On July 5, 1946 — 77 years ago — French designer Louis Reard unveiled the bikini
Micheline Bernardini wears the first bikini in 1946
On July 5, 1946 — 77 years ago — French designer Louis Reard unveiled a daring two-piece swimsuit at the Piscine Molitor, a popular swimming pool in Paris.
Parisian showgirl, Micheline Bernardini, modeled the new fashion, which Reard dubbed the "bikini," inspired by a news-making U.S. atomic test that took place off the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean earlier that week.
European women first began wearing two-piece bathing suits that consisted of a halter top and shorts in the 1930s, but only a sliver of the midriff was revealed and the navel was vigilantly covered.
In the United States, the modest two-piece made its appearance during World War II, when wartime rationing of fabric saw the removal of the skirt panel and other superfluous material.
Meanwhile, in Europe, fortified coastlines and Allied invasions curtailed beach life during the war. Swimsuit development, like everything else non-military, came to a standstill.
In 1946, Western Europeans joyously greeted the first war-free summer in years, and French designers came up with fashions to match the liberated mood of the people. Two French designers, Jacques Heim and Louis Reard, developed competing prototypes of the bikini.
Heim called his the "atom" and advertised it as "the world's smallest bathing suit." Reard's swimsuit, which was basically a bra top and two inverted triangles of cloth connected by string, was significantly smaller.
Made out of a scant 30-inches of fabric, Reard promoted his creation as "smaller than the world's smallest bathing suit."
In planning the debut of his new swimsuit, Reard had trouble finding a professional model who would deign to wear the scandalously skimpy two-piece. So he turned to Micheline Bernardini, an exotic dancer at the Casino de Paris, who had no qualms about appearing nearly nude in public.
As an allusion to the headlines that he knew his swimsuit would generate, he printed newspaper type across the suit that Bernardini modeled on July 5 at the Piscine Molitor. The bikini was a hit, especially among men, and Bernardini received some 50,000 fan letters.
Before long, bold young women in bikinis were causing a sensation along the Mediterranean coast. Spain and Italy passed measures prohibiting bikinis on public beaches, but later capitulated to the changing times when the swimsuit grew into a mainstay of European beaches in the 1950s.
Reard's business soared, and in advertisements he kept the bikini mystique alive by declaring that a two-piece suit wasn't a genuine bikini "unless it could be pulled through a wedding ring." In prudish America, the bikini was successfully resisted until the early 1960s, when a new emphasis on youthful liberation brought the swimsuit en masse to U.S. beaches.
It was immortalized by the pop singer, Brian Hyland, who sang "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini" in 1960. Adding to that were the teenage "beach blanket" movies of Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon and the California surfing culture celebrated by the Beach Boys. Since then, the popularity of the bikini has only continued to grow.
Bridget Bardot is credited for popularizing the bikini, especially in America. She wore one in Roger Vidim’s 1957 film, And God Created Woman.
Robbie Robertson with Bob Dylan during the sound check at Forest Hills Stadium, in New York, August 28, 1965
Robbie Robertson is 80 years old today.
Born as Jaime Robert Klegerman, Robertson is a Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist. He was lead guitarist and primary lyricist within The Band.
As a songwriter, Robertson is credited for such classics as "The Weight," "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," "Up On Cripple Creek," "Broken Arrow" and "Somewhere Down the Crazy River."
Robertson’s mother, Rosemarie Myke Chrysler, was of "predominantly Mohawk descent." His father, Alexander David Klegerman, was Jewish. His father died when he was a child, and his mother re-married to James Patrick Robertson, who adopted Robbie and whose surname Robbie had taken.
He had his earliest exposure to music at Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation, where he spent summers with his mother's family. By 1958, Robertson was performing in various groups around Toronto, including Little Caesar and the Consuls, Robbie and the Robots and Thumper and the Trambones.
In 1959, he had met singer Ronnie Hawkins, who led a band called The Hawks. In 1960, Hawkins recorded two early Robertson songs, "Hey Boba Lu" and "Someone Like You" on his Mr. Dynamo LP. Robertson then took over lead guitar with The Hawks and toured often, before splitting from Hawkins in 1963.
Robertson's skill on his instrument continued to increase, causing Howard Sounes to write, "By twenty-two, he was a guitar virtuoso." After Robertson left Ronnie Hawkins, along with Levon Helm, Richard Manuel, Rick Danko and Garth Hudson, the quintet called themselves, Levon and the Hawks.
However, after rejecting such tongue-in-cheek names as The Honkies and The Crackers, as well as the Canadian Squires — a name the record label called them and they immediately hated — they ultimately called themselves, The Band.
Bob Dylan hired The Hawks for his famed, controversial tour of 1966, his first wide exposure as an electrified rock and roll performer rather than his earlier acoustic folk sound.
Robertson's distinctive guitar sound was an important part of the music. Dylan famously praised him as "the only mathematical guitar genius I’ve ever run into who doesn’t offend my intestinal nervousness with his rearguard sound."
Robertson appears as one of the guitarists on Dylan's 1966 album, Blonde on Blonde. From their first albums, Music from Big Pink (1968) and The Band (1969), The Band was praised as one of rock music's preeminent groups.
Robertson sang only a few songs with The Band, but was the group's primary songwriter. In the later years of the Band, he was often seen as the de facto bandleader. In 1976, at the urging of Robertson, The Band decided to cease touring. They gave their final concert in November of that year.
Robertson's friend, filmmaker Martin Scorsese, captured the event on film, released in 1978 as The Last Waltz. The concert featured The Band's friends and influences: Ronnie Hawkins, Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield, Dr. John, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Neil Diamond, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Ron Wood and Ringo Starr.
Since Robertson was the only one in the group who had seriously wanted to stop touring, The Band resumed touring in 1983 with a revolving door of musicians filling his place.
Between 1979 and 1980, Robertson co-starred with Gary Busey and Jodie Foster in the film, Carny. He also co-wrote, produced and composed source music for the film. For Scorsese's Raging Bull, Robertson created background music and produced source music.
For another Scorsese film, The King of Comedy (released in 1983), Robertson served as music producer and also contributed with his first post-Band solo recording, "Between Trains." Additionally, he produced and played guitar on Van Morrison's song, "Wonderful Remark."
Robertson signed via A&R executive Gary Gersh for his debut solo album on Geffen Records. He recorded with producer (and fellow Canadian), Daniel Lanois. Robertson also scored Scorsese's The Color of Money (1986), working with Gil Evans and Willie Dixon and co-wrote "It's In the Way That You Use It" with Eric Clapton.
Robertson was enlisted as creative consultant for Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll (1987), Taylor Hackford's film saluting Chuck Berry. He interviewed Berry and played guitar while Chuck recited some poetry.
From 1987 onwards, Robertson has released five solo albums. The first was self titled followed by Storyville, Music for the Native Americans and Contact from the Underworld of Redboy. In 1990, he contributed to Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto's album, Beauty.
Robertson's song "Broken Arrow," off the Robbie Robertson album, was covered by Rod Stewart on his album Vagabond Heart and became a hit single.
"Broken Arrow" was also a part of the Grateful Dead's rotation of live songs 1993–95 (sung by bassist Phil Lesh), and later with Phil Lesh and Friends. The song, "Somewhere Down the Crazy River," became Robertson's biggest solo hit.
In 1994, Robertson returned to his roots, forming a Native American group the Red Road Ensemble for Music for The Native Americans, a collection of songs that accompanied a television documentary series.
Robertson and the late Levon Helm had one of music's longest-running feuds, dating back more than 35 years. They last played together at the Band's final concert, The Last Waltz, in 1976.
Helm was furious at Robertson's decision to "destroy" the Band, he wrote in his autobiography. He participated in the concert on the basis of his attorney's advice: "Do it, puke and get out of the way."
They also clashed over royalties. "[Robbie] and [manager] Albert [Grossman] get all the money, and the rest of us get all the leftovers, and he was supposed to be one of us," Helm said in 1998.
Here, Robertson performs “Somewhere Down the Crazy River”
Jay Hormel and some of his company’s canned meat products, including Spam, in 1946
Photo by Wallace Kirkland
Spam, the canned meat, was introduced on this day in 1937 — 86 years ago.
Hormel Foods introduced the mix of pork shoulder and ham, whose name is derived from “spiced ham.” (No, it doesn’t stand for “Something Posing As Meat.”) Since then, Spam has been a muse for poets, comedians and chefs, and it helped win World War II.
Jay Hormel, Spam’s creator, said he was the first to successfully can ham. Cooking the meat inside the can produced a natural gelatin, increased shelf life and made it useful in battle.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote a letter praising Spam, and the former Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev said his country couldn’t have fed its troops without it. Hawaii embraced Spam during the war, too, and the affection never ceased. The state consumes the most in America, with seven million cans a year, or five cans per person.
“In all of its high-sodium, gravy-drenched glory, Spam has, in every sense, found its way into my heart,” Anthony Bourdain, the late chef, said during a visit to Hawaii for his show “No Reservations.” “I get it now. I feel inducted into the Church of True Knowledge.”
Thanks New York Times!
Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley and Bill Black, Memphis, September 9, 1954
This photo was taken barely two months after the release of their first record
History credits Sam Phillips, the owner and operator of Sun Records in Memphis, with the discovery of Elvis Presley.
Though that assumption fails to account for the roles of four others in making that discovery possible: The business partner who first spotted something special in Elvis, the two session men who vouched for his musical talent and the blues figure who wrote the song he was playing when Sam Phillips realized what he had on his hands.
The song in question was "That's All Right" by Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup. Elvis' unrehearsed performance of it is a moment some regard as the true beginning of the rock-and-roll revolution. It happened on this day in 1954 — 68 years ago.
The sequence of events that led to this moment began when a young truck driver walked into the offices of Sun Records and the Memphis Recording Service on a Saturday night in the summer of 1953 and paid $3.98 plus tax to make an acetate record as a birthday present to his mother.
Sam Phillips recorded Elvis singing "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin." Marion Keisker, Phillip’s business partner, wrote — "Good ballad singer. Hold" — in her notes on the session.
It was Keisker who was impressed enough by the incredibly shy young singer that she repeatedly brought his name up to Phillips over the next year and mentioned that he seemed worth following up with.
In early July, 1954, Phillips finally sent two of his favorite session musicians, guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, to meet with Elvis and report back to him with their assessment. After talking and jamming a bit with Presley, Moore and Black gave Phillips a report that was hardly enthusiastic.
"He didn't knock me out," Moore told Phillips, "[but] the boy's got a good voice." Phillips decided to schedule a recording session with Presley for July 5.
Phillips knew that something was brewing in the music world of 1954, and he had a pretty good idea what it would take to make the pot boil: A white singer who could sing "black" rhythm and blues. However, the first several hours of the July 5 session did nothing to convince Sam Phillips that Elvis was the one he'd been looking for.
Elvis's renditions of "Harbor Lights" and "I Love You Because" were stiff and uninspired, and after numerous takes and re-takes, Phillips called for a break.
Rather than shoot the breeze with his fellow musicians or step outside for a breath of fresh air, Elvis began to mess around on the guitar, playing and singing "That's All Right," but at least twice as fast as the original.
Through an open door in the control room, Sam Phillips heard this unfamiliar rendition of a familiar blues number and knew he'd found the sound he'd been looking for.
"[Phillips] stuck his head out and asked, 'What are you doing?'" Scotty Moore later recalled. "And we said, 'We don't know.' 'Well, back up,' Sam said, 'try to find a place to start, and do it again.'"
Phillips continued recording with Elvis over the next two evenings, but he never captured anything as thrilling as he did that first night.
Released to Memphis radio station, WHBQ, just two days after it was recorded, and then as a single two weeks later, Elvis Presley's "That's All Right (Mama)" became an instant regional hit and set him on his path toward stardom.
Here, Elvis performs “That’s All Right (Mama)” in his 1968 “comeback” TV special.
Jean Cocteau, French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, playwright, artist and filmmaker, was born 134 years ago today.
Cocteau wrote the novel, Les Enfants terribles (1929), and made the films, Blood of a Poet (1930), Les Parents terribles (1948), Beauty and the Beast (1946) and Orpheus (1949).
His circle of associates, friends and lovers included Kenneth Anger, Pablo Picasso, Jean Hugo, Jean Marais, Henri Bernstein, Yul Brynner, Marlene Dietrich, Coco Chanel, Erik Satie, Igor Stravinsky, María Félix, Édith Piaf and Raymond Radiguet.
In his early twenties, Cocteau became associated with the writers Marcel Proust, André Gide and Maurice Barrès. In 1912, he collaborated with Léon Bakst on Le Dieu bleu for the Ballets Russes. The principal dancers were Tamara Karsavina and Vaslav Nijinsky.
During World War I, Cocteau served in the Red Cross as an ambulance driver. This was the period in which he met the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, artists Pablo Picasso and Amedeo Modigliani, and numerous other writers and artists with whom he later collaborated.
Russian choreographer, Sergei Diaghilev, persuaded Cocteau to write a scenario for a ballet, which resulted in Parade, in 1917. It was produced by Diaghilev, with sets by Picasso, the libretto by Apollinaire and the music by Erik Satie. The piece was later expanded into a full opera — with music by Satie, Poulenc and Ravel.
An important exponent of avant-garde art, Cocteau had great influence on the work of others, including the group of composers known as Les six. In the early 1920s, he and other members of Les six frequented a wildly popular bar named Le Boeuf sur le Toit, a name that Cocteau himself had a hand in picking.
The popularity of the bar was due in no small measure to the presence of Cocteau and his friends.
Cocteau's experiments with the human voice peaked with his play La Voix humaine. The story involves one woman on stage speaking on the telephone with her (invisible and inaudible) departing lover, who is leaving her to marry another woman. The telephone proved to be the perfect prop for Cocteau to explore his ideas, feelings and "algebra" concerning human needs and realities in communication.
In 1940, Le Bel Indifférent, Cocteau's play written for and starring Édith Piaf, was enormously successful. He also worked with Pablo Picasso on several projects and was friends with most of the European art community.
Cocteau's films, most of which he both wrote and directed, were particularly important in introducing the avant-garde into French cinema and influenced to a certain degree the upcoming French New Wave genre.
In 1945, Cocteau was one of several designers who created sets for the Théâtre de la Mode. He drew inspiration from filmmaker René Clair while making Tribute to René Clair: I Married a Witch.
Cocteau died of a heart attack at his chateau in Milly-la-Forêt, Essonne, France, on October 11, 1963 at the age of 74.
Marc Cohn, New York City, 2015
Photo by Frank Beacham
Marc Cohn is 63 years old today.
Cohn is a folk rock singer-songwriter and musician best known for his 1991 song, "Walking In Memphis."
Cohn was born in Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated from Beachwood High School in Beachwood, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb.
His mother died when he was two years old, and his father died ten years later. Cohn learned to play guitar and started writing songs when he was in junior high school, playing and singing with a local band called, Doanbrook Hotel.
While attending Oberlin College, he taught himself to play the piano. He transferred to UCLA and began to perform in Los Angeles-area coffeehouses.
Cohn then moved to New York City and embarked on demoing songs for various writers, including Jimmy Webb, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.
Working initially as a backup artist in recording sessions, he established secure professional footing after assembling the Supreme Court, a 14-piece cover band, who played at Caroline Kennedy’s wedding in 1986.
In 1987, Cohn performed two songs ("One Rock and Roll Too Many" and "Pumping Iron") on the Phil Ramone-produced concept album of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Starlight Express, Music and Songs from Starlight Express.
In 1989, Cohn was a backing pianist for singer Tracy Chapman on her second album. The job led to a contract with Atlantic Records in the early 1990s after label executives heard a demo disc featuring Cohn on piano and vocals.
Working initially with Chapman producer, David Kershenbaum, and collaborating later with engineer, Ben Wisch, and producer John Leventhal, Cohn released his debut solo album, Marc Cohn, in February, 1991.
The album was hugely successful, thanks to Cohn's hit song, "Walking in Memphis." The album went gold in 1992 and was certified platinum in 1996.
In August, 2005, Cohn was shot in the head during an attempted carjacking in Denver, Colorado, following a concert with Suzanne Vega. The bullet struck him in the temple but did not penetrate his skull. Cohn was hospitalized and released the next day.
Subsequently, he released the compilation The Very Best of Marc Cohn in June, 2006, and his fourth studio album, Join the Parade, in October, 2007.
In 2013, Cohn went on tour, opening for Bonnie Raitt.
Cohn was married to ABC News journalist Elizabeth Vargas, whom he met at the 1999 U.S. Open after being introduced by Andre Agassi. They have since divorced.
Here, Cohen performs “Walking in Memphis” in 2011
Huey Lewis is 73 years old today.
A musician, songwriter and actor, Lewis sings lead and plays harmonica for his band, Huey Lewis and the News, in addition to writing or co-writing many of the band's songs.
The band is perhaps best known for their third album, Sports, and their contribution to the soundtrack of the 1985 feature film, Back to the Future. In previous years, Lewis previously played with the band, Clover, from 1972 to 1979.
Born in New York City, Lewis was raised in Marin County, California. When he was 13, his parents divorced. He attended and later graduated from the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey in 1967, where he achieved a perfect score of 800 on the math portion of the SAT. Lewis applied to and was accepted by Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
In an interview with David Letterman, Lewis talked about hitchhiking across the country to New York and how he learned to play the harmonica while waiting for rides. He hung out at an airport for three days until he stowed away on a plane to Europe.
While visiting the Scottish city of Aberdeen with no money and nowhere to sleep, Lewis claimed that the locals were very hospitable and would often offer him somewhere to stay.
In Madrid, Spain, Lewis became an accomplished blues player and he hitchhiked around and supported himself by busking with his harmonica. He gave his first concerts in Madrid, earning enough money to buy a plane ticket back to the U.S.
During his junior year, he dropped out of Cornell and moved back to the San Francisco area. His aim was to continue playing music as he tried other fields of work including landscaping, carpentry, weddings, event planning and natural foods.
In 1971, Lewis joined the Bay Area band, Clover. Around this time he took the stage name "Hughie Louis," the spelling of which he would tinker with for some years after. Other members of the band (at various points) were John McFee, Alex Call, John Ciambotti, Mitch Howie, Sean Hopper, Mickey Shine and Marcus David. Lewis played harmonica and sang lead vocals on a few tunes.
In 1976, after playing in the Bay Area with limited success, Clover went to Los Angeles. They had their "big break" in a club there when their act was caught by Nick Lowe, who convinced Clover to travel to Great Britain with him.
However, Clover arrived in Britain just as their folk-rock sound, known as pub rock in Britain, was being replaced by punk rock.
In 1978, the band returned to California, McFee joined the Doobie Brothers and Clover disbanded. Under the name "Huey Harp," Lewis played harmonica on Thin Lizzy's 1978 landmark album, Live and Dangerous. That same year, Lewis was playing at Uncle Charlie's, a club in Corte Madera, California, doing the “Monday Night Live” spot along with future members of the News.
After recording the song "Exo-Disco" (a disco version of the theme from the film, Exodus) as Huey Lewis and the American Express, Huey landed a singles contract from Phonogram Records and Bob Brown became his manager.
The band played a few gigs (including an opening for Van Morrison), before adding new guitarist, Chris Hayes, to the line-up. On Brown's advice they changed their name again to Huey Lewis and The News.
In April, 2018, Lewis revealed that he was suffering from hearing loss as a result of Ménière's disease, and canceled all upcoming tour dates.
Here, Huey Lewis and the News perform “The Heart of Rock & Roll”
Coit Tower, atop Telegraph Hill, Downtown Skyline, San Francisco, CA, circa 1950s
Photo by Fred Lyon