Been and gone: Beatles animator and a rock 'n' roll cymbal king
- 3 April 2013
- From the section Magazine
Our regular column covering the deaths of significant - but lesser-reported - people in the past month.
Sabian cymbals are found in the armoury of many of the world's best known drummers but it was a family feud that saw Robert Zildjian start the company that makes them. His father brought his cymbal-making business from Turkey to the US in the 1920s and Robert began working for the company at the age of 15. However, when his father broke with tradition by giving the secrets of his manufacturing process to both his sons, rather than just the eldest, the result was a legal battle and Robert quit to set up his own business, taking the name from the initials of his three children. The Sabian and Zildjian companies maintained a fierce rivalry with drum aficionados claiming, often without much evidence, to be able to hear the difference between the two. Among devotees of the Sabian sound are Neil Peart of the band Rush and Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The athlete Jean Pickering had an impact on her sport that went beyond her own impressive appearances in track and field. Specialising in the long jump and the 4x100 metres relay, she won bronze at the 1952 Olympics in the former discipline and gold in both in the European Athletics Championships in 1950 and 1954. She married Ron Pickering, the athletics coach and TV commentator whom she had met while both were at school. When he died in 1991 she set up the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund to encourage and finance young athletes. Despite heart problems, she insisted on attending athletics events at the London 2012 Olympics where no less than 75% of the British track and field team had benefited in some way from the efforts of her Fund.
The stunning acid-drenched images of the film Yellow Submarine were due in large part to the skill and imagination of the animator Jack Stokes. He had already worked with Beatles material, notably on an animated cartoon series of the Fab Four for US TV which did not see the light of day in the UK. When he started work on Yellow Submarine there was barely any script and the Beatles themselves showed little interest in the project until it was nearly completed. Set in Pepperland, the film depicts the invasion of the Blue Meanies who - with the use of a dastardly weapon, the glove - attempt to remove all music and colour from the land. Stokes was responsible for animating the titles and the whole of the second half of the film. His later work included episodes of the children's series Roobarb and the beautiful 1993 animation of The Tailor of Gloucester for the BBC.
Trumpet player Derek Watkins has the distinction of having played on every single James Bond film theme. He was just 17 when he was part of the recording for the first Bond film, Dr No, in 1962 and his trumpet was a distinctive part of Shirley Bassey's performance of Goldfinger. He nearly missed out on the 1995 film Goldeneye but was brought in when it was decided to rewrite part of the score and a trumpet was called for. His last Bond performance was on Skyfall. Watkins was born into music. His father and grandfather were brass band performers and he was playing cornet at the age of eight. Seen by many as one of the best in the business, he played with great names such as Benny Goodman and Ronnie Scott. Much in demand as a session musician, he can also be heard on recordings by the Beatles and Eric Clapton.
The mountaineer George Lowe was the last survivor of the team that conquered Mount Everest almost 60 years ago. He was instrumental in cutting a way through the ice which allowed Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay to establish a camp ready for the final ascent to the summit. It could have been Lowe that stood on the top of the world with his friend Hillary but the expedition leader, John Hunt, had followed diplomatic niceties and allowed Tenzing to go instead. Famously it was Lowe who met Hillary on his descent and received the immortal line, "Well George, we knocked the bastard off". In 1955 he joined the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which was the first to reach the South Pole since Scott in 1912. Born in New Zealand he settled in England in 1962 where he became an Inspector of Schools. His book about the Everest climb is due to be published in June 2013.
It was not the distinctive white triangle between his horns that made Raton one of Spain's best known fighting bulls but the carnage he caused in the arena. In his 10-year career he killed three people in the ring and gored dozens of others. He received his name, which translates as Mouse, because of his diminutive size as a calf but he grew into a 500kg beast. His owner only allowed him to appear in a style of bullfighting called recortes in which members of the public jump into the ring and try and dodge the bull by running around a series of obstacles. Unlike traditional bullfighting, the animal is not injured and survives to perform another day. The more mayhem he caused the more people paid to see him and at his peak he was commanding 15,000 euros for each performance. He died naturally on his owner's farm after a bout of arthritis.
Also missed in March
- Much-admired character actor Richard Griffiths
- President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez
- Veteran jazz musician Kenny Ball
- BBC Sports journalist Tony Gubba
- Horror writer James Herbert
- And the man best known as Are You Being Served? character Captain Peacock, Frank Thornton