John Mayall OBE

English blues singer, guitarist, organist and songwriter, John Mayall, OBE was born 29 November 1933 in Macclesfield, Cheshire. Mayall’s father Murray Mayall, was a guitarist and jazz music enthusiast. From an early age, John was drawn to the sounds of American blues players such as Lead Belly, Albert Ammons, Pinetop Smith, and Eddie Lang, and taught himself to play the piano, guitars, and harmonica. Mayall spent three years in Korea for national service and, during a period of leave, he bought his first electric guitar. Back in England, he enrolled at Manchester College of Art (now part of Manchester Metropolitan University) and started playing with semi-professional bands. After graduation, he obtained a job as an art designer but continued to play with local musicians.

In 1956, with college fellow Peter Ward, Mayall had founded the Powerhouse Four which consisted of both men and other local musicians with whom they played at local dances. In 1962 Mayall became a member of the Blues Syndicate. The band was formed by trumpeter John Rowlands and alto saxophonist Jack Massarik, who had seen the Alexis Korner band at a Manchester club and wanted to try a similar blend of jazz and blues. It also included rhythm guitarist Ray Cummings and drummer Hughie Flint, whom Mayall already knew. In 1962 John and his band were frequent and popular artists at all night R&B sessions at the ‘Twisted Wheel’ cellar club in central Manchester. Alexis Korner persuaded Mayall to opt for a full-time musical career and move to London, where Korner introduced him to many other musicians and helped them to find gigs. In late 1963, with his band which was now called the Bluesbreakers, Mayall started playing at the Marquee Club. The line-up was Mayall, Ward, John McVie on bass and guitarist Bernie Watson, formerly of Cyril Davies and the R&B All-Stars. The next spring Mayall obtained his first recording date with producer Ian Samwell. The band, with Martin Hart at the drums, recorded two tracks : “Crawling Up a Hill” as well as “Mr. James.”[6] Shortly after, Hughie Flint replaced Hart and Roger Dean took the guitar from Bernie Watson. This line-up backed John Lee Hooker on his British tour in 1964.

Mayall was offered a recording contract by Decca and, on 7 December 1964, a live performance of the band was recorded at the Klooks Kleek. A later studio-recorded single, “Crocodile Walk”, was released along with the album, but both failed to achieve any success and the contract was terminated. In April 1965 former Yardbirds guitarist Eric Clapton replaced Roger Dean. Releasing the single, “I’m Your Witchdoctor” b/w “Telephone Blues”. However, Clapton went to Greece with a band called the ‘Glands’ and Peter Green eventually became the new guitarist. John McVie was dismissed, and Jack Bruce, from the Graham Bond Organisation, played bass. In November 1965 Clapton returned, and Green departed as Mayall guaranteed Clapton his spot back in the Bluesbreakers whenever he tired of the Glands. McVie was allowed back, and Bruce left to join Manfred Mann. They recorded the single, “On Top of the World”, “Lonely Years” b/w “Bernard Jenkins” was also released. In April 1966 the Bluesbreakers recorded a second LP “Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton”. Several of the 12 tracks were covers of pure Chicago blues including Otis Rush’s “All Your Love” Freddy King’s hit instrumental “Hide Away”,”Double Crossing Time” and “Ramblin’ on My Mind”.

However Eric Clapton left the Bluesbreakers and formed the band Cream with, bassist Jack Bruce, and drummer Ginger Baker. Mayall replaced Clapton, with Peter Green and The album A Hard Road was released in February 1967. Then Peter Green also left and started his own project, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, which eventually included all three of Mayall’s Bluesbreakers at this time: Green, McVie, and drummer Mick Fleetwood. Mayall’s first choice to replace Green was 18-year-old David O’List, guitarist from the Attack. However O’List formed the Nice with organist Keith Emerson. Mayall replaced Green with Mick Taylor. May all released an album called The Blues Alone.

In 1967 John Mayall, Mick Taylor, John McVie , Hughie Flint or Hartley on drums, and Rip Kant and Chris Mercer on saxophones—recorded the album Crusade. The Bluesbreakers also toured abroad, and Mayall taped the shows on a portable recorder. Which At the end of the tour he edited to form a two volume album: Diary of a Band, Vols. 1 & 2. Meanwhile McVie departed and was replaced by Paul Williams, who himself quit to join Alan Price and was replaced by Keith Tillman. Mayall then replaced bassist Tillman with 15-year-old Andy Fraser. Within six weeks, though, Fraser left to join Free and was replaced by Tony Reeves, previously a member of the New Jazz Orchestra. Hartley was required to leave, and he was replaced by New Jazz Orchestra drummer Jon Hiseman (who had also played with the Graham Bond Organisation). Henry Lowther, who played violin and cornet, joined in 1968 and the Bluesbreakers recorded Bare Wires. Hiseman, Reeves, and Heckstall-Smith then moved on to form Colosseum. The Mayall line-up retained Mick Taylor and added drummer Colin Allen (formerly of Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band / Dantalian’s Chariot, and Georgie Fame) and a young bassist named Stephen Thompson. In August 1968 the new quartet recorded Blues from Laurel Canyon. However in 1969 Taylor left and joined the Rolling Stones and Drummer Allen also departed to join Stone the Crows.

Mayall experimented with lower volume, acoustic instruments, and no drummer, recruiting acoustic fingerstyle guitarist Jon Mark and flautist-saxophonist John Almond who had previously played with Zoot Money and Alan Price and also played baritone sax on Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton and some of A Hard Road. Mayall also moved to Los Angeles. The Bluesbreakers performed at the Fillmore East provided the tracks for the live album The Turning Point. A studio album, Empty Rooms, was recorded with Mayall’s next bassist, former Canned Heat member Larry Taylor, playing bass in a duet with Thompson on “To a Princess.” Mayall produced two more albums, experimenting with electric blues-rock-R&B band recruiting guitarist Harvey Mandel and bassist Larry Taylor, from Canned Heat, and wailing violinist Don “Sugarcane” Harris, from the Johnny Otis Show. In November 1970 Mayall released the double album Back to the Roots featuring Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor, Gerry McGee and Harvey Mandel on guitar; Sugarcane Harris on violin; Almond on woodwinds; Thompson and Larry Taylor on bass; and Hartley on drums. As usual Mayall wrote all the songs and sang all the vocals, played harmonica, guitar, keyboards, drums, and percussion. The follow up to USA Union and Memories was the album Back to the Roots.

Mayall spent most of the next 15 years, recording with local musicians. In August 1971, Mayall produced a jazz-oriented session for bluesman Albert King. In 1972 he released A live album Jazz Blues Fusion with Mayall on harmonica, guitar and piano, Blue Mitchell on trumpet, Clifford Solomon and Ernie Watts on saxophones, Larry Taylor on bass, Ron Selico on drums and Freddy Robinson on guitar. in 1973, he released the live album Moving On. During the next decade Mayall’s music evolved from electric blues played by rock musicians, incorporating jazz, funk or pop elements to even adding female vocals. In 1982 Mayall was reunited with Mick Taylor, John McVie and Colin Allen, three musicians of his 1960s line-ups, for a two-year world tour.

In 1984 Mayall restored the name Bluesbreakers for a line-up comprising the two lead guitars of Walter Trout and Coco Montoya, bassist Bobby Haynes and drummer Joe Yuele. On the occasion of the 40th year of his career Mayall received carte blanche to invite fellow musicians for the recording of a celebratory album. Along for the Ride appeared in 2001, credited to John Mayall and Friends with twenty names listed on the cover, including some Bluesbreakers, old and new, and also Gary Moore, Jonny Lang, Steve Cropper, Steve Miller, Otis Rush, Billy Gibbons, Chris Rea, Jeff Healey and Shannon Curfman. To celebrate his 70th birthday Mayall reunited with special guests Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor and Chris Barber during a fundraiser show. This “Unite for Unicef” concert at the Kings Dock Arena in Liverpool and In 2005, Mayall was appointed an OBE in the Honours List. November 2008, Mayall announced he was disbanding the Bluesbreakers. In 2009 he embarked on a solo world tour with: Rocky Athas on guitar, Greg Rzab on bass, and Jay Davenport on drums. Tom Canning, on organ and An album was released in September 2009.

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Louisa May Alcott

American novelist Louisa May Alcott was born November 29, 1832. She is best known as the author of the novel Little Women and its sequels Little Men and Jo’s Boys. Raised by her transcendentalist parents, Abigail May Alcott and Amos Bronson Alcott in New England she grew up among many of the well-known intellectuals of the day such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. Nevertheless, her family suffered severe financial difficulties and Alcott worked to help support the family from an early age. She began to receive critical success for her writing in the 1860′s. Early in her career, she sometimes used the pen name A. M. Barnard. Published in 1868, Little Women is set in the Alcott family home, Orchard House, in Concord, Massachusetts and is loosely based on Alcott’s childhood experiences with her three sisters. The novel was very well received and is still a popular children’s novel today. Alcott was an abolitionist and a feminist. The novel follows the lives of four sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March – and is loosely based on the author’s childhood experiences with her three sisters.

The first volume, Little Women, was an immediate commercial and critical success, prompting the composition of the book’s second volume, entitled Good Wives, which was also successful. Both books were first published as a single volume entitled Little Women in 1880. Alcott followed Little Women with two sequels, also featuring the March sisters: Little Men and Jo’s Boys. Little Women was a fiction novel for girls that veered from the normal writings for children, especially girls, at the time. Little Women has three major themes:”domesticity, work, and true love. All of them are interdependent and each is necessary to the achievement of a heroine’s individual identity.”Little Women itself “has been read as a romance or as a quest, or both. It has been read as a family drama that validates virtue over wealth.” Little Women has been read “as a means of escaping that life by women who knew its gender constraints only too well.” Alcott “combines many conventions of the sentimental novel with crucial ingredients of Romantic children’s fiction, creating a new form of which Little Women is a unique model.” within Little Women can be found the first vision of the “American Girl” and that her multiple aspects are embodied in the differing March sisters.

Alcott “made women’s rights integral to her stories, and above all to Little Women.”Alcott’s fiction became her “most important feminist contribution”—even considering all the effort Alcott made to help facilitate women’s rights.” Alcott thought that “a democratic household could evolve into a feminist society.” In Little Women, she imagined that just such an evolution might begin with Plumfield, a nineteenth century feminist utopia.”Little Women has a timeless resonance which reflects Alcott’s grasp of her historical framework in the 1860s. The novel’s ideas do not intrude themselves upon the reader because the author is wholly in control of the implications of her imaginative structure. Sexual equality is the salvation of marriage and the family; democratic relationships make happy endings. This is the unifying imaginative frame.

Alcott Never married, and continued to write until her death, but suffered chronic health problems in her later years, including vertigo. She attributed her illness and death to mercury poisoning. During her American Civil War service, Alcott contracted typhoid fever and was treated with a compound containing mercury. Recent analysis of Alcott’s illness, however, suggests that her chronic health problems may have been associated with an autoimmune disease, not acute mercury exposure. Moreover, a late portrait of Alcott shows rashes on her cheeks, which is a characteristic of lupus. Alcott died at age 55 of a stroke in Boston, on March 6, 1888, two days after her father’s death. She is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Massachusetts.

C.S.Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia)

LWW-CSLIrish novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist C. S. Lewis was born on 29th November 1898 in Belfast, Ireland. He is known for both his fictional work, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy and his non-fiction, such as Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain. Lewis and fellow novelist J. R. R. Tolkien were close friends. Both authors served on the English faculty at Oxford University, and were active in the informal Oxford literary group known as the “Inklings”. At the age of 32 Lewis returned to the Anglican Communion, becoming “a very ordinary layman of the Church of England”. His faith had a profound effect on his work, and his wartime radio broadcasts on the subject of Christianity brought him wide acclaim.

Lewis’s works have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies? Among his best known novels is The Pilgrim’s Regress, which was written in 1933 shortly after he converted to Christianity, this depicted his experience with Christianity in the style of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. Lewis also wrote the “Space Trilogy” (also called the “Cosmic Trilogy” or “Ransom Trilogy”) which dealt with what Lewis saw as the de-humanising trends in contemporary science fiction. The first book, Out of the Silent Planet, was apparently written following a conversation with his friend JRR Tolkien about these trends. Lewis agreed to write a “space travel” story and Tolkien a “time travel” one, but Tolkien never completed “The Lost Road”, linking his Middle-earth to the modern world. Lewis’s main character Elwin Ransom is based in part on Tolkien, a fact Tolkien alludes to in his letters. The second novel, Perelandra, depicts a new Garden of Eden on the planet Venus, a new Adam and Eve, and a new “serpent figure” to tempt them. The story can be seen as an account of what could have happened if the terrestrial Eve had resisted the serpent’s temptation and avoided the Fall of Man. The third novel, That Hideous Strength, develops the theme of nihilistic science threatening traditional human values, embodied in Arthurian legend.Many ideas in the trilogy, particularly opposition to de-humanization as portrayed in the third book, are presented more formally in The Abolition of Man, based on a series of lectures by Lewis at Durham University in 1943.

C.S.Lewis’s best known novels are The Chronicles of Narnia which are a series of seven fantasy novels and are considered classics of children’s literature. Set in the fictional realm of Narnia, a fantasy world of magic, mythical beasts, and talking animals, the series narrates the adventures of various children who play central roles in the unfolding history of that world. Except in The Horse and His Boy, the protagonists are all children from the real world, magically transported to Narnia, where they are called upon by the lion Aslan to protect Narnia from evil and restore the throne to its rightful line. The books span the entire history of Narnia, from its creation in The Magician’s Nephew to its eventual destruction in The Last Battle. The Chronicles of Narnia have also been adapted for stage, TV, radio, and cinema. Inspiration for the series is taken from multiple sources; in addition to adapting numerous traditional Christian themes, the books freely borrow characters and ideas from Greek, Turkish and Roman mythology as well as from traditional British and Irish fairy tales & have profoundly influenced adult and children’s fantasy literature since World War II.

Lewis sadly passed away on 22 November 1963, as the result of renal failure, one week before his 65th birthday. Media coverage of his death was minimal because it was the same day that U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and Aldous Huxley, died. Lewis continues to attract a wide readership. In 2008, The Times ranked him eleventh on their list of “the 50 greatest British writers since 1945″. Readers are often unaware of what Lewis considered the Christian themes of his works. His Christian apologetics are read and quoted by members of many Christian denominations. Lewis has been the subject of several biographies. In 1985 the screenplay Shadowlands by William Nicholson, dramatising Lewis’s life and relationship with Joy Davidman Gresham, was aired on British television, starring Joss Ackland and Claire Bloom. This was also staged as a theatre play starring Nigel Hawthorne and made into the 1993 feature film Shadowlands starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. In 2005, a one-hour television movie entitled C. S. Lewis: Beyond Narnia, starring Anton Rodgers, provided a general synopsis of Lewis’s life. There is A bronze statue of Lewis’s character Digory, from The Magician’s Nephew, in front of Belfast’s Holywood Road Library.

Many books have been inspired by Lewis, including Daniel Handler’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, and J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Authors of adult fantasy literature such as Tim Powers have also been influenced by Lewis’s work. Lewis was strongly opposed to the creation of live-action versions of his works. His major concern was that the anthropomorphic animal characters “when taken out of narrative into actual visibility, always turn into buffoonery or nightmare”, despite this, three popular film adaptations have been made -The Lion, the witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian and Voyage of the Dawn Trader plus a BBC TV series starring Tom Baker.

Several C. S. Lewis Societies exist around the world and His name is also used by a variety of Christian organisations. . Lewis is also featured as a main character in The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica series by James A. Owen. He is also one of two characters in Mark St. Germain’s 2009 play Freud’s Last Session, which imagines a meeting between Lewis, aged 41, and Sigmund Freud, aged 83, at Freud’s house in Hampstead, London, in 1939, during the outbreak of World War Two.

George Harrison (The Beatles)

Best known for being the lead Guitarist in The Beatles, theEnglish musician, singer and songwriter George Harrison sadly died on 29 November 2001, aged 58, from lung cancer. Born 25 February 1943. He achieved international fame with The Beatles and later had a successful solo career. Although John Lennon and Paul McCartney were the band’s primary songwriters, most of their albums included at least one Harrison composition, including “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, “Here Comes the Sun” and “Something”, which became the Beatles’ second-most-covered song.

Harrison’s earliest musical influences included Big Bill Broonzy, George Formby and Django Reinhardt; Chet Atkins, Chuck Berry and Ry Cooder were significant later influences. By 1965 he had begun to lead the Beatles into folk rock through his interest in the Byrds andBob Dylan, and towards Indian classical music through his use of the sitar on “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”. He developed an interest in the Hare Krishna movement and became an admirer of Indian culture and mysticism, introducing them to the other members of the Beatles and their Western audience by incorporating Indian instrumentation in their music. After the band’s break-up in 1970, Harrison released the triple album All Things Must Pass, from which two hit singles originated. He also organized the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh with Ravi Shankar, a precursor for later benefit concerts such as Live Aid. Harrison was a music and film producer as well as a musician; he founded Dark Horse Records in 1974 and co-founded HandMade Films in 1978. If you watch carefully he has got a cameo in a few Monty Python films.

Harrison released several best-selling singles and albums as a solo performer, and in 1988 co-founded the platinum-selling supergroup the Traveling Wilburys. A prolific recording artist, he was featured as a guest guitarist on tracks by Badfinger, Ronnie Wood and Billy Preston, and collaborated on songs and music with Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Tom Petty, among others. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 11 in their list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”. Harrison’s first marriage, to Pattie Boyd, ended in divorce in 1977. The in 1978 he married Olivia Trinidad Arias, with whom he remained and had one son, Dhani until he passed away in 2001. Harrison was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Ganges and Yamuna rivers in India, in a private ceremony according to Hindu tradition. He left almost £100 million in his will.