Every Halloween, I carve into a pumpkin the likeness of a musician who died since the previous Halloween. The tradition began in 2008, and each jack-o-lantern is carved in 3D-style. Like those represented, the jack-o-lanterns soon decay and disappear, but the artifacts remain.
Visit The Invisible Underground to see more of my fruit and vegetable sculptures.
Adam Yauch (August 5, 1964 – May 4, 2012), MCA of The Beastie Boys, rapper, bassist, activist. In middle school, my friends and I would lip-sync every word to “Paul Revere.” In high school, Paul’s Boutique changed the way I thought about musical construction, and nothing was as satisfying to play on my bass guitar as MCA’s killer line from “Gratitude.” And in college, tracks from Hello Nasty were always in the air.
In addition to his musical pursuits, Adam founded the independent film company Oscilloscope Laboratories. Using the pseudonym Nathaniel Hornblower, he directed many of the Beastie Boys’ videos. A practicing Buddhist, he supported the Tibetan independence movement. He succumbed to salivary gland cancer at age 47.
Thanks for the music MCA, and may we never rock the mic with the pantyhose.
Time-lapse video carving the Adam “MCA” Yauch Memorial Jack-o-lantern.
Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart (January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010). Songwriter, vocalist, instrumentalist, and true rock innovator. Beefheart’s wild and wide-ranging voice led The Magic Band through 12 studio albums, and inspired musicians ranging from Tom Waits to Beck to The Black Keys. To create the epic, iconoclastic double album Trout Mask Replica (produced by Frank Zappa), the band lived and rehearsed in a small house for eight months, often in dire conditions. Beefheart wore the head of a carp for the Cal Shenkel-designed album cover (it is a trout mask replica, after all), upon which this memorial jack-o-lantern is based.
When Simpsons creator Matt Groening first heard this album, he thought “that it was the worst thing I’d ever heard. Then I listened to it a couple more times. About the third time, I realized they were doing it on purpose; they meant it to sound exactly this way. About the sixth or seventh time, it clicked in, and I thought it was the greatest album I’d ever heard.”
Beefheart retired from music to pursue a career in visual art in 1982, a natural progression for this sculptor of sounds. Years of multiple sclerosis ultimately led to his death in 2010.
Thanks for the music Captain, and may we never go back to their frownland.
Time-lapse video carving the Captain Beefheart Memorial Jack-o-lantern.
Ronnie James Dio (July 10, 1942 – May 16, 2010), the consummate heavy metal vocalist. He was the voice of bands such as Elf, Rainbow, and his own eponymous group, Dio. Following the departure of Ozzy Osborne, he became the front man of Black Sabbath, always greeting the crowds with devil horn hands. Starting in 1979, Dio was involved with the organization Children of the Night, which is dedicated to rescuing America’s children from prostitution.
Thanks for the music Dio, and may we never settle for less than metal.
Time-lapse video carving the Dio Memorial Jack-o-lantern. Actual carving time was about seven hours.
Michael Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009), the king of pop. As a kid, I watched Thriller (and the making-of documentary) countless times. The music, the monsters, the dance moves – I loved it all. Known throughout his life for facial transformations, I represented Michael here in his dramatic lycanthropic transformation from Thriller.
Thanks MJ – when the zombie uprising finally comes, at least we can look forward to the awesome dance moves.
Time-lapse video carving the Michael Jackson Memorial Jack-o-lantern. Actual carving time was about six or seven hours.
Karlheinz Stockhausen (22 August 1928 – 5 December 2007) was a German composer and godfather of electronic music. He was incredibly creative and ambitious, writing an opera cycle that takes a week to perform (Licht), a concert piece for three orchestras (Gruppen), and a string quartet that’s performed inside of helicopters (Helikopter-Streichquartett). His electronic pieces like Gesang der Junglinge make for especially good Halloween music. Also, he might have been an alien (he claimed that he was from a planet orbiting the star Sirius).