Monthly Archives: April 2013

Almanac – April 30

1812 – Kaspar Hauser born. German youth who claimed to have grown up in the total isolation of a darkened cell.

Hauser’s claims, and his subsequent death by stabbing, sparked much debate and controversy.

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1896 – Reverend Gary Davis born. American blues and gospel singer and guitarist, who was also proficient on the banjo and harmonica.

His finger-picking guitar style influenced many other artists including Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, Jackson Browne, Townes van Zandt, Wizz Jones, Jorma Kaukonen and Godspeed You Black Emperor!.

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1945 –  Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide after being married for one day.

Hitler shot himself and Braun took cyanide. In accordance with Hitler’s instructions, the bodies were burned in the garden behind the Reich Chancellery.

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1963 – The Bristol Bus Boycott was held in Bristol to protest the Bristol Omnibus Company‘s refusal to employ Black or Asian bus crews.

 In common with other British cities there was widespread discrimination in housing and employment at that time against “coloureds.” Led by youth worker Paul Stephenson and the West Indian Development Council, the boycott of the company’s buses by Bristolians lasted for four months until the company backed down and overturned the colour bar.

The boycott drew national attention to racial discrimination in Britain and the campaign was supported by national politicians, with interventions being made by church groups and the High Commissioner for Trinidad and Tobago.

The Bristol Bus Boycott was considered by some to have been influential in the passing of the Race Relations Act 1965 which made “racial discrimination unlawful in public places” and the Race Relations Act 1968, which extended the provisions to employment and housing.

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Almanac – April 28

1789 –  The Mutiny on the Bounty, aboard the British Royal Navy ship HMS Bounty.

The mutiny was led by Fletcher Christian against commanding officer Lieutenant William Bligh. According to most accounts, the sailors were attracted to the idyllic life on the Pacific island of Tahiti and were further motivated by harsh treatment from their captain.

Mutineers set  Bligh afloat in a small boat with  some crew loyal to him. The mutineers then variously settled on Pitcairn Island or in Tahiti and burned the Bounty off Pitcairn Island, to avoid detection and to prevent desertion.

Bligh navigated the 23-foot (7 m) open launch on a 47-day voyage to Timor in the Dutch East Indies, equipped with a quadrant and pocket watch and without charts or compass. He recorded the distance as 3,618 nautical miles (6,710 km). He then returned to Britain and reported the mutiny to the Admiralty on 15 March 1790, 2 years and 11 weeks after his original departure.

Descendants of some of the mutineers still live on Pitcairn Island.

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1945 – Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci were executed by a firing squad consisting of members of the Italian resistance movement. He had been traveling with retreating German forces and was apprehended while attempting to escape recognition by wearing a German military uniform.

His body was then taken to Milan where it was hung upside down at a petrol station for public viewing and to provide confirmation of his demise.

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1948 – Terry Pratchett born.  English author of fantasy novels,  best known for the Discworld series of about 40 volumes –  since his first Discworld novel (The Colour of Magic) was published in 1983, he has written two books a year on average.

His latest Discworld book, Snuff, was at the time of its release the third-fastest-selling hardback adult-audience novel since records began in the United Kingdom, selling 55,000 copies in the first three days.

Pratchett was the UK’s best-selling author of the 1990s, and has sold over 70 million books worldwide in 37 languages.  He is currently the second most-read writer in the UK, and seventh most-read non-US author in the US.

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Almanac – April 27

1759 – Mary Wollstonecraft born. British writer, philosopher, and advocate of women’s rights.

During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children’s book, though she   is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason.

Wollstonecraft married the philosopher William Godwin, one of the forefathers of the anarchist movement, while her daughter Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, later Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, would become an accomplished writer herself.

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1947 – Ann Peebles born.   American singer-songwriter who gained celebrity for her Memphis soul albums of the 1970s on the Hi Records label.

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1998 – Carlos Castaneda died. Peruvian author and student of anthropology.

Starting with The Teachings of Don Juan in 1968, Castaneda wrote a series of books that describe his alleged training in shamanism. The books, narrated in the first person, relate his supposed experiences under the tutelage of a Yaqui “Man of Knowledge” named Don Juan Matus.

 His 11 books have sold more than 28 million copies in 17 languages. Critics have suggested that they are works of fiction; supporters claim the books are either true or at least valuable works of philosophy and descriptions of practices which enable an increased awareness.

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Almanac – April 26

1886 – Ma Rainey born. One of the earliest known American professional blues singers and one of the first generation of such singers to record. she has been  billed as The Mother of the Blues.

She  was known for her very powerful vocal abilities, energetic disposition, majestic phrasing, and a ‘moaning’ style of singing similar to folk tradition, though her powerful voice and disposition are not captured on her recordings (due to her recording exclusively for Paramount, which was known for worse-than-normal recording techniques and among the industry’s poorest shellac quality), the other characteristics are present, and most evident on her early recordings, Bo-weevil Blues and Moonshine Blues. She also recorded with Louis Armstrong.

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1937 – Spanish Civil War: Guernica (or Gernika in Basque), Spain  bombed by German Luftwaffe, causing widespread destruction and civilian deaths – the Basque government reported 1,654 people killed.

The bombing was the subject of a famous anti-war painting by Pablo Picasso. It was depicted by Heinz Kiwitz, a German artist who made a woodcut of it  and later was killed fighting in the International Brigades.

The bombing shocked and inspired many artists: Guernica is also the name of one of the most violent of René Iché sculptures, one of the first electroacoustic music by Patrick Ascione, of a musical composition by René-Louis Baron and a poem by Paul Eluard (Victory of Guernica). There is also a short film from 1950 by Alain Resnais entitled Guernica.

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1938 – Duane Eddy born.  American guitarist. In the late 1950s and early 1960s he had a string of hit records, produced by Lee Hazlewood, which were noted for their characteristically “twangy” sound, including “Rebel Rouser”, “Peter Gunn”, and “Because They’re Young“. He had sold 12 million records by 1963.

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1940 – Giorgio Moroder born. Italian record producer, songwriter and performer.

When in Munich in the 1970s, he started his own record label called Oasis Records, which several years later became a subdivision of Casablanca Records.

 He collaborated with Donna Summer during the  disco era (including “Love to Love You Baby” and “I Feel Love“) and was the founder of the former Musicland Studios in Munich, which was used as a recording studio by artists including the Electric Light Orchestra, Led Zeppelin, Queen and Elton John.

Moroder also produced a number of electronic disco hits for The Three Degrees, two albums for Sparks, songs for performers including David Bowie, Irene Cara, Madleen Kane, Melissa Manchester, Blondie, Japan, and France Joli.

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1970 – Gypsy Rose Lee died.  American burlesque entertainer famous for her striptease act.

She was also an actress, author, and playwright whose 1957 memoir was made into the stage musical and film Gypsy.

Trying to describe what Gypsy was (a “high-class” stripper), H. L. Mencken coined the term ecdysiast.  Her style of intellectual recitation while stripping was spoofed in the number “Zip!” from Rodgers and Hart‘s Pal Joey, a play in which her sister June appeared.

Gypsy can be seen performing an abbreviated version of her act (intellectual recitation and all) in the 1943 film Stage Door Canteen.

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Almanac – April 25

1599 – Oliver Cromwell born. English military and political leader and later Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland.

He entered the English Civil War on the side of the Parliamentarians. Nicknamed “Old Ironsides”, he was quickly promoted from leading a single cavalry troop to become one of the principal commanders of the New Model Army, playing an important role in the defeat of the royalist forces.

Cromwell was one of the signatories of King Charles I’s death warrant in 1649, and as a member of the Rump Parliament (1649–53) he dominated the short-lived Commonwealth of England.

Cromwell is one of the most controversial figures in the history of the British Isles, considered a regicidal dictator by historians such as David Hume,  but a hero of liberty by others . In a 2002 BBC poll in Britain, Cromwell was selected as one of the ten greatest Britons of all time.

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2005 – Hasil Adkins died. American country, rock and roll, and blues musician, though he was frequently considered rockabilly and sometimes primitive jazz. He generally performed as a one-man band, playing guitar and drums at the same time.

With his 45 recordings of “Chicken Walk” appearing on Air Records in 1962 and “She Said” on Jody Records in 1966, his  original, frenetic sound meshed with demented lyrics ushered in the genre known as psychobilly.

Recurring themes in his  work include love, heartbreak, police, death, decapitation, hot dogs, aliens, and chicken. He often noted in interviews that his primary heroes and influences were Hank Williams Sr., Jimmie Rodgers, Little Richard, and Col. Harlan Sanders, the inventor of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Adkins had a strong influence on The Cramps,  and his cult status is kept alive  by the growing appreciation of, and demand for, outsider music and primitive rock and roll.

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2008 – Humphrey Lyttelton died English jazz musician and broadcaster, and chairman of the BBC radio comedy programme I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.

 As a performer, he is perhaps best-remembered for the hit single “Bad Penny Blues” ,  the first British jazz record to get into the Top Twenty, and which  stayed there for six weeks.

Its success was very much due to the very catchy piano riff, played by Johnny Parker and brought to the front by the producer, the legendary  Joe Meek.

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Almanac – April 24

1184 BC – Traditional date of the fall of Troy.

1932 – Benny Rothman led the mass trespass of Kinder Scout, leading to substantial legal reforms in the United Kingdom.

It was undertaken at Kinder Scout, in the Peak District of Derbyshire, England, to highlight that walkers in England and Wales were denied access to areas of open country.

 The trespass proceeded via William Clough to the plateau of Kinder Scout, where there were violent scuffles with gamekeepers. The ramblers were able to reach their destination and meet with another group.

On the return, five ramblers were arrested, with another detained earlier. Trespass was not, and still is not, a criminal offence in any part of Britain, but some would receive jail sentences of two to six months for offences relating to violence against the keepers.

The mass trespass marked the beginning of a media campaign by The Ramblers Association, culminating in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which legislates rights to walk on mapped access land.

Poet and folk singer Ewan MacColl celebrated these events in his song “The Manchester Rambler”.

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1967 – Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov died in Soyuz 1 when its re-entry parachute failed to open.

He was officially the first human to die during a space mission…although it’s probable that there were earlier deaths that were covered up.

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2009 – John Michell died.  English writer whose key sources of inspiration were Plato and Charles Fort.

His 1969 volume The View Over Atlantis has been described as probably the most influential book in the history of the hippy/underground movement and one that had far-reaching effects on the study of strange phenomena: it “put ley lines on the map, re-enchanted the British landscape and made Glastonbury the capital of the New Age.”

In some 40-odd titles over five decades he examined, often in pioneering style, such topics as sacred geometry, earth mysteries, geomancy, gematria, archaeoastronomy, metrology, euphonics, simulacra and sacred sites, as well as Fortean phenomena.

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Almanac – April 23

1564 – William Shakespeare born. English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist.

 His extant works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, two epitaphs on a man named John Combe, one epitaph on Elias James, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

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1907 – Lee Miller born. American photographer. She was a successful fashion model in New York City in the 1920s before going to Paris, with the intention of apprenticing herself to the surrealist artist and photographer Man Ray. Although, at first, he insisted that he did not take students, Miller soon became his photographic assistant, as well as his lover and muse.

While she was in Paris, she began her own photographic studio, often taking over Man Ray’s fashion assignments to enable him to concentrate on his painting.In fact, many of the photographs taken during this period and credited to Man Ray were actually taken by Miller.

Together with Man Ray, she rediscovered the photographic technique of solarisation. She was an active participant in the surrealist movement, with her witty and humorous images.

 During the Second World War, she became an acclaimed war correspondent for Vogue, covering events such as the London Blitz, the liberation of Paris, and the concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau.

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1965 – George Adamski died.  Polish-born American citizen who became widely known in ufology circles, and to some degree in popular culture, after he claimed to have photographed ships from other planets, met with friendly Nordic alien Space Brothers, and to have taken flights with them.

The first of the so-called contactees of the 1950s, he was called a “philosopher, teacher, student and saucer researcher“, though his claims were met with skepticism.

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1991 – Johnny Thunders died. American  guitarist, singer and songwriter. He came to prominence in the early 1970s as a member of the New York Dolls,  later played with The Heartbreakers and as a solo artist.

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Almanac – April 22

1616 – Miguel de Cervantes died.  Spanish novelist, poet, and playwright.

His magnum opus, Don Quixote, considered to be the first modern European novel,  is a classic of Western literature, and is regarded amongst the best works of fiction ever written.

His influence on the Spanish language has been so great that the language is often called la lengua de Cervantes (“the language of Cervantes“).

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1922 – Charles Mingus born.  American jazz double bassist, composer and bandleader.

Mingus’s compositions retained the hot and soulful feel of hard bop and drew heavily from black gospel music while sometimes drawing on elements of Third Stream, free jazz, and classical music.

Yet Mingus avoided categorization, forging his own brand of music that fused tradition with unique and unexplored realms of jazz.

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1923 – Bettie Page born.  American model who became famous in the 1950s for her pin-up photos. Often referred to as the “Queen of Pinups“, her jet black hair, blue eyes, and trademark bangs have influenced artists for generations.

Page was “Miss January 1955“, one of the earliest Playmates of the Month for Playboy magazine. “I think that she was a remarkable lady, an iconic figure in pop culture who influenced sexuality, taste in fashion, someone who had a tremendous impact on our society,” Playboy founder Hugh Hefner told the Associated Press.

From 1952 through 1957, she posed for photographer Irving Klaw for mail-order photographs with pin-up, bondage or sadomasochistic themes, making her the first famous bondage model.

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2002 – Linda Lovelace died. American pornographic actress who was famous for her performance in the enormously successful 1972 hardcore porn film Deep Throat.

She later denounced her pornography career and became a spokeswoman for the anti-pornography movement.

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Almanac – April 21

753 BC – Romulus and Remus founded Rome, according to legend.

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571 – Prophet Muhammad  born in Makkah.

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1918 –  German fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, known as “The Red Baron”, was shot down and killed over Vaux-sur-Somme in France.

He was considered the top ace of  WWI, being officially credited with 80 air combat victories.

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1934 – The “Surgeon’s Photograph”, the most famous photo allegedly showing the Loch Ness Monster, was published in the Daily Mail, supposedly taken by Robert Kenneth Wilson, a London gynaecologist.

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1970 – The Hutt River Province Principality seceded from Australia.

The oldest micronation in Australia, the principality claims to be an independent sovereign state having achieved legal status on 21 April 1972, although it remains unrecognised except by other micronations.

The principality is located 517 km (354 mi) north of Perth, near the town of Northampton. If considered independent, it is an enclave of Australia.

The principality was founded Leonard George Casley when he and his associates proclaimed their secession from the state of Western Australia.

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2003 – Nina Simone died. American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist widely associated with jazz music.

Simone aspired to become a classical pianist while working in a broad range of styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop.

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