Which celebrity death really affected you when you first heard about it?

I was watching Monday Night Football the night John Lennon was killed, and I remember hearing Howard Cosell announce it like it was yesterday. I stumbled across a YouTube video of this and it brought it all back again.

So, Lennon is the easy answer for me.

I would also add George Carlin. I’ve been a long-time fan of his, and his death caught me completely off guard.

A couple others come to mind, but I’ll save them for now, awaiting Doper input.

Michael Jackson. I’ll wait until I see some other stories before I tell you what my exact reaction was, but let’s say for now that I was very, very upset.

Jimi Hendrix. I still feel a sense of loss when I think about him. At the time, I was 16 and a guitar player, and I felt like we had all been robbed of his potential creative output.

Same here. True disbelief, and I had even participated in a SDMB thread about his failing health months before. Had to sneak out the back door in tears that day… and I saw a number of people clearly affected by the news on the street.

I remember Lennon’s murder but I didn’t really know who he was.

Michael Hutchence was another big one for me. I was a massive INXS fan and had no idea the guy was so troubled.

Princess Di was another. I watched the news unfold and when they announced that she was dead, it didn’t seem real or possible.

Versace as well. Not a fashionista, but he seemed such an unlikely target. Nutjobs can get anyone, I suppose. For that matter, I’d also put Phil Hartman there too. That’s a guy that everyone seemed to love and his violent demise didn’t seem likely

I remember hearing about Buddy Holly when I was eating breakfast, and my mother was so shocked. Seeing her so surprised over something she heard on the radio made a big impact on me ( I was young). It was really the Big Bopper than really upset her; she loved Chantilly Lace. Marilyn Monroe’s death affected me as a young teenager, and John Lennon’s death as a young adult.

Harry Chapin. That was unexpected, and I really liked the guy’s stage persona. He seemed to be one of the nicest, most real performers I had ever seen, matched for audience connection only by George Burns.

Frank Zappa. I’d known he’d been sick for a while, but it still hit me when he finally succumbed.

Ronnie Drew. He was elderly and in ill health but it seemed like the passing of an era. The night he died we were in the pub and I put on “The Parting Glass” as sung by him on the stereo there, the whole pub raised a glass.

Humphrey Lyttelton and Clement Freud.

Joe Strummer, because it was totally unexpected, and he was one of the few artists I adored for both his art and his personality. It was a little as if a friend had died.

Dr. Seuss, a little. I suspect that in many ways I was really mourning the loss of my youth.

Mostly though, I don’t feel too differently when a celebrity dies than I do when any other stranger dies.

Jim Henson, it was so unexpected.

Fred Rogers, which wasn’t, but it was sort of like losing someone I really KNEW from my childhood - like a great uncle who always had candy in his pockets.

I wasn’t surprised when they died since their lifestyles were not conducive to long lives, but I really felt the loss when I learned of the deaths of:

Paul Desmond (Brubeck’s alto sax man)
Chet Baker (trumpet)
Robert Mitchum (somehow I thought he would live forever)
Kenny Rankin (singer – he was a stickler for people not smoking at his gigs)
Frank Sinatra (although he had been ailing for some time, he left a big hole)
Ray Charles (like Frank)
Dizzy Gillespie & Miles Davis (not as much so as with Chet, but still)

There are others I’m just not able to think of offhand.

I’ll ditto Jim Henson and add Isaac Asimov. It’s sad to think that both deaths were of the preventable-if-only-it-had-been-known variety. I followed the work of both avidly.

Phil Hartman - I couldn’t believe it, as it seemed so senseless.

Jim Henson - I was 13, and I think my childhood really ended that day.

Heath Ledger - despite not being a huge fan, I was really affected by his death. Put off seeing his movies for a year or two afterwards.

These kind of threads are a common recurrence here. Sometimes I post: sometimes not. I’m not one to be affected by the death of a stranger, but John Lennon’s murder gave me a real sinking feeling in my gut. I was, and still am, a huge Beatles fan. I had a lot of John’s solo stuff and had just bought his new “Double Fantasy” album. Actually, come to think of it, my sister gave it to me for my birthday!

Anyway, I didn’t hear the news till the following morning when I was getting ready for school. Fuck. It still bums me out.

I’ve mentioned this on the boards before.

John Peel.

I actually cried when I heard. It was so unexpected; he was such a huge part of my childhood and adolescence; he felt like a friend on the radio.

I also know it profoundly affected many other Brits too.

Princess Diana. I’m not much of a follower of celebrities but her death was just so shocking and sad.

Same here. I was driving home from school that day when I heard the news over the radio.
Another one that hit me like a sack of bricks was Chris Farley’s death. I was a pretty big fan of his work on SNL. I was getting ready for work that evening when the radio DJ came on and said, “Well, the rumors are true, Chris Farley was found dead in his apartment today.” Made all the more devastating when I realized that he was about the same age as Belushi when he died, and was pretty much done in by the same thing.