When Stars Die: A musical parody tribute to Prince (and 2016’s other dead stars)

When Stars Die

Will the celebrity deaths never end?

I know, I know. People die all the time. And the reality is many of my childhood heroes are now at or approaching the age when the Grim Reaper inevitably draws closer, so it is only natural that more and more will die in the coming years.

Nonetheless 2016 has seemed particularly bad so far. While Ronnie Corbett was 85 when he died a few weeks ago, David Bowie and Alan Rickman were both 69. Comedienne Victoria Wood was 62 when she succumbed after a short battle with cancer last Wednesday. And when Prince Rogers Nelson – the musician known to millions worldwide simply as Prince – was found dead in his Paisley Park home the following day, the age on his death certificate was 57. That’s too young for anyone to die, let alone a songwriter and musician so prodigious that he played 27 different instruments on the recording of his first studio album.

Five US number one singles and one UK chart-topper barely scratch the surface of the impact Prince had on the music industry. His discography includes 1999, Little Red Corvette, When Doves Cry, Purple Rain, Raspberry Beret, Kiss, Alphabet Street and Sign O’ The Times, as well as hits made famous by other artists such as I Feel For You (Chaka Khan), Manic Monday (The Bangles) and Nothing Compares 2 U (Sinead O’Connor). Quite simply, he put the funk back into 80s pop at a time when American music was in danger of lapsing back into middle-of-the-road soft rock and country.

There was no one quite like him at the time. In truth, there has never been anyone quite like him since.

So when it came to penning a parody tribute for Prince and all the other stars who have left us so far in 2016, the question was never whether I should use one of his own songs but which one. Obituary Street (a parody of Alphabet Street) was written but discarded. I also considered doing a version of Raspberry Beret, a perfect but often overlooked piece of summery pop that has always been one of my favourite tracks.

But ultimately I kept coming back to When Doves Cry, a song packed with emotional punch that Rolling Stone magazine ranked number 52 in their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (only one track from the 1980s ranked higher).

So here, in my usual off-key voice, is a tribute to Prince and the many other stars who have faded from the firmament so far in 2016.

When Stars Die (to the tune of When Doves Cry)

First it was David Bowie
Major Tom had slipped out of reach
Severus Snape and Hans Gruber
Gone, Alan Rickman
January, such a bitch

Twenty-sixteen kept going
Still more celebrities died
Ronnie Corbett, Victoria Wood
And then death claimed Prince
Who wore purple with such pride

Some depart sooner than others
Dead before he got old
A man whose songs lit up the 80s
Little Red Corvette and Alphabet Street
The Artist Formerly Known As
Wrote a song about AIDS
A generation’s now grieving
This is what it feels like
When stars die

It’s an unwelcome reminder
Life must inevitably end
Human mortality’s a given
Even the rich and
Famous all must die

Some depart sooner than others
Dead before he got old
A man whose songs lit up the 80s
Little Red Corvette and Alphabet Street
The Artist Formerly Known As
Wrote a song about AIDS
A generation’s now grieving
This is what it feels like
When stars die

Some depart sooner than others
Dead before he got old
A man whose songs lit up the 80s
Little Red Corvette and Alphabet Street
The Artist Formerly Known As
Wrote a song about AIDS
A generation’s now grieving
This is what it feels like
When stars die

When stars die
When stars die

And here is the original song in all its glory:

Parenting parodies

Thatcham Rhapsody (to the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody)

Toilet Trained (to the tune of Wonderwall)

Fairytale of Thatcham (to the tune of Fairytale of New York)

Kids in Cars (to the tune of Life on Mars)

Won’t You (Buy Something For Me) (to the tune of Don’t You (Forget About Me))

Pretty in Pink (to the tune of Pretty in Pink)

Vote For Me (to the tune of Let It Be)

iPhone (to the tune of Payphone)

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