Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 01.26.16
Stanstead, Quebec


All-purpose rock star obituary

Music lovers were (A) saddened (B) shocked (C) not surprised at all today to learn that (A) rock legend (B) one-hit wonder (C) bong aficionado XYZ had died after a courageous battle against (A) cancer (B) Alzheimer's (C) a small pack of Girl Guides. He was [insert age; probably 69].

Fans learned of XYZ's death (A) through his record label (B) via Facebook (C) by deciphering clues in the musician's final game of online Scrabble.

"Today, the world has lost a great (A) artist (B) humanitarian (C) napper," said his (A) wife (B) manager (C) long-time divorce lawyer in a written statement. "XYZ's music brought (A) joy (B) hope (C) heartburn to millions of people. He will be deeply (A) missed (B) buried."

XYZ was best known for his (A) string of top 40 hits (B) underground cult classics (C) wrecked hotel rooms and had a reputation for being (A) a cantankerous perfectionist (B) a blissed-out man-child (C) a couple dollars short every time it was his turn to pick up the check.

Born (A) in London (B) in New York (C) nowhere important and the product of (A) a hard-scrabble, working class background (B) private school privilege (C) an unfortunate gene pool, XYZ began his musical career by (A) busking in the streets of Dublin (B) playing small clubs in the Midwest (C) crooning "I'm a Fart, You're a Fart" into the foolishly unprotected school microphone at Genghis Kincaid Elementary.

After being discovered (A) by a talent scout at a small rock festival (B) by legendary music producer [insert name] (C) urinating in public by the police, XYZ quickly (A) shot to fame (B) released a series of critically acclaimed but poor-selling records (C) ran out of things to say to his wife, leading him to wonder whether this painful silence would be his fate until death do they part.

XYZ's big break came when he was asked to (A) open for [legendary band] (B) fill in for [legendary musician] (C) make brunch for [15 to 20 guests].

Known for his (A) sophisticated songcraft (B) high-energy performances (C) unsettling impressions of racial stereotypes, XYZ reached [chart position] in [year] with [that song in the insurance commercial].

Fame, however, came with (A) a price (B) two-for-one coupons. XYZ began experimenting heavily with (A) drugs (B) Eastern religion (C) radioactive isotopes. Matters degenerated to the point where, in a moment caught (A) by documentary filmmakers (B) on "Saturday Night Live" (C) with a fake ID, XYZ (A) collapsed onstage (B) assaulted a fan (C) wore white after Labour Day.

As quick as XYZ's rise, so too was his (A) fall (B) heartrate (C) stay in rehab. Unable to fully recover from the incident, XYZ withdrew (A) into isolation (B) his support for Palestine (C) $10,000 from the bank in small denominations.

Although XYZ stopped recording through the [decade], his reputation continued to grow, with his songs becoming staples on (A) classic rock radio (B) college radio (C) those scenes in the movie where the director wants to evoke a feeling of a time and place but is too lazy to do it through the script. Before long, XYZ was being cited as an influence by such bands as [famous band; probably REM].

In [year], XYZ released a comeback album and went on to collaborate with an assortment of artists, including [famous musician; probably Elvis Costello]. In one of his last interviews, XYZ attributed his newfound inner peace to (A) his family (B) meditation (C) multivitamins.

At the news of XYZ's death, rock writers were (A) quick to rhapsodize about his impact (B) begrudgingly compelled to write something flattering about an artist they'd been snarky about for years (C) already half in the bag as usual.

"XYZ had this way of (A) mesmerizing (B) invigorating D) unclothing a crowd, a sort of (A) gentleness (B) rambunctiousness (C) wetness that (A) drew you in (B) made you want to dance (C) cost you 50 bucks for the cheap seats," said [random music blogger]. "He will forever be remembered as (A) a lesser god among the rock deities (B) a musician's musician (C) "Spunky."

XYZ will be (A) cremated (B) honoured at the Grammys (C) heard a lot on the radio for the next few days.