Wednesday, October 13, 2010

OCTOBER 14, 1977

It is hard to believe that Bing Crosby has been gone now for 33 years. I was only 3 when he died, so I did not recognize what the magnitude of his passing meant. Even though I was too young then to remember it, I remember the date of October 14, 1977 as if I was a witness to his passing. More younger people should learn about what Bing Crosby meant to the entertainment world, and realize that Bing was a great innovator as well. The memory of Bing Crosby was sadly diluted in the 1980s and 1990s, but hopefully a new generation will discover the talent and magic that is Bing Crosby.

The year 1977 began poorly for Bing. In March 1977, during a televised concert to celebrate his fifty years in show business, he fell backwards into an orchestra pit headfirst. He ruptured a disc in his back, and was hospitalized for a month. After recovering, he made appearances all over the world, from Norway to England to tape a Christmas special, which featured David Bowie the famous Christmas duet. After taping the special, he recorded his final album, Seasons. Bing’s next stop was the London Palladium for a two-week engagement. Then he and his band went to Brighton where they performed their final performance on October 10. The next day Bing was a guest on the Alan Dell radio show, where he sang eight songs with the Gordon Rose Orchestra. Later that day he posed for photos for the Seasons album. The next day Bing headed for Spain to play golf .

On the afternoon of October 14, 1977, Bing was playing at the La Morajela golf course near Madrid, Spain. He finished 18 holes with a score of 85, and with a partner, defeated two Spanish golf pros. After his last putt, Bing bowed to applause and said, "It was a great game." He was about 20 yards from the clubhouse, when he collapsed from a massive heart attack. His three golfing companions remarked that he did not look tired and was even singing around the course, though he seemed to be favoring his left arm near the end of the game. They thought he had slipped. They carried him to the clubhouse, where a physician attempted to revive him, to no avail. Bing Crosby was dead on arrival, at the Red Cross hospital. He was 74. A few hours after learning of her husband’s death, Kathryn issued a statement, "I can’t think of any better way for a golfer who sings for a living to finish the round." Their son Harry, 19, and the family’s former butler, Alan Fisher, flew to Spain to accompany Bing’s body back to LA. The most widely heard voice of the 20th Century and maybe all time was silenced on that fateful day on October 14, 1977...

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