portrait of this blog's author - by Stephen Blackman 2008

Monday, January 27, 2020


'Lest we forget'


Films that have moved me about the war and the holocaust in particular

The Island on Bird Street [a favourite]
Sophies Choice
The Pawnbroker - Sydney Lumet
The Night Porter
The Odessa File
Marathon Man
Schindler's List
The Pianist 
The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas

Books on the subject I have read:

Yevgeny Yevtushenko - Babi Yar (poem)
Anatoly Kuznetsov - Babi Yar
Diary of Anne Frank (on whom there has been a film made every decade)
Jerzy Kosinski - The Painted Bird

I highly recommended any of these . . . . . . lest we find history repeating

I grew up with this picture as I believe it was in the Family of Man exhibition catalogue which my grandparents and parents owned

Sunday, January 26, 2020


January 26th

1963 - The Beatles
The Beatles played two gigs, the first was at the El Rio Club/Dance Hall in Macclesfield, Cheshire, supported by Wayne Fontana and the Jets. Then The Beatles drove 20 miles to their next gig at King's Hall, Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire. 
1965 - Keith Richards
During a Rolling Stones tour of Australia and New Zealand, guitarist Keith Richards had his shirt torn off after 50 fans invaded the stage during the gig at The Town Hall in Brisbane.
1965 - Petula Clark
'Downtown' by Petula Clark was at No. 1 on the US singles chart. A young Jimmy Page had played as a session guitarist on the track, giving him his first US No.1 hit, (and a No. 2 hit in the UK).

1968 - Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd played their first gig without Syd Barrett at Southampton University. They were supported by Tyrannosaurus Rex, (later to be renamed T Rex) featuring Marc Bolan and percussionist Steve Peregrine Took.

1973 - Sweet
Sweet were at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'Blockbuster' written by pop legends Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. The glam rockers only UK No.1 of 15 Top 40 hits. I couldn't stand Sweet and most of the glam rock scene (Glitter et al) although began to at least watch if not quite appreciate Bowie and loved T Rex who I saw twice . . . . . . . Lead singer Brian Connolly suffered the addiction of alcoholism and lasted until '78 which is a sad sad story and the rest tired bravely to carry on.

1974 - Ringo Starr
Ringo Starr went to No.1 on the US singles chart with his version of the Johnny Burnette 1960 hit 'Your Sixteen', a No.3 hit in the UK.

1975 - David Bowie
The BBC 'Omnibus' documentary 'Cracked Actor' a film about David Bowie was shown on UK TV. Filmed in 1974 when Bowie was was a cocaine addict, the documentary has become notorious for showing Bowie's fragile mental state during this period.

1977 - Peter Green

Former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green was committed to a mental hospital following an incident when he threatened his accountant Clifford Adams with an air rifle when he was trying to deliver a £30,000 ($51,000) royalty cheque to him. Green is now fully recovered and plays with Splinter and has released several albums. The rest of the band (except the execrable Children of God follower (still!) and alleged paedophile Jeremy Spencer* guitarist) the rest went on to MOR super stardom
people do recover from schizophrenia 

1980 - Prince
Prince made his TV debut on the US show American Bandstand. When interviewed after his performance the singer froze and struggled to reply to the questions he was being asked.

1986 - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Allen Collins, guitarist from Lynyrd Skynyrd crashed his car, paralysing him from the waist down and killing his girlfriend Debra Jean Watts. Collins had survived a plane crash in 1977 that killed two other band members.

1989 - Donnie Elbert

American soul singer Donnie Elbert died of a stroke aged 52. In 1955 he formed a doo-wop group, the Vibraharps making his recording debut on their single ‘Walk Beside Me’ but it wasn’t until the Seventies when he had major success with the solo hit 1972 US No. 22 & UK No.11 single 'I Can't Help Myself', Sugar Pie Honey Bunch', as well as the hits 'Where Did Our Love Go?' and 'A Little Piece of Leather'. See if you recognise the more famous covers of these . . . . . . 

1991 - Queen
Queen had their second UK No.1 with 'Innuendo'. At 6 minutes 30 seconds, it exceeded their epic 'Bohemian Rhapsody' by 35 seconds and became the third longest UK No.1 song of all time, behind The Beatles 'Hey Jude' and Simple Minds' 'Belfast Child' (subsequently the 9 minutes 38 seconds 'All Around The World' by Oasis took over the top slot and demoted Innuendo to fourth place). For 'Innuendo's' flamenco guitar solo, Brian May was joined by Yes guitarist Steve Howe.
2003 - Billy Joel
Billy Joel was airlifted to hospital after his car smashed into a tree. The singer lost control of his Mercedes S500 and skidded for 100 yards before crashing. The accident happened in The Hamptons, New York. His third crash in two years . . . .
2004 - John Lydon
John Lydon was one of ten contestants to take part in the latest I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here UK TV show set in the Australian outback. The former Sex Pistols singer was seen by 11 million viewers on the first night covered in bird seed being pecked by giant ostriches. Lydon who was paid £25,000 ($42,500) to appear in the show, but walked off the jungle set after four days.

2007 - The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones topped the US music rich list for the second year running after making $150.6m (£76.2m) in 2006. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill were second in the poll with a combined fortune of $132m (£67.2m) and American country band Rascal Flatts appeared third, having earnt $110.5m (£56.2m) in the past year.

2008 - Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys was at No.1 on the US album chart with her third album 'As I Am'. The album sold over 742,000 copies in its first week the largest ever first week sales for any female R&B artist.

1963 - Jazzie B
Jazzie B, British DJ, music producer, and entrepreneur and founding member of British group Soul II Soul who had the 1989 UK No.1 single 'Back To Life'.

1963 - Andrew Ridgeley
Andrew Ridgeley, singer and one half of Wham! with George Michael, who had the 1984 UK & US No.1 single 'Wake Me Up Before You Go Go' plus 10 other UK Top 20 hit singles. Ridgeley became a prominent environmentalist in the cause of British surfing beaches and riverways, working with the UK charity, Surfers Against Sewage. He lives with his long term girlfriend Keren Woodward of the pop group Bananarama.

1953 - Lucinda Williams
Lucinda Williams, rock, folk, blues and country music singer and songwriter who wrote 'Passionate Kisses' the Grammy winning song made famous by the 1993 single version by Mary Chapin Carpenter.

1948 - Corky Laing
Corky Laing, drummer with heavy rock group Mountain who had the 1971 album 'Nantucket Sleighride'. Also worked with Jack Bruce.

1945 - Ashley Hutchings
Ashley Hutchings, bassist with UK folk group Fairport Convention who had the 1969 UK No.21 single 'Si Tu Dois Partir'.

1934 - Huey Smith
Huey 'Piano' Smith, US R&B pianist who had the 1958 US No.9 single 'Don't You Just Know It'. Smith also played played on Frankie Ford's hit 'Sea Cruise'. I first came across any work by Huey on the good Dr John's album 'Gumbo (1972)
when it came out and it featured "Huey Smith Medley" (Smith -Vincent) "High Blood Pressure", "Don't You Just Know It","Well I'll Be John Brown" but previously I had bought Georgie Fame's single 'Hi Heeled Sneakers' as a teenager which featured a b-side of him doing Smith's 'Rockin' Pneumonia and The Boogie Woogie Flu' which I loved and had been written by him and his writing partner John Vincent


January 25th

1963 - The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones played at the Ricky Tick Club at the Star and Garter Hotel, Windsor, Berkshirehire, UK. This was the first time The Rolling Stones, including Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman, played at this venue. All the walls in the club were painted black and the lighting was made out of old ice-cream tins.
1964 - The Beatles
The Beatles scored their first No.1 best seller in the US when 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' reached the top of the Cash Box Magazine music chart. The Fab Four would eventually rack up 25 No.1's in America. 

1964 - Phil Spector
Phil Spector appeared as a panellist on this week's UK TV show Juke Box Jury.

1967 - The Beatles
The Beatles made a last-minute remix of 'Penny Lane' before the pressing of their next double A sided single 'Strawberry Fields Forever / Penny Lane'. Both songs were originally intended for the forthcoming Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. 

1969 - Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd appeared at the Sixty Nine Club, Royal York Hotel, Ryde, Isle of Wight, England. Support band was The Cherokees, who had had a minor hit single in 1964 with Seven Golden Daffodils produced by Mickie Most. They later changed their name to New York Public Library.

1973 - David Bowie
David Bowie finished a week of rehearsals at the Royal Ballroom, Tottenham, London, for the forthcoming UK leg of his Ziggy Stardust tour. Bowie had already played dates in North America and Japan, the tour saw the singer playing a total of 182 dates.

1974 - Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin appeared at the Market Square Arena, Indianapolis, Indiana to over 17,000 fans. The set list included: 'Rock And Roll', 'Over The Hills And Far Away', 'The Song Remains The Same', 'The Rain Song', 'Kashmir', 'The Wanton Song', 'No Quarter', 'Trampled Under Foot', 'Moby Dick', 'How Many More Times', 'Stairway To Heaven', 'Whole Lotta Love' and 'Black Dog'. Tickets cost $8.50.

1975 - Carpenters
The Carpenters went to No.1 on the US singles chart with their version of The Marveletts 1961 hit 'Please Mr. Postman'. The song is notable as the first Motown song to reach the No.1 position on the Billboard singles chart late 1961.

1978 - Joy Division
After changing their name from Warsaw, (inspired by the song Warszawa on David Bowie's Low album), Joy Division made their live debut when they played at Pips Disco in Manchester, England. 

1984 - Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono donated £250,000 ($425,000) to Liverpool old people's home Strawberry Fields.
1986 - A-Ha
Norwegian group A-Ha were at No.1 in the UK with 'The Sun Always Shines On TV,' becoming the first ever-Norwegian act to score a UK No.1 hit single.

1989 - Bobby Brown
Bobby Brown was arrested for an overtly sexually suggestive performance after a show in Columbus; he was fined $652 under the anti-lewdness ordinance law.

1992 - Nirvana
The inaugural Big Day Out festival took place at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney. Acts appearing included, Nirvana, Beasts of Bourbon, Box The Jesuits, Celibate Rifles, Cosmic Psychos, The Clouds, Club Hoy, Died Pretty, Falling Joys, The Hard Ons with Henry Rollins Hellmen, Massappeal, The Meanies, Smudge, Sound Unlimited Posse, Ratcat, The Village Idiots, Violent Femmes and Yothu Yindi.

2004 - Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan was paid by ladies underwear company Victoria’s Secret to fly to Venice in Northern Italy, to film a TV advertisement in an ancient palazzo with a scantily dressed model. Some fans were upset while others empathized with Dylan.

2008 - British Sea Power
British Sea Power's keyboard and cornet player Phil Sumner, ended up in hospital after being knocked unconscious when he attempted a stage dive. The crowd at Leeds Irish Centre failed to catch him when he jumped off a 12-foot PA system landing head first. A spokeswoman for the band said: "The impact knocked him out straight away. He was unconscious for three minutes and there was a lot of blood."

2011 - The Beatles
A former Miss Canada finalist became the first person in the world to graduate with a Masters degree in The Beatles. Canadian singer Mary-Lu Zahalan-Kennedy, 53, was one of the first students to sign up for the course on the Fab Four when it launched at Liverpool Hope University in March 2009. The ground-breaking course looked at the studio sound and composition of The Beatles and how Liverpool helped to shape their music as well as examining the significance of the music of The Beatles and their impact on Western culture.

2014 - Susan Boyle
Millionaire Susan Boyle singing contest runner-up applied for a minimum wage, £6-an-hour cashier's job after spotting a job advert in the window of her local bookmakers, Ladbrokes, in Blackburn, west Lothian. Upon reading the advert the singer who is said to worth over £20m entered the premises and spent around five minutes talking to the shop's deputy manager David Corr about the role.


1981 - Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys, American R&B and soul singer, songwriter, (born Alicia J. Augello-Cook). Scored the 2001 US No.1 & UK No.3 single 'Fallin' and the 2001 US No.1 & UK No.7 album 'Songs In A Minor'. Keys has sold over 25 million albums and singles worldwide and won numerous awards, including nine Grammys. Name checked in Bob Dylan's 'Thunder On The Mountain' much to Keys' astonishment though understanding they both come from the same place (Hell's Kitchen) Bob explained upon seeing her at an awards show and thinking to himself "'There's nothing about that girl I don't like." Indeed . . . . . 

1949 - John Cooper Clarke
John Cooper Clarke, 'Bard of Salford', Manchester, poet laureate. Well known for 'Kung Fu International', 'I Married A Monster From Outer Space', 'The Day My Pad Went Mad'. 

John wrote and recorded and indeed regularly persons the best put down poem ever penned (INHO) to all the bullies and trolls out there this is definitively dedicated to you!

1938 - Etta James
Etta James, singer, who had 9 US Top 40 hits during the 60s including the 1996 UK No.5 single 'I Just Want To Make Love To You'. James died on January 20, 2012.

1915 - Ewan MacColl
Folk singer Salford born Jimmy Miller, songwriter, communist, labour activist, actor, poet, playwright, and record producer went by the stage name 'Ewan MacColl', who was the composer of 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face' a hit for Roberta Flack in 1971 for which he won a Grammy. MacColl died on 22nd October 1989. He was the father of singer/songwriter Kirsty MacColl. I grew up with this sound (and the politics) and knew the theatre work of his first wife Joan Littlewood (we visited the agitprop theatre workshop as young students) but the mock Scots schtick sounded weird after a while (his parents were Scots Socialists driven from the dockyards for communist activism). 
I share this roots, ancestors from Scotland (and Ireland) I was born in the North of England and proud of it. I have no desire to rename myself Oor Wullie! But hey if you need a source for off key singing with thick wooly jumpers on and fingers in your ear this is it! 

I dedicate this one to my Dad . . . . . a Manchester rambler