Tag Archives: Django Reinhardt

Almanac – May 16

1923 – Peter Underwood born.  English author, broadcaster and paranormalist,  a prolific author on books covering ghosts by region of the United Kingdom.

He is a leading expert on Borley Rectory, and  traced and personally interviewed almost every living person who had been connected with what the press had dubbed the ‘most haunted house in England’.

He built up a volume of correspondence with paranormal investigator Harry Price and after Price’s death, he became literary executor of the Harry Price Estate.

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1951 – Jonathan Richman born.  American singer, songwriter and guitarist.
In 1970 he founded The Modern Lovers, an influential proto-punk band. Since the mid-1970s, Richman has worked either solo or with low-key, generally acoustic, backing.

He is known for his wide-eyed, unaffected and childlike outlook, and music that, while rooted in rock and roll, often draws on influences from around the world.

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1953 – Django Reinhardt died. Pioneering virtuoso jazz guitarist and composer, often regarded as one of the greatest guitar players of all time and is the first important European jazz musician who made major contributions to the development of the idiom.

Using only the index and middle fingers of his left hand on his solos (his third and fourth fingers were paralyzed after an injury in a fire), Reinhardt invented an entirely new style of jazz guitar technique (sometimes called ‘hot’ jazz guitar) that has since become a living musical tradition within French gypsy culture.

With violinist Stéphane Grappelli, he co-founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France, described by critic Thom Jurek as “one of the most original bands in the history of recorded jazz.”

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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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Almanac – January 23

1897 – Zona Heaster Shue was found dead in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. The resulting murder trial of her husband is perhaps the only case in United States history where the alleged testimony of a ghost helped secure a conviction.

According to local legend, Zona appeared to her mother in a dream four weeks after her funeral. She said  Erasmus Shue  (her husband) was a cruel man who abused her, and who had attacked her in a fit of rage when he believed that she had cooked no meat for dinner. He had broken her neck; to prove this, the ghost turned her head completely around until it was facing backwards.
Supposedly, the ghost appeared first as a bright light, gradually taking form and filling the room with a chill. She is said to have visited Mrs. Heaster over the course of four nights.

Zona’s body was examined on February 22, 1897 in the local one-room schoolhouse. Shue had “vigorously complained” about this turn of events, but was required by law to be present at the autopsy. He responded that he knew he would be arrested, but that no one would be able to prove his guilt.

The autopsy lasted three hours, and found that Zona’s neck had indeed been broken. According to the report, published on March 9, 1897, “the discovery was made that the neck was broken and the windpipe mashed. On the throat were the marks of fingers indicating that she had been choked. The neck was dislocated between the first and second vertebrae. The ligaments were torn and ruptured. The windpipe had been crushed at a point in front of the neck.

On the strength of this evidence, and his behavior at the inquest, Shue was arrested and charged with the murder of his wife. He was sentenced to life in prison…which didn’t last long, as he died in 1900.

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1898 – Sergei Eisenstein born. Pioneering Soviet Russian film director and film theorist, often considered to be the “Father of Montage“.

He is noted in particular for his silent films Strike (1924), Battleship Potemkin (1925) and October (1927), as well as the historical epics Alexander Nevsky (1938) and Ivan the Terrible (1944, 1958).

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1910 – Django Reinhardt born. Pioneering virtuoso jazz guitarist and composer. Reinhardt is often regarded as one of the greatest guitar players of all time and regarded as the first important European jazz musician who made major contributions to the development of the idiom.

Reinhardt invented an entirely new style of jazz guitar technique (sometimes called ‘hot’ jazz guitar) that has since become a living musical tradition within French gypsy culture.

With violinist Stéphane Grappelli, he co-founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France, described by critic Thom Jurek as “one of the most original bands in the history of recorded jazz.

Reinhardt’s most popular compositions have become jazz standards, including “Minor Swing”, “Daphne”, “Belleville”, “Djangology”, “Swing ’42”, and “Nuages“.

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1957 – American inventor Walter Frederick Morrison sold the rights to his flying disc to the Wham-O toy company, which later renamed it the Frisbee.

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1989 – Salvador Dalí died.  Dalí was a skilled draftsman, best known for the striking and bizarre images in his surrealist work. Dalí’s expansive artistic repertoire included film, sculpture, and photography, in collaboration with a range of artists in a variety of media.

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1997 – Richard Berry died. African American singer, songwriter and musician, who performed with many Los Angeles doo-wop and close harmony groups in the 1950s, including The Flairs and The Robins. He is best known as the composer and original performer of …. oh, c’mon – you all must know this…

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