Blitzkrieg Bop

ramonesDee Dee Ramone, The Bass player and one of the founding members of one of the worlds most influential Punk Rock Band The Ramones , sadly passed away on 5th June 2012. Formed in the New York City neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens, in 1974, The Ramones are often cited as the first punk rock group, and despite achieving only limited commercial success, the band was a major influence on the punk rock movement both in the United States and the United Kingdom. All of the band members adopted pseudonyms ending with the surname “Ramone”, though none of them were related. They performed 2,263 concerts, touring virtually nonstop for 22 years. In 1996, after a tour with the Lollapalooza music festival, the band played a farewell concert and disbanded. Little more than eight years after the breakup, the band’s three founding members—lead singer Joey Ramone, guitarist Johnny Ramone, had died while bassist Dee Dee Ramone sadly passed away in 2002.

Their only record with enough U.S. sales to be certified gold was the compilation album Ramones Mania. However, recognition of the band’s importance built over the years, and they are now cited in many assessments of all-time great rock music, such as the Rolling Stone list of the 50 Greatest Artists of All Time and VH1′s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. In 2002, the Ramones were ranked the second-greatest band of all time by Spin magazine, trailing only The Beatles. On March 18, 2002, the Ramones—including the three founders and drummers Tommy and Marky Ramone—were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2011, the group was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Muhammad Ali

Former American Professional Boxer Muhammad Ali sadly died 3 June 2016. Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. In January 17, 1942, he is generally regarded as the most significant heavyweight in the history of the sport. Early in his career, Ali was known for being an inspiring, controversial and polarizing figure both inside and outside the boxing ring. He is known as one of the most recognized sports figures of the past 100 years, crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC. He also wrote several best-selling books about his career, including The Greatest: My Own Story and The Soul of a Butterfly.

Ali (as Clay) began training at 12 years old. At the age of 22, he won the world heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston in a stunning upset in 1964. Shortly after that, Ali joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name. He converted to Sunni Islam in 1975, and then embraced the teachings of Sufism[9] in 2005. Ali retired from boxing permanently in 1981. In 1967, three years after winning the heavyweight title, Ali refused to be conscripted into the U.S. military, citing his religious beliefs and opposition to American involvement in the Vietnam War. He was eventually arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges and stripped of his boxing title. He did not fight again for nearly four years—losing a time of peak performance in an athlete’s career. Ali’s appeal worked its way up to the Supreme Court of the United States where, in 1971, his conviction was overturned. Ali’s actions as a conscientious objector to the war made him an icon for the larger counterculture generation.

Ali remains the only three-time lineal world heavyweight champion; he won the title in 1964, 1974, and 1978. Between February 25, 1964, and September 19, 1964, Ali reigned as the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion. Nicknamed “The Greatest”, he was involved in several historic boxing matches. Notable among these were the first Liston fight, three with rival Joe Frazier, and “The Rumble in the Jungle” with George Foreman, in which he regained titles he had been stripped of seven years earlier.

Inspired by professional wrestler “Gorgeous” George Wagner, Ali thrived in the spotlight, where he was often provocative and outlandish. He controlled most press conferences and interviews, and spoke freely about issues unrelated to boxing and transformed the role and image of the African American athlete in America by his embrace of racial pride and his willingness to antagonize the white establishment in so doing.

A Most Wanted man by John LeCarre

MostwantI am currently reading the exciting espionage thriller A Most Wanted Man by John Le Carre. It starts when a Turkish Boximg Champion starts being followed by a gaunt young man named Issa, who turns up on his doorstep and demands hospitality claiming to be a Chechen refugee. They allow Issa to stay in the attic as he announces his desire to become a doctor. He contacts a human rights lawyer, named Annabel Richter, who approaches a bank run by Tommy Brue, concerning a mysterious Lippizaner fund established by his father and held by the bank. When Brue meets Issa, he claims he is the son of a Russian, Colonel Karpov, who put his money in the fund, but after Brue’s grilling, he refuses to claim his inheritance.

Brue is visited by British intelligence who tell him that they had set up the bank accounts, which received payoffs and money from mafia sources. They ask him to alert them when Issa shows up again. A German intelligence agent, Bachmann, visits Annabel concerning a suspicious Islamist terrorist with Chechen connections, who was arrested entering Sweden from Turkey in a container, but escaped custody and found his way to Germany. Annabel is later apprehended in the street, interrogated by Bachmann and the Intelligence Service concerning Issa so Annabel agrees to help them. Annabel persuades Issa to give the money to an Islamic philanthropist called Abdullah who gives it to charitable causes, including Issa’s medical training.

However The intelligence services suspect Abdullah of funding terrorists. So the Joint Committee of German authorities which has a representative of British intelligence,  and the CIA meet to discuss Abdullah, While his religion and most of the donations are deemed legitimate, attention focusses on a small transport company which seems to siphon off a small part of the shipments of food he organizes, to be allegedly sold to aid terrorists. So Annabel and Issa meet Brue at the bank and Issa produces the key to the safe deposit box which contains the crucial documents. They complete the handover and Abdullah arrives to pay the money directly to the organisations involved, including the suspect transport company. Bachmann then tries to apprehend Abdullah, however a group of masked men suddenly arrive and kidnap both Abdullah and Issa.

Val McDermid

Prolific Scottish crime writer Val McDermid was born 4 June 1955. She is best known for a series of suspense novels featuring Dr. Tony Hill. McDermid comes from Kirkcaldy, Fife, and was educated at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, where she was the first student from a state school in Scotland (Kirkcaldy High School), and became President of the Junior Common Room. After graduation she became a journalist and worked briefly as a dramatist. Her first success as a novelist, Report for Murder: The First Lindsay Gordon Mystery occurred in 1987. McDermid was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Sunderland in 2011. She is co-founder of the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival and the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, part of the Harrogate International Festivals.

McDermid’s works fall into three series: Lindsay Gordon, Kate Brannigan, and the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series. Her characters include a journalist, Lindsay Gordon; a private investigator, Kate Brannigan; and a clinical psychologist, Tony Hill. The Mermaids Singing, the first book in the Hill/Jordan series, won the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year. The Hill/Jordan series has been adapted for television under the name Wire in the Blood, starring Robson Green. McDermid has stated that Jacko Vance, a TV celebrity with a secret lust for torture, murder and under-age girls, who featured in the Wire in the Blood and two later books, is based on her direct personal experience of interviewing Jimmy Savile. McDermid considers her work to be part of the “Tartan Noir” Scottish crime fiction genre. In addition to writing novels, McDermid contributes to several British newspapers and often broadcasts on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Scotland. Her novels, in particular the Tony Hill series, are known for their graphic depictions of violence and torture. Val McDermid sponsors the McDermid Stand in Stark’s Park, Raith Rovers ground in Kirkcaldy. This endeavour was in honour of her father, a scout for the club. A year after sponsoring the stand, she became a board member of the club, and starting in 2014 her website became Raith’s shirt sponsor.

On 6 December 2012 McDermid was attacked by an assailant who poured ink over her during an event at the University of Sunderland. McDermid was holding a book-signing event when a woman asked McDermid to sign a Top of the Pops annual which contained a picture of the disgraced late TV presenter Jimmy Savile. After McDermid reluctantly signed the annual, the woman threw ink at her and ran out of the room. McDermid stated that the incident would not stop her from doing future signing events.

Following the attack Northumbria Police subsequently arrested Sandra Botham, a 64-year-old woman from the Hendon area of Sunderland, on suspicion of assault. Botham was convicted of common assault on 10 July 2013, received a 12-month community order with supervision and was made to pay £50 compensation and a £60 victim surcharge.She was also given a restraining order forbidding her from contacting McDermid for an undefined period of time. The Northern Echo reported that Botham’s actions were motivated by McDermid’s 1994 non-fiction book, A Suitable Job for a Woman, as Botham claimed that the book contained a passage that besmirched her and her family.

Dictator by Robert Harris

imageI would like to read Dictator. By Robert Harris. This novel is The follow up to Imperium and Lustrum, Volumes 1 and 2 in the Cicero trilogy. These deal with the rise of of Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul, and constitutionalist Marcus Tullius Cicero as Rome’s prominent lawyer, and Consul of the Roman Republic. In the first novel “Imperium” Cicero is still recognisably in the old Republic of checks and balances (though where violence was never far away) and argues his way to fame via the law courts. the second novel “Lustrum” deals with the rise of Pompey and Caesar, two powers too great to be contained within aConstitution.

Cicero was born 3 January 106 BC in Arpinum, Roman Republic (modern-day Arpino, Lazio, Italy and came from a wealthy municipal family of the Roman equestrian order, and went on to become one of Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists. Cicero introduced the Romans to the chief schools of Greek philosophy and created a Latin philosophical vocabulary (with neologisms such as evidentia, humanitas, qualitas, quantitas, and essentia)distinguishing himself as a translator and philosopher.

Cicero Served in the Roman Senate with Gaius Antonius Hybrida and was Preceded by Lucius Julius Caesar and Gaius Marcius Figulus and was Succeeded byDecimus Junius Silanus and Lucius Licinius Murena. Though he was an accomplished orator and successful lawyer, Cicero believed his political career was his most important achievement. During his consulship the Second Cataline Conspiracy attempted to overthrow the government through an attack on the city by outside forces, however Cicero suppressed this by executing five conspirators without due process. This plus the case against Verres cemented his success as a Consul.

Dictator covers the last fifteen years of his life, from 58 BC to 43 BC, which was probably the last year he could sleep peacefully at nights. This period was a turbulent time during which mob factions and scurrilous politicians terrorized Rome. making it increasingly unsafe to vote, to think, and allowing demagogues and dictators to rewrite the discourse of 500 years of Roman history, which saw the rise and assassination of dictator Caius Julius Caesar, The murder of Pompey, the rise of Marc Antony and the ruthless rise of Caesar Augustus and the disintegration of the Roman Republic. Cicero is obliged to fight the greater tyranny by allying with the lesser through two triumvirates. ( Followinga Julius Caesar’s death during the Ides of March. Cicero championed a return to the traditional republican government. However Cicero was proscribed as an enemy of the state by Mark Anthony and the Second Triumvirate. In the ensuing power struggle Mark Anthony attacked Cicero in a series of speeches. Until Cicero was eventually executed by soldiers in 7 December 43 BC after having been intercepted while attempting to flee from the Italian peninsula. His severed hands and head were then, as a final revenge of Mark Antony, displayed in the Roman Forum

His ideas were revived during a 14th-century Renaissance in public affairs, humanism, and classical Roman culture. The peak of Cicero’s authority and prestige came during the 18th-century Enlightenment, and his impact on leading Enlightenment thinkers was substantial. His works rank among the most influential in European culture, and today still constitute one of the most important bodies of primary material for the writing and revision of Roman history, especially the last days of the Roman Republic. His influence on the Latin language was so immense that the subsequent history of prose in not only Latin but European languages up to the 19th century was said to be either a reaction against or a return to his style. the influence of Cicero upon the history of European literature and ideas was profound. His works still rank among the most influential in European culture, and today still constitute one of the most important bodies of primary material for the writing and revision of Roman history, especially the last days of the Roman Republic.

Lynyrd Skynyrd/ T.Rex

Billy Powell, muscian with Lynyrd Skynyrd was born 3rd June 1952. Best known for popularizing the Southern hard rock genre during the 1970s Lynyrd Skynyrd were Originally formed In the summer of 1964, when teenage friends Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, and Gary Rossington formed the band “The Noble Five” in Jacksonville, Florida. The band changed in 1965 to “My Backyard”, when Larry Junstrom and Bob Burns joined. In 1968, the group won a local Battle of the Bands contest and the opening slot on several Southeast shows for the California-based psychedelic rock band Strawberry Alarm Clock. the group eventually settled on the name “Leonard Skinner”, a mocking tribute to a physical-education teacher at Robert E. Lee High School, Leonard Skinner, who was notorious for strictly enforcing the school’s policy against boys having long hair.

During the 1970′s the band experienced many line-up changes and in 1972 the band was discovered at one of their shows at a club in Atlanta, GA. They soon changed the spelling of their name to “Lynyrd Skynyrd”and their fan base continued to grow rapidly throughout 1973, largely due to their opening slot on The Who’s Quadrophenia tour in the United States. Their 1974 follow-up, Second Helping, was the band’s breakthrough hit, and featured their most popular single, “Sweet Home Alabama” helping them rise to worldwide recognition. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s third album, Nuthin’ Fancy, was released in 1975 and the fourth album Gimme Back My Bullets was released in January 1976, but did not achieve the same success as the previous two albums. Steve Gaines joined the band in June 1976 and the newly-reconstituted band recorded the double-live album One More From the Road at the Fox Theatre (Atlanta, Georgia) in Atlanta, and performed at the Knebworth festival, which also featured The Rolling Stones. The next album 1977′s Street Survivors turned out to be a showcase for guitarist/vocalist Steve Gaines and included the iconic rock anthem “Free Bird”.Sadly though, On October 20, 1977, just three days after the release of Street Survivors, and at the peak of their success, three members (Including Gaines) all died in an airplane crash, Following the crash and the ensuing press, Street Survivors became the band’s second platinum album and reached No. 5 on the U.S. album chart. The single “What’s Your Name” reached No. 13 on the single airplay charts in January 1978. Surviving members re-formed in 1987 for a reunion tour with lead singer Ronnie Van Zant’s younger brother Johnny as frontman. A version of the band continues to tour and record, with only Gary Rossington of its original members remaining as of 2012. Lynyrd Skynyrd was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 13, 2003.
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TrexMickey Finn, the percussionistt with glam rock band T.Rex was born 3rd June. Formed in 1967 T.Rex originally formed as Tyrannosaurus Rex, After a solitary performance as a four-piece the group immediately broke up. Bolan retained the services of percussionist Steve Peregrin Took and the duo began performing acoustic material. The combination of Bolan’s acoustic guitar and distinctive vocal style with Took’s bongos and assorted percussion earned them a devoted following in the thriving hippy underground scene which included the late great BBC Radio One Disc jockey John Peel who championed the band early in their recording career. By 1968, Tyrannosaurus Rex had become a modest success on radio and on record, and had released three albums. While Bolan’s early material was rock and roll-influenced pop music, he was also writing dramatic and baroque songs with lush melodies and surreal lyrics filled with Greek and Persian mythology as well as creations of his own. After Bolan replaced Took with percussionist Mickey Finn, they completed A Beard of Stars.

As well as progressively shorter titles, Tyrannosaurus Rex’s albums began to show higher production values, more accessible songwriting and experimentation with electric guitars and a true rock sound. The breakthrough came with “King of the Rumbling Spires” which used a full rock band. The group’s next album, T. Rex, continued the process of simplification by shortening the name, and completed the move to electric guitars.The new sound was more pop-oriented, They released the first single, “Ride a White Swan”, in late 1970 and was followed by a second single, “Hot Love”.Before one performance Mickey Finn’s girlfriend Chelita Secunda add two spots of glitter under Bolan’s eyes before an appearance on Top of the Pops, the ensuing performance would often be viewed as the birth of glam rock. After Bolan’s display, glam rock would gain popularity in the UK and Europe during 1971–72. In September 1971, T. Rex released their second album Electric Warrior which contained one of their best-known song, “Get It On”. and is Often considered to be their best album. it became a top ten hit in the US, where the song was retitled “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” to distinguish it from a 1971 song by the group Chase.

However, the album still recalled Bolan’s acoustic roots with ballads such as “Cosmic Dancer” and the stark “Girl” & brought much commercial success to the group, & the term “T. Rextasy” was coined as a parallel to Beatlemania to describe the group’s popularity. Along with David Bowie’s early hits, “Get It On” was among the few British glam rock songs that were successful in the US. This was followed by more glam rock hits during the 1970′s including “Jeepster”, “20th Century Boy”, “Children of the Revolution”, “Hot Love”, “Telegram Sam”, and “Metal Guru”.On 18 March 1972, T. Rex played two shows at the Empire Pool, Wembley, which were filmed by Ringo Starr and his crew for Apple Films. A large part of the second show was included on Bolan’s own rock film Born to Boogie, while bits and pieces of the first show can be seen throughout the film’s end-credits. Along with T. Rex and Starr, Born to Boogie also features Elton John, who jammed with the friends to create rocking studio versions of “Children of the Revolution” and “Tutti Frutti”; Elton John had appeared on TV with Bolan before, miming the piano part of “Get it On” on the 1971 Christmas edition of Top of the Pops. T. Rex’s third album The Slider was released in July 1972. The band’s most successful album in the US, The Slider was not as successful as its predecessor in the UK, where it peaked at the fourth spot. During spring/summer 1972, Bolan’s old label Fly released the chart-topping compilation album Bolan Boogie, a collection of singles, B-sides and LP tracks, which affected The Slider’s sales. Two singles from The Slider, “Telegram Sam” and “Metal Guru”, became number one hits in the UK.

The film Born to Boogie premiered at the Oscar One cinema in London, in December 1972. The film received negative reviews from critics, while it was loved by fans.Tanx (1973) would mark the end of the classic T. Rex lineup. An album full of melancholy ballads and rich production, Tanx showcased the T. Rex sound bolstered by extra instrumental embellishments such as Mellotron and saxophone. During the recording T. Rex members began to quit, starting with Bill Legend in November 1973. Legend felt alienated by Bolan’s increasingly egotistical behaviour, which was fed by success, money, cocaine, and brandy. Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow was released on 1 February 1974, and reached number 12 in the UK. The album harkened back to the Tyrannosaurus Rex days with long song-titles and lyrical complexity, Bolan’s Zip Gun (1975) was self-produced by Bolan who, in addition to writing the songs, gave his music a harder, more futuristic sheen. The final song recorded with Visconti, “Till Dawn”, was re-recorded for Bolan’s Zip Gun with Bolan at the controls.

T. Rex’s penultimate album, Futuristic Dragon (1976), featured a schizophrenic production style that veered from wall of sound-style songs to nostalgic nods to the old T. Rex boogie machine. In the summer of 1976, T. Rex released two more singles, “I Love to Boogie” and “Laser Love”, In early 1977 Dandy in the Underworld was released to critical acclaim and the band experienced something of a resurgence.Sadly though, While driving home Jones crashed Bolan’s purple Mini 1275GT into a tree (now the site of Bolan’s Rock Shrine), after failing to negotiate a small humpback bridge in, southwest London. While Jones was severely injured, Bolan was killed in the crash, two weeks before his 30th birthday. However T. Rex vastly influenced the glam rock, punk rock and Britpop genres. Johnny Marr of The Smiths stated: “The influence of T. Rex is very profound on certain songs of the Smiths like “Panic” and “Shoplifters of the World Unite”. T. Rex are specifically referenced by The Who in the lyrics of their 1981 hit song “You Better You Bet”, by David Bowie in the song “All the Young Dudes” (which he wrote for Mott the Hoople), by B A Robertson in his 1980 hit “Kool In The Kaftan”, and by the Ramones in their song “Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio?” The early acoustic material was influential in helping to bring about progressive rock and 21st century folk music-influenced singers. The lyric “Glimmers like Bolan in the shining sun” is featured in My Chemical Romance’s song “Vampire Money”, a direct reference to Bolan, taken from their most recent studio album Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. Additionally, Oasis “borrowed” the distinct guitar riff from “Get It On” on their single “Cigarettes and Alcohol”.Noel Gallagher, has also cited T. Rex as a strong influence.