Reality intrudes

The entertainment business has traditionally separated itself from real life; the fundamental axiom is, after all, “the show must go on.” So it’s a shock when the show can’t go on. Yesterday provided a sad example.

The Chuck Mangione band was scheduled to play a concert with the Buffalo Philharmonic on Friday night. Thursday night, two members of the band, Coleman Mellett (guitar) and Gerry Niewood (saxophone/flute), were on Continental flight 4307 from Newark, which crashed into a Buffalo suburb with no survivors.

Given how ubiquitous air travel is in our business, it is remarkable that so few musicians have been killed in commercial air accidents. The last I can recall was William Kapell, who was killed in a crash in the hills above Stanford University (near San Francisco) while returning from Australia. A few years before that, the French violinist Ginette Neveu was killed in the crash of an Air France flight in the Azores.

Very sad news.

(update: on a rather macabre note, there is a website about the crash in which Kapell died. The crash site is now contained in an open space preserve and there is still wreckage in the woods.)


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