Bring Out Your Dead, 11/13/22

Gallagher went to the Big Casino in the Sky this week. That’s Leo Gallagher, originator of the watermelon-smashing schtick, not his brother Ron, who sometimes peddled a version thereof.

I had always thought that the multiple Gallaghers were something the two brothers cooked up together, so Gallagher could be two places, earning two appearance fees, at the same time. (Technically you could call either one “Gallagher” and be telling the truth.) But the NYT says otherwise:

In the early 1990s, when his younger brother Ron lost his job as a bulldozer salesman, Mr. Gallagher helped him out by allowing Ron, who bore some resemblance to him, to perform a facsimile of his act. Ron Gallagher added touches like smashing a lobster with a hammer and was soon performing in small venues.

After a few years, Ron Gallagher began billing himself as Gallagher II (sometimes Gallagher Too or Gallagher Two). Leo Gallagher had not agreed to this billing and was concerned that it was misleading, so in 1999 he sued to stop his brother from performing under that name. The suit, filed in federal court in Michigan, claimed that Ron had “violated Gallagher’s right of publicity and trademark rights.”

An injunction was granted prohibiting Ron Gallagher from performing any act that impersonated his brother. The judge ordered him not to perform with “a sledgehammer or other similar device to pulverize watermelons, fruits, food or other items of any kind.”

I don’t know why this kind of showbiz minutiae fascinates me so much, but it does. As does this further detail from the obit:


Bring Out Your Dead, 11/5/22

When Jerry Lee Lewis finally died last week, after a false alarm that prompted a rare retraction from TMZ, it marked the end of an era. According to my calculations he was the last survivor of that first generation of rock stars. As a group they lived surprisingly long — Chuck Berry and Fats Domino lasted until 2017, Little Richard made it all the way to 2020 — but if any are left now, I can’t think of who.

The Killer was the object of much censure, not undeserved, for many misdeeds including marrying his 13-year-old cousin. But partly because of that he became, perhaps more than anyone else, the model of what we think of as a rock star: a true wildman whose high-octane stage energy mirrored a tumultuous personal life. I mean, look at this guy; he was a force of fucking nature.


Another notable recent passing in the music world was that of Toshi Ichiyanagi, who I must admit I had never heard of before reading his obituary. Here are the first few paragraphs:

Toshi Ichiyanagi, an avant-garde pianist and composer whose works mixed international influences, made unusual use of musicians and instruments, and combined music with other media, died on Oct. 7 in Tokyo. He was 89.