Tag Archives: singer-songwriter

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 – May 12

1828 – Dante Gabriel Rossetti born. English poet, illustrator, painter and translator.

He founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, and was later to be the main inspiration for a second generation of artists and writers influenced by the movement, most notably William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones.

His work also influenced the European Symbolists and was a major precursor of the Aesthetic movement.

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1942 – Ian Dury born. English singer-songwriter, bandleader, artist and actor.

Dury formed Kilburn & the High Roads in 1971 –  they found favour on London’s pub rock circuit and signed to Dawn Records in 1974, but despite favourable press coverage and a tour opening for The Who, the group failed to rise above cult status and disbanded in 1975.

Their more successful successors, Ian Dury & The Blockheads,  sound drew from its members’ diverse musical influences, which included jazz, rock and roll, funk, and reggae, and Dury’s love of music hall.

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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 27

1759 – Mary Wollstonecraft born. British writer, philosopher, and advocate of women’s rights.

During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children’s book, though she   is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason.

Wollstonecraft married the philosopher William Godwin, one of the forefathers of the anarchist movement, while her daughter Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, later Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, would become an accomplished writer herself.

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1947 – Ann Peebles born.   American singer-songwriter who gained celebrity for her Memphis soul albums of the 1970s on the Hi Records label.

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1998 – Carlos Castaneda died. Peruvian author and student of anthropology.

Starting with The Teachings of Don Juan in 1968, Castaneda wrote a series of books that describe his alleged training in shamanism. The books, narrated in the first person, relate his supposed experiences under the tutelage of a Yaqui “Man of Knowledge” named Don Juan Matus.

 His 11 books have sold more than 28 million copies in 17 languages. Critics have suggested that they are works of fiction; supporters claim the books are either true or at least valuable works of philosophy and descriptions of practices which enable an increased awareness.

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Almanac – April 08

1904 – British mystic Aleister Crowley transcribed the first chapter of The Book of the Law.

The full title of the book is Liber AL vel Legis, sub figura CCXX, as delivered by XCIII=418 to DCLXVI.

Through the reception of this book, Crowley proclaimed the arrival of a new stage in the spiritual evolution of humanity, to be known as the “Æon of Horus”. The primary precept of this new aeon is the charge to “Do what thou wilt”.

The book contains three chapters, each of which was written down in one hour, beginning at noon, on 8 April 9 April, and 10 April in Cairo, Egypt. Crowley claimed that the author was an entity named Aiwass, whom he later referred to as his personal Holy Guardian Angel (analogous to but not identical with “Higher Self”).

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1929 – Jacques Brel born.  Belgian singer-songwriter who composed and performed literate, thoughtful, and theatrical songs that generated a large, devoted following in Belgium and France initially, and later throughout the world. He was widely considered a master of the modern chanson.

 Although he recorded most of his songs in French, he became a major influence on English-speaking songwriters and performers such as David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Marc Almond and Rod McKuen.

 In French-speaking countries, Brel was also a successful actor, appearing in ten films. He also directed two films, one of which, Le Far West, was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973.

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1973 – Pablo Picasso died. Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer.

As one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century, he is widely known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore.

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Almanac – March 21

1656 – James Ussher died.  Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland between 1625 and 1656.

He was a prolific scholar, who most famously published a chronology that purported to establish the time and date of the creation as the night preceding Sunday, 23 October 4004 BC, according to the proleptic Julian calendar.

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1902 – Son House born.  American blues singer and guitarist, noted for his highly emotional style of singing and slide guitar playing.

After years of hostility to secular music, as a preacher, and for a few years also as a church pastor, he turned to blues performance at the age of 25.

He quickly developed a unique style by applying the rhythmic drive, vocal power and emotional intensity of his preaching to the newly learned idiom. He was a formative influence on Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters.

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1922 – Russ Meyer born.  U.S. motion picture director, producer, screenwriter, cinematographer, editor, actor and photographer,  known primarily for writing and directing a series of successful low-budget sexploitation films that featured campy humor, sly satire and large-breasted women – Faster Pussycat ! Kill ! Kill !, Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, Supervixens, etc.

Film historian Jimmy McDonough posits that  Meyer’s usage of physically and sexually overwhelming female characters places him in his own separate genre.

He argues that despite portraying women as sex objects, Meyer nonetheless depicts them as more powerful than men and is therefore an inadvertent feminist filmmaker. I dont think anyone who’s seen the amazing  Tura Satana in Faster Pussycat ! Kill ! Kill !  would argue with that.

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1925 – The Butler Act prohibited  Tennessee  public school teachers from denying the Biblical account of man’s origin. It also prevented the teaching of the evolution of man from what it referred to as lower orders of animals in place of the Biblical account.

Any teacher straying from the Creationist line would be guilty of a misdemeanor and be fined between $100 and $500 for each offense.

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1943 – Vivian Stanshall born.  English singer-songwriter, painter, musician, author, poet and wit, best known for his work with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, for his surreal exploration of the British upper classes in Sir Henry at Rawlinson End, and for narrating Mike Oldfield‘s Tubular Bells.

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1952 – Alan Freed presented the Moondog Coronation Ball, generally accepted as the first major rock and roll concert, in Cleveland, Ohio.

At the time, its most remarkable feature was its mix of black and white musical performers, in a revue intended for a racially mixed audience, at a time when almost all performances, radio stations and record labels were de facto segregated by race.

 More tickets were printed than the arena’s actual capacity, in part due to counterfeiting, and a printing error (tickets for a follow-up ball were sold with the same date printed after the first had sold out).

With an estimated 20,000 individuals trying to crowd into an arena that held slightly more than half that — and worries that a riot might break out as people tried to crowd in — the fire authorities shut down the concert after the first song by opening act Paul “Hucklebuck” Williams ended.

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1974 – Candy Darling died. 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 a muse of  The Velvet Underground – the subject of their song Candy Says, and is  one of several Warhol associates memorialized in Lou Reed‘s  solo Walk on the Wild Side.

Darling died of lymphoma  aged 29,

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Almanac – March 09

1763 – William Cobbett born.  English pamphleteer, farmer and journalist, who was born in Farnham, Surrey. He believed that reforming Parliament and abolishing the rotten boroughs would help to end the poverty of farm labourers, and he attacked the borough-mongers, sinecurists and “tax-eaters” relentlessly. He was also against the Corn Laws, a tax on imported grain.

Early in his career, he was a loyalist supporter of King and Country: but later he joined and successfully publicised the radical movement, which led to the Reform Bill of 1832, and to his winning the parliamentary seat of Oldham. Although he was not a Catholic, he became a fiery advocate of Catholic Emancipation in Britain.

Through the seeming contradictions in Cobbett’s life, his opposition to authority stayed constant. He wrote many polemics, on subjects from political reform to religion, but is best known for his book from 1830, Rural Rides, which is still in print today.

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1895 – Leopold von Sacher-Masoch died.  Austrian writer and journalist, who gained renown for his romantic stories of Galician life. The term masochism is derived from his name.

During his lifetime, Sacher-Masoch was well known as a man of letters, a utopian thinker who espoused socialist and humanist ideals in his fiction and non-fiction.

Most of his works remain untranslated into English. The novel Venus in Furs is his only book commonly available in English… and also (coincidently ?) the name of a song by the Velvet Underground – see John Cale, below.

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1930 – Ornette Coleman born.  American saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter and composer. He was one of the major innovators of the free jazz movement of the 1960s

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1942 – John Cale born.  Welsh musician, composer, singer-songwriter and record producer who was a founding member of The Velvet Underground.

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1994 – Charles Bukowski died. American poet, novelist and short story writer. His writing was influenced by the social, cultural and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles.  It is marked by an emphasis on the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women and the drudgery of work.

Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, eventually publishing over sixty books. In 1986 Time called Bukowski a “laureate of American lowlife“.

Regarding Bukowski’s enduring popular appeal, Adam Kirsch of The New Yorker wrote, “the secret of Bukowski’s appeal. . . [is that] he combines the confessional poet’s promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero.”

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Almanac – February 26

1564 – Christopher Marlowe born. English dramatist, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. Marlowe was the foremost Elizabethan tragedian of his day, and greatly influenced William Shakespeare.  Marlowe’s plays are known for the use of blank verse, and their overreaching protagonists.

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1917 – The Original Dixieland Jass Band records the first jazz record – “Livery Stable Blues”  – for the Victor Talking Machine Company in New York.

 A New Orleans Dixieland jazz band, the group composed and made the first recordings of many jazz standards, the most famous being “Tiger Rag”. In late 1917 the spelling of the band’s name was changed to Original Dixieland Jazz Band.

ODJB billed itself as the Creators of Jazz, because it was the first band to record jazz commercially and to have hit recordings in the new genre. Band leader and trumpeter Nick LaRocca argued that ODJB deserved recognition as the first band to record jazz commercially and the first band to establish jazz as a musical idiom or genre.

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1920 – The first German Expressionist film , Robert Wiene‘s  The Cabinet Of Doctor Caligari premièred in Berlin.  It was one of the most influential of German Expressionist films and is often considered one of the greatest horror movies of the silent era.

The film used stylized sets, with abstract, jagged buildings painted on canvas backdrops and flats. To add to this strange style, the actors used an unrealistic technique that exhibited jerky and dancelike movements.

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1932 – Johnny Cash born. American singer-songwriter, actor, and author  who was considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Although he is primarily remembered as a country music icon, his songs and sound spanned other genres including rockabilly and rock and roll—especially early in his career—and blues, folk, and gospel.

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1946 – Finnish observers reported the first of many thousands of sightings of ghost rockets –  rocket- or missile-shaped unidentified flying objects sighted mostly in Sweden and nearby countries.

About 2,000 sightings were logged between May and December 1946, with peaks on 9 and 11 August 1946. Two hundred sightings were verified with radar returns, and authorities recovered physical fragments which were attributed to ghost rockets.

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Almanac – February 23

1723 – Richard Price born. British moral philosopher and preacher in the tradition of English Dissenters, and a political pamphleteer, active in radical, republican, and liberal causes such as the American Revolution.

He fostered connections between a large number of people, including writers of the Constitution of the United States. He spent most of his adult life as minister of Newington Green Unitarian Church, where possibly the congregant he most influenced was early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who extended his ideas on the egalitarianism inherent in the spirit of the French Revolution to encompass women’s rights as well.

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1821 – John Keats died. English Romantic poet. He was one of the main figures of the second generation of romantic poets along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, despite his work only having been in publication for four years before his death.

Although his poems were not generally well-received by critics during his life, his reputation grew after his death, so that by the end of the 19th century he had become one of the most beloved of all English poets.

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1958 – David Sylvian born. English singer-songwriter and musician who came to prominence in the late 1970s as the lead vocalist and main songwriter in the group Japan.

His subsequent solo work is described  as “a far-ranging and esoteric career that encompassed not only solo projects but also a series of fascinating collaborative efforts.”

Sylvian’s solo work has been influenced by a variety of musical styles and genres, including jazz, avant-garde, ambient, electronic, and progressive rock.

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