Remembering the famous faces who left this world during 2011
The deaths of big names, from pop stars to politicians, affected each of us in different ways, says Donal Lynch
There's a strange, half-imagined grief that takes us over when a famous person dies. They barge their ways into our homes via a million magazine covers and we project our desires on to them. And when they're gone we can demarcate the era and have the collective catharsis of crying together -- for them and for our own private reasons. In terms of image, death is only the beginning -- the launch pad.
Whether it's records, books, or films, death is the finest piece of self-promotion in the marketing arsenal. (Only the canniest operators, like Elton John, realise that they don't have to actually do the dying themselves). Like lemmings, we rush to Amazon to push posthumous products to the top of the charts. What better way to pay your respects than enrichening the estate?
Never was this more the case than with a pair of hard-living divas whose deaths were mourned like no others in 2011 -- Amy Winehouse and Elizabeth Taylor. Like the Hollywood legend, the young Grammy-winning singer had battled with drink and drugs -- but unlike Taylor, Winehouse was to be taken from the world by her vices at a very young age; in July she was found dead in her bed by her bodyguard and the post-mortem later showed alcohol poisoning.