Criminal Songs

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On this day in 1974 the Bob Marley song “I shot the Sheriff” performed by Eric Clapton reached Number 1 in the Billboard 100.

Throughout the decades there have been many songs that were about crime or criminal behaviour, this is just a quick overview of some of these Criminal Songs.

Crime and murder have been the subject of popular recorded music since the invention of the phonograph. “Stagolee,” also known and performed as “Stagger Lee,” was one of the 20th century’s first hits. The lyrics, in which the theft of a Stetson hat leads to the death of a self-professed family man, were based on an actual murder that occurred in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1894 or 1895.

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Over the years, versions of the song have been recorded by hundreds of artists, including, more recently, the Grateful Dead and Nick Cave.

Derek Bentley was convicted and hanged for the murder of Police Constable Sidney Miles in London in 1952. But Bentley did not fire the shot that killed Miles. His underage accomplice Christopher Craig did. Bentley shouted the ambiguous phrase “let him have it, Chris” to his coconspirator, which was part of the reason his death sentence has been highly contested.

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Elvis Costello brings his customary literate vitriol to the case on “Let Him Dangle” from his late ‘80s smash, Spike, and takes down capital punishment in the process.

Johnny Cash recorded  “Mr. Garfield”  recounting the assassination of President Garfield by Charles Guiteau in 1881 for his epic 1965 concept album Johnny Cash Sings the Ballads of the True West. Instead of recounting the grisly details of the murder, Cash focuses his attention on the strife of the nation as it comes to grips with its fallen leader.

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“Strange Fruit” was originated as a poem written by American writer, teacher and songwriter Abel Meeropol, under his pseudonym Lewis Allan, as a protest against lynchings.

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In the poem, Meeropol expressed his horror at lynchings, inspired by Lawrence Beitler’s photograph of the 1930 lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith in Marion, Indiana. He published the poem under the title “Bitter Fruit” in 1937 in The New York Teacher, a union magazine.Though Meeropol had asked others (notably Earl Robinson) to set his poems to music, he set “Strange Fruit” to music himself.

“Have You Seen Bruce Richard Reynolds”  by Alabama 3 is a rarity on this list, as it features guest vocals from the criminal himself. In 1963, Reynolds carried out The Great Train Robbery, which at the time was Britain’s largest robbery ever.

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While Reynolds was on the run following the incident, folk musician Nigel Denver immortalized the rogue in the song “Have You Seen Bruce Richard Reynolds.” Reynolds eventually served 25 years in prison, and the song saw resurrection via the Alabama 3 a few decades after his release. In a strange twist, the Alabama 3 claims Reynolds’ son, Nick, among its members, a fact that led to a controversial appearance by Reynolds on the track.

 

 

 

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Musica Italiano

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Don’t worry I haven’t suddenly turned Italian and although the music in this blog will be in Italian, the text won’t be.

The thing is every once in a while I like to deviate from my usually heavier historical subjects to a more light-hearted one.

I love Italy, I had the chance to visit the country several times especially a small town called Valli del Pasubio and a even smaller village called Sturma(you’ll ne hard pressed to find it on a map). I first visited as a young teenager

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To be honest I fell in love with the place.It is where I first learned how to eat proper food,not the potatoes and apple sauce diet I had insisted on prior to that. The food was just heavenly and 16 stone further I still have a loving relationship with food.

The blog however is about Italian music and not food.Even before I set foot in Italy I had a bit of a weak spot for Italian music,although I was a metal head, I couldn’t help falling for the soothing tones of the Italian language converted into music.

Italian music is often referred to as Italo Pop or Italo Disco but I don’t think any of these names capture the essence of the music.

Although I don’t really understand the songs, I do know that they tell a story just by the rhythm of the tunes. The song above called Gente di Mare(people of the sea),by Umberto Tozzi & Raf lost out in 1987 to Johnny Logan at the Eurovision Contest.

This one of my all time favourites by Matia Bazar” Ti sento” which I believe means I feel you, the haunting husky voice just adds so much atmosphere to the song.

I am not an emotional man but the first time I heard Andrea Bocelli it literally send shivers down my spine.The combination of a classical tenor and contemporary music is just magical, like a fairy tale coming to life.

This song is proof that the language of music is without constraints and ignores physical borders. Sung in Italian,Dutch and English by an Italian Dutch man Marco Borsato and Andrea Bocelli. If this doesn’t give you Goosebumps nothing will.

Another 80’s Italian classic

 

I hope you enjoy the music just as much as I did. Finishing up with my favorite Italian song, it is jazz song in it’s purest and sincerest form by Paolo Conte.

 

 

SRV-The death of a Legend.

I am very careful when it comes to calling someone a hero, for so many are considered a hero , often aren’t. However in this case I can say that SRV-Stevie Ray Vaughan was one of my heroes. The man who made playing guitar look cool again.

On August 26, 1990, Vaughan performed two shows with Eric Clapton at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin.

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Some of the musicians boarded four Chicago-bound helicopters, which were waiting on a nearby golf course. Vaughan, along with three members of Eric Clapton’s entourage (agent Bobby Brooks, bodyguard Nigel Browne, and assistant tour manager Colin Smythe), boarded the third of the four helicopters—a Bell 206B Jet Ranger—flying to Meigs Field.

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In Clapton: The Autobiography, Clapton explains that, contrary to rumors, his seat was not given to Vaughan, but three members of Clapton’s entourage were on board with Vaughan. According to a witness, there was haze and fog with patches of low clouds. The helicopter took off at about 12:50 am (CDT)on August 27 and, despite the conditions, turned left towards a 150-foot ski hill adjacent to the golf course. It collided with the hill approximately fifty feet from the summit.

 All on board, including the pilot, Jeff Brown, were killed instantly.According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a veteran pilot for Alpine Valley suspected that Brown attempted to fly around the ski hill, but misjudged the location.The Civil Air Patrol was notified of the accident at 4:30 am, and located the crash site almost three hours later.

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Clapton and Jimmie Vaughan were asked to identify the bodies. The Walworth County coroner conducted an autopsy and found that Vaughan suffered from multiple internal and skull injuries.Clapton issued a statement the next day, saying that the victims “were my companions, my associates and my friends. This is a tragic loss of some very special people. I will miss all of them very much.” A Coptic cross necklace, worn by Vaughan, was given to Jimmie Vaughan.

Vaughan’s memorial was held on August 30, 1990, at Laurel Land Cemetery in Dallas, where he was buried next to his father, and was preceded by a private chapel service for close friends and family. Reverend Barry Bailey of the United Methodist Church in Fort Worth, who was Vaughan’s AA sponsor, opened the service with personal thoughts: “We’re here to thank God for this man’s life. He was a genius, a superstar, a musician’s musician. He captured the hearts of thousands and thousands of people. I am thankful for the impact of this man’s influence on thousands of people in getting his own life together in the name of God.” Kim Wilson, Jeff Healey, David Bowie, Charlie Sexton, ZZ Top, Colin James, and Buddy Guy attended the event. Stevie Wonder, Jackson Browne, and Bonnie Raitt sang “Amazing Grace” at the event. Nile Rodgers gave a eulogy,while a member of the Nightcrawlers read chapters five and eleven from The Big Book, the foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous.In 1995, the Vaughan family received an undisclosed settlement for wrongful death.

Sadly Jeff Healey and David Bowie also have died since.

David Bowie and Stevie Ray Vaughan had collaborated on Bowie’s China Girl. The guitar solo is the genius of  SRV.

I only heard the news late in the evening. I remember it as vividly as the time I heard the news about Elvis’s death. I had just finished an evening shift and went to my local pub for a drink. where I saw these big tattooed ,pierced bikers with tears in their eyes.

I asked “what happened?” and they replied in chorus”Stevie died” it was just so surreal.

Finishing up with my one of my favorite SRV tracks, taken from his last studio album “Family Style”

RIP SRV

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Grease,Elvis and Star Wars

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I am not going to apologize for this but it is a fact I am a massive Grease fan, and today happens to be the anniversary of the single “Grease” reaching the #1 position on the Billboard top 100.

However as the title of this blog suggests there is more to the story. Here are some lesser known fact about the most successful musical of all time.

Elvis was Offered a Feature Role

The story goes that the King of Rock was asked to be the Guardian Angel, Frenchy’s hair salon singing mentor, but when he turned it down Frankie Avalon was given the part instead.

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Carrie Fisher Almost Got The Role of Sandy

Yes it’s true. Our Star Wars favorite was considered for the role, but “Grease” director thought she didn’t have the right look for Sandy. Maybe his friend George Lucas talked him out of it.

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This Company Lost Out Big Time

Coca- Cola had initially had a lucrative deal with the film creators, but unfortunately for them their agreement stopped in the later stages of shooting. Because of this, any hints of Coca-Cola branding were blurred out of the last edits of the film.

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Elvis Died on the Same Day as Shooting Look at Me I’m Sandra Dee

To pay respect to the music legend, who almost played a part in “Grease”, the producers added a line to the Sandra Dee song. Next time you watch, try listen out for it, “Elvis Elvis let me be, keep that pelvis far from me”.

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Not A Teenage Heartbreak

Though most of the characters were supposedly high school sweethearts, the real life actors were far from it. Travolta was 23, Jeff Conaway was 26 and Olivia Newton-John was 28. Makes you look at them differently right?

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Danny was Almost Played by Someone Else

Initially, producers offered the main role to Henry Winkler, the Happy Days actor who played Fonzie. We are so glad he turned it down, giving John the limelight he deserved.

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Not having a Ball

Lucille Ball’s daughter was the first to be offered the role of Rizzo. Though after stating that she was better than the role offered, Rizzo became the character we know her as today.

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Barry Pearl AKA Doody, AKA Professor Erasmus Q. Tinkerputt.

Barry Pearl who played Doody in Grease also played , iProfessor Erasmus Q. Tinkerputt in the kids show Barney the dinosaur. In fact he earned more money in Barney then in Grease.

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Elvis Presley and Robert Johnson

Why did I use the names of these 2 artists as the title of this blog? For they had nothing in common.

Well that is not entirely true. Both were born in Mississippi and both died on the 16th of August, Elvis 40 years ago today and Robert Johnson 79 year ago today. Both were pioneers in their music genre.

Also they both shaped my musical taste. It is a simple fact that there will never be any stars of their magnitude again.

Elvis was and is the undisputed King of Rock N Roll.

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Whereas Robert Johnson was and is the undisputed King of the Blues.

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Both men were legends and met untimely deaths and both were victims of circumstance.

I will not go to deep into their lives because there is nothing more that I can add to their stories. Below are 2 blogs though I have done in the past.

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/02/23/elvis-and-the-colonel/

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/04/27/did-robert-johnson-sell-his-soul-to-the-devil/

Let’s celebrate their lives with some of their music.

 

RIP Elvis and Robert. Thank you for the music

Rock and Pop songs inspired by Historical events.

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A slight deviation from my regular  history of sorts. This time I will leave the music do the talking.

Throughout the decades there have been many songs that took their inspiration from historical events, below is a list and clips of some of them.

Starting of with the one song that covers most of known history of mankind. The Rollings Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil”

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Next up the re-telling of Rasputin by Boney M. Although they took quite some poetic licenses it still broadly outlines the history of that infamous Russian.

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Martin Luther King was the inspiration for U2’s “Pride” one of U2’s best songs ever with a powerful message.

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On December 29, 1890, the massacre of Sioux warriors, women and children along Wounded Knee Creek in southwestern South Dakota marked the final chapter in the long war between the United States and the Native American tribes indigenous to the Great Plains.

It was to be known as the Wounded knee massacre.It inspired the Native American Rock band Redbone to record the protest song “We were all wounded at Wounded Knee”

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In 2010 the Chicago Metal band released the song “Never Again” it was inspired by the Holocaust and served as an indictment that the one thing that history teaches us is that it keeps repeating itself.

Even our darkest era is denied, forgotten and slowly at risk of repeating itself again. But like Disturbed I also say “NEVER AGAIN”

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Although I am not a great fan of Bob Dylan as a performing artist, there is no denying he is one of the best songwriters ever.

I could have picked so many songs from his back catalogue but decided to go with “Hurricane”

Hurricane” is a protest song by Bob Dylan co-written with Jacques Levy, about the imprisonment of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. It compiles alleged acts of racism and profiling against Carter,[1] which Dylan describes as leading to a false trial and conviction.

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Finishing up as I started with a song that encompasses several decades of history.”We Didn’t Start the Fire” is a song by Billy Joel. Its lyrics include brief, rapid-fire allusions to more than 100 headline events between 1949, the year of Joel’s birth, and 1989,the year the song was released.

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The 1st Sony Walkman

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it is not often I do a piece on technology, in fact this is the first time and it probably will be last time, but this device has had an impact on my life.And today marks the 38th anniversary of its first release.

The transistor radio was a technological marvel that put music literally into consumers’ hands in the mid-1950s. It was cheap, it was reliable and it was portable,

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but it could never even approximate the sound quality of a record being played on a home stereo. It was, however, the only technology available to on-the-go music lovers until the Sony Corporation sparked a revolution in personal electronics with the introduction of the first personal stereo cassette player. A device as astonishing on first encounter as the cellular phone or digital camera would later be, the Sony Walkman went on sale for the very first time on July 1, 1979.

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The Sony Walkman didn’t represent a breakthrough in technology so much as it did a breakthrough in imagination. Every element of the Walkman was already in production or testing as part of some other device when Sony’s legendary chairman, Masaru Ibuka, made a special request in early 1979.

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Ibuka was a music lover who traveled frequently, and he was already in the habit of carrying one of his company’s “portable” stereo tape recorders with him on international flights. But the Sony TC-D5 was a heavy device that was in no way portable by modern standards, so Ibuka asked his then-deputy Norio Ohga if he could cobble together something better. Working with the company’s existing Pressman product—a portable, monaural tape recorder that was popular with journalists—Ohga had a playback-only stereo device rigged up in time for Ibuka’s next trans-Pacific flight.

Even though this proto-Walkman required large, earmuff-like headphones and custom-made batteries (which, of course, ran out on Ibuka midway through his flight), it impressed the Sony chairman tremendously with its sound quality and portability. Many objections were raised internally when Ibuka began his push to create a marketable version of the device, the biggest of which was conceptual: Would anyone actually buy a cassette device that was not for recording but only for playback? Ibuka’s simple response—”Don’t you think a stereo cassette player that you can listen to while walking around is a good idea?”—proved to be one of the great understatements in business history.

After a breakneck development phase of only four months, Sony engineers had a reliable product ready for market at 30,000 Yen (approximately US$150 in 1979 dollars) and available before the start of summer vacation for Japanese students—both critical targets established at the outset of development. The initial production run of 30,000 units looked to be too ambitious after one month of lackluster sales (only 3,000 were sold in July 1979). But after an innovative consumer-marketing campaign in which Sony representatives simply approached pedestrians on the streets of Tokyo and gave them a chance to listen to the Walkman, the product took off, selling out available stocks before the end of August and signaling the beginning of one of Sony’s greatest success stories.

I remember getting a Sony Sports Walkman in the mid eighties it was the top of the range technology at the time.

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No longer was I confined at home to listen to my favorite rock tunes. I got be a “rock star” anywhere I wanted. Ignore all those who laughed at me while I was playing air guitar on my way to school or town.I didn’t mind because I knew they envied me because I had a Sony Sports Walkman.

This is a tune of an album I played a lot on the Walkman. Whitesnake,album:Slide it in, Track, Love ain’t no stranger.

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The unknown originals -volume 2

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Sometimes you hear a song on the radio and you may have actually heard this song for many years,always thinking it was an original. However it often happens that these “originals” are actually copies or covers.

In this blog I will be looking at the songs in the original language, sometimes performed by the same artist.

Below are some of these real originals. Starting off with the Germans. A nation not that known for it’s musical abilities,well at least in Pop music terms. In the 80s though they came up with this new wave of German music, called “die Neue Deutsche Welle” or New German wave in English.

One of the leading bands were Nena, fronted by the lead singer Nena.

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They had a massive worldwide hit with 99 Red balloons, the original however was in German “99 Luftballons”

 

In 1988 the Munich band Münchener Freiheit, renamed for the English speaking countries to “Freiheit” had a massive  hit with the song”Keeping the dream alive” it actually became a Christmas hit even tough it had nothing to do with Christmas.

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But the original is called “So lang’ man Träume noch leben kann”

 

“It’s now or never” was one of Elvis’s biggest hits and you may be forgiven that the original was in English.

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However the original date back to the 19th century. “’O sole mio” is a globally known Neapolitan song written in 1898. Its lyrics were written by Giovanni Capurro and the music was composed by Eduardo di Capua and Alfredo Mazzucchi. Here performed by Pavarotti.

 

One of my favourite crooners is Bobby Darin.

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His version of “beyond the sea” always puts me in a nostalgic mood. It was however a cover from the French chanson “la mer” a song written by French composer, lyricist, singer and showman Charles Trenet.

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When Frank Sinatra sang ” I did it my way” he did it in more then one way.

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“My way” is a cover of the French song “Comme d’habitude” French for “As usual”) is a French song composed in 1967 by Claude François and Jacques Revaux with lyrics by Claude François and Gilles Thibaut.

 

The Irish folk band the Fureys had a worldwide hit wit “the red rose cafe” .The original Dutch version  is called “het Kleine cafe aan de haven” which translates in the little pub at the harbour. It was written,performed and composed by Pierre Kartner under his artist name Vader Abraham(no it’s not a name of a Sith lord in Star Wars?.Who also composed and performed “the Smurf song”

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As bonus I will also include the original Dutch version of the Smurf song by the aforementioned Vader Abraham

The music that shaped my life-part 2

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Music plays an important role in my life, it always have and it always will. It is not only listening to music, playing it also often played a therapeutic role, especially during my teenage years.

My weapon of choice,Guitar. Below a picture of my very 1st guitar. Many more were to follow.

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It was my neighbor and friend who got me first interested in playing guitar. He had started playing it and it sounded cool, so I thought give it a go.After a while we both got the hang of it and we would often duel, sitting on our windowsills.Me on the 1st floor of our apartment block and he on the 2nd floor.Credit goes to all other neighbors,no one ever complained.

However there were two guitarists that really ignited the spark of my inner guitarists, They were from the other scales of the jazz/blues/rock spectrum.

First Jim Croce, the combination of his lyrics and the acoustic(easy sounding but not that easy to copy) way of playing guitar touched my soul. I only discovered his music years after he died. This is my favourite Jim Croce track.

The second guitarist is in my opinion the best guitarist that ever roamed the planet. The second you hear him you know it’s him. I am referring to Stevie Ray Vaughan. 27 August 1990, a piece of me died too.Tin Pan Alley is 9 minutes and 9 seconds of musical heaven.

I was lucky when I grew up music channels still played music,which opened up a whole array of music from bands I wouldn’t have heard of before. Fondly I remember a show called “Monsters of Rock” it was either on Sky(which basically started of as a music channel) . The opening theme of the show introduced me to another great Guitarist, the legendary Joe Satriani, I never heard anyone play guitar like that it was mesmerizing.

Me and my best friend would watch Monster of Rock religiously and we would rate the bands who were on it and would even write reports on the best performances and the best( I know it’s sad) Below a clip of the show(And no neither me or my friend wrote in)

This concludes ‘ The music that shaped my life-part 2’ in part 3 I will be talking about a song that confirmed to  me that the  changes I made  to my life were the right ones.I know I said this concludes part 2, but I couldn’t leave out one particular SRV song, that I played a lot on the day he died 27-Aug-1990, it is from his last album.

 

https://dirkdeklein.net/2017/03/02/the-music-that-shaped-my-life-part-1/

 

The Eurovision song contest

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Tonight is the first semi finals of the annual circus called the Eurovision Song contest. I have to be honest though, I do like it. It basically goes against everything I like,music wise, the whole bizarre circus and the politics behind it I do find entertaining.

In case you are in doubt it is political you only have to look at last year’s winner. Ukraine;Jamala-1944.

Let’s just look at the history of probably the biggest Television event in the world.

The history of the Eurovision Song Contest began with an idea of Sergio Pugliese, of the Italian television RAI, and then approved by Marcel Bezençon of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

The contest was based on the Italian Sanremo Music Festival and was designed to test the limits of live television broadcast technology.

.The first contest took place on 24 May 1956, where seven nations participated.  It was won by Lys Assia for Switzerland, with the song refrain.

As the Contest progressed, the rules grew increasingly complex and participation levels rose to pass forty nations at the end of the 20th century. As more countries came on board over subsequent decades and technology advanced, the EBU attempted to keep up with national and international trends.

Ireland won the contest 7 times, followed by Sweden 6 times.France, Luxembourg, United Kingdom 5 times and the Netherlands 4 times.

Of the 7 times Ireland won it, 3 times were by Johnny Logan.

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Twice as a performer and in 1992 as the composer with the song Why me? sung by Linda Martin.

Ireland also had one of the most bizarre contestants, a Turkey called Dustin. It was really as a protest against the geographical bloc voting which became evident at the end of the 1990’s and early 21st century,after the introduction of tele-voting and the removal of the jury votes.

 

Finland who mostly got 0 points or at the most just a few points was the surprise winner in 2006 with a Heavy Metal band called Lordi. Although many people complaint about this, it does show the diversity of popular music on display at the Eurovision.

 

In general the winners do not enjoy too much success or longevity in the music industry, however there were 2 acts that were able to build a career on the back of their wins at the Eurovision

In 1988 Canadian born Celine Dion entered the contest for Switzerland with the song “Ne partez pas sans moi” she became a global mega star afterwards.

The band that really is associated with the Song contest is of course ABBA, in 1974 they won with their song Waterloo, this catapulted their career into the stratosphere. Their fame was at par with bands like Queen, the Beatles and the Rolling stones.

 

Going back to the diversity of the Eurovision in 1998 and in 2014 the contest was won by transgender/sexual  contestsants, 1998 Dana International for Israel with the song”Diva” and 2014 Conchita Wurst for Austria with the song “Rise like a Phoenix”

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In 2009 the contest was won by Norway’s Alexander Rybak with his self-penned “Fairytale”, which received a record-breaking 387 points out of 492, at the time the highest total score in the history of the contest.

Finishing up with the song that won the last time for the Netherlands. In 1975 Teach In won the contest with the song”Ding A Dong” (hey it was the seventies)