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

Tuesday, April 30, 2019


Vincent’s only live-in girlfriend, 'Sien' committed suicide in 1904 by jumping into a river, just as she had told him she would do (21 years earlier). 

Clasina (Sien) Maria Hoornik

Sien was Van Gogh's only life in lover and partner who he really wanted to wed. Indeed she wanted to marry him also but Vincent's family and benefactors refused to countenance such an arrangement. 
Clasina Hoornik had been one of ten children and when her father died they tried to augment their brother's meagre income selling chairs as cleaners and general labourers, seamstresses and the like. Inevitably for the period 'Sien' became a prostitute and gave birth to four children as a result by the time she was in her early thirties. She had been pregnant when she took up with Vincent and he first began drawing her. There is no doubt Vincent loved her and she him but he contracted gonorrhoea from her and was hospitalised as a result and Theo, Vincent's brother and principal benefactor, was furious and threatened, along with his influence upon his other benefactors, to withdraw their financial support. Their brief relationship and affair de couer came to a tragic end.

Van Gogh, Woman with cigar (Sien) seated near the Stove (April 1882)
Courtesy of Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo.

Of course we could have a cup of tea and I'll tell you of my dreaming . . . . . . . 

oh my . . . . .

Most days my top number one album of all time . . . . .always in the top three

On this day in music history: April 29, 1971 - “L.A. Woman”, the sixth studio album by The Doors is released. Produced by The Doors and Bruce Botnick, it is recorded at The Doors Workshop in Los Angeles, CA from December 1970 - January 1971. After the departure of their producer Paul A. Rothchild (leaving after having differences with the band over musical direction), The Doors along with recording engineer Bruce Botnick handle the production duties on their sixth studio release. Unlike past albums, much of “L.A. Woman” is recorded live with few overdubs. They will be augmented by bassist Jerry Scheff (Elvis Presley) and rhythm guitarist Marc Benno (aka Leon Russell). It is the bands last album with lead singer Jim Morrison who dies three months after its release. The first press run of the LP features a die cut cover (with rounded corners similar to a photographic slide) with a portrait of the band printed on transparent yellow acetate plastic with the title and band name embossed on the front. Subsequent re-pressings of the LP are printed on standard cardboard stock without the die cutting and plastic window. It spins off two singles including “Love Her Madly” (#11 Pop) and “Riders On The Storm” (#14 Pop). To commemorate the albums’ fortieth anniversary, it is remixed, remastered and reissued as a double CD set. On the first disc, some tracks are extended, running past the fade out point of the original mixes. The second disc includes alternate versions of several songs and previously unreleased tracks. The album is also reissued in 2009 as a 180 gram vinyl LP, restoring the original cover artwork featured on the initial pressing. “L.A. Woman” peaks at number nine on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
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Nearly forgot Willie's birthday!

Born on this day: April 29, 1933 - Singer, songwriter and Country music icon Willie Nelson (born Willie Hugh Nelson in Abbott, Texas). 

Happy 86th Birthday, Willie!!

This might make up for it . . . . . . . . 

'City of New Orleans' (Steve Goodman) taken by Willie

On this day in music history: April 29, 1985 - “Be Yourself Tonight”, the fifth album by Eurythmics is released. Produced by David A. Stewart, it is recorded near Paris, France in Early 1985 (overdubs recorded in Various Studios). Recorded in a makeshift studio outside of Paris (basic tracks recorded in one week), the duos fifth album sees them moving away from the synthesizer based sound of their previous releases toward a more mainstream rock sound. The album includes guest appearances from musicians such as Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello and Aretha Franklin, as well as musical support from Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench and Stan Lynch of The Heartbreakers. It spins off four singles including “Would I Lie To You?” (#5 Pop, #17 UK) and “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves” (#18 Pop, #9 UK). It is remastered and reissued on CD in 2005 with six additional bonus tracks added, including non album B-sides, 12" mixes and live performances. Out of print on vinyl for nearly thirty years, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2018. The vinyl reissue also comes with an mp3 download card of the full album. “Be Yourself Tonight” peaks at number three on the UK album chart, number nine on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
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Again a great article and clips from Aquarium Drunkard this morning about the impromptu reforming of the Velvets (well sort of!) Lou Reed, John Cale and Nico playing live at the Bataclan from 72

Lou Reed, John Cale & Nico :: Le Bataclan, Paris 1972

“This is a song about copping drugs in New York…”
Taste the whip. Captured in January 1972, a year and half following Lou Reed’s hard exit from the Velvet Underground, we find ourselves at Le Bataclan theatre, Paris, France. The occasion marked a semi-impromptu reunion of the former VU bandmates. For a night, anyway. Recorded via the club’s soundboard, and broadcasted on the French television program, Pop2, the fourteen track setlist finds the trio pulling from their individual solo catalogs, as well as vintage VU chestnuts (“The Black Angel’s Death Song”, “Femme Fatale”, “All Tomorrow’s Parties”, etc.). Their first time taking the stage together in five years, the energy/tension coming off the 1000 capacity room is near palpable. And the performances, inspired, are made all the better for it. As is Reed’s banter
Widely bootlegged for decades prior to an official release in 2004, the proper issue tacks on a pair of tracks culled from the performance’s rehearsals. Per video footage, several abridged versions of the French television special pop up with irregularity online from time to time. Here are a couple . . .
“I’m Waiting for the Man” (Reed) “Berlin” (Reed) “The Black Angel’s Death Song” (Reed, Cale) “Wild Child” (Reed) “Heroin” (Reed) “Ghost Story” (Cale) “The Biggest, Loudest, Hairiest Group of All” (Cale) “Empty Bottles” (Cale) “Femme Fatale” (Reed) “No One Is There” (Nico) “Frozen Warnings” (Nico) “Janitor of Lunacy” (Nico) “I’ll Be Your Mirror” (Reed) 12. All Tomorrow’s Parties” (encore) (Reed) “Pale Blue Eyes” (rehearsal) (Reed) “Candy Says” (rehearsal) (Reed)
Note: The bootleg version can be downloaded via the Velvet Underground Bootlegs website.

Monday, April 29, 2019

A great post this afternoon from Aquarium Drunkard about the Rolling Thunder Logbook by Sam Shepard 

Rolling Thunder Logbook: Sam Shepard

With news out that Martin Scorcese's ‘Rolling Thunder’ Bob Dylan doc will hit Netflix June 12th,  it's as good a time as any to revisit Sam Shepard's remarkable 1977 book, an "impressionistic Rolling Thunder Logbook of life on the road. Illuminated by forty candid photographs by official tour photographer Ken Regan, Shepard's mental-snap shots capture the camaraderie, isolation, head games, and pill-popping mayhem of the tour, providing a window into Dylan's singular talent, enigmatic charisma, and vision of America." 

"A great read" ...Harp, November 2004
"A narrative collage of short stories, notes, poems, hypothetical film scenes, and fan's dreams...visually and intellectually vivid writing." ...Flaunt Magazine, March 2005
"Entertaining as well as a fascinating look at a particular cultural moment."  ...Creative Loafing-Charlotte, January 2005
"Everyone was pretty stoned at the time, so the book is a bit strange." ...Library Journal, September 2004
"Fascinating because it skips the minutiae and offers its own moodily entertaining narrative... Shepard captures Dylan and his motley circle."  ...New York Times Book Review, October 2004 
"Shepard is equally wise to Dylan's fundamental mystery and his rock star bullshit. Shepard's vignettes are part awe, part irony." ...Relix February/March 2005
"[A] fascinating book filled with snippets of dialogue, lists, and random chunks of narrative."  ...St. Paul Pioneer Press, January 2005"Press notices for Bob Dylan & Friends' Rolling Thunder Revue went from rapturous to outright cynical in the space of a few months. Playwright Shepard traveled with the entourage of the pilgrim harlequins, warlocks, gypsies, and Sioux warriors in the first weeks of joyous camaraderie. He was part of a film crew that never quite managed to render the road show on celluloid. Ain't it always the way. No matter, the 'fractured' notes, set down as Rolling Thunder careened through Bicentennial New England, capture the frenzied energy of things well enough. The elusive centrepiece is always Dylan, who is an Alchemist and a one-man vanishing act perpetually in motion, able to stun even a lardy group of Mah-Jongg-playing matrons in off-season Falmouth, Mass. Allen Ginsberg, Joan Baez, and a flock of musicians join in, and Shepard is all prepared to plunge headlong into mythic realms, but the cheesy motels and donut stops intrude a more mundane note. Even so, there are special scenes - Dylan and Ginsberg at Jack Kerouac's grave, a late-night visitation to a Shaker house embalmed out of time. Ninety-plus photographs of the vagabond musicians working hard at being irrepressible are included for stragglers who missed the party the first time around."   ...Kirkus Review"The medicine show took off for New England, trailing a film crew plus Sam Shepard, hired to write the screenplay. 'None of this has to connect,' the singer told the playwright; 'in fact it's better if it doesn't connect'. As anyone who sat through the four-hour home movie that was 'Renaldo and Clara' knows, it didn't connect - but it did contain some great moments and magical music. All Shepard had to show for his part in the madness was The Rolling Thunder Logbook, originally published in 1977 and available in Britain only as a rare import. Impressionistic or merely chaotic, depending on your view, Shepard's book captures something of the spontaneity of the tour, though his weariness at the mayhem taints the fractured narrative.  ...Liz Thomson, The Independent
Pre-Order Now
This must-own box serves as a companion piece to the new film, Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese, premiering on Netflix on June 12. Every one of Dylan's performances in the movie can be found in the new box set.

Here's Annie!

Annie Lennox - Why

Perhaps our greatest singer of the period (and anytime actually) and I followed all her work from the Eurythmics onward. Not sure if I bought this though when it came out and it may have been another bargain bin ex-jukebox purchase! Beautiful song and breathtakingly sung, one cannot help but think she is singing to her ex-partner Dave Stewart here. 
One of the most affecting songs that says 'Sorry' . . . . . . . . 

On this day in music history: April 28, 1992 - “Diva”, the debut solo album by Annie Lennox is released (UK release is on April 6, 1992). Produced by Stephen Lipson, it is recorded at Mayfair Studios and The Church in London from Mid 1991 - Early 1992. After ten years together in the groundbreaking and influential duo Eurythmics, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart part ways. That intense and highly creative period when the pair had been both lovers and band mates, produces eight albums in eight years, bringing them fame, wealth and acclaim beyond what either had envisioned. Though by 1990, their relationship becomes strained and agree to take an extended hiatus to pursue other musical projects. Stewart composes film soundtracks, forms The Spiritual Cowboys, as well as landing a huge hit internationally with the single “Lily Was Here” with Dutch saxophonist Candy Dulfer. During the same time, Lennox who is now remarried gives birth to her first child, and takes more than a year off from the music business. In 1991, Annie works on her first solo project with former Trevor Horn (Yes, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Rod Stewart) associate Stephen Lipson. Lennox composes nine of the eleven songs on her first album alone, with two others written with the band The Blue Nile and Jethro Tull keyboardist Peter-John Vettese. Always writing from a personal and intimate perspective, the songs join often pensive lyrics to uplifting melodies. The first single “Why” (#5 UK, #34 US Pop, #6 US AC) reflects this mood, which is followed (in the US) by “Walking On Broken Glass” (#6 UK, #14 US Pop, #6 US AC). The video for “Broken Glass” which is based on the period drama “Dangerous Liasons”, features Lennox with actors Hugh Laurie and John Malkovich. Giving it the “cheeky” title “Diva”, the album cover photo features Lennox wearing a head dress (also seen some of the music videos) originally used as a prop in the James Bond film"Octopussy". The album is a major critical and commercial success worldwide, spinning off a total of five singles. It also spins off an accompanying long form video album (also titled “Diva”), featuring clips directed by Sophie Muller (Sade), which wins a Grammy Award for Best Music Video, Long Form in 1993. It also receives two additional Grammy nominations including Album Of The Year. Along with the standard CD release, “Diva” is also issued as a limited edition package in a die cut slip case (with decorative feathers) and digi-pak, with the cover artwork silkscreen printed on to the CD. This version also includes a second disc featuring a BBC Radio interview with the singer recorded on March 26, 1992. “Diva” spends one week at number one of the UK album chart, peaking at number twenty three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
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Heart of Glass

Bought this when it came out and have the 12" single version of this and most Blondie singles of the period but this may well have been the last . . . . . . . . . 

On this day in music history: April 28, 1979 - “Heart Of Glass” by Blondie hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Deborah Harry and Chris Stein, it is the first chart topping single for the New York City based new wave/rock band fronted by lead singer Debbie Harry. Debbie and Chris originally write the song in late 1974 - early 1975 as “Once I Had A Love” with a reggae flavored arrangement. It continues to evolve as they retool the sound of the song, giving it a slow “four on the floor” disco beat, then re-titling it “The Disco Song”. Producer Mike Chapman along with the band give it a dramatic makeover employing the use of synthesizers (Moog Polymoog, Roland SH-1000, the latter being triggered off the CR-78), and the Roland CR-78 drum machine which gives the song its signature “ticking” pulse. Released as the second single from the bands third album “Parallel Lines” on January 3, 1979, “Heart Of Glass” creates an immediate sensation on the dance floor that quickly spreads to radio. The band film a music video, directed by Stanley Dorfman of “Top Of The Pops” fame. Contrary to popular belief, the video is not shot at Studio 54, but at a smaller club in New York City. The single version is trimmed down to 3:22, also excising the verse with the line “pain in the ass” from the song. “Heart Of Glass” is also remixed and released as an extended 12" single, running nearly six minutes long. This longer version is eventually added to copies of the “Parallel Lines” album, replacing the original album mix. Entering the Hot 100 at #84 on February 17, 1979, it climbs to the top of the chart ten weeks later. The huge success of “Heart Of Glass” is a double edged sword for Blondie as they are accused of “selling out” by their fellow musicians on the New York punk and new wave scene for having made “a disco song”. Regarded as one of the definitive 70’s songs, “Glass” is inducted into the 
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From the sublime . . . . . . . . . 

well this is classic and everybody's dad used to sing this (didn't they?) 

On this day in music history: April 28, 1958 - “Witch Doctor” by David Seville hits #1 on the Billboard Best Sellers chart for 2 weeks. Written and produced by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. (aka David Seville), it is the first chart topping single for the creator of Alvin & The Chipmunks. Seville achieves the trademark sped up “chipmunk” like vocal sound by recording voices with the tape machine running at half-speed while recording, then playing it back at normal speed. Prior to his own success as a recording artist, his biggest success as a songwriter comes when he pens Rosemary Clooney’s hit “Come On-A My House” in 1951. Released as a single in early April of 1958, the novelty song is an immediate hit. Entering the Billboard Best Sellers chart at #36 on April 14, 1958, it leaps to the top of the chart two weeks later. “Witch Doctor” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
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10,000 MANIACS!


Start the week with a fine fine set from Big O of early 10,000 Maniacs around the time of their breakthrough album 'In My Tribe' which is where I joined them and have enjoyed the work of Natalie (Merchant) ever since. Intelligent writing and that unique and haunting voice but the band were exceptional too and despite Merchant leaving them to go her own way in 1993 and the tragic death of Rob Buck her co-writer on such fine songs as 'Hey Jack Kerouac' (a personal favourite for obvious reasons) 'What's The Matter Here' and later 'These are Days' the band reformed with John Lomardo returning with his wife Mary Ramsay  who was the lead singer from 1993 to 2001 and then from 2007 to the present and she does a stirling job too. . . . . . Natalie of course continues to astound and beguile us with her work

Sunday, April 28, 2019

oh you wanted me to say something? (who ARE you talking to? ED) . . . . . . . . . . . . THIS!

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Or even weddings . . . . . . . . .happier times . . . when George was still around . . . I often think of Olivia and Dhani and hope they are doing okay . . . . . . . . Linda too was great fun and we miss her and I think of her children by Paul, Heather, Mary, Stella, James and hope Paul is is happy again now
Ringo perhaps one of my favourite drummers of all time on his happy day is still with one of the worlds most beautiful women the gorgeous Barbara Bach 

On this day in music history: April 27, 1981 - Drummer Ringo Starr marries actress Barbara Bach at the Marylebone Registars Office in London. The two meet each other during the filming of the comedy “Caveman” in Mexico the year before. Starr’s former Beatle band mates Paul McCartney and George Harrison and close friend Harry Nilsson attend the ceremony with their families. 
Happy 38th Anniversary Ringo and Barbara!! 
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We could even combine it with famous folk's birthdays . . . . . . 

Happy Birthday Anouk Aimee


(Maybe the start of a series on favourite actors)
"My hair was famous before I was"

“I don’t need to be made to look evil. I can do that on my own.
– Christopher Walken

Friday, April 26, 2019


1964 - The Beatles
The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and the Dave Clark Five headlined the NME poll winner's concert at Wembley Empire Pool, London.

1980 - Blondie
Blondie were at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'Call Me', the group's fourth UK No.1, featured in the Richard Gere movie 'American Gigolo', the track was also a No.1 in the US where it became the band's biggest selling single. Producer Giorgio Moroder originally asked Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac to help compose and perform a song for the soundtrack, but she declined.

1969 - Led Zeppelin
During the band's second North American tour Led Zeppelin played the second of two nights at The Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco in California. It was during this show that 'Whole Lotta Love' was played live for the first time.

later . . . . . . the 69 versions are very poor

and just because 


Mostly because she just replied to me on Facebook but here's a little ad for Emily Barker's latest project with Marry Waterson a collaborative album in the truest sense of the word.

Emily's website . . .

Marry Waterson & Emily Barker 'A Window To Others Ways'
Buy the album now on CD or Vinyl and get a signed print 
I think I have said before that in recent times I have discovered new artists that I really REALLY like by their work appearing on TV dramas and such like. Wilful Missing in particular and of course Emily who's theme for the Ken Branagh series 'Wallender' five or six years ago now made me sit bolt upright in my TV chair 'n' take notice. Who was this angelic voiced wonder? Emily Barker was the answer and along with Red Clay Halo recorded some of the most haunting work I had heard in years. I set about buying everything she had done and still do!

In case you hadn't heard it . . . . . . . ( where HAVE you been?)

Find Emily Online- Website - http://www.emilybarker.com Facebook - http://facebook.com/emilybarkerhalo Twitter - http://twitter.com/emilybarkerhalo Instagram - http://instagram.com/emilybarkerhalo YouTube - http://youtube.com/emilybarkerhalo

Find Marry Online - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarryWaterson/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarryWaterson Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/MARRYWATERSON Website: http://marrywaterson.com

Thursday, April 25, 2019


1974 - Pamela Courson
Pamela Courson the long-term companion and lover of the late Jim Morrison died of a drugs overdose. She was 27. It was Courson who found The Doors singer dead on July 3, 1971 in the bathtub of their apartment in Paris, France. Pamela had been a long term heroin user and though Jim was notably anti-heroin, it is understood he may have confused her stash when they were in Paris and snorted a whole lot believing it to be cocaine. As many colleagues know as well as I, heroin and alcohol do not mix and have caused many such similar deaths and continue to do so. Jim was essentially a 'juicer' although partial to an occasional line of coke to maintain the creative flow as it were, as many artists have done before and since. Cocaine and alcohol produce a secondary substance of addiction called cocaethylene which increases the affects of both substances. Heroin and alcohol when used together  can act in opposition as central nervous system depressants. When taken together, their sedative properties only increase. This effect can suppress the lungs function and even stop breathing all together. 
A treatment for finding you have had too much 'gear' at the time was believed to be taking a bath to revive you and this is where Pam found Jim's body in the morning after an evening out on the town. As to the myths surrounding Morrison's death, and his still being alive, the Doors drummer John Densmore has always said after he saw Pamela upon returning to America he 'looked in her eyes and knew Jim was dead'

In their prime . . . . 

Jim and Pamela in France


Great early set from the Jeff Beck Group over at Voodoo Wagon this morning and it is a real treat for the fans of early Beck [and Rod Stewart when he sang the blues] . . . . . . perhaps the most gloriously fun and still accomplished version of 'Hi Ho Silver Lining' we have heard in a long time . . . . . But I loved the rock classic blues numbers like 'You Shook Me' and frenetic versions of 'Jeff's Boogie' all that and an added lone single file of the Band on the John Peel Show Sessions from the same year

any fans of 'Truth' and 'Beck-Ola' will love this . . . . . . in San Francisco in 1968 at The Filmore and frankly who else could touch what they were doing way back then? This is Beck on guitar, Stewart on vocals, Ronnie Wood on bass and Mickey Waller on drums

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


Mary was a five-ton Asian elephant, also known as Murderous Mary, who performed in the Sparks World Famous Shows circus. After killing a trainer in Kingsport, Tennessee, she was hanged in 1916. Her death is sometimes interpreted as a cautionary tale of circus animal abuse during the early 20th century

On September 12, 1916, a hobo named Walter Eldridge, nicknamed Red because of his rusty-colored hair, was hired as an assistant elephant trainer by the Sparks World Famous Shows circus. A drifter who had been with the circus only a day, he had no experience of handling elephants, but the only qualification required was the ability to wield an ‘elephant stick’ — a rod with a sharp spear at one end. Eldridge led the elephant parade riding on the top of Mary’s back; Mary was the star of the show, riding at the front. There have been several accounts of his death. One, recounted by W.H. Coleman who claimed to be a witness, is that he prodded her behind the ear with a hook after she reached down to nibble on a watermelon rind. She went into a rage, snatched Eldridge with her trunk, threw him against a drink stand and stepped on his head, crushing it.
As the terrified spectators screamed and fled, a local blacksmith shot Mary with a pistol, unloading five rounds of ammunition into her thick hide to little effect. She stood still, suddenly calm again and seemingly oblivious both to the bullets and the commotion as the townsfolk encircled her with chants of “Kill the elephant, kill the elephant!”.
The circus owner, Charlie Sparks, reluctantly decided that the only way to quickly resolve the potentially ruinous situation was to kill the elephant in public. It was decided to hang the elephant by the neck from a railcar-mounted industrial crane. On the following day, a foggy and rainy September 13, 1916, Mary was transported by rail to Unicoi County, Tennessee, where a crowd of over 2,500 people (including most of the town’s children) assembled in the Clinchfield Railroad yard.
As she was led to the railway yard, Mary was followed by the circus’s other four elephants, each entwining their trunk in the tail of the animal in front just as they had done on countless parades. Charlie Sparks hoped that their presence would keep her compliant but, as a chain was placed around her neck at the “scaffold”, they trumpeted mournfully to her and he feared that she might try to run away. To stop this happening, one of her legs was tethered to a rail. No one thought to release it as the derrick whirred into action and, as she was hoisted into the air, there was an awful cracking noise, the sound of her bones and ligaments snapping under the strain. She had been raised no more than five feet when the chain around her neck broke, dropping her to the ground and breaking her hip.
The industrial crane was powered up again and this time Mary was raised high in the air, her thick legs thrashing and her agonized shrieks and grunts audible even over the laughter and cheers of those watching below. Finally she fell silent and hung there for half an hour before a local vet declared her dead. Her gruesome end is recorded in a photograph so horrifically surreal that some have suggested it must be a fake — but, all too sadly, its authenticity has been confirmed by other reports and photographs taken at the time.
The sad story of “Murderous Mary” is not an isolated one. Years earlier in 1903, an elephant named Topsy was famously electrocuted in Coney Island, New York after trampling three handlers in as many years. 
Most recently, in 1994, an elephant named Tyke was shot 87 times by Honolulu police after escaping the circus ring mid-show, crushing her trainer while running for freedom. 

These examples, along with the torture that trained animals undergo to perform for the sake of others’ entertainment, have led countless animal welfare groups to advocate for change in the handling of performance animals.