Almanac – January 29

1737 – Thomas Paine born. English political activist, author, political theorist and revolutionary. As the author of two highly influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution, he inspired the American Patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Britain. His ideas reflected Enlightenment era rhetoric of transnational human rights. He has been called “a corsetmaker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination.”

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1936 – James Jamerson born. American bass player. He was the uncredited bassist on most of Motown Records’ hits in the 1960s and early 1970s (Motown did not list session musician credits on their releases until 1971), and he is now regarded as one of the most influential bass players in modern music history. He performed on 30  number-one hits, more than any person or group in music history, and on more than 70 number-one R&B hits, also the most ever.

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1946 – Bettye Lavette born.  American soul singer-songwriter who made her first record at sixteen, but achieved only intermittent fame until 2005, with her album, I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise. Her eclectic musical style combines elements of soul, blues, rock and roll, funk, gospel, and country music.

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1958 – Linda Smith born. British stand-up comic and comedy writer. She appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4 panel games, and was voted “Wittiest Living Person” by listeners in 2002.

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2011 – Milton Babbitt died. American composer, music theorist, and teacher. He was particularly noted for his serial and electronic music.

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