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Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ben Harper is 54 years old today
Ben Harper is 54 years old today.
A singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Harper plays an eclectic mix of blues, folk, soul, reggae and rock music and is known for his guitar-playing skills, vocals, live performances and activism.
Harper's fan base spans several continents. His albums have been commercially successful in North America, Europe and Oceania.
Born in Pomona, California, Harper’s father, Leonard, was of African-American and Cherokee ancestry, and his mother, Ellen Chase-Verdries, is Jewish. His parents divorced when he was five, and he grew up with his mother's family. Harper has two brothers, Joel and Peter.
Harper began playing guitar as a child. His maternal grandparents' music store, The Folk Music Center and Museum, laid a foundation of folk and blues for the artist, complemented by regular patrons Leonard Cohen, Taj Mahal, John Darnielle and David Lindley. He was influenced by quotes of William Shakespeare and Robert Frost made often by his grandfather.
In 1978, at the age of nine, Harper attended reggae superstar Bob Marley's performance in Burbank, California (joined by former bandmate, Peter Tosh, in the encore, thus making it a sort of historical performance), which was, according to Harper, an important influence.
At the age of 12, Harper played his first gig. During the '80s, in his teen years, he began to play the slide guitar, mimicking the style of Robert Johnson. Next, he refined his style, taking up the Weissenborn slide guitar.
Harper broke out of the Inland Empire after being offered an invitation by Taj Mahal to tour with the artist. They recorded Taj Mahal's album, Follow the Drinking Gourd, released in November, 1990. Then they toured Hawaii.
In 1992, Harper recorded the LP, Pleasure and Pain, with folk multi-instrumentalist, Tom Freund.
After this limited edition record, Harper secured a lifetime record deal with Virgin Records, which released his debut album, Welcome to the Cruel World, in 1994. This allowed him to be invited at the Rencontres Trans Musicales of Rennes in France in December, 1993 where he appeared for the first time on a large stage.
The first album was followed by, Fight For Your Mind, in 1995, with Juan Nelson on bass. It became a college radio favorite and included several songs that Harper still plays live regularly.
Here, Harper performs “Burn One Down” at Bonnaroo.
Charlie Daniels was born 87 years ago today.
Daniels was a musician known for his contributions to country and southern rock music. He was best known for his #1 country hit, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," and many other songs he wrote and performed.
Daniels was a singer, guitarist and fiddler, who began writing and performing in the 1950s. He was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on January 24, 2008 and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2009.
In 1964, Daniels co-wrote, "It Hurts Me," a song which Elvis Presley recorded with Joy Byers. He worked as a Nashville session musician, often for producer Bob Johnston, including playing electric bass on three Bob Dylan albums during 1969 and 1970, and on recordings by Leonard Cohen.
Daniels recorded his first solo album, Charlie Daniels, in 1971. He produced the 1969 album by The Youngbloods, Elephant Mountain and played the violin on "Darkness, Darkness."
During the 1970s, Daniels played fiddle on many of The Marshall Tucker Band's early albums: "A New Life." "Where We All Belong," "Searchin' For a Rainbow," "Long Hard Ride" and "Carolina Dreams,"
In 1975, he had a Top 30 hit as leader of the Charlie Daniels Band with the Southern rock self-identification anthem, "The South's Gonna Do It Again." "Long Haired Country Boy" was a minor hit in that year.
Daniels played fiddle on Hank Williams, Jr.'s 1975 album, Hank Williams, Jr. and Friends.
Daniels performed in 1979 film, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," which reached #3 on the Hot 100 in September, 1979. The following year, "Devil" became a major crossover success on rock radio stations after its inclusion on the soundtrack for the hit movie, Urban Cowboy.
The song was by far Daniels' greatest success, still receiving regular airplay on U.S. classic rock and country stations, and is well-known even among audiences who eschew country music in general.
Daniels died on July 6, 2020, at the age of 83 of a hemorrhagic stroke at Summit Medical Center in Nashville.
Here, Daniels performs “Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
Photo by Frank Driggs
The second "Apache trial" began for Chuck Berry 62 years ago today.
Although his earlier conviction for transporting a minor across state lines for immoral purposes in violation of the Mann Act was thrown out on appeal, the aggressive prosecution decided to retry Berry.
Chuck Berry was one of the biggest pop stars of the late 1950s when he began to have legal problems. While charges in yet another Mann Act violation were pending (which were dismissed in 1960), Berry met Janice Escalante, a Native American with roots in the Apache tribe, in a bar near El Paso, Texas.
According to Berry, who took the young woman on the road with his traveling rock show, Escalante claimed to be 21-years-old. After there was a falling out between the two, Escalante complained about Berry to the authorities.
During his second trial, Berry was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison. After a short stretch in Leavenworth Federal Prison, he was transferred to a Missouri jail, where he spent his time studying accounting and writing songs.
Among the songs he wrote before his release from prison in October, 1963 were "No Particular Place to Go" and "You Never Can Tell," later memorialized in the film, Pulp Fiction.
Photo by Frank Beacham
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, is 68 years old today.
In this photo, from the late 1980s, Gates explains his concept of Microsoft’s “office.”
It was then to be a paperless office. That didn’t quite work out.
Elvis performs live on the Dorsey Brothers' Stage Show at a CBS studio in New York
On this day in 1957 — after a show at the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles — local police told Elvis Presley that he was not allowed to wiggle his hips onstage.
The local press ran headlines saying Elvis would have to clean up his act.
The next night, the Los Angeles Vice Squad filmed Elvis entire concert to study his performance.
A brief moment of honesty...
In 2014, architect Frank Gehry was in Oviedo, Spain at a press conference related to the country’s Prince of Asturias Awards for the arts.
Gehry, now 94, made news when a questioner asked him his response to charges he created architecture for show.
“In the world we live in, 98 percent of what gets built and designed today is pure shit. ... There’s no sense of design nor respect for humanity or anything. They’re bad buildings and that’s it.
“Every now and then, however, a small number of people do something special. They’re very few. But — my God! — leave us in peace! We dedicate ourselves to our work. I don’t beg for work. I don’t have publicists. I’m not waiting for people to call me. I work with clients who have respect for the art of architecture. At the very least, don’t ask stupid questions like this.”
Palerme, Sicily, 1964
Photo by Bruno Barbey