Posted in Events

Halloween

Halloween or Hallowe’en (a contraction of “All Hallows’ Evening”), also known as All Hallows’ Eve, is celebrated annually on October 31, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows (or All Saints Day). According to many scholars, it was originally influenced by western European harvest festivals and festivals of the dead with possible pagan roots, particularly the Celtic Samhain. Others maintain that it originated independently of Samhain and has Christian roots. Typical festive Halloween activities include trick-or-treating (also known as “guising”), attending costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films. Though the origin of the word Halloween is Christian, the holiday is commonly thought to have pagan roots – some folklorists have detected its origins in Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or in the festival of the dead called Parentalia, it is more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain”, which comes from the Old Irish for “summer’s end”.

Samhain (pronounced sah-win or sow-in) was the first and most important of the four quarter days in the medieval Gaelic (Irish, Scottish and Manx) calendar. It was held on or about October 31 – November 1 and kindred festivals were held at the same time of year in other Celtic lands; for example the Brythonic Calan Gaeaf (in Wales), Kalan Gwav (in Cornwall) and Kalan Goañv (in Brittany). Samhain is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and many important events in Irish mythology happen or begin on Samhain. It marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the ‘darker half’ of the year This was a time for stock-taking and preparing for the cold winter ahead; cattle were brought back down from the summer pastures and livestock were slaughtered. In much of the Gaelic world, bonfires were lit and there were rituals involving them. Some of these rituals hint that they may once have involved human sacrifice. Divination games or rituals were also done at Samhain.

Samhain (like Beltane) was seen as a time when the ‘door’ to the Otherworld opened enough for the souls of the dead, and other beings such as fairies, to come into our world. The souls of the dead were said to revisit their homes on Samhain. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them. Lewis Spence described it as a “feast of the dead” and “festival of the fairies”. However, harmful spirits and fairies were also thought to be active at Samhain. People took steps to allay or ward-off these harmful spirits/fairies, which is thought to have influenced today’s Halloween customs. Before the 20th century, wearing costumes at Samhain was done in parts of Ireland, Mann, the Scottish Highlands and islands, and Wales. Wearing costumes may have originated as a means of disguising oneself from these harmful spirits/fairies, although some suggest that the custom comes from a Christian belief. In Ireland, people went about before nightfall collecting for Samhain feasts and sometimes wore costumes while doing so. In the 19th century on Ireland’s southern coast, a man dressed as a white mare would lead youths door-to-door collecting food; by giving them food, the household could expect good fortune from the ‘Muck Olla’ In Moray during the 18th century, boys called at each house in their village asking for fuel for the Samhain bonfire. The modern custom of trick-or-treating may have come from these practices. Alternatively, it may come from the Christian custom of souling . Making jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween may also have sprung from Samhain and Celtic beliefs. Turnip lanterns, sometimes with faces carved into them, were made on Samhain in the 19th century in parts of Ireland and the Scottish Highlands. As well as being used to light one’s way while outside on Samhain night, they may also have been used to represent the spirits/fairies and/or to protect oneself and one’s home from them.

Halloween is also thought to have been influenced by the Christian holy days of All Saints’ Day (also known as All Hallows, Hallowmas or Hallowtide) on November 1 and All Souls’ Day on November 2.They are a time for honoring the saints and praying for the recently departed who had yet to reach Heaven. All Saints was introduced in the year 609, but was originally celebrated on May 13. In 835, it was switched to November 1 (the same date as Samhain) at the behest of Pope Gregory IV.By the end of the 12th century they had become holy days of obligation across Europe and involved such traditions as ringing bells for the souls in purgatory. “Souling”, the custom of baking and sharing soul cakes for “all crysten christened souls”, has been suggested as the origin of trick-or-treating. Groups of poor people, often children, would go door-to-door on All Saints/All Souls collecting soul cakes, originally as a means of praying for souls in purgatory. Similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy. Shakespeare mentions the practice in his comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1593), when Speed accuses his master of whimpering like a beggar at Hallowmas.”

The custom of wearing costumes came about because itwas traditionally believed that the souls of the departed wandered the earth until All Saints’ Day, and All Hallows’ Eve provided one last chance for the dead to gain vengeance on their enemies before moving to the next world. In order to avoid being recognised by any soul that might be seeking such vengeance, people would don masks or costumes to disguise their identities”. In Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night, Nicholas Rogers explained Halloween jack-o’-lanterns as originally being representations of souls in purgatory.ln Brittany children would set candles in skulls in graveyards. ln Britain, these customs came under attack during the Reformation as Protestants berated purgatory . This, coupled with the rising popularity of Guy Fawkes Night (5 November) from 1605 onward, led to Halloween’s popularity waning in Britain, however Scotland And Ireland, have been celebrating Samhain and Halloween since at least the early Middle Ages, and the Scottish kirk took a more pragmatic approach to Halloween, seeing it as important to the life cycle and rites of passage of communities and thus ensuring its survival in the country. Halloween traditions vary greatly among countries that observe it. In Scotland and Ireland, traditional Halloween customs include children dressing up in scary costumes going “guising”, holding parties, while other practices in Ireland include lighting bonfires, and having firework displays. Surprisingly Halloween was not celebrated in North America until the Mass Irish and Scottish transatlantic immigration in the 19th century popularized it in North America. This has had a significant impact on how the event is observed in other nations too. This larger North American influence, particularly in iconic and commercial elements, has extended to places such as South America, Australia, New Zealand, (most) continental Europe, Japan, and other parts of East Asia.

Posted in books, films & DVD

Dick Francis

imageBritish steeplechase jockey and crime writer, Richard Stanley “Dick” Francis CBE FRSL Was born 31 October 1920 in Coedcanlas, Pembrokeshire, at his maternal grandparents’ farm at Coedcanlas on the estuary of the River Cleddau,roughly a mile north-west of Lawrenny He was the son of a jockey and stable manager and he grew up in Berkshire, England. He left school at 15 without any qualifications,with the intention of becoming a jockey and became a trainer in 1938. During World War II, Francis volunteered, hoping to join the cavalry. Instead, he served in the Royal Air Force, working as ground crew and later piloting fighter and bomber aircraft, including the Spitfire and Hurricane.He said in an interview that he spent much of his six years in the Air Force in Africa.In October 1945, he met Mary Margaret Brenchley (17 June 1924 – 30 September 2000), at a cousin’s wedding. In most interviews, they say that it was love at first sight. (Francis has some of his characters fall similarly in love within moments of meeting, as in the novels Flying Finish, Knockdown, and The Edge.)Their families were not entirely happy with their engagement, but Dick and Mary were married in June, 1947, in London. She had earned a degree in English and French from London University at the age of 19, was an assistant stage manager and later worked as a publisher’s reader. She also became a pilot, and her experiences flying contributed to many novels, including Flying Finish, Rat Race, and Second Wind. She contracted polio while pregnant with their first child, a plight dramatized to a greater extent in the novel Forfeit, which Francis called one of his favorites. They had two sons, Merrick and Felix (born 1953. ‘

imageAfter leaving the RAF in 1946, Francis became a celebrity in the world of British National Hunt racing, winning over 350 races, becoming champion jockey in the 1953–54 season.Shortly after becoming a professional, he was offered the prestige job of first jockey to Vivian Smith, Lord Bicester.From 1953 to 1957 he was jockey to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. His most famous moment as a jockey came while riding the Queen Mother’s horse, Devon Loch, in the 1956 Grand National when the horse inexplicably fell when close to winning the race. Decades later, Francis considered losing that race his greatest regret and called it “a disaster of massive proportions. Like most jump jockeys, Francis had his share of injuries. Unlike most, he was hospitalized at the age of 12 when a pony fell on him and broke his jaw and nose. A career featuring broken bones and damaged organs found its way into many novels, whose narrators suffer a variety of damaged bodies. Also The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote, that in 1983, the Grand National at Aintree Racecourse in England “stood at the brink of extinction,” So ‘”Britain’s Jockey Club negotiated a $14 million deal to buy the land and save the race forever, and two prominent racing personalities Lord Derby and novelist Dick Francis – were selected to raise the money . Other philanthropists, including Charles C. Fenwick Jr., who rode Ben Nevis to victory in the 1980 Grand National, and Paul Mellon, a breeder and racing enthusiast, also contributed to save the race.

imageAfter retiring from horse racing on the advice of Lord Abergevenny Francis Went onto Write more than 40 international best-sellers. His first book was his autobiography The Sport of Queens (1957), for which he was offered the aid of a ghostwriter, which he spurned. The book’s success led to his becoming the racing correspondent for London’s Sunday Express newspaper, and he remained in the job for 16 years.In 1962, he published his first thriller, Dead Cert, set in the world of racing. Subsequently he regularly produced a novel a year for the next 38 years, missing only 1998 (during which he published a short-story collection). Although all his books were set against a background of horse racing, his male heroes held a variety of jobs including artist (In the Frame and To the Hilt), private investigator (Odds Against, Whip Hand, Come to Grief, Under Orders—all starring injured ex-jockey Sid Halley, one of only two heroes used more than once), investigator for the Jockey Club (The Edge), pilot (Rat Race and Flying Finish), wine merchant (Proof) and many others. All the novels are narrated by the hero, who in the course of the story discovers himself to be more resourceful, brave, tricky, than he had thought, and usually finds a certain salvation for himself as well as bestowing it on others.

Details of other people’s occupations fascinated Francis, and the reader finds himself or herself immersed in the mechanics of such things as photography, accountancy, the gemstone trade, restaurant service on transcontinental trains—but always in the interests of the plot. Dysfunctional families were a subject which he exploited particularly well (Reflex, a baleful grandmother; Hot Money, a multi-millionaire father and serial ex-husband; Decider, the related co-owners of a racecourse). His first novel, Dead Cert, was also filmed under the same title in 1974. Directed by Tony Richardson, it starred Scott Antony, Judi Dench and Michael Williams. It was adapted again as Favorit (a Russian made-for-television movie) in 1977. The protagonist Sid Halley was featured in six TV movies – The Dick Francis Thriller: The Racing Game(1979-1980), starring Mike Gwilym as Halley and Mick Ford as his partner, Chico Barnes. The novels Odds Against, Bloodsport, In the Frame, and Twice Shy, were also filmed, starring Ian McShane and featuring protagonist David Cleveland.

Francis is the only three-time recipient of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award for Best Novel, winning for Forfeit in 1970,Whip Hand in 1981, and Come To Grief in 1996. Britain’s Crime Writers Association awarded him its Gold Dagger Award for fiction in 1979 and the Cartier Diamond Dagger Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989. he was granted another Lifetime Achievement Award .Tufts University awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1991. In 1996 he was given the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award, the highest honour bestowed by the MWA. In 2000, he was granted the Malice Domestic Award for Lifetime Achievement. He was created an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1983 and promoted to Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2001. His books have been published in 22 languages and he was elected in 1999 a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature’. In the 1980s, Francis and his wife moved to Florida; in 1992, they moved to the Cayman Islands, where Mary died of a heart attack in 2000. In 2006, Francis had a heart bypass operation; in 2007 his right leg was amputated. He sadly died of natural causes on 14 February 2010 at his Caribbean home in Grand Cayman, survived by both sons.

Posted in music

Larry Mullen Jnr (U2)

Larry Mullen Jnr, the drummer with Rock band U2 was born 31 October 1961 . He attended Mount Temple Comprehensive School in Dublin, where he met fellow bandmates Adam Clayton and Bono (Paul Hewson) and was reunited with his boyhood friend Dave “The Edge” Evans. Mullen had posted an advertisement on the school bulletin board for musicians to form a band with him; Clayton showed up at the first practice, which also included Dik Evans, Dave Evans’s older brother, Ivan McCormick, and Peter Martin, who were two of Mullen’s friends. McCormick and Martin left the band soon after its conception. While the band was a five-piece (consisting of Bono, The Edge, Mullen, Evans, and Clayton), it was known as Feedback. The name was subsequently changed to The Hype, but changed to “U2″ soon after Dik Evans left the band.U2′s early sound was rooted in post-punk but eventually grew to incorporate influences from many genres of popular music. Throughout the group’s musical pursuits, they have maintained a sound built on melodic instrumentals, highlighted by The Edge’s timbrally varied guitar sounds and Bono’s expressive vocals.Their lyrics, often embellished with spiritual imagery, focus on personal themes and sociopolitical concerns. Within four years, they signed with Island Records and released their debut album Boy. By the mid-1980s, they became a top international act.

At first They were more successful as live performers than they were at selling records, until their breakthrough 1987 album The Joshua Tree, which, according to Rolling Stone, elevated the band’s stature “from heroes to superstars”. Reacting to musical stagnation and late-1980s criticism of their earnest image and musical direction, the group reinvented themselves with their 1991 hit album Achtung Baby and the accompanying Zoo TV Tour. U2 integrated dance, industrial, and alternative rock influences into their sound and performances, and embraced a more ironic and self-deprecating image. Similar experimentation continued for the remainder of the 1990s with mixed levels of success. U2 regained critical and commercial favour after their 2000 record All That You Can’t Leave Behind. On it and the group’s subsequent releases, they adopted a more conventional sound while maintaining influences from their earlier musical explorations. Their most recent album release “Songs of Innocence” was offered as a free download to Apple iPad Customers in October 2014 and as a physical release shortly after.

U2 have released 13 studio albums and are among the all-time best-selling music artists, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide. They have won 22 Grammy Awards, and in 2005, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. Rolling Stone ranked U2 at number 22 in its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time. They have also won numerous other awards in their career, including 22 Grammy awards, including those for Best Rock Duo or Group seven times, Album of the Year twice, Record of the Year twice, Song of the Year twice, and Best Rock Album twice.

U2 at Glastonbury 2011

Posted in Events

Mischief Night

Mischief Night takes place annually on 30 October during which children and teens traditionally engage in pranks and minor vandalism. While its name and date vary from place to place, it is most commonly held near the end of October to coincide with Halloween. The earliest reference to Mischief Night is from 1790 when a headmaster encouraged a school play which ended in “an Ode to Fun which praises children’s tricks on Mischief Night in most approving terms”. In the United Kingdom, these pranks were originally carried out as part of May Day celebrations, but when the industrial revolution caused workers to move to urban areas, Mischief Night shifted to November 4, the night before Guy Fawkes Night. According to one historian, “May Day and the Green Man had little resonance for children in grimy cities. They looked at the opposite end of the year and found the ideal time, the night before the gunpowder plot.” In Germany, Mischief Night is still celebrated on May 1.

In the United States, Mischief Night is commonly held on October 30, the night before Halloween. The separation of Halloween tricks from treats seems to have only developed in certain areas, often appearing in one region but not at all nearby. In New Jersey’s Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Warren, and Union counties, as well as in Philadelphia; Delaware; Westchester County, New York; and Fairfield County, Connecticut, it is referred to as “Mischief Night”. In some towns in Northern New Jersey and parts of New York State, it is also known as “Goosey Night”.

In rural Niagara Falls, Ontario, during the 1950s and 1960s, Cabbage Night referred to the custom of raiding local gardens for leftover rotting cabbages and hurling them about to create mischief in the neighborhood. Today, the night is commonly known as “Cabbage Night” in parts of Vermont; Connecticut; Bergen County, New Jersey; Upstate New York; Northern Kentucky; Newport, Rhode Island; Western Massachusetts; and Boston, Massachusetts. It is known as “Gate Night” in New Hampshire, Trail, British Columbia, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Rockland County, New York, North Dakota and South Dakota, as “Mat Night” in Quebec, Canada, and as “Devil’s Night” in many places throughout Canada, Michigan, and western Pennsylvania. Mischief night is known in Yorkshire as “Mischievous Night”, “Miggy Night”, “Tick-Tack Night”, “Corn Night”, “Trick Night”, or “Micky Night”, and is celebrated on November 4 on the eve of Bonfire Night. In some areas of Yorkshire, it is extremely popular among teenagers as they believe it to be a sort of “coming of age ceremony”.

Mischief Night tends to include popular tricks such as toilet papering yards and buildings, powder-bombing and egging cars, people, and homes, using soap to write on windows, “forking” yards, setting off fireworks, and smashing pumpkins and jack-o’-lanterns. Local grocery stores often refuse to sell eggs to pre-teens and teens around the time of Halloween for this reason. Occasionally, the damage can escalate to include the spray-painting of buildings and homes. Less destructive is the prank known as “Knock, Knock, Ginger,” “Ding-Dong Ditch,” “knock down ginger,” or “knock-a-door-run and nicky-nicky-nine-doors (West Quebec). In some areas of Queens, New York, Cabbage Night has included throwing rotten fruit at neighbors, cars, and buses. Pre-teens and teens filled eggs with Neet and Nair and throw them at unsuspecting individuals. In the mid-1980s, garbage was set on fire and cemeteries were set ablaze. In Camden, New Jersey, Mischief Night escalated to the point that in the 1990s widespread arson was committed, with over 130 arsons on the night of October 30, 1991. In Detroit, Michigan, which was particularly hard-hit by Devil’s Night arson and vandalism throughout the 1980s, many citizens take it upon themselves to patrol the streets to deter arsonists and those who may break the law. This is known as “Angels’ Night”. Some 40,000 volunteer citizens patrol the city on Angels’ Night, which usually runs October 29 through October 31, around the time most Halloween festivities are taking place.

Posted in books, films & DVD, Science fiction, Television

War of the Worlds

Orson Welles broadcast his radio play of H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds on 30 October 1938 as an episode of the American radio drama anthology series The Mercury Theatre on the Air. It was performed as a Halloween episode and caused widespread panic. Directed and narrated by actor and future filmmaker Orson Welles. The first two thirds of the 60-minute broadcast were presented as a series of realistic news bulletins, which suggested to many listeners that an actual alien invasion byMartians was currently in progress. Compounding the issue was the fact that the Mercury Theatre on the Air was a sustaining show (it ran without commercial breaks), adding to the program’s realism. In the days following the adaptation, however, there was widespread outrage from certain listeners, who had believed the events described in the program were real. The program’s news-bulletin format was described as cruelly deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the perpetrators of the broadcast. Despite these complaints it secured Welles’ fame as a dramatist.

The program, starts with an introduction from the novel, describing the intentions of the aliens and noting that the adaptation is set in 1939, a year ahead of the actual broadcast date.The program continues with a weather report and a dance band “Ramon Raquello and His Orchestra” (actually the CBS orchestra under the direction of Bernard Herrmann). This is interrupted by news flashes about strange explosions on Mars. Welles makes his first appearance as the (fictional) famous astronomer and Princeton professor Richard Pierson, who dismisses speculation about life on Mars. The news grows more frequent and increasingly ominous as a cylindrical meteorite lands in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey. A crowd gathers at the site. Reporter Carl Phillips (Readick) relates the events. The meteorite unscrews, revealing itself as a rocket machine. Onlookers catch a glimpse of a tentacled, pulsating, barely mobile Martian inside before it incinerates the crowd with Heat-Rays. Phillips’s shouts about incoming flames are cut off in mid-sentence. (Later surveys indicate that many listeners heard only this portion of the show before contacting neighbors or family to inquire about the broadcast. Many contacted others in turn, leading to rumours and confusion.)Regular programming breaks down as the studio struggles with casualty updates, firefighting developments and the like.

War of the Worlds 1938 broadcast- 

‘A shaken Pierson speculates about Martian technology as The New Jersey state militia declares martial law and attacks the cylinder. There I s a message from their field headquarters concerning the infantry and the helplessness of the Martians in Earth’s gravity until a Tripod alien fighting machine rears up from the pit and obliterate the militia. the studio returns, now describing the Martians as an invading army. Emergency response bulletins give way to damage reports and evacuation instructions as millions of refugees clog the roads. Three Martian tripods from the cylinder destroy power stations and uproot bridges and railroads, reinforced by three others from a second cylinder as gas explosions continue. An unnamed Secretary of the Interior (Kenny Delmar) advises the nation. (The secretary was originally intended to be a portrayal of Franklin D. Roosevelt, then President, but CBS insisted this detail, among others, be changed. However Welles directed Delmar to imitate Roosevelt’s voice.)

A live connection is established to a field artillery battery. Its gun crew reports damaging one machine and a release of black smoke/poison gas before fading into the sound of coughing. The lead plane of a wing of bombers broadcasts its approach and remains on the air as their engines are burned by the Heat-Ray and the plane dives on the invaders. Radio operators go active and fall silent, after reporting the approach of the black smoke. The bombers destroy one machine, but cylinders keep falling all across the country. This section ends with A news reporter, broadcasting from atop the CBS building, describes the Martian invasion of New York City – “five great machines” wading across the Hudson River, poison smoke drifting over the city, people running and diving into the East River “like rats”, others “falling like flies” – until he, too, succumbs to the poison gas. Finally, a despairing ham radio operator is heard calling, “2X2L calling CQ. Isn’t there anyone on the air? Isn’t there anyone on the air? Isn’t there… anyone?

Posted in Uncategorized

Def Leppard -Def Leppard

I would like to listen to Rock Legends Def Leppard’s eleventh studio album – Def Leppard which is out on 30 October 2015. Def Leppard were Formed in Sheffield in 1977, and their current line-up includes Joe Elliott (vocals), Vivian Campbell (guitar), Phil Collen (guitar), Rick “Sav“ Savage (bass) and Rick Allen (drums). Since forming Def Leppard have become one of the UK‘s greatest-ever rock bands, having sold over 100 million albums worldwide in a career spanning three decades.

Def Leppard’s influential career includes dozens of huge hit singles and ground-breaking multi-platinum albums – including two of the best-selling records of all time, “Pyromania” and “Hysteria”, both of which have been given the Diamond Award (over 10 million sales in the USA alone). These two albums alone contain 10 hit singles including the classic Leppard tracks “Rock of Ages,” “Animal,“ “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “Foolin‘ as well as many other melodic rock anthems, and Thanks to The group’s spectacular live shows, they remain popular and continue to sell out venues worldwide.

This is their first album since 2008’s “Songs From the Sparkle Lounge” it was produced by Def Leppard, and longtime producer/engineer Ronan McHugh and recorded at Joe’s Garage. It contains fourteen awesome tracks including the album opener and first single “Let’s Go”, the instant hits “Dangerous” and “Sea of Love”, The BASS groove of “Man Enough”, the acoustic number. “Battle of my own” and the future classic “Blind Faith”.

Let’s Go
Dangerous
Man Enough
We Belong
Invincible
Sea of Love
Energized
All Time High
Battle of My Own
Broke ‘n’ Brokenhearted
Forever Young
Last Dance
Wings of An Angel
Blind Faith

Posted in Events, nature

National Cat Day

National Cat Day is celebrated annually on 29 October in the United States. It was founded by animal welfare advocates Colleen Paige and Adam Olis.  The National Cat Day website states that the holiday was first celebrated in 2005, “to help galvanize the public to recognize the number of cats that need to be rescued each year and also to encourage cat lovers to celebrate the cat(s) in their life for the unconditional love and companionship they bestow upon us.” The day is supported by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a nonprofit organization which also works to encourage pet adoption. An International Cat Day, was also created in 2002 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and this takes place annually on August 8th. World Cat Day is also celebrated on 17 February, in much of Europe and on 1 March, in Russia.

Posted in music

Moody Blues -Nights in White Satin

Moody Blues-On the Threshold of a Dream
Moody Blues-On the Threshold of a Dream

Denny Laine, English singer-songwriter and guitarist (Moody Blues, Ginger Baker’s Air Force, and Wings) Was born 29 october 1944. The Moody Blues formed on 4 May 1964, in Erdington, Birmingham, England containing Ray Thomas, John Lodge, Graeme Edge and Michael Pinder The name was a a subtle reference to the Duke Ellington song, “Mood Indigo. They released a single, “Steal Your Heart Away” in 1964 and appeared on the cult UK series “Ready Steady Go!” singing the uptempo “Lose Your Money (But Don’t Lose your Mind)”. But it was their second single, “Go Now” which launched their career & became a hit in the United Kingdom. Their debut album The Magnificent Moodies contained the hit singles “Go Now” and “Bye Bye Bird” together with one side of classic R&B covers. including a cover of “I Don’t Want To Go On Without You”,”From The Bottom of My Heart (I Love You)”, “Everyday”,”This is My House (But Nobody Calls)” and and “Boulevard de la Madeleine”. The group released the singles “Fly Me High” and “Really Haven’t Got the Time” followed by “Love And Beauty” & “Leave This Man Alone”.

The Moody Blues were then offered a deal to make a rock and roll version of Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony, and although executives were initially skeptical about the hybrid style of the resulting concept album. Days of Future Past became one of the most successful pop/rock releases of the period, earning a gold record award. It takes place over the course of a single day & drew inspiration from the pioneering use of the classical instrumentation by The Beatles. It includes the songs “Nights in White Satin” & “The Sun Set” “Another Morning”, “Twilight Time”,”Peak Hour” and “Evening (Time To Get Away)”. The 1968 follow-up LP, In Search of the Lost Chord included the songs “Legend of a Mind”,”House of Four Doors”,”Voices in the Sky”, “Ride My See-Saw” and “The Best Way To Travel”.

The classic 1969 album On the Threshold of a Dream contained the songs “In The Beginning”,”Lovely To See You”,”Never Comes The Day”,”Dear Diary” , “Lazy Day” ,”So Deep Within You”,”The Dream” and “Have You Heard”. The band’s music continued to become more complex and symphonic, resulting in 1969′s To Our Children’s Children’s Children which was inspired by the first moon landing.and contained the songs “Higher And Higher” “Floating” and “Eternity Road” “Gypsy”,”Out And In” the two part “Eyes of A Child” and “Candle of Life””Sun is Still Shining”. and “Watching and Waiting”.The Moodies had a somewhat psychedelic style and progressive rock sound, the group next album was A Question of Balance (1970) & contained the songs “Question” and “Melancholy Man”. For their next two albums, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (1971) and “Seventh Sojourn”the band returned to their signature orchestral sound.These contained the songs “Procession”, “Story in Your Eyes” “Our Guessing Game”,”You Can Never Go Home”, “One More Time To Live”, “My Song” and “Nice To Be Here”. The Album “After You Came” (1971) featured “Isn’t Life Strange ?” “I’m Just A Singer (in A Rock ‘n’ Roll Band)”,”Sojourn”,”Lost in A Lost World” “When You’re A Free Man”, “For My Lady”, and “New Horizons”. In late 1972, a re-issue of the five-year-old Nights in White Satin became the Moody Blues’ biggest US hit.T

The Moodies were also among the pioneers of the idea that a successful rock band could promote itself through their own label, so following the Beatles’ creation of Apple Records, they created Threshold Records. However it proved unsuccessful although They did lay the groundwork for other major acts to set up similar personal labels and distribution deals including The Rolling Stones’ own label and Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song Record label.In the spring of 1974, after completing a vast world tour that culminated with a tour of Asia, the group took an extended break and released a compilation album This Is The Moody Blues. Justin Hayward and John Lodge then released the album, Blue Jays, and a single, “Blue Guitar”. Mike Pinder released a album The Promise.” Edge produced two albums with guitarist Adrian Gurvitz, Kick Off Your Muddy Boots and Paradise Ballroom; Hayward composed the albums Songwriter, followed by Night Flight, Moving Mountains, Classic Blue, The View From The Hill and Live In San Juan Capistrano; Lodge released Natural Avenue; Pinder produced The Promise; and Thomas produced From Mighty Oaks and Hopes, Wishes and Dreams.

war-of-the-worldsIn 1977, the group reunited and despite many problems The album Octave was released in 1978 contining “Steppin’ in a Slide Zone” & “Driftwood”. Around this time Justin Hayward enjoyed a solo hit with the song “Forever Autumn” from Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds. The next album ,Long Distance Voyager,was released in 1981 and yielded two hits, “The Voice” &”Gemini Dream”. and the band embraced a more modern, less symphonic approach, while still retaining a lush keyboard-led sound. The next album The Present yeilded the singles “Blue World” and”Sitting at the Wheel”. In 1986 they released the album The Other Side of Life, containing “Your Wildest Dreams”which garnered a Billboard Video of the Year award,as well as the songs “House of Four Doors”, “Candle of Life” and “One More Time To Live” “Here Comes The Weekend”, “Rock and Roll Over You”, “Love is On The Run (From Me)”, “The Actor”, “Dawning is the Day”, “You Can Never Go Home”& “The Land of Make Believe”.

The Moody Blues also performed live at the Birmingham Heart Beat Charity Concert 1986 which raised money for the Birmingham Children’s Hospitals, and also provided backup with the Electric Light Orchestra for George Harrison.The Moodies released Sur La Mer in 1988 containing the single, “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere”.In 1991 they released the album Keys of the Kingdom contained the songs “Say It With Love”, “Never Blame The Rainbows For The Rain”,”Bless the Wings (That Bring You Back)”,”Magic” “Shadows On the Wall” “Lean On Me (Tonight)”and “Say What You Mean.”They also played at the Montreux Jazz Festival and remained. a steady concert draw, They also made a series of recordings of their Night at Red Rocks concert.The next album Strange Times, was released in 1999 with the songs”English Sunset”,”Nothing Changes” and”This is The Moment”.

The Moody Blues also appeared in one episode of “The Simpsons” called “Viva Ned Flanders”. In 2000, the band released “Hall of Fame”, a new live concert from Royal Albert Hall. In 2001, an IMAX film was released, entitled Journey into Amazing Caves. In 2006, the first five of the band’s ‘Core Seven’ albums ( Days of Future Passed to Seventh Sojourn) were re-released featuring bonus songs and previously unreleased tracks.Remastered versions of Octave, Long Distance Voyager and The Present soon followed. The Moodies also released a compilation of sessions recorded at BBC Studios, rarities & various TV appearances, entitled Live at the BBC: 1967-1970. The Moody Blues have sold more than 70 million albums worldwide and have been awarded 14 platinum and gold discs. As of 2012 they remain active and continue to tour.

Posted in music

Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac)

Fleetwood Mac "Rumours" high res cover artEnglish singer-songwriter and guitarist Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green Splinter Group, and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers) was born 29 october 1946. Fleetwood Mac were formed in 1966 in London and were originally named The Bluesbreakers Until Founder Peter Green renamed the group by combining the surnames of two bandmates (Mick Fleetwood and John McVie). Christine Mcvie then joined the band in 1970 while married to John McVie, Green asked drummer Mick Fleetwood to join. The band now consisted of Green, Fleetwood, John McVie and Mayall and made its debut in 1967 at the Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival. Feetwood Mac’s first album, Fleetwood Mac, was a no-frills blues album containing the singles “Black Magic Woman” (later a big hit for Santana) and “Need Your Love So Bad”. The band’s second album, Mr. Wonderful, was released in August 1968 and the next album was “Then Play on”. Sadly Peter Green left and In September 1970, Fleetwood Mac released the album Kiln House for which Christine drew the album cover. This was more rock with hints of country-tinged “Sun Sound” and contained the song “Dragonfly”.Christine McVie, made her first appearance with the band in 1969 and an album of previously unreleased material from the original Fleetwood Mac called The Original Fleetwood Mac was also released,

Fleetwood+Mac+-+Tango+In+The+Night+(1987)Then While on tour in 1971, guitarist Jeremy Spencer disappeared and joined a Religious group “The Children of God” so they hired Bob Welch as their new guitarist and released the albums Future Games & Bare Trees, which featured the songs “Sentimental Lady”, &“Spare Me a Little of Your Love” unfortunately While on tour Danny Kirwan became Alcoholic and was sacked and replaced by guitarist Bob Weston, alongside vocalist Dave Walker and Savoy Brown’s road manager, John Courage. In 1973 Mick, John, Christine, Welch, Weston, and Walker recorded Penguin, then after sacking Walker The remaining five recorded Mystery to Me six months later containing the song “Hypnotized” . However The success of the album led to relationship problems, The McVies’ marriage was under a lot of stress, aggravated working together, and alcohol abuse. Weston also had an affair with Fleetwood’s wife, Jenny Boyd Fleetwood, the sister of Pattie Boyd Harrison, predictably these events led to Weston being sacked by Fleetwood & who cancelled the tour.

Then bizarrely the band’s manager, Clifford Davis, claimed that he owned the name Fleetwood Mac and assembled a “fake Mac” with Fans being told that Bob Welch and John McVie had quit the group, and that Mick Fleetwood and Christine McVie would join the band at a later date. Luckily Fleetwood Mac’s road manager, John Courage, hid the real Fleetwood Mac’s equipment, compromising the fake band. Eventually though, the ensuing Lawsuit over who owned the name Fleetwood Mac was settled and Fleetwood Mac decided to manage themselves releasing the album Heroes Are Hard to Find in September 1974 also adding keyboardist Doug Graves. Sadly Bob Welch left so and while Mick Fleetwood was searching for a possible replacement he heard a song titled “Frozen Love” by an American band, Buckingham Nicks and was introduced to the guitarist from the band, Lindsey Buckingham asking him to join. Buckingham agreed, on the condition that his musical partner and girlfriend, Stephanie “Stevie” Nicks, also joined. The new line-up released the highly successful album Fleetwood Mac which included the hit singles “Over My Head” and “Say You Love Me”, “Rhiannon” and “Landslide” .

The success of this album combined with the pressure to release a successful follow up album led to even more stress and marital strife andJohn and Christine McVie’s marriage ended as well as Buckingham and Nicks’ long term romantic relationship and Fleetwood divorced wife, Jenny. These traumas combined with a high consumption of drugs and alcohol led to the release of the classic album Rumours, in which they laid bare the emotional turmoil experienced at that time. Critically acclaimed, it was the recipient of the Grammy Award for Album of the Year for 1977. Hit singles included Buckingham’s “Go Your Own Way”, Nicks’s U.S. No.1 “Dreams”, and Christine McVie’s “Don’t Stop” and “You Make Loving Fun”. Buckingham’s “Second Hand News”, Nicks’ “Gold Dust Woman” and “The Chain”. After the success of Rumours Buckingham and Fleetwood made the next album more experimental and the result was the ambitious and quirky 20-track double album, Tusk, containing the songs “Tusk”, “Think About Me” and “Sara”. Then during the subsequent world tour the band recorded music for the Fleetwood Mac Live album, which was released in 1980. The next album, 1982′s Mirage, followed 1981 solo albums by Nicks (Bella Donna) and Lindsay Buckingham (Law and Order). Songs on Mirage include “Hold Me”,“Love In Store”,”Gypsy”,”Oh Diane”, “Eyes Of The World” and “Can’t Go Back”. Following Mirage, the band members went on to pursue solo careers. Stevie Nicks released two more solo albums – The Wild Heart and Rock a Little. Lindsey Buckingham issued Go Insane and Christine McVie released an eponymous lay titled album featuring the songs “Got A Hold On Me” and “Love Will Show Us How”).

Sadly though success took it’s toll and Mick Fleetwood filed for bankruptcy, Nicks was admitted to the Betty Ford Clinic for addiction problems, and John McVie had suffered an addiction-related seizure all due to their excessive lifestyles and It was rumoured that Fleetwood Mac had finally broken up. However Fleetwood Mac recorded Tango in the Night, in 1987 which became their best-selling release since Rumours and contained the songs “Little Lies”, “Everywhere”,”Seven Wonders”, “Big Love”. “Family Man”, “Isn’t It Midnight”. Lindsey Buckingham left and Following his departure, Fleetwood Mac added two new guitarists to the band,Billy Burnette and Rick Vito. Vito, was a Peter Green admirer, and had played with many artists including Bonnie Raitt and had also worked with John McVie on two Mayall albums. Capitalising on the success of Tango in the Night, the band continued with a Greatest Hits album in 1988, which featured singles from the 1975–88 era, and included two new compositions: “No Questions Asked” , and “As Long as You Follow” .

Then Following the Greatest Hits collection, Fleetwood Mac recorded the album Behind the Mask, which included “Save Me” and The subsequent “Behind the Mask” tour saw the band play sold out shows, Then in 1991, both Stevie Nicks and Rick Vito left Fleetwood Mac and in 1992, Fleetwood himself arranged a 4-disc box set spanning highlights from the band’s 25 year history, titled 25 Years – The Chain. The box set, which included four new songs Paper Doll, Heart of Stone, Love Shines and Make me a Mask. Mick Fleetwood also released a deluxe hardcover companion book to coincide with the release of the box set, titled My 25 Years in Fleetwood Mac, which features many rare photographs and notes (written by Fleetwood himself) detailing the band’s 25 year history. Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and Christine McVie recorded another album as Fleetwood Mac, with Billy Burnette The band, minus Christine McVie, and toured in 1994 performing classic Fleetwood Mac songs from the initial 1967–1974 era, then in 1995, Fleetwood Mac released Time and disbanded.

Shortly after disbanding Fleetwood Mac, Mick Fleetwood began working with Lindsey Buckingham again. John McVie was soon added to the sessions, and later Christine McVie. Stevie Nicks also enlisted Lindsey Buckingham to produce a song for the Twister film soundtrack. This eventually led to a full Rumours line-up reunion when the band officially reformed in March 1997. The regrouped Mac performed a live concert which was released as the 1997 live album The Dance. They also released the 20th anniversary of their Rumours album and In 1998, Fleetwood Mac (Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and also received the “Outstanding Contribution to Music” award at the BRIT Awards.In 1998, Christine McVie left the band permanently, Her departure left Buckingham and Nicks to sing all the lead vocals for the band’s 2003 album,Say You Will, containing the songs Peacekeeper” and “Say you Will”.”Fleetwood Mac toured in 2009. The tour was a ‘greatest hits’ show entitled Unleashed, and Stevie Nicks also wrote a song for the Hurricane Katrina relief album. The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac was re-released and an episode of Glee entitled “Rumours” featured six songs from Rumours and sparking renewed interest in the album. Stevie Nicks’ also released a new solo album In Your Dreams. Fleetwood Mac reunited for 2013 minus two of the original members: Bob Weston and Bob Welch, both of whom are sadly no longer with us, and embarked on an extensive World Tour.

Posted in books, films & DVD, Television

Lee Child

Lee Child, the author of many explosive exciting crime thrillers (AKA Jim Grant) was born 29 October 1954. His novels follow the exploits of tough former American Military Policeman turned investigator Jack Reacher as he wonders the United States and gets himself embroiled in all sorts of trouble.

He was born in Coventry, England and his younger brother, Andrew Grant, is also a thriller novelist. His parents moved him and his three brothers to Handsworth Wood in Birmingham when he was four years old, so that the boys could get a better education and he attended Cherry Orchard Primary School in Handsworth Wood until the age of 11. Whereupon He attended King Edward’s School, Birmingham. In 1974, at age 20, Grant studied law at University of Sheffield, though he had no intention of entering the legal profession and, during his student days, worked backstage in a theatre.

After graduating, he worked in commercial television at Granada Television, in Manchester as a presentation director, where he was involved with shows including Brideshead Revisited, The Jewel in the Crown, Prime Suspect, and Cracker. Grant was involved in the transmission of more than 40,000 hours of programming for Granada, writing thousands of commercials and news stories. He worked at Granada from 1977–1995 and ended his career there with two years as a trade union shop steward. He decided to start writing novels, after being made redundant from his job due to corporate restructuring, stating that they are “the purest form of entertainment.” Then In 1997, his first novel, Killing Floor, was published, and won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel and in 1998 he moved to the United States Some books in the Reacher series are written in first person, while others are written in the third person. He has characterised the books as revenge stories – “Somebody does a very bad thing, and Reacher takes revenge” – driven by his anger at the downsizing at Granada. Although English, he deliberately chose to write American-style thrillers.

In 2007, Grant collaborated with 14 other writers to create the 17-part serial thriller The Chopin Manuscript, narrated by Alfred Molina. This was broadcast weekly on Audible.com between 25 September 2007 and 13 November 2007. Then On 30 June 2008, it was announced that Grant would be taking up a Visiting Professorship at the University of Sheffield from November 2008. In 2009, Grant funded 52 Jack Reacher scholarships for students at the university and Grant was elected president of the Mystery Writers of America. In 2012, his novel One Shot was also adapted into Jack Reacher; an American thriller film starring Tom Cruise, in which He has a cameo appearance as a police desk sergeant in the film.