Norway’s cultural and academic circles were in mourning this week after the deaths of three well-known and respected media and music experts on the same day. Jon Bing, Tor Milde and Per Eirik Johansen were all relatively young, aged 54 to 69.
Bing was the oldest and perhaps best-known, as “the man who gave us the future,” wrote one commentator. Bing was a lawyer, an author, a professor at the University of Oslo and an expert on information technology and the legal aspects of it.
“This is terribly sad and a great loss for us,” Jon Wessel-Aas, a partner in the law firm of Bing Hodneland, told news bureau NTB. “He was well-known as an author and professional here in Norway, but he was almost more recognized abroad for his specialty in intellectual property law and technology.”
Bing had suffered health problems for the past decade and died Wednesday in Oslo, age 69. He was a sought-after speaker, consultant and adviser and headed a center for IT law at the University of Oslo. He became a member of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) in 2006, the international organization that administers the Internet, including global distribution of domaines and IP addresses.
He was also a noted science fiction author, teaming with his good friend Tor Åge Bringsverd to write several books, plays and TV scripts for children, youth and adults. Others revered him “for showing us the way to the future,” as Norway emerged from a country where it took months to get a telephone line installed as late as the 1980s, to one where mobile phone and computer use is among the highest in the world. He led Norway’s cultural council (Kulturråd) from 1993-2000,a time of great breakthroughs in cultural platforms because of new media. Bing was knighted by King Harald, was an active member of debate panels and known for his generosity.
He died the same day as Tor Milde, another author and journalist but one who specialized in music and film. Milde, age 61, was a tough critic and a judge in Norway’s version of Idol, who died Wednesday after a short illness.
“Few have meant so much for the expansion of pop culture in Norway as Tor did over the past 30 years,” said Espen Olsen Langfeldt, an editor at newspaper VG. He founded the music- and youth magazine Hits, worked for Puls/Beat and VG, also Dagbladet. He wrote a weekly column in VG called Ukens anbefalinger – 10 ting du må ha (The week’s picks – 10 things you must have). He was viewed as both a trend-setter and music expert.
The death also on Wednesday of Per Eirik Johansen was prompting tributes as well, after he died at the age of 54. Johansen, a former director at record company EMI Norge, was credited with discovering new talent like singer Lene Marlin and he was the manager for musicians including Jarle Bernhoft and Sivert Høyem.
Johansen, originally from Tromsø, also worked with Norwegian artists Sondre Lerche, Madrugada, Röyksopp and Morten Abel. He’d been living in New York in recent years, and died suddenly while on a trip to Oslo.
“For once, I’m speechless over this,” Peer Osmundsvaag, who started the booking agency Atomic Soul with Johansen, told newspaper Dagbladet. “He was a pioneer, a character, very unique. Everyone loved him.”
The three deaths set off a string of comments over social media. “… on the same day, what’s happening?” tweeted comedian and artist Alex Rosén. “Legends, rest in peace.”