research (coupled with no small amount of prayer) has resulted in breakthrough on a number of fronts.

However, the disconcerting truth is that in terms of a stroke or brain aneurysm, even the best of preventive medicine is no guarantee. As noted, there was little in Perry's circumstances even days ago to suggest that a catastrophic illness was imminent. Likewise, Audrey in her final years was a role model for healthy living, augmenting her unwavering Christ-centered life with a low sodium and low sugar diet, regular exercise and a personality that reflected the love model of I Corinthians 13 better than almost anyone who had ever walked the face of planet Earth. 

Sadly, Audrey also had role models in the world of music who met an untimely end under similarly tragic circumstances. One was the beloved bandleader, vocalist and Woodland, California native Edward Evan Duncan "Eddy" Howard. In his long and prolific association with the Majestic and Mercury labels, Howard and his genial and engaging tenor and sublime so-called "sweet band" produced a most impressive string of enduring classics, including To Each His Own, You've Got Me Crying Again, My Adobe Hacienda, Careless (covered by Bobby Vinton for Epic in 1965), Ragtime Cowboy Joe (reinterpreted by David Seville and the Chipmunks for Liberty) and the utterly stupendous 1947 ballad, I Wonder, I Wonder, I Wonder.

On the twenty-third of May 1963, Howard announced to his wife that he and his orchestra were about to begin a much welcomed six week engagement in the area, after a protracted layoff. By all accounts, Howard was ecstatic about the prospect of returning to work as he retired for the evening. Sadly, that triumph was never realized, as Howard succumbed to a cerebral hemorrhage in his sleep that night. 

Leesburg, Georgia native Roy Hamilton concurrently established himself as one of the absolute masters of both the power ballad and rock and roll in short order, via a series of landmark recordings for Epic, MGM, RCA Victor and Capitol, including Don't Let Go, You Can Have Her and The Panic Is On. His considerable momentum continued in the early months of 1969, via a summit meeting with Elvis Presley at the latter's sessions for his From Elvis In Memphis album. A proposed studio collaboration between the two giants never came to pass, as Hamilton likewise fell to a stroke on 20 July 1969 in New Rochelle, New York.

Some years later, the charismatic vocalist, composer and Brewster, New York native Laura Ann Branigan rose to prominence as part of the vaunted Atlantic Records roster. During her tenure with the label, Branigan recorded a number of first rate singles, including Solitaire, Gloria, Self Control and the somewhat ironic and unnerving How Am I Supposed To Live Without You.

Branigan took a sabbatical from the music industry in the 1990s to serve as caregiver for her husband, Larry Ross Kruteck, who succumbed to colon cancer in 1996. And while she finally resumed her own career in earnest in the early twenty-first century, that success proved to be short lived. For on the evening of 26 August 2004, Branigan likewise fell victim to a sudden ventricular brain aneurysm at her East Quogue, New York home. Her only warning signs were occasional headaches in the days immediately prior to her passing.

At 83, Jerry Lee Lewis is the oldest of the various stroke victims depicted here. Blessed with an extraordinary iron constitution and a strong faith in Jesus Christ, hopefully the so-called Killer will indeed rock on for another season.

Sadly, those who did not make it did not enjoy Lewis' longevity. The oldest of them, Audrey's father Alfred was 61 at the time of his passing in 1991. Luke Perry was 52, as was Laura Branigan. Eddy Howard was 48 when he passed on in his Palm Desert, California home on that Spring day in 1963, while most tragically, Roy Hamilton was only 40. And my beloved Princess Audrey was only 54 on that fateful day in October 2014.

Day after day, social media is filled with posts reflecting praise reports from those who have beaten serious illnesses and have gone on to enjoy a complete recovery. In turn, the mainstream media reports on almost a daily basis various breakthroughs in the medical industry (often originating in either Israel or the UK) which give hope where hope was previously either remote or nonexistent. 

While of course I rejoice with those who are blessed as such, I cannot help but grieve with those who are mourning the loss of Luke Perry under such horrific and unexpected circumstances. If nothing else, Perry's death is a poignant reminder on this end of what I learned the hard way nearly four and a half years ago. 

And that is to cherish every moment that you have with your loved ones. Spend as much time together as possible. Pray with them and for them. And do your best to set a God-centered example for them, while being as diligent as possible in matters of health and fitness. You won't regret it.

And if you feel so led, please do what you can to assist in and/or contribute to research that would effectively combat the onset of strokes, brain aneurysms and hemorrhages in our society. While I don't doubt that you would have had the unwavering gratitude of Luke Perry, Eddy Howard, Roy Hamilton, Laura Branigan, Audrey and her father Alfred for doing so, rest assured that you will definitely also have mine.