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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Almanac – December 08

1854 – In his Apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX proclaims the dogmatic definition of Immaculate Conception, which holds that the Virgin Mary was born free of original sin.

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1859 – Thomas De Quincey died.  English essayist, best known for his Confessions of an English Opium-Eater.

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1860 – Amanda McKittrick Ros born. Northern Irish writer and poet.  Her eccentric, over-written, “purple” circumlocutory writing style is alleged by some critics to be some of the worst prose and poetry ever written, although of course that’s a matter of taste.

 I like her poem “Visiting Westminster Abbey,” which opens:

    Holy Moses! Take a look!
    Flesh decayed in every nook!
    Some rare bits of brain lie here,
    Mortal loads of beef and beer.

…which perfectly sums up my own feelings about churches stuffed full of the tombs of the great and the good (or, at least, the rich and the powerful).

I believe her novels are out of print, but you can find her Irene Iddesleigh online here-

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/34181/34181-h/34181-h.htm

It starts-

Sympathise with me, indeed! Ah, no! Cast your sympathy on the chill waves of troubled waters; fling it on the oases of futurity; dash it against the rock of gossip; or, better still, allow it to remain within the false and faithless bosom of buried scorn.

Such were a few remarks of Irene as she paced the beach of limited freedom, alone and unprotected. Sympathy can wound the breast of trodden patience,—it hath no rival to insure the feelings we possess, save that of sorrow.

The gloomy mansion stands firmly within the ivy-covered, stoutly-built walls of Dunfern, vast in proportion and magnificent in display. It has been built over three hundred years, and its structure stands respectably distant from modern advancement, and in some degrees it could boast of architectural 10 designs rarely, if ever, attempted since its construction.

Go on – you know you want to know the rest.

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1939 – Jerry Butler born. American soul singer and songwriter. He was the original lead singer of The Impressions.

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1943 – Jim Morrison born.  American singer-songwriter and poet, best remembered as the lead singer The Doors…that and for being found dead in a bathtub in Paris.

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Almanac – November 25

Historically a day of storms… which gives me an excuse (as if i need one) to play this Northern Soul classic.

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1703 – The Great Storm of 1703, the greatest windstorm ever recorded in the southern part of Great Britain, reached its peak intensity which it maintained through November 27. Winds gusted up to 120 mph, and 9,000 people died. Observers at the time recorded barometric readings as low as 973 millibars (measured by William Derham in South Essex), but it has been suggested that the storm may have deepened to 950 millibars over the Midlands.

 The storm, unprecedented in ferocity and duration, was generally reckoned by witnesses to represent the anger of God—in recognition of the “crying sins of this nation”, the government declared 19 January 1704 a day of fasting, saying it “loudly calls for the deepest and most solemn humiliation of our people”. It remained a frequent topic of moralizing in sermons well into the nineteenth century.

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1839 – A cyclone hit India with high winds and a 40 foot storm surge, destroying the port city of Coringa (which has never been completely rebuilt). The storm wave swept inland, taking with it 20,000 ships and thousands of people. An estimated 300,000 deaths resulted from the disaster.

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1950 – The Great Appalachian Storm of November 1950, otherwise known at the time as the “Storm of the Century”, struck  New England with hurricane force winds resulting in massive forest blow-downs and storm surge damage along the Northeast coast including New York City. This storm also brought blizzard conditions to the Appalachian Mountains and Ohio Valley, becoming one of the worst storms of all time. 353 people died in the event.

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1974 – Nick Drake died.  English singer-songwriter and musician, known for his gentle guitar-based songs. He failed to find a wide audience during his lifetime but his work has gradually achieved wider notice and recognition. Died from an overdose of amitriptyline, a prescribed antidepressant; he was 26 years old. Whether his death was an accident or suicide has never been resolved.

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1987 – Typhoon Nina hit  the Philippines with category 5 winds of 165 mph and a surge that destroyed entire villages. At least 1,036 deaths are attributed to the storm.

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2008 – Cyclone Nisha struck northern Sri Lanka, killing 15 people and displacing 90,000 others while dealing the region the highest rainfall in 9 decades.

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2009 – Devastating floods, known as the 2009 Saudi Arabian Floods, following freak rains swamped the city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia during an ongoing Hajj pilgrimage. 3,000 cars are swept away and 122 people perished in the torrents, with 350 others missing.

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Almanac – November 23

534 BC – Thespis of Icaria became the first recorded actor to portray a character onstage – according to certain Ancient Greek sources and especially Aristotle, he was the first person ever to appear on stage as an actor playing a character in a play (instead of speaking as him or herself). In other sources, he is said to have introduced the first principal actor in addition to the chorus.

According to Aristotle, writing nearly two centuries later, Thespis was a singer of dithyrambs (songs about stories from mythology with choric refrains). Thespis supposedly introduced a new style in which one singer or actor performed the words of individual characters in the stories, distinguishing between the characters with the aid of different masks.

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1585 – Thomas Tallis died.  English composer who occupies a primary place in anthologies of English church music, and is considered one of England’s greatest early composers,  honoured for his original voice in English musicianship.

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1859 – William Henry McCarty, Jr. born. Later to achieve notoriety as wild west outlaw Billy the Kid.

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1887 – Boris Karloff born. English actor best remembered for his roles in horror films and his portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster in Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and Son of Frankenstein (1939).

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1888 – Harpo Marx born. American comedian and film star and  second-oldest of the Marx Brothers. His comic style was influenced by clown and pantomime traditions, he never spoke during performances (he blew a horn or whistled to communicate) and  played the harp in most of his films.

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1910 – Dr H.H. Crippen executed. American homeopathic physician and salesman hanged in Pentonville Prison, London, for the murder of his wife, Cora Henrietta Crippen. He was the first criminal to be captured with the aid of wireless communication.

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1939 – Betty Everett born.  American soul singer and pianist.

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1963 – The BBC broadcasted the first episode of Doctor Who, starring William Hartnell in the title role.

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2010 – Ingrid Pitt died. Polish-born actress best known for her work in horror films of the 1960s and 1970s.

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