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David Crosby was born 82 years ago today
David Crosby was born 82 years ago today.
Crosby was a guitarist, singer, songwriter and a founding member of three bands, The Byrds, Crosby, Stills & Nash (who are sometimes joined by Neil Young) and CPR.
Born in Los Angeles, Crosby’s father, Floyd Crosby, was an Academy Award-winning cinematographer. He attended several schools, including the University Elementary School in Los Angeles, the Crane Country Day School in Montecito and Laguna Blanca School in Santa Barbara for the rest of his elementary school and junior high.
Crosby also attended Santa Barbara City College. Originally, he was a drama student, but dropped out to pursue a career in music. He moved toward the same Greenwich Village scene (as a member of the Les Baxter's Balladeers) in which Bob Dylan participated, and even shared a mentor of Bob Dylan's in local scene favorite, Fred Neil.
With the help of producer Jim Dickson, Crosby cut his first solo session in 1963.
For the Byrds, Crosby joined Jim McGuinn (who later changed his name to Roger) and Gene Clark, who were then named the Jet Set (although there is no evidence that they ever performed under that name). They were augmented by drummer, Michael Clarke, at which point Crosby attempted, unsuccessfully, to play bass.
Late in 1964, Chris Hillman joined as bassist and Crosby relieved Gene Clark of rhythm guitar duties. Through connections that Jim Dickson (The Byrds' manager) had with Bob Dylan's publisher, the band obtained a demo acetate disc of Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" and recorded a cover version of the song, featuring McGuinn's 12-string guitar as well as McGuinn, Crosby and Clark's vocal harmonizing.
The song turned into a massive hit, soaring to #1 in the charts in the U.S. and the U.K. during 1965.
While Roger McGuinn originated The Byrds' trademark 12-string guitar sound (which he in turn took from George Harrison on "A Hard Day's Night"), Crosby was responsible for the soaring harmonies and often unusual phrasing on their songs.
In 1966, Gene Clark, who then was the band's primary songwriter, left the group due to stress. This placed all the group's songwriting responsibilities in the hands of McGuinn, Crosby and Hillman. Crosby took the opportunity to hone his craft, and soon blossomed into a prolific and talented songwriter.
His early Byrds efforts included the classic 1966 hit, "Eight Miles High," (to which he contributed one line, while Clark and McGuinn wrote the rest), and its flip side "Why," co-written with McGuinn, which showed Crosby at his hard-edged best.
Crosby is widely credited with popularizing the song, "Hey Joe," after he picked it up from Dino Valente. He taught the song to Bryan MacLean and Arthur Lee of Love, who then taught it to members of The Leaves. Since he felt responsible for having popularized the song, Crosby convinced the other members of The Byrds to cover it on Fifth Dimension.
By Younger Than Yesterday, The Byrds' album of 1967, Crosby clearly began to find his trademark style.
Friction between Crosby and the other Byrds came to a head in mid-1967. Tensions were high after the famous Monterey Pop Festival in June, when Crosby's on-stage political diatribes between songs elicited rancor from McGuinn and Hillman.
The next night he further annoyed his bandmates when, at the invitation of Stephen Stills, he substituted for an absent Neil Young during Buffalo Springfield’s set. The internal conflict boiled over during recording of The Notorious Byrd Brothers album in August and September.
Differences over song selections led to arguments, with Crosby being particularly adamant that the band should record only original material. McGuinn and Hillman dismissed Crosby in mid-September, after he refused to participate in the recording session of the Goffin and King song, "Goin' Back."
Crosby's controversial menage-a-trois ode "Triad," recorded by the band before his dismissal, was left off the album. Jefferson Airplane recorded "Triad" and released it on their album Crown of Creation in 1968.
David Crosby sang a solo acoustic version on Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's 1971 double live album, Four Way Street. The Byrds' version appeared decades later on the 1988 Never Before release and is now available on the CD re-release of The Notorious Byrd Brothers.
In 1973, Crosby reunited with the original Byrds for the album Byrds, with Crosby acting as the record's producer. The album charted well (at #20, their best album showing since their second album) but was generally not perceived to be a critical success, and marked the final artistic collaboration of the original band.
Around the time of Crosby's departure from the Byrds, he met a recently unemployed Stephen Stills at a party at the home of Cass Elliot (of The Mamas and the Papas) in California in March, 1968.
There, the two started meeting informally together and jamming. They were soon joined by Graham Nash, who left his commercially successful group, The Hollies, to play with Crosby and Stills. Their appearance at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in August, 1969 constituted their second live performance ever.
Their first album, Crosby, Stills & Nash of 1969, was an immediate hit, spawning two Top 40 hit singles and receiving key airplay on the new FM radio format, in its early days populated by unfettered disc jockeys who then had the option of playing entire albums at once.
The songs he wrote while with CSN include "Guinnevere," "Almost Cut My Hair," "Long Time Gone" and "Delta." He also co-wrote "Wooden Ships" with Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane and Stephen Stills.
In 1969, Neil Young joined the group, and with him they recorded the album, Déjà Vu, which went to #1 on the charts. That same year, Crosby's longtime girlfriend, Christine Hinton, was killed in a car accident only days after Hinton, Crosby, and fellow girlfriend, Debbie Donovan, moved from Los Angeles to the Bay Area.
Crosby was devastated, and he began abusing drugs much more severely than he had before. Nevertheless, he still managed to contribute "Almost Cut My Hair" and the title track, "Déjà Vu." After the release of the double live album, Four Way Street, the group went on a temporary hiatus to focus on their respective solo careers.
In December, 1969, David appeared with CSNY at the Altamont Free Concert, increasing his visibility after also having performed at Monterey Pop and Woodstock. At the beginning of the new decade, he briefly joined with Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh and Mickey Hart from the Grateful Dead, billed as "David and the Dorks," and making a live recording at the Matrix on December 15, 1970.
CSNY reunited in 1973 at the Winterland in San Francisco. This served as a prelude to their highly successful stadium tour in the summer of 1974. Prior to the tour, the foursome attempted to record a new album, Human Highway.
The recording session, which took place at Neil Young's ranch, was very unpleasant, and marked by constant bickering. The bickering eventually became too much, and the album was cancelled.
In 1971, Crosby released his first solo album, If I Could Only Remember My Name, featuring contributions by Nash, Young, Joni Mitchell and members of Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead and Santana. Panned on release by Rolling Stone, it has been reappraised amid the emergence of the freak folk and New Weird America movements and remains in print.
In 1996, Crosby formed CPR or Crosby, Pevar and Raymond with session guitarist, Jeff Pevar, and pianist James Raymond, Crosby's son. The group released two studio albums and two live albums before disbanding in 2004.
Raymond continues to perform with Crosby as part of the touring bands for Crosby & Nash and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Jeff Pevar sometimes tours with the re-formed Jefferson Starship.
In 1982, after appearing in criminal courts facing several drugs and weapons charges, Crosby spent nine months in Texas prisons. The drug charges stemmed from charges related to possession of heroin and cocaine.
Crosby was the recipient of a highly-publicized liver transplant in 1994, which was paid for by Phil Collins. News of his transplant created some controversy because of his celebrity status and his past issues with drug and alcohol addiction. Crosby suffered from type 2 diabetes and was treated with insulin to manage the disease.
In January, 2000, Melissa Etheridge announced that Crosby was the biological father of two children that Julie Cypher gave birth to by means of artificial insemination. At the time, Etheridge and Cypher were in a relationship.
Crosby died in Santa Ynez, California, on January 18, 2023, at the age of 81, from complications of COVID-19.
Here, Crosby and Venice in concert, 2011.
Steve Martin, Michael Daves and Tony Trischka perform at the Cutting Room in New York City, 2007
Photo by Frank Beacham
On this day in 1945 — 78 years ago — the comedian, actor, writer and musician Steve Martin, who would rise to fame as a “wild and crazy” comedian during the 1970s, was born in Waco, Texas.
Martin grew up in California and in his teens worked at Disneyland, where he entertained crowds with magic tricks and banjo music. After attending UCLA, he broke into show business as a comedy writer.
In 1969, Martin won an Emmy for his writing on the hit TV comedy program, The Smothers Brothers. He later wrote and appeared on other comedy-variety shows, including The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.
Meanwhile, Martin began performing his own comedy at nightclubs and by the mid-1970s was appearing often on The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live, notably in the role of the “wild and crazy guy,” a wannabe playboy from Czechoslovakia.
By the late 1970s, Martin was famous for his best-selling comedy records and shows, which included the hit song “King Tut” and the catchphrase, “Excuuuuse me.”
Martin’s first starring role in a feature film came in the 1979 box-office hit, The Jerk, which he co-wrote. He re-teamed with his Jerk director, Carl Reiner, for three more comedies: Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982), The Man with Two Brains (1983) and All of Me (1984), co-starring Lily Tomlin.
Throughout the rest of the 1980s, Martin showcased his comedic talents in a string of hits, including Three Amigos (1986), Little Shop of Horrors (1986), Roxanne (1987) and Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987).
The prematurely grey-haired Martin went from wild and crazy to parental (with equal success) in such films as Parenthood (1989), Father of the Bride (1991) and Cheaper by the Dozen (2003). He also did a more serious route, appearing in David Mamet’s enigmatic suspense film, The Spanish Prisoner (1997).
In 2005, Martin co-starred in Shopgirl, based on a novella of the same name that he penned. In that film, he played a wealthy businessman who romances a far younger woman, played by Claire Danes.
Returning to broad comedy in 2006, Martin played the bumbling Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther. Over the years, he has continued to appear periodically on Saturday Night Live and remains one of the show’s most frequent hosts.
Throughout his life, Martin has been an accomplished banjo player and has performed frequently with other bands, including Tony Trischka and Bela Fleck.
In 2007, Martin published a memoir, Born Standing Up, which critics praised for its humor and candor. He had previously opened up to interviewers about his personal life, including his marriage to the actress Victoria Tennant, his co-star in All of Me (they married in 1986 and divorced in 1994) and his subsequent breakup with the actress, Anne Heche.
On July 28, 2007, after three years together, Martin married Anne Stringfield, a writer and former staffer for The New Yorker magazine. Former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey presided over the ceremony at Martin's Los Angeles home. Lorne Michaels, creator of Saturday Night Live, was best man.
Several of the guests, including close friends Tom Hanks, Eugene Levy, comedian Carl Reiner and magician/actor Ricky Jay, were not informed that a wedding ceremony would take place. Instead, they were told they were invited to a party and were surprised by the nuptials.
At age 67, Martin became a father for the first time when Stringfield gave birth to a daughter Mary, in December, 2012,
Martin has tinnitus (ringing in the ears), which is a symptom of hearing loss. He got it while filming a pistol-shooting scene for the film, Three Amigos, in 1986. He has been quoted as saying, "You just get used to it, or you go insane."
Here, Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers perform “So Familiar.”
Buddy Greco and George Carlin in a skit from Away We Go, 1967
Armando "Buddy" Greco was born 97 years ago today.
A singer and pianist, Greco was born in Philadelphia. He began playing piano at the age of four. His first professional work was playing with Benny Goodman's band. Most of Greco's work was in the jazz and pop genres.
He has recorded songs such as “Oh Look A-There,” “Ain't She Pretty,” "The Lady is a Tramp," "Up, Up and Away" and "Around the World." He released about 72 albums and 100 singles.
Greco has had an active concert career playing in symphony halls, theatres, nightclubs and Las Vegas showrooms. In the 1960s, he made appearances with the Rat Pack.
Greco played the nightclub singer, Lucky, in the 1969 film, The Girl Who Knew Too Much. In 1967, Greco starred in the summer replacement television series, Away We Go, with drummer Buddy Rich and comedian George Carlin.
It is well known that Greco and spouse were close friends of Marilyn Monroe, and he admits to being one of the last to have seen her, along with close friend Frank Sinatra. His story is in the accompanying article.
In 2013, Greco celebrated his 80th year in show business with a concert in Southend, Essex. Stars such as the Rat Pack cast, Atila, Kenny Lynch, Paul Young and Michelle Collins were present and took part throughout the evening. Greco and his wife also performed together for the occasion.
Greco died on January 10, 2017, in Las Vegas at age 90. He was survived by his wife, Anders and his seven children.
Here, Greco performs “The Lady Is A Tramp” with Sammy Davis Jr., 1965.
Harry “the Hipster” Gibson
Photo by William P. Gottlieb
Hipsters: Real vs. Fake
It makes my skin crawl whenever I hear a young person refer to his or herself as a “hipster.”
Not only do most people today not even understand what the term means, but they live in a corporate-infused world where it is now almost impossible to be truly hip.
The New York Times recently wrote about the origins of the word hipster, which might help to explain to those who don’t understand the history of the word and how it has changed over time.
Though the word has been in use for a long time, the Times credits the jazz clubs of 1940s Harlem for making the term popular. In the 40s, a Bronx-born, Juilliard-trained musician, Harry Raab, helped popularize the word with his stage name: Harry “the Hipster” Gibson. His big hit was “Who Put the Benzedrine in Mrs. Murphy’s Ovaltine.”
At the time, “hipster” was used to describe someone who saw him or herself as hip and ahead of the curve, Lewis Porter, a jazz historian at Rutgers University, told the Times.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word is also thought to be a modernized version of “hepcat,” which had the same meaning in jazz circles.
Porter added that the word might also have been used to describe white jazz musicians like Gibson, who played in traditionally black clubs. “That certainly was not its original meaning, but that could have become attached to it later on,” he said.
In his 1957 essay, “The White Negro,” Norman Mailer examined beatnik culture, posing the theory that to be a hipster was to be a white American who adopted black culture, world views and music as an act of rebellion against capitalist greed, wartime violence and the ever-present specter of nuclear war.
Hipster was used to refer to members of the Beat Generation, who virtually all defied and criticized the white, capitalist establishment culture of the 1950s. All lived cheaply and outside the scope of mainstream consumerism. Virtually all true hipsters observed the counter culture ethics of the 1960s.
Jack Kerouac described 1940s hipsters as "rising and roaming America, bumming and hitchhiking everywhere [as] characters of a special spirituality.” Near the beginning of his poem, Howl, Allen Ginsberg mentioned "angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night.”
The New York Times said it has used the word “hipster” more than 3,000 times since 1851. Yet, the newspaper said, the bulk of those references came after the year 2000, when most of the people who used the term were only wannabes.
The Times said it typically used the word to describe a class of people who moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The problem with that, of course, is that if one could afford to live in Brooklyn after the boom, they were not genuine hipsters.
Today, the hipster subculture is composed of affluent or middle class youth who reside primarily in gentrifying neighborhoods. It is broadly associated with indie and alternative music, a varied non-mainstream fashion sensibility, vintage and thrift store-bought clothing, generally progressive political views, organic and artisanal foods and alternative lifestyles.
The subculture typically consists of white millennials living in urban areas. Often the world hipster is now used as a pejorative term to describe someone who is pretentious, overly trendy or effete.
In Rob Horning's April, 2009 article, The Death of the Hipster, he wrote that the hipster might be the "embodiment of postmodernism as a spent force, revealing what happens when pastiche and irony exhaust themselves as aesthetics."
Of all places, Time magazine, described the modern hipster phenomenon in a July, 2009 article:
“Hipsters are the friends who sneer when you cop to liking Coldplay. They're the people who wear T-shirts silk-screened with quotes from movies you've never heard of and the only ones in America who still think Pabst Blue Ribbon is a good beer. They sport cowboy hats and berets and think Kanye West stole their sunglasses. Everything about them is exactingly constructed to give off the vibe that they just don't care.”
One of the benefits of getting older is being able to easily see through the pretensions of youth. Whenever someone living in a major city like New York tells you today he or she is a “hipster,” run for the hills. Fraud is written all over them.
Thanks New York Times!
On this day in 1945 — 78 years ago — during the celebration of Japan’s surrender in World War II, Alfred Eisenstaedt wandered through Times Square in New York City with his Leica IIIa camera looking for pictures.
He found one — an American sailor kissing a woman in a white dress.
Because he was photographing people in the streets rapidly, Eisenstaedt didn’t get the couple’s names.
A week later the image was published in Life magazine.
Overnight, Eisenstaedt’s image, known as “The Kiss,” became a cultural icon.