Posts Tagged ‘Those Amazing Humans’

Musician Dr. John described Booker as “the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced.”
Last night I listened to New Orleans R and B and watched some of my favorite performers on youtube. The ability to be able to call up archival film of the legendary greats in their prime with just a click of a mouse, now that’s technology at it’s best. While I was doing this I hastily penciled out a sloppy but sincere tribute to some of the best musicians of all time, all of whom hail from the rockin’ cradle of virtually everything musically significant, New Orleans.
My friend from the French Quarter, dog trainer extraordinaire, former docent at the historical cemetaire where Marie Laveau rests in peace, singer, picker and songwriter of many excellent songs (so he should know) sent me a comment with only two syllables, Book-er.
James Carroll Booker III (December 17, 1939 – November 8, 1983) was a New Orleans rhythm and blues musician born in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. Booker’s unique style combined rhythm and blues with jazz standards. Musician Dr. John described Booker as “the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced.”
There is a new documentary about this largely overlooked (outside of the region where his legend is large) megatalent. Its title is “Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker” by Lily Keber. I am already looking for it.
Here is a link to his “takeover” of “Junco Partner”.

Wikipedia:Jean-Louis “Jack” Kérouac (/ˈkɛruːæk/ or /ˈkɛrɵæk/; March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969) was an American novelist and poet. He is considered a literary iconoclast and, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, a pioneer of the Beat Generation.[2] Kerouac is recognized for his spontaneous method of writing, covering topics such as Catholic spirituality, jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, and travel. Kerouac became an underground celebrity and, with other beats, a progenitor of the hippie movement, although he remained antagonistic toward some of its politically radical elements.[3]
In 1969, at age 47, Kerouac died from internal bleeding due to long term abuse of alcohol. Since his death Kerouac’s literary prestige has grown and several previously unseen works have been published. All of his books are in print today, among them: On the Road, Doctor Sax, The Dharma Bums, Mexico City Blues, The Subterraneans, Desolation Angels, Visions of Cody, The Sea is My Brother, and Big Sur.

I don’t know much about Kerouac other than the thirty or so pages I read of “Dharma Bums” and the fact that if you have a dog-eared paperback of “On The Road” sticking out of your back pocket you will be accessorizing COOL. But I do know someone who does, poet, critic, novelist, book-binder, block printer, Pat Nolan. Here is a link to his recent contribution to Poetry Flash zine entitled “The Quantum of Kerouac”

To be included with the great composers of movie soundtracks (John Williams, Alfred Newman, Ennio Morricone, Jerry Goldsmith) is birthday boy, Danny Elfman. He is the music behind virtually every one of my favorite films of the last three decades and a good many TV shows as well. I don’t know if I can fit a conclusive list of his contributions to our entertainment enjoyment over the years on this blog, but I’ll give it a try below the picture.

Year Film Role/Directed by Notes
1977 I Never Promised You a Rose Garden Yri drummer Also featured Richard Elfman
Hot Tomorrows Singer Directed by Martin Brest
1981 Urgh! A Music War Himself Part of Oingo Boingo
1982 Forbidden Zone Satan Directed by Richard Elfman
1984 Good Morning, Mr. Orwell Himself Part of Oingo Boingo
1985 Pee-wee’s Big Adventure Tim Burton Original soundtrack released as part of the Elfman/Burton box set
1986 Back to School Himself Part of Oingo Boingo Original soundtrack released as part of the Elfman/Burton box set
1987 Summer School Carl Reiner Soundtrack (includes one Elfman song; no score)
Wisdom Emilio Estevez, Robert Wise Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande
1988 Beetlejuice Tim Burton Soundtrack
Midnight Run Martin Brest Soundtrack released by MCA
Big Top Pee-wee Randal Kleiser Soundtrack (including dialogue) released by Arista, reissued by PEG
Hot to Trot Michael Dinner Suite included on Music for a Darkened Theatre, Vol. 1
Scrooged Richard Donner Suite included on Music for a Darkened Theatre, Vol. 1; complete score released by La-La Land Records
1989 Batman Tim Burton Soundtrack (re-released with complete score from La-La Land Records); Nominated for 32nd Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media
Nightbreed Clive Barker Soundtrack released by MCA
1990 Dick Tracy Warren Beatty Soundtrack; Nominated for 33rd Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television
Darkman Sam Raimi Soundtrack
Edward Scissorhands Tim Burton Soundtrack; Nominated for 34th Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television
1992 Article 99 Howard Deutch Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande
Batman Returns Tim Burton Soundtrack released by Warner Bros. Records; re-released with complete score from La-La Land Records
1993 Sommersby Jon Amiel Soundtrack released by Elektra
Army of Darkness Sam Raimi “March of the Dead” theme by Danny Elfman, rest of the score by Joseph LoDuca
The Nightmare Before Christmas Henry Selick Soundtrack released by Walt Disney Records
1994 Black Beauty Caroline Thompson Soundtrack
1995 Dolores Claiborne Taylor Hackford Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande
Dead Presidents Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes Soundtrack (one Elfman track; suite also included on Music for a Darkened Theatre Vol. 2)
To Die For Gus Van Sant Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande (score + songs)
1996 Mission: Impossible Brian De Palma Soundtrack (songs + three brief Elfman suites); Score album
The Frighteners Peter Jackson Soundtrack
Freeway Matthew Bright Suite included on Music for a Darkened Theatre Vol. 2
Extreme Measures Michael Apted Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande
Mars Attacks! Tim Burton Soundtrack released by Atlantic; expanded edition released by La-La Land Records
1997 Men in Black Barry Sonnenfeld Soundtrack (two Elfman cues); Score album; Nominated for 70th Academy Award for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score & for 40th Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television
Flubber Les Mayfield Soundtrack released by Walt Disney Records
Good Will Hunting Gus Van Sant Soundtrack (two Elfman cues); Nominated for 70th Academy Award for Best Original Dramatic Score
1998 A Simple Plan Sam Raimi Soundtrack released by Compass III
A Civil Action Steven Zaillian Soundtrack
1999 Instinct Jon Turteltaub Soundtrack
Anywhere But Here Wayne Wang Soundtrack released by Atlantic (includes one score suite)
Sleepy Hollow Tim Burton Soundtrack released by Hollywood Records
2000 Proof of Life Taylor Hackford Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande
The Gift Sam Raimi Cameo appearance
The Family Man Brett Ratner Soundtrack released by Sire Records (two Elfman cues)
2001 Planet of the Apes Tim Burton Soundtrack released by SME; complete score released by La-La Land
2002 Spider-Man Sam Raimi Score album; Song album; Nominated for 45th Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media
Men in Black II Barry Sonnenfeld Soundtrack released by Columbia Records
Red Dragon Brett Ratner Soundtrack released by Decca Records
Chicago Rob Marshall Soundtrack (two Elfman tracks)
2003 Hulk Ang Lee Soundtrack released by Columbia Records
Big Fish Tim Burton Soundtrack; Nominated for 76th Academy Award for Best Original Score, for 61st Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score & for 47th Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media
2004 Spider-Man 2 Sam Raimi Soundtrack; Score album
2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Tim Burton Soundtrack; Nominated for 48th Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media (Wonka’s Welcome Song)
Corpse Bride Tim Burton Soundtrack
2006 Deep Sea 3D Howard Hall Serenada Schizophrana
Nacho Libre Jared Hess Soundtrack (score suite)
Charlotte’s Web Gary Winick Soundtrack
2007 Meet the Robinsons Stephen Anderson Soundtrack
The Kingdom Peter Berg Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande
2008 Standard Operating Procedure Errol Morris Soundtrack
Wanted Timur Bekmambetov Soundtrack
Hellboy II: The Golden Army Guillermo del Toro Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande
Milk Gus Van Sant Soundtrack released by Decca Records; Nominated for 81st Academy Award for Best Original Score & for 52nd Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media
2009 Notorious George Tillman, Jr. Soundtrack (one Elfman track), soundtrack released by Universal Music Group
Terminator Salvation McG Soundtrack released by Warner Bros. Records
9 Shane Acker Music themes only, score composed by Deborah Lurie and produced by Tim Burton released by Focus Features, soundtrack available on Rhino Records and score album released by Lakeshore Records
Taking Woodstock Ang Lee Song soundtrack on Rhino Records with four Elfman cues; score album on La-La Land Records
2010 The Wolfman Joe Johnston Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande
Alice in Wonderland Tim Burton Soundtrack released by Walt Disney Records; Nominated for 68th Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score & for 53rd Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media
The Next Three Days Paul Haggis Soundtrack released by Lionsgate
2011 Restless Gus Van Sant
Real Steel Shawn Levy Song album on Interscope with one Elfman cut; score album released by Varèse Sarabande
2012 Dark Shadows Tim Burton Song album with two Elfman cuts and score album released by WaterTower Music
Men in Black 3 Barry Sonnenfeld Soundtrack released by Sony Classical
Frankenweenie Tim Burton Soundtrack released by Walt Disney Records
Silver Linings Playbook David O. Russell Song album with two Elfman cuts and score album released by Sony Classical
Hitchcock Sacha Gervasi Soundtrack released by Sony Masterworks
Promised Land Gus Van Sant Soundtrack released by Relativity Music Group
2013 Oz the Great and Powerful Sam Raimi Soundtrack released by Walt Disney Records
Epic Chris Wedge Soundtrack released by Columbia Records
Did you see any of your favorites?

Today is Mike Stoller’s 80th birthday if I counted correctly, and you should live so long, Michael, you’ve written most of the good songs of my childhood, and I thank you because it was a good sound track to grow up to. You and Jerry Lieber must have had some fun coming up with these melodies and lyrics, at least that’s what came through. Your songs made me laugh, dance, and lose my Baptist inhibitions. The incredible string of hits you had for The Robins, The Coasters, The Drifters, Elvis and others is a mindboggling display of creative fertility. You were the Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner of Rock and Roll. As a kid consumer of R and B and Rock and Roll, your names guaranteed ultimate rockability, so I had to have every Coasters single as soon as it hit the shelf, no matter how many yards I had to mow, every new Elvis tune, no matter how many bushels of mangos I had to sell. You helped me develop a work-ethic that I was unable to maintain into adulthood, but you provided me with a good start. Sorry, I’m gushing, but really, you mean that much to me, now go on get outta here and have a nice birthday, Mazel Tov.
Mike Stoller celebrates today. Jerry Lieber (unfortunately) has gone away (he would have also reached his 80th birthday on April 25th of this year had he not passed on August 22nd, 2011).

Elvis and Mike.

Elvis and Mike.

Here’s some interesting details about these guys’ achievements from wikipedia:
Both born to Jewish families, Leiber came from Baltimore, Stoller from Long Island, but they met in Los Angeles in 1950, where Stoller was a freshman at Los Angeles City College while Leiber was a senior at Fairfax High. Stoller had graduated from Belmont High School. After school, Stoller played piano and Leiber worked in a record store and, when they met, they found they shared a love of blues and rhythm and blues. In 1950, Jimmy Witherspoon recorded and performed their first commercial song, “Real Ugly Woman”.
Their first hit composition was “Hard Times”, recorded by Charles Brown, which was a rhythm and blues hit in 1952. “Kansas City”, which was first recorded in 1952 (as “K. C. Loving”) by rhythm & blues singer Little Willie Littlefield, became a No. 1 pop hit in 1959 for Wilbert Harrison. In 1952 they wrote “Hound Dog” for blues singer Big Mama Thornton, which became a hit for her in 1953. The 1956 Elvis Presley rock version, which was a takeoff of the adaptation that Presley picked up from Freddie Bell’s lounge act in Las Vegas, was a much bigger hit. Presley’s showstopping mock-burlesque version of “Hound Dog”, playfully bumping and grinding on the Milton Berle Show, created such public excitement that on The Steve Allen Show they slowed down his act, with an amused Presley in a tuxedo and blue suede shoes singing his hit to a basset hound. Allen pronounced Presley “a good sport”, and the Leiber-Stoller song would be forever linked to Presley. Their later songs often had lyrics more appropriate for pop music, and their combination of rhythm and blues with pop lyrics revolutionized pop, rock and roll, and punk rock.
They formed Spark Records in 1953 with their mentor, Lester Sill. Their songs from this period include “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” and “Riot in Cell Block #9”, both recorded by The Robins.
The label was later bought by Atlantic Records, which hired Leiber and Stoller in an innovative deal that allowed them to produce for other labels. This, in effect, made them the first independent record producers. At Atlantic, they revitalized the careers of The Drifters and wrote a number of hits for The Coasters, a spin-off of the Robins. Their songs from this period include “Charlie Brown”, “Searchin'”, “Yakety Yak”, “Stand By Me” (written with Ben E. King), and “On Broadway” (written with Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil). For the Coasters alone, they wrote twenty-four songs that appeared in the US charts.
In 1955 Leiber and Stoller produced a recording of their song “Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots” with a white vocal group, the Cheer. Soon after, the song was recorded by Édith Piaf in a French translation titled, “L’Homme à la Moto”. The European royalties from another Cheers record, “Bazoom (I Need Your Lovin’)”, funded a 1956 trip to Europe for Stoller and his first wife, Meryl, on which they met Piaf. Their return to New York was aboard the ill-fated SS Andrea Doria, which was rammed and sunk by the Swedish liner MS Stockholm. The Stollers had to finish the journey to New York aboard another ship. After their rescue, Leiber greeted Stoller at the dock with the news that “Hound Dog” had become a hit for Elvis Presley. Stoller’s reply was, “Elvis who?” They would go on to write more hits for Presley, including the title songs for three of his movies—Loving You, Jailhouse Rock, and King Creole—as well as the rock and roll Christmas song, “Santa Claus Is Back in Town”, for Presley’s first Christmas album.

Just watched “Searching For Sugar Man”, the astonishing tale of a musical talent ignored in the USA and later lionized by a receptive revolutionary youth movement in South Africa. From the late 70’s til the mid 90’s he was a mystery man; his “disappearance” gave birth to strange myths about an on stage suicide. Later “discovered” doing manual labor in his Detroit neighborhood by two intrepid musical detectives, he was brought back into the spotlight, and reignited a firestorm of popularity by making several SRO appearances in South Africa. He is still riding the coattails of his rediscovery with many more block-buster appearances and TV spots on both Letterman and Leno shows. A new album is in the offing.

This is just a barebones telling of the events spanning four decades in the life of a truly Amazing Human and I recommend you see this film and read more at Wikipedia:
Sixto Díaz Rodríguez (also known as Rodríguez or as Jesús Rodríguez; born July 10, 1942) is an American folk musician based in Detroit, Michigan. His career initially proved short-lived with two little-sold albums in the early 1970s and some brief touring in Australia. Unbeknownst to him, however, his work proved extremely successful and influential in South Africa, although he was mistakenly rumoured in that country to have committed suicide.

In the 1990s, determined South African fans managed to seek out and contact him, leading to an unexpected revival of his musical career. Their story is told in the 2012 documentary Searching for Sugar Man, which has also helped give Rodríguez a measure of fame in his native country.

Rodríguez was born in Detroit, Michigan. He was named ‘Sixto’ (pronounced seesto or seexto) because he was the sixth child in his family. Rodríguez’s parents were working-class immigrants who had come to the U.S. from Mexico in the 1920s. In most of his songs he takes a political stance on the cruelties facing the inner city poor.

Rodriguez earned a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Wayne State University’s Monteith College in 1981.

In 1967 (under the name Rod Riguez) he released the single “I’ll Slip Away” through the small label Impact. He did not produce anything for another three years until he was signed to Sussex Records, an offshoot of A&M records.

It was after the move to Sussex that he changed his professional name to just Rodríguez. Rodríguez recorded two albums with Sussex: Cold Fact in 1970 and Coming from Reality in 1971. But after both of his albums sold very few copies, he was quickly dropped from the label, which folded in 1975. At the time of his firing, Rodríguez was in the process of completing an album that has yet to be released.

After this happened, Sixto discontinued his music career and stayed in Detroit. There, he worked in several industries that revolved around manual labor such as demolition, yet always stayed close to a state of poverty. Having remained politically active and motivated to improve the lives of the city’s working class inhabitants, Sixto registered and ran for city council in Detroit in 1989. However, the county misspelled his name on the ballot.

It was revealed in 2013 that Sixto has written 30 new songs and is in discussions with Steve Rowland, the producer behind some of his old albums. “I’ve written about thirty new songs,” Sixto told Rolling Stone magazine. “He told me to send him a couple of tapes, so I’m gonna do that. I certainly want to look him up, because now he’s full of ideas.”

Unbeknownst to Rodríguez, “At His Best” went platinum in South Africa, which at one stage was the major disk-press interest supplying his music to the rest of the world. He would often be compared to successful contemporaries such as Bob Dylan. Additionally, some of his songs came to serve as anti-Apartheid anthems in South Africa, where his work influenced many musicians who protested the government. It has been reported that anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko was a Rodríguez fan.

In 1991, both his albums were released on CD in South Africa for the first time, which helped perpetuate his already existent fame. However, even in South Africa, few details of his life were known to his fans and it was widely rumored and believed that Rodríguez had killed himself during a concert in the 1970s.

Despite the magnitude of his success abroad, Rodríguez’s fame in South Africa had remained completely unknown to him until 1998, when his eldest daughter came across a website dedicated to him.[6] After coming into contact with the authors of the website and learning of his long-standing fame in the country, Sixto played his first South African tour, playing six concerts in front of thousands of fans. A documentary about the tour, Dead Men Don’t Tour: Rodríguez in South Africa 1998, was later screened on SABC TV in 2001. Later he played in Sweden before returning to South Africa in 2001 and 2005.

Please endure the short commercial to enjoy a song, “I Wonder” from his album “Cold Fact”.

Diddley Daddy

Diddley Daddy

Ellas Otha Bates (December 30, 1928 – June 2, 2008), known by his stage name Bo Diddley, was an American rhythm and blues vocalist, guitarist, songwriter (usually as Ellas McDaniel), and rock and roll pioneer. He was also known as The Originator because of his key role in the transition from the blues to rock, influencing a host of acts, including Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Velvet Underground, The Who, The Yardbirds, Eric ClaptonElvis PresleyThe Beatles, and George Michael, among others. He introduced more insistent, driving rhythms and a hard-edged electric guitar sound on a wide-ranging catalog of songs, along with African rhythms and a signature beat (a simple, five-accent rhythm) that remains a cornerstone of rock and pop. Accordingly, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation and a Grammy Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. He was known in particular for his technical innovations, including his trademark rectangular guitar.


Tomas Rivera, whose birthday was yesterday, is a Mexican-American author, poet (won’t hold that against him) and a Mex-Am Children’s Book Award was named after him (gotta love that). Other than that I know absolutely nada. So once again, heeeeere’s Wiki.

Tomás Rivera (December 22, 1935 – May 16, 1984) was a Chicano author, poet, and educator. He was born in Texas to migrant farm workers, and worked in the fields as a young boy. However, he achieved social mobility through education—earning a degree at Southwest Texas State University (now known as Texas State University), and later a Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD) at the University of Oklahoma—and came to believe strongly in the virtues of education for Mexican-Americans.

As an author, Rivera is best remembered for his 1971 Faulknerian stream-of-consciousness novella …y no se lo tragó la tierra, translated into English variously as This Migrant Earth and as …and the Earth Did Not Devour Him. This book won the first Premio Quinto Sol award.

Rivera taught in high schools throughout the Southwest USA, and later at Sam Houston State University and the University of Texas at El Paso. From 1979 until his death in 1984, he was the chancellor of the University of California, Riverside, the first Mexican-American to hold such a position at the University of California.

Dec.22, 1935-May 16, 1984

Dec.22, 1935-May 16, 1984

Rivera died May 16, 1984 [17] in his Fontana home. He is remembered as a gifted teacher, consummate administrator and acclaimed poet by many. After his death, many plazas, schools and certifications were named in his honor: a University of Texas at Austin professorship, the primary University of California, Riverside library and a plaza (as mentioned above), a Riverside Unified School District elementary school, a Denton, Texas elementary school, a Val Verde Unified School District middle school, a Crystal City (his hometown) elementary school, a Mexican-American children’s book, an honorary doctorate from Santa Clara University and was named a distinguished alumnus by Texas State University-San Marcos. His work is studied in courses of American and Chicano literature, and the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute bearing his name continues to publish studies on educational, immigration, economic, and other issues important to Hispanic-Americans.

At the University of Texas at San Antonio, a tutoring center is named in his honor. At Texas State University-San Marcos Student Center Drive was renamed Tomas Rivera Drive in his honor.[citation needed] In 1995, the College of Education at Texas State established the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award “to honor authors and illustrators who create literature that depicts the Mexican American experience”; winners have included such notable authors as Rudolfo Anaya, Pat Mora, and Gary Soto.

In the year following his death, the General Library at UC Riverside was renamed the Tomás Rivera Library. His wife, Concepción Rivera donated all of her late husbands papers to be put on loan at this library. The archive now contains all of Rivera’s work, more than 85,000 items. The contents of this archive is indicative of his hardworking, selfless and motivated nature. Not only did Rivera leave this world with buildings, plazas and learning centers in his name, he left an imprint on future generations of chicanos. Above all, Rivera had a vision for the world: that generations of migrant workers following his own would have equitable access to post-secondary education and opportunities to succeed