Tribute to Aldous Huxley

English writer Aldous Huxley was born on 26th July 1894. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel writing, film stories and scripts. Huxley spent the later part of his life in the United States, living in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death.Aldous Huxley was a humanist, pacifist, and satirist, and he was latterly interested in spiritual subjects such as parapsychology and philosophical mysticism.He is also well known for advocating and taking psychedelics. By the end of his life Huxley was widely recognized to be one of the pre-eminent intellectuals of his time and respected as an important researcher into visual communication and sight-related theories as well.

Aldous Huxley was a very prolific novelist,poet and essay writer and some of his best known works include Crome Yellow, Antic Hay, Those Barren Leaves, Point Counter Point, Brave New World, Eyeless in Gaza, After Many a Summer, Time Must Have a Stop, Ape and Essence, The Genius and the Goddess, Island, Limbo, Mortal Coils, Little Mexican, Two or Three Graces, Brief Candles Jacob’s Hands,Collected Short Stories.He was also Magazine Editor for Oxford Poetry and wrote a great many poems including The Burning Wheel,Jonah,The Defeat of Youth ,Leda, Arabia Infelix and The Cicadas. During his life he also wrote a great many essays and screenplays too and in 1939 he was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for After Many a Summer Dies the Swan. Then in 1959 Aldous Huxley won the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award of Merit for Brave New World and in 1962 he was awarded the Companion of Literature by the Royal Society of Literature. There have also been many film adaptations of his novels including The Devils and Point counter Point.

Huxley sadly passed away on 22 November 1963, aged 69, several hours after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Huxley’s ashes were interred in the family grave at the Watts Cemetery, home of the Watts Mortuary Chapel in Compton, a village near Guildford, Surrey, England.Media coverage of Huxley’s passing was overshadowed by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, on the same day, as was the death of the British author C. S. Lewis, who also died on 22 November. This coincidence was the inspiration for Peter Kreeft’s book Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis, & Aldous Huxley.

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Happy Birthday Mick Jagger – The Rolling Stones

PART ONE

Mick Jagger, English singer with Rock band The Rolling Stones was born Born 26th July  1943. Formed in London in 1962 The Rolling Stones have become one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. The group’s earliest line-up consisted of Brian Jones (guitar, harmonica), Ian Stewart (piano), Mick Jagger (lead vocals, harmonica), Keith Richards (guitar, vocals), Bill Wyman (bassist) and Charlie Watts (drummer). As of 1993, Jagger, Richards and Watts are the only remaining original members, completing the official line-up with Ronnie Wood (guitarist). In studio and live performances, Darryl Jones (bassist) and Chuck Leavell (keyboardist) also serve as a regular contributors. In the early 1950s, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were childhood friends and classmates The Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters records Jagger carried evealed a mutual interest,leading to the formation of a band with Dick Taylor (later of Pretty Things). Richards, Taylor, and Jagger found Brian Jones as he sat in playing slide guitar with Alexis Korner’s  R&B band, Blues Incorporated,which also had two other future members of the Rolling Stones: Ian Stewart and Charlie Watts

On 12 July 1962 the band played their first gig at the Marquee Club billed as “The Rollin’ Stones”.The line-up was Jagger, Richards and Jones, along with Stewart on piano, and Taylor on bass. Bassist Bill Wyman joined in December 1962 and drummer Charlie Watts the following January 1963 to form the band’s long-standing rhythm section. Due to Decca Records’ regret at not signing The Beatles, the Rolling Stones management negotiated an advantageous recording/production contract for the band and promoted them as the nasty opposites of The Beatles by having the band pose unsmiling on the cover of the first UK album, and by planting provocative headlines in the press such as “Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?

Their first single, was a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Come On” and their second single, was the Lennon–McCartney-penned number “I Wanna Be Your Man”; it reached No.12 in the UK charts. Their third single, Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away”, was released in February 1964.Many songs on the band’s first album The Rolling Stones, were primarily covers, the only exeption being the Jagger/Richards original – “Tell Me (You’re Coming Back)”. The band’s second UK LP – The Rolling Stones No. 2, charted at number 1 as an album, and the US version, released in February as The Rolling Stones, Now!, reached number 5, The first Jagger/Richards composition to reach  number 1 on the UK singles charts was “The Last Time”, Their first international number-1 hit was “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and Their second international number-1 single, “Get Off of My Cloud” was released in the autumn of 1965. The third album “Aftermath” was released in 1966, and was the first Rolling Stones album to be composed entirely of Jagger/Richards songs, and Jones’ contributions expanded To the Middle Eastern-influenced “Paint It Black”, the ballad “Lady Jane” and “Under My Thumb”. Aftermath was also notable for the almost 12-minute long “Goin’ Home”, the first extended jam on a top-selling rock & roll album. The Stones’ success on the British and American singles charts peaked during 1966 and the single “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?” featured brass horns, and had the group satirically dressed in drag, the song was accompanied by one of the first purpose-made promotional film clips (music videos). January 1967 saw the release of “Between the Buttons”, which included the double A-side single “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and “Ruby Tuesday”,

December 1967 also saw the release of Their Satanic Majesties Request, which was released shortly after The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and was the first album the Rolling Stones produced on their own. The band spent the first few months of 1968 working on material for their next album. Those sessions resulted in the song “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, and the subsequent album, Beggars Banquet an eclectic mix of country and blues-inspired tunes,featuring the singles “Street Fighting Man” and “Sympathy for the Devil, and was well received. Sadly though By the release of Beggars Banquet, Brian Jones was increasingly troubled and was only sporadically contributing to the band, and left in June 1969. The Stones next album Let It Bleed  featured the song “Gimmie Shelter”(which would later be described by journalist Greil Marcus as “the greatest ever rock and roll recording, Other tracks include “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” “Midnight Rambler” and “Love in Vain”. The Stones next album Sticky Fingers, released in March 1971, was the band’s first album on their own label,and featured an elaborate cover design by Andy Warhol, and contains the hits, “Brown Sugar”, and “Wild Horses”.

Following the release of Sticky Fingers, the Rolling Stones moved to the South of France, and Using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, they held recording sessions in the basement and The resulting double album, Exile on Main St. was released in May 1972 and is widely accepted as one of the Stones’ best albums. In November 1972, the band began sessions in Kingston, Jamaica, for their follow-up to Exile, Goats Head Soup, which featured the hit “Angie”. For their next album, 1974’s It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll. The band went to Musicland studios in Munich. In 1975 following the departure of Mick Taylor, Ronnie Wood auditioned for the band, and everyone agreed that he was the right choice as he had already recorded and played live with Richards, and had contributed to the recording and writing of the track “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll”. He joined the Rolling Stones in 1975 for their upcoming Tour of the Americas and officially joined the band the following year, after the Faces dissolved.

PART 2

Although the Rolling Stones remained popular through the first half of the 1970s, music critics had grown increasingly dismissive of the band’s output, and record sales declined. By the late 70s, after punk rock became influential, many criticised the Rolling Stones as decadent, ageing millionaires and their music as stagnant or irrelevant. This changed in 1978, after the band released Some Girls, which included the hit single “Miss You”, the country ballad “Far Away Eyes”, “Beast of Burden”, and “Shattered”. In part as a response to punk, many songs were fast, basic, guitar-driven rock and roll, and the album’s success re-established the Rolling Stones’ immense popularity among young people.Following the success of Some Girls, the band released their next album Emotional Rescue in mid-1980 and also released the album, Tattoo You which featured the single “Start Me Up”, then In mid-1982, to commemorate their 20th anniversary, the Rolling Stones toured Europe. the Rolling Stones released their next album Undercover in late 1983 and Much to the consternation of Richards, Jagger also signed a solo deal with CBS Records, and he spent much of 1984 writing songs for his first solo effort. By 1985, Jagger was spending more time on solo recordings, that much of the material on 1986’s Dirty Work,which contained the song “Harlem Shuffle”, was generated by Keith Richards.

In early 1989, the Rolling Stones, including Mick Taylor, Ronnie Wood and Ian Stewart (posthumously), were inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and also went to work on a new album that would be called Steel Wheels which included the singles “Mixed Emotions”, “Rock and a Hard Place”, “Almost Hear You Sigh” and “Continental Drift”. In 1993 the Rolling Stones set about recording their next studio album 1994’s Voodoo Lounge, which great reviews and sales, and went double platinum in the US. and went on to win the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Rock Album. The Rolling Stones ended the 1990s with the album Bridges to Babylon which was released in 1997 to mixed reviews. In 2002, the band released Forty Licks, a greatest hits double album, to mark their forty years as a band, prompting Q magazine to name the Rolling Stones as one of the “50 Bands To See Before You Die”.

So far The Rolling Stones have released twenty-two studio albums in the United Kingdom (24 in the United States), eleven live albums (twelve in the US), and numerous compilations.Their album Sticky Fingers began a string of eight consecutive studio
albums reaching number one in the United States including the albums Exile on Main Street and Some Girls. Their most recent album of new material, A Bigger Bang, was released in 2005. In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked the Rolling Stones at number ten on “The Billboard Top All-Time Artists”, and as the second most successful group in the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, the Rock Hall states; “critical acclaim and popular consensus has accorded them the title of the “World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band.” They were ranked number 4 in Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

The band celebrate their 50th anniversary in the summer of 2012, and have released a large hardback book, entitled ’50’, to commemorate  the event. A new take on the band’s lip and tongue logo was also released and used during the celebration Members have been widely reported as preparing for another world tour in either 2012 or 2013.  Keith Richards confirmed that rehearsals had taken place and Mick Jagger went as far as to speculate that the band may be performing on stage again as soon autumn 2012.A free photographic exhibition displaying images of the band is being held at Somerset House between 13 July and 27 August 2012.

Happy Birthday Roger Taylor

Roger Taylor, the Drummer with Rock Band Queen celebrates his birthday on 26th July,  So I thought I would do a post to mark the occasion. Queen were formed in London in 1971, consisting of Freddie Mercury (lead vocals, piano), Brian May (guitar, vocals), John Deacon (bass guitar, guitars), and Roger Taylor (drums, vocals). Queen’s earliest works were influenced by progressive rock, but the band gradually ventured into more conventional and radio-friendly works, incorporating more diverse and innovative styles in their music.

Before joining Queen, Brian May and Roger Taylor had been playing together in a band named Smile with bassist Tim Staffell. Freddie Mercury (then known as Farrokh/Freddie Bulsara) was a fan of Smile, and encouraged them to experiment with more elaborate stage and recording techniques after Staffell’s departure in 1970. Mercury himself joined the band shortly thereafter, changed the name of the band to “Queen”, and adopted his familiar stage name. John Deacon was recruited prior to recording their eponymous debut album (1973). Queen enjoyed success in the UK with their debut and its follow-up, Queen II (1974), but it was the release of Sheer Heart Attack (1974) and A Night at the Opera (1975) that gained the band international success. The latter featured “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which stayed at number one in the UK Singles Chart for nine weeks; it charted at number one in several other territories, and gave the band their first top ten hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. Their 1977 album, News of the World, contained two of rock’s most recognisable anthems, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions”. By the early 1980s, Queen were one of the biggest stadium rock bands in the world, and their performance at 1985′s Live Aid is regarded as one of the greatest in rock history. In 1991, Mercury died of bronchopneumonia, a complication of AIDS, and Deacon retired in 1997. Since then, May and Taylor have infrequently performed together, including a collaboration with Paul Rodgers under the name Queen + Paul Rodgers which ended in May 2009.

The band have released a total of 18 number one albums, 18 number one singles, and 10 number one DVDs. Estimates of their album sales generally range from 150 million to 300 million albums, making them one of the world’s best-selling music artists. They received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Phonographic Industry in 1990, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. So  to mark the occasion  here are some of Queen’s best songs courtesy of YouTube.