Conjunction of Jupiter & Venus

Although the planets are far apart in space, Jupiter & Venus will appear to be separated by only a few degrees. Amateur astronomers will be excited by the prospect of two of the brightest planets in the solar system appearing so closely together on Sunday 11th and Monday 12th March 2012.   Although conjunctions are not that rare, the interest in this one is a result of how spectacular it is. Both planets are very bright in the night sky. If you know where to look, you can even see Venus in the day.

The two being so close together will be beautiful. Last night they looked like two beacons.   It is also interesting for people because it just happens to be something which you can see for yourself. In the northern hemisphere we should look for them in the south west this evening. The pair will appear to move to the west over the course of the night. While the pair will drift apart after a couple of days, Jupiter will be visible for at least another two weeks. Last Monday, Mars made its closest pass of earth in more than two years, and in June Venus will appear to cross in front of the sun from some positions on Earth.

Graham Coxon

Best Known for  being the laed Guitarist with 90’s Britpop Band Blur, The English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and painter Graham Coxon, was born on this day 12th March in 1969

He came to prominence as the lead guitarist, backing vocalist and occasional lead vocalist of Britpop band Blur, His artistic and musical contribution is featured on all seven of Blur’s studio albums, from 1991’s Leisure to 2003’s Think Tank. Although credited as a songwriter on most Blur tracks, his most significant lyrical contributions appeared on the hit singles “Tender” and “Coffee & TV”; a number of tracks in the band’s catalogue were also penned mainly by Coxon. The cover of 1999’s 13 was designed by Coxon.In 2002, he left Blur following a bitter dispute with the other members, notably Damon Albarn. As a result, he played guitar and was credited as a songwriter on only the final track for the following year’s Think Tank.

coxon is also a critically acclaimed solo artist, and has recorded seven solo albums. His first, released on his own Transcopic label was The Sky is Too High in 1998, a ramshackle mixture of English folk music and 1960s-style garage rock, influenced by Billy Childish. This was followed by the more extreme The Golden D in 2000 and the thoughtful Dylan-Drakesque Crow Sit on Blood Tree (2001). After going solo full time, he released The Kiss of Morning in 2002. The album proved to be his most accessible to date and was promoted with the single “Escape Song” which proved to be an interesting hybrid of Syd Barrett’s “Octopus” and progressive rock trail-blazers The Nice. In 2004,

Coxon released his fifth solo album Happiness in Magazines, produced by ex-Blur and The Smiths producer Stephen Street. This proved to be his most successful album to date, and he received the NME Award for ‘Best Solo Artist’ in 2005.   In March 2006 he released his sixth solo album, called Love Travels at Illegal Speeds, again produced by Stephen Street. It marks Coxon’s first album away from his now-defunct indie label ‘Transcopic’. The LP was preceded by the singles “Standing On My Own Again” on 27 February and “You & I”. Coxon embarked on a tour of the UK, starting at Newcastle University. He also got involved in a single supporting the England national football team at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The song was a re-working of the Sham 69 hit “Hurry Up Harry”, and was released as “Sham 69 and The Special Assembly” (as well as Coxon and Sham 69, Virgin Radio DJ Christian O’Connell, who had run acompetition on his show to find a band to record a song in support of the team, was involved in the recording of the song). “Hurry Up England” entered the UK Singles Chart at #10.

In October 2006, Coxon released a double live album Burnt to Bitz: At the Astoria immediately after his sold-out London Astoria show. The album features 27 songs, with at least one song from each of his albums. In July 2007 Coxon released a single with Paul Weller, called “This Old Town”. The single peaked at #39 in the UK Singles Chart.   Coxon’s seventh 15-track studio album titled The Spinning Top, produced again by Stephen Street, was released on 11 May 2009. Coxon says the LP, which is primarily acoustic, follows a narrative – the story of a man from birth to death. “The album is mainly an acoustic journey although there is, of course, some explosive electric guitar action,” he explained. “There are some guests too! Robyn Hitchcock supplies some counter-attack guitar, Jas Singh plays dilruba and jori with his friends Gurjit Sembhi on taus and Jaskase Singh on esraj. Danny Thompson plays the legendary Victoria, Graham Fox gives plenty of swing on the drums and sizzle cymbals and Louis Vause tinkles the ivories.” Pre-release response has been very positive, with Monday Field of Frank Booth Review dubbing the album “a staggering artistic achievement, and Coxon’s best solo release to date.  His next solo album entitled A+E comes out on 2nd April 2012.

In September 2007, Graham Coxon rejoined the band and in late 2008 Damon Albarn announced that the band would reunite 2009 for a number of shows. They are also doing a number of shows during 2012 including a “Best of British” concert at this years Olympic Closing ceremony.   Coxon is capable of playing several other instruments, besides guitar, and is famous for recording his albums single-handedly, without much help from session musicians. An innovative lead guitarist, other notable British guitarists such as Jonny Greenwood and Noel Gallagher have lauded Coxon’s musicality and talent, with the latter calling him “the most gifted guitarist of his generation.” He was voted the 15th greatest guitarist of the last 30 years in a national 2010 BBC poll.

Run to the Hills

Best known for his “galloping” playing style and often considered among the best and most influential heavy metal bass players, the occasional keyboard player, backing vocalist and primary songwriter of the splendidly noisy British heavy metal band Iron Maiden, Steve Harris was born on this day 12th March in 1956. He is the only member of Iron Maiden to have remained in the band since their inception and, along with guitarist Dave Murray, to have appeared on all of their albums.

Originally He aspired to be a professional footballer, but gained an interest in rock music in his early teens, following which he participated in two small pub bands, Gypsy’s Kiss and Smiler, before forming Iron Maiden on Christmas Day 1975. Before Iron Maiden signed their contract with EMI in 1979, Harris worked as an architectural draughtsman in the East End of London until he was made redundant, at which point he undertook a job as a street sweeper. In addition to his role as the band’s bass player and backing vocalist, Harris has undertaken many other roles for the group, such as producing and co-producing their albums, directing and editing their live videos and performing studio keyboards.

Initially Harris wanted to play drums, but did not have enough space for a drum kit in his house and so decided the learn to play Bass instead, Just 10 months after he bought his first bass, Harris joined a band, initially known as Influence and later Gypsy’s Kiss, but After a short number of gigs the band split up and Harris auditioned for a band called Smiler in February 1974. In this outfit, Harris began writing his own songs and worked with future Iron Maiden members Dennis Wilcock and Doug Sampson, but left the band after they refused to play his material, claiming it was too complicated.

Upon leaving Smiler, Harris went on to create Iron Maiden on Christmas Day 1975, with the band’s name being inspired by the film The Man in the Iron Mask. Since their inception, Harris has been the band’s principal composer and lyricist. His song writing typically showcases his trademark galloping bass patterns and progressive rock-influenced songs often including several time changes. Recently, Harris’ songs have become more progressive, and guitarist Adrian Smith has commented that Harris now prefers contributing “lyrics and melodies and arranging” to other member’s songs over writing alone. Harris frequently writes lyrics about mythology, history or topics inspired from books and films, for which Iron Maiden has become notable in sharp contrast to most other rock bands where the themes are typically sex, drugs and rebellion.

Harris also began contributing keyboards to Iron Maiden’s studio albums from Virtual XI onwards, and played an increasing role in mixing the band’s albums and produced most of their 1990’s output. He also directs and edits many of the band’s live videos, including Maiden England in 1989, Harris also edited the Rock in Rio DVD as he was unsatisfied with the results produced by the band’s hired production crew. Harris was influenced by the progressive rock bands of the 70’s, as well as early hard rock bands. His influences include Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, early Genesis, Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin,Pink Floyd, Thin Lizzy, UFO, Wishbone Ash, and Yes. Speaking about the early Iron Maiden sound, Steve Harris described the band as utilising twin-guitar harmonies inspired by Wishbone Ash and Thin Lizzy, complex time and mood changes from Genesis and Jethro Tull, and the dark melodic elements of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin.

Happpy Birthday Liza Minelli

The American actress and singe Liza Minnelli, was born on this day 12 March in 1946. She is the daughter of singer and actress Judy Garland and film director Vincente Minnelli.

Already established as a nightclub singer and musical theatre actress, she first attracted critical acclaim for her dramatic performances in the movies The Sterile Cuckoo (1969), and Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (1970); Minnelli then rose to international stardom for her appearance as Sally Bowles in the 1972 film version of the Broadway musical Cabaret, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. She later made a great star turn in Arthur (1981), co-starring with Dudley Moore (in the title role) and Sir John Gielgud, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as Arthur’s snobbish but loveable butler.

While film projects such as Lucky Lady, A Matter of Time and New York, New York were less favorably received than her stage roles, Minnelli became one of the most versatile, highly regarded and best-selling entertainers in television, beginning with Liza with a Z in 1972, and on stage in the Broadway productions of Flora the Red Menace, The Act and The Rink. Minnelli also toured internationally and did shows such as Liza Minnelli: At Carnegie Hall, Frank, Liza & Sammy: The Ultimate Event, and Liza Live from Radio City Music Hall.

She starred in Liza’s Back in 2002. She had guest appearances in the sitcom Arrested Development and had a small role in the movie The OH in Ohio, while continuing to tour internationally. In 2008/09, she performed the Broadway show Liza’s at The Palace…! which earned a Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event.   Minnelli has won a total of four Tony Awards awards, including a Special Tony Award. She has also won an Oscar, an Emmy Award, two Golden Globes and a Grammy Legend Award for her contributions and influence in the recording field, along with many other honors and awards. She is one of the few entertainers who have won an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Award.