Dead stars live: exploring holograms, liveness, and authenticity

Kenny Forbes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


The recent proliferation of live music holograms, which has witnessed virtual representations of long-deceased artists, such as Billie Holiday, Maria Callas, and Frank Zappa make a “return” to the stage, has been galvanized by the triptych of our growing fascination with heritage artists, the lure of live music, and the potency of the image in the post-digital environment. Within such parameters, the adage that “death is a good career move” has never been more evident. Notwithstanding the somewhat unsettling moral dilemmas that such ventures elevate, especially where a resurrected live role for Delebs (dead celebrities) is enabled, it is clear that estates and rights owners can further capitalize on dead pop stars by virtue of current technology and the existence of an eager live audience. Focusing on live hologram appearances in the United Kingdom between 2018 and 2020 by “Buddy Holly,” “Roy Orbison,” and “Whitney Houston,” the research undertaken for this chapter explores audience perceptions of liveness in relation to the performances by these deceased artists. Overall, the chapter suggests that, whilst virtual proxies are readily accommodated within the digital evolution of live music, a number of complexities and conflicts serve to problematize notions of the liveness of deadness.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearching Live Music
Subtitle of host publicationGigs, Tours, Concerts and Festivals
EditorsChris Anderton, Segio Pisfil
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor and Francis Inc.
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780367405038
ISBN (Print)9780367405021, 9780367405007
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2021


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