Tag Archives: Frank Zappa

Almanac – March 25

421 – Venice  founded, according to legend,  identified with the dedication of the first church, that of San Giacomo at the islet of Rialto ,which is said to have been at the stroke of noon on 25 March 421

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1807 – The Slave Trade Act became law, abolishing the slave trade in the British Empire.  The act abolished the slave trade but not slavery itself.

Slavery on English soil was unsupported in English law and that position was confirmed in Somersett’s Case in 1772, but it remained legal in most of the British Empire until the Slavery Abolition Act 1833.

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1931 – Tom Wilson born. American record producer best known for his work with Sun Ra,  Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, Simon and Garfunkel and The Velvet Underground.

As a staff producer at Columbia Records he  was one of the ‘midwives’ of folk-rock, producing three of Bob Dylan’s key 1960s albums: The Times They Are a-Changin’, Another Side of Bob Dylan, and Bringing It All Back Home, along with the 1965 single, “Like a Rolling Stone.”

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1942 – Aretha Franklin born.  American musician, singer, songwriter, and pianist. In a recording career that has spanned over half a century, her repertoire has included gospel, jazz, blues, R&B, pop, rock and funk.

She has been described as “the voice of the civil rights movement, the voice of the black America” and a symbol of black equality.

She first became connected with the movement through her father, Reverend C.L. Franklin, a preacher, who traveled the country as well as recorded a weekly sermon for the radio station, WLAC, which reached 65 percent of the African-American population.

On tours with her father, Franklin began her singing career. Rev. Franklin also introduced Franklin to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., starting a lifelong friendship between the two.

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Almanac – December 22

1883 – Edgard Varèse born. French-born composer who spent the greater part of his career in the United States. Varèse’s music emphasizes timbre and rhythm, he was the inventor of the term “organized sound”, a phrase meaning that certain timbres and rhythms can be grouped together, sublimating into a whole new definition of music.

Although his complete surviving works only last about three hours, he has been recognised as an influence by several major composers of the late 20th century. His use of new instruments and electronic resources led to his being known as the “Father of Electronic Music” while Henry Miller described him as “The stratospheric Colossus of Sound”.

One of Varèse’s biggest fans was Frank Zappa, who, upon hearing a copy of The Complete Works of Edgard Varèse, Vol. 1, became obsessed with the composer’s music.

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1989 – Samuel Beckett died. Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet, who lived in Paris for most of his adult life and wrote in both English and French.

His work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour, and he is widely regarded as among the most influential writers of the 20th century.

Strongly influenced by James Joyce, he is considered one of the last modernists, and also sometimes  one of the first postmodernists. He is one of the key writers in what Martin Esslin called the “Theatre of the Absurd”.

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2002 – Joe Strummer died. British musician who was the co-founder, lyricist, rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist of the British punk rock band The Clash. Strummer died suddenly, the victim of an undiagnosed congenital heart defect.

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Almanac – December 21

In the Northern Hemisphere, meteorological Winter starts on December 21. In the Southern Hemisphere, meteorological Summer.

1844 – The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers commences business at its cooperative in Rochdale, England, United Kingdom starting the Cooperative movement.
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1940 – Frank Zappa born. American composer, singer-songwriter, guitarist, recording engineer, record producer and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa wrote rock, jazz, orchestral and musique concrète works, and also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers. Zappa produced almost all of the more than 60 albums he released with The Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist.

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1942 – Carla Thomas born. American singer,  often referred to as the Queen of Memphis Soul. She is the daughter of Rufus Thomas, and also is responsible for one of my favorite christmas-themed records…

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1953 – Betty Wright born. Miami-based soul and R&B singer-songwriter, who won fame in the 1970s with hits such as “Clean Up Woman” and “Tonight Is the Night“. A pioneering singer-songwriter and entrepreneur, she remains one of the few black female musicians to have a gold record on her own vanity label.

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Almanac – December 04

1123 – Omar Khayyám died. Persian polymath: philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and poet. He also wrote treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy, music, and Islamic theology.

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
 Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit,
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
 Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

But helpless pieces in the game He plays,
 Upon this chequer-board of Nights and Days,
He hither and thither moves, and checks… and slays,
 Then one by one, back in the Closet lays.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/99/At_the_Tomb_of_Omar_Khayyam_-_by_Jay_Hambidge.jpg/220px-At_the_Tomb_of_Omar_Khayyam_-_by_Jay_Hambidge.jpg

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1872 – The crewless American ship  Mary Celeste is found by the British brig Dei Gratia. The ship had been abandoned for nine days but was  in seaworthy condition and still under sail heading toward the Strait of Gibraltar. She had been at sea for a month and had over six months’ worth of food and water on board. Her cargo was virtually untouched and the personal belongings of passengers and crew were still in place, including valuables. One lifeboat was missing, along with its 10 crew and passengers, who were never seen or heard from again.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/92/Mary_Celeste_as_Amazon_in_1861.jpg/300px-Mary_Celeste_as_Amazon_in_1861.jpg

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1971 – The Montreux Casino in Switzerland is set ablaze by someone wielding a flare gun during a Frank Zappa concert.  The incident  inspired the Deep Purple song “Smoke on the Water”.

We all came out to Montreux
On the Lake Geneva shoreline
To make records with a mobile
We didn’t have much time
Frank Zappa and the Mothers
Were at the best place around
But some stupid with a flare gun
Burned the place to the ground

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1993 – Frank Zappa died. American composer, singer-songwriter, guitarist, recording engineer, record producer and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa wrote rock, jazz, orchestral and musique concrète works. He also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers. He produced almost all of the more than 60 albums he released with the band The Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist.

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Frank Zappa was one of the first to try tearing down the barriers between rock, jazz, and classical music. In the late Sixties his Mothers of Invention would slip from Stravinsky’s “Petroushka” into The Dovells’ “Bristol Stomp” before breaking down into saxophone squeals inspired by Albert Ayler
The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll

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Almanac – November 06

1814 – Adolphe Sax born. Belgian musical instrument designer and musician who played the flute and clarinet, and is best known for having invented the saxophone.

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1938 – P.J. Proby born.   American singer, songwriter, and actor.

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1965 – Edgard Varèse died.     French-born composer who spent the greater part of his career in the United States.

Varèse’s music emphasizes timbre and rhythm. He was the inventor of the term “organized sound”, a phrase meaning that certain timbres and rhythms can be grouped together, sublimating into a whole new definition of music.

Although his complete surviving works only last about three hours, he has been recognised as an influence by several major composers of the late 20th century. His use of new instruments and electronic resources led to his being known as the “Father of Electronic Music” while Henry Miller described him as “The stratospheric Colossus of Sound”.

One of Varèse’s biggest fans was   Frank Zappa, who, upon hearing a copy of The Complete Works of Edgard Varèse, Vol. 1  became obsessed with the composer’s music.

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