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OBITUARY: Michael Owen.

HE WAS a man of his generation, emerging from the austerity of Liverpool's Quarry Bank High School to blink in the new sunshine of a land suddenly electrified by the promise of youth.

Through pop music, football, theatre, cinema and TV, it was all happening in swinging England.

And young Michael Owen, the clergyman's son with a liking for booze and cigarettes, wanted his share.

In fact, the first shimmerings of what was to come had been provided by an older boy at school, John Lennon, whose skiffle group the Quarry Men was opening the way for beat music.

By that time, Owen was already an enthusiastic fan of Liverpool FC, which was rising on the city's general mood of euphoria.

Journalism was an outlet for bubbling talent, and Owen left Liverpool to become a reporter on the Surrey Advertiser, in Guildford, where he wrote a column called the Go-Ahead Generation, which featured what was to become the rock aristocracy.

It was quite a departure for a boy who spent his early years in Carmarthen before his father, an Anglican, took up a post with the Mersey Mission for Seamen.

Owen joined the London Evening Standard in 1969 as a show biz writer. His work often appeared in the Daily Post by arrangement with the Standard, where Owen was arts editor from 1979 until his departure in 1998 during the ``clear-out'' of the new editor, Max Hastings. Owen's running of the Evening Standard Theatre Awards was much admired.

One of his most celebrated meetings was with Charlton Heston, who had been given unflattering reviews for his acting in The Caine Mutiny.

One critic noted that the only animation in Heston's performance had been provided by his toupee.

Desiring to be in sympathy with the star, Owen purchased a fly-blown 18thcentury wig, which he wore throughout the interview.

Owen was found dead in a hotel room with a bottle of claret and a packet of French cigarettes beside him.

He is survived by his former wife and their two daughters.

Michael Owen, journalist, born March 5, 1945; died August 23, 2004.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 2, 2004
Words:350
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