I was saying to someone the other day that one of the very first gigs we did – I don’t even think we were the Beatles, it was the Quarrymen – one the very first times I ever played with John, we did a very early gig at a thing called a Co-Op Hall, and I had a lead solo in one of the songs and I totally froze when my moment came. I really played the crappiest solo ever. I said, “That’s it. I’m never going to play lead guitar again.” It was just too nerve-wracking onstage. So for years, I just became rhythm guitar and bass player and played a bit of piano, do a bit of this, that and the other. But nowadays, I play lead guitar, and that’s the thing that draws me forward. I enjoy it. So, yeah, that means the answer to “Are you going to retire?” is “When I feel like it.” But that’s not today.
At the deepest level, McCartney has little idea where all the melodies come from. He still hasn’t figured out how he wrote “Yesterday” in his sleep. “I don’t like to use the word ‘magic,’ unless you spell it with a ‘k’ on the end, because it sounds a bit corny. But when your biggest song – which 3,000 people and counting have recorded – was something that you dreamt, it’s very hard to resist the thought that there’s something otherworldly there.”
Pete Townshend (1945)
art: John Entwistle
Grace Jones (1948)
art: Keith Haring
photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe
Irving Berlin was born Israel Beilin on May 11, 1888. In 1907 he published his first song, “Marie from Sunny Italy,” and by 1911 he had his first major international hit — “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” Over the next five decades, Irving Berlin produced an outpouring of ballads, dance numbers, novelty tunes and love songs that defined American popular song for much of the century. He wrote seventeen complete scores for Broadway musicals and revues, and contributed material to six more. His songs have provided memorable moments in dozens of…films. An intuitive business man, Irving Berlin was a co-founder of ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), founder of his own music publishing company, and with producer Sam Harris, builder of his own Broadway theatre, The Music Box.
In the late 19th century the sheet music business dominated the music industry in the United States. Parlor music took over the scene as the piano became a part of the middle class home. This led to a demand for sheet music for home consumption. The genre that grew out of this demand was called Tin Pan Alley, from the area of New York City where most of the song publishers were located. Success was measured by the sale of sheet music. To attract business, sheet music publishers hired artists to make beautiful covers…In the early 20th century the phonograph and recorded music grew in popularity and began to replace sheet music. In the 1920s, radio became the rage and eventually the record industry replaced the sheet music publishers as the prevailing music medium.
In mid 1936, Ella made her first recording. “Love and Kisses” was released under the Decca label, with moderate success. By this time she was performing with Chick’s band at the prestigious Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom, often referred to as “The World’s Most Famous Ballroom.”
Shortly afterward, Ella began singing a rendition of the song, “(If You Can’t Sing It) You Have to Swing It.” During this time, the era of big swing bands was shifting, and the focus was turning more toward bebop. Ella played with the new style, often using her voice to take on the role of another horn in the band. “You Have to Swing It” was one of the first times she began experimenting with scat singing, and her improvisation and vocalization thrilled fans. Throughout her career, Ella would master scat singing, turning it into a form of art.
Ella Fitzgerald | Official Site~ http://www.ellafitzgerald.com/about/biography
Ella Fitzgerald at 100 (npr)~
Lowell George’s Last Interview~
‘Down on the Farm’~ http://ultimateclassicrock.com/little-feat-down-on-the-farm/
More Lowell George Links~ http://www.dmci.com/lowell/lowell.html
Composer Amilcare Ponchielli was born in Italy in 1834. He started composing operas while still a student at the Milan Conservatory. After graduating in 1854, he held various positions over the years, including professor of composition at the Conservatory; his pupils included Giacomo Puccini and Pietro Mascagni. His most famous opera is “La Gioconda”, written in 1876. It is mainly remembered for its ballet, Dance of the Hours.
Dance of the Hours stands out as the only operatic ballet from this genre to have established a life of its own both inside the concert hall and in pop culture…Perhaps the most iconic use of this music is in Disney’s 1940 film “Fantasia”, where it underscores the questionable talents of a dance company comprised of hippos, ostriches, and alligators. Later it surfaced again as a number two hit on the pop charts in 1963, this time with words by parodist Alan Sherman. It may be difficult now to listen to this music without remembering the opening words of an alarmist child’s letter to his parents from summer camp: “Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda…”.
Ponchielli’s biography~ http://www.allmusic.com/artist/amilcare-ponchielli-mn0000496351/biography
Synopsis of “La Gioconda“~ https://www.thoughtco.com/la-sonnambula-synopsis-724264
Billie Holiday was the pre-eminent jazz singer of her day and among the most revered vocalists of the century. Although her brief life was fraught with tragedy, Holiday left a transcendent legacy of recorded work. Her pearly voice, exquisite phrasing and tough-tender persona influenced the likes of Janis Joplin and Diana Ross, among others. She performed and recorded in a jazzy “swing-sing” style from 1933 to 1958 with pianist-bandleaders Benny Goodman, Teddy Wilson, Count Basie, Artie Shaw and others. She was closely associated with tenor saxophonist Lester “Prez” Young, who dubbed her “Lady Day.”
There are varying accounts of her birth: in her memoirs, Holiday claimed she was born in Baltimore; but biographer Donald Clarke notes the time of birth, name of the doctor, and original spelling of her name on her birth certificate dated April 7, 1915 from Philadelphia General Hospital, in Billie Holiday: Wishing on the Moon. As a teenager, she began singing along with records by such artists as Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong in after-hours clubs in Baltimore. Her mother, Sadie Fagan, decided to move to New York, and Billie followed her. She began performing in nightclubs in Harlem, and she took the stage name Billie Holiday after film star Billie Dove. In 1933, when she was 18, she was discovered performing in a Harlem club called Monette’s by Columbia A&R man John Hammond. Her first commercial recording session occurred that November.
Strange Fruit: the first great protest song~ http://www.theguardian.com/music/2011/feb/16/protest-songs-billie-holiday-strange-fruit
New York Times obituary~ http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0407.html
Looking For Lady Day’s Resting Place? Detour Ahead~ http://www.npr.org/2012/07/17/156686608/looking-for-lady-days-resting-place-detour-ahead
For more Billie Holiday links see 2015’s post~ https://schristywolfe.com/2015/04/07/billie-holiday-born-on-april-7-1915/
Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908)
John Kander (1927)
Nat King Cole (1919-1965)
art: William P. Gottlieb Library of Congress
Rudolph Nureyev (1938-1993)
art: Jamie Wyeth
Brandywine River Museum of Art