Director John Hughes dead at 59

Another icon of my youth is gone. Writer, director, producer John Hughes, who help define my generation with films like The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (I just watched parts of that the other day!), Sixteen Candles (that too!), Weird Science (bringing Oingo Boingo to the masses), Planes Trains and Automobiles (“Those aren’t pillows!“), and about a hundred other titles you’d recognize, died today of today in New York City, apparently of a heart attack while taking a walk. Perhaps more than Michael Jackson, or at least in a totally different way, Hughes infused music into the popular culture of the youth who would become Generation X by making movie soundtracks a source of musical discovery. Those of us in high school and even junior high at the time saw our own lives reflected in the poster covered bedrooms of characters portrayed by Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer, and Matthew Broderick. Simple Minds, The Specials, Spandau Ballet, OMD, New Order, Thompson Twins, The Vapors… Hughes brought a whole library of new music to the mainstream through his movies. Sure, there were a few Kajagoogoo’s and Wang Chung’s in the mix, and if you look carefully at his song selections you’ll find an expectedly wide range of artists like Kim Wilde, Ratt, Los Lobos, Wayne Newton, General Public, Lords of the New Church, Van Halen, and The Dream Academy, but most notably Hughes made New Wave cool and inspired directors who followed him, like Cameron Crowe and Wes Anderson, to compose soundtracks as artfully as their movies. The man will be missed, but his impact on our culture will remain for a long time to come.

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  1. Kimberlee
    Posted August 7, 2009 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this blog and a special thank you to John in the Morning playing a tribute to him…it made me teary-eyed when I was getting ready for work. I can’t wait to get home and listen to the rest of it tonight.

  2. Marvella
    Posted August 7, 2009 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    You’re killing me here. Every song you’ve played for the last hour has brought me to tears. I love this music! Thanks for playing so many great songs in a row.

  3. Chris Estey
    Posted August 7, 2009 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Great write up, Jim. Even those of us into the hardcore scene in the 80s could appreciate and enjoy the diverse and progressive soundtracks Hughes created. It was pop, but great pop. That alone is well worth noting, even if you didn’t identify too closely with the characters in his movies (OK, I will always have a soft spot for The Breakfast Club!).

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