Andrew Collins started a blog in July 2013 - Circles of Life: The 143 - he's about half way through now. [more inside]
Richard Pryor moved to New York City in 1963, where he performed regularly in clubs alongside performers such as Bob Dylan and Woody Allen. He even opened for singer and pianist Nina Simone, who talked of his early nervousness, when she put her "arms around him there in the dark and rocked him like a baby until he calmed down." You can see something of that young man in this clip of Pryor singing a bit of jazzy blues in 1966. The performance is also available on YouTube with slightly better quality, but faded in from different scene. [more inside]
The Hitmaker is Nile Rodgers' 1959 Fender Stratocaster. Last week, he left it on a train in NYC. (Warning: Autoplaying great music) Legendary Producer/Writer/Guitarist Nile Rodgers writes on his blog about the near-loss of one of the most famous instruments in music - "The Hitmaker," also known as the "World's Most Successful Guitar," which Rodgers played on hits by everyone from Chic, David Bowie, Madonna and Duran Duran to Daft Punk. Oh, yeah, and that's The Hitmaker playing the funky riff sampled on Rapper's Delight, too. From a previous MeFi post, here's Nile Rodgers talking about music and, starting at the 55:40 mark, playing The Hitmaker and demonstrating some of the most famous riffs ever played. [more inside]
How to make the biggest hit of all time: Step 1: Get the most successful female act of the 1960s, the Queen of Motown, to write and sing lead. Step 2: Get the biggest selling band of the 1970s, the Kings of Disco, to produce and sing backup. Step 3: Get the biggest selling musical artist of the 1980s, the King of Pop, to co-write the song and share vocals. Step 4: Profit?
He couldn't sing, dance, or tell jokes, but he was television's greatest impresario. He was a stone-faced puritan -- America's arbiter of status quo -- but had a sly sense of humor , and in the segregation-tainted 1950's, welcomed blacks to his stage, and in the 1960's showcased rock n' roll's most anti-establishment acts. His show, the longest-running variety show in history, ran from 1948 to 1971. [more inside]
When Bad Singers Happen To Good Songs: The Songicides! In today's Spectator Markus Berkmann amusingly raises the deadly spectre of the worst covers ever recorded. We're talking assassins here. I nominate Phil Collins's massacre of Holland/Dozier/Holland's "You Can't Hurry Love", as originally sung by Diana Ross and the Supremes; U2's goring of Cole Porter's "Night and Day", best sung by Sinatra or Ella and, worst of all, though he's my favourite artist, Leonard Cohen's mangling of Irving Berlin's classic "Always". What's the worst cover version you'd like to report to Musical Homicide?