Almanac – January 26

1788 – The birth of Thomas Whittle, son of Thomas Whittle snr, of the Royal Marines and, er, Mrs. Whittle.
He was effectively the first white Austrailian, born as the ship carrying his parents entered what was to become Sydney harbour.

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1908 – Stéphane Grappelli born. French jazz violinist who founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France with guitarist Django Reinhardt in 1934 – one of the first all-string jazz bands. He has been called “the grandfather of jazz violinists“.

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1920 – Hans Holzer born. Austrian-born, American pioneering paranormal researcher and author. He wrote well over 100 books on supernatural and occult subjects for the popular market as well as several plays, musicals, films, and documentaries, and hosted a television show, “Ghost Hunter“.

Holzer’s most famous investigation was into The Amityville Horror case. In January 1977, Holzer and spiritual medium Ethel Meyers entered 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York.

Meyers claimed that the house had been built over an ancient Native American burial ground and the angry spirit of a Shinnecock Indian Chief – “Rolling Thunder” – had possessed the previous occupant, Ronald Defeo Jr., driving him to murder his family. Photographs taken at the scene revealed curious anomalies such as the halos which appeared in the supposed images of bullet marks made in the original 1974 murders.

Holzer’s claim that the house was built on Indian sacred land was, however, denied by the local Amityville Historical Society and it was pointed out that it was the Montaukett Indians, and not the Shinnecocks, who had been the original settlers in the area.

However, Indian burial sites have been found all over Long Island, including Amityville, so no one has been able to confirm or deny the burial of an Indian chief on or near the 112 Ocean Avenue property. Holzer went on to write several books about the subject, both fiction and non-fiction.

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1932 – Coxsone Dodd born – Clement Seymour “Sir Coxsone” Dodd,   Jamaican record producer who was influential in the development of ska and reggae in the 1950s, 1960s and beyond. He received his nickname “Coxsone” at school: because of his teenage talent as a cricketer, his friends compared him to Alec Coxon, a member of the 1940s Yorkshire County Cricket Club team.

In 1954  he set up the Downbeat Sound System, being the owner of an amplifier, a turntable, and some US records, which he would import from New Orleans and Miami. With the success of his sound system, and in a competitive environment, Dodd opened five different sound systems, each playing every night. To run his sound systems, Dodd appointed people such as Lee “Scratch” Perry, who was Dodd’s right hand man during his early career, U-Roy and Prince Buster.

In 1963 he opened Studio One on Brentford Road, Kingston,  the first black-owned recording studio in Jamaica. During the late 1960s and 1970s, the ‘Studio One sound‘ was synonymous with the sound of ska, rocksteady and reggae, and Dodd attracted some of the best of Jamaican talent to his stable during this time, including Burning Spear, Ras Michael, Delroy Wilson, Horace Andy and Sugar Minott.

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