Tag Archives: 1937

Almanac – May 05

1901 – Blind Willie McTell born (probably – the year 1898 is also given).  Piedmont and ragtime blues singer and guitarist.

He played with a fluid, syncopated fingerstyle guitar technique, common among many exponents of Piedmont blues, although, unlike his contemporaries, he came to use twelve-string guitars exclusively.

McTell was also an adept slide guitarist,  and his vocal style, a smooth and often laid-back tenor, differed greatly from many of the harsher voice types employed by Delta bluesmen, such as Charley Patton. McTell embodied a variety of musical styles, including blues, ragtime, religious music and hokum.

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1937 – Delia Derbyshire born.  English musician and composer of electronic music  and musique concrète.

She is best known for her electronic realisation of Ron Grainer‘s theme music to the British science fiction television series Doctor Who and for her work with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

When Grainer first heard it, he was so amazed by her rendering of his theme that he asked “Did I really write this?” to which Derbyshire replied “Most of it”. 

Grainer attempted to get her a co-composer credit but the attempt was prevented by the BBC bureaucracy, who then preferred to keep the members of the Workshop anonymous.

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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 – March 15

The Ides of March.

44 BC – Julius Caesar, Dictator of the Roman Republic, was stabbed to death by Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus, Decimus Junius Brutus and several other Roman senators.

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1937 – H. P. Lovecraft died.  American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction.

Lovecraft’s guiding aesthetic and philosophical principle was what he termed “cosmicism” or “cosmic horror“, the idea that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally inimical to the interests of humankind.

As such, his stories express a profound indifference to human beliefs and affairs. Lovecraft is the originator of the Cthulhu Mythos story cycle and the Necronomicon, a fictional magical textbook of rites and forbidden lore.

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1943 – Sly Stone born. American musician, songwriter, and record producer, most famous for his role as frontman for Sly and the Family Stone, a band which played a critical role in the development of soul, funk and psychedelia in the 1960s and 1970s.

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2008 – Mikey Dread died. Jamaican singer, producer, and broadcaster.

He was one of the most influential performers and innovators in reggae music. “His abilities, technical expertise, and unique vocal delivery combined to create a unique sound that tells the listener emphatically that it is the ‘Dread at the Controls’.”

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