You know you're a real fan of someone if you celebrate their birthday, or reflect on the annniversary of when they died. It's like a holiday. However, most of us fans have lives and anyone who can listen to every album on the day has too much time on their hands, which I sure don't! I do write down the artist and their birthday or anniversary on my calendar and day planner. It does get frustrating when real life gets in the way. For many artists, big and small, you can now leave greetings on MySpace, their official site, or snail mail in advance, whichever applies.
Most people I listen to are from overseas, so I coordinate with their native time zone. That means I start the night before, like some kinds of holidays, which gives me more time. I try not to be up all night, especially if it's a school night or if I have plans. For the departed, I can't worry about them all day, because life is for the living. You have to be realistic. The living ones can't always tell or don't even care whether or not their fans remember. I'm sure they'd appreciate it (Pål Waaktaar-Savoy of a-ha and Savoy told me he did last year, and I wonder if he will this time). I think it's better to remember birthdays and anniversaries of people you actually know and love.