Two Pop Icons, two deaths, two different legacies.

colonel abrams

A little known  Minneapolis-based funk group formed in December 1975 called ’94 East’ lost two of its former members in 2016. Both of them were iconic in the 80s but one of them became a megastar, where the other one died homeless.

The two were  Prince and Colonel Abrams(picture above)

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Colonel Abrams(which was his real name), a musical pioneer who helped bring house into the mainstream mainly known for his hit single “Trapped” died on Thanksgiving, November 24, 2016. In 2015  some of his friends launched a crowdfunding campaign in order to help Abrams gain access to diabetes medication and get him off the streets.

His career involved being a part of various different bands, including 94 East which at one point had Prince on guitar, but it split when Prince became a solo star.

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Prince who became one of the biggest artists of the 20th century and remained a musical power house until the day he died on April 21,2016, 7 months before Colonel Abrams.

Two men with two different legacies, each death though was a tragedy. Although Prince’s legacy has grown even after his death,Colonel Abrams’s has all but disappeared.

Ending the blog with a song that featured them both.

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The time Michael Jackson became Elvis’s son in law.

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This is something that had slipped my mind but on this day in 1994, Michael Jackson married Lisa-Marie Presley.

They first met nearly 2 decades before they got married.He was introduced to her when he was 16 ans she was 6.at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Paradise, Nevada by her Elvis.

Elvis head brought her there to see the Jackson 5 perform.

Jackson 5

The pair picked up their friendship many years later in 1992,at a private dinner held at the home of their mutual friend the artist Brett-Livingstone Strong.  and two years after that, the ruler of Neverland and the heiress of Graceland were to be wed.

Although no one knew at the time. They got married in secret in n a secluded part of the Dominican Republic. The news about the wedding only leaked 11 weeks later.

MJ and LM

Lisa Marie had been a great support to Michael Jackson,when he became the subject of child sexual abuse accusations in 1993.

Michael Jackson had proposed to Lisa Marie while she was still married to actor Danny Keough. Jackson and Presley wed on May 26, 1994, at a ceremony in the Dominican Republic.Presley had divorced Keough only 20 days before.

The whole ceremony only lasted for 15 minutes and was held by was held by Judge Hugo Francisco Alvarez Perez at his home.

The marriage only lasted for 2 years. They got divorced on August 20 1996.

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The Pianist who spoke his mind and was killed for it.

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Regardless how talented you were, or how much value you could add to the German culture, if you didn’t comply to the Nazi ideology or dared to criticize it, you stood a good chance of getting executed.

Karlrobert Kreiten born 26 June 1916,  in Bonn, Germany) was a Dutch-German pianist,  holding Dutch citizenship his short life because of his Dutch father. He was a promising pianist, described by conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler as the most talented young pianist in Germany.

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He made his debut at the age of eleven with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A major in a live broadcast. His father was a Dutch composer and pianist, and his mother was a classical singer who performed under the stage name Emmy Kreiten-Barido. Karlrobert studied with the Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau in Berlin, and at the Music Academy.

son & mother

In early 1943 Kreiten moved to Berlin and began practising for his upcoming concerts at the house of his mother’s friend Ellen Ott-Monecke, who had offered her salon and piano until he would  find suitable accommodation.

Ellen Ott-Monecke who was a fanatic Nazi supporter,unbeknownst to Kreiten, one day he relayed his views on Hitler to Ott-Monecke. He had told her that Hitler was ‘brutal, sick and insane,’ and was responsible for starting the war. He also continued saying  that there would be a revolution in which Hitler, Goering and Goebbels would be ‘made a head shorter.’

Ellen Ott-Monecke reported this to the Gestapo He was indicted at the Volksgerichtshof (the ‘People’s Court’) for being a ‘threat to victory,’ and sentenced to death.

Volksgerichtshof, Reinecke, Freisler, Lautz

Roland Freisler,, presided over the trial and stated that Kreiten’s crime was ‘public’ and he could therefore face the death sentence. Freisler wanted to make an example of Kreiten at the trial, commenting  that, “whoever acts as Kreiten did, is doing precisely as our enemies wish. He becomes the henchman in their war of nerves against the steadfastness of our people”

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Friends and family desperately tried to save his life, but alas to no avail. The Kreiten family  only accidentally learned, via an anonymous phone call.  that Karlrobert had been executed by hanging, with 185 other inmates, at Plötzensee prison, om September 7 1943.

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Press coverage of the trial painted the pianist as a traitor, including articles written by Nazi propagandist Werner Höfer.  When the false articles by Werner Höfer  about Kreiten became known to a wider public  in 1987 he had to retire.

in convert

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Johnny & Jones-Jazz musicians, killed because they were Jewish.

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Aside from the human costs of he persecution of the Jews by the Nazis, it also had a devastating impact on culture. So many very talented painters,writers,musicians and other artists were killed because they were Jewish. Artists whose art could still have been enjoyed today,but they never got a chance.

Johnny & Jones were a Jazz/Cabaret duo from Amsterdam. Nol (Arnold Siméon) van Wesel (Johnny) and Max (Salomon Meyer) Kannewasser (Jones).

The duo worked together at the De Bijenkorf (Beehive) department store.bijenkorf

During a company party in 1934, they joined up with The Bijko Rhythm Stompers, where their talents were discovered. Two years later they quit their jobs and began performing under the name Johnny & Jones. Their biggest hit was “Mr Dinges doesn’t know what swing is” (“Mijnheer Dinges weet niet wat swing is”).

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They made jazz music accompanied by the guitar, and their lyrics, invariably pronounced with an American accent, were characterized by humorous, topical parodies. Beginning in 1937 they were regularly played on the VARA-radio and became immensely popular.

In May 1940 the Germans invaded and occupied the Netherlands, gradually but at a fast pace the Nazi began introducing antisemitic laws. Also laws banning some musical genres were introduced, Jazz was labelled as Entartete Musik or Degenerate music, alabel applied in the 1930s by the Nazi government in Germany to certain forms of music that it considered to be harmful or decadent.

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Because they were Jewish,  Johnny & Jones could only play for Jewish audiences, during the German occupation,and after 1941 were not allowed to play at all. In 1943 Max,Nol and their wives were arrested and were send  to the Westerbork transit camp.In the camp they performed once under the name Jonny und Jones since in the revue only the German language was allowed. In 1944 they were sent on a day’s work assignment from Westerbork to Amsterdam, during which they managed to clandestinely record the song “Westerbork Serenade”.

The song starts of with them singing that they don’t feel like themselves and that they aren’t great. Their hearts beat like the airplane demolishing  yard, which was actually the job assigned to them in the camp,dismantling crashed warplanes.

(Drawing by Leo Kok, a Jewish artist who drew this picture of ‘Johnny and Jones’ dismantling planes in 1944. Leo Kok died a week after liberation day)Tekening_Nol_van_Wezel_en_Max_Kannewasser

Below is the translated text of the song.

“Hello we feel a little out of order,
To pull myself together is quite hard,
Suddenly I’m a different person,
My heart beats like the airplane wrecking yard.

I sing my Westerbork serenade,
Along the little rail-way the tiny silver moon shines
On the heath.
I sing my Westerbork serenade
With a pretty lady walking there together,
Cheek to cheek.
And my heart burns like the boiler in the boiler house,
Oh it never hit me quite like this at Mother’s place
I sing my Westerbork serenade,
In between the barracks I threw my arms around her
Over there
This Westerbork love affair.
And so I went over to the medic,
The guy says: “there is nothing you can do;
Oh but you will feel a whole lot better
After you give her a kiss or two
(But that you must not do…)”

Even in this dark period they managed to keep composure and a sense of humour.

On 4 September 1944 Van Wesel and Kannewasser were deported on one of the last transports from Westerbork to a series of concentration camps: Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Sachsenhausen, Ohrdruf and Bergen-Belsen. They died of exhaustion during the last days of the war in 1945, Nol van Wesel (Johnny) died on 20 March 1945

Max (Salomon Meyer) Kannewasser (Jones) .on 15 April, the day that the camp was liberated.

Vergeb Belsen

The only consolation in this story is that Johnny and Jones songs can still be heard and because of modern day technology their voices can still be heard all over the world.

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Michael Jackson, Eddie van Halen and a six pack ,oh, and Stevie Ray Vaughan & Bowie.

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Have one great musician come up with a cool tune is one thing, but have another great musician enhancing that tune is just something else.

I don’t think there is any one on this planet who doesn’t know Michael Jackson’s classic album ‘Thriller”.

The 3rd single from that album was ‘Beat It’  it includes one of the finest guitar solo’s ever played, performed of course by Eddie van Halen, although his name is not on the credits.Not only was he not credited he also did it for free, well sort of, his fee was a Six pack of beer.

Quincy Jones the producer of the album(and so many others) approached Eddie van Halen to contribute to the song.Eddie agreed and following day he met with Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson in the recording studio.

Michael Jackson went out to take a break from recording or 30 minutes or so. Eddie asked the sound engineer if he could make some changes. this took 10 minutes Eddie then improvised 2 solo’s both in one take, and one of the solo’s was finally used in the song. The rest as they say is Rock N Roll history.

“Wait a minute” I can hear you say “You mentioned Stevie Ray Vaughan and Bowie in the title” and you’re right I did. Stevie Ray Vaughan has nothing to do with Beat It or Michael Jackson.

He did however contributed on David Bowie’s classic Album “Let’s Dance” produced by Nile Rodgers Vaughan plays lead guitar on several tracks, including two of the album’s many mega-hits “Let’s Dance” and “China Girl” and on the less-famous “Cat People (Putting Out the Fire).”

Vaughan met Bowie at the 1982 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. After SRV’s performance, Bowie was so impressed that he later said, “He completely floored me. I probably hadn’t been so gung-ho about a guitar player since seeing Jeff Beck with his band the Tridents.”

Of Bowie, Vaughan said, “To tell you the truth, I wasn’t very familiar with David’s music when he asked me to play on the sessions. David and I talked for hours and hours about our music, about funky Texas blues and its roots. I was amazed at how interested he was.

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It is just so sad to realize that 3 of these 4 musical giants have shed their mortal coil and are now gigging in that concert hall in the sky.

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Don’t give up on us baby! The remarkable story of Hutch,The Covered Man and male prostitution.

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On this day in 1977 David Soul scored a massive NO 1 hit with “Don’t give up on us baby”, take away the “on us baby” and you would have the perfect title for his life.

Mostly know as the iconic Hutch from the  buddy cop  TV show “Starsky and Hutch”, David Soul has had a turbulent life to use an understatement.

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Born in Chicago, Illinois, as  David Richard Solberg,David Soul is the son of a minister who was at one time serving as the religious affairs advisor to the U.S. High Commission in Berlin.

Soul attended Augustana College, University of the Americas in Mexico City and the University of Minnesota. At 19, he turned down a professional baseball contract with the Chicago White Sox in order to study political science. While in Mexico, inspired by students who taught him to play the guitar, Soul changed his direction and decided to follow his passion for music. His first appearance upon returning from Mexico to the States was in a club in Minneapolis, The 10 O’Clock Scholar.

He first appeared on TV in small roles in shows including I Dream of Jeannie (1965), Flipper (1964) and All in the Family (1971). Regular TV work kept coming in for Soul including making masked appearances on The Merv Griffin Show (1962), as the popular singer known only as “The Covered Man.”

DS-CoveredMan

He explained: “My name is David Soul, and I want to be known for my music.”

In 1967, he signed a contract with Columbia Pictures and following a number of guest appearances, including the episode “The Apple” from the second season of Star Trek.Makora

He landed the role of Joshua Bolt on the television program Here Come the Brides with co-stars Robert Brown, Bobby Sherman and Bridget Hanley. The series was telecast on the ABC network from September 25, 1968, to September 18, 1970.[6] In 1972 he co-starred as Arthur Hill’s law partner on Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law. Following numerous guest-starring roles on TV, including Streets of San Francisco, he was cast by Clint Eastwood in the film Magnum Force.

Poster-for-Magnum-Force-1973-clint-eastwood-40037482-500-312His talents came to the attention of several TV execs who were looking for someone to play one of the lead roles in the upcoming Starsky and Hutch (1975) TV series. After four seasons, the show came to an end, yet Soul’s talents were still in demand. He quickly went on to appear as the meek writer turned terrified vampire hunter Ben Mears in the chilling television mini-series Salem’s Lot (1979), and then as Jake in the interesting television movie Homeward Bound (1980).

Soul has been married five times and has five sons (two of whom are stepsons) and a daughter. He first married the actress Mirriam “Mim” Solberg (née Russeth), in 1964. The couple had one child together, but the marriage only lasted a year.

Soul then married actress Karen Carlson in 1968, after they had met on the set of the television series Here Come The Brides. The couple also had a child together, but they divorced in 1977.

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During the years he was filming Starsky & Hutch, Soul had an open relationship with actress Lynne Marta.

Soul’s third wife was Patti Carnel Sherman (the ex-wife of fellow Here Come the Brides co-star and teen pop idol Bobby Sherman), whom he married in 1980. They had a child together, but the marriage disintegrated due to Soul’s alcohol abuse and violent temper. During his marriage to Sherman, Soul was court-ordered to undergo anger management therapy after assaulting her while she was seven months pregnant. The couple divorced in 1986.

Those weren’t his only problems, despite the huge success in Starsky and Hutch and hit songs like “Don’t give up on us baby”  he was left virtually broke. In a British TV documentary he  admitted that at one  he had been so desperate he had tried male prostitution, however he did not say when, or if he had gone the whole way.

Soul married again in 1987, to actress Julia Nickson. The couple had one child, China Soul, who is a singer/songwriter.Soul and Nickson divorced in 1993.[citation needed]

Soul immigrated to the United Kingdom in the mid-1990s and settled in London with his girlfriend, American actress Alexa Hamilton, though the couple later broke upIn September 2004, Soul became a British citizen, while retaining his U.S. citizenship. He is an avid fan of English football and is an Arsenal F.C. supporter.

Soul married his fifth wife, Helen Snell, in June 2010. They had been in a relationship since 2002, after meeting when Soul was working in the British stage production of Deathtrap.

In 2005 appeared as Jerry Springer in “Jerry Springer-the Opera”

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Leaving you with the song mentioned in the title.

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Pink Kate Floyd

kate and david

I was struggling to find a suitable and catchy title for this blog, in order to avoid any juvenile remarks or giggling(I include myself) However I think I succeeded.

Now before you all go telling me that Kate Bush was never a member of Pink Floyd, you are absolutely right. But it could be argued that without Pink Floyd there would be no Kate Bush(at least in a musical performer sense), Or rather without Pink Floyd’s David Gilnour.

Pink Floyd was in the midst of completing the 1975 Wish You Were Here album when David Gilmour came across a youthful singer-songwriter named Kate Bush. Through his patronage, she made her first demo, and Bush’s celebrated career was underway. A friendship in music was born, too.

Wish you were here 1975

Kate Bush attended St Joseph’s Convent Grammar School, a Catholic girls’ school (later part of St Mary’s and St Joseph’s School, Sidcup), in Woolwich Road, Abbey Wood, south east London, in the mid-1970s. During this time her family produced a demo tape with over 50 of her compositions, which was turned down by record labels. David Gilmour of Pink Floyd received the demo from Ricky Hopper, a mutual friend of Gilmour and the Bush family. Impressed with what he heard, Gilmour helped the sixteen-year-old Bush get a more professional-sounding demo tape recorded that would be more saleable to the record companies.Three tracks in total were recorded and paid for by Gilmour. The tape was produced by Gilmour’s friend Andrew Powell, who would go on to produce Bush’s first two albums,and sound engineer Geoff Emerick, who had previously worked with the Beatles. The tape was sent to EMI executive Terry Slater. Slater was impressed by the tape and signed her.

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David Gilmour would work with Kate Bush as an executive producer on 1978’s The Kick Inside, a producer and sideman on 1980’s “Passing through Air,” a guest vocalist on 1982’s The Dreaming, and guitarist on “Rocket’s Tail” and “Love And Anger”

The rest as they say is Rock N Roll history. Ending the blog with David Gilmour and Kate Bush on “Running up that Hill”

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Something Else

Rolling Stone

Special mention to my good friend Jochen Stäcker who drew my attention to this.

What’s going on-The night Soul Music died.

Marvin_Gaye_(1973)

When you think of the cool sounds of Motown one of the first names that comes up in your mind is Marvin Gaye. He made the Soul Music sexy again. Marvin first discovered his musical talent and passion by singing in his father’s church.

Unfortunately not every one liked what he was doing, his father Marvin Gay, Sr was one of those people.

On April 1, 1984, Marvin was fatally shot by his father in their Los Angeles home. On the day of the murder, Marvin and Marvin Sr were arguing about a misplaced insurance policy document,one day short of his 45th birthday.

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In the days prior to his death, Marvin’s parents had arguments mainly over a misplaced insurance policy letter.The day before his death, the arguments spread to Marvin’s bedroom. Angered by his father confronting his mother, Marvin commanded Marvin Sr. to leave her alone; Gay Sr. complied without incident and there was no violence that night, but Gay Sr. continued yelling throughout the house.

If the physical cause of Marvin Gaye’s death was straightforward—”Gunshot wound to chest perforating heart, lung and liver,” according to the Los Angeles County Coroner—the events that led to it were much more tangled.

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On the one hand, there was the longstanding conflict with his father dating back to childhood. Marvin Gay, Sr., (the “e” was added by his son for his stage name) was a preacher in the Hebrew Pentecostal Church and a proponent of a strict moral code he enforced brutally with his four children. He was also, by all accounts, a hard-drinking cross-dresser who personally embodied a rather complicated model of morality. By some reports, Marvin Sr. harbored significant envy over his son’s tremendous success, and Marvin Jr. clearly harbored unresolved feelings toward his abusive father.

At 12:38 p.m. on April 1, 1984, while Gaye was in his bedroom, his father Marvin Gay Sr. shot Gaye in the heart and then in his left shoulder, the latter shot taken at point-blank range. Minutes earlier, the two men had been involved in a physical altercation when Gaye intervened in a fight between his parents. The first shot proved to be fatal. Gaye was pronounced dead at 1:01 p.m.  after his body arrived at California Hospital Medical Center.

After Gaye’s funeral, his body was cremated at Forest Lawn Memorial Park at the Hollywood Hills; his ashes were later scattered into the Pacific Ocean. Initially charged with first-degree murder, Gay Sr.’s charges dropped to voluntary manslaughter following a diagnosis of a brain tumor.

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Marvin Gay Sr. was later sentenced to a suspended six-year sentence and probation. He died at a nursing home in 1998.

Amy murder case is sad but the fact this was between a Father and a son makes it even more of a tragedy.

Although Marvin Gaye died at a young age his musical legacy will last for generations to come.

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Billie Jean- The dark story behind the Michael Jackson classic.

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Who doesn’t know this classic Michael Jackson song? I have heard the song thousands of time and never gave the lyrics a second thought. It was not like it was controversial or anything, after all it was written by squeaky clean Michael Jackson, right??

But there is a darker side to the song, although not verified by Michael himself but by one of his biographers,J. Randy Taraborrelli, when you listen to the song it makes sense.

Michael Jackson claimed Billie Jean was based on the groupies that used to hang around Jackson and his brothers when they were in The Jackson 5.

'60s R&B Quintet "Jackson 5"

“Billie Jean is kind of anonymous. It represents a lot of girls. They used to call them groupies in the ’60s…They would hang around backstage doors, and any band that would come to town they would have a relationship with, and I think I wrote this out of experience with my brothers when I was little. There were a lot of Billie Jeans out there. Every girl claimed that their son was related to one of my brothers.”

J. Randy Taraborrelli promoted the theory that “Billie Jean” was derived from a real life experience the singer faced in 1981. The Magic & The Madness documents how a young woman wrote Jackson a letter, which informed the singer that he was the father of one of her twins. Jackson, who regularly received letters of this kind, had never met the woman in question and ignored it. The woman, however, continued to send Jackson more letters, which stated that she loved him and wanted to be with him. She wrote of how happy they would be if they raised the child together. She pondered how Jackson could ignore his own flesh and blood. The letters disturbed the singer to the extent that he suffered nightmares.

Following the letters, Jackson received a parcel containing a photograph of the fan, as well as a letter and a gun. Jackson was horrified; the letter asked that the pop singer kill himself on a certain day and at a specific time. The fan would do the same once she had killed their baby. She wrote that if they could not be together in this life, then they would be in the next. To the mother’s dismay, Jackson had the photograph of the woman framed and hung above the dining room table of their family home. Afterwards, the Jacksons discovered that the fan had been sent to a psychiatric hospital.

Allegedly Jackson framed a picture of the stalker she’d sent to him in his home.

Finishing with the song, you can make up your own mind if it was about a groupie or deranged stalker, I am going with the latter one.

 

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Do you gaze at your bald head and wish you had hair? Elvis Laughing.

Elvis-Cant-Stop-Laughing-While-Singing-Are-You-Lonesome-Tonight-Featured

Ever since I was a kid I have been a fan of Elvis-The King of Rock N Roll. Not  only was he  a great singer and performer he had also a great sense of humour.

Elvis would often ad lib lyrics during live concerts, as he did during a Las Vegas gig in April 1969. While he was doing a version of “Are you lonesome tonight” he changed one line from “Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there?”  to “Do you gaze at your bald head and wish you had hair?”

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As he sang it he started giggling not realizing what was about to happen next. A man in the front row happens to remove his wig and begins swaying to the music. At that point Elvis loses it and can’t stop laughing.

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