Another year has come and gone, and so have many of our favorite celebrities. While many young, breakout sensations took to the big screens, topped the charts, or even garnered fame by accumulating the most Instagram followers this past year, 2017 also said goodbye to some of the world’s greatest icons. The Rebellion has decided to pay tribute to the fallen legends of 2017 by honoring these late celebrities and their unforgettable careers.
April 9th 1926 ~ Sept. 27th 2017
First on our list is the Playboy himself: Hugh Hefner. Owner of Playboy Enterprises, Hefner started the infamous magazine in 1953—changing the tabloid game ever since. Although he is most well known for the bow tie-wearing bunny side profile, Hefner never intended to be the owner of his own multi-million dollar empire. He went into the Army as an infantry clerk immediately after he graduated high school in 1944. Following the end of World War II, Hefner enrolled in the University of Illinois as a psychology major and spent an extra semester of graduate school in sociology studying sex research. In 1970, he opened the doors to the Playboy Mansion, housing more than 20 women, the Bunnies, who were all his proclaimed girlfriends. Household names from Madonna to Kim Kardashian have graced the cover of Playboy magazine, while other honorable mentions such as Cindy Crawford, Pamela Anderson, Mariah Carey, Paris Hilton, and Denise Richards have also appeared on the magazine’s front cover. On Sept. 27th, the ninety-one year old man worth two-hundred million passed. Following the death of the pop culture icon, questions were posed about his inheritance and most importantly: who would the mansion belong to? Daren Metropoulos, 33 year old entrepreneur who reinvigorated companies like Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and Twinkies, purchased the mansion for its full price in August. Hugh Hefner has left behind an unforgettable legacy in his tabloid empire of the century.
May 14th 1977 ~ Nov. 7th 2017
Roy Halladay, an American professional baseball pitcher, chose to pursue his lifelong dream of flying planes following his retirement from the MLB, which would unfortunately end up being the cause of his demise. Roy married his wife Brandy Halladay and later had two children: Ray and Braden. In 1995, Halladay was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in first round as the 17th overall pick. He played for the Blue Jays for a solid 12 years before being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies until his retirement in 2013. Halladay was a two time recipient of the Cy Young Award, which is granted to the top pitchers in baseball: one each for the American and National League. Outside of his exceptional passion for baseball, Halladay shared an interest in aviation and planes. On the day of his unforgotten death, Roy took his ICON 45 aircraft out on the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Florida. Halladay lost control of his aircraft for reasons unknown and it crashed into the Gulf that afternoon. Despite Halladay’s unfortunate and premature death, he will go down in history for his outstanding achievements as a record breaking baseball player.
Oct. 20th 1950 ~ Oct. 2nd 2017
Inducted in the Hall of Fame along with the rest of his Heartbreakers, Tom Petty lived to create the rock ‘n’ roll legacy that will forever go down in music history. Petty grew up in the small town of Gainesville, Florida, and as a young boy, he idolized popular musicians of the time like Elvis Presley, whom he met when he was 10 years old. Petty’s homelife growing up was not ideal: his father often beat him causing Petty to perform poorly in school. He turned to music as his escape. In the early years of his music career, Petty was apart of two groups: the Traveling Wilburys and Mudcrutch. Collaborating with former members of both bands, Petty regrouped with his old bandmates to create Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, a band that would eventually sell 80 million records worldwide. Petty and the Heartbreakers released many pieces that charted on Billboard’s Top 200 including the songs “American Girl,” “Breakdown” and the biggest record of their careers: “Damn the Torpedoes,” which reached number two on the charts in addition to going triple platinum. Aside from the music, Petty dabbled in acting making appearances in “Made in Heaven,” “The Postman,” “King of the Hill” and “Full Moon Fever.” Unfortunately, Petty, at the age of 66, went into cardiac arrest and died on Oct. 2nd. Friends, family and fans around the world were left devastated and shocked as they mourned the death of one of the greatest legends in music history. Tom Petty will always be remembered for his unique sound and record breaking hits, and his rock ‘n roll legacy will continue to live on.
LIL PEEP (GUSTAV AHR)
Nov. 1st 1996 ~ Nov. 15th 2017
Widely known by his stage name “Lil Peep,” Gustav Ahr was one of the most streamed artists of 2017 on SoundCloud. Growing up in Long Island, Peep dropped out of high school, opting to complete online courses to earn his diploma. Shortly after high school, Gustav moved cross-country to Los Angeles in order to pursue his music career. In 2015, he dropped his first mixtape on Soundcloud titled “Lil Peep Part One.” The following year, Peep released two additional, more vulnerable tapes labeled “Hellboy” and “Crybaby,” which displayed his “cloud rap” style: rap music expressing one’s emotion and sincerity. His last official album was released in early 2017 labeled “Come Over When You’re Sober” which showcased a more gloomy disposition with many tracks including talk of and drugs and suicide. Despite struggling with drugs himself, Peep had goals to be named the official “Kurt Cobain of Rap,” an artist he idolized and modeled his music after. On the night of Nov. 15th, hours before his Tucson, Arizona venue, Peep was found dead in his tour bus by his manager. Medical examiners were able to conclude that Peep had suffered some kind of Fentanyl overdose that caused his heart to stop functioning. Although he was so young, Gustav Ahr inspired so many artists—especially those who were struggling to “make it.” Peep set an example for aspiring artists by finding fame on the internet rather than with an official record label. Lil Peep left behind his meaningful lyrics and inspiring story with the rest of us.
CHRISTOPHER BOYKIN (BIG BLACK)
Jan. 13th 1972 ~ May 9th 2017
Christopher Boykin, more famously known as Big Black, was an MTV television star recognizable from “Rob & Big,” “Ridiculousness” and “Fantasy Factory”: all of which are MTV reality shows still trending today. Born in Raleigh, Mississippi, Boykin served in the United States Navy shortly before the partnership with Rob Dyrdek that made his television career take off. We could always count on Big Black to remind us to “Do work son!,” a phrase coined by Boykin in the MTV series “Rob & Big” during the early years of their television careers. Dyrdek and Boykin were always known for being a crazy and reckless dynamic duo who performed daredevil stunts and pranks. The pair even had an entire episode of Rob & Big devoted to trying to break multiple records in the Guinness Book of World Records. Boykin was able to eat the most powdered donuts in less than three minutes, and also broke the record for peeling and eating the most bananas in one minute. Boykin had always had previous cardiac issues, but nothing he ever thought to be potentially life threatening until he had to get an emergency defibrillator implant for his heart in early 2017. On May 9th, Boykin’s heart stalled and he suffered a heart attack which ultimately caused his death. Although one half of our generation’s beloved reckless duo has left us, the legend of Big Black and his never failing motivation will be with us forever.