Happy Birthday Zack de la Rocha

F.A.O Agunsux – “Sleep now in the Fire” by RATM is the fifth track from the 1999 Album “The Battle of Los Angeles” and can be found HERE – Hope this helps

Best known as the vocalist and lyricist of Rage Against the Machine, the American musician, poet, rapper and activist Zacarías Manuel “Zack” de la Rocha was born born January 12, 1970. While attending junior high school, de la Rocha became involved in the punk scene and played guitar for a band called Juvenile Expression with Tim Commerford. His interest in bands like The Clash, Sex Pistols, and Bad Religion turned into an appreciation for other bands like Minor Threat, Bad Brains, and The Teen Idles. Soon after entering high school, Zack joined the straight edge band Hardstance. De la Rocha and Hardstance bassist Mark Hayworth eventually formed the hardcore band Inside Out, which gained a large national underground following. They released a single record, No Spiritual Surrender, on Revelation Records in 1990 before breaking up. In de la Rocha’s words, Inside Out was “about completely detaching ourselves from society to see ourselves as spirits, and not bowing down to a system that sees you as just another pebble on a beach. I channeled all my anger out through that band.” After Inside Out broke up, he embraced hip hop and began freestyling at local clubs, where he met Tom Morello and Brad Wilk. Eventually, de la Rocha’s Juvenile Expression bandmate Commerford joined them and Rage Against the Machine was formed.

After playing Lollapallooza Rage Against the Machine became one of the most politically charged bands ever to receive extensive airplay from radio and MTV. De la Rocha became one of the most visible champions of left-wing political causes around the world while advocating in favour of Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal, and supporting the Zapatista movement in Mexico. He spoke on the floor of the UN, testifying against the United States and its treatment of Abu-Jamal. Rage’s second and third albums peaked at number one in the United States, but did not result in the political action de la Rocha had hoped for. He became increasingly restless and undertook collaborations with artists such as KRS-One, Chuck D, and Public Enemy.

In October 2000, de la Rocha left Rage Against the Machine, due to “creative differences.” Upon leaving the band, de la Rocha issued a statement saying: “it was necessary to leave Rage because our decision-making process has completely failed”,[6] in reference to the disagreement over the release of Renegades. The other members of the band sought out separate management and secured the immediate release of Renegades. After searching for a replacement for de la Rocha, the other members of Rage joined Chris Cornell of Soundgarden to form Audioslave.

After RATM’s breakup, de la Rocha worked on a solo album he had been recording since before the band’s dissolution, working with DJ Shadow, El-P, Muggs, Dan The Automator, Roni Size, DJ Premier, and The Roots’ Questlove with production partner James Poyser. The album never came to fruition, and de la Rocha started a new collaboration with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, in which around 20 tracks were produced. Reznor thought the work was “excellent”. In 2000, de la Rocha appeared on the song “Centre of the Storm”, from the Roni Size/Reprazent album In The Mode, while in 2002, he appeared in a minor role in the first part of the Blackalicious song “Release” on the album Blazing Arrow. A new collaboration between de la Rocha and DJ Shadow, the song “March of Death” was released for free online in 2003 in protest against the imminent invasion of Iraq. The 2004 soundtrack Songs and Artists that Inspired Fahrenheit 9/11 included one of the collaborations with Reznor, “We Want It All”. This album also contained “No One Left”, the debut recording by former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello as The Nightwatchman. On October 7, 2005, de la Rocha returned to the stage with new material, performing with Son Jarocho band Son de Madera. He later spoke as MC and again performed with Son de Madera at the November 22 Concert at the Farm, a benefit concert for the South Central Farmers. In 2007 Rage Against the Machine reunited & headlined the final day of Coachella 2007. Morello and de la Rocha reunited on-stage early to perform a brief acoustic set at House of Blues in Chicago at the rally for fair food with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). Rage Against the Machine, as a full band, headlined the final day of the 2007 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on April 29. The band played in front of an EZLN backdrop to the largest crowds of the festival. The performance was initially thought to be a one-off, this turned out not to be the case. The band played 7 more shows in the United States in 2007, and in January 2008, they played their first shows outside the US as part of the Big Day Out Festival in Australia and New Zealand. The band has since continued to tour around the world, headlining many large festivals in Europe and the United States, including Lollapalooza in Chicago.

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Also celebrating birthdays today:

  • Born 12th January 1975 – Jason Freese, American musician (Green Day)
  • Born 12th January 1991 – Pixie Lott, English singer
  • Born 12 January 1986 – Gemma Arterton, English actress

World Without End

KF-WWEHaving read the best-selling 2007 novel by Ken Follett, I cannot wait to see this epic 8 part television adaptation which is being broadcast on Channel 4 from 12th January 2013. It is the sequel to 1989’s The Pillars of the Earth and is Set during the reign of King Edward III  in the same fictional town as Pillars of the Earth — Kingsbridge. It features the descendants of some Pillars characters 157 years later. The story takes place during the Hundred Years’ War and the Black Death. The story begins in the year 1327. Four children — Merthin, Caris, Gwenda, and Merthin’s brother Ralph — head into the woods on All Hallows Day where they witness two men-at-arms killed in self-defence by Sir Thomas Langley, aided by Ralph. The children then flee, with the exception of Merthin, who helps the wounded Sir Thomas bury a letter with instructions to dig up and deliver it if and when Sir Thomas should die. After this Sir Thomas flees to Kingsbridge and seeks refuge in the monastery and becomes a Benedictine monk, while the four children swear never to speak of what they saw. Ten years later  a section of the vault of the Kingsbridge Cathedral collapses Merthin, now an apprentice carpenter, shows his genius by developing a cheaper means of repair than his master. Ralph, now a squire to Earl Roland of Shiring, provokes a fight and has his nose broken by a handsome peasant from Gwenda’s village named Wulfric, for whom Gwenda has a hopeless infatuation. Gwenda is sold for a cow by her father to be prostituted at an outlaws’ camp. She kills one of the outlaws and escapes. She is followed by her buyer, but is able to drown him when the Kingsbridge bridge collapses, a tragedy that kills many, including all of Wulfric’s immediate family and Prior Anthony of Kingsbridge. In the midst of the disaster Ralph saves Earl Roland’s life and is rewarded with the lordship of Gwenda’s village of Wigleigh.

Gwenda and Wulfric return to Wigleigh and attempt to gain Wulfric the inheritance of his father’s land. The inheritance is eventually denied by Ralph because of the grudge he bears against Wulfric, Wulfric’s beautiful wife-to-be, Annet, then leaves him allowing Gwenda to marry him instead. Gwenda then tries to win Wulfric back his lands from Ralph but is double-crossed. Meanwhile, the monastery’s Sacrist, Godwyn, a nephew of Prior Anthony, outwits his opponents and wins the priory election in an overwhelming victory. Godwyn clashes with the townsmen on a number of issues, including the funding and building of a fabulous new bridge designed by Merthin. Caris, meanwhile becomes the de facto alderman & Despite being her cousin, Godwyn charges her with witchcraft hoping to have her executed to get her out of the way. To escape execution, Caris agrees to join the Kingsbridge nunnery. With his impending marriage to Caris made impossible, Merthin leaves Kingsbridge for Florence to pursue his building career.

Eight years later,  Caris travels to France to petition the bishop, who is fighting with King Edward III in France. Along the way she witnesses the ravages of the war and acts as a field nurse during the Battle of Crecy, during which Ralph saves the life of the Prince of Wales and is rewarded with  his lifelong dream of knighthood. Caris’s errand is fruitless, however, as the bishop of Kingsbridge as well as Earl Roland have been killed in the battle. In Florence, the city is ravaged by the Black Death & After recovering from the plague, a newly-widowed Merthin experiences an epiphany of his love for Caris and returns to Kingsbridge with his daughter Laura (Lolla). There he finds Caris however she is unwilling to renounce her vows. Meanwhile Merthin re-establishes himself in Kingsbridge which has been ravaged by the Plague and Thousands of residents have died, including the prioress of the nunnery, so Caris takes control and institutes the use of masks and cleanliness which help to protect the nuns from the plague. Godwyn loses his nerve and flees with the monks to an isolated chapel where he and all the monks die except for Gwenda’s brother Philemon, who left, and Thomas Langley.After William, the new Earl of Shiring, dies from the plague along with all his male heirs, Ralph sees a chance to become Earl. After murdering his young wife Matilda (Tilly) he arranges his marriage to William’s widow Lady Phillipa, whom he has long desired, and makes himself Earl. However Philippa spurns him and leaves for the Kingsbridge nunnery, where she has a relationship with Merthin. Afraid of Ralph’s wrath, Philippa seduces Ralph to make him believe the child is his.

After two years, the plague dissipates and Caris, who is  now running a hospita,l renounces her vows, and marries Merthin. The people of Kingsbridge are then granted a borough charter, freeing them from the lordship of the priory, and Merthin becomes alderman. Merthin also solves the long troublesome problem of why the vault of the cathedral collapsed by dismantling and rebuilding one of the towers which he redesigns to be the tallest building in England. Labour shortages resulting from the plague allow Wulfric to regain his father’s land. When Sam, the secret son of Ralph, kills the local bailiff’s son, Gwenda reveals his true parentage to Ralph to gain Sam’s release. Armed with this knowledge, Ralph blackmails Gwenda & Sam and Gwenda kill Ralph. Davey, Gwenda’s second son, negotiates a free tenancy and marries Amabel, the daughter of Wulfric’s former wife-to-be, proving to Gwenda that her life has had some worth.Meanwhile Gwenda’s conniving brother Philemon becomes Prior of Kingsbridge and even tries to become Bishop, but his ambition is ruined after Sir Thomas Langley dies of old age. Merthin keeps his promise and digs up the letter which reveals that the deposed King Edward II had secretly survived and had gone overseas. Merthin trades the letter to a member of the king’s court in exchange for Philemon’s departure from Kingsbridge forever.After working together with Caris and the townspeople to subdue a second, milder outbreak of the plague, Merthin completes his spire and succeeds in making Kingsbridge cathedral the tallest building in England.  The series stars Cynthia Nixon, Miranda Richardson, Peter Firth, Ben Chaplin, Charlotte Riley, Sarah Gadon and Tom Weston-Jones & was produced by Scott Free and Tandem Communications, adapted by John Pielmeier, and is directed by Michael Caton-Jones who also directed the historical epic Rob Roy.

Often considered the father of geology and stratigraphy, Danish Catholic bishop and scientist Blessed Nicolas Steno was born on this day 11 January in 1638 in Copenhagen. His pioneering research in both anatomy and geology has led to a greater understanding in both, and  he was also beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988.

He was the son of a Lutheran goldsmith who worked regularly for King Christian IV of Denmark, but grew up in isolation during his childhood, because of an unknown disease. In 1644 his father died, after which his mother married another goldsmith. Across the street lived Peder Schumacher (who would later offer Steno a post as professor in Copenhagen). After completing his university education, Steno set out to travel through Europe, In the Netherlands, France, Italy and Germany he came into contact with prominent physicians and scientists. These influences led him to use his own powers…

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Tribute to Maurice Gibb (The Bee Gees)

Best remembered for being one third of the phenomenally successful Bee Gees, Maurice Gibb sadly passed away on 12th January 2003. Born 1949  He and his two brothers, Barry and Robin,  made their earliest performances at local movie theatres in Manchester in 1955, singing between shows. The Gibb brothers seemed to have a natural talent that allowed them to write hit songs with ease. In the 1950′s they emigrated to Australia with their parents.

In the mid-1960′s  the Gibb brothers returned to England to further their singing careers. Their early recordings, including dramatic hits such as Massachusetts (1967), drew comparisons with the Beatles. The trio reached the Top Ten with I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You and I Started a Joke (both 1968) but split briefly after the relative failure of their concept album Odessa (1969), but reunited in 1970 and had hits with Lonely Days (1970) and How Can You Mend a Broken Heart (1971). They returned to the charts with Main Course in 1975 – in which they produced a new sound – the emphasis being on dance rhythms, high harmonies, and a funk beat,  and their trademark falsetto harmonies propelled the Bee Gees right to the forefront of the disco movement and turned it into a global phenomenon,   with hits including Stayin’ Alive  Jive Talkin’,  You Should Be Dancing and Night Fever, which featured on the soundtrack of the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever, starring John Travolta

Their success was not limited to recordings issued under their own name either. Individually and together they’ve also written and produced major hits for artists including Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, as well as Frankie Valli. During a lengthy career, they have  sold more than 200 million records and become the first and only songwriters to place five songs in the Top Ten at the same time.  In 1997 the band was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and are  among the most successful vocal groups in rock and roll history, Sadly though both Maurice and Robin Gibb have passed away, but they have left the world some fantastic music.

Tribute to novellist Dame Agatha Christie DBE

British crime novelist Dame Agatha Christie, DBE sadly passed away on 12th January 1976. Born 15th September 1890  to a wealthy upper middle-class family in Torquay, Devon, Christie served in a hospital during the First World War before settling into married life with her first child in London. Although initially unsuccessful at getting her work published, in 1920, The Bodley Head press published her novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, featuring the character of Poirot. This launched her literary career.

She also wrote short stories, and plays and romances under the name Mary Westmacott, but she is best remembered for her 66 detective novels and more than 15 short story collections, most of which revolve around the investigations of such characters as Hercule Poirot, Miss Jane Marple and Tommy and Tuppence. Among her best known novels are: And then there were none, Final Cases, Poirot and the Regatta, Mystery, The Thirteen Problems, Crooked House, The Murder at the Vicarage/Body in the Library/The Moving Finger, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Five Little pigs, Murder on the Orient Express, Towards Zero, Death on the Nile, A Murder is Announced, Problem at Pollensa Bay, Sleeping Murder, 4.50 From Paddington, Pocket Full of Rye, Endless Night, The Clocks, The ABC Murders.Ordeal By Innocence, Appointment with Death, Cat Among the Pigeons, Endless Night, Evil Under the Sun, Why Didn’t they ask Evans, Towards Zero and Passenger to Frankfurt.

In 1971, she was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace and  In 1955, Christie was the first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America’s highest honour, the Grand Master Award, and in the same year Witness for the Prosecution was given an Edgar Award by the MWA for Best Play.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time. Her novels have sold roughly four billion copies, and her estate claims that her works rank third, after those of William Shakespeare and the Bible, as the world’s most widely published books.   And Then There Were None is Christie’s best-selling novel with 100 million sales to date, making it the world’s best-selling mystery ever, and one of the best-selling books of all time, she is also the most translated individual author, and her books have been translated into at least 103 languages. Due to their enduring popularity Many of Christie’s books and short stories have also been filmed, and many have been adapted for television, radio, video games and comics and  Christie’s stage play The Mousetrap also holds the record for the longest initial run: having opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in London on 25 November 1952 and is (as of 2012) still running after more than 24,600 performances.