Nearer my God to thee-And the band played on.

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105 years ago today as the Titanic was sinking,band leader Wallace Hartley decided to stay on the ship together with his fellow musicians.

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Why I don’t really know but I think it was to give that glimmer of hope to those who were facing their last minutes before their mortal coils would give up.What is even more amazing is the fact that the piece of music they played was “Nearer my God to thee” these are the heroes who are often forgotten.

After the Titanic hit an iceberg and began to sink, Hartley and his fellow band members started playing music to help keep the passengers calm as the crew loaded the lifeboats. Many of the survivors said that he and the band continued to play until the very end. None of the band members survived the sinking, and the story of them playing to the end became a popular legend. One survivor who clambered aboard ‘Collapsible A’ claimed to have seen Hartley and his band standing on the boat deck, near the entrance to the grand staircase, near the base of the second funnel. He went on to say that he saw three of them washed off while the other five held on to the railing on top the Grand Staircase’s deckhouse, only to be dragged down with the bow, as Hartley exclaimed, “Gentlemen, I bid you farewell!” A newspaper at the time reported “the part played by the orchestra on board the Titanic in her last dreadful moments will rank among the noblest in the annals of heroism at sea.”

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Many of the survivors said that Hartley and the band continued to play until the very end. One second class passenger said:

“Many brave things were done that night, but none were more brave than those done by men playing minute after minute as the ship settled quietly lower and lower in the sea. The music they played served alike as their own immortal requiem and their right to be recalled on the scrolls of undying fame”

This is my salute to those who kept faith until the last moment.

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The positive vibes of the Rocky movies.

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This is going to be a completely bias blog and I am not apologizing for it.For some reason I tend to watch the Rocky movies every time I am going to a bit of a rough time.

Although the movies are really not of the standard I usually would watch, I can’t but help having a soft spot for the franchise, yes even for the last 2 installments. It is not only the story of someone not giving up despite a lot of hardship, it is also  the music that works uplifting.

I was going for a walk earlier this week and as usual I would listen to music while walking. At one stage I was reflecting on some recent hard times and nearly became overwhelmed by emotion, but before the tears had a chance to make an appearance Bill Conti’s “Flying High now” was piping through my head set and it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling.

It is also because of the Rocky movies and especially III and IV I was introduced to one of my all time favourite rock bands Survivor. “Eye of the Tiger” became an instant classic as did “Burning heart” and again both songs will leave you with this great and positive feeling, as if you are able to take on the world.

Sylvester Stallone wrote the screenplay for Rocky in three and a half days, shortly after watching the championship match between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner that took place at Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio on March 24, 1975. Wepner was TKO’d in the 15th round of the match by Ali, but nobody ever expected.

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When Rocky Balboa runs up those steps in Philadelphia you feel like you’re running up with them and you get an equal buzz when you reach the top. And I think that is what the message is from the movies”It may seem like a lot you have to overcome but when you get to the top, the view is great”rocky-steps-with-love-philadelphia1-600vp

The day the country music died

Okay the title might be a bit over dramatic but the story has striking similarities with the Buddy Holly;Ritchie Valens and Big Bopper crash.

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On March 5, 1963, country music stars Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas, and Hawkshaw Hawkins were killed in a plane crash near Camden, Tennessee, United States, along with the pilot Randy Hughes.

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The accident occurred as the three artists were returning home to Nashville, Tennessee, after performing in Kansas City, Missouri.

At approximately 2 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5, 1963, a Piper Comanche departed Fairfax Municipal Airport in Kansas City.

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It was operating as a non-scheduled passenger cross-country business flight under visual flight rules to its destination of Nashville, 411 nautical miles (761 km; 473 mi) to the southeast. Later that afternoon the aircraft landed at Rogers Municipal Airport in Rogers, Arkansas to refuel and departed 15 minutes afterwards.

Pilot Hughes later made contact with Dyersburg Regional Airport in Dyersburg, Tennessee and landed there at 5:05 p.m., where he requested a weather briefing for the remainder of the flight to Nashville. He was informed by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employee Leroy Neal that local conditions were marginal for VFR flight and weather at the destination airport was below VFR minimums. Hughes then asked if the Dyersburg airport runways were lighted at night in case he had to return and Neal replied that they were. The pilot then informed Neal he would fly east towards the Tennessee River and navigate to Nashville from there, as he was familiar with the terrain in that area. Hughes expressed concern with a 2,049-foot (625 m) high television transmitting tower north of Nashville, then stated that he would attempt the flight and return if the weather conditions worsened.

After refueling, the passengers and pilot reboarded the Piper Comanche.(Picture below is a Piper Comanche but not the actual plane used by Hughes)

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Hughes requested another weather briefing by radio then taxied into position and took off at 6:07 p.m. After takeoff, there was no further radio contact with N7000P. The reported weather at that time was a ceiling of 500 feet (150 m), visibility of 5 miles (8.0 km), temperature of 43 °F (6 °C; 279 K), gusty and turbulent wind from the east at 20 miles per hour (17 kn) and cloudy.Several minutes later an aviation-qualified witness, approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Camden, heard a low-flying aircraft on a northerly course. The engine noise increased and seconds later a white light appeared from the overcast, descending in a 45 degree angle.

At 6:29 p.m., the aircraft crashed into a wooded swampy area 1 mile (1.6 km) north of Highway 70 and 5 miles (8.0 km) west of Camden.

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The impact completely destroyed the aircraft and all four occupants aboard were killed. The witness described hearing a dull-sounding crash, followed by complete silence.

After the witness notified the Tennessee Highway Patrol, two law enforcement officers performed a preliminary search of the area around 7 p.m., but they found nothing. By 11:30 p.m., a search party was organized consisting of the Highway Patrol, Civil Defense and local officers who searched the area throughout the night. At 6:10 a.m. on March 6, the wreckage was discovered. A three-foot hole indicated the area of initial impact and debris was scattered over an area 166 feet (51 m) long and 130 feet (40 m) wide.

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During the FAA investigation, it was found the aircraft’s propeller contacted a tree 30 feet (9.1 m) above the ground while the aircraft was in a 26-degree nose-down attitude. The right wing then collided with another tree 32 feet (9.8 m) to the right, causing the plane to become inverted. The downward angle increased to 45 degrees and the Comanche hit the ground at an estimated speed of 175 miles per hour (282 km/h), about 62 feet (19 m) from the initial contact.

Inspection of the air frame and engine disclosed that the aircraft was intact and the engine was developing substantial power before impacting the trees. Investigators found no evidence of engine or system failure or malfunction of the aircraft prior to the crash. It was determined the plane was slightly over maximum gross weight when it departed Dyersburg Regional Airport, but this fact had no bearing on the crash.

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An autopsy of the pilot discovered no physical or medical concerns that could have been a factor in the accident.

Investigators believe that Hughes entered an area of deteriorating weather with low visibility and lost his visual reference with the ground. This induced spatial disorientation and eventually led to a graveyard spiral with the aircraft entering into a right hand diving turn, with a nose-down attitude of 25 degrees. When the aircraft cleared the clouds, Hughes attempted to arrest the high descent rate by pulling the nose up and applying full power but it was too late. The FAA investigators later found evidence that the propeller was at maximum rpm during impact.

The FAA’s final conclusion was the non-instrument-rated pilot’s attempted visual flight in adverse weather conditions, resulting in disorientation and subsequent loss of control.

 

The Music that shaped my life-Part 1

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Music has always played an important and pivotal role in my life. At times it was my comforter,companion,friend,guide and inspiration.

This is just a short journey through my musical life. Eclectic and interesting.

Starting off with the King.

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No one who loves music can say that they don’t like Elvis so it was no different for me.Without divulging too much of my personal life, suffice to say my childhood could have been better. It was in Elvis’s music I often found solace. Although I did enjoy his edgier early stuff ,it were his ballads that spoke to me and especially this one:

It was also Elvis that got me interested in Rock N Roll. Which leads me nicely to the firs woman in my life. Joan Jett.

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Well she wasn’t really the first woman in my life I had a mother and sisters, but Joan was the first woman that got my musical juices flowing so to speak.

It was 1982 and the world was rocked in to submission by a German girl singing about a bit of love, in the bore fest called the  Eurovision songcontest.

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If it hadn’t been for Joan Jett and the Blackhearts I may have actually started listening to Nicole and God only knows what might have happened.I can safely say it was “I love Rock ‘N’ Roll that saved my soul from eternal damnation. It was also the song that triggered my long lasting love affair with Hard Rock.

1982 was also the year a relatively unknown band was approached by an Italian American to write a song for a boxing movie, actually the 3rd instalment of the franchise.

The movie of course was Rocky III, the band Survivor.But rather then talking about Eye of the Tiger I am taking you back a few years.

In 1980 Survivor had released their first self titled album.

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The reason why I am discussing this album is because it was given to me as a gift by a friend of my brother. He knew I had recently bought the aforementioned album”Eye of the Tiger” and he knew I liked the band. As a random act of kindness he ordered Survivor’s 1st album for me. This was before online ordering so he had to physically send the order over to Virgin Records in London to get it delivered to my home in the Netherlands.To this day this album is still one of my favourites. This is the best track on the album.

I have always been a big fan off concept albums. Jeff Wayne’s musical version of the War of the Wotlds is just the pinnacle of art combined with music, Often when there is nothing on TV (which is a lot) I put on the album just to drift away in memories, because lets face it music is a time machine.

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However it was the Seattle based  Queensryche who in 1988  released the best concept album of all time Well at least in my opinion and I am a bit biased because I am a massive fan.

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Queensryche had released another great album before “Operation Mindcrime” called “Rage for Order” and I didn’t think they’d be able to improve on that, but boy was I wrong.

This concludes the first 2 decades of my musical life, but I will come back in part 2 with some 80s blues music, yes I do mean Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Deutschland 1980’s-the Music.

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I know what you are thinking “Didn’t he already do a piece on Deutschland ’83?” and you’d be right , but this blog is not about that show nor its follow up “Deutschland ’86”.

This piece is about the music in Germany in the 80’s. It always fascinated me that for this relatively short period of time the German music industry basically turned itself on its head. It went from the folky Schlager music to the NDW(Neue Deutsche Welle) German new wave and punk music,complemented with some rock acts.

Well at least for West Germany, East Germany was a different story altogether.

Below are some examples of that weird musical era in Germany. I do apologize for the first 2 songs but in order to get a feel for the paradox and to have a balance I felt compelled to put them in here.You can fast forward if you  so please.(I did)

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The situation in the East

“Sonderzug nach Pankow” (Special Train to Pankow) is a song by the German rock singer Udo Lindenberg, released as a single on 2 February 1983.

It was a reaction to the refusal by the East German government to allow the West German singer perform a concert in East Germany .The text of this approximately three minutes long song is aimed  directly to East German leader Erich Honecker.

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The melody is based on the 1941 swing classic “Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Glenn Miller. It did eventually did lead to Udo Lindenberg being granted to do 1 concert in East Germany on 25 October 1983. The concert was part of the “Rock für den Frieden”(Rock for Peace) festival.

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German Rock

These guys must have listened to Led Zeppelin a lot.

Finishing up with the band that no one talks about anymore ,Milli Vanilli. Ironically the lip syncing scandal they were involved in has more or less become the standard in the Music industry nowadays.

21st Century Rock Anthems

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This is probably one of my more difficult articled to compile. After having watched a documentary on the BBC on great American Rock anthems where they basically finished with ‘Smells like Teen spirit’ by Nirvana. I found it hard to think of any anthems that came after that iconic rock track.But I think I came up with a few.

Below are some essential 21st Century Rock Anthems, at least in my opinion.

Green Day-American Idiot

 

Arcade Fire-Wake Up

 

Queens of the Stone Age-No One Knows

 

Elbow-Grounds for Divorce

 

Rammstein-Ich Will

 

Cold Play-Fix you

Linkin Park-Somewhere I belong

 

Finishing up with one of my all time favourites, from the brilliant Swedish/Danish crime drama the Bridge -Bron/Broen.

The Choir of Young believers-Hollow Talk

 

The trend of Retro

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Just when you think that the whole world has gone digital and cyber-crazy a new trend emerges. It is the trend of’ old stuff coming back’, the ‘trend of Retro’ so to speak.

The above picture is of a Nokia 3310. Nokia announced that in the midst of all things ‘Smart’ they are bringing the 3310. It make sense I suppose because people are getting more and more frustrated(me included) about the battery life of the Smart Phones. At the end of the day regardless of all the fancy features, the primary function is still a Phone.

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I had a 33100 and the battery would last forever. You could leave the phone alone for a month and you’d still have 99% battery life.

I grew up listening to Vinyl albums,singles and cassette tapes.

 

Then around 1982 this new invention was released, the Compact Disc player.(even though Philips already had the first concept of a CD player in 1968) The CD’s were supposed to be indestructible, they could even survive nuclear disasters.

The CD’s were the future and would replace all vinyl and tape formats.

 

Then come 21st century and the world has gone on-line. Apple came out with this pocket size device called the iPod.intro_originalipod

It allowed customers to download music from the internet on the iPod. Many people think that the iPod was the first MP3 type of music player but in fact , the first MP3 player was developed in the early 1990s by Frauenhofer, but this player was unsuccessful. In 1997 Tomislav Uzelac of Advanced Multimedia Products invented the AMP MP3 Playback Engine, which is recognized as the first successful MP3 Player.

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These devices were portable and would replace the Walkman’s and Discman devices. So the days of tapes and CD’s were surely numbered.

But the last few years there has been a revival of the Vinyl albums.And because it is now trendy to buy Vinyl albums again, record companies can charge these ‘Trendy’ new customers twice the price.

Even the cassette tape is set to make its return to a retailer near you. As for the CD’s they didn’t actually disappear.

Streaming is now the new format to threaten all other formats, but for some reason I don’t think that is really going to happen.

As for me I am holding on to all formats of music I have. I made the silly mistake in the 80’s to give away all my vinyl albums to replace them with CD’s. Not realizing that some albums were never going to be released on CD.Although in my collection at the time I was told that the debut  EP Queensryche by Queensryche was very unlikely to ever be released in a format other then Vinyl.

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Lucky for me they were wrong.

Pinkpop: the death of an institute.

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PinkPop is the oldest and longest running annual dedicated pop and rock music festival in the world.

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It started in 1970 in the former mining town of Geleen in the south east of the Netherlands. It stayed there until 1986. In 1987 it moved north a bit to Baarlo and since 1988 it has been held in the town of Landgraaf.

This year though it has decided to commit artistic and musical suicide by announcing that the 2017 headliner will be Justin Bieber.

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It is sad to see this legendary institution which originated in my home town taking its own life.

Let’s just have a look back at some of the legendary bands who performed there in the past.

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RIP Pinkpop, it was good while it lasted.

 

Famous bands that changed their names.

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Starting off with probably the best known band from the low countries”Golden Earring”. Their name change was very subtle, they were formed in 1961 as the “Golden Earrings” they dropped the S in 1969.

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The next name change is a bit less subtle but still subtle enough “the Cranberries” started off as “the Cranberry Saw Us” in 1989. When their male lead singer left and was later replaced with the one and only Dolores O’Riordon history was made as Limerick’s biggest ever Rock act.

1957,Liverpool a group of teenagers called themselves “the Quarry men” after they had tried names like ‘The Blackjacks, Johnny and the Moondogs, Japage 3’ However this skiffle band eventually became known as “the Beatles”. You may have heard of them.

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Continuing on a Dutch theme with Van Halen. Eddie and Alex Van Halen formed their first band with three other boys, calling themselves The Broken Combs, performing at lunchtime at Hamilton Elementary School in Pasadena, whereEddie Van Halen was in the fourth grade. Eddie Van Halen would later say that this was when he first felt the desire to become a professional musician.In 1972, The Van Halens formed another band, originally called “Genesis.” The name was changed to “Mammoth” when they became aware of the English progressive rock band of the same name. Mammoth consisted of Eddie Van Halen on guitar and lead vocals, his brother Alex on drums and bass guitarist Mark Stone. Mammoth had no P.A. system of their own, so they rented one from David Lee Roth,a service for which he charged by the night. Eddie Van Halen became frustrated with singing lead vocals, and decided they could save money by adding Roth to the band.Michael Anthony later replaced Mark Stone on the bass guitar. The band opted to change its name because Roth suggested that the last name of the two brothers “sounded cool.”

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U2 Ireland’s biggest band. I can hear you say “What’s the Hype?” and you’d be correct. What is the Hype? That would be U2. The Hype started off as a 5 piece band. The Edge’s older brother,Dik Evans, used to be part of the band. After he left the band was renamed U2.

Even though they were called V2 on the posters for their first gig in the UK. About 6 people showed up.

This is the Dublin 4 in my hometown ‘Geleen’ in 1981.

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Led Zeppelin were not always called Led Zeppelin, in fact the had several incarnations.The first one being “the Yardbirds”. The band that included 3 of the world’s best guitarists ever. Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and the man musicians refer to as “God” Eric Clapton. Jimmy Page was actually the bassist.

In 1968 the Yardbirds played their last gig and “the New Yardbirds” were born with Robert Plant on vocals.However the name ‘the New Yardbirds’ didn’t stick, it went down like a lead balloon or even a Led Zeppelin.

 

 

The Day the Music died

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On February 3, 1959, rock and roll musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson were killed in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, together with pilot Roger Peterson. The event later became known as “The Day the Music Died“, after singer-songwriter Don McLean so referred to it in his 1971 song “American Pie”.

At the time, Holly and his band, consisting of Waylon Jennings, Tommy Allsup, and Carl Bunch, were playing on the “Winter Dance Party” tour across the Midwest. Rising artists Valens and Richardson had joined the tour as well.

The long journeys between venues on board the cold, uncomfortable tour buses adversely affected the performers, with cases of flu and even frostbite. After stopping at Clear Lake to perform, and frustrated by such conditions, Holly decided to charter a plane to reach their next venue in Moorhead, Minnesota. Richardson, who had flu, swapped places with Jennings, taking his seat on the plane, while Allsup lost his seat to Valens on a coin toss.

Soon after take-off, late at night and in poor, wintry weather conditions, the pilot lost control of the light aircraft, a Beechcraft Bonanza, which subsequently crashed into a cornfield, leaving no survivors.

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After the February 2, 1959, performance in Clear Lake, Iowa (which ended around midnight), Holly, Richardson and Valens flew out of the Mason City airport in a small plane that Holly had chartered. Valens was on the plane because he won a coin toss with Holly’s backup guitarist Tommy Allsup. Holly’s bassist, Waylon Jennings, voluntarily gave up his seat on the plane to J.P. Richardson, who was ill with the flu.Just after 1:00 AM on February 3.

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Holly’s pregnant wife, María Elena, learned of his death from the reports on television. A widow after only six months of marriage, she suffered a miscarriage shortly after, reportedly due to “psychological trauma”. Holly’s mother, on hearing the news on the radio at home in Lubbock, Texas, screamed and collapsed.María Elena Holly did not attend the funeral and has never visited the gravesite. She later said in an interview: “In a way, I blame myself. I was not feeling well when he left. I was two weeks pregnant, and I wanted Buddy to stay with me, but he had scheduled that tour. It was the only time I wasn’t with him. And I blame myself because I know that, if only I had gone along, Buddy never would have gotten into that airplane.”

The “Winter Dance Party” tour did not stop; Waylon Jennings and Tommy Allsup continued performing for two more weeks, with Jennings taking Holly’s place as lead singer. Meanwhile, the funerals of the victims were being held individually; Holly and Richardson were buried in Texas, Valens in California, and pilot Peterson in Iowa.

Buddy Holly

 

Ritchie Valens

 

The Big Bopper

Following the miscarriage suffered by Holly’s wife and the circumstances in which she was informed of his death, a policy was later adopted by authorities not to disclose victims’ names until after their families have been informed.