Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Obit watch and other random notes: November 11, 2015.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Helmut Schmidt, former chancellor of West Germany.

Allen Toussaint, noted New Orleans musician.

In 1964, trumpet maestro Al Hirt covered Toussaint’s jaunty instrumental “Java,” which became a No. 1 hit. In 1965, Mr. Toussaint’s “Whipped Cream” not only became the title track on a Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass album, it later became the bachelorettes theme of the television game show “The Dating Game.”

Vito J. Lopez, former New York assemblyman who resigned due to a sexual harassment scandal.

Non-obit, but interesting:

The police in Northern Ireland arrested a 66-year-old man on Tuesday in connection with Bloody Sunday, the infamous massacre of unarmed civilian marchers by British soldiers in Londonderry on Jan. 30, 1972. It was the first time anyone has been arrested in the massacre, for which the British government formally apologized in 2010.

The individual is not named, but is described as a “former lance corporal”.

“Former fugitive fish smuggler pleads guilty, prosecutors say”. Somebody at the LAT was having a bit of fun…

Second day coverage of the Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow trial. Doesn’t seem like much here: one of “Shrimp Boy”‘s confederates claims he ordered a hit, but he never explicitly said anything beyond “take care of this”.

The patrol reached a small bridge over a canal and was approached by men on motorcycles coming from the opposite direction — possibly members of the Taliban. They began crossing the bridge but stopped partway and retreated in the opposite direction. The suicide bomber appeared on foot to the left of the patrol after coming out of a building. Groberg ran at him and threw him to the ground with the help of another soldier, Sgt. Andrew Mahoney, who would later receive the Silver Star for his valor.

Where do we get such men?

Obit watch: October 9, 2015.

Friday, October 9th, 2015

Paul Prudhomme. NYT.

Asked by The Toronto Star in 2000 to name his favorite dish, he did not hesitate. “From the time I was a child, it’s fresh pork roast with holes punched into it and filled with herbs, spices, pork lard, onions, peppers and celery and cooked in a cast-iron roasting pan in a wood-burning oven all night,” he said. “I’d serve that dish with candied yams, dirty rice and warm potato salad.”

Gail Zappa, Frank Zappa’s widow.

Historical note, suitable for use in schools.

Friday, August 21st, 2015

By way of the invaluable NYT obits Twitter feed, I have learned that today is the 75th anniversary of the assassination of Leon Trotsky. I don’t know what I would have done if this anniversary had gotten past me.

(Technically, I suppose it is the 75th anniversary of Trotsky’s death. Ramón Mercader, or whatever his name was – he seems to have had multitudes – attacked Trotsky on the 20th, but he lingered until the 21st.)

I haven’t done one of these in a while, so how about a little musical interlude?

This might push a few buttons.

Attend the tale.

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

This one goes out to Mike the Musicologist:

“Sweeney Todd”, the “prog-metal” version.

(Can someone explain to me what “prog-metal” is, anyway?)

It could be worse. It could be disco.

Quotes of the day.

Friday, July 3rd, 2015
  1. “This isn’t the Grateful Dead,” Mr. Mande said of the current arrangement. “It’s just a huge, pathetic money grab.”
  2. The band’s universe “was never as clean and sweet, high-minded or hippie-dippy as it was thought to be,” he said. “It’s always been way more complicated and materialistic than that.”


Obit watch: June 29, 2015.

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Chris Squire, bass player for Yes. A/V Club.

Walter Shawn Browne, noted chess grandmaster.

Mr. Browne’s competitiveness extended beyond chess. “I can beat 97 out of 100 experts in Scrabble, 98 of 100 in backgammon and 99.9 of 100 in poker,” he told Sports Illustrated in 1976. “At hi-lo, table-limit poker, I’m the best in the world.”

Finally, Red Mascara. Mr. Mascara wrote a song, “I’m From New Jersey” in 1960 and spent the next 55 years on a quixotic quest to have it made the official state song.

He came closest to his goal in 1972, when the Legislature passed a bill recognizing “I’m From New Jersey” as the official state song. Mr. Mascara had hired a band to play it from the gallery of the Assembly chamber. But Gov. William Cahill vetoed it, telling reporters that the only thing worse than that song was hearing Mr. Mascara sing it.

Obit watch: June 23, 2015.

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

This has been semi-well reported elsewhere (except, oddly, in the paper of record); James Horner. (Edited to add 2: NYT obit. In fairness, it appears that they were waiting for official confirmation from Horner’s people that he was actually flying the plane; other sources seemed to be basing their reports on “well, it was his plane, and he hasn’t called anybody since it went down to say ‘I’m alive!’, so…”)

Dick Van Patten: LAT. A/V Club. (Edited to add: NYT.)

(He was in “Soylent Green”? I need to watch that movie “again”, as I’ve only ever seen parts of it in the “edited for television” version.)

Obit watch: June 11, 2015.

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

It seems like all I’m doing this week is posting obituaries. I could do with a week where good people don’t die.

Ornette Coleman, noted jazz musician.

Christopher Lee: NYT. WP. A/V Club.

Not exactly an obit, but:

Spain gave its greatest writer, Miguel de Cervantes, a formal burial Thursday nearly 400 hundred years after his death, unveiling a funeral monument holding recently unearthed bone fragments believed to include those of the author of “Don Quixote.”

Edited to add: A/V Club obit for Ornette Coleman.

Lawrence challenged me to find some Coleman on YouTube that isn’t “unlistenable” (his word, not mine). I’ve never really acquired the ability to appreciate jazz, but I like this well enough.

Can’t get no antidote for blues…

Friday, May 15th, 2015

It is pouring down rain this morning in Austin. Somehow that seems fitting.

B.B. King: NYT. A/V Club. LAT. WP.

Obit watch: May 14, 2015.

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

This seems to have been horribly buried in the Statesman, but noted Texas fiddler Johnny Gimble passed away over the weekend.

In the 1950s, he played with Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, the most popular Western swing band of the day, sometimes adding a fifth string to his fiddle to achieve a lower, rounder and louder sound. (Wills also played fiddle.) For a time he was part of the house band at a club Wills had opened in Dallas. He was featured on recordings by Marty Robbins, Lefty Frizzell and Ray Price, among others, and he was the host of a musical television show in Waco, Tex., “Johnny Gimble and the Homefolks” (for which he hired Willie Nelson to play bass in the band).

Then, in the late 1960s, he moved to Nashville, where he became one of country music’s most sought-after session players. He recorded with Chet Atkins, Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty and Dolly Parton, among others, and was a member of the Million Dollar Band, an all-star ensemble including Atkins, Roy Clark and Floyd Cramer that was featured on the television show “Hee Haw.”

I can’t embed it, but here’s a great version of “Take Me Back To Tulsa” with George Jones and Mr. Gimble.

And I can embed this: a profile of Mr. Gimble produced by a Waco TV station.

Random notes: February 23, 2015.

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Am I understanding things correctly? They made a movie out of “Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law“? And it won Best Picture?

Ackquille Pollard is a rising young rapper under the name Bobby Shmurda. Mr. Pollard’s rap career has been temporarily sidetracked:

Mr. Pollard was arrested for what city prosecutors said was his role as the “driving force” and “organizing figure” behind the street gang known as GS9, an offshoot of the Crips. In one incident just a month before he was signed, prosecutors said, Mr. Pollard shot at his brother, shattering glass at a Brooklyn barbershop. He faces up to 25 years in prison for conspiracy, reckless endangerment and gun possession; others charged, including Mr. Pollard’s childhood friends, face more serious accusations, including second-degree murder.

Mr. Pollard is being held on $2 million bail. And he’s upset that his record label hasn’t bailed him out.

But as rap has become more corporate, that kind of aid is unusual. Matthew Middleton, Mr. Pollard’s entertainment lawyer, said that while Epic is not obligated to cover bail or legal fees for Mr. Pollard, the artist expected more support, financial and emotional, especially after the label’s spirited pursuit of the rapper made them business partners.

“These companies for years have capitalized and made millions and millions of dollars from kids in the inner city portraying their plight to the rest of the world,” Mr. Middleton said. “To take advantage of that and exploit it from a business standpoint and then turn your back is disingenuous, to say the least.”

Obit watch: Herman Rosenblat. Mr. Rosenblat was a Holocaust survivor who wrote a memoir of his experiences. In that memoir, he told a story about a girl who threw an apple over the fence to him while he was in a concentration camp; later, after he moved to the United States, he met the girl again and married her.

This was, of course, a great story. Mr. Rosenblat made “Oprah” twice, got a book deal, and there were plans to turn his story into a movie.

And sadly, it turned out that Mr. Rosenblat completely invented the story about the girl and the apple. The book was never published and the movie was never made.

There is an Indian actor named Amitabh Bachchan. He’s apparently not well known in the United States, but he’s hugely popular in India. “He has appeared in more than 150 Bollywood films and served as a longtime host of the country’s wildly popular version of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?'” according to the LAT. He also had a small part in the 2013 “Gatsby”.

And because of that small part, a group of Sikhs in the United States are claiming Mr. Bachchan is subject to US jurisdiction.

The group has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. making the improbable argument that Bachchan’s work with a U.S. film company gives American courts the ability to hold him responsible for the massacre of thousands of Sikhs in India three decades ago. The group alleges that the actor, now 72, made statements that incited a violent mob.


The suit hinges on the Alien Tort Statute, which in recent years has become the center of a debate over whether American courts can and should be the arbiter of human rights abuses committed elsewhere in the world by non-U.S. citizens. The 1789 law, which was passed by the first Congress and initially used in cases of piracy and stolen goods, states that federal courts shall have jurisdiction over wrongs “committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.”

It seems unlikely this will work, at least according to the LAT: the Supreme Court has restricted the ability of plaintiffs to pursue claims under the Alien Tort Statute, and they are also likely to have issues accomplishing service on the defendant.

One Wisconsin suit was dismissed after it became clear the process server hired by the group mistakenly served another Sikh man with a long white beard and turban, not the chief minister of the state of Punjab. Hospital security and Secret Service agents proved a hurdle in serving another Indian politician at a New York cancer treatment facility. A case against Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister at the time of the suit, was thrown out after the U.S. State Department stepped in to declare to the court that Singh was entitled to immunity as a head of state.

On at least one occasion, the group resorted to offering a $10,000 reward for anyone who could successfully serve the lawsuit on Punjab’s chief minister.

Obit watch: February 17, 2015.

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Arnaud de Borchgrave, journalist and author.

Lesley Gore. A/V Club.

Not really an obit in the conventional sense, but: the Bob Feller museum in Van Meter, Iowa is closing. One of the interesting things about this is that the Feller museum was one of the last remaining “free-standing” museums devoted to one player:

Only two remain: the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum, two and a half blocks from Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, and the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library in Greenville, S.C. Six others, including the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center at Montclair State University in New Jersey, are either housed at or supported by larger entities.

Also interesting: some of the memorabilia will stay at the musueum (which is going to become the new city hall), some of it is going to Progressive Field, and some of it is going to the U.S.S. Alabama:

In Van Meter, Feller is equally revered for his military service. He enlisted in the Navy two days after Pearl Harbor, the first United States professional athlete to volunteer, costing him three full baseball seasons and most of a fourth. He saw combat in the Pacific theater as a gun captain aboard the Alabama. Feller proudly called himself the only Navy chief petty officer in the Baseball Hall of Fame.