One of Rock’s iconic figures, former Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed, died yesterday, aged 71. His death was reportedly due to a ‘liver related ailment’ (Reed had undergone a liver transplant earlier this year).
I was recently part of a celebratory weekend, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the ‘Second Summer Of Love’, which, in fact, spanned 2 summers (1988 and 1989), focusing on the key role played by the famous London club night, Shoom.
David Frost, who died of a heart attack last Saturday, aged 74, first made his name as the host of one of the most influential TV shows of the ’60s, ‘That Was The Week That Was’ (aka ‘TW3’). With the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech from 50 years ago also in the news, this clip, which was broadcast on ‘TW3’ the same year (and features the programme’s resident singer, Millicent Martin) provides a cutting critique on both the racism of America’s Deep South, and a British culture that embraced the Black & White Minstrels (a troupe of blacked-up white performers singing songs of the ‘good ol’ south’), who were major TV stars at the time (and, remarkably, remained on prime-time BBC for another 15 years, until 1978).
“Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says ‘treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.’ Man bursts into tears. Says ‘but, doctor…I am Pagliacci.’ Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains.”
Alan Moore ‘Watchmen’ (1987)
Richie Havens died of a heart attack yesterday at his New Jersey home. He was 72.
ARTIST: THE BEATLES
ALBUM: SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND
This Sunday (January 6th) at 9pm, you’re invited to share a listening session with some likeminded souls, wherever you might be. This can be experienced either alone or communally, and you don’t need to leave the comfort of your own home to participate. If it’s not possible to make the allotted time, hopefully you can join in at your convenience at some point during the following weeks. See update here:
The great sitar maestro, Ravi Shankar, died in San Diego yesterday aged 92, having failed to recover from heart-valve replacement surgery.
I’ve mentioned Brian Cannon here a few times, we used to work closely together way back when, between the mid-’80s and early ’90s when he did the artwork for pretty much all of the records I produced, including those by the Ruthless Rap Assassins and Kiss AMC, whom I also managed, securing deals for them with EMI. Brian subsequently went on to become the best-known record sleeve designer of the Britpop era, working in-house for both Oasis and The Verve under his Microdot moniker. Microdot was a name I suggested to him in 1990 at 23 New Mount Street, then a key Manchester music industry location, where my Murdertone office was based, and where Brian would open his own office / studio – it was here that his path would cross with Noel Gallagher, who was then working for the Inspiral Carpets, who were also based there.
Just over 12 months ago, on October 29th 2011, the TV and radio personality Sir Jimmy Savile died 2 days before his 85th birthday (he was born on Halloween 1926). He was regarded as one of the great British eccentrics, but there were always rumours about deviant behaviour, although nothing proven. Apart from his contribution to broadcasting, Savile was also said to be the first DJ, not only in Britain, but the World, to use twin-turntables, back in the 1940s, making him an unlikely icon to DJs of the modern era. Here’s the blog post I wrote at the time of his death:
On October 5th 1962 the first single by The Beatles, ‘Love Me Do’ c/w ‘P.S. I Love You’, was released in the UK on the Parlophone label. Principally written by Paul McCartney a few years earlier, when he was 16 (John Lennon added the middle-eight), and based around 3 chords, it was the first of a run of 3 singles that featured John Lennon on harmonica – the others being ‘Please Please Me’ and ‘From Me To You’, both released the following year (the instrument, a signature of the early Beatles sound, was retired by Lennon 1965). The harmonica used had been pinched from a music shop 2 years previously in Arnhem, Holland, whilst The Beatles were on their way to their first stint in Hamburg, Germany (Aug – Dec ’60). A photograph was also taken of them that day by Barry Chang, the brother-in-law of then manager Allan Williams, as they passed through Arnhem, which would later prove to be somewhat prophetic – the then unknown band, minus Lennon, with their pre-Ringo drummer Pete Best and original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe, Williams and his wife Beryl, along with Williams’ one-time partner Lord Woodbine (aka Harold Phillips), who drove the minibus they were travelling in over from Liverpool. The snapshot was taken in front of the War Memorial, on which the legend ‘Their Name Liveth For Evermore’ was carved. Lennon had stayed in the van, opting out of the photo opportunity, whilst apparently declaring himself, in another portent of the future, a pacifist.