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A few weeks ago Percy Sledge died, an artist whose work was stolen by many and he never received the royalties. His most famous song was "When a Man Loved a Woman," what producer Jerry Wexler called "a holy love hymn." This song was the part of the soundtrack of many lives. 

His obituary:

The song:

It was on the airways when I met Norm Darwish and it was our song, and you know what that means.

Norm Darwish my husband of nearly 40 years (I know you guys don't really think we were married), died on May 9. He was cantankerous, a curmudgeon, outrageous and a fine photographer. He was a meticulous craftsman in the darkroom. He loved me. We earned our living at art fairs from 1978-2006, when he lost his will to create because of chronic depression. If you can't create you just make products. Products were not his goal.

Thanks to all of you who have said such kind words about his body of work, ethereal and luminous -- cute kids, landscapes, still lifes, creative studio work and lots of nudes -- as he loved women. At a show director's conference a few years ago I was "outed", not as an artist's partner, not as a show director, but as the art.

He'd beaten back prostate cancer for 20 years but this winter it reappeared with no good end in sight. He was able to end his days at home with his daughters and grandsons at his side. Lucky man.

His obituary:

As I write this today I'm streaming Sirius radio's B. B. King's Bluesville, as we lost B.B. yesterday. Luckily I got to see him at the Wiltern in LA a few years ago. B. B. toured his entire life, he was in the bus. That evening he could hardly walk, but he sat on that stage and leaned out toward us and took us all in. He loved his audience and we loved him back.

We loved Percy, we loved B.B and Norm, a singer in his youth, is hopefully joining them today. 

B.B.'s "Why I Sing the Blues":

To celebrate Norm's life we're hosting an open house at our home on Sunday, July 19, and you are invited to join us, whether you knew Norm or not. It will be a gathering of people who are brave, resilient and ready to take on life on its own terms -- you road warriors. 

Views: 683

Comment by Barry Bernstein on May 15, 2015 at 11:51am

I think I can be there on the 19th. It's the Sunday before Ann Arbor.

"When a Man Loves a Woman" was one of my top 10 all time favorite songs. I've listened to it thousands of times.

I first saw BB King at Cobo Hall, in Detroit in the mid '60's. In those days, there would be shows where each act would play a couple of songs and then get off. He was one of the performers at the Jackie Wilson Review. Later, I saw him many times at Cobo, Pine Knob, MSU, etc. He didn't become popular until the white blues guys played with him, which propelled him to legendary status. I listened to the black radio stations, like WJLB, growing up so I was familiar with his music at an early age.

3 legends lost this week who gave more than they got.

Comment by Connie Mettler on May 15, 2015 at 11:58am

The 19th is the day AFTER Ann Arbor - chose that date on purpose. See you here, Barry.

WJLB -- my Detroit station. At the Wiltern Ruth Brown was with him -- I was visiting my kids and said we have to see this man while we can. It was a great night. Percy's bio is wonderful, hardly made a cent from his work, yet was very generous with other artists who sampled his songs.

Comment by Barry Bernstein on May 15, 2015 at 12:35pm

WJLB with Martha Jean "The Queen". Who was the guy who would play love songs and talk in a silky smooth voice, rhyming everything? The other station was WCHB where we could get all the R&B that wasn't played on the white stations.

Comment by Ray Hartl on May 15, 2015 at 11:33pm

Nancy and I are so sorry for your loss Connie.

The first time I saw Norm's photographs was at Ann Arbor many years ago. Probably in the late 70's. As I remember they were color photographs of flies on trash. Really. Strange but also intriguing at the same time. Norm told me that his therapist suggested that he take photographs. I did not know if he was pulling my leg at the time, but if true, that doctor knew what he was talking about. Norm's photos quickly evolved into the gorgeous hand colored work that he became known for. And the awards followed at high end shows like Milwaukee Lakefront. As a color photographer making my own prints, I could appreciate and marvel at Norm's procedure of hand coloring each of his prints, and at the dedication and skill involved.
My favorite memory of  him was the year of the big flood at Boston Mills, twenty some years ago. On Sunday the weather was sunny and water was still flowing good through the stream next to the show. While our wives manned our booths, Norm and I played in the stream for hours like a couple of 10 year old boys, building a dam from sticks and rocks, trying to flood the show for a second time that weekend.
Well that's my best memory of time spent with Norm and I can only say that he was one of the good guys and one of the very good artists. He will be missed but not forgotten.
Comment by Connie Mettler on May 16, 2015 at 9:21am

Thank you, Ray. Those cibachrome photos of garbage were his trying to make something in color because "everyone said" you can't sell black and white. He only knew black and white and was trying to get into this art fair marketplace with something people would buy. That didn't work too well, when one day he added a black and white to the mix and it started to sell he returned to what he loved.

I remember that day, you and Norm, playing in the stream. It was a good day.

Comment by Ruth Jellema on May 16, 2015 at 8:09pm

Thank you, Connie.  I am so sorry for your loss.  What a beautifully written tribute to all three!

Comment by Kathleen V. Smith on May 17, 2015 at 12:37pm

Connie, again, we are so sorry for your loss.  We didn't realize as we have not had the pleasure of meeting Norm that he had such wonderful talent!  I am sure the heavens are full of music with Norm & B. B. King!

Comment by Christina L. Towell on May 18, 2015 at 9:45am

A lovely tribute to three amazing talents, Connie.  Thanks...we'll try to make it on the 19th.

Comment by Jacki Bilsborrow on May 18, 2015 at 6:02pm

I will help you get set up for the memorial.  You can count on me. 

And while Norm may have been cantankerous he became soft as a puppy dog after he retired.  I was glad I got to see that side of him.

I have to say, I did not love matting the garbage pictures!  lol

Comment by Suzanne Beavis on May 18, 2015 at 11:46pm

I did not know your husband but enjoyed learning a little about him. I'm so sorry for your loss.


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