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Bruce Springsteen — “the Boss” — is 74 years old today
Bruce Springsteen performs at The Clearwater Concert for Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday.
Photo by Frank Beacham
Bruce Springsteen — “the Boss” — is 74 years old today.
A singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who records and tours with the E Street Band, Springsteen is known for his brand of heartland rock, poetic lyrics and Americana sentiments centered on his native New Jersey and his lengthy and energetic stage performances.
His concerts, from the 1970s to the present decade, can run up to an uninterrupted 250 minutes in length. Springsteen's recordings have included both commercially accessible rock albums and more somber folk-oriented works.
His most successful studio albums, Born in the U.S.A. and Born to Run, showcase a talent for finding grandeur in the struggles of daily American life.
Springsteen has sold more than 65 million albums in the United States and more than 120 million worldwide. He was among the recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors, an annual award to figures from the world of arts for their contribution to American culture, in December, 2009.
President Obama gave a speech in which he talked about how Springsteen has incorporated the life of regular Americans in his expansive palette of songs and how his concerts are beyond the typical rock-and-roll concerts, how — apart from being high-energy entertainment events — they are "communions.”
He ended the remark "while I am the president, he is The Boss.”
Here, Springsteen performs “Fire.”
Bruce Springsteen on stage with Jen Chapin, Harry Chapin's daughter, and her baby on Jan. 28, 2006, New York City
Photo by Frank Beacham
Photo by Charles Vlen
John Coltrane was born 97 years ago today.
A jazz saxophonist and composer, Coltrane worked in the bebop and hard bop idioms early in his career and helped pioneer the free jazz movement.
Coltrane organized at least fifty recording sessions as a leader during his recording career, and appeared as a sideman on many other albums, notably with trumpeter, Miles Davis, and pianist, Thelonious Monk.
As his career progressed, Coltrane and his music took on an increasingly spiritual dimension. His second wife was pianist, Alice Coltrane, and their son, Ravi Coltrane, is also a saxophonist.
Coltrane influenced innumerable musicians, and remains one of the most significant tenor saxophonists in jazz history. He received many posthumous awards and recognitions, including canonization by the African Orthodox Church as Saint John William Coltrane.
In 2007, Coltrane was awarded the Pulitzer Prize Special Citation for his "masterful improvisation, supreme musicianship and iconic centrality to the history of jazz."
Coltrane died from liver cancer at Huntington Hospital on Long Island on July 17, 1967, at the age of 40.
His funeral was held on Friday, July 21 at St. Peters Lutheran Church in New York City. The Albert Ayler Quartet and The Ornette Coleman Quartet respectively opened and closed the service.
Coltrane’s death surprised many in the musical community who were not aware of his illness. Miles Davis commented: "Coltrane's death shocked everyone, took everyone by surprise. I knew he hadn't looked too good... But I didn't know he was that sick — or even sick at all."
The influence Coltrane has had on music spans many different genres and musicians. His massive influence on jazz, both mainstream and avant-garde, began during his lifetime and continued to grow after his death. He is one of the most dominant influences on post-1960 jazz saxophonists and has inspired an entire generation of jazz musicians.
In 1972, A Love Supreme was certified gold for selling over half a million copies in Japan. This album, as well as My Favorite Things, was certified gold in the United States in 2001.
Here, the John Coltrane Quartet performs “Impressions.” McCoy Tyner is on piano.
Ray Charles at Carnegie Hall, 1966
Ray Charles was born 93 years ago today.
Charles was a pioneer of soul music during the 1950s by fusing rhythm and blues, gospel and blues into his early recordings with Atlantic Records. He helped racially integrate country and pop music during the 1960s with his crossover success on ABC Records — most notably with his Modern Sounds albums.
While with ABC, Charles became one of the first African-American musicians to be given artistic control by a mainstream record company. Frank Sinatra called Charles “the only true genius in show business.”
The influences upon his music were mainly jazz, blues, rhythm and blues and country artists of the day such as Art Tatum, Nat King Cole, Louis Jordan, Charles Brown and Louis Armstrong. His playing reflected influences from country blues and barrelhouse and stride piano styles.
In honoring Charles, Billy Joel noted: "This may sound like sacrilege, but I think Ray Charles was more important than Elvis Presley. I don't know if Ray was the architect of rock & roll, but he was certainly the first guy to do a lot of things . . . Who the hell ever put so many styles together and made it work?"
In 1979, Charles was one of the first of the Georgia State Music Hall of Fame to be recognized as a musician born in the state. Ray's version of "Georgia On My Mind" was made the official state song for Georgia.
In 1981, he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was one of the first inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame at its inaugural ceremony in 1986. He received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1986.
In 1991, he was inducted to the Rhythm & Blues Foundation. In 1993, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. In 1998, he was awarded the Polar Music Prize together with Ravi Shankar in Stockholm, Sweden.
In 2004, he was inducted to the Jazz Hall of Fame, and inducted to the National Black Sports & Entertainment Hall of Fame.
Charles died in 2004 as a result of liver failure from hepatitis C at age 73.
Here, Charles sings “Georgia On My Mind.”
Ray Charles without his trademark glasses rests before a performance
Roy Buchanan performs live at Paradiso in Amsterdam, February 20, 1985
Photo by Frans Schellekens
Roy Buchanan, highly influential blues guitarist and pioneer of the Telecaster sound, was born 84 years ago today.
Buchanan was both a sideman and solo artist, with two gold albums early in his career, and two later solo albums that made it on the charts. Born in Ozark, Arkansas, he was raised there and in Pixley, California, a farming area near Bakersfield. His father was a sharecropper in Arkansas and a farm laborer in California.
Buchanan told how his first musical memories were of racially mixed revival meetings he attended with his mother, Minnie. "Gospel," he recalled, "that's how I first got into black music."
In fact, Buchanan drew upon many disparate influences while learning to play his instrument (though he later claimed his aptitude derived from being "half-wolf"). He initially showed talent on steel guitar before switching to guitar in the early 50s, and started his professional career at age 15 in Johnny Otis's rhythm and blues revue.
In 1958, Buchanan made his recording debut with Dale Hawkins, including playing the solo on "My Babe" for Chicago's Chess Records. Two years later, during a tour through Toronto, Buchanan left Dale Hawkins to play for his cousin, Ronnie Hawkins, and to tutor Ronnie's guitar player, Robbie Robertson.
Buchanan plays bass on the Ronnie Hawkins single, "Who Do You Love?” He soon returned to the U.S. and Ronnie Hawkins' group later gained fame as The Band. At the end of the 1960s, with a growing family, Buchanan left the music industry for a while to learn a trade. For a while, he studied to be a hairdresser.
In the early '70s, Buchanan performed extensively in the Washington D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area with the Danny Denver Band, which had a large following in the area. Buchanan's life changed in 1971, when he gained national notice as the result of an hour-long PBS television documentary, Introducing Roy Buchanan.
The film earned a record deal with Polydor and praise from John Lennon and Merle Haggard, besides an alleged invitation to join the Rolling Stones (which he turned down).
Buchanan was arrested for public intoxication after a domestic dispute. He was found hanged from his own shirt in a jail cell on August 14, 1988 in the Fairfax County, Virginia Jail.
According to Jerry Hentman, who was in a cell nearby Buchanan's, the Deputy Sheriff opened the door early in the morning and found Buchanan with the shirt around his neck. Buchanan's last show was on August 7, 1988 in Guilford, CT.
His cause of death was officially recorded as suicide, a finding disputed by Buchanan's friends and family. One of his friends, Marc Fisher, reported seeing Roy's body with bruises on the head.
Buchanan has influenced many guitarists, including Gary Moore, Danny Gatton and Jeff Beck. Beck dedicated his version of "Cause We've Ended As Lovers" from Blow by Blow to him. His work is said to "stretch the limits of the electric guitar," and he is praised for "his subtlety of tone and the breadth of his knowledge, from the blackest of blues to moaning R&B and clean, concise, bone-deep rock 'n' roll."
Here, Buchanan performs “The Messiah Will Come Again” in 1976.
Photo by Jen Cray
Ani DiFranco is 53 years old today.
DiFranco is a singer, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, poet and songwriter. She has released more than 20 albums and is widely considered a feminist icon.
Although DiFranco's music has been classified as both folk rock and alternative rock, she has reached across genres since her earliest albums incorporating punk, funk, hip hop and jazz influences.
She was one of the first independent musicians to create her own record label, Righteous Babe, a move that has given her significant creative freedom.
From the earliest days of her career, DiFranco has lent her voice and her name to a broad range of social movements, performing benefit concerts, appearing on benefit albums and speaking at rallies.
Through the Righteous Babe Foundation, DiFranco has backed various grassroots cultural and political organizations, supporting causes ranging from abortion rights to gay visibility.
DiFranco released an album on January 17, 2012, titled “Which Side Are You On?” It includes collaborations with Pete Seeger, Ivan Neville, Cyril Neville, Skerik, Adam Levy, Righteous Babe recording artist Anaïs Mitchell, CC Adcock, and a host of New Orleans-based horn players known for their work in such groups as Galactic, Bonerama and Rebirth Brass Band.
Here, DiFranco performs “32 Flavors,” 1997.
On this day in 1944 — 79 years ago — President Franklin D. Roosevelt had to answer critics who made his Scottish terrier, Fala, a campaign issue in the heat of his re-election race.
They claimed that Roosevelt had left Fala behind after a visit to the Aleutian Islands, and then sent a military ship to rescue the dog. The accusation was never proved.
“I don’t resent attacks, and my family doesn’t resent attacks, but Fala does resent them,” Roosevelt said, in a rebuttal inspired by his friend, Orson Welles.
“You know, Fala is Scotch, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that the Republican fiction writers in Congress and out had concocted a story that I'd left him behind on an Aleutian island and had sent a destroyer back to find him — at a cost to the taxpayers of two or three, or eight or twenty million dollars — his Scotch soul was furious. He has not been the same dog since. I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself ... But I think I have a right to resent, to object, to libelous statements about my dog,” the president said.
Roosevelt’s words delighted the public and the controversy was dropped.
Fala often slept at the foot of F.D.R.’s bed and was close to him until the end of the president’s life. The dog attended the Roosevelt funeral.
After the president’s death, Fala went to live with Mrs. Roosevelt in Val-Kill. The dog survived Roosevelt by seven years and was buried beside him. The relationship of Roosevelt and Fala is immortalized by a statue at Roosevelt’s memorial in Washington, D.C.
Thanks New York Times!
Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland
Mickey Rooney, actor of film, television, Broadway, radio and vaudeville, was born 103 years ago.
Beginning as a child actor, his career extended over 90 years, making him one of the most enduring performers in show business history. He appeared in more than 300 films and was one of the last surviving stars of the silent film era, having one of the longest careers in the medium's history.
At the height of a career that was marked by precipitous declines and raging comebacks, he played the role of Andy Hardy in a series of fifteen films in the 1930s and 1940s that epitomized American family values.
A prolific talent, he became a noted character actor later in his career, and could sing, dance, clown and play various musical instruments.
Dovima with Elephants, 1955
Model Dovima wearing Yves Saint Laurent’s first dress for Christian Dior, walking towards the camera with elephants behind her.
Photo by Richard Avedon