Still boldly going….

SpockThe first regular episode of science fiction television series Star Trek, The Man Trap, aired on Thursday, September 8, 1966. Star Trek was originally created by Gene Roddenberry and follows the adventures of the starship USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) and its crew. The show is set in the Milky Way galaxy, roughly during the 2260s. The ship and crew are led by Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), first officer and science officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and chief medical officer Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley). NBC ordered 16 episodes of Star Trek, besides “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. Debuting against mostly reruns, Star Trek easily won its time slot however it gradually slipped down the ratings.Although Roddenberry later claimed that NBC was unaware of Star Trek’s favorable demographics,awareness of Star Trek’s “quality” audience is what likely caused the network to retain the show after the first and second seasons. NBC instead decided to order 10 more new episodes for the first season, and order a second season in March 1967. This aired between 7:30–8:30 pm Tuesday, then 8:30–9:30 pm on Friday from 1967–68

The series was produced from September 1966 to December 1967 by Norway Productions and Desilu Productions, and by Paramount Television from January 1968 to June 1969 and was watched by scientists, museum curators, psychiatrists, doctors, university professors and other highbrows. The Smithsonian Institution even asked for a print of the show for its archives, .Star Trek aired on NBC from September 8, 1966 to June 3, 1969 but was actually seen first on September 6, 1966 on Canada’s CTV network.

Surprisingly Star Trek’s ratings declined during the second season. Shatner even expected the show to end after two seasons and began to prepare for other projects. However Star Trek survived, thanks to a “quality audience” including “upper-income, better-educated males”. The show was unusual in its serious discussion of contemporary societal issues in a futuristic context, unlike Lost in Space which was more “campy” in nature and this is what appealed to audiences. However This enthusiasm of Star Trek’s viewers surprised NBC and When rumors spread in1967 that Star Trek was at risk of cancellation, Roddenberry secretly began and funded an effort to persuade tens of thousands of viewers to write letters of support to save the program. Newspaper columnists also encouraged readers to write letters to help save what was described as “the best science fiction show on the air”. More than 200 Caltech students also marched to NBC’s Burbank, California studio to support Star Trek in January 1968 and Berkeley and MIT students organized similar protests in San Francisco and New York.

Eventually the network cancelled it after three seasons and 79 episodes. Several years later, the series became a bona fide hit in broadcast syndication, remaining so throughout the 1970s, achieving cult classic status and a developing influence on popular culture and is still being repeated to this day. Star Trek spawned a franchise, consisting of five additional television series, thirteen feature films, numerous books, games, toys, and is now widely considered one of the most popular and influential television series of all time.

Ronald “Pigpen” McKernan (Grateful Dead)

Grateful-Dead-ColorFounding member of the Grateful Dead Ronald C. “Pigpen” McKernan was born September 8, 1945 . His contributions to the band included vocals, organ, harmonica, percussion, and occasionally guitar. In 1994, McKernan was born in San Bruno, California, the son of an R&B and blues disc jockey. He grew up with many African-American friends and felt very strongly connected to black music and culture. As a youth, McKernan taught himself blues piano and developed a bikerimage. In his early teens, McKernan left Palo Alto High School by mutual agreement with the school’s principal. He also began using alcohol in his adolescence.McKernan began spending time around coffeehouses and music stores, where he metJerry Garcia. One night Garcia invited McKernan onstage to play harmonica and sing the blues. Garcia was impressed and McKernan became the blues singer in local jam sessions. A high-school friend named Roger gave him his nickname based on his “funky” approach to life.

However, in an essay included with the Grateful Dead box-set The Golden Road (1965-1973) it is claimed that a girlfriend of McKernan’s gave him the nickname, owing to his similarity to the permanently dirty character in the comic-strip Peanuts. McKernan was a participant in the predecessor groups leading to the formation of the Grateful Dead, beginning with the Zodiacs and Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions.Bob Weir and Bill Kreutzmann were added and the band evolved into The Warlocks. Around 1965, McKernan urged the rest of the Warlocks to switch to electric instruments. Around this time Phil Lesh joined, and they became the Grateful Dead.McKernan played blues organ as well as harmonica and vocals. While his friends were experimenting with LSD and other psychedelics, McKernan stuck to Thunderbird wine and Southern Comfort. He steadily added more signature tunes to the Dead’s repertoire, including some that lasted for the remainder of their live performance career such as “Turn on Your Lovelight” and “In the Midnight Hour.”

In 1967 and 1968 respectively, Mickey Hart and Tom Constanten joined the Grateful Dead, and the band started playing experimental psychedelia influenced by avant-garde jazz, surrealism, and world music traditions. Constanten often replaced Pigpen on keyboards. In October 1968, McKernan and Weir were nearly fired from the band because of their reluctance to rehearse. Ultimately, the task of firing them was delegated by Garcia to Rock Scully, who said that McKernan “took it hard.” The remaining members did a number of shows under the monikers Mickey and the Hartbeats and Jerry Garrceeah and His Friends, mainly playing Grateful Dead songs without lyrics. Weir asked repeatedly to be let back into the band, promising to step up his playing, and eventually the rest of the band relented. McKernan was more stubborn, missing three Dead shows; he finally vowed not to “be lazy” anymore and rejoined the band. In November 1968, Constanten was hired full-time for the band, having only worked in the studio up to that point. Jon McIntire commented that “Pigpen was relegated to the congas at that point and it was really humiliating and he was really hurt, but he couldn’t show it, couldn’t talk about it.” McKernan achieved a new prominence throughout 1969, with versions of “Turn On Your Lovelight”, now the band’s show-stopping finale, regularly taking fifteen to twenty minutes. When the Grateful Dead appeared at Woodstock, the band’s set (which was marred by technical problems and general chaos) consisted mostly of a 48-minute version of the song.

McKernan developed a close friendship with Constanten based on their mutual aversion to psychedelics and eventually served as his best man when Constanten wed. After Constanten’s departure in January 1970 over musical and lifestyle differences, McKernan resumed keyboard duties.McKernan had a short relationship and longer friendship with Janis Joplin; a poster from the early 1970s featured them together. Joplin joined McKernan onstage at the Fillmore West in June 1969 with the Grateful Dead to sing his signature “Turn On Your Lovelight,” despite her dislike of the band’s jamming style. The two reprised this duet July 16, 1970 at the Euphoria Ballroom in San Rafael, California.Sadly the excesses of his rock’n’roll lifestyle began to take its toll and In 1970, McKernan began experiencing symptoms of congenital biliary cirrhosis.

After an August 1971 hospitalization, doctors requested that he stop touring indefinitely; pianist Keith Godchaux was subsequently hired and remained a permanent member of the band until 1979. Ever restless, the ailing McKernan rejoined the band in December 1971 to supplement Godchaux on harmonica, percussion, and organ. After their Europe ’72 tour, his health had degenerated to the point where he could no longer continue on the road. He made his final concert appearance on June 17, 1972 at the Hollywood Bowl, in Los Angeles, California. On March 8, 1973, he was found dead of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage at his home in Corte Madera, California. Contrary to the popular belief that he died from cirrhosis caused by excessive alcohol consumption, he in fact succumbed to Crohn’s disease which also claimed the life of his brother Kevin. McKernan is buried at the Alta Mesa Memorial Park in California.Pigpen was inducted into theRock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with the other members of the Grateful Dead.

Jelly Groucutt (ELO)

Elo_logoBest known for being the bassist for the English rockband Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), between 1974 and 1983, Kelly Groucutt was born 8 September 1945. born Michael William Groucutt, in Coseley, West Midlands.Groucutt began his musical career at 15 as Rikki Storm of Rikki Storm and the Falcons. He went on to sing with various outfits during the ’60s, picking up the guitar as he went along.Groucutt was also a member of a band called “Sight and Sound”, and later with a band called “Barefoot”.It was while playing with Barefoot in Birmingham that he was spotted by ELO’s Jeff Lynne; and after Lynne, Bev Bevan and Richard Tandy had watched him play, he was invited to join ELO, to replace Mike de Albuquerque, who had recently left the band.

Upon joining, he was immediately asked to adopt a stage name because ELO had already had several members named Michael, Mike or Mik; he chose Kelly as being a school nickname.ELO then set off on their Eldorado tour.He soon established himself as a fan favourite by taking over lead vocal duties on a few songs as well as gaining a great rapport with live audiences. His distinctive voice can also be best heard on later ELO songs such as “Nightrider” (1975), “Poker” (1975), “Above the Clouds” (1976), “Sweet Is the Night” (1977), “Across the Border” (1977) and “The Diary of Horace Wimp” (1979). While he did not perform the operatic vocals in the studio, Groucutt often displayed his vocal talents by replicating them during live performances of “Rockaria!” (1976).The first Electric Light Orchestra album to feature Kelly on bass guitar and as a backingvocalist was 1975’s Face the Music. He continued contributing on the following albums A New World Record (1976), Out of the Blue (1977), Discovery (1979), Xanadu (1980) andTime (1981).In 1982 he released his self-titled, solo debut album, Kelly. This album featured fellow ELO members Bev Bevan, Richard Tandy, Mik Kaminski and their orchestral co-arranger and conductor Louis Clark.

In 2001 this album was remastered for CD. Groucutt remained with ELO until the onset of the recording sessions for 1983’s Secret Messages album. It was at this juncture that he left the band, unhappy with royalty payments during his tenure, and made the decision to sue management and band leader Jeff Lynne. A settlement for the sum of £300,000 was reached out of court prior to proceedings. He is credited with playing bass on Secret Messages, although it has been stated from an official source that he only played on four songs (“Train of Gold” and “Rock n Roll is King” from the single disc release and “No Way Out” and “Beatles Forever” from the original double album).He took part in some of the many ELO spin-off groups: OrKestra, ELO Part II, and The Orchestra. He toured worldwide with The Orchestra (former members of ELO and ELO Part II) and also took part in tours as part of a local, little known band called Session. Groucutt sadly died on the afternoon of 19 February 2009, following a heart attack suffered the previous night.His widow died on 11 April 2012.