Tag Archives: ska

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 25

1895 – Playwright, poet, and novelist Oscar Wilde was convicted of “committing acts of gross indecency with other male persons” and sentenced to serve two years in prison.

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1956 – Sugar Minott born. Jamaican reggae singer, producer and sound-system operator.

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1965 – Sonny Boy Williamson II died.  American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter.

He is acknowledged as one of the most charismatic and influential blues musicians, with considerable prowess on the harmonica and highly creative songwriting skills.

He recorded successfully in the 1950s and 1960s, and had a direct influence on later blues and rock performers.

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1967 – Poppy Z. Brite born. American author,  best known for writing gothic and horror novels and short stories.

Brite’s trademarks have included using gay men as main characters, graphic sexual descriptions in the works, and an often wry treatment of gruesome events.

Some of Brite’s better known novels include Lost Souls (1992), Drawing Blood  (1993), and Exquisite Corpse (1996).

Brite is, in real life, Billy Martin, a transgender man – he self-identifies as a gay man; “Ever since I was old enough to know what gay men were, I’ve considered myself a gay man that happens to have been born in a female body, and that’s the perspective I’m coming from” –  and prefers that male pronouns and terms be used when referring to him.

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2006 – Desmond Dekker died. Jamaican ska, rocksteady and reggae singer-songwriter and musician.

In 1968 Dekker’s “Israelites” was released, eventually topping the UK Singles Chart in April 1969 and peaking in the Top Ten of the US Billboard Hot 100 in June 1969 – Dekker was the first Jamaican artist to have a hit record in the US with a form and style that was purely Jamaican.

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Almanac – January 26

1788 – The birth of Thomas Whittle, son of Thomas Whittle snr, of the Royal Marines and, er, Mrs. Whittle.
He was effectively the first white Austrailian, born as the ship carrying his parents entered what was to become Sydney harbour.

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1908 – Stéphane Grappelli born. French jazz violinist who founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France with guitarist Django Reinhardt in 1934 – one of the first all-string jazz bands. He has been called “the grandfather of jazz violinists“.

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1920 – Hans Holzer born. Austrian-born, American pioneering paranormal researcher and author. He wrote well over 100 books on supernatural and occult subjects for the popular market as well as several plays, musicals, films, and documentaries, and hosted a television show, “Ghost Hunter“.

Holzer’s most famous investigation was into The Amityville Horror case. In January 1977, Holzer and spiritual medium Ethel Meyers entered 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York.

Meyers claimed that the house had been built over an ancient Native American burial ground and the angry spirit of a Shinnecock Indian Chief – “Rolling Thunder” – had possessed the previous occupant, Ronald Defeo Jr., driving him to murder his family. Photographs taken at the scene revealed curious anomalies such as the halos which appeared in the supposed images of bullet marks made in the original 1974 murders.

Holzer’s claim that the house was built on Indian sacred land was, however, denied by the local Amityville Historical Society and it was pointed out that it was the Montaukett Indians, and not the Shinnecocks, who had been the original settlers in the area.

However, Indian burial sites have been found all over Long Island, including Amityville, so no one has been able to confirm or deny the burial of an Indian chief on or near the 112 Ocean Avenue property. Holzer went on to write several books about the subject, both fiction and non-fiction.

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1932 – Coxsone Dodd born – Clement Seymour “Sir Coxsone” Dodd,   Jamaican record producer who was influential in the development of ska and reggae in the 1950s, 1960s and beyond. He received his nickname “Coxsone” at school: because of his teenage talent as a cricketer, his friends compared him to Alec Coxon, a member of the 1940s Yorkshire County Cricket Club team.

In 1954  he set up the Downbeat Sound System, being the owner of an amplifier, a turntable, and some US records, which he would import from New Orleans and Miami. With the success of his sound system, and in a competitive environment, Dodd opened five different sound systems, each playing every night. To run his sound systems, Dodd appointed people such as Lee “Scratch” Perry, who was Dodd’s right hand man during his early career, U-Roy and Prince Buster.

In 1963 he opened Studio One on Brentford Road, Kingston,  the first black-owned recording studio in Jamaica. During the late 1960s and 1970s, the ‘Studio One sound‘ was synonymous with the sound of ska, rocksteady and reggae, and Dodd attracted some of the best of Jamaican talent to his stable during this time, including Burning Spear, Ras Michael, Delroy Wilson, Horace Andy and Sugar Minott.

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Almanac – October 17

1091 – London Tornado of 1091, reckoned by modern assessment of the reports as possibly a T8 tornado (roughly equal to an F4 tornado) which  is Britain’s earliest reported tornado,  killing two. The wooden London Bridge was demolished, and the church of St. Mary-le-Bow in the city of London was badly damaged; four rafters 26 feet (7.9 m) long were driven into the ground with such force that only 4 feet (1.2 m) protruded above the surface. Other churches in the area were demolished, as were over 600 (mostly wooden) houses.

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1814 – London Beer Flood. At the Meux and Company Brewery on Tottenham Court Road, a huge vat containing over 135,000 imperial gallons (610,000 L) of beer ruptured, causing other vats in the same building to succumb in a domino effect.

As a result, more than 323,000 imperial gallons (1,470,000 L) of beer burst out and gushed into the streets. The wave of beer destroyed two homes and crumbled the wall of the Tavistock Arms Pub.

The brewery was located among the poor houses and tenements of the St Giles Rookery, where whole families lived in basement rooms that quickly filled with beer. Eight people died in the flood (some drowned, some died from injuries, and one succumbed to alcohol poisoning).
The brewery was eventually taken to court over the accident, but the disaster was ruled to be an Act of God by the judge and jury, leaving no one responsible.

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1934 – Rico Rodriguez born  – in Cuba, but moved with his family to Jamaica at an early age.  Ska and reggae trombonist.

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2008 – Levi Stubbs died.  American baritone singer, best known as the lead vocalist of the Motown R&B group Four Tops. He was also a voice artist, portraying villainous characters in films and animated television series, most famously having provided the voice of the alien plant Audrey II in the musical horror film Little Shop of Horrors, and Mother Brain in Captain N: The Game Master.

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Almanac – October 06

1854 –  The Great fire of Newcastle and Gateshead started shortly after midnight, leading to 53 deaths and hundreds injured.

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1914 – Thor Heyerdahl born. Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer with a background in zoology and geography. He’s best known  for his Kon-Tiki expedition, in which he sailed 8,000 km (5,000 mi) across the Pacific Ocean in a self-built raft from South America to the Tuamotu Islands in 1947. The expedition was designed to demonstrate that ancient people could have made long sea voyages, creating contacts between apparently separate cultures.

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1946 – Millie Small born.  Jamaican singer-songwriter, probably best known for her 1964 cover version of “My Boy Lollipop”, (originally  by Barbie Gaye in late 1956.) Released in March 1964,  Small’s cover was a massive hit, reaching number two both in the UK  and US Singles Charts.

“My Boy Lollipop” was doubly significant in British pop music history, as it was the first major hit for Island Records, although it was actually released via Fontana Records because Chris Blackwell, Island’s owner, did not want to overextend the label’s then-meagre resources; and Small was the first artist to have a UK hit that was recorded in the bluebeat style. 

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1962 – Tod Browning died. American motion picture actor, director and screenwriter, his  career spanned the silent and talkie eras. Best known as the director of the now- lost early vampire film London After Midnight (1927),  Dracula (1931), the cult classic Freaks (1932), and classic silent film collaborations with Lon Chaney, Browning directed many movies in a wide range of genres. His  final film was the murder mystery Miracles For Sale (1939).

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Almanac – July 16th

622 – The beginning of the Islamic calendar.

1910John Robertson Duigan makes the first flight of the Duigan pusher biplane, the first aircraft built in Australia.

1941 –  Birth of Desmond Dekker, Jamaican ska and reggae singer-songwriter.

 

1945 – The first atomic bomb was detonated near Los Alamos, New Mexico. Soon it would be tried out on real live people.

1951 The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger is published for the first time by Little, Brown and Company. I know its supposed to be a classic of modern literature, but I was never able to get beyond the second chapter….

 

Mr. Frankenstein

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