Richard Adams

Best known as the author of Watership Down, Shardik and The Plague Dogs, English novelist Richard George Adams sadly died 24December 2016. Adams was born on 9 May 1920 in Wash Common near Newbury, Berkshire, England. He attended Horris Hill School from 1926 to 1933, and then Bradfield College from 1933 to 1938. In 1938, he went to Worcester College, Oxford, to read Modern History. In July 1940, Adams was called up to join the British Army. He was posted to the Royal Army Service Corps and was selected for the Airborne Company, where he worked as a brigade liaison. He served in Palestine, Europe and the Far East but saw no direct action against either the Germans or the Japanese.

After being demobbed in 1946, Adams returned to Worcester College to continue his studies for a further two years. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1948, proceeding MA in 1953.After his graduation in 1948, Adams joined the British Civil Service, rising to the rank of Assistant Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, later part of the Department of the Environment. It was during this period that he began writing fiction in his spare time.

He published his first novel Watership down in 1972 to much international acclaim. Adams had originally begun telling the story of Watership Down to his two daughters, and they insisted that he publish it as a book. It took two years to write. In 1972, after four publishers and three writers’ agencies had turned down the manuscript Rex Collings published the book which gained international acclaim almost immediately and sold over a million copies worldwide. Adams won both of the most prestigious British children’s book awards, one of six authors to do so: the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize.

In 1974, two years after Watership Down was published, Adams became a full-time author and published his second novel, Shardik, after which he left the Civil Service to become a full-time author. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1975. Adams also served as writer-in-residence at the University of Florida and Hollins University in Virginia. Adams won the inaugural Whitchurch Arts Award for inspiration in January 2010, presented at the Watership Down pub in Freefolk, Hampshire and In 2015 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Winchester.

Carrie Fisher

Best known for playing Princess Leia in the Star Wars films, the American actress, screenwriter, author, producer, and speaker Carrie Frances Fisher Sadly died December 27, 2016. She was born October 21, 1956 in Beverly Hills, California, the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds. As a child, Fisher read voraciously becoming known in her family as “the bookworm”. She spent her earliest years reading classic literature, and writing poetry. She attended Beverly Hills High School until, at the age of 15, she appeared as a debutante and singer in the hit Broadway revival Irene (1973), which starred her mother. This activity interfered with her education, and she never graduated from high school. In 1973, Fisher enrolled at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, which she attended for 18 months, and in 1978, Fisher was accepted into Sarah Lawrence College, where she planned to study the arts. However, she left before graduating due to conflicts filming Star Wars.

Fisher made her film debut in the Columbia Pictures comedy Shampoo (1975) starring Warren Beatty, Julie Christie and Goldie Hawn, with Lee Grant and Jack Warden as her character’s parents. In 1977, Fisher starred as Princess Leia in George Lucas’ science-fiction film Star Wars (later retitled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope) opposite Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford. In April 1978, she appeared as the love interest in Ringo Starr’s 1978 TV special Ringo. she also appeared alongside John Ritter (who had also appeared in Ringo) in the ABC-TV film Leave Yesterday Behind, as a horse trainer who helps Ritter’s character after an accident leaves him a paraplegic. Fisher then appeared with Laurence Olivier and Joanne Woodward in the anthology series Laurence Olivier Presents in a television version of the William Inge play Come Back, Little Sheba. She also portrayed Princess Leia in the 1978 TV production Star Wars Holiday Special, and sang in the last scene.

Fisher later appeared in The Blues Brothers film as Jake’s vengeful ex-lover. She appeared on Broadway in Censored Scenes from King Kong in 1980 and also reprised her role as Princess Leia in The Empire Strikes Back. In 1982 She appeared in the Broadway production of Agnes of God and In 1983, Fisher returned to the role of Princess Leia in Return of the Jedi. Fisher is one of the few actors or actresses to star in films with both John and Jim Belushi, later appearing with the latter in the film The Man with One Red Shoe. She appeared in the Woody Allen film Hannah and Her Sisters in 1986.

In 1987, Fisher published her first novel, Postcards from the Edge. The book was semi-autobiographical in the sense that she fictionalized and satirized real-life events such as her drug addiction of the late 1970s and her relationship with her mother. It became a bestseller, and she received the Los Angeles Pen Award for Best First Novel. Also during 1987, she was in the Australian film The Time Guardian. In 1989, Fisher played a major supporting role in When Harry Met Sally…, and in the same year, she appeared with Tom Hanks as his wife in The ‘Burbs. In 1990, the film adaptation of Postcards from the Edge, was released starring Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine, and Dennis Quaid. Fisher appeared in the fantasy comedy film Drop Dead Fred in 1991, and played a therapist in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997). During the 1990s, Fisher also published the novels Surrender the Pink (1990) and Delusions of Grandma. Fisher also did uncredited script work for movies such as Lethal Weapon 3 (where she wrote some of Rene Russo’s dialogue), Outbreak and The Wedding Singer. In the film Scream 3 Fisher played an actress mistaken for Carrie Fisher. In 2001, Fisher played a nun in the Kevin Smith comedy Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. She also co-wrote the TV comedy film These Old Broads, starring her mother, Debbie Reynolds, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Collins, and Shirley MacLaine.

Besides acting and writing original works, Fisher was one of the top script doctors in Hollywood, working on the screenplays of other writers. Shewas hired by the creator of Star Wars, George Lucas, to polish scripts for his 1992 TV series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, as well as the dialogue for the Star Wars prequel scripts. She also worked as a script doctor and rewriter, on Hook (1991), Lethal Weapon 3 and Sister Act (1992), Made in America, Last Action Hero and So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993), My Girl 2, Milk Money, The River Wild and Love Affair (1994), Outbreak (1995), The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996), The Wedding Singer (1998), The Out-of-Towners and Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999), Coyote Ugly and Scream 3 (2000), Kate & Leopold (2001), Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002), and Intolerable Cruelty (2003), which she had done a rewrite of in 1994 although it’s not known if any of her work remained after the Coen brothers rewrote it. Fisher also worked on Mr. and Mrs. Smith[26] and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005). In 2005, Women in Film & Video – DC recognized Fisher with the Women of Vision Award. Fisher wrote and performed in her one-woman play Wishful Drinking at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles from 2006, to 2007

Fisher also voices Peter Griffin’s boss, Angela, on the animated sitcom Family Guy and appeared in a book of photographs titled Hollywood Moms. Fisher published a sequel to Postcards, The Best Awful There Is, in 2004 and appeared prominently in the audience of the Comedy Central’s Roast of William Shatner. In 2007, she was a full-time judge on FOX’s filmmaking-competition reality television series On the Lot. Fisher wrote and performed in her one-woman play Wishful Drinking and In 2008 Fisher published her autobiographical book, also titled Wishful Drinking, based on her successful play and in 2009, Fisher returned to the stage with her play. Fisher’s audiobook recording of her best-selling memoir, Wishful Drinking, earned her a nomination for a 2009 Grammy Award in the Best Spoken Word Album category. Fisher joined Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne on Saturday evenings for The Essentials with informative and entertaining conversation on Hollywood’s best films. She guest-starred in the episode titled “Sex and Another City” from season 3 of Sex and the City alongside Sarah Jessica Parker, Vince Vaughn, Hugh Hefner, and Sam Seder. In 2007, Fisher guest-starred as Rosemary Howard on the second-season episode of 30 Rock called “Rosemary’s Baby”, and received an Emmy Award nomination. In 2008, she was a guest on Deal or No Deal and had a cameo as a doctor in the Star Wars-related comedy Fanboys.

In 2010, Fisher appeared in a live performance of The Wishful Drinking stage production and the seventh season of Entourage.In August 2013, she was selected as a member of the main competition jury at the 2013 Venice Film Festival. In 2014 She appeared on the UK comedy panel show QI and also starred alongside Sharon Horgan and American comedian Rob Delaney in Catastrophe, a six-part comedy series for Channel 4. Fisher’s latest memoir, The Princess Diarist, was released in November 2016. The book is based on diaries she kept while filming the original Star Wars trilogy in the late 70s and early 80s. Carrie Fisher also reprised her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars Episode VII the Force Awakens for which Fisher was nominated for a 2016 Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal. Fisher also completed filming her role as General Leia Organa in Star Wars: Episode VIII shortly before her death.

Mick Jones (Foreigner)

English musician, singer, songwriter, record producer and founding member of the rock band Foreigner, Michael Leslie “Mick” Jones was born 27 December 1944 in Portsmouth, England. He started playing guitar at an early age. After attending a couple of concerts by Elvis Presley, Jones began a music career in the early 1960s as a member of the band Nero and the Gladiators, who scored two minor British hit singles in 1961. After the demise of the band, Jones worked as a songwriter and session musician in France for such artists as Françoise Hardy, Sylvie Vartan, and Johnny Hallyday (“The French Elvis”), for whom he wrote many songs, including “Je suis né dans la rue” and “À tout casser” (which features Jimmy Page on guitar). When The Beatles toured France in 1964, they befriended Mick when Hallyday played on the same bill as they did. Between 1965 and 1971 Jones recorded in France with Tommy Brown (Thomas R. Browne) as State of Mickey & Tommy, as well as under other session names including the Blackburds, Nimrod, and the J&B.

In 1971 Jones returned to England and joined Gary Wright, formerly of the band Spooky Tooth, to form Wonderwheel in 1971. In 1972 Jones and Wright reformed Spooky Tooth, and after this Jones was a member of the Leslie West Band. He also played guitar on the albums Wind of Change for Peter Frampton, and Dark Horse for George Harrison.

In 1976, Jones formed Foreigner with Ian McDonald and recruited lead singer Lou Gramm. Jones co-produced all of the band’s albums and co-wrote most of their songs with Gramm. Jones wrote the band’s most successful single, “I Want to Know What Love Is”. Tensions developed within the band during the late 1980s and were attributed to a difference in musical taste between Gramm, who favoured a more hard-edged rock, as opposed to Jones’ interest in synthesisers. Gramm left the band in 1990 but returned in 1992. In 1989, Jones released his only solo album titled Mick Jones on the Atlantic Records label. Jones is the only person to play on every Foreigner album.

In between his Foreigner commitments, Jones also started a side career as a producer for such albums as Van Halen’s 5150 (1986) and Billy Joel’s Storm Front. He co-wrote with Eric Clapton the song “Bad Love” on Clapton’s Journeyman album, and in 2002 co-wrote the song “On Her Mind” with Duncan Sheik. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, he played with Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings.

Mike Pinder (Moody Blues)

Moody Blues-On the Threshold of a Dream

Moody Blues-On the Threshold of a Dream

Mike Pinder and Ray Thomas, British musicians with English rock band The Moody Blues were born Born 27th December 1941 and 29th December 1941 respectively. The Moody Blues formed on 4 May 1964, in Erdington, Birmingham, England containing Ray Thomas, John Lodge, and Michael Pinder The name developed from a hoped-for sponsorship from the M&B Brewery which failed to materialise and was also 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 had a strong Merseybeat/R&B flavour. It 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” in 1967 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 1969 album On the Threshold of a Dream contained the songs “In The Beginning”,”Lovely To See You”,”Never Comes The Day”,”Dear Diary” and “Lazy Day”,”So Deep Within You”,”The Dream”&”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.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. In 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 Moodies toured the US and Europe during much of 1979. 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, Hayward also tours with Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds.