In Remembrance: Vivid Personalities of a Decade

Oscar Peterson
If their deaths came in the first decade of the 21st century, their lives helped define the 20th. They led nations, produced masterpieces, pushed the boundaries of science and entertained. And they did so in that seemingly distant time when the years began with 19.

In life we called them famous, renowned, celebrated; their deaths we call notable, because their names register. They people our collective memory. Some—those who destroy rather than build—we would like to forget. But most make us pause and think of the past and take account of what the world has lost.

That is to say nothing of the voices and players who gave us music, both of their time and timeless. The world was consigned to getting along, somehow, without James Brown, Johnny Cash, Beverly Sills, Bo Diddley, Peggy Lee, Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Rosemary Clooney, Lionel Hampton, Max Roach, Luciano Pavarotti, Les Paul, Eartha Kitt, Tito Puente, Oscar Peterson, Artie Shaw, Isaac Stern, Waylon Jennings, Celia Cruz, Mary Travers, Perry Como, Mstislav Rostropovich and Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee Ramone.

And then there were two—Beatles, that is—with the too-soon death of George Harrison.

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