Tag Archives: The Cramps

Almanac – April 25

1599 – Oliver Cromwell born. English military and political leader and later Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland.

He entered the English Civil War on the side of the Parliamentarians. Nicknamed “Old Ironsides”, he was quickly promoted from leading a single cavalry troop to become one of the principal commanders of the New Model Army, playing an important role in the defeat of the royalist forces.

Cromwell was one of the signatories of King Charles I’s death warrant in 1649, and as a member of the Rump Parliament (1649–53) he dominated the short-lived Commonwealth of England.

Cromwell is one of the most controversial figures in the history of the British Isles, considered a regicidal dictator by historians such as David Hume,  but a hero of liberty by others . In a 2002 BBC poll in Britain, Cromwell was selected as one of the ten greatest Britons of all time.

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2005 – Hasil Adkins died. American country, rock and roll, and blues musician, though he was frequently considered rockabilly and sometimes primitive jazz. He generally performed as a one-man band, playing guitar and drums at the same time.

With his 45 recordings of “Chicken Walk” appearing on Air Records in 1962 and “She Said” on Jody Records in 1966, his  original, frenetic sound meshed with demented lyrics ushered in the genre known as psychobilly.

Recurring themes in his  work include love, heartbreak, police, death, decapitation, hot dogs, aliens, and chicken. He often noted in interviews that his primary heroes and influences were Hank Williams Sr., Jimmie Rodgers, Little Richard, and Col. Harlan Sanders, the inventor of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Adkins had a strong influence on The Cramps,  and his cult status is kept alive  by the growing appreciation of, and demand for, outsider music and primitive rock and roll.

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2008 – Humphrey Lyttelton died English jazz musician and broadcaster, and chairman of the BBC radio comedy programme I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.

 As a performer, he is perhaps best-remembered for the hit single “Bad Penny Blues” ,  the first British jazz record to get into the Top Twenty, and which  stayed there for six weeks.

Its success was very much due to the very catchy piano riff, played by Johnny Parker and brought to the front by the producer, the legendary  Joe Meek.

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Almanac – February 20

1757 – John ‘Mad Jack’ Fuller born. Squire of the hamlet of Brightling, in Sussex and  well known as a builder of follies, including a pyramid-shaped building (pictured below), often referred to as “The Pyramid“,  which was erected in the churchyard of the Church of St. Thomas à Becket in Brightling  as his own mausoleum.

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1927 – Sidney Poitier born. In 1963, he became the first black person to win an Academy Award for Best Actor  for his role in Lilies of the Field.

The significance of this achievement was later bolstered in 1967 when he starred in three successful films: To Sir, with Love; In the Heat of the Night; and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, making him the top box-office star of that year.

In all three films, issues revolved around the race of the characters Poitier portrayed. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Poitier among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time, ranking 22nd on the list of 25.

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1936 – Max Schreck died.  German actor,  most often remembered today for his lead role in the film Nosferatu (1922), in which he portrayed Count Orlok, Count Dracula effectively, but name changed for copyright reasons, and gave a truly creepy performance.

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1953 – Poison Ivy Rorschach born.  Guitarist, songwriter, arranger, producer, and occasional vocalist who co-founded the American garage punk band The Cramps.

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2005 – Hunter S. Thompson died. American author and journalist who  became known internationally with the publication of Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (1967), for which he had spent a year living and riding with the Angels, experiencing their lives and hearing their stories first hand.

Previously a relatively conventional journalist, with the publication in 1970 of “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved” he became a counter cultural figure, with his own brand of New Journalism he termed “Gonzo”, an experimental style of journalism where reporters involve themselves in the action to such a degree that they become central figures of their stories.

The work he remains best known for is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream (1972), a rumination on the failure of the 1960s counterculture movement.

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Almanac – February 04

1913 – Rosa Parks born.  American civil rights activist. On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake‘s order that she give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled.

Parks was not the first person to resist bus segregation, others had taken similar steps in the twentieth century, but NAACP organizers believed that Parks was the best candidate for seeing through a court challenge after her arrest for civil disobedience.

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1968 – Neal Cassady died.  Major figure of the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the psychedelic movement of the 1960s.

He served as the model for the character Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac‘s novel On the Road, in which the narrator, Sal Paradise (the personification of Jack Kerouac) states to the reader, “He  (Moriarty/Cassady) was simply a youth tremendously excited with life, and though he was a con-man, he was only conning because he wanted so much to live and to get involved with people who would otherwise pay no attention to him…Somewhere along the line I knew there’d be girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me.”

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1975 – Louis Jordan died. Pioneering American musician, songwriter and bandleader who enjoyed his greatest popularity from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. Known as “The King of the Jukebox”, he was highly popular with both black and white audiences in the later years of the swing era.

With his dynamic Tympany Five bands, Jordan mapped out the main parameters of the classic R&B, urban blues and early rock’n’roll genres with a series of hugely influential 78 rpm discs for the Decca label. These recordings presaged many of the styles of black popular music in the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, and exerted a huge influence on many leading performers in these genres.

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2009 – Lux Interior died. American singer and a founding member of The Cramps from 1976 until his sudden death in February 2009 aged 62.

When asked why he continued to play live well into his middle age, he told the LA Times:

    “It’s a little bit like asking a junkie how he’s been able to keep on dope all these years, It’s just so much fun. You pull into one town and people scream, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you.’ And you go to a bar and have a great rock ‘n’ roll show and go to the next town and people scream, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.’ It’s hard to walk away from all that.”

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Almanac – December 11

1282 – Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the last native Prince of an independent  Wales, was killed at Cilmeri, near Builth Wells, Wales.

There are legends surrounding the fate of Llywelyn’s severed head. It is known that it was sent to Edward I of England  at Rhuddlan and after being shown to the English troops based in Anglesey, Edward sent the head on to London, where it was set up in the city pillory for a day, and crowned with ivy {i.e. to show he was a “king” of Outlaws} and in mockery of the ancient Welsh prophecy, which said that a Welshman would be crowned in London as king of the whole of Britain. Then it was carried by a horseman on the point of his lance to the Tower of London and set up over the gate. It was still on the Tower of London 15 years later.

The last resting place of Llywelyn’s body is not known for certain, however it has always been tradition that it was interred at the Cistercian Abbey at Abbeycwmhir.

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1926 – Big Mama Thornton born. American rhythm and blues singer and songwriter.

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1964 – Sam Cooke died. American gospel, R&B, soul, and pop singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur, considered to be one of the pioneers and founders of soul music.

He was fatally shot by the manager of the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 33. At the time, the courts ruled that Cooke was drunk and distressed, and that the manager had killed Cooke in what was later ruled a justifiable homicide. Since that time, the circumstances of his death have been widely questioned.

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2008 – Bettie Page died. American model who became famous in the 1950s for her pin-up photos. Often referred to as the “Queen of Pinups”, her jet black hair, blue eyes, and trademark bangs have influenced many – The Cramps, for example.

From 1952 through 1957, she posed for photographer Irving Klaw for mail-order photographs with pin-up, bondage or sadomasochistic themes, making her the first famous bondage model.

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