People who are "gutted" when an elderly celebrity dies

I’ve been stunned by some celebrity deaths if only because they seemed too young to pass away. Joe Strummer was pretty sudden. I agree with Pete Townshend’s statement above about the era of 60s rock stars; I totally expect Mick Jagger or Ray Davies to pass on within the next few years and the rock fan in me will mourn our loss of a couple of giants. But Bowie was the only one that really hit me like a gut-punch, partly because he was only in his mid-sixties and largely lived a clean and sedate lifestyle (though he did still smoke, I think), but also because it kind of felt like he’d never do something as mundanely human as die.

Fair. There are really two issues here, I suppose: 1) whether it’s “irritating” for someone to be personally emotionally upset when an elderly celebrity dies, and 2) whether it’s “irritating” for someone to make a big drama-llama deal out of how emotionally upset they are when an elderly celebrity dies. I’d vote Yes for the latter question but not the former.

69 isn’t ripe old age - it’s barely any kind of old age. YMMV.

Ok, a ripe old age for someone who could have easily exited the world in 1974 as part of the 27 club.

The only celebrity I’ve felt like mourning was probably Terry Pratchett. His books had been such a big part of my life that I actually wept a bit when I heard he’d passed.

He was a junkie and addict in his 20s. He might have been clean recently, but he wasn’t always. Lynott went at 36 through liver problems caused by heroin.

Agree 100%.

Bowie had six heart attacks and died of liver cancer. Don’t know how much his personal habits played into the liver cancer.

He may have kept working up until the end, but it doesn’t seem like he was really the picture of health for quite some time.

I think these different reactions are based on not really knowing the celebs as people. People think of Bowie as still being his 1970s or 1980s self, and are consequently shocked, but if they actually knew them in real life they’d be more familiar with their aging and actual health and not shocked.

My own father died at age 71. He wasn’t a hard liver, but had a heart condition.

I had three different uncles die in the 83-85 age span. They were all born close together, so they died close together. I’m a football fan, a Packers fan, and a year or two ago about six members of the Lombardi Packers died in a short span. Because they were all in that mid 80s age range that seems to take out a lot of men.

Elmore Leonard died 10 years ago. I remember being incredibly sad with the realization that he wouldn’t be writing any more books.

Yeah sorry, I meant recently. I know in the 70s he weighed about 98 pounds and lived on a diet of peppers, powdered milk and cocaine. But after his sojourn in Berlin he was largely clean, and his marriage in 1992 turned him into a wholesome family man with nary a hint of rockstar decadence going forward. When I think of late-period Bowie I think of the happy father hanging out in New York with his daughter and waxing joyously over every new band he came across. But everything catches up with you in the end.

The one and only celebrity that gut-punched me was the assassination of John Lennon, but that was because it was so awful, violent, and pointless, and his music meant something to me once long ago. He was unusually vulnerable and self-revealed, as celebrities go, which made it all the more poignant.

People in general have very strong inclination to think that artists are both exalted and inhumanly special and at the same time intimate, like family, they are there in your living room with you. I remember overhearing a woman say to her friend, “I’m so glad John got back together with Yoko; he really needed her”, exactly as though he was a mutual friend.

I don’t, though. Probably because of my innate antipathy for doing anything everyone else is. Like I couldn’t give two fucks about the death of that silly bimbo the princess of wales.

I’ve never felt “gutted” (to use the OP’s term) by a celebrity death, though there’ve been a handful that did make me feel sad and melancholy for a time, largely because their work had been something which I had enjoyed and appreciated.

Two which come to mind for me are Freddie Mercury and Carrie Fisher. Freddie died young, though anyone who was a fan at the time very likely recognized that he had been in poor health for several years (even if he publicly denied having AIDS until the day prior to his death). Fisher was only 60 when she died suddenly, though she had lifelong issues with mental health and drug use, so it wasn’t necessarily a shock.

I’ll probably feel similarly sad and melancholy when Jeff Lynne of ELO passes, again because I’ve enjoyed his music for much of my life. But, there, too, he’s 75 years old, so it’s not going to come as a complete surprise. And, he’s not really ever been the sort of “celebrity” for whom the details of his life wind up in the magazines – he’s always been a very private person, and it’s not like I’m living my life vicariously through him.

All of that said, there is a singer/songwriter, Toby Lightman, who is what I’d consider a minor celebrity – she had a couple of top 40 hits, twenty years ago, and while she still records, she’s not charting music anymore. But, her, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a few times, I’ve corresponded with her privately, and I (along with several other of her fans) had a small role in one of her music videos a few years ago. So, yes, I’m a fan of hers, but I also know her, at least a little bit (and she knows me by name), and if she were to suddenly pass, it’d hit me harder than it would if she were just another musician that I liked.

I had a similar experience with Lennon, as he was having an artistic resurgence at the time. It was so abrupt and naturally unexpected.

At the time my best friend was a casual musician and rabid fan of John Lennon. When the news hit, I sought him out expecting him to be extremely upset. Oddly to me, his reaction was very neutral, more like, “Hm, oh well.” I was very puzzled by this. Later on I learned that when my friend was in junior high school, his father was a police officer who had died in the line of duty. It seemed to me that my friend had repressed his ability to react to the death of people who were important to him. Grist for therapy.

Yes, this, exactly. I never feel all that much emotion about the death of any random celebrity, especially if she’s older or in poor health. So I was surprised when the death of Terry Pratchett sent me into a days-long funk. I’d known his health was declining, that his dementia was progressing, and indeed that he was planning an assisted suicide when he decided he couldn’t go any further. I’d also noticed that his final few books had shown signs of his decline, and weren’t up to his usual standards. But when he unexpectedly died in 2015, I was, if not “gutted”, definitely shocked and saddened. His clear-eyed humanism and sympathetic understanding of human nature had shaped much of the way I thought about and tried to act in the world, so, even though I never met the man, I felt like I had lost a mentor and a guide.

Because while he didn’t know me, I knew him. Some of him, anyway, and probably the best bits - his wit, his curiosity, his acceptance of human foibles, his fondness for a silly joke, his strong sense of morality; all of that came through in his writing. That was sufficient to create a bond strong enough to hurt when it was severed. The fact that it was completely one-sided does not diminish its importance to me, nor invalidate the sorrow I felt when it ended.

I’m not gutted, but damn, these deaths make me feel old! So-and-so is 70!? My God…wait, I’m 61. That makes sense. Still…

I remember being very sad when Isaac Asimov died, at age 72. He had been an important part of my childhood.

That’s it for me. Celebrity schmelebrity. But when all the name brands of my youth are in their dotage, my own time can’t be far behind. That I care about.

Some people highly personalize art. Others don’t.

My wife is very interested in the lives of the actors who play characters on TV. And interested in the backstories of the characters’ lives as they’re introduced over the course of the season. To me that’s all 100% irrelevant, and 99% invisible. To the degree I care at all, It’s about the plot. To me it’s job description 1 interacting with job description 2 doing activity 3 in pursuit of goal 4. The characters and the actors playing them are about as interesting as the brand of car they drive in the episode or which street name they’re driving on. In other words, that crap doesn’t matter at all.

It makes for a very … disjointed … conversation about the show we just watched together.

I think what made Sir Pterry’s passing so sad for me was the progressive destruction of his mind - for someone who was so oriented on words and wordplay, the seeping away of his mind while he watched was horrifying.

I actually have friends that are authors, some musicians and some actors [and a whole passel of just us common folks] and I will not be happy at anybody’s death, [well there are some people that I wouldn’t mind seeing an obit for like Putin] but I can’t say that there are very many other than personal friends I would be devastated by the death of.

You said what I wanted to say better than I could. Carrie Fisher’s death really hit me hard but not like losing a family member or beloved pet or close friend. It was more of a, “OMG the Princess died!” and remembering watching her in Star Wars as a 6 year old.