Francis Buchholz (Scorpions)

imageFrancis Buchholz Bass player with the splendidly noisy German Rock Group The Scorpions was born 19th February 1954. Formed in 1965 by Rudolf Schenker, the Scorpions first had beat influences and Schenker himself did the vocals then things began to come together in 1970 when Schenker’s younger brother Michael and vocalist Klaus Meine joined the band. In 1972, the group recorded and released their debut album Lonesome Crow. Sadly Michael Schenker left the band, which led to the breakup of the band In 1973, however In 1974 a new line-up of Scorpions released Fly to the Rainbow. This album proved to be more successful than Lonesome Crow and established the band’s sound. In 1975 the band released In Trance, The album was a huge step forward for Scorpions and established their heavy metal formula and contained songs like “Dark Lady”, “Robot Man”. In 1976, Scorpions released Virgin Killer, which featured rather controversial artwork, that brought the band considerable media exposure but resulted in the album being “pulled” in some countries, although the music itself garnered considerable praise from critics and fans. The follow-up album was Taken by Force, They also recorded material during the band’s Japanese tour, and the resultant double live album was called Tokyo Tapes.

imageIn 1979 The Scorpions released the album “Love Drive” which some critics consider to be the pinnacle of their career. Containing such fan favourites as “Loving You Sunday Morning”, “Always Somewhere”, “Holiday” and the instrumental “Coast to Coast”. The album’s provocative artwork was also named “Best album sleeve of 1979″ by Playboy magazine but was changed for American release. In 1980 the band released Animal Magnetism, which contained “The Zoo” and “Make It Real”. In 1982 The Scorpions released their next album, Blackout, which became the band’s best selling to date eventually going platinum andspawned three singles “Dynamite”, “Blackout”, and “No One Like You”, but It was not until 1984 and the release of Love at First Sting that the band finally cemented their status as metal musicians. Propelled by the single Rock You Like a Hurricane, Love at First Sting climbed the charts and went double platinum in the USA a few months after its release.

The band toured extensively and recorded their very successful second live album, World Wide Live in 1985. The bands next album Savage Amusement was released in 1988 containing the songs Don’t Stop at the Top and Rhythm of Love, which represented a more polished and mature sound. During the Savage Amusement tour, Scorpions became only the second Western group (not American) to play in the Soviet Union as a result, Scorpions developed an extended Russian fan base and still return to perform.In 1990. Crazy World was released and displayed a less polished sound. The album was propelled in large part by the massive success of the ballad Wind of Change which muses on the socio-political changes that were occurring in Eastern Europe and in other parts of the world at the end of the Cold War. On July 21, 1990 they joined many other guests for Roger Waters’ massive performance of The Wall in Berlin. Scorpions performed both versions of “In the Flesh” from The Wall. In 1993, Scorpions released Face the Heat but this did not come close to matching the success of “Wind of Change” and was only a moderate success.

Their 13th studio album, 1996s Pure Instinct, contained the singles “Wild Child” and the soothing ballad “You and I” which both enjoyed moderate success. 1999 saw the release of Eye II Eye and a significant change in the band’s style, mixing in elements of pop and techno. The following year, Scorpions had an artistic collaboration with the Berlin Philharmonic that resulted in a 10-song album named Moment of Glory. In 2001, Scorpions released Acoustica, which featured acoustic reworkings of the band’s biggest hits, plus new tracks. In 2004, the band released Unbreakable, which was hailed by critics as a long-awaited return to form. The album was the heaviest the band had released since Face the Heat, and cintained tracks such as “New Generation”, “Love ‘em or Leave ‘em” and “Deep and Dark”. Scorpions released their 17th studio album, Sting in the Tail, on March 23, 2010 and announced that it would be their last album and that the tour supporting it will be their final tour. On 6 April 2010, Scorpions were enshrined in Hollywood’s Rock Walk in a handprint ceremony, with the band members placing their hands in a long slab of wet cement, which was placed on the Rock Walk.The Scorpions also re-record versions of their older material for an album entitled Comeblack which was released on 7 November 2011, and headlined the 2012 Wacken Open Air Festival Alongside Saxon, Sepultura, Napalm Death and Dio Disciples. http://youtu.be/bFBiHAoB_kk

Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath)

Tony IommI, the guitarist and songwriter with Pioneering heavy Metal band Black Sabbath  was born 19 February 1948 Birmingham, His mother’s family were vineyard owners in Italy. The family were Catholic but rarely attended mass. The family home in the Park Lane area of Aston also housed a shop which was a popular meeting place in the neighbourhood. The family living room doubled as the shop’s stockroom. His mother ran the shop while his father was a carpenter by trade. Born and raised in Handsworth, Birmingham, Iommi attended Birchfield Road School, where future bandmate Ozzy Osbourne was also a student one year behind him. At age 8 or 9, Iommi fell and badly cut his upper lip as another boy chased him. As a result, he gained the nickname “Scarface” which caused him to become self-conscious of the scar, and he eventually grew his trademark mustache as a means of covering it.

At about age ten, Iommi began working out and learned judo, karate, and later boxing as a means of protecting himself from the local gangs which congregated in his neighbourhood. He became so good at boxing that he envisioned a future as a bouncer in a nightclub, thus avoiding a career in a boring factory job. Iommi initially wanted to play the drums, but due to the excessive noise he chose the guitar instead as a teenager, after being inspired by the likes of Hank Marvin and The Shadows. He has always played guitar left-handed.

After completing school, Iommi worked briefly as a plumber and later in a factory manufacturing rings. At the age of 17, Iommi lost the tips of the middle and ring finger of his right hand in an industrial accident on his last day of work in a sheet metal factory. After the injury Iommi considered abandoning the guitar entirely. However, his factory foreman played him a recording of famous jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, Inspired by Reinhardt’s two-fingered guitar playing, Iommi decided to try playing guitar again, though the injury made it quite painful to do so. Although it was an option, iommi never seriously considered switching hands and learning to play right-handed and continued playing left-handed. To do so, he fitted modified homemade thimbles to his injured fingers to extend and protect them, however this created technical problems. so he used banjo strings instead, until around 1970–71 when Picato Strings began making light-gauge guitar strings. He also used the injured fingers predominantly for fretting chords rather than single-note solos. He also began tuning his guitar to lower pitches, sometimes as far as three semitones below standard guitar tuning (e.g., on “Children of the Grave”, “Lord of this World”, and “Into the Void”, all on the album Master of Reality). This creates a bigger heavier sound and slackens the strings tightness.

Iommi had played in several blues/rock bands, the earliest of which was the Rockin’ Chevrolets from 1964 to 1965. The band had regular bookings and when they were offered work in Germany, Iommi decided to leave his factory job to take up the opportunity. From 1966 to 1967 Iommi played in a band named The Rest. It was in The Rest that Iommi first met future-Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward, who performed drums and vocals in the band. During 1968 Iommi was guitarist in Mythology, with Ward joining a month later in mid-February. In May 1968 police raided the group’s practice flat and found cannabis resin. Mythology subsequently split up after a gig in Silloth in 1968. Vocalist Ozzy Osbourne joined with Iommi and Ward after the duo responded to an advert in a local music shop proclaiming “Ozzy Zig Needs Gig – has own PA”. Osbourne mentioned his former Rare Breed bandmate Geezer Butler, who was subsequently hired along with slide guitarist Jimmy Phillips and saxophonist Alan “Aker” Clarke.

They named themselves the Polka Tulk Blues Band. Phillips and Clarke were dismissed from the band, which soon after shortened its name to Polka Tulk. Iommi, Butler, Ward and Osbourne renamed the band Earth. Iommi briefly departed to join Jethro Tull. However, after only one performance (an appearance on “The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus” in which the band mimed “A Song for Jeffrey”, which Ian Anderson sang live), Iommi was back with Earth once more. In 1969 Earth renamed themselves Black Sabbath. His factory accident inadvertently affected the Black Sabbath sound; by 1970 Iommi had detuned his guitar from E to E♭ (a minor second down),and from Master of Reality album, had detuned it further to D♭ (a minor third down), to ease the tension on his fingers. Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler did the same to match Iommi. Sabbath was among the first bands to detune, and the technique became a mainstay of heavy metal music. Iommi combined blues-like guitar solos and dark, minor-key riffing with a revolutionary high-gain, heavily distorted tone with his use of a modified treble-boosting effect-pedal.

By the late 1970s, Black Sabbath were suffering from substance abuse, managerial problems, and touring exhaustion. In addition, the band’s slow, blues-driven riffs were outmoded against the rising generation of metal bands such as Judas Priest and Motörhead. After the albums Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die! were released Iommi and Butler decided that Sabbath needed a fresh start, so in the summer of 1979, they fired Osbourne and replaced him with Ronnie James Dio, the former vocalist for Rainbow. With Dio, Black Sabbath produced Heaven and Hell, which attempted to update Black Sabbath’s sound for the 1980s and featured soaring vocals Bill Ward dropped out due to alcohol problems and displeasure with the direction that Dio was taking the band. He was replaced by Vinny Appice. With Iommi and Geezer Butler the only original members, this line-up produced Mob Rules. Dio quit the following year to begin a solo career, so Sabbath went through a revolving door line-up for the next decade with a succession of frontmen – Ian Gillan (formerly of Deep Purple), Glenn Hughes, Tony Martin and Ray Gillen. After Ian Gillan departed the band in 1984, Geezer Butler left as well. With Sabbath in effective hiatus, Iommi recorded his first solo album, entitled Seventh Star. The album featured Glenn Hughes (also formerly of Deep Purple) on vocals, but due to label pressures, it was billed as a release by “Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi.”

In 1992, Iommi appeared at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, playing four songs with the remaining members of Queen and other guest artists. Geezer Butler also returned to Sabbath that year. In 1993 Iommi teamed up with fellow Black Country band Diamond Head and co-wrote the song “Starcrossed (Lovers in the Night)” for their 1993 Death and Progress album. At Ozzy’s “farewell” concert at Costa Mesa in 1992, Dio refused to perform and abruptly left the band. As a result, Rob Halford was recruited to perform as the vocalist for two gigs (Halford also sang at one of the dates on the 2004 Ozzfest tour, when Ozzy couldn’t perform due to bronchitis). Following Osbourne’s solo set, the show concluded with Ozzy bringing out the other members of the original Black Sabbath line-up for a 4-song reunion. Black Sabbath recorded two further albums with Tony Martin before the original line-up reunited as a touring band in 1997. While Bill Ward played at the two initial reunion shows at Birmingham NEC in December 1997, he was not present for the following two reunion tours, his second absence due to a heart attack. Ward was replaced by Mike Bordin and then Vinny Appice.

On 11 November 2011, the original band members announced that they were reuniting and recording a new album, although Bill Ward did not participate and Vinny Appice took his place at drums for the sessions. The new album, 13, was released in June 2013. Sadly though Guitarist Iommi was diagnosed with lymphoma on 9 January 2012, which forced the band to cancel all but two shows (Download Festival, and Lollapalooza Festival) of a previously booked European tour. an intimate show was played in their hometown Birmingham. It was the first concert since the reunion and the only indoors concerts that

On 21 May 2012, at the O2 Academy in Birmingham, Black Sabbath played their first concert since 2005, with Tommy Clufetos playing the drums. In June, they performed at Download Festival, followed by the last concert of the short tour at Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago. Later that month, the band started recording an album. In 2013, the band announced that the album would be released in June under the title 13. Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine was chosen as the drummer, and Rick Rubin was chosen as the producer.. The standard version of the album features eight new tracks, and the deluxe version features three bonus tracks. [ The band’s first single from 13, “God Is Dead?”, was released in 2013. Black Sabbath also commenced their first Australia/New Zealand tour in 40 years, followed by a major North American Tour The second single of the album, “End of the Beginning”, debuted in a CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode, where all three members appeared. In 2013, 13 topped both the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard 200. “God Is Dead?” earned Black Sabbath their first Grammy Award in 14 years for Best Metal Performance in 2014.

In July 2013, Black Sabbath embarked on a North American Tour (for the first time since July 2001), followed by a Latin American tour in October 2013. In November 2013, the band started their European tour which lasted until December 2013. In March and April 2014, they made 12 stops in North America (mostly in Canada) as the second leg of their North American Tour before embarking in June 2014 on the second leg of their European tour, which ended with a concert at London’s Hyde Park. Black Sabbath began work on their twentieth studio album in early 2015 with producer Rick Rubin, followed by a final tour in 2016. On 3 September 2015, it was announced that Black Sabbath would embark on their final tour, titled The End, from January 2016 to February 2017. The final shows of The End tour took place at the Genting Arena in Birmingham, England on 2 and 4 February 2017.

Bonn Scott (AC/DC)

AcdcThe late great Bon Scott, Former singer with heavy metal band AC/DC sadly died on 19th February 1980. AC/DC were Formed in 1973 by Malcolm and his brother Angus Young, who have remained the sole constant members. The band are commonly classified as hard rock, and are considered pioneers of heavy metal and are sometimes classified as such, though they themselves have always classified their music as simply “rock and roll”. To date they are one of the highest grossing bands of all time. AC/DC underwent several line-up changes before releasing their first album, High Voltage, on 17 February 1975.

Bass player Cliff Williams replaced Mark Evans in 1977 for the album Powerage. Within months of recording the album Highway to Hell, lead singer and co-songwriter Bon Scott died on 19 February 1980, after a night of heavy alcohol consumption. The group briefly considered disbanding, but Scott’s parents urged them to continue and hire a new vocalist. Ex-Geordie singer Brian Johnson was auditioned and selected to replace Scott. Later that year, the band released their highest selling album, and ultimately the third highest-selling album by any artist, Back in Black. The band’s next album, For Those About to Rock We Salute You, was their first album to reach number one in the United States. AC/DC declined in popularity soon after drummer Phil Rudd was fired in 1983 and was replaced by future Dio drummer Simon Wright, though the band resurged in the early 1990s with the release of The Razors Edge. Phil Rudd returned in 1994 (after Chris Slade, who was with the band from 1989–1994, was asked to leave in favour of him) and contributed to the band’s 1995 album Ballbreaker.

Since then, the band’s line-up has remained the same. Stiff Upper Lip was released in 2000 and was well received by critics, and the album, Black Ice, was released on 20 October 2008. It was their biggest hit on the charts since For Those About to Rock, reaching No.1 on all the charts eventually. As of 2010, AC/DC had sold more than 200 million albums worldwide, including 71 million albums in the United States alone. Back in Black has sold an estimated 49 million units worldwide, making it the third highest-selling album by any artist, and the second highest-selling album by any band, behind Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon and Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The album has sold 22 million units in the U.S. alone, where it is the fifth-highest-selling album of all-time. AC/DC ranked fourth on VH1′s list of the “100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock” and were named the seventh “Greatest Heavy Metal Band of All Time” by MTV. In 2004, AC/DC were ranked number 72 in the Rolling Stone list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. In 2010, AC/DC were ranked number 23 in the VH1 list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Alles Klar Herr Kommissar

The late great Austrian Rock Musician and Rapper Falco (Johann Hölzel) was born 19 February in 1957. Falco began to show signs of unusual musical talent very early. As a toddler, he was able to keep time with the drumbeat in songs he heard on the radio. He was given a baby grand piano for his fourth birthday; a year later, his birthday gift was a record player which he used to play music by Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, and the Beatles. At age five, he auditioned for the Vienna Music Academy.

In 1963, Hölzel began his schooling at a Roman Catholic private school; four years later, at age ten, he switched to the Rainer Gymnasium in Vienna. Shortly thereafter his father Alois Hölzel left the family. From then on, Hölzel was raised by his mother and grandmother. He left school at sixteen in 1973 due to absenteeism. His mother then insisted he begin an apprenticeship with the Austrian employee pension insurance institute, At seventeen, he volunteered for eight months of military service with the Austrian army. He then entered the Vienna Music Conservatory in 1977, but left after one semester to “become a real musician”. He moved to West Berlin while singing in a jazz-rock band and exploring the club scene. When he returned to Vienna he was calling himself “Falco”, in tribute to the East German ski jumper Falko Weißpflog. From 1978 He played bass with the Austrian hard rock-punk rock band Drahdiwaberl until 1983 and also played bass with the space disco band Ganymed in 1981.

Falco’s first hit was “Der Kommissar” from the 1982 album Einzelhaft, which combines German rap verses with a sung chorus. Shortly after British rock band After the Fire recorded an English cover version, based on Falco’s lyrics and also called “Der Kommissar” and American singer Laura Branigan also recorded a version of the song with new English lyrics under the title “Deep in the Dark” on her album Branigan2. Sadly though his second album, Junge Römer (Young Romans) failed to provide a repeat to his debut single’s success.

Falco then began to experiment with English lyrics in an effort to broaden his appeal, and this resulted in his most popular album and single of his career “Rock Me Amadeus” with it’s distinctive guttural delivery, which was inspired in part by the Oscar-winning film Amadeus, and the song became a worldwide hit in 1986. The Follow-up single “Vienna Calling” was another international pop hit. The third song “Jeanny” became Highly controversial when it was released in Germany and the Netherlands, because the story of “Jeanny” was told from the point of view of a possible rapist and murderer. In 1986, he released the album Emotional, which included the Songs “Coming Home (Jeanny Part II, One Year Later)”, “The Kiss of Kathleen Turner”, “Kamikaze Capa” which was written as a tribute to the late photojournalist Robert Capa and “The Sound of Musik”. In 1987 he went on the “Emotional” world tour and also released a duet with Brigitte NeilSson “Body Next to Body” and an album in 1988 entitled Wiener Blut (Viennese Blood).

Sadly though, Falco had a fatal motoring accident on 6 February 1998, just a few days before his 41st birthday, when his Mitsubishi Pajero collided with a bus on the road linking the towns of Villa Montellano and Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. It was later determined that the bus driver was speeding, for which the driver served three years in prison. However, at the time of the accident, Falco was under the influence of significant amounts of alcohol, cocaine and THC. At the time of Falco’s death, he was planning a comeback with the album Nachtflug (Night Flight) which included the song “Titanic”, and was released posthumously. He is buried in the Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) in Vienna, Austria

Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio, Bad Moon Rising, Dead Daisies)

WhitesnakeHard rock Guitarist Doug Aldrich was born February 19, 1964. He founded the band Burning Rain with Keith St. John in 1998 and has played previously with the bands Whitesnake, Dio, Lion, Hurricane, House of Lords, and Bad Moon Rising. He is currently in the band Revolution Saints. He has also released several solo albums. In 2015, Doug was touring as guitar player of former Deep Purple bassist and vocalist Glenn Hughes band. In early 2016 it was announced that he would be replacing Richard Fortus as guitarist of The Dead Daisies, as Fortus left to perform with the Guns N’ Roses reunion.

Aldrich was first introduced to the guitar at age 11 when his sister Jennifer introduced him to the playing of Jeff Beck. Aldrich’s first guitar was a Les Paul model and came from Sears. Aldrich auditioned for Kiss where hemet Gene Simmons. Aldrich was also once a highly sought after guitar teacher, at one point he was teaching over 70 students a week. In early 2014 Aldrich joined the critically acclaimed production show “Raiding the Rock Vault” at the New Tropicana Hotel and Casino where he performed six shows a week with other Rock’n Roll greats like Robin McAuley (formerly Survivor, MSG), John Payne (Asia), Howard Leese (Bad Company, Heart), Paul Shortino (Quiet Riot), Andrew Freeman (Offspring) and more. In late January 2016, it was announced that Aldrich would be replacing Richard Fortus as guitarist in The Dead Daisies, as Fortus was playing with Guns N’ Roses. As of late January 2016 Aldrich was in Nashville with The Dead Daisies, working on a followup album to 2015’s Revolución. As a member of The Dead Daisies Aldrich was reunited with bassist Marco Mendoza; the two having previously performed together in Whitesnake.

Harper Lee

HarperleeBest selling American novelist Harper Lee  sadly died 18 February 2016 at the age of 89. Lee was born in Monroeville, Alabama in 1926 And was the youngest of the four children born to lawyer Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Finch Lee. She grew under the stresses of segregation and as a child shared summers with another aspiring writer, Truman Capote, who annually came to stay in the house next door to hers. She studied at the University of Alabama from 1945 to 1949 before moving to New York, where she began writing fiction in her spare time. Lee eventually signed with an agent in 1956. Capote later invited her to accompany him to Holcomb, Kansas, to help him research his groundbreaking 1966 crime book In Cold Blood.

Capote also inspired the figure of the young boy Dill in Harper Lee’s classic 1961 novel To Kill a Mockingbird, with his friend the first-person narrator Scout clearly modelled on the childhood Lee herself. Her father acted as the template for small town lawyer Atticus Finch who displays resolute courtroom dignity as he struggles to represent and save the life of a black resident named Robinson who is accused of raping a white woman by a racist mob. This provides the novel’s ethical backbone. To Kill a Mockingbird went on to become a national institution and the defining text on the racial troubles of the American Deep South, where Lee’s home state of Alabama, was the epicenter of many violent upheavals over civil rights. The publication of Mockingbird, had a profound effect on white residents of the state and the power of the novel was able to shift the ingrained assumptions of white Alabamans and took the politics of the civil rights era and made them human. She showed people that this was about their neighbors, their friends, someone they knew, not just about the issues.

A second novel Go Set a Watchman was published in July 2015. It was originally written in the mid-1950s and is set some twenty years after the events in To Kill a Mockingbird, and is written from the point of view of an adult Scout (Jean Louise) Finch who travels from New York to Maycomb, Alabama, to visit her father, Atticus Finch, And the title alludes to Scout’s view of her father, Atticus Finch, as the moral compass (“watchman”) of Maycomb. The novel sees Scout “forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand her father’s attitude toward society and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood. Go Set a Watchman has since become a global success winning many awards.

Sadly In later years Lee’s health declined and she lived for several years in a nursing home less than a mile from the house in which she had grown up in Monroeville, Alabama – the setting for the fictional Maycomb of her famous bestselling 1961 bookTo Kill a Mockingbird, which became a best seller and sold more than 40 million copies around the world and earned her a Pulitzer prize. Lee was also awarded the presidential medal of freedom in 2007 by George Bush. She will be sadly missed.