Falco

The late great Austrian Rock Musician and Rapper Falco (Johann Hölzel) was born 19 February in 1957.  Falco began to show signs of unusual musical talent very early. As a toddler, he was able to keep time with the drumbeat in songs he heard on the radio. He was given a baby grand piano for his fourth birthday; a year later, his birthday gift was a record player which he used to play music by Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, and the Beatles. At age five, he auditioned for the Vienna Music Academy.

In 1963, Hölzel began his schooling at a Roman Catholic private school; four years later, at age ten, he switched to the Rainer Gymnasium in Vienna. Shortly thereafter his father Alois Hölzel left the family. From then on, Hölzel was raised by his mother and grandmother. He left school at sixteen in 1973 due to absenteeism. His mother then insisted he begin an apprenticeship with the Austrian employee pension insurance institute, At seventeen, he volunteered for eight months of military service with the Austrian army. He then entered the Vienna Music Conservatory in 1977, but left after one semester to “become a real musician”. He moved to West Berlin while singing in a jazz-rock band and exploring the club scene. When he returned to Vienna he was calling himself “Falco”, in tribute to the East German ski jumper Falko Weißpflog. From 1978 He played bass with the Austrian hard rock-punk rock band Drahdiwaberl until 1983 and also played bass with the space disco band Ganymed in 1981.

Falco’s first hit was “Der Kommissar” from the 1982 album Einzelhaft, which combines German rap verses with a sung chorus. Shortly after British rock band After the Fire recorded an English cover version, based on Falco’s lyrics and also called “Der Kommissar” and American singer Laura Branigan also recorded a version of the song with new English lyrics under the title “Deep in the Dark” on her album Branigan2. Sadly though his second album, Junge Römer (Young Romans) failed to provide a repeat to his debut single’s success.

Falco then began to experiment with English lyrics in an effort to broaden his appeal, and this resulted in his most popular album and single of his career “Rock Me Amadeus” with it’s distinctive guttural delivery, which was inspired in part by the Oscar-winning film Amadeus, and the song became a worldwide hit in 1986. The Follow-up single “Vienna Calling” was another international pop hit. The third song “Jeanny” became Highly controversial when it was released in Germany and the Netherlands, because the story of “Jeanny” was told from the point of view of a possible rapist and murderer. In 1986, he released the album Emotional, which included the Songs “Coming Home (Jeanny Part II, One Year Later)”, “The Kiss of Kathleen Turner”, “Kamikaze Capa” which was written as a tribute to the late photojournalist Robert Capa and “The Sound of Musik”. In 1987 he went on the “Emotional” world tour and also released a duet with Brigitte Nielsen, “Body Next to Body” and an album in 1988 entitled Wiener Blut (Viennese Blood).

Sadly though, Falco died of severe injuries received on 6 February 1998, just a few days before his 41st birthday, when his Mitsubishi Pajero collided with a bus on the road linking the towns of Villa Montellano and Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. It was later determined that the bus driver was speeding, for which the driver served three years in prison. However, at the time of the accident, Falco was under the influence of significant amounts of alcohol, cocaine and THC.At the time of Falco’s death, he was planning a comeback with the album Nachtflug (Night Flight) which included the song “Titanic”, and was released posthumously. He is buried in the Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) in Vienna, Austria.

Bon Scott (AC/DC)

imageThe late great Bon Scott, Former singer with heavy metal band AC/DC sadly died 19th February 1980. AC/DC were Formed in 1973 by Malcolm and his brother Angus Young, who have remained the sole constant members. The band are commonly classified as hard rock, and are considered pioneers of heavy metal and are sometimes classified as such, though they themselves have always classified their music as simply “rock and roll”. To date they are one of the highest grossing bands of all time. AC/DC underwent several line-up changes before releasing their first album, High Voltage, on 17 February 1975.

Bass player Cliff Williams replaced Mark Evans in 1977 for the album Powerage. Within months of recording the album Highway to Hell, lead singer and co-songwriter Bon Scott died on 19 February 1980, after a night of heavy alcohol consumption. The group briefly considered disbanding, but Scott’s parents urged them to continue and hire a new vocalist. Ex-Geordie singer Brian Johnson was auditioned and selected to replace Scott. Later that year, the band released their highest selling album, and ultimately the third highest-selling album by any artist, Back in Black. The band’s next album, For Those About to Rock We Salute You, was their first album to reach number one in the United States. AC/DC declined in popularity soon after drummer Phil Rudd was fired in 1983 and was replaced by future Dio drummer Simon Wright, though the band resurged in the early 1990s with the release of The Razors Edge. Phil Rudd returned in 1994 (after Chris Slade, who was with the band from 1989–1994, was asked to leave in favour of him) and contributed to the band’s 1995 album Ballbreaker.

Since then, the band’s line-up has remained the same. Stiff Upper Lip was released in 2000 and was well received by critics, and the band’s latest studio album, Black Ice, was released on 20 October 2008. It was their biggest hit on the charts since For Those About to Rock, reaching No.1 on all the charts eventually. As of 2010, AC/DC had sold more than 200 million albums worldwide, including 71 million albums in the United States alone. Back in Black has sold an estimated 49 million units worldwide, making it the third highest-selling album by any artist, and the second highest-selling album by any band, behind Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon and Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The album has sold 22 million units in the U.S. alone, where it is the fifth-highest-selling album of all-time. AC/DC ranked fourth on VH1′s list of the “100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock” and were named the seventh “Greatest Heavy Metal Band of All Time” by MTV. In 2004, AC/DC were ranked number 72 in the Rolling Stone list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. In 2010, AC/DC were ranked number 23 in the VH1 list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time

Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath)

Black Sabbath guitarist and songwriter Tony Iommi was born on this day 19 February in 1948. He best known as the founding member of pioneering heavy metal band Black Sabbath, who’s hit’s include Paranoid and Iron Man , he is the sole continual member through multiple personnel changes, and is widely recognised as one of the most important and influential guitarists in heavy metal music.

According to Allmusic, “Iommi is one of only two guitarists (the other being Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page) who can take full credit for pioneering the mammoth riffs of heavy metal.” He has also been ranked number one on Guitar World’s “100 Greatest Metal Guitarists of All Time”, and in 2011, ranked 25th in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”. His autobiography was published, entitled Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath. Sadly though On 9 January 2012, it was announced that Iommi had beendiagnosed with early stage lymphoma.

Heavy Metal band Black Sabbath are recording their first album with Ozzy Osbourne ) since since 1978′s Never Say Die!.The new studio album is produced by Rick Rubin and is their first with original singer Ozzy Osbourne , and also featuring Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler, the original guitarist and bass player. However the New record will not feature original drummer Bill Ward, due to a disagreement between Ward and the rest of the band which occurred after he was excluded from the headline show at the 2012 Download festival.

Francis Buchholz ( Scorpions)

imageFrancis Buchholz Bass player with the splendidly noisy German Rock Group The Scorpions was born 19th February 1954. Formed in 1965 by Rudolf Schenker, the Scorpions first had beat influences and Schenker himself did the vocals then things began to come together in 1970 when Schenker’s younger brother Michael and vocalist Klaus Meine joined the band. In 1972, the group recorded and released their debut album Lonesome Crow. Sadly Michael Schenker left the band, which led to the breakup of the band In 1973, however In 1974 a new line-up of Scorpions released Fly to the Rainbow. This album proved to be more successful than Lonesome Crow and established the band’s sound. In 1975 the band released In Trance, The album was a huge step forward for Scorpions and established their heavy metal formula and contained songs like “Dark Lady”, “Robot Man”. In 1976, Scorpions released Virgin Killer, which featured rather controversial artwork, that brought the band considerable media exposure but resulted in the album being “pulled” in some countries, although the music itself garnered considerable praise from critics and fans. The follow-up album was Taken by Force, They also recorded material during the band’s Japanese tour, and the resultant double live album was called Tokyo Tapes.

In 1979 The Scorpions released the album “Love Drive” which some critics consider to be the pinnacle of their career. Containing such fan favourites as “Loving You Sunday Morning”, “Always Somewhere”, “Holiday” and the instrumental “Coast to Coast”. The album’s provocative artwork was also named “Best album sleeve of 1979″ by Playboy magazine but was changed for American release. In 1980 the band released Animal Magnetism, which contained “The Zoo” and “Make It Real”. In 1982 The Scorpions released their next album, Blackout, which became the band’s best selling to date eventually going platinum andspawned three singles “Dynamite”, “Blackout”, and “No One Like You”, but It was not until 1984 and the release of Love at First Sting that the band finally cemented their status as metal musicians. Propelled by the single Rock You Like a Hurricane, Love at First Sting climbed the charts and went double platinum in the USA a few months after its release.

The band toured extensively and recorded their very successful second live album, World Wide Live in 1985. The bands next album Savage Amusement was released in 1988 containing the songs Don’t Stop at the Top and Rhythm of Love, which represented a more polished and mature sound. During the Savage Amusement tour, Scorpions became only the second Western group (not American) to play in the Soviet Union as a result, Scorpions developed an extended Russian fan base and still return to perform.In 1990. Crazy World was released and displayed a less polished sound. The album was propelled in large part by the massive success of the ballad Wind of Change which muses on the socio-political changes that were occurring in Eastern Europe and in other parts of the world at the end of the Cold War. On July 21, 1990 they joined many other guests for Roger Waters’ massive performance of The Wall in Berlin. Scorpions performed both versions of “In the Flesh” from The Wall. In 1993, Scorpions released Face the Heat but this did not come close to matching the success of “Wind of Change” and was only a moderate success.

Their 13th studio album, 1996s Pure Instinct, contained the singles “Wild Child” and the soothing ballad “You and I” which both enjoyed moderate success. 1999 saw the release of Eye II Eye and a significant change in the band’s style, mixing in elements of pop and techno. The following year, Scorpions had an artistic collaboration with the Berlin Philharmonic that resulted in a 10-song album named Moment of Glory. In 2001, Scorpions released Acoustica, which featured acoustic reworkings of the band’s biggest hits, plus new tracks. In 2004, the band released Unbreakable, which was hailed by critics as a long-awaited return to form. The album was the heaviest the band had released since Face the Heat, and cintained tracks such as “New Generation”, “Love ‘em or Leave ‘em” and “Deep and Dark”. Scorpions released their 17th studio album, Sting in the Tail, on March 23, 2010 and announced that it would be their last album and that the tour supporting it will be their final tour. On 6 April 2010, Scorpions were enshrined in Hollywood’s Rock Walk in a handprint ceremony, with the band members placing their hands in a long slab of wet cement, which was placed on the Rock Walk.The Scorpions also recently re-record versions of their older material for an album entitled Comeblack which was released on 7 November 2011, and also recently headlined the Wacken Open Air Festival on 4 August 2012 Alongside Saxon, Sepultura, Napalm Death and Dio Disciples.http://youtu.be/bFBiHAoB_kk

Chinese New Year

imageThursday 19 February 2015 marks the start of the Chinese New Year, and this year is the Year of the Goat. Although It is open to interpretation and could equally be the year of the sheep, or even the year of the ram. The reason for this confusion has been caused by the Mandarin Chinese character yang: 羊 whose apparent meaning is ‘horned animal’ —  which could be referring to any member of the Caprinae family.

In China, it is also known as the Spring Festival, the literal translation of the modern Chinese name. Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally run from Chinese New Year’s Eve, the last day of the last month of the Chinese calendar, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month, making the festival the longest in the Chinese calendar. The first day of the New Year falls between January 21 and February 20. Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, and because the holiday is not solely observed by “Chinese” cultures, the Chinese New Year is often referred to as the “Lunar New Year”.

Chinese New Year is centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Traditionally, the festival was a time to honour deities as well as ancestors. Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Philippines, and also in Chinatowns elsewhere. Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had influence on the lunar new year celebrations of its geographic neighbours.

Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese New Year vary widely. Often, the evening preceding Chinese New Year’s Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red color paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of “good fortune” or “happiness”, “wealth”, and “longevity.” Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes. Although the Chinese calendar traditionally does not use continuously numbered years, outside China its years are often numbered from the reign of the 3rd millennium BC Yellow Emperor. But at least three different years numbered 1 are now used by various scholars, making the year beginning AD 2015 the “Chinese Year” 4713, 4712, or 4652.