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Jeff Beck, master guitarist, was born 79 years ago today
Jeff Beck was born 79 years ago today.
An English rock guitarist, Beck was one of the three noted guitarists to have played with The Yardbirds (the other two being Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page). Beck also formed The Jeff Beck Group and Beck, Bogert and Appice.
Much of Beck's recorded output was instrumental, with a focus on innovative sound, and his releases spanned genres ranging from blues rock, heavy metal, jazz fusion and an additional blend of guitar-rock and electronica.
Although he recorded two hit albums (in 1975 and 1976) as a solo act, Beck did not establish or maintain the sustained commercial success of many of his contemporaries and bandmates.
Beck appearsedon albums by Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, Morrissey, Jon Bon Jovi, Malcom McLaren, Kate Bush, Roger Waters, Donovan, Stevie Wonder, Les Paul, Zucchero, Cyndi Lauper, Brian May, Stanley Clarke and ZZ Top.
Beck died from a bacterial meningitis infection at a hospital near Riverhall on January 10, 2023 at the age of 78.
Here, Beck performs in a full concert in Tokyo, 1999
Pete Hamill, New York Post, 1993
Photo by Fred R. Conrad
Pete Hamill was born 88 years ago today.
Born to Irish immigrants in Brooklyn, Hamill grew up playing stickball in a blue-collar neighborhood. However, even at an early age, he was fascinated with comic books and novels. With the neighborhood tavern the center of his community's social life, he started drinking at an early age.
Although his love for books had won him admittance to an elite high school in Manhattan, he felt out of place and dropped out.
Motivated by his love of comic books and art, Hamill went to art school and became a graphic artist after a period of drifting and living in Mexico. He eventually landed a job at the New York Post, which turned into a writing job and a regular, widely read column.
A heavy drinker, Hamill finally quit on New Year's Eve in 1972. His memoir, A Drinking Life (1995), describes his lifelong relationship with alcohol and draws a colorful picture of life in Brooklyn in the 1940s and 1950s.
In addition to non-fiction works and journalism collections, Hamill has penned ten novels, two books of short stories and over 100 short stories for newspapers. Hamill won a Grammy Award in 1975 for the liner notes to Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks album.
Of his many and diverse works, one of my favorites is a small volume written in 1999 called “Why Sinatra Matters.” It is a masterpiece of great nonfiction writing.
A friend of Robert F. Kennedy, Hamill helped persuade the senator to run for the presidency, then worked for the campaign and covered it as a journalist. He was one of four men who disarmed Sirhan Sirhan of his gun in the aftermath of the Robert F. Kennedy assassination in Los Angeles.
Hamill died on August 5, 2020, at NewYork–Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. He was 85, and suffered from heart and kidney failure at the time of his death, in addition to having fractured his right hip in a fall.
Here, Hamill speaks at St. Francis College in 2011
The Old Guitarist, 1903
Painting by Pablo Picasso
On June 24, 1901 — 122 years ago — the first major exhibition of Pablo Picasso's artwork opened at a gallery on Paris' rue Lafitte, a street known for its prestigious art galleries.
The precocious 19-year-old Spaniard was at the time a relative unknown outside Barcelona, but he had already produced hundreds of paintings. The 75 works displayed at Picasso's first Paris exhibition offered moody, representational paintings by a young artist with obvious talent.
Picasso, widely acknowledged as the dominant figure in 20th century art, was born in 1881 in Malaga, Spain. His father was a professor of drawing and bred Picasso for a career in academic art. He had his first exhibit at age 13 and later quit art school so he could experiment full-time with modern art styles.
He went to Paris for the first time in 1900, and in 1901 he returned with 100 of his paintings. His goal was to win an exhibition. He was introduced to Ambroise Vollard, a dealer who had sponsored Paul Cezanne, and Vollard immediately agreed to a show at his gallery after seeing the paintings.
From street scenes to landscapes, prostitutes to society ladies, Picasso's subjects were diverse. The young artist received a favorable review from the few Paris art critics who saw the show. He stayed in Paris for the rest of the year and later returned to Paris to settle permanently.
The work of Picasso, which comprises more than 50,000 paintings, drawings, engravings, sculptures and ceramics produced over 80 years, is described in a series of overlapping periods.
His first notable period — the "blue period" — began shortly after his first Paris exhibit. In works such as The Old Guitarist (1903), Picasso painted in blue tones to evoke the melancholy world of the poor. The blue period was followed by the "rose period," in which he often depicted circus scenes, and then by Picasso's early work in sculpture.
In 1907, Picasso painted the groundbreaking work Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, which, with its fragmented and distorted representation of the human form, broke from previous European art.
Les Demoiselles d'Avignon demonstrated the influence on Picasso of both African mask art and Paul Cezanne and is seen as a forerunner of the Cubist movement founded by Picasso and the French painter, Georges Braque, in 1909.
In Cubism, which is divided in two phases — analytical and synthetic — Picasso and Braque established the modern principle that artwork need not represent reality to have artistic value. Major Cubist works by Picasso included his costumes and sets for Sergey Diaghilev's Ballets Russes (1917) and The Three Musicians (1921).
Picasso and Braque's Cubist experiments also resulted in the invention of several new artistic techniques, including collage.
After Cubism, Picasso explored classical and Mediterranean themes, and images of violence and anguish increasingly appeared in his work. In 1937, this trend culminated in the masterpiece, Guernica, a monumental work that evoked the horror and suffering endured by the Basque town of Guernica when it was destroyed by German war planes during the Spanish Civil War.
Picasso remained in Paris during the Nazi occupation but was fervently opposed to fascism. After the war, he joined the French Communist Party. His work after World War II is less studied than his earlier creations, but he continued to work feverishly and enjoyed commercial and critical success.
He produced fantastical works, experimented with ceramics and painted variations on the works of other masters in the history of art. Known for his intense gaze and domineering personality, he had a series of intense and overlapping love affairs in his lifetime.
He continued to produce art with undiminished force until his death in 1973 at the age of 91.
Eli Wallach, Anne Jackson and Tennessee Williams at the opening of a revival of Camino Real on Broadway, 1970
Eli Wallach: A Personal Remembrance
Eli Wallach died nine years ago today. His name, for me, inspires wonderful memories.
When I lived in Los Angeles in the 1980s, I took an “Acting for Directors” class from Judy Weston in Santa Monica. I was a terrible actor, but the fun we had in those classes I will remember for a lifetime. One of the toughest roles Judy ever assigned me was to play Kilroy, in Tennessee Williams’ 1953 play, Camino Real.
Taking place in the main plaza of a dead-end Spanish-speaking town, the play goes through a series of confusing and almost logic-defying events, including the revival of the Gypsy's daughter's virginity and then the loss of it again. A main theme that the play deals with is coming to terms with the thought of growing older and possibly becoming irrelevant. Though I wrestled with the material endlessly, I never really got it.
Though I loved Tennessee Williams’ material on the deep South and had known him and drank with him in my 20s in Key West, Camino Real was totally over my head.
After I moved to New York City, I was walking down West 71st Street on a Sunday in the spring of 1999 and I saw a sign outside the ArcLight Theatre. It was for a short running tribute to Williams by two actors who really knew him well, Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson. The show was to open that afternoon and I bought a front row ticket on the spot at the box office.
Called ''Tennessee Williams Remembered,'' the show was built around the two actors relationships with the playwright. It was directed by Gene Saks. The play was scheduled to run only 35 performances over five weeks.
I had known Eli Wallach’s performances from his classic films, like The Magnificent Seven and The Misfits, but what I didn’t know of was he and his wife’s long collaboration with Tennessee Williams. The couple’s association with Williams dated to a 1946 production of ''This Property Is Condemned.'' They were married two years later.
Wallach later won a Tony Award when he appeared in the 1951 production of ''The Rose Tattoo,'' playing Alvaro Mangiacavallo, a truck driver who woos and wins Serafina Delle Rose, a Sicilian widow living on the Gulf Coast. Both Wallach and Stapleton won Tony Awards for their work in the play.
Next, Wallach played Kilroy in ''Camino Real'' in 1953, and the 1956 William’s film, ''Baby Doll.'' Jackson received a Tony nomination in ''Summer and Smoke'' in 1948.
That afternoon, watching Wallach perform the same scene I had so destroyed in Judy Weston’s class was a revelation. Wallach unlocked the mystery for me and it was a joy to watch a master perform William’s work.
Camino Real, I learned, had begun as a workshop by Elia Kazan at the Actor’s Studio and had gone on to Broadway. The only consolation from that day was that even Elia Kazan admitted he had misinterpreted the play at first by infusing it with excessive naturalism.
Wallach and Jackson went through their Williams plays in excerpts and then reminisced about working with the great playwright. The show was a brilliant eye-opener for me and a wonderful and loving tribute.
Later, I met Wallach several more times and always engaged him in conversations about working with Williams, my favorite writer about issues in the South. It was a subject Wallach always warmed up to and clearly a period in his life that he loved to remember.
Mick Fleetwood is 76 years old today.
Fleetwood is a British musician and actor best known for his role as the drummer and co-founder of the blues/rock and roll band, Fleetwood Mac. His surname and that of John McVie formed the name of the band.
Aside from his work as a drummer, he also helped form the different incarnations of his band Fleetwood Mac, and is the sole member to stay with the band through its ever-changing lineup. In 1974, he met and invited Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to join Fleetwood Mac.
Buckingham and Nicks contributed to much of Fleetwood Mac's later commercial success, while Fleetwood's determination to keep the band together was essential to the group's longevity.
Here, is a drum solo by Fleetwood in Toronto, 2009
Lucille Ball after filming the grape-stomping scene in “I Love Lucy,” 1956