The day the music died

Still looking for that special Christmas gift? Two Berliners have compiled a loving – and often humorous – tribute to famous dead musicians in a novel pocket-sized calendar.

The day the music died
Mr. Cash - RIP. Photo: DPA

“The Beat Goes On” is a compendium musical of demise that comes in the form of a snappy black daily planner for 2011. Two friends, Milan Tillich and Stefan Hauser, came up with the idea after countless drinking sessions in their flat.

Looking for any excuse to get sauced, the passionate music fans began toasting recently deceased musicians while listening to their records. But far from being macabre affairs, the drinking sessions became the celebration of artists they cherished such as Joe Strummer and Johnny Cash.

“We listened to a lot of music and we drank a lot. We ended up having themed evenings after a few great musicians passed away,” Tillich told The Local this week. “It became a tradition we kept up even after we no longer lived together.”

He eventually put together the first prototype of the dead musician calendar as a gag birthday gift for his friend Hauser.

“It had about fifty names in it, but we soon realized we should do it properly as a book,” he said.

Having published “The Beat Goes On” calendar in German since 2008, the duo have now come up with an English version for 2011. It offers the same touches as the original, such as the “Death of the Week” detailing particularly noteworthy ends and a statistics section breaking down the leading causes of death.

“Mostly it’s just natural causes, but often you can’t help but laugh – some musicians with particularly odd drug deaths or trying to take an electric guitar in the bathtub,” said Tillich, referring to Keith Relf from The Yardbirds.

But Tillich and Hauser also stressed the educational aspect of their undertaking. For example, documenting that Cass Elliot, the corpulent singer from The Mamas & The Papas, did not, in fact, choke to death on a ham sandwich. “It was a heart attack,” explained Tillich.

And Hauser pointed out how the Iron Curtain had a decisive impact on croaking German musicians during the Cold War.

“The East Germans over did it with alcohol while West Germans had more drug overdoses,” he said between gulps of a large beer.

Though their tome contains over 1,300 dead musicians, the two make no claims at offering a comprehensive collection.

“You could fill an entire book with simply jazz musicians – there’s no way to have them all,” said Hauser. “It’s subjective and it can’t get much fatter than it is now, so each year we sort out a few people.”

Fortunately they no longer have to collect dying rock stars on their own – music fans frequently send in suggestions each year and they have a team of contributors helping to keep their dead list current.

But they refuse on principle to prepare obituaries in advance for promising candidates like Keith Richards or Courtney Love.

“It’s not just about data collection, it’s a labour of love,” said Hauser. “Though initially it was about getting loaded.”

Tillich agreed “The Beat Goes On” is essentially an upbeat endeavour.

“It’s not about mourning,” he said. “There’s a bit of nostalgia and it’s about bringing these heroes back to life.”

There will be two special events for “The Beat Goes On” this month in Berlin.

St. George’s English Bookshop – Wörther Straße 27 in Prenzlauer Berg – will host a reading from the book with an acoustic set of music.

December 15 at 8:30 pm

Monarch Bar – Skalitzer Straße 134 in Kreuzberg – will host the official launch party with readings and a band.

December 19 at 9 pm

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EXPLAINED: Berlin’s latest Covid rules

In response to rapidly rising Covid-19 infection rates, the Berlin Senate has introduced stricter rules, which came into force on Saturday, November 27th. Here's what you need to know.

A sign in front of a waxing studio in Berlin indicates the rule of the 2G system
A sign in front of a waxing studio indicates the rule of the 2G system with access only for fully vaccinated people and those who can show proof of recovery from Covid-19 as restrictions tighten in Berlin. STEFANIE LOOS / AFP

The Senate agreed on the tougher restrictions on Tuesday, November 23rd with the goal of reducing contacts and mobility, according to State Secretary of Health Martin Matz (SPD).

He explained after the meeting that these measures should slow the increase in Covid-19 infection rates, which was important as “the situation had, unfortunately, deteriorated over the past weeks”, according to media reports.

READ ALSO: Tougher Covid measures needed to stop 100,000 more deaths, warns top German virologist

Essentially, the new rules exclude from much of public life anyone who cannot show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. You’ll find more details of how different sectors are affected below.

If you haven’t been vaccinated or recovered (2G – geimpft (vaccinated) or genesen (recovered)) from Covid-19, then you can only go into shops for essential supplies, i.e. food shopping in supermarkets or to drugstores and pharmacies.

Many – but not all – of the rules for shopping are the same as those passed in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg in order to avoid promoting ‘shopping tourism’ with different restrictions in different states.

2G applies here, too, as well as the requirement to wear a mask with most places now no longer accepting a negative test for entry. Only minors are exempt from this requirement.

Sport, culture, clubs
Indoor sports halls will off-limits to anyone who hasn’t  been vaccinated or can’t show proof of recovery from Covid-19. 2G is also in force for cultural events, such as plays and concerts, where there’s also a requirement to wear a mask. 

In places where mask-wearing isn’t possible, such as dance clubs, then a negative test and social distancing are required (capacity is capped at 50 percent of the maximum).

Restaurants, bars, pubs (indoors)
You have to wear a mask in all of these places when you come in, leave or move around. You can only take your mask off while you’re sat down. 2G rules also apply here.

Hotels and other types of accommodation 
Restrictions are tougher here, too, with 2G now in force. This means that unvaccinated people can no longer get a room, even if they have a negative test.

For close-contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, it’s up to the service providers themselves to decide whether they require customers to wear masks or a negative test.

Football matches and other large-scale events
Rules have changed here, too. From December 1st, capacity will be limited to 5,000 people plus 50 percent of the total potential stadium or arena capacity. And only those who’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 will be allowed in. Masks are also compulsory.

For the Olympic Stadium, this means capacity will be capped at 42,000 spectators and 16,000 for the Alte Försterei stadium. 

3G rules – ie vaccinated, recovered or a negative test – still apply on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses in Berlin. It was not possible to tighten restrictions, Matz said, as the regulations were issued at national level.

According to the German Act on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, people have to wear a surgical mask or an FFP2 mask  on public transport.

Christmas markets
The Senate currently has no plans to cancel the capital’s Christmas markets, some of which have been open since Monday. 

According to Matz, 2G rules apply and wearing a mask is compulsory.

Schools and day-care
Pupils will still have to take Covid tests three times a week and, in classes where there are at least two children who test positive in the rapid antigen tests, then tests should be carried out daily for a week.  

Unlike in Brandenburg, there are currently no plans to move away from face-to-face teaching. The child-friendly ‘lollipop’ Covid tests will be made compulsory in day-care centres and parents will be required to confirm that the tests have been carried out. Day-care staff have to document the results.

What about vaccination centres?
Berlin wants to expand these and set up new ones, according to Matz. A new vaccination centre should open in the Ring centre at the end of the week and 50 soldiers from the German army have been helping at the vaccination centre at the Exhibition Centre each day since last week.

The capacity in the new vaccination centre in the Lindencenter in Lichtenberg is expected to be doubled. There are also additional vaccination appointments so that people can get their jabs more quickly. Currently, all appointments are fully booked well into the new year.