Darren Richardson

Aug. 26, 2012

What do Neil Young and Mark Twain have in common?

Reports of their deaths were exaggerations.

But Neil Armstrong, an authentic American hero who set foot on the moon in 1969 when Michael Jackson was a mere earthwalking lad of 10, died Saturday at age 82.

In writing the headline announcing Armstrong’s death, someone at NBC must have had his or her mind on celestial music. Very much alive at 66, Canadian Neil Young is one of the great musical talents of the last half century.

Any journalist who’s been around the business long enough has witnessed and likely participated in some memorable blunders (yes, that includes Punditty). But getting two distinctly different celebrities mixed up when announcing a death is, at the very least, announcing news before it ever happens.

Young, who is scheduled to play at this year’s Farm Aid Sept. 22 in Hershey, Pa., has more company than just the author of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” on the list of celebrities reported gone before their time.

The list is so long, in fact, that Wikipedia has an entry for “List of premature obituaries.

Young joins such other musicians as Fats Domino, Paul McCartney and Lou Reed – all of whom are still among the living – on the Wikipedia entry.

Armstrong died at 82, after suffering complications from heart surgery, according a statement released by his family. “We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures," the statement read.

It went on to say that Armstrong was “a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job. He served his Nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. He also found success back home in his native Ohio in business and academia, and became a community leader in Cincinnati.”

The full statement can be found here on the NASA website.

SOURCE: The Atlantic Wire, Aug. 25, 2012

Additional sources linked to in text.