Tag Archives: ragtime

Almanac – May 05

1901 – Blind Willie McTell born (probably – the year 1898 is also given).  Piedmont and ragtime blues singer and guitarist.

He played with a fluid, syncopated fingerstyle guitar technique, common among many exponents of Piedmont blues, although, unlike his contemporaries, he came to use twelve-string guitars exclusively.

McTell was also an adept slide guitarist,  and his vocal style, a smooth and often laid-back tenor, differed greatly from many of the harsher voice types employed by Delta bluesmen, such as Charley Patton. McTell embodied a variety of musical styles, including blues, ragtime, religious music and hokum.

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1937 – Delia Derbyshire born.  English musician and composer of electronic music  and musique concrète.

She is best known for her electronic realisation of Ron Grainer‘s theme music to the British science fiction television series Doctor Who and for her work with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

When Grainer first heard it, he was so amazed by her rendering of his theme that he asked “Did I really write this?” to which Derbyshire replied “Most of it”. 

Grainer attempted to get her a co-composer credit but the attempt was prevented by the BBC bureaucracy, who then preferred to keep the members of the Workshop anonymous.

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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 – November 24

1859 – Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species.

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1868 – Scott Joplin born. 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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1941 – Donald “Duck” Dunn born.  American bass guitarist, session musician, record producer, and songwriter. Dunn was notable for his 1960s recordings with Booker T. & the M.G.’s and as a session bassist for Stax Records, playing on thousands of records including hits by Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, William Bell, Eddie Floyd, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, and many others.

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1944 – Candy Darling born. American actress, best known as a Warhol Superstar.  A male-to-female transsexual, she starred in Andy Warhol’s films Flesh (1968) and Women in Revolt (1971), and was also immortalized in the Velvet Underground‘s  ‘Candy Says’, Lou Reed‘s ‘Walk On the Wild Side’, the Rolling Stones song ‘Citadel’, and some claim she was the inspiration for  The Kinks ‘Lola’.

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1947 – For refusing to co-operate with the House Un-American Activities Committee, the US Congress cited 10 Hollywood Writers, directors and producers – the Hollywood 10 – for contempt.

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1963 – Lee Harvey Oswald, accused of assassinating John F. Kennedy, was himself murdered by Jack Ruby.

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1985 – Big Joe Turner died.  American blues shouter from Kansas City, Missouri. According to the songwriter Doc Pomus, “Rock and roll would have never happened without him.”  Although  his greatest fame came  in the 1950s with his pioneering rock and roll recordings, particularly “Shake, Rattle and Roll”, Turner’s career as a performer stretched from the 1920s into the 1980s

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Almanac – September 20

1498 – The 1498 Meiō Nankaidō earthquake generated a tsunami that washed away the building housing the statue of the Great Buddha at Kōtoku-in in Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan. Ever since,  the Buddha has sat in the open air.

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1885 – Jelly Roll Morton born.  American ragtime and early jazz pianist, bandleader and composer.

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1933 – Annie Besant died. British socialist, Theosophist, women’s rights activist, writer and orator and supporter of Irish and Indian self rule.

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