First Koko Taylor, Then David Carradine

A cut, “Wang Dang Doodle,” off a Pointer Sisters’ album led me to her.

She hoped that she would die on stage singing the blues, but actually Cora Walton, also known as Koko Taylor, died unexpectedly on her hospital bed from complications of abdominal surgery less than a month after her performance at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis. Variously called “the queen of Chicago blues,” or “the queen of the blues,” Koko Taylor was 80.

Taylor came from nothing and became somebody. Her biography is found at Alligator Records, her label since 1974, and obituaries can be found at the Chicago Tribune, the paper of her adopted hometown, at Jazz News, and internationally at the Telegraph.co.uk. This was a great woman with incredible reserves of will and courage, a woman who was felled in 2003 with an identical life-threatening episode yet recovered to tour once more and to record what became her final album. “Wang Dang Doodle” was her signature song but “Voodoo Woman,” “I’m a Woman,” and “Hey, Bartender” were also hits. She influenced women singers like Bonnie Raitt, Janis Joplin, and Shemekia Copeland.

Then came news that actor David Carradine, famous for playing biracial Kwai Chang Caine in the TV series Kung Fu , and more recently, for playing Bill in the Kill Bill series, had also died while shooting a film in Thailand. Of course, I thought, heart attack, stroke, whatever. After all, he was 72 years old. Then came a report that he had committed suicide, and frankly, I couldn’t believe that one unless he had received word that he was slowly dying from an incurable disease. What subsequent details that are coming out looks more and more like a death from sexual misadventure. Carradine was reportedly found hanging with a yellow rope around his neck and a black rope around his genitals.

Dr. Nanthana Sirisap, director of Chulalongkorn Hospital’s Autopsy Center, told reporters that the autopsy was conducted because of the “unusual circumstances surrounding Carradine’s death,” but did not elaborate.

Police Lt. Teerapop Luanseng had said Thursday that Carradine’s body was found “naked, hanging in a closet,” and that police at the time suspected suicide.

Of course, TMZ.com was one of the first stalkarazzi blogs to report this ahead of the mainstream media. As of now, they’re saying that hotel officials have been slow to give the Bangkok cops key evidence, like the security videos. Some are now saying that Carradine was depressed (friends dispute this), that he was desperate for money (he was still working, and had other projects after the one he was working on), and that the death was occasioned by foul play (his manager). An autopsy was performed but the results, of course, won’t be released for several weeks.

If it was a death that was caused by auto-erotic asphyxiation, that is, cutting off one’s air supply in order to heighten sexual pleasure, one could say that it’s a fitting finale to the life of a man whose escapades sometimes rivaled those of his father, character actor John “The Voice” Carradine. The elder Carradine’s purported last words were that it was great to die in Milan. Bangkok being famous as a sex capital, it may be that David Carradine’s last utterance was more a whimper than a whisper.

~ by blksista on June 5, 2009.

One Response to “First Koko Taylor, Then David Carradine”

  1. In honor of Carradine’s passing, i’m currently looking for decent deal on his Kung Fu seasons on DVD if i can find them…

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