Simon Jones (The Verve & The Shining)

8fe49418aaf3e44c7165-1024Best known as being a member of The Verve and Theshining, the English Singer-Songwritet Simon Jones was born 29th May 1972. The Verve were an English alternative rock band formed in Wigan in 1989 by lead vocalist Richard Ashcroft, guitarist Nick McCabe, bass guitarist Simon Jones and drummer Peter Salisbury. The guitarist and keyboard player Simon Tong became a member at a later date. Beginning with a psychedelic sound, by the mid-1990s the band had released several EPs and three albums.The founding members of Verve met at Winstanley Sixth Form College, in Wigan, Greater Manchester. The band’s first gig was at the Honeysuckle Pub, in Wigan, on 15 August 1990.Most of the band’s early material was created through extensive jam sessions.Fronted by singer Richard Ashcroft, the band caused a buzz in early 1991 for its ability to captivate audiences with its musical textures and avant-garde sensibilities.The group was signed by Hut Records in 1991 and their first studio releases in 1992, “All in the Mind”, “She’s a Superstar”, and “Gravity Grave” (along with the December 1992 Verve) saw the band become a critical success, making an impression with freeform guitar work by McCabe and unpredictable vocals by Ashcroft. Those first 3 singles reached the first spot in the UK Indie charts, and “She’s a Superstar” did enter the UK Top 75 Singles Chart. The band saw some support from these early days in the United States in some music scenes in big cities like New York connected with psychedelic music.

1993’s A Storm in Heaven was the band’s full-length debut, produced by record producer John Leckie (of Radiohead, The Stone Roses,XTC and The Fall fame). “Blue” was released as the lead single and again managed to enter in the UK Top 75 at No. 69 and reached No. 2 in the Indie charts. The album was a critical success, but was only a moderate commercial success, reaching No. 27 in the UK album chart that summer. The second single from the album, “Slide Away”, topped the UK indie rock charts. During this period the band played a number of gigs with Oasis who, at the time, were relatively unknown.]In 1994, the band released the album No Come Down, a compilation of b-sides plus a live version of “Gravity Grave” performed atGlastonbury Festival in 1993. It was the band’s first release under the name The Verve, following legal difficulties with the jazz labelVerve Records. The band then played on the travelling U.S. alternative rock festival, Lollapalooza, in the summer of 1994. A new mix of “Blue” was released in the U.S. to promote the band.

For the band’s second album, 1995’s A Northern Soul,  They departed from the experimental psychedelic sounds of A Storm in Heaven and focused more on conventional alternative rock, with Ashcroft’s vocals taking a more prominent role in the songs, although reminiscent of some of the early work. Around this period, Oasis guitarist and friend of Ashcroft, Noel Gallagher, dedicated the song “Cast No Shadow” on the album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? to Ashcroft, and Ashcroft returned the gesture by dedicating the song “A Northern Soul” to Noel.The band released the album’s first single “This Is Music” in May, and it reached No. 35, their first single to reach the Top 40. It was followed by “On Your Own” in June which performed even better, reaching No. 28. This single was particularly new for The Verve as it was a soulful ballad. The album reached the UK Top 20 upon its release in July, but Ashcroft broke up the band three months later, just before the release of the third single “History”, which reached No. 24 in September. Ashcroft reunited with Jones and Salisbury just a few weeks after the break-up, but McCabe did not rejoin them. The new band hired former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, but he spent only a couple of days with the band. The band then chose Simon Tong, a school friend credited with originally teaching Ashcroft and Jones to play guitar. The band made no live appearances for all of 1996, apart from a solo performance from Ashcroft supporting Oasis in New York. The rest of the year was spent playing and recording songs for a new album.

The band’s commercial breakthrough was the 1997 album Urban Hymns, one of the best-selling albums in UK Chart history, and the single “Bitter Sweet Symphony”, which became a worldwide hit. In 1998, the band won two Brit Awards—winning Best British Group, appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in March, and in February 1999, “Bitter Sweet Symphony” was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rock Song.Soon after this commercial peak, The Verve broke up in April 1999, citing internal conflicts.According to Billboard magazine, “the group’s rise was the culmination of a long, arduous journey that began at the dawn of the decade and went on to encompass a major breakup, multiple lawsuits, and an extensive diet of narcotics”. During an eight-year split, Ashcroft dismissed talk of a reunion, saying: “You’re more likely to get all four Beatles on stage.”The band’s original line-up reunited in June 2007, embarking on a tour later that year and releasing the album Forth in August 2008. In 2009, the band broke up for the third time.

Tribute to G.K.Chesterton

English writer G.K Chesterton was born 29th May 1874, so I thought I would pay tribute to him. He published works on philosophy, ontology, poetry, plays, journalism, public lectures and debates, literary and art criticism, biography, Christian apologetics, and fiction, including fantasy and detective fiction. Chesterton has been called the “prince of paradox”. Time magazine, in a review of a biography of Chesterton, observed of his writing style: “Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories— first carefully turning them inside out.” For example, Chesterton wrote “Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it.”Chesterton is well known for his reasoned apologetics and even some of those who disagree with him have recognized the universal appeal of such works as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man.

Chesterton, as a political thinker, cast aspersions on both progressivism and conservatism, saying, “The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.” Chesterton routinely referred to himself as an “orthodox” Christian, and came to identify such a position more and more with Catholicism, eventually converting to Roman Catholicism from High Church Anglicanism. George Bernard Shaw, Chesterton’s “friendly enemy” according to Time, said of him, “He was a man of colossal genius”. Biographers have identified him as a successor to such Victorian authors as Matthew Arnold, Thomas Carlyle, John Henry Cardinal Newman, and John Ruskin.Among his best known works are The Napoleon of Notting Hill, Heretics, Charles Dickens: A Critical Study, The Man Who Was Thursday, Orthodoxy, Manalive, Father Brown short stories (detective fiction), Eugenics and Other Evils, Saint Francis of Assisi (1923), Doubleday, The Everlasting Man & Saint Thomas Aquinas. A lot of these can also be found on the Project Gutenberg Website.

Happy Birthday Noel Gallagher

English musician and singer-songwriter Noel Gallagher was born 29 May 1967. Formerly the lead guitarist, occasional lead singer and principal songwriter of the rock band Oasis. He is currently fronting his solo project, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Raised in Burnage, Manchester with Liam, Noel began learning guitar at the age of thirteen. After a series of odd jobs in construction, he worked for local Manchester band Inspiral Carpets as a roadie and technician in 1988.Whilst touring with them, he learned that Liam had formed a band of his own, known as The Rain, which eventually took on the name Oasis. After Gallagher returned to England, he was invited by his brother to join Oasis as songwriter and guitarist.

Oasis’ debut album, Definitely Maybe (1994), marked the beginning of the band’s rise to fame as head of the Britpop movement. Oasis’ second album, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, reached the top of the album charts in many countries and their third studio album, Be Here Now, became the fastest-selling album in UK chart history. Britpop eventually declined in popularity and Oasis’ next two albums failed to revive it. However, the band’s final two albums, Don’t Believe the Truth (2005) and Dig Out Your Soul (2008), were hailed as its best efforts in over a decade and found renewed success. On 28 August 2009, following an altercation with Liam prior to a gig in Paris, Gallagher announced his departure from Oasis and on 23 October 2009, he confirmed he would embark on a solo career and is currently performing with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

Gallagher’s run with Oasis was marked by turbulence, especially during the peak of Britpop, during which he was involved in several disputes with Liam, and the brothers’ fights and wild lifestyles regularly made headlines in British tabloid newspapers. Gallagher (along with Oasis) also shared a personal rivalry with fellow Britpop band Blur. However, Gallagher was often regarded as the spear-head of the Britpop movement, and at one point of time, NME termed a number of Britpop bands (including Kula Shaker, Ocean Colour Scene and Cast) as “Noelrock”, citing Gallagher’s influence on their success. Many have praised Gallagher’s songwriting, with George Martin claiming Noel to be ‘the finest songwriter of his generation’.

Francis Rossi (Status Quo)

Best known for being a co-founder of the English rock band Status Quo , British singer and Guitarist Francis  Rossi, OBE was born 29th May 1949. Status Quo were orignially called The Spectres & were founded by schoolboys Francis Rossi and Alan Lancaster in 1962. After a number of lineup changes, the band became “The Status Quo” in late 1967, finally settling on the name “Status Quo” in 1969. They have recorded over 60 chart hits in the UK, more than any other rock group. 22 of these have reached the UK Top Ten. The origins of Status Quo were in the rock and roll freakbeat band “The Spectres” formed in 1962.Rossi and Lancaster played their first gig at the Samuel Jones Sports Club in Dulwich, London. In 1963 they added drummer John Coghlan.

They began writing their own material and after a year met Rick Parfitt who was playing with a cabaret band called The Highlights. By the end of 1965 Rossi and Parfitt, who had become close friends, made a commitment to continue working together. On 18 July 1966 The Spectres signed a five-year deal with Piccadilly Records, releasing two singles that year, “I (Who Have Nothing)” and “Hurdy Gurdy Man” (written by Alan Lancaster), and one the next year called “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet”By 1967, the group had discovered psychedelia At this time the line-up also included organist Roy Lynes. They released another single “Almost But Not Quite There” which was also a flop. In late 1967 the band became The Status Quo, and in January 1968 they released the psychedelic-flavoured “Pictures of Matchstick Men”.Rick Parfitt was invited to join the band just as the song hit the UK Singles Chart, reaching Number 7. “Matchstick Men” also became their only Top 40 hit single in the United States. Though the follow-up was the unsuccessful single, “Black Veils of Melancholy”, they had a hit again the same year with the poppy, Marty Wilde penned “Ice in the Sun”, which climbed to Number 8.After their second album Spare Parts failed to impact commercially, the band, disillusioned with their musical direction, abandoned pop psychedelia and Carnaby Street fashions in favour of a hard rock/boogie sound, faded denims and T-shirts, an image which was to become their trademark throughout the 1970s.

After two well-received but relatively poor selling albums in 1970 and 1971, their major breakthrough came when they signed with the heavy rock and progressive label Vertigo. Their first album for Vertigo, Piledriver was released in 1972, and heralded an even heavier, self-produced sound. This album was essentially the stylistic template for each album they released up until Blue for You in 1976. During this period, and throughout the rest of the 1970s, they became one of the UK’s leading rock bands, gaining a faithful following due to their relentless touring and energetic live gigs. Quo’s more popular songs from this era include “Paper Plane”, “Caroline”, “Down Down”, “Rain”, “Rockin’ All Over the World” and “Whatever You Want”. “Down Down” topped the UK Singles Chart in January 1975, becoming their only UK number one single to date . In 1976, they signed a pioneering sponsorship deal with Levi’s. To date Quo have sold approximately 128 million records worldwide and Furthermore the current Quo line up plan to release a new album in 2013.