Burt Bacharach

American composer, songwriter, record producer, pianist, and singer Burt Freeman Bacharach was born May 12, 1928 in Kansas City Missouri. He grew up in the Forest Hills section of New York City, graduating from Forest Hills High School in 1946. Bacharach showed a keen interest in jazz as a teenager, disliking his classical piano lessons, and often using fake id to gain admission into 52nd Street nightclubs such as Spotlite, and listened avidly to bebop musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. Bacharach studied music (Bachelor of Music, 1948) at Montreal’s McGill University, under Helmut Blume, at the Mannes School of Music, and at the Music Academy of the West in Montecito, California where he studied a range of music, including jazz harmony. His composition teachers included Darius Milhaud, Henry Cowell, and Bohuslav Martinů.

Following a tour of duty in the United States Army, Bacharach worked as a pianist, both as a soloist and as an accompanist for singers such as Vic Damone, Polly Bergen, Steve Lawrence, the Ames Brothers and Paula Stewart (who became his first wife). For some years, he was musical arranger for Marlene Dietrich, as well as touring as her musical director. In 1957, Bacharach and lyricist Hal David met each other while at the Brill Building.Almost a year later, they received a significant career breakthrough when their song “The Story of My Life” was recorded by Marty Robbins for Columbia Records, becoming a number 1 hit on the U.S. country music chart and reaching #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1957. Soon afterwards, “Magic Moments” was recorded by Perry Como for RCA Records, and became a number 4 U.S. hit in February of that year. These two songs were back-to-back No. 1 singles in the UK (“The Story of My Life” in a version by Michael Holliday). Bacharach also worked with other lyricists at first, including Bob Hilliard and Hal David’s brother, Mack David. Bacharach’s career was boosted when Calvin Carter,the chief of A&R at Vee-Jay Records, called saying that Jerry Butler wanted to do his song Make it Easy on Yourself.

In the early and mid-1960s, Bacharach wrote well over a hundred songs with David. He produced a number of songs on New York soul singer Lou Johnson, including the original recordings of “Always Something There To Remind Me”, “Kentucky Bluebird (Message To Martha)” and “Reach Out For Me”, but the two were mainly associated throughout the decade with Dionne Warwick, a conservatory-trained vocalist. Bacharach and David started writing a large portion of their work with Warwick in mind, leading to one of the most successful teams in popular music history. He also composed duo work with Marty Robbins, Perry Como, Gene McDaniels, and Jerry Butler. Following the initial success of these collaborations, Bacharach went on to write hits for Gene Pitney, Cilla Black, Dusty Springfield, Jackie DeShannon, Bobbie Gentry, Tom Jones, Herb Alpert, B. J. Thomas, The Carpenters, among numerous other artists. Over a 20-year period, Warwick charted 38 singles co-written or produced by Bacharach and David, including 22 Top 40, 12 Top 20 and nine Top 10 hits on the American Billboard Hot 100 charts. During the early 1960s, Bacharach also collaborated with Bob Hilliard on a number of songs, including “Please Stay” and “Mexican Divorce” for The Drifters, “Any Day Now” for Chuck Jackson, “Tower of Strength” for Gene McDaniels, and “Dreamin’ All the Time” and “Pick Up the Pieces” for Jack Jones. In 1965 Bacharach released his first solo album in 1965 . “Hit Maker! Burt Bacharach Plays His Hits” which included his version of “Trains and Boats and Planes”.

Other singers of Bacharach songs in the ’60s and ’70s included Bobby Vinton (“Blue on Blue”); Dusty Springfield (“The Look of Love” from Casino Royale), (a cover of Dionne Warwick’s “Wishin’ and Hopin'”); Cilla Black (a cover of Dionne Warwick’s “Anyone Who Had a Heart”), the Delfonics, and Cher (“Alfie” – originally recorded by Cilla Black); The Shirelles, The Beatles (“Baby, It’s You”); The Carpenters (“(They Long to Be) Close to You”); Aretha Franklin (“I Say a Little Prayer”); Isaac Hayes (“Walk on By”, from the Hot Buttered Soul album); B. J. Thomas (“Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”, “Everybody’s Out of Town”); Tom Jones (“What’s New Pussycat?”); Engelbert Humperdinck (“I’m a Better Man”); Sandie Shaw (“Always Something There to Remind Me”); Jack Jones (“Wives and Lovers”); Jackie DeShannon (“What the World Needs Now Is Love”); Gene Pitney (“Only Love Can Break a Heart”, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, “24 Hours from Tulsa” and “True Love Never Runs Smooth”); Herb Alpert, (“This Guy’s in Love with You”);[8] Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 (“The Look of Love”); The Stylistics, (“You’ll Never Get To Heaven If you Break My Heart”); Jerry Butler, the Walker Brothers (“Make It Easy on Yourself”); and the Fifth Dimension (“One Less Bell to Answer”).

Many Bacherach songs have been adapted by jazz artists, such as Stan Getz, Cal Tjader and Wes Montgomery. The Bacharach/David composition “My Little Red Book”, originally recorded by Manfred Mann for the film What’s New Pussycat?, was promptly covered by Love in 1966. Bacharach composed and arranged the soundtrack of the 1967 film Casino Royale, which included “The Look of Love”, performed by Dusty Springfield, and the title song, an instrumental Top 40 single for Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Bacharach and David also collaborated with Broadway producer David Merrick on the 1968 musical Promises, Promises, on the songs Promises Promises and I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”, for Dionne Warwick. In 1969 Bacharach-David collaborated on, the Oscar-winning “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”, from the acclaimed film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The two were awarded a Grammy for Best Cast album of the year for “Promises, Promises” and the score was also nominated for a Tony award. There were other Oscar nominations for Best Song for “The Look Of Love”, “What’s New Pussycat” and “Alfie”. During the 1960s and early 1970s, Bacharach continued to write and produce for artists, compose for stage, TV, and film, and release his own albums. In 1973, Bacharach and David were commissioned to score the disastrous revival of the 1937 film, Lost Horizon and Bacherach and David split acrimoniously. Bacharach tried several solo projects (including the 1977 album Futures). He and David reunited briefly in 1975 to write and produce Stephanie Mills’s second album For the First Time released on Motown Records.

By the early 1980s, Bacharach’s marriage to Angie Dickinson had ended, but a new partnership with lyricist Carole Bayer Sager He collaborated on several major hits during the decade, including “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” (Christopher Cross); “Heartlight” (Neil Diamond); “Making Love” (Roberta Flack); “On My Own” (Patti LaBelle with Michael McDonald), and That’s What Friends Are For” in 1985, which reunited Bacharach and singer Warwick. The profits for the latter song were given to AIDS research. Other artists continued to revive Bacharach’s earlier hits in the 1980s and 1990s such as Luther Vandross’ recording of “A House is Not a Home”; Naked Eyes’ 1983 pop hit version of “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me”, and Ronnie Milsap’s 1982 country version of “Any Day Now”. Bacharach continued a concert career, appearing at auditoriums throughout the world, often with large orchestras. He occasionally joined Warwick for sold-out concerts in New York, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles.

In 1990, Deacon Blue released an EP entitled “Four Bacharach & David Songs”, contains the song, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” . In 1996, jazz pianist McCoy Tyner recorded an album of nine Bacharach standards that featured Tyner’s trio with an orchestra arranged and conducted by John Clayton. In 1998, Bacharach co-wrote and recorded a Grammy-winning album with Elvis Costello, Painted from Memory, In 2006, he recorded a jazz album with Trijntje Oosterhuis and the Metropole Orchestra called The Look of Love (Burt Bacharach Songbook) Bacharach collaborated with Cathy Dennis in 2002 to write an original song for the Pop Idol winner Will Young. This was “What’s in Goodbye”, and it appears on Young’s debut album From Now On. In 2002, Young was a guest vocalist at two of Bacharach’s concerts, one at the Hammersmith Apollo and the other at Liverpool Pops.In 2003, he teamed with Ronald Isley to release the album Here I Am, Bacharach also released his 2005 solo album At This Time , Guest stars on the album included Elvis Costello, Rufus Wainwright, and hip-hop producer Dr. Dre. In 2008 Bacharach opened the BBC Electric Proms at The Roundhouse in London, performing with the BBC Concert Orchestra accompanied by guest vocalists Adele, Beth Rowley and Jamie Cullum. The concert was a retrospective look back at his six-decade career, including classics such as “Walk On By”, “The Look of Love”, “I Say a Little Prayer”, “What the World Needs Now Is Love”, “Anyone Who Had a Heart”, “Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa” and “Make It Easy on Yourself”, featuring Jamie Cullum. In early 2009, Bacharach worked with Italian soul singer Karima Ammar and produced her debut single Come In Ogni Ora.

Bacharach and David were awarded the 2011 Gershwin Prize for Popular Song bestowed by the Library of Congress, the first time that a songwriting team has been given the honor.David died the following year on September 1 at age 91. In 2015, Bacharach performed at the Glastonbury Festival UK and appeared on stage at the Menier Chocolate Factory to launch ‘What’s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined’,

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Bacharach was featured in a dozen TV musical and variety specials videotaped in the UK for ITC, several were nominated for Emmy awards for direction (by Dwight Hemion). The guests included artists such as Joel Grey, Dusty Springfield, Dionne Warwick, and Barbra Streisand. Bacharach and David did the score for an original musical for ABC-TV titled On the Flip Side, starring Ricky Nelson as a faded pop star trying for a comeback. In 1969, Harry Betts arranged Bacharach’s instrumental composition “Nikki” (named after Bacharach’s daughter) into a new theme for the ABC Movie of the Week, a TV series which ran on the U.S. network until 1976.During the 1970s, Bacharach and then-wife Angie Dickinson appeared in several TV commercials for Martini & Rossi beverages, Bacharach also occasionally appeared on TV/variety shows, such as The Merv Griffin Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and many others. In the 1990s and 2000s, Bacharach had cameo roles in Hollywood movies, including all three Austin Powers movies. His music is credited as providing inspiration for these movies, partially stemming from Bacharach’s score for the 1967 James Bond parody film Casino Royale. During subsequent Bacharach concert tours, each show would open with a very brief video clip from the movie Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, with Mike Myers (as Austin Powers) uttering “Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Burt Bacharach.” Bacharach appeared as a celebrity performer and guest vocal coach for contestants on the television show, “American Idol” during the 2006 season. In late 2006, Bacharach appeared as the celebrity in a Geico auto insurance commercial. In 2008, Bacharach featured in the BBC Electric Proms at The Roundhouse with the BBC Concert Orchestra.performing similar shows at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. As of 2014, Bacharach had written 73 US and 52 UK Top 40 hits.His autobiography, Anyone Who Had a Heart, was published in 2013. He lives in Brookville, New York.

From the sublime to the ridiculous…

Here are the other eighteen acts vying for a place in this years Eurovision Song Contest:

Israel – Hovi Star – Made of Stars
Switzerland – Rykka – The Last of Our Kind
Poland – Michał Szpak – Color of Your Life
Latvia – Justs – Heartbeat
Belarus – Ivan – Help You Fly
Ireland -Nicky Byrne -Sunlight
Serbia: Sanja Vučić ZAA – Goodbye (Shelter)
FYR Macedonia – Kaliopi – Dona
Lithuania – Donny Montel – been waiting for this night
Australia – Dami – The Sound of Silence
Slovenia – Manuela – Blue and Red
Bulgaria- Poli Genova – If love was a crime
Denmark -lighthouse X – Soldiers of Love
Ukraine – Jamala – 1944
Norway – Agneta – Icebreaker
Georgia – Nika Kocharov & Young Georgian Lolitaz – Midnight Gold
Albania – Eneda Tarifa – Fairytale
Belgium – Laura Tesoro – what’s the pressure

H.R. Giger

Swiss surrealist painter, sculptor and set designer Hans Rudolf “Ruedi” Giger sadly passed away 12 May 2014. He was born 5 February 1940 in Chur, capital city of Graubünden, the largest and easternmost Swiss canton. His father, a chemist, viewed art as a “breadless profession” and strongly encouraged him to enter pharmaceutics, Giger recalls. Yet he moved in 1962 to Zürich, where he studied Architecture and industrial design at the School of Applied Arts until 1970. Giger Started with small ink drawings before progressing to oil paintings. For most of his career, Giger has worked predominantly in airbrush, creating monochromatic canvasses depicting surreal, nightmarish dreamscapes.

he gradualy bandoned large airbrush works and worked with pastels, markers or ink. His most distinctive stylistic innovation is that of a representation of human bodies and machines in a cold, interconnected relationship, he described as “biomechanical”. His paintings often display fetishistic sexual imagery His main influences were painters Ernst Fuchs, Salvador Dalí and the American horror fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft, particularly his first compendium of images Necronomicon, he was also a personal friend of Timothy Leary. Giger suffered from night terrors and his paintings are all to some extent inspired by his experiences with that particular sleep disorder. He studied interior and industrial design at the School of Commercial Art in Zurich (from 1962 to 1965) and made his first paintings as a means of art therapy.

Giger’s style and thematic execution have been influential. His design for the Alien was inspired by his painting Necronom IV and earned him an Oscar in 1980. His books of paintings, particularly Necronomicon and Necronomicon II (1985) and the frequent appearance of his art in Omni magazine continued his rise to international prominence. Giger is also well known for artwork on several music recording albums.In 1998 Giger acquired the Château St. Germain in Gruyères, Switzerland, and it now houses the H. R. Giger Museum, a permanent repository of his work and was inducted to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2013. During the 1960s and 1970s, Giger directed a number of films, including Swiss Made (1968),Tagtraum (1973), Giger’s Necronomicon (1975) and Giger’s Alien (1979). Giger has created furniture designs, particularly the Harkonnen Capo Chair for a movie of the novel Dune. Many years later, David Lynch directed the film, using only rough concepts by Giger. Giger had wished to work with Lynch. Giger has also applied his biomechanical style to interior design and a “Giger Bar” sprang up in Tokyo, Sadly though Within a few years, the establishment was out of business. However two more Giger Bars were built in Gruyères and Chur, under Giger’s close personal supervision and reflect his original concepts for them accurately.

At The Limelight in Manhattan, Giger’s artwork also decorates the VIP room, the uppermost chapel of the landmarked church, but it was never intended to be a permanent installation and As of 2009 only the two authentic Swiss Giger Bars remain. His art has greatly influenced tattooists and fetishists worldwide. Under a licensing deal Ibanez guitars released an H. R. Giger signature series: the Ibanez ICHRG2, an Ibanez Iceman, features “NY City VI”, the Ibanez RGTHRG1 has “NY City XI” printed on it, the S Series SHRG1Z has a metal-coated engraving of “Biomechanical Matrix” on it, and a 4-string SRX bass, SRXHRG1, has “N.Y. City X” on it.Giger is often referred to in pop culture, especially in science fiction and cyberpunk. William Gibson (who wrote an early script forAlien 3) seems particularly fascinated: a minor character in Virtual Light, Lowell, is described as having New York XXIV tattooed across his back, and in Idoru a secondary character, Yamazaki, describes the buildings of nanotech Japan as Giger-esque.

Giger sadly passed away 12 May 2014, but his artwork continues to inspire film makers and artists alike and his work can be seen at the Château St. Germain in Gruyères, Switzerland, which houses the H. R. Giger Museum, a permanent repository of his work. Giger was also inducted to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2013.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

English Poet, illustrator and translator Dante Gabriel Rossetti was Born 12 May 1828 Like all his siblings, he aspired to be a poet and attended King’s College School, in its original location near the Strand. He also wished to be a painter, having shown a great interest in Medieval Italian art. He studied at Henry Sass’s Drawing Academy from 1841 to 1845 when he enrolled at the Antique School of the Royal Academy, leaving in 1848. After leaving the Royal Academy, Rossetti studied under Ford Madox Brown, with whom he retained a close relationship throughout his life. Following the exhibition of William Holman Hunt’s painting The Eve of St. Agnes, Rossetti sought out Hunt’s friendship. The painting illustrated a poem by the little-known John Keats. Rossetti’s own poem, “The Blessed Damozel”, was an imitation of Keats, and he believed Hunt might share his artistic and literary ideals. Together they developed the philosophy of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood which they founded along with John Everett Millais. The group’s intention was to reform English art by rejecting what they considered to be the mechanistic approach first adopted by the Mannerist artists who succeeded Raphael and Michelangelo and the formal training regime introduced by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Their approach was to return to the abundant detail, intense colours, and complex compositions of Quattrocento Italian and Flemish art. For the first issue of the brotherhood’s magazine, The Germ, published early in 1850, Rossetti contributed a poem, “The Blessed Damozel”, and a story about a fictional early Italian artist inspired by a vision of a woman who bids him combine the human and the divine in his art.Rossetti was always more interested in the medieval than in the modern side of the movement, working on translations of Dante and other medieval Italian poets, and adopting the stylistic characteristics of the early Italians.

He started out painting in oils with water-colour brushes, as thinly as in water-colour, on canvas which he had primed with white till the surface was a smooth as cardboard, and every tint remained transparent. I saw at once that he was not an orthodox boy, but acting purely from the aesthetic motive. The mixture of genius and dilettantism of both men shut me up for the moment, and whetted my curiosity.Stung by criticism of his second major painting, Ecce Ancilla Domini, exhibited in 1850, and the “increasingly hysterical critical reaction that greeted Pre-Raphaelitism” that year, Rossetti turned to watercolours. Although his work subsequently won support from John Ruskin. For many years, Rossetti worked on English translations of Italian poetry including Dante Alighieri’s La Vita Nuova . These and Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur inspired his art of the 1850s. He created a method of painting in watercolours, using thick pigments mixed with gum to give rich effects similar to medieval illuminations. He also developed a novel drawing technique in pen-and-ink. His first published illustration was “The Maids of Elfen-Mere” (1855), for a poem by his friend William Allingham. Rossetti also painted the upper wall of the Oxford Union debating-hall with scenes from Le Morte d’Arthur and to decorate the roof between the open timbers. Seven artists were recruited,and the work was hastily begun and they are now barely visible. Rossetti also contributed two illustrations to the 1857 edition of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Poems and illustrations for works by his sister Christina Rossetti.His visions of Arthurian romance and medieval design also inspired William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones who were much influenced by his works, and met him by recruiting him as a contributor to their Oxford and Cambridge Magazine which Promoted his ideas about art and poetry.

Around 1860, Rossetti returned to oil painting, abandoning the dense medieval of the 1850s in favour of powerful close-up images of women in flat pictorial spaces characterised by dense colour. These paintings became a major influence on the development of the European Symbolist movement. Rossetti’s depiction of women became almost obsessively stylised. He portrayed his new lover Fanny Cornforth as the epitome of physical eroticism, whilst Jane Burden, the wife of his business partner William Morris, was glamorised as an ethereal goddess. “As in Rossetti’s previous reforms, the new kind of subject appeared, These new works were based on the Italian High Renaissance artists of Venice, Titian and Veronese.In 1861, Rossetti became a founding partner in the decorative arts firm, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. with Morris, Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown, Philip Webb, Charles Faulkner and Peter Paul Marshall.Rossetti contributed designs for stained glass and other decorative objects. Sadly Rossetti’s wife Elizabeth Siddal died of an overdose of laudanum in 1862, shortly after giving birth to a stillborn child. Rossetti became increasingly depressed, and on the death of his beloved Lizzie, buried the bulk of his unpublished poems with her at Highgate Cemetery, though he later had them dug up. He idealised her image as Dante’s Beatrice in a number of paintings, such as Beata Beatrix. Rossetti lived in Chelsea for 20 years surrounded by extravagant furnishings and a parade of exotic birds and animals and was fascinated with wombats, frequently visiting the “Wombat’s Lair” at the London Zoo in Regent’s Park. In September 1869 he acquired the first of two pet wombats, which he named “Top”. Rossetti’s fascination with exotic animals continued throughout his life, culminating in the purchase of a llama and a toucan.

Rossetti also maintained Fanny Cornforth (described delicately by William Allington as Rossetti’s “housekeeper” inher own establishment nearby in Chelsea, and painted many voluptuous images of her.In 1865 he discovered auburn-haired Alexa Wilding, a dressmaker and would-be actress who was engaged to model for him on a full-time basis and sat for The Blessed Damozel and other paintings. Rossetti also used Jane Morris,as a model for the Oxford Union murals he painted with William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones in 1857, and she also sat for him during these years, she “consumed and obsessed him in paint, poetry, and life”. Rossetti was prevailed upon by Charles Augustus Howell, to exhume his poems from his wife’s grave which he did, collating and publishing them in 1870 in the volume Poems by D. G. Rossetti. This included the poems Nuptial Sleep, the House of Life and The Ballad of Dead Ladies which all created offence and controversy With their eroticism and sensuality but became Rossetti’s most substantial literary achievement. In 1881, Rossetti published a second volume of poems, Ballads and Sonnets, which included the remaining sonnets from The House of Life sequence. Unfortunately The savage reaction of critics to Rossetti’s first collection of poetry contributed to a mental breakdown in June 1872. After he recovered he began creating a soulful series of dream-like portraits featuring Alexa Wilding and Jane Morris

He spent his last days at Cheyne Walk battling deppression , exacerbated by his drug addiction to chloral hydrate and increasing mental instability, until finally On Easter Sunday, 1882, he sadly passed away 9 April 1882 at the country house of a friend, where he had gone in a vain attempt to recover his health, which had been destroyed by chloral as his wife’s had been destroyed by laudanum. He died of Brights Disease, a disease of the kidneys from which he had been suffering for some time. He is buried at Birchington-on-Sea, Kent, England. His work influenced went on to influence many including the European Symbolists and the Aesthetic movement. Rossetti’s art was characterised by its sensuality and its medieval revivalism. His early poetry was influenced by John Keats. Among his most famous paintings are he Girlhood of Mary Virgin (1849) and Astarte Syriaca (1877). He also created art to illustrate poems such as Goblin Market by his sister, the celebrated poet Christina Rossetti.