Reginald Joseph Mitchell CBE, FRAeS

Supermarine Spitfire

Supermarine Spitfire

British Aeronautical Engineer Reginald Joseph Mitchell CBE, FRAeS, was born 20 May 1895. In 1917 he joined the Supermarine Aviation Works at Southampton. Advancing quickly within the company, Mitchell was appointed Chief Designer in 1919. He was made Chief Engineer in 1920 and Technical Director in 1927. He was so highly regarded that, when Vickers took over Supermarine in 1928, one of the conditions was that Mitchell stay as a designer for the next five years. Between 1920 and 1936, Mitchell designed 24 aircraft including light aircraft, fighters and bombers. As Supermarine was primarily a seaplane manufacturer, this included a number of flying boats such as the Supermarine Sea Eagle, the Supermarine Sea King, the Supermarine Walrus and Supermarine Stranraer. However, he is best remembered for his work on a series of racing aircraft, which culminated in the Supermarine S.6B, and the famous Supermarine Spitfire short range Interceptor/fighter.

The S.6B was a British racing seaplane developed by Mitchell for the Supermarine company to take part in the Schneider Trophy competition of 1931. The S.6B marked the culmination of Mitchell’s quest to “perfect the design of the racing seaplane” and was the last in the line of racing seaplanes developed by Supermarine that followed the S.4, S.5 and the Supermarine S.6.The S.6B won the Trophy in 1931 and later broke the world air speed record. Mitchell was awarded the CBE in 1932 for his contribution to high-speed flight.

In 1931 the Air Ministry issued specification F7/30 for a fighter aircraft to replace the Gloster Gauntlet. Mitchell’s proposed design, the Type 224 was one of three designs for which the Air Ministry ordered prototypes. The Supermarine Spitfire prototype, K5054, first flew on 19 February 1934, but was eventually rejected by the RAF because of its unsatisfactory performance. While the 224 was being built, Mitchell was authorised by Supermarine in 1933 to proceed with a new design, the Type 300, an all-metal monoplane that would become the Supermarine Spitfire. This was originally a private venture by Supermarine, but the RAF quickly became interested and the Air Ministry financed a prototype. The first prototype Spitfire, serial K5054, flew for the first time on 5 March 1936 at Eastleigh, Hampshire. In later tests, it reached 349 mph, consequently, before the prototype had completed its official trials, the RAF ordered 310 production Spitfires.

The Spitfire was built in many variants, using several wing configurations, and was produced in greater numbers than any other British aircraft. It was also the only British fighter to be in continuous production throughout the war. During the Battle of Britain (July–October 1940), the Spitfire was perceived by the public to be the RAF fighter, though the more numerous Hawker Hurricane shouldered a greater proportion of the burden against the Luftwaffe. However, because of its higher performance, Spitfire units had a lower attrition rate and a higher victory-to-loss ratio than those flying Hurricanes.

After the Battle of Britain, the Spitfire superseded the Hurricane to become the backbone of RAF Fighter Command, and saw action in the European, Mediterranean, Pacific and the South-East Asian theatres. Much loved by its pilots, the Spitfire served in several roles, including interceptor, photo-reconnaissance, fighter-bomber and trainer, and it continued to serve in these roles until the 1950s. The Seafire was a carrier-based adaptation of the Spitfire which served in the Fleet Air Arm from 1942 through to the mid-1950s. Although the original airframe was designed to be powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine producing 1,030 hp (768 kW), it was strong enough and adaptable enough to use increasingly powerful Merlin and, in later marks, Rolls-Royce Griffon engines producing up to 2,340 hp (1,745 kW); as a consequence of this the Spitfire’s performance and capabilities improved, sometimes dramatically, over the course of its life.

In August 1933, Mitchell underwent a colostomy to treat rectal cancer. Despite this, he continued to work, not only on the Spitfire, but also on a four-engined bomber, the Type 317. Unusually for an aircraft designer in those days, he took flying lessons and got his pilot’s licence in July 1934. In 1936 cancer was diagnosed again, and subsequently, in early 1937, Mitchell gave up work, although he was often seen watching the Spitfire being tested. Mitchell went to the American Foundation in Vienna for a month, but died on 11 June 1937 at age 42. His ashes were interred at South Stoneham Cemetery, Hampshire four days later. He was succeeded as Chief Designer at Supermarine by Joseph Smith, who took over as chief designer and was responsible for the further development of the Spitfire. Nevertheless, Mitchell’s design was so sound that the Spitfire was continually improved throughout the Second World War. Over 22,000 Spitfires and derivatives were built. Mitchell’s career was depicted in the film The First of the Few and The Spitfire continues to be popular with approximately 53 Spitfires being airworthy, while many more are static exhibits in aviation museums all over the world.

Joe Cocker

imageEnglish Rock and Blues singer John Robert “Joe” Cocker, OBE was Born 20 May 1944 In, Crookes, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, Cocker received his nickname of Joe either from playing a childhood game called “Cowboy Joe”, or from a local window cleaner named Joe. Cocker’s main musical influences growing up were Ray Charles and Lonnie Donegan. Cocker’s first experience singing in public was at age 12 in his brother Victor’s skiffle group. In 1960, along with three friends, Cocker formed his first group, the Cavaliers and Cocker left school to become an apprentice gasfitter while simultaneously pursuing a career in music

He was known for his gritty voice, spasmodic body movement in performance, and cover versions of popular songs, particularly those of the Beatles.In 1961, under the stage name Vance Arnold, Cocker continued his career with a new group, Vance Arnold and the Avengers. Who mostly played in the pubs of Sheffield, performing covers of Chuck Berry and Ray Charles songs. Cocker developed an interest in blues music particularly John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Howlin’ Wolf.In 1963, they supported the Rolling Stones at Sheffield City Hall. In 1964, Cocker released his first single, a cover of the Beatles’ “I’ll Cry Instead” (with Big Jim Sullivan and Jimmy Page playing guitars)

In 1966, Cocker teamed up with Chris Stainton, to form the Grease Band.” Like the Avengers, Cocker’s group mostly played in pubs in and around Sheffield. The Grease Band came to the attention of Denny Cordell, the producer of Procol Harum, the Moody Blues and Georgie Fame. Cocker recorded the single “Marjorine” without the Grease Band and Cordell set Cocker up with a residency at the Marquee Club in London, and a “new” Grease Band was formed with Stainton and keyboardist Tommy Eyre. After minor success in the United States with the single “Marjorine”, Cocker released “With a Little Help from My Friends”, another Beatles cover, which, many years later, was used as the opening theme for The Wonder Years, which features lead guitar from Jimmy Page,

During his United States tour, Cocker played at several large festivals, including the Newport Rock Festival and the Denver Pop Festival And the Woodstock festival, performing several songs, including “Delta Lady”, “Something’s Comin’ On”, “Let’s Go Get Stoned”, “I Shall Be Released”, and “With a Little Help from My Friends. Directly after Woodstock, Cocker released his second album, Joe Cocker! For which Cocker also covered the Beatles “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window” and “Something” and the Leon Russell song, “Delta Lady”. In August 1969, Cocker performed at the Isle of Wight Festival at Wootton Bridge, Isle of Wight, England.

in 1970 Joe Cocker toured America With a group of more than 30 musicians, including pianist and bandleader Leon Russell, three drummers, and backing vocalists Rita Coolidge and Claudia Lennear. the new band was christened “Mad Dogs & Englishmen”, after the Noël Coward song of the same name. Cocker’s music evolved into a more bluesy type of rock, compared to that of the Rolling Stones. Despite having several hits including “Cry Me a River”, “Feelin’ Alright” and “The Letter”, the pace of the tour was exhausting and his family became increasingly concerned with his deteriorating physical and mental health. Russell and Cocker both had personal problems; Cocker became depressed and began drinking excessively. Cocker also wrote the overture played by the UK Prime Minister Edward Heath on the occasion the Prime Minister famously conducted a live orchestra while in office. In 1971, Cocker released “High Time We Went”.

imageAfter touring the United States, he Toured Europe, playing Italy and Germany before returning to the United States and Australia in 1972 where he and six members of his entourage were arrested in Adelaide for possession of marijuana and he was Charged with Assault the next day, in Melbourne, after a brawl at the Commodore Chateau Hotel, and the Australian Federal Police gave Cocker 48 hours to leave the country. This sparked a debate about the use and legalisation of marijuana in Australia, and gained Cocker the nickname “the Mad Dog”. In 1974, Cocker released the album “I can Stand A Little Rain”which contained a cover of Dennis Wilson and Billy Preston’s “You Are So Beautiful” and in 1975 he released a second album , Jamaica Say You Will. In late 1975, he contributed vocals on a number of the tracks on Bo Diddley’s The 20th Anniversary of Rock ‘n’ Roll all-star album and also recorded the album “Stingray” in Kingston, Jamaica. In 1976, Cocker performed “Feelin’ Alright” on Saturday Night Live. For which John Belushi joined him onstage doing his famous impersonation of Cocker’s stage movements.

In 1977 Cocker embarked on a tour of New Zealand, Australia, and South America. He then recorded a new album Luxury you Can Afford before touring North America in 1978. In 1979, Cocker joined the “Woodstock in Europe” tour, which featured musicians like Arlo Guthrie and Richie Havens who had played at the 1969 Woodstock Festival. He also performed in New York’s Central Park and also toured Europe and appeared on the German television recording amphitheatre, Rockpalast, the first of many performances on the show. In 1982,

Cocker recorded two songs with the jazz group the Crusaders on their album Standing Tall. One song, and “I’m So Glad I’m Standing Here Today”, which was nominated for a Grammy Award. Cocker then released a new reggae-influenced album, Sheffield Steel, recorded with the Compass Point All Stars. Then In 1982, Cocker recorded the duet “Up Where We Belong” with Jennifer Warnes for the soundtrack of the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman. Which was an international hit, and won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo and an Academy Award for Best Original Song. He also performed “You Are So Beautiful” with Ray Charles in a television tribute to the musician and joined Ronnie Lane’s 1983 tour to raise money for the London-based organisation Action for Research into Multiple Sclerosis, with other Musicians such as Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Chris Stainton.

In 1983 Cocker was arrested by Austrian police Shortly after the incident, he released his ninth studio album, Civilized Man. His next album Cocker was dedicated to his mother, Madge, who had recently died which featured the song “You Can Leave Your Hat On” which was featured in the 1986 film 9½ Weeks. He also released the 1987 album Unchain My Heart. In 1988, he performed at London’s Royal Albert Hall and appeared on The Tonight Show. After Barclay James Harvest and Bob Dylan, Cocker was the first to give rock concerts in the German Democratic Republic, in East Berlin and Dresden. The venue, the Blüherwiese, next to the Rudolf–Harbig–Stadion, bears the vernacular name Cockerwiese (Cocker meadow) today. Healso performed for President George H. W. Bush at an inauguration concert in 1989. In 1992, he released a cover of Bryan Adams’ “Feels Like Forever”. In 1992, Joe Cocker teamed with Canadian rocker Sass Jordan to sing “Trust in Me”, which was featured on The Bodyguard soundtrack and was nominated for Best British Mail At the 1993 Brit Awards. Cocker also performed the opening set at Woodstock ’94 as one of the few alumni who played at the original Woodstock Festival in 1969. In 2002 Cocker performed “With A Little Help From My Friends” accompanied by Phil Collins on drums and Queen guitarist Brian May at the Party at the Palace concert in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

In 2007, Cocker appeared in the film Across the Universe, as the lead singer on another Beatles’ hit, “Come Together” and was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s 2007 Birthday Honours list for services to music and was awarded a bronze Sheffield Legends plaque in his hometown. In 2009 Cocker toured North American and sang the vocals on “Little Wing” for the Carlos Santana album, Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time, and in 2010, Cocker toured Europe promoting his new album Hard Knocks. In 2011, Cocker took part in a benefit concert for Cornell Dupree at B.B. King’s Blues Club in New York. Dupree played on two Cocker albums: Stingray (1976) and Luxury You Can Afford (1978). Cocker was Also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame shortly before he sadly died of lung cancer on 22 December 2014 in Crawford, Colorado.   Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, were among those who paid tribute to the singer, who was “without doubt the greatest rock/soul singer ever to come out of Britain.” And was ranked No. 97 on Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest singers list.

Ray Manzarek (The Doors)

The_Doors_of_Perception_by_cheapexposureRay Manzarek, American keyboard player with The Doors sadly passed away 20 May 2013. The Doors were formed In the summer of 1965, when, after graduating from the UCLA. Morrison and fellow UCLA student Ray Manzarek formed the group during that same Summer of 1965. after meeingt months earlier as fellow cinematography students. Thereafter, drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger auditioned and was then added to the lineup. All three musicians shared a common interest in the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s meditation practices at the time, attending scheduled classes, but Morrison was not involved in this series of classes, claiming later that he “did not meditate”. The Doors took their name from the title of Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception (a reference to the “unlocking” of “doors of perception” through psychedelic drug use). Huxley’s own title was a quotation from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, in which Blake wrote: “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”

The Doors achieved national recognition after signing with Elektra Records in 1967. The single “Light My Fire” spent three weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in July/August 1967. Later, The Doors appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, a popular Sunday night variety series that had introduced The Beatles and Elvis Presley to the United States. Ed Sullivan requested two songs from The Doors for the show, “People Are Strange”, and “Light My Fire”. Morrison also began writing poetry during his adolescence. At UCLA he studied the related fields of theater, film, and cinematography.He self-published two separate volumes of his poetry in 1969, entitled The Lords / Notes on Vision and The New Creatures. The Lords consists primarily of brief descriptions of places, people, events and Morrison’s thoughts on cinema., but The New Creatures verses are more poetic in tone.

Robin Gibb (Bee Gees)

Described as “talented beyond even his own understanding” and “one of the important figures in the history of British music”, Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees sadly passed away 20 May 2012 following a lengthy battle with cancer. With their trademark falsetto harmonies, the Bee Gees helped turn disco into a global phenomenon with hits including Stayin’ Alive and Night Fever, which featured on the soundtrack of the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever, starring John Travolta.The Bee Gees sold more than 200 million records and notched up dozens of hits during a career spanning more than half a century.

BEST OF THE BEE GEES

The three Gibb brothers made their earliest performances at local movie theatres in Manchester in 1955, singing between shows.After emigrating to Australia with their parents, the Gibb brothers returned to England in the mid-1960s 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). They 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, this propelled The the Bee Gees to the forefront of the disco movement, which their work on the sound track album of the film Saturday Night Fever (1977) would popularise and define. Subsequently, they became among the most successful vocal groups in rock and roll history, and went on to sell more than 200 million albums. Gibb and his brothers seemed to have a natural talent that allowed them to write hit songs with ease and this helped them become the first and only songwriters to place five songs in the Top Ten at the same time.

The song Jive Talkin’, became their second American number one single, and was followed up with Nights on Broadway and then the album Children of the World, which yielded the hits You Should Be Dancing and Love So Right. 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. In 1997 the band was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.