In these days we wake up wondering: “Who next?”.
And it seems like almost every morning there comes the answer - yet more sad news of another legend, who filled our lives with beauty and illumination, who's passed, and too often, passed earlier than we'd have expected.
Today’s sickening blow is Alan Rankine, who has died aged 64. Slightly older than Terry Hall. Both were just four-five years older than me (how weird to think of them creating these amazing records in their early twenties, recalling how barely-formed I was at that age).
Alan Rankine - gentle man and genius musician. I had a lovely time interviewing him the couple of times we spoke. He was the music director and effectively more than half the backing band for one of the towering singers of our time, Billy Mackenzie, someone else who left way too early. Not that he "backed" Billy: it was a partnership, a made-in-heaven musical marriage, a shared vision.
In particular, Alan was an inventive and thrilling guitarist - an exemplary exponent of that clean, cold Scottish sound that abounded at the turn of the Eighties - Skids, Scars, Josef K, Altered Images, Simple Minds et al.
The Associates! One of the sounds of our generation.
Sights too - remember, ooh gosh, that swoony string of Associates appearances on Top of the Pops in 1982. The mischief, the panache!
Remember, too, the record covers - what a handsome pair Alan and Billy made together.
RIP and condolences to family, friends, fans. To you and to me.
Here's some of the many opportunities I seized to write retrospectively about The Associates. There is also the chapter and a half in Rip It Up and Start Again, a tidied transcript of the first of those two conversations with Alan that appeared in Totally Wired, and the sleeve note for last summer's's deluxified reissue of Sulk, for which I spoke with Alan a second and, as it now turns out, final time.