Tag Archives: Northern Soul

Almanac – May 28

1938 – Prince Buster born. Jamaican singer-songwriter, producer and sound system operator.

He is regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of ska and rocksteady music. The records he released in the 1960s influenced and shaped the course of Jamaican contemporary music and created a legacy of work that later reggae and ska artists would draw upon.

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1944 – Gladys Knight born. American singer-songwriter, actress, businesswoman, humanitarian, and author, best known for the hits she recorded during the 1960s and 1970s, for both the Motown and Buddah Records labels, with her group Gladys Knight & the Pips.

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Almanac – April 04

1913 – Muddy Waters born. American blues musician,  considered the “father of modern Chicago blues“. He was a major inspiration for the British blues explosion in the 1960s and is ranked No. 17 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

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1928 – Maya Angelou born. American author and poet, whose list of occupations includes pimp, prostitute, night-club dancer and performer, castmember of the opera Porgy and Bess, coordinator for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, author, journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the days of decolonization, and actor, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs.

She was active in the Civil Rights movement, and worked with both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

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1939 – Major Lance born. American R&B singer. After a number of US hits in the 1960s, including “The Monkey Time” and “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um”, he became an iconic figure in Britain in the 1970s among followers of Northern Soul.

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1968 – Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray at a motel in Memphis, Tennessee. At 6:01 p.m., a shot rang out as King stood on the motel’s second-floor balcony. The bullet entered through his right cheek, smashing his jaw, then traveled down his spinal cord before lodging in his shoulder.

After emergency chest surgery, King was pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Hospital at 7:05 p.m.  According to biographer Taylor Branch, King’s autopsy revealed that though only 39 years old, he “had the heart of a 60 year old“, which Branch attributed to the stress of 13 years in the civil rights movement.

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Almanac – March 30

1844 – Paul Verlaine born. French poet associated with the Symbolist movement. He is considered one of the greatest representatives of the fin de siècle in international and French poetry.

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1853 – Vincent van Gogh born.  Dutch post-Impressionist painter whose work, notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty and bold color, had a far-reaching influence on 20th-century art.

After years of painful anxiety and frequent bouts of mental illness, he died aged 37 from a gunshot wound, generally accepted to be self-inflicted (although no gun was ever found).His work was then known to only a handful of people and appreciated by fewer still.

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1905 – Albert Pierrepoint born. English hangman, he executed at least 400 people, about half of them war criminals.

Pierrepoint was often dubbed the Official Executioner, despite there being no such job or title. The office of executioner had traditionally been performed by the local sheriff, who increasingly delegated the task to a person of suitable character, employed and paid only when required. Pierrepoint continued to work day jobs after qualifying as an Assistant Executioner in 1932 and a Chief Executioner in 1941, in the steps of his father and uncle.

Following his retirement in 1956, the Home Office acknowledged Pierrepoint as the most efficient executioner in British history.There is no official tally of his hangings, which some have estimated at more than 600; the most commonly accepted figure is 435.

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1925 – Rudolf Steiner died. Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect, and esotericist. He gained initial recognition as a literary critic and cultural philosopher. At the beginning of the 20th century, he founded a spiritual movement, anthroposophy, as an esoteric philosophy growing out of idealist philosophy and with links to theosophy.

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2004 – Timi Yuro died.  American singer and songwriter. Sometimes called “the little girl with the big voice,” she is considered to be one of the first blue-eyed soul stylists of the rock era.

According to one critic, “her deep, strident, almost masculine voice, staggered delivery and the occasional sob created a compelling musical presence.”

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Almanac – February 28

1943 – Barbara Acklin born. American soul singer and songwriter who was most successful in the 1960s and 1970s, her biggest hit as a singer was “Love Makes a Woman” in 1968.

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Almanac – February 16

2004 – Doris Troy died.  American R&B singer, known to her many fans as “Mama Soul”.

She  worked with Solomon Burke, The Drifters, Cissy Houston, and Dionne Warwick, before she co-wrote and recorded “Just One Look”, which hit #10 in the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1963.  Her only foray into the UK Singles Chart, “Whatcha Gonna Do About It“, peaked at #37 in December 1964.

As her solo career peaked, she sang back-up for the Rolling Stones, Humble Pie, Kevin Ayers, Pink Floyd (on their album The Dark Side of the Moon),  George Harrison, Johnny Hallyday, Vivian Stanshall, Dusty Springfield,Nick Drake, Junior Campbell and Carly Simon.

She was signed by The Beatles to their Apple Records label in 1969, and released the Doris Troy album the following year, co-produced  with  George Harrison.

She died from emphysema at her home in Las Vegas, Nevada, aged 67

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Almanac – January 06

1066 – Harold Godwinson  crowned King of England.  He reigned  until his death at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October of that same year, fighting the Norman invaders led by William the Conqueror during the Norman conquest of England.

Harold is the first of only three kings of England to have died in warfare; the other two were Richard I and Richard III.

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1883 – Khalil Gibran born. Lebanese artist, poet, and writer.  He is chiefly known in the English-speaking world for his 1923 book The Prophet, an early example of inspirational fiction including a series of philosophical essays written in poetic English prose.

The book sold well despite a cool critical reception, gaining popularity in the 1930s and again especially in the 1960s counterculture.  Gibran is the third best-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu (in modern Pinyin, Laozi), the Chinese founder of Taoism.

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1937 – Doris Troy born. American R&B singer, known to her many fans as “Mama Soul“.  

“She was a rarity in the early sixties – a singer who wrote her own material. She was always at the cutting edge. One of the earliest Soul divas, on Atlantic before Aretha, and recording with Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff years before the heady days of the Philadelphia sound.”Ian Levine

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1993 – Dizzy Gillespie died. merican jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer and occasional singer.

During the 1964 United States presidential campaign he put himself forward as an independent write-in candidate. He promised that if he were elected, the White House would be renamed “The Blues House,” and a cabinet composed of Duke Ellington (Secretary of State), Miles Davis (Director of the CIA), Max Roach (Secretary of Defense), Charles Mingus (Secretary of Peace), Ray Charles (Librarian of Congress), Louis Armstrong (Secretary of Agriculture), Mary Lou Williams (Ambassador to the Vatican), Thelonious Monk (Travelling Ambassador) and Malcolm X (Attorney General).

America, what a chance you missed.

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