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Almanac – May 10

1768 – John Wilkes,  English radical, journalist, and politician, was imprisoned for writing an article for The North Briton severely criticizing King George III. This action provoked rioting in London.

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1916 – Milton Babbitt born. American composer, music theorist, and teacher, particularly noted for his serial and electronic music.

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1920 – Bert Weedon born. English guitarist whose style of guitar playing was popular and influential during the 1950s and 1960s.

He was the first British guitarist to have a hit record in the UK Singles Chart, in 1959, and his best-selling tutorial guides, Play in a Day, were a major influence on many leading British musicians, such as Eric Clapton, Brian May, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon, Dave Davies, Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, Tony Iommi and Jimmy Page.

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1952 – Lee Brilleaux born.  English rhythm-and-blues singer and musician with  Dr Feelgood.

He co-founded Dr Feelgood with Wilko Johnson in 1971 and was the band’s lead singer, harmonica player and occasional guitarist.

According to one obituary: “Brilleaux and Johnson developed a frantic act, often charismatically dressed in dark suits and loose ties, shabby rather than smart. The rough, and almost ruthless, edge which ran through his vocal and harmonica style reflected the character and philosophy of the band.”

In 1976, Brilleaux helped found Stiff Records, one of the driving forces of Punk, with a loan.

In 2011, contemporary artist and Dr. Feelgood fan Scott King announced his intention to commemorate  Brilleaux by erecting a 300 ft gold-plated statue of the musician on the foreshore in Southend-on-Sea close to the legendary Kursaal where the band played some of their most important gigs. An e-petition was launched to collect signatures in support of the project.

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1952 – Sly Dunbar born. Jamaican  drummer, best known as one-half of the prolific  rhythm section and reggae production duo Sly and Robbie.

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1954 – Bill Haley & His Comets released “Rock Around the Clock”, the first rock and roll record to reach number one on the Billboard charts.

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Almanac – April 23

1564 – William Shakespeare born. English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist.

 His extant works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, two epitaphs on a man named John Combe, one epitaph on Elias James, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

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1907 – Lee Miller born. American photographer. She was a successful fashion model in New York City in the 1920s before going to Paris, with the intention of apprenticing herself to the surrealist artist and photographer Man Ray. Although, at first, he insisted that he did not take students, Miller soon became his photographic assistant, as well as his lover and muse.

While she was in Paris, she began her own photographic studio, often taking over Man Ray’s fashion assignments to enable him to concentrate on his painting.In fact, many of the photographs taken during this period and credited to Man Ray were actually taken by Miller.

Together with Man Ray, she rediscovered the photographic technique of solarisation. She was an active participant in the surrealist movement, with her witty and humorous images.

 During the Second World War, she became an acclaimed war correspondent for Vogue, covering events such as the London Blitz, the liberation of Paris, and the concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau.

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1965 – George Adamski died.  Polish-born American citizen who became widely known in ufology circles, and to some degree in popular culture, after he claimed to have photographed ships from other planets, met with friendly Nordic alien Space Brothers, and to have taken flights with them.

The first of the so-called contactees of the 1950s, he was called a “philosopher, teacher, student and saucer researcher“, though his claims were met with skepticism.

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1991 – Johnny Thunders died. American  guitarist, singer and songwriter. He came to prominence in the early 1970s as a member of the New York Dolls,  later played with The Heartbreakers and as a solo artist.

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Almanac – April 20

1912 – Bram Stoker died.  Irish novelist and short story writer, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula.

During his lifetime, he was better known as personal assistant of actor Henry Irving and business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, which Irving owned.

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1939 – Billie Holiday recorded “Strange Fruit“, considered by some to be the first Civil Rights song.

Written by Abel Meeropol, a white Jewish high-school teacher from the Bronx, and a member of the Communist Party, it exposed American racism, particularly the lynching of African Americans.

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1943 – Edie Sedgwick born. American actress, socialite, fashion model and heiress. She is best known for being one of Andy Warhol‘s superstars.

Sedgwick became known as “The Girl of the Year” in 1965 after starring in several of Warhol’s short films.

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Almanac – April 17

1397 – Geoffrey Chaucer told the Canterbury Tales for the first time at the court of Richard II.

Chaucer scholars have also identified this as the  date (in 1387) as the start of the book’s pilgrimage to Canterbury.

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1891 – George Adamski born.  Polish-born American citizen who became widely known in ufology circles, and to some degree in popular culture, after he claimed to have photographed ships from other planets, met with friendly Nordic alien Space Brothers, and to have taken flights with them.

The first of the so-called contactees of the 1950s, he was called a “philosopher, teacher, student and saucer researcher”, though his claims were met with skepticism.

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1897 – The Aurora, Texas UFO incident. During the 1896–1897 timeframe, numerous sightings of a cigar-shaped mystery airship were reported across the United States.

One of these accounts appeared in the April 19, 1897, edition of the Dallas Morning News. Written by Aurora resident S.E. Haydon, the alleged UFO is said to have hit a windmill on the property of a Judge J.S. Proctor two days earlier at around 6am local (Central) time, resulting in its crash.

The pilot (who was reported to be “not of this world“, and a “Martian” according to a reported Army officer from nearby Fort Worth) did not survive the crash, and was buried “with Christian rites” at the nearby Aurora Cemetery.

Reportedly, wreckage from the crash site was dumped into a nearby well located under the damaged windmill, while some ended up with the alien in the grave.

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1960 – Eddie Cochran died.  American rock and roll pioneer who, in his brief career, had a lasting influence on rock music.

Cochran’s rockabilly songs, such as “C’mon Everybody”, “Somethin’ Else“, and “Summertime Blues”, captured teenage frustration and desire in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

 He experimented with multitrack recording and overdubbing even on his earliest singles, and was also able to play piano, bass and drums.His image as a sharply dressed, rugged but good-looking young man with a rebellious attitude epitomized the stance of the 50s rocker, and in death he achieved an iconic status.

Cochran died aged 21 after a road accident in the town of Chippenham, Wiltshire, during his British tour.

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1961 – Bay of Pigs Invasion. An unsuccessful military invasion of Cuba undertaken by the paramilitary group Brigade 2506 , counter-revolutionary military trained and funded by the United States government’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Launched from Guatemala, the invading force was defeated by the Cuban armed forces, under the command of Prime Minister Fidel Castro, within three days.

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Almanac – January 29

1737 – Thomas Paine born. English political activist, author, political theorist and revolutionary. As the author of two highly influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution, he inspired the American Patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Britain. His ideas reflected Enlightenment era rhetoric of transnational human rights. He has been called “a corsetmaker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination.”

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1936 – James Jamerson born. American bass player. He was the uncredited bassist on most of Motown Records’ hits in the 1960s and early 1970s (Motown did not list session musician credits on their releases until 1971), and he is now regarded as one of the most influential bass players in modern music history. He performed on 30  number-one hits, more than any person or group in music history, and on more than 70 number-one R&B hits, also the most ever.

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1946 – Bettye Lavette born.  American soul singer-songwriter who made her first record at sixteen, but achieved only intermittent fame until 2005, with her album, I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise. Her eclectic musical style combines elements of soul, blues, rock and roll, funk, gospel, and country music.

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1958 – Linda Smith born. British stand-up comic and comedy writer. She appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4 panel games, and was voted “Wittiest Living Person” by listeners in 2002.

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2011 – Milton Babbitt died. American composer, music theorist, and teacher. He was particularly noted for his serial and electronic music.

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