Tag Archives: Miles Davis

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 26

1647 – Alse Young, hanged in Hartford, Connecticut, became the first known  person to be  executed as a witch in the British American colonies.

Very little is recorded of Alse Young; her existence is only known through her reputation as a witch. She is believed to have been the wife of John Young, who bought a small parcel of land in Windsor in 1641, sold it in 1649, and then disappeared from the town records.

There is no further record of Young’s trial or the specifics of the charge, only that Alse Young was a woman. Early historical record hints at the possibility that there may have been some sort of epidemic in the town of Windsor in early 1647.

She had a daughter, Alice Young Beamon, who would be accused of witchcraft in nearby Springfield, Massachusetts, some 30 years later.

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1828 – Celebrated feral child Kaspar Hauser was discovered wandering the streets of Nuremberg.

At first it was assumed that he was raised half-wild in forests, but during conversations with officials, Hauser told a different version of his past life, which he later also wrote down in more detail. According to this story, for as long as he could remember he spent his life totally alone in a darkened cell about two metres long, one metre wide and one and a half high with only a straw bed to sleep on and a horse carved out of wood for a toy.

He claimed that he found bread and water next to his bed each morning. Periodically the water would taste bitter and drinking it would cause him to sleep more heavily than usual. On such occasions, when he awakened, his straw was changed and his hair and nails were cut.

Hauser claimed that the first human being with whom he ever had contact was a mysterious man who visited him not long before his release, always taking great care not to reveal his face to him.

This man, Hauser said, taught him to write his name by leading his hand. After learning to stand and walk, he was brought to Nuremberg. Furthermore, the stranger allegedly taught him to say the phrase “I want to be a cavalryman, as my father was” (in Bavarian dialect), but Hauser claimed that he did not understand what these words meant.

This tale aroused great curiosity and made Hauser an object of international attention. Rumours arose that he was of princely parentage, possibly of Baden origin, but there were also claims that he was an impostor.

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1897 – Dracula,  by  Bram Stoker, was published.

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1916 – Moondog born. Blind American composer, musician, poet and inventor of several musical instruments.
 
Moving to New York as a young man, Moondog made a deliberate decision to make his home on the streets there, where he spent approximately twenty of the thirty years he lived in the city.

Most days he could be found in his chosen part of town wearing clothes he had created based on his own interpretation of the Norse god Odin.[citation needed] Thanks to his unconventional outfits and lifestyle, he was known for much of his life as “The Viking of 6th Avenue”.

Native American music, along with contemporary jazz and classical, mixed with the ambient sounds from his environment (city traffic, ocean waves, babies crying, etc.)  created the foundation of Moondog’s music.

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1926 – Miles Davis born. American jazz musician, trumpeter, bandleader, and composer.

 Widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century,  Miles Davis was, with his musical groups, at the forefront of several major developments in jazz music, including bebop, cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, and jazz fusion.

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Almanac – March 31

1596 – René Descartes born. French philosopher, mathematician, and writer who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed the ‘Father of Modern Philosophy‘, and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings.

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1878 – Jack Johnson born. 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.”

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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1990 – 200,000 protestors took to the streets of London to protest against the newly introduced Poll Tax.

The Poll Tax Riots were a series of mass disturbances, or riots, in British towns and cities during protests against the Community Charge (commonly known as the poll tax), introduced by the Conservative government led by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The London event was by far the largest.

The riot in central London, with the national opposition to the Community Charge (especially vehement in the North of England and Scotland) contributed to the downfall of Thatcher, who resigned as Prime Minister in November the same year, defending a tax which an opinion poll had found only 12% favoured. The next Prime Minister, John Major, announced it would be abolished.

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Almanac – March 12

1507 – Cesare Borgia died. Italian nobleman, politician, and cardinal. He was the son of Pope Alexander VI and his long-term mistress Vannozza dei Cattanei, and  the brother of Lucrezia Borgia. He was killed  while fighting in the city of Viana, Spain.

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1626 – John Aubrey born.  English antiquary, natural philosopher and writer.  He was a pioneer archaeologist, who recorded (often for the first time) numerous megalithic and other field monuments in southern England, and who is particularly noted as the discoverer of the Avebury henge monument.  The Aubrey holes at Stonehenge are named after him, although there is considerable doubt as to whether the holes that he observed are those that currently bear the name.

 He was also a pioneer folklorist, collecting together a miscellany of material on customs, traditions and beliefs under the title “Remaines of Gentilisme and Judaisme”.

He set out to compile county histories of both Wiltshire and Surrey, although both projects remained unfinished. His “Interpretation of Villare Anglicanum” (also unfinished) was the first attempt to compile a full-length study of English place-names.

He had wider interests in applied mathematics and astronomy, and was friendly with many of the greatest scientists of the day.

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1922 – Jack Kerouac born. American novelist and poet. He is considered a literary iconoclast and, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, a pioneer of the Beat Generation.

Kerouac is recognized for his spontaneous method of writing, covering topics such as Catholic spirituality, jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, and travel. He became an underground celebrity and, with other beats, a progenitor of the hippie movement, although he remained antagonistic toward some of its politically radical elements.

All of his books are in print today, among them: On the Road, Doctor Sax, The Dharma Bums, Mexico City Blues, The Subterraneans, Desolation Angels, Visions of Cody, The Sea is My Brother, and Big Sur.

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1955 – Charlie Parker died. American jazz saxophonist and composer. Miles Davis once said, “You can tell the history of jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker.”

Parker was a highly influential jazz soloist and a leading figure in the development of bebop, a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos, virtuosic technique, and improvisation. Parker introduced revolutionary harmonic ideas, including rapid passing chords, new variants of altered chords, and chord substitutions.

He acquired the nickname “Yardbird” early in his career and the shortened form, “Bird”, which continued to be used for the rest of his life, inspired the titles of a number of Parker compositions, such as “Yardbird Suite” and “Ornithology.

Parker died in the suite of his friend and patron Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter at the Stanhope Hotel in New York City while watching The Dorsey Brothers’ Stage Show on television.

The official causes of death were lobar pneumonia and a bleeding ulcer but Parker also had an advanced case of cirrhosis and had suffered a heart attack. The coroner who performed his autopsy mistakenly estimated Parker’s 34-year-old body to be between 50 and 60 years of age.

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Almanac – September 28

The ghost of Walter Ralegh is said to walk in the gardens of his former home, Sherborne Castle, Dorset, on this day.

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551 BC – Some say this was the date of the birth of Confucius.

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935 – Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia died.  purportedly assassinated  in a plot by his own brother, Boleslav the Cruel.
He’s the “Good King Wenceslaus” of the carol.

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1066 – William the Bastard’s  army lands in  England,  beginning the Norman Conquest.

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1745 – That appalling dirge the British National Anthem had its first public performance, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, in the wake of the defeat of the Jacobites at the Battle of Prestonpans. Which is why the original version had this verse-

Lord, grant that Marshal Wade,
May by thy mighty aid,
Victory bring.
May he sedition hush and like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush,
God save the King.

Its been omitted from the current version, we dont crush Scots no more.

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1791 – France  becomes the first European country to emancipate its Jewish population.

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1836 – Thomas Crapper born. English plumber who founded Thomas Crapper & Co in London. Contrary to widespread misconceptions, Crapper did not invent the flush toilet. He did, however, do much to increase its  popularity, and developed some important related inventions, such as the ballcock.

It has often been claimed that the slang term for human bodily waste – crap –  originated with  Crapper,  the most common version of this story being that American servicemen stationed in England during World War I saw his name on cisterns and used it as army slang, i.e., “I’m going to the crapper”.

However, the word is actually of Middle English origin; and  predates its application to bodily waste. Its first application in that particular field, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, appeared in 1846 under a reference to a crapping ken, or a privy ( ken means a house).

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1928 – The U.K. Parliament passes the Dangerous Drugs Act outlawing cannabis.

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1934 – Brigitte Bardot born. French fashion model, actress, singer and animal rights activist. She was one of the best-known sex symbols of the 1960s, and in  1969 her features became the official face of Marianne (who had previously been anonymous) to represent the liberty of France.  (Marianne is a national emblem of France and an allegory of Liberty and Reason.)

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1964 – Harpo Marx died.  Second-oldest of the Marx Brothers.

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1966 – André Breton died. French writer and poet, known best as the founder of Surrealism. His writings include the first Surrealist Manifesto (Manifeste du surréalisme) of 1924, in which he defined surrealism as “pure psychic automatism”.

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1971 – The Parliament of the United Kingdom passes the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 banning the medicinal use of cannabis.

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1991 – Miles Davis died.

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Almanac – August 17

1887 – Marcus Garvey born.  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 as well as  the Black Star Line, part of the Back-to-Africa movement, which promoted the return of the African diaspora to their ancestral lands.

Rastafarians consider Garvey a religious prophet, and sometimes even the reincarnation of Saint John the Baptist. This is partly because of his frequent statements uttered in speeches throughout the 1920s, usually along the lines of “Look to Africa, when a black king shall be crowned for the day of deliverance is at hand!”


1896 – Bridget Driscoll , aged 44,  became  the first pedestrian victim of an automobile accident in the United Kingdom. As she and her teenage daughter May (and possibly one other person) crossed the grounds of the Crystal Palace in London, she was struck by an automobile belonging to the Anglo-French Motor Carriage Company that was being used to give demonstration rides. One witness described the car as travelling at “a reckless pace, in fact, like a fire engine” – although the car’s maximum speed was only 8 miles per hour at best,  and it had been limited deliberately to 4 miles per hour in this case. The driver was Arthur James Edsall of Upper Norwood, London.

1953 – Kevin Rowland born. English singer-songwriter and frontman of the  band Dexys Midnight Runners,

1959 – Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, the much acclaimed and highly influential best selling jazz recording of all time, released.

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Almanac – August 8

1879 – Emiliano Zapata born, a leading figure in the Mexican Revolution which broke out in 1910, and which was initially directed against the president Porfirio Díaz. He formed and commanded an important revolutionary force, the Liberation Army of the South. and his memory is still revered today.

1969 – At a zebra crossing in London, photographer Iain Macmillan takes the photo that becomes the cover of the Beatles album Abbey Road, one of the most famous album covers in recording history.



1975 – Cannonball  Adderley died. Julian Edwin Adderley,  jazz alto saxophonist of the hard bop era of the 1950s and 1960s,  remembered for his 1966 single “Mercy Mercy Mercy”, a crossover hit on the pop charts, and for his work with  Miles Davis, including on the epochal album Kind of Blue (1959).

2004 – Fay Wray died. Canadian-American actress most noted for playing the female lead in King Kong. Through an acting career that spanned 57 years, Wray attained international stardom as an actress in horror film roles, leading to many considering her as the first “scream queen”.

Mr. Frankenstein

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