Monday, December 21, 2015

#CollisionWithFame: Paul Jeffreys, December 21, 1988

Paul Jeffreys was the original bassist for Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, the English progressive rock band from out of London.  Though often overshadowed by the media-annoying behavior of Harley, Cockney Rebel was one of the defining progressive sounds coming out of the 1970s.  In addition to playing with Cockney Rebel, Paul also played for several other progressive sound groups including Be Bop Delux, Chartreuse, Electric Eels, and The One Pacific. Paul had joined with Adrian Large to form The One Pacific in 1984, as much to satisfy what Large termed “mutual therapy” as anything else. 
            Jeffreys and his wife Rachel Jones were both on  Pan Am Flight 103, flying from Heathrow in London to JFK International in New York.  The flight, also named “Clipper Maid of the Seas” was a first-generation Boeing 747 carrying 243 passengers and 16 crew.  The craft took off from Heathrow at 1804 hours GMT (6:04 PM).  Approximate 57 minutes into the flight, a suitcase bomb that had been smuggled into the craft through the luggage transfer system detonated.  The plane, passing over Lockerbie, Scotland, crashed to earth killing all 259 persons on board plus eleven persons on the ground in Lockerbie.  Responsibility for the attack was ascribed to Libyan terrorists, with separate claims being initially made by  the “Guardians of the Islamic Revolution” and by a group calling itself “Islamic Jihad.” 

            In addition to Paul Jeffreys and his wife Rachel, also on board were poet and lyricist Joanna Walton --girlfriend of “King Crimson” guitarist Robert Fripp-- and Bernt Wilmar Carlsson who was the Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and UN High Commissioner for Namibia.  The flight also carried 35 students from Syracuse University.
            The flight moved into the arena of urban legend for the famous persons who were not on board, having either canceled their tickets or having missed the flight.  Among those individuals of note who missed the flight for various reasons are actress Kim Catrell, and doo-wop singers Levi Stubbs, Obie Benson, Duke Fakir, and Lawrence Payton – better known as “The Four Tops,” and John “Johnny Rotton” Lydon of  the “Sex Pistols.”