Tag Archives: Jamaican

Almanac – June 10

323 BC – Alexander the Great died. King of Macedon, a state in northern ancient Greece.

By the age of thirty, he had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, stretching from the Ionian Sea to the Himalayas. He was undefeated in battle and is considered one of history’s most successful commanders.

Alexander died in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II, in Babylon, aged 32.

 

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1884 – Leone Sextus Denys Oswolf Fraudatifilius Tollemache-Tollemache de Orellana Plantagenet Tollemache-Tollemache born.

English soldier, here solely because of his name. He died on active service in 1917, though of influenza rather than a bullet.

 

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1910 – Howlin’ Wolf born. American blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player.

With a booming voice and looming physical presence, Wolf is commonly ranked among the leading performers in electric blues; musician and critic Cub Koda declared, “no one could match Howlin’ Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits.”

 A number of songs written or popularized by him —such as “Smokestack Lightnin'”, “Back Door Man”, “Killing Floor” and “Spoonful”—have become blues and blues rock standards.

At 6 feet, 6 inches (197 cm) and close to 300 pounds (136 kg), he was an imposing presence with one of the loudest and most memorable voices of all the “classic” 1950s Chicago blues singers.  Sam Phillips once remarked, “When I heard Howlin’ Wolf, I said, ‘This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies.'”

 

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1940 – Marcus Garvey died. Jamaican political leader, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator who was a staunch proponent of the Black nationalism and Pan-Africanism movements, to which end he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL).

He founded the Black Star Line, part of the Back-to-Africa movement, which promoted the return of the African diaspora to their ancestral lands.
The Rastafari movement  proclaims Garvey as a prophet

.Garvey died in London in 1940 after two strokes. Due to travel restrictions during World War II, his body was interred in London and he was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery. In 1964, his remains were exhumed and taken to Jamaica, where the government proclaimed him Jamaica’s first national hero and re-interred him at a shrine in the National Heroes Park.

 

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1946 – Jack Johnson died.  American boxer.

At the height of the Jim Crow era, Johnson became the first African American world heavyweight boxing champion (1908–1915). In a documentary about his life, Ken Burns notes that “for more than thirteen years, Jack Johnson was the most famous and the most notorious African-American on Earth.”

Johnson died in a car crash on U.S. Highway 1 near Franklinton, North Carolina, a small town near Raleigh, after racing angrily from a diner that refused to serve him.

Miles Davis‘s 1971 album entitled A Tribute to Jack Johnson was inspired by the boxer. The end of the record features the actor Brock Peters (as Johnson) saying:
I’m Jack Johnson. Heavyweight champion of the world. I’m black. They never let me forget it. I’m black all right! I’ll never let them forget it!”

 

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Almanac – May 25

1895 – Playwright, poet, and novelist Oscar Wilde was convicted of “committing acts of gross indecency with other male persons” and sentenced to serve two years in prison.

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1956 – Sugar Minott born. Jamaican reggae singer, producer and sound-system operator.

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1965 – Sonny Boy Williamson II died.  American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter.

He is acknowledged as one of the most charismatic and influential blues musicians, with considerable prowess on the harmonica and highly creative songwriting skills.

He recorded successfully in the 1950s and 1960s, and had a direct influence on later blues and rock performers.

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1967 – Poppy Z. Brite born. American author,  best known for writing gothic and horror novels and short stories.

Brite’s trademarks have included using gay men as main characters, graphic sexual descriptions in the works, and an often wry treatment of gruesome events.

Some of Brite’s better known novels include Lost Souls (1992), Drawing Blood  (1993), and Exquisite Corpse (1996).

Brite is, in real life, Billy Martin, a transgender man – he self-identifies as a gay man; “Ever since I was old enough to know what gay men were, I’ve considered myself a gay man that happens to have been born in a female body, and that’s the perspective I’m coming from” –  and prefers that male pronouns and terms be used when referring to him.

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2006 – Desmond Dekker died. Jamaican ska, rocksteady and reggae singer-songwriter and musician.

In 1968 Dekker’s “Israelites” was released, eventually topping the UK Singles Chart in April 1969 and peaking in the Top Ten of the US Billboard Hot 100 in June 1969 – Dekker was the first Jamaican artist to have a hit record in the US with a form and style that was purely Jamaican.

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Almanac – May 18

1048 – Omar Khayyám born.  Persian polymath, philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and poet. He also wrote treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy, music, and Islamic theology.

Outside Iran and Persian speaking countries, Khayyám has had an impact on literature and societies through the translation of his works and popularization by other scholars.

The greatest such impact was in English-speaking countries; the English scholar Thomas Hyde (1636–1703) was the first non-Persian to study him.

The most influential of all was Edward FitzGerald (1809–83), who made Khayyám the most famous poet of the East in the West through his celebrated translation and adaptations of Khayyám’s rather small number of quatrains (Persian: رباعیات‎ rubāʿiyāt) in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

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1911 – Big Joe Turner born. American “blues shouter” (a blues-music singer capable of singing unamplified with a band) .

According to the songwriter Doc Pomus, “Rock and roll would have never happened without him.”

Although he had his greatest fame during the 1950s with his rock and roll recordings, particularly “Shake, Rattle and Roll”, Turner’s career as a performer endured from the 1920s into the 1980s.

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1913 – Charles Trenet born.  French singer and songwriter, most famous for his recordings from the late 1930s until the mid-1950s, though his career continued through the 1990s.

In an era in which it was exceptional for a singer to write their own material, Trenet wrote prolifically and declined to record any but his own songs.

While many of his songs mined relatively conventional topics such as love, Paris, and nostalgia for his younger days, what set Trenet’s songs apart were their personal, poetic, sometimes quite eccentric qualities, often infused with a warm wit. Some of his songs had unconventional subject matter, with whimsical imagery bordering on the surreal.

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1995 – Brinsley Le Poer Trench died. From 1956 to 1959 he edited the Flying Saucer Review and founded the International Unidentified Object Observer Corps.

In 1967, he founded Contact International and served as its first president. He also served as vice-president of the British UFO Research Association (BUFORA). He was an honorary life member of the now defunct Ancient Astronauts Society which supported the ideas put forward by Erich von Däniken in his 1968 book Chariots of the Gods?.

In 1975 he succeeded to the earldom of  Clancarty on the death of his half-brother, giving him a seat in the British House of Lords.

He used his new position to found a UFO Study Group at the  Lords, introducing Flying Saucer Review to its library and pushing for the declassification of UFO data.

Four years later he organised a celebrated debate in the House of Lords on UFOs which attracted many speeches on both sides of the question.

Trench also claimed to know a former U.S. test pilot who said he was one of six persons present at a meeting between President Eisenhower and a group of aliens, which allegedly took place at Edwards Air Force Base on April 4, 1954.

Clancarty reported that the test pilot told him “Five different alien craft landed at the base. Three were saucer-shaped and two were cigar shaped… the aliens looked something like humans, but not exactly.”

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1999 – Augustus Pablo died. Jamaican roots reggae and dub record producer, melodica player and keyboardist, active from the 1970s onwards.

He popularized the use of the melodica (an instrument at that time primarily used in Jamaica to teach music to schoolchildren) in reggae music, and was a committed Rastafarian.

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Almanac – May 14

1771 – Robert Owen born.  Welsh social reformer and one of the founders of utopian socialism and the cooperative movement.

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1881 – Mary Seacole died. Jamaican-born woman of Scottish and Creole descent who set up a ‘British Hotel’ behind the lines during the Crimean War, which she described as “a mess-table and comfortable quarters for sick and convalescent officers,” and provided succour for wounded servicemen on the battlefield.

She was posthumously awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit in 1991. In 2004 she was voted the greatest Black Briton.

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1940 – Emma Goldman died. Russian  anarchist known for her political activism, writing, and speeches.

She played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the twentieth century.

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Almanac – May11

1811 – Chang and Eng Bunker born.  Conjoined twin brothers whose condition and birthplace became the basis for the term “Siamese twins”.

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1812 – British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval  assassinated by John Bellingham in the lobby of the House of Commons, London.

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1894 – Martha Graham born. American modern dancer and choreographer whose influence on dance has been compared with the influence Picasso had on the modern visual arts,  Stravinsky had on music, or Frank Lloyd Wright had on architecture.

She danced and choreographed for over seventy years –  “I have spent all my life with dance and being a dancer. It’s permitting life to use you in a very intense way. Sometimes it is not pleasant. Sometimes it is fearful. But nevertheless it is inevitable.”

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1904 – Salvador Dalí born. Spanish surrealist painter,  best known for the striking and bizarre images. Dalí’s expansive artistic repertoire included film, sculpture, and photography, in collaboration with a range of artists in a variety of media.

Dalí attributed his “love of everything that is gilded and excessive, my passion for luxury and my love of oriental clothes” to a self-styled “Arab lineage“, claiming that his ancestors were descended from the Moors.

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1981 – Bob Marley died.  Jamaican singer-songwriter and musician.

He was the rhythm guitarist and lead singer for  The Wailers (1963-1974) and Bob Marley & The Wailers (1974–1981).

 Marley remains the most widely known and the best-selling performer of reggae music, having sold more than 75 million albums worldwide. He is also credited with helping spread both Jamaican music and the Rastafari movement to a worldwide audience.

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Almanac – April 01

ALL FOOLS DAY

1917 – Scott Joplin died.  American composer and pianist. Joplin achieved fame for his ragtime compositions, and was later dubbed “The King of Ragtime”. During his brief career, he wrote 44 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas.

 One of his first pieces, the “Maple Leaf Rag“, became ragtime’s first and most influential hit, and has been recognized as the archetypal rag.

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1919 – The Staatliches Bauhaus school was founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar. 

Commonly known simply as Bauhaus, it  was a school in Germany that combined crafts and the fine arts, and was famous for the approach to design that it publicized and taught. It operated from 1919 to 1933.

The Bauhaus style became one of the most influential currents in Modernist architecture and modern design and had a profound influence upon subsequent developments in art, architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, and typography.

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1948 – Jimmy Cliff born.  Jamaican musician, singer and actor, best known among mainstream audiences for songs such as “Wonderful World, Beautiful People”, “The Harder They Come,” “Sitting in Limbo”, “You Can Get It If You Really Want” and “Many Rivers to Cross” from the soundtrack of the 1972 film  The Harder They Come, which helped popularize reggae across the world;  Cliff starred as Ivanhoe “Ivan” Martin.  Arriving in Kingston from the country, he tries to make it in the recording business, but without success.

Eventually, he turns to a life of crime. The soundtrack album of the film was a huge success that sold well across the world, bringing reggae to an international audience for the first time. It remains one of the most internationally significant films to have come out of Jamaica since independence.

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1949 – Gil Scott-Heron born. American soul and jazz poet, musician, and author, known primarily for his work as a spoken word performer in the 1970s and ’80s.
His collaborative efforts with musician Brian Jackson featured a musical fusion of jazz, blues, and soul, as well as lyrical content concerning social and political issues of the time, delivered in both rapping and melismatic vocal styles.

 His own term for himself was “bluesologist“, which he defined as “a scientist who is concerned with the origin of the blues.” His music, most notably on Pieces of a Man and Winter in America in the early 1970s, influenced and helped engender later African-American music genres such as hip hop and neo soul.

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1976 – Max Ernst died. German painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet. A prolific artist, Ernst was a primary pioneer of the Dada movement and Surrealism.

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1984 – Marvin Gaye died. American singer-songwriter and musician. Gaye helped to shape the sound of Motown Records in the 1960s with a string of hits including “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and duet recordings with Mary Wells and Tammi Terrell.

 

 

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Almanac – March 20

235 – Maximinus Thrax  proclaimed Roman emperor.  Most likely  of Thraco-Roman origin, and  the first emperor never to set foot in Rome.
But really he’s here because I love his name…

MAXIMINUS THRAX ! Say it loud and say it proud…

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1915 – Sister Rosetta Tharpe born.  American singer, songwriter, guitarist and recording artist.

A pioneer of 20th-century music, Tharpe attained great popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with her gospel recordings that were a mixture of spiritual lyrics and early rock and roll accompaniment.

 As the first recording artist to impact the music charts with spiritual recordings, she effectively became the first superstar of gospel music and known as “the original soul sister”.

She was an early influence on iconic figures such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Johnny Cash.

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1936 – Lee “Scratch” Perry born. Jamaican reggae producer noted for his innovative studio techniques and production values.

Perry was one of the pioneers in the development of dub music with his early adoption of effects and remixing to create new instrumental or vocal versions of existing reggae tracks.

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1943 – Gerard Malanga born. American poet, photographer, filmmaker, curator and archivist.

He  worked closely with Andy Warhol during that artist’s most creative period, from 1963 to 1970. A February 17, 1992 article in The New York Times referred to him as “Andy Warhol’s most important associate.

Malanga was involved in all phases of Warhol’s creative output in silkscreen painting and filmmaking. He acted in many of the early Warhol films, including Vinyl, Chelsea Girls, and Kiss; and co-produced Bufferin (1967) in which he reads his poetry, deemed to be the longest spoken word movie on record at 33-minutes nonstop.

 In 1966, he choreographed the music of the Velvet Underground for Warhol’s multimedia presentation, The Exploding Plastic Inevitable.

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