English author, journalist and Naval Intelligence Officer Ian Fleming was born 28 May 1908 in Mayfair . He is best known for creating the fictional spy James Bond and the series of twelve novels and nine short stories about the character. Fleming was from a wealthy family, connected to the merchant bank Robert Fleming & Co. and his father was MP for Henley from 1910 until his death on the Western Front in 1917. In 1914 Fleming was sent to Durnford School, a preparatory school on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. The school was near to the estate of a family called Bond, who could trace their ancestry back to an Elizabethan spy called John Bond and whose motto was Non Sufficit Orbis—The World Is Not Enough. From 1921 Fleming followed his brother Peter to Eton College. Although not one of the academic stars of the school, he excelled at athletics and was Victor Ludorum.He left Eton a term early for a crammer course to gain entry to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. Fleming spent less than a year at Sandhurst, leaving in 1927 without gaining a commission. He then went to a small private school, the Tennerhof, in Kitzbühel, Austria, run by a former British spy, and his American wife, the novelist Phyllis Bottome.
His language skills developed well and from the Tennerhof he studied briefly at Munich University and the University of Geneva. Foreign Office, but failed the examinations. In October 1931 he was eventually given a position as a sub-editor and journalist for the Reuters news service. in October 1933 moved into the banking world with a position at financiers Cull & Co. He was not a good banker and, in October 1935, became a stockbroker with Rowe and Pitman, headquartered on Bishopsgate, London. From 1929 onwards Fleming Also collected a library of over one thousand books of what Fleming described as “books that made things happen.”These books represented “milestones in modern science, technology and Western civilization.” He concentrated on science and technology, had a copy of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species but also owned other significant works ranging from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf to Baden Powell’s Scouting for Boys.Second World WarDuring the Second World War Fleming was recruited by the Director of Naval Intelligence of the Royal Navy to become his personal assistant with the codename “17F”. On 29 September 1939 a document comparing deception of an enemy in wartime with fly fishing was published which contained a number of schemes to be considered for use against the Axis powers, in order to lure U-boats and German surface ships towards minefields. Number 28 on the list was an idea to use a corpse, carrying misleading papers, which the enemy could find: this suggestion formed the basis of Operation Mincemeat, the successful 1943 deception plan to cover the intended invasion of Italy from North Africa. On 12 September 1940 Fleming wrote a memo instigating a plan named Operation Ruthless, aimed at obtaining details of the Enigma codes used by the German Navy. The memo suggested “obtaining” a German bomber, putting ina German-speaking crew, all dressed in Luftwaffe uniforms, and crashing the plane into the English channel. When the Germans would come to rescue the crew, they would be attacked and the boat, including its Enigma machine, would be brought back to England. Fleming also worked on intelligence co-operation between London and Washington.In May 1941 Fleming went to the United States and assisted in writing a blueprint for the Office of the Coordinator of Information, the department which turned into the Office of Strategic Services and eventually became the CIA. In 1941-42 Fleming was put in charge of Operation Golden Eye, a plan to maintain an intelligence framework in Spain in the event of a German takeover of the territory. The plan, drawn up by Fleming, involved maintaining communication with Gibraltar and launching sabotage operations against the Nazis.
In 1942 Fleming formed a unit of commandos, known as No. 30 Commando, or 30 Assault Unit (30AU), a group of specialist intelligence troops. 30 AU’s job was to be near the front line of an advance—sometimes in front of it— to seize enemy documents from HQs previously targeted.Fleming selected targets and directed operations from the rear, The unit was filled with men from other commando units and trained in unarmed combat, safe-cracking and lock-picking at the Special Operations Executive (SOE) facilities. Prior to the Normandy landings, most of 30AU’s operations were in the Mediterranean. Because of their successes in Sicily and Italy, 30AU became greatly trusted by naval intelligence. In March 1944, Fleming oversaw the distribution of intelligence through to Royal Navy units in preparation for Operation Overlord and he subsequently followed the unit into Germany after they located the German naval archives from 1870, archived in Tambach Castle. ntelligence fact-finding trip to the Far East on behalf of the Director of Naval Intelligence.Much of the trip was spent identifying opportunities for 30AU in the Pacific.In August 1944, following the success of 30AU, it was decided to establish a “Target Force”, which became known as T-Force. The official memorandum, held at The National Archives in London described their primary role as: “T-Force = Target Force, to guard and secure documents, persons, equipment, with combat and Intelligence personnel, after capture of large towns, ports etc. in liberated and enemy territory.”It was responsible for securing targets of interest to the British military. These included nuclear laboratories, gas research centres and individual rocket scientists. The unit’s most notable coup was during the advance on the German port of Kiel, where it captured the research centre for German engines used for the V-2 rocket, Messerschmitt Me 163 fighters and high speed U-boats. Fleming was to use elements of the activities of T-Force, particularly in his 1955 Bond novel Moonraker.In 1942 Fleming attended an Anglo-American intelligence summit in Jamaica and Fleming decided to live on the island a friend helped him find a plot of land in Saint Mary Parish and, in 1945, Fleming had a house built there, which he named Goldeneye. The name of the house and estate where he wrote his novels has many possible sources. Ian Fleming himself cited both his wartime Operation Golden Eye, but also the 1941 novel, Reflections in a Golden Eye by Carson McCullers. n May 1945, he joined The Sunday Times and became Foreign Manager.
During the war Fleming had mentioned to friends that he wanted to write a spy novel, but it was not until 1952 that he began to write his first novel, Casino Royale. He started writing his book at his Jamaican home Goldeneye, on 17 February 1952. On 13 April 1953 Casino Royale was released in the UK in hardcover, Three print runs were needed, all of which sold out. The novel centred on the exploits of James Bond, an intelligence officer in the Secret Intelligence Service, commonly known as MI6. Bond was also known by his code number, 007, and was a Royal Naval Reserve commander. Bond was a composite based on all the secret agents and commando types Fleming came across during his time in the Naval Intelligence Division during World War II. Between 1953 and 1966, two years after his death, twelve Bond novels and two short-story collections were published, with the last two books—The Man with the Golden Gun, Octopussy and The Living Daylights—published posthumously.Much of the background to the stories came from Fleming’s previous work in the Naval Intelligence Division or to events he knew of from the Cold War. me from Fleming’s previous work in the Naval Intelligence Division or to events he knew of from the Cold War. The plot of From Russia, with Love uses a fictional Soviet Spektor decoding machine as a lure to trap Bond; the Spektor had its roots in the German World War II Enigma machine.
Many of the names used in the Bond works are from people Fleming knew: the primary villain of The Man with the Golden Gun, Scaramanga was named after a fellow schoolboy at Eton, with whom Fleming fought; Goldfinger, from the eponymous novel, was named after British architect Erno Goldfinger, whose work Fleming abhorred;Sir Hugo Drax, the protagonist from Moonraker, was named after an acquaintance of Fleming’s, Admiral Sir Reginald Aylmer Ranfurly Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax (What a splendid name “Aylmer Ranfurly Plunkett”) and one of the homosexual villains from Diamonds Are Forever, ‘Boofy’ Kidd, was named after one of Fleming’s close friends. the first five books —Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, Moonraker, Diamonds Are Forever and From Russia,with Love proved to be wildly successful. In 1958 Dr. No was published and the next book Fleming produced was a collection of short stories, For Your Eyes Only. Fleming followed up the book by novelizing a film script that he had worked on with others, the resulting novel being Thunderball. In April 1961, he also began working on a children’s novel, Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, which was published in October 1964. Fleming’s creation has also appeared in film twenty-four times with seven actors playing the role of Bond, the film rights to his James Bond novels and short stories were sold in 1962 to Harry Saltzman who along with Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli co-produced Dr. No, which was released in 1962.
Fleming was a heavy smoker and heavy drinker throughout his adult life and suffered from heart disease. In 1961 he suffered a heart attack; three years later, at the age of 56, Fleming was already an ill man, suffering from the disease In January 1964 Fleming went to Goldeneye to write The Man with the Golden Gun. Sadly Five months after returning from Jamaica, on the morning of 12 August 1964, Fleming died of a heart attack and was buried in the churchyard of Sevenhampton village, near Swindon, and Fleming’s last two books—The Man with the Golden Gun and Octopussy and The Living Daylights—were published posthumously. During his lifetime Fleming sold thirty million books; double that number were sold in the two years following his death and The Bond books are among the biggest-selling series of fictional books of all time, having sold over 100 million copies worldwide andIn observance of what would have been Fleming’s 100th birthday in 2008, Ian Fleming Publications commissioned Sebastian Faulks to write a new Bond novel entitled Devil May Care. The book, released in May 2008, was credited to Fleming also wrote the children’s story Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang and two works of non-fiction.Fleming was ranked fourteenth in a list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945″. The Eon Productions series of Bond films, started in 1963 with Dr. No, continued after Fleming’s death. As well as two non-Eon produced films, there have been twenty-two Eon films, with the twenty-third, Skyfall, announced in November 2011.A further five continuation authors have also produced Bond novels including “Sebastian Faulks, writing as Ian Fleming”, who was followed by American thriller author Jeffery Deaver, whose novel, Carte Blanche, was published in May 2011, William Boyd wrote the novel “Solo” in 2013 and Anthony Horowitz released the Bond novel Trigger Mortis in 2015.
Australian singer, recording artist, songwriter and actress Kylie Ann Minogue, OBE was born 28 May 1968 . After beginning her career as a child actress on Australian television, she achieved recognition through her role in the television soap opera Neighbours, before commencing her career as a recording artist in 1987.Minogue has achieved worldwide record sales of more than 68 million, and has received notable music awards, including multiple ARIA and Brit Awards and a Grammy Award. She has mounted several successful and critically acclaimed concert world tours and received a Mo Award for “Australian Entertainer of the Year” for her live performances. She was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) by Queen Elizabeth II in 2008 “for services to music”. In the same year she was appointed by the French Government as a Chevalier (knight) of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the junior grade of France’s highest cultural honour, for her contribution to the enrichment of French culture. In 2011 her hit single “I Should Be So Lucky” was added to the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia’s Sounds of Australia registry. The same year, Minogue was awarded an honorary Doctor of Health Science (D.H.Sc.) degree by Anglia Ruskin University in the United Kingdom of for her work in raising awareness for breast cancer. In November 2011, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the ARIA Music Awards, Minogue was inducted by theAustralian Recording Industry Association into the ARIA Hall of Fame.Her first single, “The Loco-Motion”, spent seven weeks at number one on the Australian singles chart and became the highest-selling single of the decade. This led to a contract with songwriters and producers Stock, Aitken & Waterman. Her debut album, Kylie (1988), and the single “I Should Be So Lucky”, both became huge hits particularly in Australia and the United Kingdom.
Initially presented as a “girl next door”, Minogue attempted to convey a more mature style in her music and public image. Her singles were well received, but after four albums her sales were declining, and she left Stock, Aitken & Waterman in 1992 to establish herself as an independent performer. Her next single, “Confide in Me”, reached number one in Australia and was a hit in several European countries in 1994, and a duet with Nick Cave, “Where the Wild Roses Grow”, brought Minogue a greater degree of artistic credibility. Drawing inspiration from a range of musical styles and artists, Minogue took creative control over the songwriting for her next album, Impossible Princess (1997). Minogue returned with the single “Spinning Around” and the dance-oriented album Light Years, and performed during the closing ceremonies of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Her music videos showed a more sexually provocative and flirtatious personality and several hit singles followed. “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” reached number one in more than 40 countries, and the album Fever (2001) was a hit in many countries, including the US, a market in which Minogue had previously received little recognition. In 2005, in the middle of a concert tour, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, forcing her to cancel the tour. After treatment, she resumed her career in 2006 with the Showgirl: The Homecoming Tour. In 2009, she embarked upon her For You, For Me tour, her first concert tour of the US and Canada.
Best known as the “Empress of Soul” American singer. Songwriter, Gladys Knight was born 28th May 1944. She is best known for the hits she recorded during the 1960s and 1970s, for both the Motown and Buddah Records labels, with her group Gladys Knight & the Pips, the most famous incarnation of which also included her brother Merald “Bubba” Knight and her cousins Edward Patten and William Guest. Knight has won a total of seven Grammy awards (four as a solo artist, and three with The Pips).Gladys Knight & the Pips joined the Motown roster in 1966, and scored several hit singles, including “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”, (recorded first by Marvin Gaye but released a year later), “Friendship Train” (1969), “If I Were Your Woman” (1970), “I Don’t Want To Do Wrong” (1971), the Grammy Award winning “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)” (1972), and “Daddy Could Swear (I Declare)” (1973).
Gladys Knight & the Pips joined the Motown roster in 1966, and, although regarded as a second-string act, scored several hit singles, including “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”, (recorded first by Marvin Gaye but released a year later), “Friendship Train” (1969), “If I Were Your Woman” (1970), “I Don’t Want To Do Wrong” (1971), the Grammy Award winning “Neither One of Us (Want to Be the First to Say Goodbye)” (1972), and “Daddy Could Swear (I Declare)” (1973). In their early Motown career Gladys Knight and the Pips toured as the opening act for Diana Ross and The Supremes. Gladys Knight stated in her memoirs that Ross kicked her off the tour because the audience’s reception to Knight’s soulful performance overshadowed her. Berry Gordy later told Gladys that she was giving his act a hard time.The act left Motown for a better deal with Buddah Records in 1973, and achieved full-fledged success that year with hits such as the Grammy-winning “Midnight Train to Georgia” , I’ve Got to Use My Imagination,” and “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happeed to Me”. In the summer of 1974, Knight and the Pips recorded the soundtrack to the successful film Claudine with producer Curtis Mayfield.
The act was particularly successful in Europe, and especially the United Kingdom. However, a number of the Buddah singles became hits in the UK long after their success in the US. For example, “Midnight Train to Georgia” hit the UK pop charts Top 5 in the summer of 1976, a full three years after its success in the U.S.During this period of greater recognition, Knight made her motion picture acting debut in the film Pipe Dreams, a romantic drama set in Alaska. The film failed at the box-office, but Knight did receive aGolden Globe Best New Actress nomination.Knight and the Pips continued to have hits until the late 1970s, when they were forced to record separately due to legal issues, resulting in Knight’s first solo LP recordings–Miss Gladys Knight(1978) on Buddah and Gladys Knight (1979) on Columbia Records. Having divorced James Newman II in 1973, Knight married Barry Hankerson (future uncle of R&B singer Aaliyah), then Detroit mayor Coleman Young’s executive aide. Knight and Hankerson remained married for four years, during which time they had a son, Shanga Ali. Upon their divorce, Hankerson and Knight were embroiled in a heated custody battle over Shanga Ali.In the early 1980s, Johnny Mathis invited Gladys to record two duets – “When A Child Is Born” (previously a hit for Mathis) and “The Lord’s Prayer”.
Signing with Columbia Records in 1980 and restored to its familiar quartet form, Gladys Knight & the Pips began releasing new material. The act enlisted former Motown producers Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson for their first two LPs–About Love (1980) and Touch (1981). During this period, Knight kicked a gambling addiction to the game baccarat.While still with The Pips, Knight joined with Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, and Elton John on the 1986 AIDS benefit single, “That’s What Friends Are For” which won a Grammy for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal. In 1989, Gladys Knight recorded the title track for the James Bond movie Licence to Kill, a top 10 hit both in the UK, reaching #6, and Germany.In 1987, Knight decided to pursue a solo career, and she and the Pips recorded their final LP together, All Our Love (1987), for MCA Records. Its lead single, “Love Overboard”, was a successful hit and won a third Grammy for the act as well. After a successful 1988 tour, the Pips retired and Knight began her solo career. Gladys Knight & the Pips were inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1989 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
Knight’s third solo LP, Good Woman, was released featuring the songs “Men” and “Superwoman”, written by Babyface and featuring Dionne Warwick and Patti LaBelle who also collaborated on “I Don’t Do Duets”, a duet from LaBelle’s album Burnin’.Her fourth solo LP, Just for You, went gold and was nominated for the 1995 Grammy Award for Best R&B Album. In 1992 Vernon Ray Blue II, choir master of the year asked Gladys to record his first single “He Lifted Me”Knight joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1997. She had occasionally teased LDS Church president, the lateGordon B. Hinckley, that his flock needs to inject some “pep” into their music. Knight created and now directs the Mormon-themed choir Saints Unified Voices. SUV has released a Grammy Award-winning CD titled One Voice, and occasionally performs at LDS church firesides.
In 2005, Knight and Ray Charles duetted on You Were There” for Charles’ duets album Genius & Friends. In 2008, a duet between Knight and Johnny Mathis was released on Mathis’ album A Night to Remember. Knight is ranked number eighteen on VH1 network’s list of the 100 Greatest Women of Rock. In the spring of 2008, Knight appeared alongside Chaka Khan, Patti Labelle and Diana Ross at the ‘Divas with Heart’ concert in aid of cardiac research, at New York’s Radio City Hall.In 2008 Gladys, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr. and Ben Stiller performed on American Idol to raise money for charity. In March 2010,Randy Jackson mentioned on a new episode of the same show that he is back in the studio with Gladys Knight working on a new album.In 2009 Knight sang “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” and “The Lord’s Prayer” at the funeral service for Michael Jackson. Recently Knight has released the single “Settle” and a new, updated recording of I (Who Have Nothing).
British novelist and poet Anne Brontë sadly passed away on 28 May 1849 at the age of 29 Due to the effects of pulmonary tuberculosis. Born 17 January 1820, she was The daughter of a poor Irish clergyman in the Church of England, Anne Brontë was the youngest member of the Brontë literary family and lived most of her life with her family at the parish of Haworth on the Yorkshire moors. For a couple of years she went to a boarding school. At the age of 19 she left Haworth and worked as a governess between 1839 and 1845. After leaving her teaching position, she fulfilled her literary ambitions. She wrote a volume of poetry with her sisters (Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, 1846) and two novels. Agnes Grey, based upon her experiences as a governess, was published in 1847. Her second and last novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, which is considered to be one of the first sustained feminist novels, appeared in 1848. Mainly because the re-publication of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was prevented by Charlotte Brontë after Anne’s death on 28 May 1849, she is less known than her sisters Charlotte, author of four novels including Jane Eyre, and Emily, author of Wuthering Heights. However her novels, have also become classics of English literature and have also been adapted for television and film multiple times.
Anne Brontë’s debut novel Agnes Grey is largely based on Anne Brontë’s own experiences as a governess for five years. Like her sister Charlotte’s novel Jane Eyre. It follows Agnes Grey, the daughter of a minister, whose family comes to financial ruin. Desperate to earn money to care for herself, she takes one of the few jobs allowed to respectable women in the early Victorian era, as a governess to the children of the wealthy. As a governess, she works in several bourgeois families including the Bloomfields and the Murrays The novel addresses what the precarious position of governess entailed and the trouble that affects a young woman who must try to rein in unruly, spoiled children for a living, and about the ability of wealth and status to destroy social values. The novel also deals with issues of oppression and abuse of women and governesses, isolation, ideas of empathy and the fair treatment of animals. After her father’s death Agnes opens a small school with her mother and finds happiness with a man who loves her for herself. By the end of the novel they have three children, Edward, Agnes and Mary.
Anne Brontë’s second and final novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, is considered to be one of the first sustained feminist novels and was an instant phenomenal success. The novel is framed as a letter from Gilbert Markham to his friend and brother-in-law about the events leading to his meeting his wife. It concerns A mysterious young widow named Mrs. Helen Graham who arrives at, an Elizabethan mansion named Wildfell Hall, which has been empty for many years, with her young son and servant. She lives there under an assumed name, Helen Graham in strict seclusion, and becomes a source of curiosity for the small community, gradually the reticent Mrs Graham and her young son Arthur are drawn into the social circles of the village. Initially, Gilbert Markham casually courts Eliza Millward, despite his mother’s belief that he can do better. His interest in Eliza wanes as he comes to know Mrs. Graham. In retribution, Eliza spreads (and perhaps creates) scandalous rumours about Helen.
very soon Helen finds herself the victim of local slander. Refusing to believe anything scandalous about her, Gilbert Markham, a young farmer, discovers her dark secrets. about her marriage to Arthur Huntingdon. a handsome, witty chap who is also spoilt, selfish, and self-indulgent, whom she marries blinded by love and resolves to reform with gentle persuasion and good example. Upon the birth of their child, Huntingdon becomes increasingly jealous of their son (also called Arthur) and his claims on Helen’s attentions and affections. Meanwhile Huntingdon’s dissolute friends lead him astray by frequently engage in drunken revels at the family’s home, Grassdale, oppressing those of finer character. Both men and women are portrayed as degraded, The novel deals with her husband’s physical and moral decline through alcohol and the world of debauchery and cruelty. Not surprisingly Helen decides she’s had enough and flee’s with her son, eventually arriving at Wildfell Hall….
The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom made its maiden flight on 27 May 1958 with Robert C. Little at the controls. The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a tandem two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor aircraft/fighter-bomber originally developed for the United States Navy by McDonnell Aircraft. It first entered service in 1960 with the U.S. Navy. Proving highly adaptable, it was also adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force, and by the mid-1960s had become a major part of their respective air wings. The Phantom is a large fighter with a top speed of over Mach 2.2. It can carry more than 18,000 pounds (8,400 kg) of weapons on nine external hardpoints, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, and various bombs. The F-4, like other interceptors of its time, was designed without an internal cannon. Later models incorporated an M61 Vulcan rotary cannon. Beginning in 1959, it set 15 world records for in-flight performance,including an absolute speed record, and an absolute altitude record.
During the Vietnam War, the F-4 was used extensively; it served as the principal air superiority fighter for both the Navy and Air Force, and became important in the ground-attack and aerial reconnaissance roles late in the war. The Phantom has the distinction of being the last U.S. fighter flown to attain ace status in the 20th century. During the Vietnam War, the U.S. Air Force had one pilot and two weapon systems officers (WSOs), and the US Navy had one pilot and one radar intercept officer (RIO) become aces by achieving five aerial kills against enemy fighter aircraft. The F-4 continued to form a major part of U.S. military air power throughout the 1970s and 1980s, being gradually replaced by more modern aircraft such as the F-15 Eagle and F-16 in the U.S. Air Force, the Grumman F-14 Tomcat in the U.S. Navy, and the F/A-18 Hornet in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps.
The F-4 Phantom II remained in use by the U.S. in the reconnaissance and Wild Weasel (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) roles in the 1991 Gulf War, finally leaving service in 1996. It was also used by two U.S. flight demonstration teams: the USAF Thunderbirds (F-4E) and the US Navy Blue Angels (F-4J). The F-4 was also operated by the armed forces of 11 other nations. Israeli Phantoms saw extensive combat in several Arab–Israeli conflicts, while Iran used its large fleet of Phantoms in the Iran–Iraq War. Phantoms remain in front line service with seven countries, and in use as a target drone in the U.S. Air Force. Phantom production ran from 1958 to 1981, with a total of 5,195 built, making it the most numerous American supersonic military aircraft. It was first suggested In 1952, after McDonnell’s Chief of Aerodynamics, Dave Lewis, was appointed by CEO Jim McDonnell to be the company’s preliminary design manager.With no new aircraft competitions on the horizon, internal studies concluded the Navy had the greatest need for a new and different aircraft type: an attack fighter.
In 1953, McDonnell Aircraft began work on revising its F3H Demon naval fighter, seeking expanded capabilities and better performance. The company developed several projects including a variant powered by a Wright J67 engine,and variants powered by two Wright J65 engines, or two General Electric J79 engines delivering a top speed of Mach 1.97. On 19 September 1953, McDonnell approached the United States Navy with a proposal for the “Super Demon”. Uniquely, the aircraft was to be modular—it could be fitted with one- or two-seat noses for different missions, with different nose cones to accommodate radar, photo cameras, four 20 mm (.79 in) cannon, or 56 FFAR unguided rockets in addition to the nine hardpoints under the wings and the fuselage. The Navy was sufficiently interested to order a full-scale mock-up of the F3H-G/H, but felt that the upcoming Grumman XF9F-9 and Vought XF8U-1 already satisfied the need for a supersonic fighter.
The McDonnell design was therefore reworked into an all-weather fighter-bomber with 11 external hardpoints for weapons and on 18 October 1954, the company received a letter of intent for two YAH-1 prototypes. On 26 May 1955, four Navy officers arrived at the McDonnell offices and, within an hour, presented the company with an entirely new set of requirements. Because the Navy already had the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk for ground attack and F-8 Crusader for dogfighting, the project now had to fulfill the need for an all-weather fleet defense interceptor. A second crewman was added to operate the powerful radar. The XF4H-1 was designed to carry four semi-recessed AAM-N-6 Sparrow III radar-guided missiles, and to be powered by two J79-GE-8 engines. As in the McDonnell F-101 Voodoo, the engines sat low in the fuselage to maximize internal fuel capacity and ingested air through fixed geometry intakes. The thin-section wing had a leading edge sweep of 45° and was equipped with blown flaps for better low-speed handling.
Wind tunnel testing had revealed lateral instability requiring the addition of 5° dihedral to the wings. To avoid redesigning the titanium central section of the aircraft, McDonnell engineers angled up only the outer portions of the wings by 12°, which averaged to the required 5° over the entire wingspan. The wings also received the distinctive “dogtooth” for improved control at high angles of attack. The all-moving tailplane was given 23° of anhedral to improve control at high angles of attack while still keeping the tailplane clear of the engine exhaust.In addition, air intakes were equipped with variable geometry ramps to regulate airflow to the engines at supersonic speeds. All-weather intercept capability was achieved thanks to the AN/APQ-50 radar. To accommodate carrier operations, the landing gear was designed to withstand landings with a sink rate of 23 ft/s (7 m/s), while the nose strut could extend by some 20 in (51 cm) to increase angle of attack at takeoff. On 25 July 1955, the Navy ordered two XF4H-1 test aircraft and five YF4H-1 pre-production examples. The aircraft soon squared off against the XF8U-3 Crusader III. the Navy wanted a two-seat aircraft and in 1958 they chose the F4H. There were proposals to name the F4H “Satan” and “Mithras”. In the end, the aircraft was given the less controversial name “Phantom II”, the first “Phantom” being another McDonnell jet fighter, the FH-1 Phantom. The Phantom II was briefly given the designation F-110A and the name “Spectre” by the USAF, but neither name was officially used. VF-74 was the first operational U.S. Navy Phantom squadron in 1961 and during its career the Phantom has undergone many changes and developments. The USAF received Phantoms After an F-4B won the “Operation Highspeed” fly-off against the Convair F-106 Delta Dart, the USAF borrowed two Naval F-4Bs, temporarily designating them F-110A “Spectre” in January 1962, and developed requirements for their own version. Unlike the navy’s focus on interception, the USAF emphasized a fighter-bomber role. In September 1962, the Phantom became the F-4 with the naval version designated F-4B and USAF F-4C. The first air force Phantom flew on 27 May 1963, exceeding Mach 2 on its maiden flight. The USN operated the F4H-1 (re-designated F-4A in 1962)
In 1961 The USN and USMC received the first definitive Phantom, the F-4B with the first flight on 25 March 1961. 649 F-4Bs were built with deliveries beginning in 1961 and VF-121 Pacemakers receiving the first examples at NAS Miramar. The F-4J had improved air-to-air and ground-attack capability; deliveries begun in 1966 and ended in 1972 the F-4J wasthe first fighter in the world with operational look-down/shoot-down capability),new integrated missile control system and an expanded ground attack capability.The F-4N (updated F-4Bs) with smokeless engines and F-4J aerodynamic improvements started in 1972. The F-4S model resulted from the refurbishment of 265 F-4Js with improved performance avionics and reliability. USMC also operated the RF-4B with reconnaissance cameras with 46 built. Phantom II production ended in the United States in 1979 after 5,195 had been built (5,057 by McDonnell Douglas and 138 in Japan by Mitsubishi. As of 2008, 631 Phantoms were in service worldwide, while the Phantom also remains in use as a target drone operated by the U.S. military.
The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom also set sixteen record breaking flights early in it’s development
Five of which remained unbeaten until the F-15 Eagle appeared in 1975. On 6 December 1959, the second XF4H-1 performed a zoom climb to a world record 98,557 ft (30,040 m).Commander Lawrence E. Flint, Jr., USN accelerated his aircraft to Mach 2.5 (1,650 mph; 2,660 km/h) at 47,000 ft (14,330 m) and climbed to 90,000 ft (27,430 m) at a 45° angle. He then shut down the engines and glided to the peak altitude. As the aircraft fell through 70,000 ft (21,300 m), Flint restarted the engines and resumed normal flight. On 5 September 1960, an F4H-1 averaged 1,216.78 mph (1,958.16 km/h) over a 500 km (311 mi) closed-circuit course. On 25 September 1960, an F4H-1F averaged 1,390.24 mph (2,237.37 km/h) over a 100 km (62.1 mi) closed-circuit course. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Naval aviation on 24 May 1961, Phantoms flew across the continental United States in under three hours and included several tanker refuelings. The fastest of the aircraft averaged 869.74 mph (1,400.28 km/h) and completed the trip in 2 hours 47 minutes, earning the pilot (and future NASA Astronaut), Lieutenant Richard Gordon, USN and RIO, Lieutenant Bobbie Young, USN, the 1961 Bendix trophy. On 28 August 1961, a F4H-1F Phantom II averaged 1,452.777 kilometers per hour (902.714 miles per hour) over a 3 mi (4.82 km) course flying below 125 feet (38.1 m) at all times.Commander J.L. Felsman, USN was killed during the first attempt at this record on 18 May 1961 when his aircraft disintegrated in the air after pitch damper failure.On 22 December 1961, a modified Phantom with water injection set an absolute world record speed of 1,606.342 mph (2,585.086 km/h) .On 5 December 1961, another Phantom set a sustained altitude record of 66,443.8 feet (20,252 m). A series of time-to-altitude records was set in early 1962: 34.523 seconds to 3,000 meters (9,840 ft), 48.787 seconds to 6,000 meters (19,700 ft), 61.629 seconds to 9,000 meters (29,500 ft), 77.156 seconds to 12,000 meters (39,400 ft), 114.548 seconds to 15,000 meters (49,200 ft), 178.5 seconds to 20,000 meters (65,600 ft), 230.44 seconds to 25,000 metres (82,000 ft), and 371.43 seconds to 30,000 metres (98,400 ft).
Railway engineer Sir William Stanier was Born 27th May 1876 in Swindon. His father worked for the Great Western Railway (GWR) as William Dean’s Chief Clerk, and educated at Swindon High School and also, for a single year, at Wycliffe College. In 1891 he followed his father into a career with the GWR, initially as an office boy and then for five years as an apprentice in the workshops. Between 1897 and 1900 he worked in the Drawing Office as a draughtsman, before becoming Inspector of Materials in 1900. In 1904, George Jackson Churchward appointed him as Assistant to the Divisional Locomotive Superintendent in London. In 1912 he returned to Swindon to become the Assistant Works Manager and in 1920 was promoted to the post of Works Manager.In late 1931, he was “headhunted” by Sir Josiah Stamp, chairman of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) to become the Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of that railway from 1 January 1932. He was charged with introducing modern and more powerful locomotive designs, using his knowledge gained at Swindon with the GWR. Stanier built many other very successful designs for the LMS, especially the “Black 5″ mixed traffic 4-6-0, and the 8F 2-8-0 freight locomotives.
His Coronation Scot set a new British record of 114 mph, beating the previous record set by a Gresley A4, but this was eclipsed by another Gresley A4 “Mallard”, which set a new record of 126 mph for Steam Engines which still stands to this day During WWII he worked as a consultant for the Ministry of Supply and retired in 1944. He was knighted on 9 February 1943 and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society on his retirement, the only railway engineer other than George Stephenson to receive that honour. He was also president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers for 1944. William Stanier, with the backing of Sir Josiah Stamp, Chairman of the Company, reversed the small engine policy, which the LMS had inherited from the Midland Railway, with beneficial results. William Stanier, sadly passed away 27 September 1965. Happily many of Stanier’s locomotives can still be seen working on Heritage lines throughout the United Kingdom. Including LMS 6201 Princess Elizabeth, the Stanier “Black Five” 45110 (which was used for the Fifteen Guineas Special in 1968) and the Stanier Mogul No. 42968. Among Stanier’s Best designs are:
LMS Class 2P 0-4-4T (designed in the Midland Railway design office),
LMS Class 3MT 2-6-2T, LMS Class 4MT 2-6-4T (3-cyl),
LMS Class 4MT 2-6-4T (2-cyl), LMS Class 5MT 2-6-0 ”Mogul”,
LMS Class 5MT “Black Five” 4-6-0,
LMS Class 6P “Jubilee” 4-6-0,
LMS Class 8P “Princess Royal” 4-6-2,
LMS Class 8P “Princess Coronation” 4-6-2,
LMS Class 8F 2-8-0, LMS Turbomotive
English actor and musician Sir Christopher Lee, CBE, CStJ was born 27 May 1922. Lee became famous for his role as Count Dracula in the Hammer Horror films. Other notable roles include Francisco Scaramanga in the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun , Saruman in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy , and Count Dooku in the final two films of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. He has collaborated with director Tim Burton in five films, most recently with Dark Shadows. He considers his best role to be that of Lord Summerisle in the British cult classic The Wicker Man (1973). Lee is well known for his deep, strong voice and imposing height. He has performed roles in 275 films since 1946 making him the Guinness World Record holder for most film acting roles ever. He was knighted for services to drama and charity in 2009, and received the BAFTA Fellowship in 2011. Lee has also released two epicly noisy heavy metal albums called Charlemagne: by the sword and the omens, and Charlemagne:The omens of Death.
Lee was born in Belgravia, Westminster, on 27th May 1922 and his mother took him and his sister to Switzerland. After enrolling in Miss Fisher’s Academy in Wengen, he played his first villainous role as Rumpelstiltskin. The family returned to London, where Lee attended Wagner’s private school. . Lee spent some time at Summer Fields School, a preparatory school in Oxford (notable for sending many alumni to Eton), where he applied unsuccessfully for a scholarship to Eton.In 1947. Lee made his film debut in Terence Young’s Gothic romance Corridor of Mirrors & was a student at the Rank “charm school” later that year, Lee made an uncredited appearance in Laurence Olivier’s film version of Hamlet as a spear carrier (marking his first film with frequent co-star and close friend Peter Cushing, who played Osric), and in John Huston’s Oscar-nominated Moulin Rouge. Throughout the next decade, he made nearly 30 films, playing stock action characters.Lee’s first horror film was The Curse of Frankenstein, in which he played Frankenstein’s monster, with Cushing as the Baron.
A little later, Lee co-starred with Boris Karloff in the film Corridors of Blood, and Lee’s own appearance as Frankenstein’s monster led to his first appearance as the Transylvanian vampire in the 1958 film Dracula. Lee returned to the role of Dracula in Hammer’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness in 1965 and later he also starred in Dracula Has Risen from the Grave , Taste the Blood of Dracula and Scars of Dracula. Lee’s other work for Hammer included The Mummy. He portrayed Rasputin in Rasputin, the Mad Monk and Sir Henry Baskerville (to Cushing’s Sherlock Holmes) in The Hound of the Baskervilles. Lee later played Holmes himself in 1962′s Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace, and returned to Holmes films with Billy Wilder’s British-made The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, in which he plays Sherlock’s smarter brother, Mycroft. Lee also played a leading role in the German film The Puzzle of the Red Orchid.He was responsible for bringing acclaimed occult author Dennis Wheatley to Hammer. The company made two films from Wheatley’s novels, both starring Lee., The Devil Rides Out and To the Devil a Daughter, Unfortunately though this was Hammer’s last horror film and marked the end of Lee’s long association with the studio. However Lee also appeared in horror films for other companies including the series of Fu Manchu films; I, Monster, The Creeping Flesh and The Wicker Man. In addition to doing films in the United Kingdom, Lee did movies in Mainland Europe including, Count Dracula, The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism, Castle of the Living Dead and Horror Express.
Since the mid 1970s, Lee has eschewed horror roles almost entirely. Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond spy novels and Lee’s step-cousin, had offered him the role of the titular antagonist in the first official Bond film Dr. No. Lee enthusiastically accepted, but was unable, until 1974, when Lee finally got to play a James Bond villain – the deadly assassin Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun. In 1982, Lee appeared in The Return of Captain Invincible. In 1985, he appeared alongside Reb Brown and Sybil Danning in Howling II: Stirba – Werewolf Bitch, and a few years later Lee made his latest appearances to date as Sherlock Holmes in 1991′s Incident at Victoria Falls and 1992′s Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady. Lee and Peter Cushing also both appeared in separate instalments of the Star Wars films, Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin in the original film, Lee years later as Count Dooku.Lee was at one point also considered for the role of comic book villain/hero Magneto in the screen adaptation of the popular comic book series X-Men, but he lost the role to Sir Ian McKellen. However Lee did play Saruman in the The Lord of the Rings film trilogy oposite Sir Ian Mckellen (Which I reckon is a much better role). Lee has also met Tolkien once (making him the only person in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy to have done so) and makes a habit of reading the novels at least once a year. Lee’s appearance in the third film was cut from the theatrical release. However, the scene was reinstated in the extended edition. This marked the beginning of a major career revival that continued in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005), in which he played Count Dooku, a name allegedly chosen to reflect his fame playing Count Dracula.
Lee is one of the favourite actors of Tim Burton and has become a regular in many of Burton’s films, having now worked for the director five times since 1999. He had a small role as the Burgomaster in the film Sleepy Hollow. In 2005, Lee then went on to voice the character of Pastor Galswells in Corpse Bride co-directed by Burton and Mike Johnson and play a small role in the Burton’s reimagining of the Roald Dahl tale Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as Willy Wonka’s strict dentist father Dr. Wilbur Wonka. In 2007, Lee collaborated with Burton on Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, playing the spirit of Sweeney Todd’s victims called The Gentleman Ghost alongside Anthony Head, with both singing “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd”, in 2009, Lee starred in Stephen Poliakoff’s British period drama Glorious 39 with Julie Christie, Bill Nighy, Romola Garai and David Tennant, Academy Award-nominated director Danis Tanović’s war film Triage with Colin Farrell and Paz Vega, and Duncan Ward’s comedy Boogie Woogie alongside Amanda Seyfried, Gillian Anderson, Stellan Skarsgård and Joanna Lumley.In 2010, Lee marked his fourth collaboration with Tim Burton by voicing the Jabberwocky in Burton’s adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic book Alice in Wonderland alongside Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway, and reprised his role as Saruman in The Hobbit. saying he wants to show Saruman’s corruption by Sauron, portraying Saruman as a kind and noble wizard, before his subsequent fall into darkness. In 2012, Lee marked his fifth collaboration with Tim Burton by appearing in his film adaptation of the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows. Lee also reprised his role as Saruman in the video game The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth along with the other actors of the films and has also contributed his voice as Death in the animated versions of Terry Pratchett’s Soul Music and Wyrd Sisters and reprised the role in the Sky1 live action adaptation The Colour of Magic, taking over the role from the late Ian Richardson.
During his long and varied career, Lee has recieved many Honours & awards. In 2001, Lee was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by Queen Elizabeth II and was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2009 by Prince Charles. Lee was named 2005′s ‘most marketable star in the world’ in a USA Today newspaper poll. In 2011, Lee was awarded the BAFTA Academy Fellowship by Tim Burton. In 2011, accompanied by his wife Birgit and on the 164th anniversary of the birth of Bram Stoker (It was the 165th anniversary on the 26th May), Lee was honoured with a tribute by University College Dublin, and described his honorary life membership of the UCD Law Society as “in some ways as special as the Oscars”. He was awarded the Bram Stoker Gold Medal by the Trinity College Philosophical Society, of which Stoker was President, and a copy of Collected Ghost Stories of MR James by Trinity College’s School of English.
I am currently reading NYPD RED 4 by James Patterson and Marshall Karp. This exciting crime fiction novel features NYPD RED, an elite task force which is called in when a case involves someone rich, famous and connected. Detectives Zach Jordan and Kylie Macdonald are brilliant and tireless investigators from NYPD RED who are called in to investigate the cold blooded murder of a famous actress named Elena Travers during a glitzy film premier at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York, and the theft of a priceless necklace she was wearing at the time.
Their investigations lead them from the Jewelry designers for the rich and famous named Max and Leo Bassett, an informant named Q Lavish and onto two lowlife scumbags named Teddy Ryder and Raymond Davis as the hunt for the killers takes them from celebrity penthouses to the murky depths of Manhattan’s criminal underworld, as they attempt to find a cold blooded killer before he strikes again.
The classic gothic horror novel Dracula by Bram Stoker was first published 26th May 1897. it features an Estate Agent named Jonathan Harker who is dispatched to Transylvania to finalize the move of a mysterious and enigmatic Romanian nobleman called Count Dracula to England. Unfortunately Harker encounters the deadly Brides of Dracula who almost kill him. Meanwhile the Count leaves Transylvania and travels to England aboard the vessel Dimeter, however all the crew mysteriously vanish and the ship runs aground at Whitby. Dracula successfully purchases multiple estates under the alias ‘Count De Ville’ throughout London. Dracula encounters Lucy Westenra, who lives in Whitby, and she begins suffering from episodes of sleepwalking and dementia. Lucy receives three marriage proposals from Dr. John Seward, Quincey Morris, and Arthur Holmwood (the son of Lord Godalming who later obtains the title himself. Dracula communicates with Seward’s mentally unstable patient Renfield. When Lucy begins to waste away suspiciously.
Seward invites his old teacher, Abraham Van Helsing, who immediately determines the true cause of Lucy’s condition. He diagnoses inexplicable blood loss. Helsing prescribes numerous blood transfusions to which Dr. Seward, Helsing, Quincy and Arthur all contribute over time. Helsing also prescribes flowers to be placed throughout her room and weaves a necklace of withered Garlic Blossoms for her to wear as well. She however continues to waste away – appearing to lose blood every night. Lucy and her mother are attacked by a wolf; Mrs. Westenra, dies of fright. Van Helsing attempts to protect her with garlic. The doctors find two small puncture marks about her neck, which Dr Seward is at a loss to understand. Helsing then places a crucifix around her neck, but soon after she is discovered dead with the crucifix missing.
Following Lucy’s death, the newspapers report children being stalked in the night Van Helsing, knowing Lucy has become a vampire, confides in Seward, Lord Godalming, and Morris. The suitors and Van Helsing track her down and confront her. Meanwhile Jonathan Harker arrives from Budapest, where Mina marries him after his escape. They team up to clobber Dracula however Dracula learns of the group’s plot against him, and attacks Mina on three occasions, and feeds Mina his own blood to control her. This curses Mina with vampirism but does not completely turn her into a vampire. Van Helsing attempts to cure Mina and hypnotized her into revealing Dracula’s whereabouts. Having discovered their actions Dracula flees back to his castle in Transylvania and They pursue him under the guidance of Mina leading to an exciting final showdown.
Bram Stoker was born 8 November 1847 in Clontarf, Dublin Ireland and was bed-ridden until he started school at the age of seven, when he made a complete recovery. Of this time, Stoker wrote, “I was naturally thoughtful, and the leisure of long illness gave opportunity for many thoughts which were fruitful according to their kind in later years.” He was educated in a private school run by the Rev. William Woods.After his recovery, he grew up without further major health issues, even excelling as an athlete (he was named University Athlete) at Trinity College, Dublin, which he attended from 1864 to 1870. He graduated with honours in mathematics. He was auditor of the College Historical Society and president of the University Philosophical Society, where his first paper was on “Sensationalism in Fiction and Society”.
Stoker became interested in the theatre while a student through a friend, Dr. Maunsell. He became the theatre critic for the Dublin Evening Mail, co-owned by the author of Gothic tales Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Stoker also wrote stories, and in 1872 “The Crystal Cup” was published by the London Society, followed by “The Chain of Destiny” in four parts in The Shamrock. In 1876, while a civil servant in Dublin, Stoker wrote a non-fiction book (The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland, published 1879), which remained a standard work . Furthermore, he possessed an interest in art, and was a founder of the Dublin Sketching Club in 1874. On 31 December 1879, Stoker became acting manager and then business manager of Irving’s Lyceum Theatre, London, he became involved in London’s high society, and met Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (to whom he was distantly related)
Managing one of the most successful theatres in London made Stoker a notable if busy man. In London Stoker also met Hall Caine who became one of his closest friends – he dedicated Dracula to him. Although Stoker travelled the world, he never visited Eastern Europe, a setting for his most famous novel. Stoker enjoyed the United States,While working as a manager, secretary and director of London’s Lyceum Theatre, he began writing novels beginning with The Snake’s Pass in 1890 and Dracula in 1897. During this period, Stoker was also part of the literary staff of the London Daily Telegraph and wrote other fiction, including the horror novels The Lady of the Shroud (1909) and The Lair of the White Worm (1911). In 1906, he managed productions at the Prince of Wales Theatre. Before writing Dracula, Stoker spent several years researching European folklore and mythological stories of vampires. At the time of its publication, Dracula was considered a “straightforward horror novel” based on imaginary creations of supernatural life. “It gave form to a universal fantasy and became a part of popular culture.” Stoker’s inspirations for the story, in addition to Whitby, may have included a visit to Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire, a visit to the crypts of St. Michan’s Church in Dublin and the novella Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu.
In addition The late great English Actor Peter Cushing OBE (Who starred in many film adaptations of Dracula was born on May 26th in 1913. He debuted in The Man in the Iron Mask, then returned in 1941 after roles in several films. In one, A Chump at Oxford (1940), he appeared alongside Laurel and Hardy. His first major film part was as Osric in Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet (1948). In the 1950s, he worked in television, notably as Winston Smith in the BBC’s adaptation of the George Orwell novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. films The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958). He played the vampire hunter Dr. Van Helsing many times, and also played the distinguished-looking but sinister scientist Baron Frankenstein amongst many other roles, often appearing opposite Christopher Lee, and occasionally Vincent Price. A familiar face on both sides of the Atlantic, his most famous roles outside of “Hammer Horror” include his many appearances as Sherlock Holmes. Peter Cushing also appeared as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars episode IV, which came out 25th May 1977) and as the mysterious Doctor in Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150 AD in 1965 and 1966, both based on Doctor Who. Cushing is closely associated with playing Baron Victor Frankenstein and Van Helsing in a long string of horror films produced by Hammer Film Productions, in which He was often cast opposite the actor Christopher Lee, with whom he became best friends and who also starred in Star Wars episodes II and III
American singer-songwriter,multi-instrumentalist, record producer, actor and arranger Lenny Kravitz was born May 26, 1964. Kravitz began banging on pots and pans in the kitchen, playing them as drums at the age of three. At the age of five, he wanted to be a musician. He began playing the drums and soon added guitar. Kravitz grew up listening to the music his parents listened to: R&B, jazz,classical, opera, gospel, and blues. “My parents were very supportive of the fact that I loved music early on, and they took me to a lot of shows,” Kravitz said. Around the age of seven, he saw The Jackson 5 perform at Madison Square Garden, which became his favorite group.His father, who was also a jazz promoter, was friends with Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby Short, Miles Davis and other jazz greats. Ellington even played “Happy Birthday” for him one year when he was about 5.He was exposed to the soul music of Motown, Stax, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield,Gladys Knight, The Isley Brothers and Gamble and Huff growing up who were key influences on his musical style. Kravitz often went to see New York theater, where his mother worked. His mother encouraged his dreams of pursuing music.In 1974, the Kravitz family relocated to Los Angeles when Kravitz’s mother landed her role on The Jeffersons. At his mother’s urging, Kravitz joined the California Boys Choir for three years, where he performed a classical repertoire, and sang with the Metropolitan Opera. He took part in Mahler’s Third Symphony at the Hollywood Bowl. It was in Los Angeles that Kravitz was first introduced to rock music, listening to Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Aerosmith, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Cream, and The Who.”I was attracted to the cool style, the girls, the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle,” Kravitz said. Kravitz’s other musical influences at the time included Fela Kuti, Bill Withers, Marvin Gaye,Pharoah Sanders and Miles Davis; John Lennon and Bob Marley proved later to be influential as well.Kravitz attended Beverly Hills High School. Maria McKee, actor Nicolas Cage and musician Slash were his classmates. In 1978, Kravitz was accepted into the school’s well-respected music program. He taught himself to play piano and bass, and made friends with Zoro who would later become his long-time collaborator.
Kravitz wanted to be a session musician. He also appeared as an actor in television commercials during this time.With record labels still telling him his music wasn’t “black enough” or “white enough,” His “retro” style incorporates elements of rock, soul, R&B, funk, reggae, hard rock, psychedelic, folk and ballads. In addition to singing lead and backing vocals, Kravitz often played all the guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and percussion himself when recording. So Kravitz decided to record an album on his own. Kravitz had met recording engineer/keyboardist/bassist Henry Hirsch in 1985 when recording a demo at his Hoboken, New Jerseyrecording studio. Kravitz released his début album Let Love Rule on September 6, 1989, a combination of rock and funk with a general 1960s vibe. Music critics were mixed: some felt Kravitz was a gifted new artist, others felt he was overpowered by his musical influences. The album was a moderate success in the United States, but became an instant hit outside of the US, especially in Europe. Lisa Bonet directed the debut music video for the title track, “Let Love Rule.” Stephen Smith signed Kravitz with talent booking agency CAA, who soon were fielding offers for Kravitz, first on a club tour, and then in opening slots for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Bob Dylan and David Bowie.Kravitz also produced the song “Justify My Love” for Madonna, which he co-wrote with Ingrid Chavez. The song, which appeared on her greatest hits album The Immaculate Collection. .In 1991, Kravitz produced the self-titled album Vanessa Paradis for French singer and actress Vanessa Paradis. He also released his second album, Mama Said, which included Kravitz’s biggest single yet, “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over,”and the single “Always on the Run,” a tribute to his mother, featured Slash on guitar. “Stand By My Woman” and “What Goes Around Comes Around” followed.Sean Lennon co-wrote and played piano on the song “All I Ever Wanted”
In 1995, Lenny Kravitz released the album Circus, which went to number 10 on the Billboard chart on the back of his past achievement. However, the album only had two hit singles: “Rock and Roll Is Dead” and “Can’t Get You Off My Mind.”With 5 (1998), Kravitz embraced digital technology such as Pro Tools and samplers for the first time. 5 introduced his music to an even wider audience thanks to the hit single “Fly Away” being featured prominently in both car manufacturer and airline commercials. 5would reach number 28 on the Billboard 200, with “Fly Away” reaching number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 in the United Kingdom. He would win the first of his four consecutive Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards of 1999. Other hits from the album included “If You Can’t Say No”, that was also remixed by dance producer Brian Transeau, and “I Belong to You.” For the I Belong to You video Lenny can be seen without his signature dreadlocks. In 1999 he produced and sang with Cree Summer on her solo album Street Faerie.Kravitz worked on two songs for Michael Jackson’s Invincible album released in 2001; a snippet of “Another Day” has leaked, and the full version was officially released on the album Michael in 2010 .Kravitz released a Greatest Hits album in 2000. It proved to be his most successful album, reaching #2 on the Billboard 200 and selling nearly 11 million copies worldwide and ultimately becoming one of the most commercially successful albums of the decade. The single “Again” earned him his third consecutive Grammy for the Best Male Rock Vocal in the Grammy Awards of 2001 and peaked at number 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Kravitz also co-wrote the song “God Gave Me Everything” with Mick Jagger in this period, appearing on Jagger’s 2001 solo album Goddess in the Doorway and in the film Being Mick.
On 2001, Kravitz released his sixth album Lenny and participated in a benefit auction for the Red Hot Organization, in conjunction with Amazon.com to increase public AIDS awareness, which ran from February 28 until April 11, 2001. The event featured rare RHO memorabilia and the work of Rolling Stone photographer Mark Seliger.In 1993, Kravitz wrote “Line Up” for Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, and appeared on Mick Jagger’s solo album, Wandering Spirit, in a cover of the Bill Withers soul classic “Use Me”, and played guitar on the title track of David Bowie’s The Buddha of Suburbia. That year Kravitz also got to work with idols Al Green and Curtis Mayfield.In 1993, Are You Gonna Go My Way was released, reaching number 12 on the Billboard 200 and Kravitz earned a BRIT Award for best international male artist in 1994. The title track won a MTV Video Music Award for Best Male Video for the video produced by Mark Romanek, in which Kravitz slung his dreadlocks and wore high-heeled platform boots. During the presentation of the MTV Video Music Awards, he performed the song with John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin on bass. Several singles from the album would follow including, “Believe,” “Is There Any Love In Your Heart,” and “Heaven Help/Spinning Around Over You.” This album was the first to feature guitaristCraig Ross, who has also played on all his subsequent albums. One song, “Eleutheria,” was influenced by the island Eleuthera in The Bahamas where Kravitz built a house and recording studio at that time. In 1993, he also released the EP Spinning Around Over You, which included four live tracks from his “Universal Love Tour”. A feature documentary about his 1994 tour entitled Alive From Planet Earth was directed by Doug Nichol and released.In 1994, Kravitz recorded a funk-rock version of the song “Deuce,” for the KISS cover album KISS My Ass: Classic KISS Regrooved. The track featured Stevie Wonder on harmonica and background vocals. This song was one of three radio singles from the album, and was also the album’s lead-off track.
Kravitz’s seventh album Baptism was released in May 2004. The first single was “Where Are We Runnin’?”. The single “California” failed to be commercially successful, but “Storm”, featuring Jay-Z, reached the charts. “Calling All Angels” was successful in various countries and a huge hit in Brazil, however it was “Lady” that became the album’s surprise hit, making the US Top 30 and propellingBaptism to gold status. Also in 2004, he appeared on N.E.R.D’s album Fly or Die. From March 2005, Kravitz toured all over the world with the tour Electric Church, which ended at the Brixton Academy, London in July 2005. Kravitz served as the opening act forAerosmith who are long term friends of Kravitz on their fall 2005 tour. The tour began on October 30 at the Mohegan Sun Arena inUncasville, Connecticut. The night before that tour started, October 29, 2005, Lenny’s father TV Producer Sy Kravitz died. During that first show, Lenny broke the news to the stunned crowd and stated it was not a time to be sad but rather a time to celebrate because he is now in Heaven. Lenny then dedicated Let Love Rule to his father. That tour was so successful that it was extended through February 25, 2006 and ended in Anaheim, California. In January 2006, Kravitz contributed “Breathe” to absoluttracks, a project sponsored by Absolut Vodka.Lately, Kravitz has founded a design firm named Kravitz Design, stating if he hadn’t been a musician he would have been a designer. Kravitz Design, focused on interior and furniture design, has designed residential spaces, as well as a chandelier for the crystal company Swarovski, named “Casino Royale”. In 2007, Kravitz performed at the Brazilian leg of Live Earth in Rio de Janeiro, making him one of three major international rock stars to perform two huge free concerts at the world-famous Copacabana Beach along with Macy Gray and the Rolling Stones. Also in 2007, Kravitz released a version of “Cold Turkey” by John Lennon on the charity CD Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur. Kravitz also spent time recording his latest album, It Is Time for a Love Revolution, released February 5, 2008. He also performed on the 2007, the Fats Domino tribute album “Goin’ Home ; A Tribute To Fats Domino” on the song “Whole Lotta Lovin’” along with Rebirth Brass Band, Troy “Trombone Shorty” On July 15, 2008, Lenny was honored in Milan, Italy with the key to the city in a special toast ceremony for his work with the United Nations Millennium Campaign to end world poverty. Kravitz’ next album, tentatively titled Funk, was tentatively re-titled Negrophilia Featuring the songs “”Stand”, “Super Love” “Come on Get It” and “Life Ain’t Never Been Better Than It Is Now” Eventually the album was later named Black and White America. On May 23, 2011, Lionsgate announced that Kravitz would be joining the cast and crew of The Hunger Games, as Katniss’ creative stylist, Cinna.
Kravitz has won many awards including the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance four years in a row from 1999 to 2002, breaking the record for most wins in that category as well as setting the record for most consecutive wins in one category by a male. He has been nominated for and won other awards, including American Music Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, Radio Music Awards, BRIT Awards and Blockbuster Entertainment Awards. On December 1, 2011, Kravitz was made an Officer of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He plays the role of Cinna in The Hunger Games film series.Kravitz was honored with one of the highest cultural awards in France when he was made an Officer of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by French cultural minister Frederic Mitterrand in Paris.