Tag Archives: W.C. Handy

Almanac – March 28

193 – Roman Emperor Pertinax was assassinated by Praetorian Guards, who then sold the throne in an auction to Didius Julianus.

Claudius Sulpicianus, prefect of the city, father-in-law of the murdered emperor began making offers. When Julianus, having been roused from a banquet by his wife and daughter,arrived in all haste, he was  unable to gain admission to the auction, so stood before the gate, and with a loud voice competed for the prize.

As the bidding went on, the soldiers reported to each of the two competitors, the one within the fortifications, the other outside the rampart, the sum offered by his rival.

Eventually Sulpicianus promised 20,000 sesterces to every soldier; Julianus, fearing that Sulpicianus would gain the throne, then offered 25,000. The guards immediately closed with the offer of Julianus, threw open the gates, saluted him by the name of Caesar, and proclaimed him emperor. Threatened by the military, the Senate declared him emperor.

Julianus was killed in the palace by a soldier in the third month of his reign , his last words were “But what evil have I done? Whom have I killed?”

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1871 – The Paris Commune was formally established in Paris.  In a formal sense, it acted as the local authority, the city council (in French, the “commune”), which exercised power in Paris for two months in the spring of 1871.

However, the conditions in which it formed, its controversial decrees, and the indiscriminate violence with which it was brutally suppressed make its brief tenure one of the more important political episodes in the history of working class revolutions.

 The Paris Commune existed before the split between anarchists and Marxists, and is hailed by both groups as the first assumption of power by the working class during the Industrial Revolution.

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1958 – W. C. Handy died.  Blues composer and musician, widely known as the “Father of the Blues”.

Handy remains among the most influential of American songwriters. Though he was one of many musicians who played the distinctively American form of music known as the blues, he is credited with giving it its contemporary form.

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1994 – Eugène Ionesco died.  Romanian / French playwright and dramatist, and one of the foremost playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd.

Beyond ridiculing the most banal situations, Ionesco’s plays depict in a tangible way the solitude and insignificance of human existence.

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Almanac – November 16

1724 – Jack Sheppard executed.  Notorious English robber, burglar and thief of early 18th-century London.  He was arrested and imprisoned five times in 1724 but escaped four times, making him a notorious public figure, and wildly popular with the poorer classes. Ultimately, he was caught, convicted, and hanged at Tyburn, ending his brief criminal career after less than two years.

His slight build had aided his previous prison escapes, but it condemned him to a slow death by strangulation by the hangman’s noose. After hanging for the prescribed 15 minutes, his body was cut down. The crowd pressed forward to stop his body from being removed, fearing dissection; their actions inadvertently prevented Sheppard’s friends from implementing a plan to take his body to a doctor in an attempt to revive him. His badly mauled remains were recovered later and buried in the churchyard of St Martin’s-in-the-Fields that evening.

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1873 – W. C. Handy born. Widely known as the “Father of the Blues”,  Handy remains among the most influential of American songwriters.. While he was not the first to publish music in the blues form, he took the blues from a regional music style with a limited audience to one of the dominant national forces in American music.

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1933 – Garnet Mimms born. American singer, influential in soul music and rhythm and blues. He’s responsible for one of my favorite Northern Soul numbers – “Looking For You”

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1938 – LSD  first synthesized by Swiss chemist Dr. Albert Hofmann at the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland.

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1971 – Edie Sedgwick died. American actress, socialite, fashion model and heiress,  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 his  short films.

Bob Dylan‘s “Just Like a Woman” and “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” from his 1966 album Blonde on Blonde are purportedly about Sedgwick, and  his 1965  single “Like a Rolling Stone” was also reportedly inspired by her.

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