THEY are the lost generation, cut off in their prime. Britain's arts world is being robbed of tomorrow's talent by Aids.
This week, World Aids Day will refocus attention on the disease. The surviving members of the band Queen will commemorate their singer Freddie Mercury's death from Aids by giving all royalties from sales on Friday of their new album, Made in Heaven, to Aids charities.
But Mercury is just one of dozens of artistically gifted young men who have died from the disease. In London - as in New York, Paris and other cities that are centres of the arts - the toll of actors, writers, film- makers, dancers and musicians is now remarkable. Some who have died made the obituary columns. For others, there were fewer, but affectionate words in the gay press. The rest have only been mourned privately.
Tomorrow the Department of Health will announce another initiative on the disease. In his first speech on HIV and Aids, Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell will make it plain that the Government will in future target high- risk groups: homosexual and bisexual men, injecting drug users, and people from high-prevalence areas, in particular sub-Saharan Africa.
In the UK, there have been 25,000 reported cases of HIV and about 7,000 deaths from Aids. Last year alone there were an estimated 1,780 new Aids cases. The official statistics, however, tell us little about just who has died: no categories such as profession are recorded in them. Below, in a list compiled from a trawl through national newspaper obituaries, we show which groups have been particularly hard hit. Artistic professions feature overwhelmingly.
Iain Webb, 36, a Royal Ballet soloist who founded Dance Cares for those in the ballet world suffering from HIV and Aids, said: "I've lost friends, colleagues, people I admire, idols. It could be the greatest or the youngest member of the company who are struck down. Aids doesn't discriminate." He believes people in every walk of life now know of someone who has died of Aids. "In our world it is brought to the public's attention much more because Aids is associated with the arts. Maybe people are more open in the arts and therefore it is more openly discussed and admitted."
One of the youngest dancers to have contracted Aids is Simon Murphy, who died in March at the age of 24. For the past three weeks his friends and former colleagues in the avant-garde ballet company Adventures in Motion Pictures have made each performance of their stunning version of Swan Lake a memorial to his life and talent.
Six weeks ago, Gary Bond, 55, died of Aids after giving an "absolutely sensational" performance in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Aspects of Love. It was widely felt he was heading for even greater heights. His agent, Scott Marshall, said: "It's just devastating. These people are so wonderfully talented. It's such a waste to have your time cut short like that."
Sunday Review, page 12
The gifted and the dead: those who have gone
Roll-call of the dead:
Charles Guy Patrick Gillespie, political scientist: born 1958, died 1991.
James Dominic Reilly, lecturer: born 1963, died 1993.
Ian Charleson, actor: born 1949, died 1990.
Denholm Elliott, highly regarded actor who had starring roles in Raiders of the Lost Ark and A Room With a View: born 1922, died 1992.
Dursley McLinden, actor, dancer and singer: born 1969, died 1995.
Dudley Stevens, actor, director and playwright: born 1935, died 1992.
Gary James Bond, actor and singer: born 1940, died 1995.
Leigh Bowery, performance artist: born 1961, died 1994.
Julian David Miller, advertising agent: born 1962, died 1991.
Don Melia, administrator and publicist: born 1953, died 1992.
Gervase Jackson-Stops, OBE: born 1947, died 1995.
Henry Tennant: born 1960, died 1990.
Andrew Heard, painter: born 1958, died 1993.
Mark Tindell, painter: born 1956, died 1993.
Phil Austin, animator: born 1951, died 1990.
Stephen Boyd: born 1946, died 1995.
Adrian Ward-Jackson: born 1950, died 1991.
Guy Nevill, art dealer and the Queen's godson: born 1945, died 1992.
Sheridan Dufferin, Marquis of Dufferin and Ava: born 1939, died 1988.
Ronnie Hughes: born 1950, died 1994.
Dennis Marshall Vincent, dancer and teacher: born 1964, died 1991.
Michael Batchelor, dancer and choreographer: born 1957, died 1991.
Simon Murphy, dancer: born 1971, died 1995.
Charles John Alan Maude, designer: born 1951, died 1993.
Tommy Nutter, avant-garde fashion-setting tailor: born 1943, died 1992.
John Edward Eastcott Beswick, interior designer: born 1951, died 1995.
Richard Bird, graphic designer: born 1948, died 1992.
Alan Barrett, theatre, film and opera designer: born 1938, died 1991.
Bill Gibb, fashion designer: born 1943, died 1988.
Tony Cooper, record cover designer: born 1963, died 1993.
Kenny Everett: born 1944, died 1995.
Chris Gee: born 1962, died 1994.
Nigel Lucius Graeme Finch, television director, film-maker: born 1949, died 1995.
Derek Jarman, film director: born 1942, died 1994.
Stuart Congreve Marshall, film director: born 1949, died 1993.
Tony Richardson, film director: born 1928, died 1991.
John Madoc Creedy, documentary film-maker, journalist, photographer: born 1953, died 1994.
Alexander Maxey, founder member of Independent on Sunday: born 1954, died 1991.
Christopher Pious Mary Kirk (Kris Kirk): born 1950, died 1993.
Denis Edward Lemon, newspaper editor: born 1945, died 1994.
Richard Dipple: born 1951, died 1991.
Mike Sheils, freelance journalist: born 1942, died 1989.
Michael Rhodes, radio producer: born 1947, died 1991.
Chris de Marigny: born 1944, died 1995.
Roger Baker: born 1934, died 1993.
Hugo Irwin: born 1963, died 1993.
Jeff Grace: born 1949, died 1995.
Dr Leonard Taitz, paediatrician: born 1935, died 1991.
Richard Wells, director of rehabilitation at the Royal Marsden Hospital: born 1941, died 1993.
Freddie Mercury, rock star and lead singer of Queen: born 1946, died 1991.
Anthony Bowles, composer and musical director: born 1931, died 1993.
Stephen Oliver, opera composer: born 1950, died 1992.
Michael Vyner, London Sinfonietta's artistic director: born 1943, died 1989.
Martin Smith, musical actor and composer: born 1957, died 1994.
Michael Rennison, opera director: born 1948, died 1992.
Stuart Challender, conductor: born 1947, died 1991.
Spud Jones, singer and lyricist: born 1957, died 1994.
Jeremy Parsons, manager of leading Finnish composer: born 1951, died 1994.
Normal Eales: died 1989.
Alex Hirst: born 1951, died 1993.
Adam Johnson: born 1965, died 1993.
Ian Godfrey: born 1942, died 1992.
Simon Pettet: designer and potter: born 1965, died 1993.
Angus Suttie: born 1946, died 1993.
John Curry, OBE: born 1949, died 1994.
Stephen Barry, Prince Charles's valet: died 1986.
Christopher Francis Palmer: born 1946, died 1995.
David Bartlett Rees:died 1993.
Graham Charles Wilkinson: born 1949, died 1990.
Richie McMullen: born 1943, died 1991.
Rupert Haselden: born 1957, died 1994.Reuse content