Strange Fruit

I don’t think there is a more powerful song then ” Strange Fruit” which deals with racism. Especially the original version sung by Billie Holiday.

The lynching of black men in the American South was an all-too-familiar occurrence in the 1930s, even though it rarely made news. So when Billie Holiday had a hit record with the song “Strange Fruit,” it brought attention to this important issue in unusual ways.

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

When Holiday heard the lyrics, she was deeply moved by them — not only because she was a Black American but also because the song reminded her of her father, who died at 39 from a fatal lung disorder, after being turned away from a hospital because he was a Black man.

Because of the painful memories it conjured, Holiday didn’t enjoy performing “Strange Fruit,” but knew she had to. “It reminds me of how Pop died,” she said of the song in her autobiography. “But I have to keep singing it, not only because people ask for it, but because 20 years after Pop died, the things that killed him are still happening in the South.”

There are relatively few lyrics in this blues song, but it is how they are song that gives me the shivers every time I hear them.

“Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swingin’ in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin’ from the poplar trees

Pastoral scene of the gallant South
The bulgin’ eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burnin’ flesh

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather
For the wind to suck

For the sun to rot
For the tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop”

sources

https://www.biography.com/news/billie-holiday-strange-fruit

https://www.kennedy-center.org/education/resources-for-educators/classroom-resources/media-and-interactives/media/music/billie-holiday–strange-fruit/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strange_Fruit

Stevie Ray Vaughan

I don’t think that anyone will dispute that Stevie Ray Vaughan is one of the best guitarist that ever lived.

It is hard to believe he died 31 years ago. I can still vividly remember that August 27 ,1990. I had just finished an evening shift 15:00 to 23:00 pm, and decided to go for a drink in my favourite and local watering hole.

When I walked in I saw big men, covered in tattoos and piercings, with tears in their eyes. It wasn’t only them though everyone seemed to be sad, At first I thought that one of my drinking buddies had died. I hadn’t heard the news that day, They told me that SRV had died.

On August 27, 1990, at 12:50 a.m. (CDT), Vaughan and members of Eric Clapton’s touring entourage played an all-star encore jam session at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in Alpine Valley Resort in East Troy, Wisconsin. They then left for Midway International Airport in Chicago in a Bell 206B helicopter, the most common way for acts to enter and exit the venue, as there is only one road in and out, heavily used by fans.

The helicopter crashed into a nearby ski hill shortly after takeoff. Vaughan and the four others on board—pilot Jeff Brown, agent Bobby Brooks, bodyguard Nigel Browne, and tour manager Colin Smyth. all died. The helicopter was identified as being owned by Chicago-based company Omniflight Helicopters. Initial reports of the crash claimed that Clapton had also been killed.

On that day the sky really was crying as were many of his fans, me included. We all knew that there would never be anyone like him again.

Secret Language of the Blues: What the Lyrics Really Mean.

Many of my friends know that I have a passion for music. And you can’t have a passion for music if you don’t love the Blues. I interviewed Author and Blues aficionado ,Bob Cremer, about his book “Secret Language of the Blues: What the Lyrics Really Mean.”

Don’t just listen to blues lyrics, understand them!

No standard dictionary can help fans understand the hidden meaning of blues lyrics, but The Secret Language of the Blues lives up to its promise to do just that-to explain what the lyrics really mean. A comprehensive Blues Index of Words & Expressions containing over 1,600 entries provides indispensable help in deciphering this fascinating secret language and unlocking the mystery of allusion lurking behind such apparently innocent words as tea, frying pan and even Santa Claus!

Imagine the immense enjoyment of knowing the answers to such puzzling questions as:

  • Why a woman cooks cornbread for her husband but biscuits for her man?
  • Why a hobo rides the rails but avoids riding the rods at all costs?
  • Why a musician is heart-broken when a skin card falls but is elated when his dice do?
  • Why a man complains about too much eatin’ in the kitchen but a woman doesn’t?
  • Why a musician fears nothing more than receiving a “304” or “11-29”?
  • Why exactly a man wakes up cold in hand?
  • Why musicians want to slip someone in the Dozens?

But the book is much more than just a dictionary. Twelve information-packed chapters will help native- and non-native speakers of English alike to “speak the blues” in record time through extensive explanations of unique grammatical forms and the colloquial speech of the musicians who sing the blues. The Secret Language of the Blues is the perfect companion for blues fans worldwide. Double your listening pleasure by understanding the true meaning of the lyrics-the very soul of the blues! As blues musicians say, “It’s just dry long so”

sources

Happy Birthday John Lee Hooker

I say Happy Birthday John Lee Hooker, but the date is not really certain. There are a few dates between 1912 and 1923. However it appears that August 22 is correct.

Hooker’s date of birth is a subject of debate; the years 1912, 1915, 1917, 1920, and 1923 have all been suggested. Most official sources list 1917, though at times Hooker stated he was born in 1920. Information found in the 1920 and 1930 censuses indicates that he was actually born in 1912.In 2017, a series of events took place to celebrate the purported centenary of his birth. In the 1920 federal census, John Hooker is seven years old and one of nine children living with William and Minnie Hooker in Tutwiler, Mississippi.

Born into a Mississippi sharecropping family, Hooker learned to play the guitar from his stepfather and developed an interest in gospel music as a child. In 1943 he moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he made his mark as a blues musician. On such early records as “Boogie Chillen,” “Crawling King Snake,” and “Weeping Willow (Boogie)” (1948–49), Hooker, accompanied only by an electric guitar, revealed his best qualities: aggressive energy in fast boogies and no less intensity in stark, slow blues. A primitive guitarist, he played simple harmonies, pentatonic scales, and one-chord, modal harmonic structures. Later hits included “Dimples” (1956) and “Boom Boom” (1962). He toured widely from the 1950s and appeared in the motion pictures The Blues Brothers (1980) and The Color Purple (1985). Hooker, whose music influenced such bands as the Rolling Stones and the Animals, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. Among the more than 100 albums he recorded are The Healer (1989), which features appearances by Bonnie Raitt and Carlos Santana; the Grammy Award-winning Don’t Look Back (1997); and The Best of Friends (1998).

John Lee Hooker, found refuge in music at an early age as he struggled with stuttering from childhood. In the biography Boogie Man: The Adventures of John Lee Hooker in the American Twentieth Century, author Charles Shaar Murray states, “Hooker sounds as if he has $100,000 worth of sophisticated digital goodies built in his chest and his throat. Yet his voice is quiet and muted, its tonal richness offset by a residual stammer and blurred by the deepest alluvial accents of the Mississippi Delta.”

Hooker’s stepfather, William Moore, taught him to play guitar when he was around 12 years old. It was then that Hooker was introduced to what would become his unique style of blues. When he was 14, Hooker ran away from Mississippi to try and make it as a musician. He lived for several years in Memphis, Tennessee, before ending up in Detroit. It was there that he showed up at the office of a record label owner named Bernard Besman and played the owner/producer his demo.

We may not know the exact birth date but we do know he died in his sleep on June 21, 2001, in Los Altos, California in his home. He is interred at the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, California. He was survived by eight children, 19 grandchildren, and numerous great-grandchildren.

Hooker was among hundreds of artists whose recordings were reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.

sources

YouTube

https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Lee-Hooker

https://www.stutteringhelp.org/content/john-lee-hooker

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2001/jun/23/guardianobituaries

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lee_Hooker

August 16 not a good day in Music history.

According to legend, as a young man living on a plantation in rural Mississippi, Robert Johnson had a tremendous desire to become a great blues musician. One of the legends often told says that Johnson was instructed to take his guitar to a crossroad near Dockery Plantation at midnight. (There are claims for at least a dozen other sites as the location of the crossroads.)There he was met by the Devil, who took the guitar and tuned it. The Devil played a few songs and then returned the guitar to Johnson, giving him mastery of the instrument. This story of a deal with the Devil at the crossroads mirrors the legend of Faust. In exchange for his soul, Johnson was able to create the blues for which he became famous.

The story was initially told of an older bluesman, Tommy Johnson (no relation), but he died in 1956, aged 60. It was more hauntingly apposite for Robert Johnson, who died in 1938, aged only 27, after a troubled life and an itinerant career. His only recordings, made a year before his death, still have a spooky quality even 80 years on.

His death was as mysterious as his life. He died on August 16, 1938, at the age of 27, near Greenwood, Mississippi, of unknown causes. His death was not reported publicly; he merely disappeared from the historical record and it was not until almost 30 years later, when Gayle Dean Wardlow, a Mississippi-based musicologist researching Johnson’s life, found his death certificate, which listed only the date and location, with no official cause of death. No formal autopsy was done; instead, a pro forma examination was done to file the death certificate, and no immediate cause of death was determined. It is likely he had congenital syphilis and it was suspected later by medical professionals that may have been a contributing factor in his death. However, 30 years of local legend and oral tradition had, like the rest of his life story, built a legend which has filled in gaps in the scant historical record.

Elvis Aaron Presley, aka Elvis, aka the “King of Rock and Roll”, he is regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century. His energized interpretations of songs and sexually provocative performance style, combined with a singularly potent mix of influences across color lines during a transformative era in race relations, led him to both great success and initial controversy.

Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8,1935.

On the evening of Tuesday, August 16, 1977, Presley was scheduled to fly out of Memphis to begin another tour. That afternoon, Ginger Alden discovered him in an unresponsive state on a bathroom floor. According to her eyewitness account, “Elvis looked as if his entire body had completely frozen in a seated position while using the toilet and then had fallen forward, in that fixed position, directly in front of it. … It was clear that, from the time whatever hit him to the moment he had landed on the floor, Elvis hadn’t moved.”[295] Attempts to revive him failed, and his death was officially pronounced at 3:30 p.m. at the Baptist Memorial Hospital.

I remember that day as if it was Yesterday. I was 9 at the time. I came home from school and my mother asked me “Guess who died today?” I asked who, she replied Elvis. Trying to be the tough guy I said “What is it to me?” . But when I went to my room, I cried for the rest of the day.

Joseph Ronald Drew, or Ronnie Drew was an Irish singer, folk musician and actor who achieved international fame during a fifty-year career recording with The Dubliners. He is most recognised for his lead vocals on the single “Seven Drunken Nights” and “The Irish Rover” both charting in the UK top 10 and then performed on TOTP. He was recognisable for his long beard and pale blue eyes and his voice.

On 25 October 2007, Drew—now bald and beardless—appeared on Ryan Confidential on RTÉ 1 to give an interview about his role in The Dubliners, his life since leaving the band and being diagnosed with throat cancer. Later in 2007, he appeared on The Late Late Show, where he spoke some more about the death of his wife and his ongoing treatment for cancer.

Drew died in St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin on 16 August 2008, following his long illness. He was buried three days later in Redford Cemetery in Greystones.

Aretha Franklin was an American singer, songwriter, and pianist. Referred to as the “Queen of Soul”, she is regarded as the most influential female vocalist of the 1960s. Franklin began her career as a child, singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, where her father C. L. Franklin was a minister.

On August 13, 2018, Franklin was reported to be gravely ill at her home in Riverfront Towers, Detroit.[She was under hospice care and surrounded by friends and family. Stevie Wonder, Jesse Jackson and former husband Glynn Turman visited her on her deathbed. Aretha Franklin died at her home on August 16, 2018, aged 76, without a will.The cause of death was a malignant pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (pNET),which is distinct from the most common form of pancreatic cancer.[Numerous celebrities in the entertainment industry and politicians paid tribute to Franklin, including former U.S. President Barack Obama who said she “helped define the American experience”.[ Civil rights activist and minister Al Sharpton called her a “civil rights and humanitarian icon”.

Pink Floyd

This blog will be confusing to some people because it will be about Pink Floyd and yet it won’t be. I will not be talking about Pink Floyd but rather about Pink and Floyd.

Pinkney “Pink” Anderson was an American blues singer and guitarist.

Anderson was born in Laurens, South Carolina, on February 12,1900 and was raised in nearby Greenville and Spartanburg.

He spent much of his career performing in traveling medicine shows, doing old minstrel, folk and ragtime tunes and even performing early blues numbers. As a child he made money by dancing and singing in the streets of Spartanburg, not far from where he was born. Around 1915 he formed a team with Simmie Dooley and hooked up with the “Dr. W.R. Kerr Indian Remedy Company Medicine Show” and traveled throughout the South for several years, entertaining crowds with their singing and dancing while the good doctor hawked his “miracle” cure-all. The pair are known to have cut two records for Columbia Records in 1928, but as far as is known, those are the only recordings they ever made.

In the late 1920s or early 1930s the pair broke up the act. Dooley left the “entertainment” business, but Anderson kept right on with traveling medicine shows up until the mid-’50s, when his declining health finally forced him to retire. In the 1960s, however, young fans of folk music “discovered” his music. He recorded a new album for Prestige Records, “Carolina Blues Man, Vol. 1”, in the early 1960s and made an appearance in a documentary about blues music and musicians, The Blues (1962).

Anderson was recorded by the folklorist Paul Clayton at the Virginia State Fair in May 1950. He recorded an album in the early 1960s and performed at some live venues.

Attempts by the folklorist Peter B. Lowry to record Anderson in 1970 were not successful, although apparently he could occasionally summon up some of his past abilities. A final tour took place in the early 1970s with the aid of Roy Book Binder, one of his students, taking him to Boston and New York City. Pink Anderson died on October 12, 1974 of a heart attack, at the age of 74. He is interred at Lincoln Memorial Gardens, in Spartanburg.

Floyd Council was an American blues guitarist, mandolin player, and singer. He was a practitioner of the Piedmont blues, which was popular in the southeastern United States in the 1920s and 1930s. He was sometimes credited as Dipper Boy Council and promoted as “The Devil’s Daddy-in-Law”.

He was born on Sept 2,1911 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to Harrie and Lizzie Council,

He began playing in the Chapel Hill, North Carolina area at clubs, with two brothers, Leo and Thomas Strowd, as the Chapel Hillbillies. recording a reported twenty seven songs, and backing Blind Boy Fuller on at least seven. He was considered one of the areas best guitarists. His throat muscles were partially paralysed by a stroke, but he made a final recording in 1970.

Council died on May 9, 1976 of a heart attack, after moving to Sanford, North Carolina. He was buried at White Oak AME Zion Cemetery in Sanford.

No records are available which exclusively feature Council’s work. The CD Carolina Blues features six songs he recorded: “I’m Grievin’ and I’m Worryin'”, “I Don’t Want No Hungry Woman”, “Lookin’ for My Baby”, “Poor and Ain’t Got a Dime”, “Runaway Man Blues” and “Working Man Blues”.

In a 1969 interview, Council stated he had recorded 27 songs over his career, seven of them backing Blind Boy Fuller. Fuller’s Complete Recorded Works contains many songs with Council playing guitar.

Syd Barrett, of the British rock band Pink Floyd, created the band’s name by juxtaposing the first names of Pink Anderson and North Carolina bluesman Floyd Council.

sources

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm5943597/bio

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floyd_Council

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/14625991/floyd-council

Lucky Escapes

Sometimes something which looks very unfortunate and frustrating can actually be a blessing in disguise.

On 21 December 1988 Holly Johnson of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, had a meeting which not go as scheduled. Holly Johnson and his manager were scheduled to arrive in New York for final negotiations about his break with Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Whatever he was doing in London ran late, so when they left for Heathrow, they hit rush hour traffic. Johnson’s ticket was for Pan Am 103, but when they reached Heathrow, they had missed the flight by about ten or fifteen minutes.

Word has it that Johnson was very sullen on the way back from the airport.
When they finally reached his (or his manager’s) flat, he switched the TV
on. The manager went in the kitchen to get a glass of water. When his
manager returned, Johnson’s eyes were transfixed on the screen. There on
the screen, was the flaming wreckage of a small town in Scotland, Lockerbie, and the remnants of Pan Am Flight 103.The flight had just been brought down by Lybian terrorists.

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

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.

Although Clapton’s seat wasn’t given to Stevie Ray Vaughan. It is not that much of a stretch to believe that it easily could have been the case. It was a lucky escape for him either way, But he did lose several friends that day, including Stevie Ray Vaughan.

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.

Happy Birthday Gary Moore

Robert William Gary Moore was born in Belfast on 4 April 1952,the son of Winnie, a housewife, and Robert Moore, a promoter who ran the Queen’s Hall ballroom in Holywood.He grew up near Belfast’s Stormont Estate with four siblings.

He credited his father for getting him started in music. When Moore was six years old, his father invited him onstage to sing “Sugartime” with a showband at an event he had organised, which first sparked his interest in music. His father bought him his first guitar, a second-hand Framus acoustic, when Moore was 10 years old. Though left-handed, he learned to play the instrument right-handed. Not long after, he formed his first band, The Beat Boys, who mainly performed Beatles songs. He later joined Platform Three and The Method, amongst others.[Around this time, he befriended guitarist Rory Gallagher, who often performed at the same venues as him. He left Belfast for Dublin in 1968 just as The Troubles were starting in Northern Ireland. A year later, his parents separated.

After moving to Dublin, Moore joined Irish blues rock band Skid Row. At the time, the group were fronted by vocalist Phil Lynott. He and Moore soon became friends, and they shared a bedsit in Ballsbridge.

After leaving Skid Row, Phil Lynott formed the hard rock group Thin Lizzy. After the departure of guitarist Eric Bell, Moore was recruited to help finish the band’s ongoing tour in early 1974. During his time with the group, Moore recorded three songs with them, including “Still in Love with You”

After Thin Lizzy, Gary Moore had a successful solo career. He is one of my all time guitar heroes. Unfortunately I never got to see him live, he died on 6 February 2011. I did get to see his brother Cliff Moore perform live in our local pub. In 1994.

Rory Gallagher- One of my few regrets

There are very few regrets I have, but I do regret that I did not buy tickets on January5,1995 for Rory Gallagher in my hometown of Geleen, in the Netherlands. The concert was in de Hanenhof which would not be world’s best venue but it could hold a decent amount of music fans.

At the time I thought, I will catch him another time, He did tour the Netherlands a lot. In fact he was popular all over Europe except for Ireland, which ironically is where he was born and grew up.

In the later years of his life, Gallagher had developed a phobia of flying(something I can identify with) . To overcome this, he was prescribed various drugs. By the time of his final performance on 10 January 1995 in Nighttown, Rotterdam the Netherlands ,he was visibly ill with severe abdominal pain and the tour had to be cancelled. He was prescribed paracetamol for the pain, a drug that can be extremely harmful to the liver, especially with a heavy drinker such as Gallagher.[

Gallagher was admitted to London’s King’s College Hospital in March 1995, and it was only then that the extent of his ill health became apparent; his liver was failing and the doctors determined that, in spite of his young age, a liver transplant was the only possible course of action.[52] After thirteen weeks in intensive care, while waiting to be transferred to a convalescent home, his health suddenly worsened when he contracted a staphylococcal (MRSA) infection, and he died on 14 June 1995, at the age of 47.

Today marks his birthday, he would have been 73.

source

https://concerts.fandom.com/wiki/January_10,_1995_Nighttown,_Rotterdam,_NED

It takes two-Duets

This is not going to be a complicated blog, it is basically what is says in the title, Duets, just another way to get you all some entertainment during this era of lock downs . Just a few of my favourite Duets.

Rod Stewart and Tina Turner – It Takes Two

Kristin Hersh and Micheal Stipe – Your Ghost

Sarah Brightman & Andrea Bocelli – Time to Say Goodbye

Bløf & Counting Crows – Holiday in Spain

Ozzy Osbourne And Lita Ford – Close My Eyes Forever

Gary Moore & Phil Lynott- Out in the Fields

John Lee Hooker – Bonnie Raitt. I’m In The Mood