Death of a True Rock Star

I have a series of articles about the iPhone event, but out of respect for the man behind Apple, I’m going to hold off 24 hours.

I was only 9 years old when John Lennon was murdered taken too soon with many more songs to write, so I didn’t really understand the impact of someone dying who you felt like you knew but you really didn’t know at all. I think the first time the death of a celebrity really upset me was the death of Freddie Mercury in 1991. Like John Lennon and Steve Jobs, Freddie was taken from us too soon. Being a huge fan of Queen, it was depressing to know that I would never be able to hear Queen with Freddie live in concert. Queen would never produce another album with Freddie on lead vocals. I was very lucky to be able to come pretty close by seeing Freddie’s best friend Elton John do a phenomenal live performance of “Show Must Go On!” where Elton seemed to be channeling Freddie’s vocal power that night.

I think Steve Jobs would be very happy to hear that he’s being compared to two great rock artists, Lennon and Mercury. Apple Computer as most folks realize was named as an homage to Apple Records the Beatles Recording Label. Ironically this sign of adoration would cause Jobs legal problems when Apple become the digital provider of music, and the Beatles were one of the last artists to be on the iTunes Music Store.

Steve was a true Rock Star in every sense of the term. Brilliant, ahead of this time, visionary, mercurial, polarizing, obsessed with every minute detail. Apple products since Steve returned have had the soul of an artist, an aesthetic balance that other companies have had an impossible time trying to equal. Apple products were almost like albums to Jobs, he’d redo every possible aspect of a product to make sure that it was perfect. You can almost see Jobs in the role as a frontman for a megaband demanding to record a song for the hundredth time to get it just right. His keynote presentations were the equivalent of rock concerts. Jobs would rehearse every element down to the smallest detail. The legendary Jobs reality distortion field was like a rock star mesmerizing an audience. Jobs in many ways was the 5th Beatle, only creating in the world of technology. The Apple 2 was Meet the Beatles. The Mac was a Hard Day’s Night. The iMac was Help. The iPod was Rubber Soul. The iPhone was his White Album. The iPad is Sgt Peppers.

It’s really sad to realize that Steve won’t be there to introduce Apple’s next great product. However, there isn’t a major rock artist today who won’t acknowledge the influence of the Beatles on their craft. And while we will not get to enjoy any new Steve “albums” I’m confident that there’s a future Police or Pearl Jam in Cupertino (please insert your favorite band here, I’m just listing two of mine)  to release the next great product/album. Steve won’t be the frontman on these products but his influence will be obvious. Maybe the iPhone 5 will be “Ten” or the iPad 3 will be “Ghosts in the Machine”, new great albums from new artists.

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As a Philosophy/History/French major working in IT, there was no clearer explanation of why I use Apple products than when Steve said;

It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing and nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices.”

Photo by Michael Copeland (from Fortune)

In fact, Steve since 2008 years has been working to develop a “college” at Apple, Fortune’s recent article detailing the inside operations of Apple was the first piece to mention the Apple University created recently to codify, document, and institutionalize the Steve way of creating great products. This was Steve’s way of ensuring his DNA got baked into Apple’s future, and ensuring the future of this amazing intersection of technology and the humanities. It’s a college that I would love to attend, but I’ll settle for using their great products.

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