Nelson Mandela

imageSouth African anti-apartheid revolutionary and Politician Nelson Mandela sadly passed away from a Lung infection following a long illness on 5 December 2013, at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg at the age of 95. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Was Born l8 July 1918 he was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary who was imprisoned and then became a politician and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the first black South African to hold the office, and the first elected in a fully representative election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation. Politically an African nationalist and democratic socialist, he served as the President of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1991 to 1997. Internationally, Mandela was the Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999.

A Xhosa born to the Thembu royal family, Mandela attended the Fort Hare Universityand the University of Witwatersrand, where he studied law. Living in Johannesburg, he became involved in anti-colonial politics, joining the ANC and becoming a founding member of its Youth League. After the South African National Party came to power in 1948, he rose to prominence in the ANC’s 1952 Defiance Campaign, was appointed superintendent of the organisation’s Transvaal chapter and presided over the 1955Congress of the People. Working as a lawyer, he was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities and, with the ANC leadership, was unsuccessfully prosecuted in the Treason Trial from 1956 to 1961. Although initially committed to non-violent protest, he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961 in association with the South African Communist Party, leading a sabotage campaign against the apartheidgovernment. In 1962 he was arrested, convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial. Mandela served 27 years in prison, initially on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. An international campaign lobbied for his release, which was granted in 1990 amid escalating civil strife. Mandela published his autobiography and opened negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections in 1994, in which he led the ANC to victory.

As South Africa’s first black president Mandela formed a Government of National Unity in an attempt to defuse racial tension. He also promulgated a new constitution and created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. Continuing the former government’s liberal economic policy, his administration introduced measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty, and expand healthcare services. Internationally, he acted as mediator between Libya and the United Kingdom in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial, and oversaw military intervention in Lesotho. He declined to run for a second term, and was succeeded by his deputy, Thabo Mbeki. Mandela subsequently became an elder statesman, focusing on charitable work in combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation.Although Mandela was a controversial figure for much of his life, he became widely popular during the last two decades following his release. Despite a minority of critics who continued to denounce him as a communist and/or terrorist, he gained international acclaim for his activism, having received more than 250 honours, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the SovietOrder of Lenin and the Bharat Ratna. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, or as Tata (“Father”); he is often described as “the father of the nation”.

Dave Lovering (The Pixies)

imageDave Lovering, the drummer with alternative rock-band The Pixies was born 6th December 1961. The group consists of Black Francis (vocals, rhythm guitar), Joey Santiago (lead guitar), Kim Deal (bass, vocals), and David Lovering (drums)The band’s style of music contains elements of indie rock and surf rock andWhile the Pixies only found  modest commercial success in their home country, they were significantly more successful in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe, releasing some great albums including Doolittle, Bossanova, Trompe Le Monde and Indie Cindy among others. Sadly though, The group disbanded in 1993 under acrimonious circumstances but reunited in 2004.

Black Francis is the Pixies’ primary songwriter and singer who has been noted for his yowling delivery. He has typically written about offbeat subjects, such as extraterrestrials, surrealism and biblical violence. The group has been described as a big influence on the alternative rock boom of the 1990s, though they disbanded before reaping any of the benefits this might have brought them. Avowed fan Kurt Cobain’s acknowledgment of the debt his band Nirvana owed to the Pixies, along with similar tributes by other alternative bands, helped the Pixies’ legacy and popularity grow in the years following their break-up, leading to sold-out tours following their reunion in 2004. Since the break-up of the Pixies Black Francis has also been a successful solo artist in his own right. since the Pixies reformed they have released Indie Cindy and A special remastered 25th Anniversary edition of the album Doolittle, containing rarities, outtakes and extra tracks in addition to the album itself.

PIXIE LIVE AT MAIDA VALE 2013 http://m.youtube.com/results?q=pixies&sm=3

Peter Buck (REM)

REM_Collapse Into Now_COVERPeter Buck, The Guitarist with band R.E.M was born 6th December 1956. First emerging in 1980s from the college radio scene. at first REM were scrappy and lo-fi, abrasive but somehow beautiful, and the development of this sound helped them become bona-fide stadium-fillers later on in their their career. They played their first gig in a church on 5 April 1980 under the name of Twisted Kites, and they played with a mixture of post-punk poise and jangly guitars which made them seem simultaneously cutting-edge and a romantic reminder of rock’s past and they soon became popular. Their music was influenced by their small-town surroundings and is closer to real life stating that “It’s great just to bring out an emotion… better to make someone feel nostalgic or wistful or excited or sad.” Commercially speaking, their breakthrough came when they released the single “The One I Love” which was taken from the 1987 Album “Document”. The next single “Freaks” saw REM outgrow the university centred underground music scene which had so-far sustained them, and they hit the big time.

Their next release 1988′s “Green” was released by a major label and was seen by many as their true peak. Lyrically, the album saw the band dealing with a number of important issues – World leader Pretend is a deft criticism of the remote ruling classes, while Pop Song ’89 tackles claims the band had sold out by purporting to be, in Stipe’s words, “the prototype of, and hopefully the end of, a pop song”.The next album “Out of Time” proved to be an even bigger hit. Featuring the career-defining singles Losing My Religion, which some regard to be the touchstone of alternative rock and Shiny Happy People, featuring fellow Athenian Kate Pierson from the B52′s. With this album it seems that The band were aiming to make a massively successful, mainstream record without embarrassing, or compromising, themselves – They certainly succeeded. Michael Stipe’s inner demons also came to the fore In the next album, 1992′s Automatic For The People, which is A more sombre, reflective album that features string arrangements by Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones. This album was also to yeild some wonderful songs like “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight” and “Everybody Hurts”. The band’s next two albums Monster and New Adventures In Hi-Fi were largely recorded live – some tracks taken from soundchecks taken during the massive stadium tour, and featured some new classics, such as Let Me In, a tribute to the recently deceased Kurt Cobain.

R.E.M. – Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage 1982-2011 http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=paScSVUDRSE#

Unfortunately drummer Bill Berry suffered a brain aneurysm and quit the band in 1997, and things never quite returned to the giddy heights of “Out of Time” and Moments of brilliance, such as The Great Beyond or Imitation Of Life, became less frequently. Leading some band members to pursue side-projects, Stipe increasingly pusued his film work,while Peter Buck concentrated more on his country supergroup Tired Pony. Despite this REM continued to be unbeatable live performers to the end and their final album, Collapse Into Now, was hailed, like many of its predecessors, as a return to form. Certainly, the band sounded rejuvenated and a lot more energetic than on some of the previous work which was released in the mid-2000s. In addition They also recently re-released an earlier album ”Lifes Rich Pageant” which is also a great album. Then on November 14th 2011 , REM released a definitive greatest hits Double CD album, entitled: “R.E.M., PART LIES, PART HEART, PART TRUTH, PART GARBAGE, 1982 – 2011. ″ through Warner Bros, the album contained tracks from the band’s entire back catalogue, including tracks from both the IRS and Warner years plus three brand-new songs, as a final farewell.

Roy Orbison

squareKnown by the nickname ‘The Big O’ and remembered for his distinctive, powerful voice,the American singer, guitarist, and songwriter Roy Orbison sadly died on 6TH December 1988. Born April 23, 1936 Roy Kelton Orbison, he grew up in Texas and began singing in a rockabilly/country and western band in high school until he was signed by Sun Records in Memphis. His greatest success came with Monument Records between 1960 and 1964, when 22 of his songs placed on the Billboard Top Forty, including “Only the Lonely”, “Crying”, and “Oh, Pretty Woman”. His career stagnated through the 1970s, but several covers of his songs and the use of “In Dreams” in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet revived his career in the 1980s. In 1988, he joined the supergroup Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne and also released a new solo album. He died of a heart attack in December that year, at the zenith of his resurgence.

His life was marred by tragedy, including the death of his firstwife and his two eldest sons in separate accidents.Orbison was a natural baritone, but music scholars have suggested that he had a three- or four-octave range. The combination of Orbison’s powerful, impassioned voice and complex musical arrangements led many critics to refer to his music as operatic, giving him the sobriquet “the Caruso of Rock”.Elvis Presley and Bono have stated his voice was, respectively, the greatest and most distinctive they had ever heard While most men in rock and roll in the 1950s and 1960s portrayed a defiant masculinity, many of Orbison’s songs instead conveyed a quiet, desperate vulnerability. He was known for performing dark emotional ballads while standing still and solitary, wearing black clothes and dark sunglasses which lent an air of mystery to his persona.Orbison was initiated into the second class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 by longtime admirer Bruce Springsteen. The same year he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame two years later. Rolling Stone placed Orbison at number 37 on their list of The Greatest Artists of All Time, and number 13 on their list of The 100Greatest Singers of All Time. In 2002, Billboard magazine listed Orbison at number 74 in the Top 600 recording artists

Roy Orbison – Black & White Night Live http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HWCBwaNvHbE

Do something Gromiiiiiiiiiit

imageEnglish filmmaker Nick Park, CBE, was Born 6 December 1958, He grew up with a keen interest in drawing cartoons. He also took after his father, an amateur inventor, and would send items – such as a bottle that squeezed out different coloured wools – to Blue Peter. He studied Communication Arts at Sheffield Polytechnic (now Sheffield Hallam University) and then went to the National Film and Television School, where he started making the first Wallace and Gromit film, A Grand Day Out.In 1985, he joined the staff of Aardman Animations in Bristol, where he worked as an animator on commercial products (including the video for Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer”, where he worked on the dance scene involving oven-ready chickens). He also had a part in animating the Pee-wee’s Playhouse which featured Paul Reubens. Along with all this, he had finally completed A Grand Day Out, and with that in post-production, he made Creature Comforts as his contribution to a series of shorts called “Lip Synch”. Creature Comforts matched animated zoo animals with a soundtrack of people talking about their homes. The two films were nominated for a host of awards. A Grand Day Out beat Creature Comforts for the BAFTA award, but it was Creature Comforts that won Park his first Oscar.In 1990 Park worked alongside advertising agency GGK to develop a series of highly acclaimed television advertisements for the “Heat Electric” campaign. The Creature Comforts advertisements are now regarded as among the best advertisements ever shown on British television, as voted (independently) by viewers of the UK’s main commercial channels ITV and Channel 4.

Two more Wallace and Gromit shorts, The Wrong Trousers (1993) and A Close Shave (1995), followed, both winning Oscars. He then made his first feature-length film, Chicken Run (2000), co-directed with Aardman founder Peter Lord. He also supervised a new series of “Creature Comforts” films for British television in 2003.His second theatrical feature-length film and first Wallace and Gromit feature, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, was released on 5 October 2005, and won Best Animated Feature Oscar at the 78th Academy Awards, 6 March 2006.

On 10 October 2005, a fire gutted Aardman Animations’ archive warehouse. The fire resulted in the loss of most of Park’s creations, including the models and sets used in the movie Chicken Run. Some of the original Wallace & Gromit models and sets, as well as the master prints of the finished films, were elsewhere and survived.Park’s most recent work includes a U.S. version of Creature Comforts, a weekly television series that was on CBS every Monday evening at 8 pm ET. In the series, Americans were interviewed about a range of subjects. The interviews were lip synced to Aardman animal characters.In September 2007, it was announced that Nick Park had been commissioned to design a bronze statue of Wallace and Gromit, which will be placed in his home town of Preston.’fo llowed by another Wallace & Gromit short film A Matter of Loaf and Death. In February 2011, Park made his first ever appearance, himself as an animated character in The Simpsons episode, “Angry Dad: The Movie”. His new Willis and Crumble short, Better Gnomes and Gardens also borrows elements and themes from Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Park has been nominated for an Academy Award a total of six times, and won four with Creature Comforts (1989), The Wrong Trousers (1993), A Close Shave (1995), and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005