The Talyllyn Railway

Trains began running on the 7.25 miles (11.67 k Talyllyn narrow gauge Talyllyn Railway (Welsh: Rheilffordd Talyllyn) in Wales for the first time since preservation on 14 May 1951, from Tywyn on the Mid-Wales coast to Nant Gwernol near the village of Abergonolwyn.

The line was originally opened in 1865 to carry slate from the quarries at Bryn Eglwys to Tywyn, and was the first narrow gauge railway in Britain authorised by Act of Parliament to carry passengers using steam haulage.Slate quarrying began in the hills above Tywyn in the 1830s, but although many small quarries and test levels were established, only one major quarry was developed in the region, at Bryn Eglwys, 7 miles (11 km) north east of the town. Underground working began in the early 1840s, and by 1847 the quarry was being worked by local landowner John Pughe. The finished slates were sent by packhorse to the wharf at Pennal, transferred to boats for a river trip to Aberdyfi (or the Anglicised Aberdovey still commonly used), and then finally loaded into seagoing vessels, a complex and expensive transportation arrangement which limited the quarry’s output. In 1861 the outbreak of the American Civil War cut off supplies of cotton to the mills of the north west of England and as a result a number of prosperous mill owners looked for new business opportunities to diversify their interests. One such owner was William McConnel of Lancashire who, in 1859, had purchased a house near Dolgellau, north of Tywyn. In January 1864, McConnel formed the Aberdovey Slate Company, which leased the land including Bryn Eglwys from the landowner, Lewis Morris of Machynlleth.

McConnel set about improving Bryn Eglwys to increase its output. He focused on providing rail transport for the isolated quarry, and in April 1864 he reached agreement with local landowners to purchase the land necessary to build a railway towards Tywyn and the port of Aberdyfi. Construction was well underway by July 1864. The standard gauge Aberystwyth and Welsh Coast Railway was expanding rapidly from its base at Machynlleth, however, and in 1863 had reached Tywyn, so McConnel decided to build his line from the quarry to Tywyn, as the nearest point where slate could be transferred to the standard gauge railway. This was despite the line’s initial isolation from the rest of the system because of difficulties in bridging the estuary of the River Dover( Afon Dyfi) to the south. An Act of Parliament allowing the company to operate passenger trains as a public railway was given Royal Assent on 5 July 1865, and the company appointed James Swinton Spooner as engineer for the construction. By September 1866 construction of the line climbing steadily from Tywyn to the quarry was progressing nicely

However it was discovered that the loading gauge of the line was too small. The internal width of the overbridges was only 9 ft 1 in (277 cm), but the railway’s passenger carriages were 5 ft 3.5 in (161.3 cm) wide, leaving less than 2 ft (61 cm) clearance on either side, less than the minimum required clearance of 2 ft 6 in (76 cm). To alleviate this problem, McConnel made an unusual alteration, and proposed that the doors on one side of each carriage be permanently barred and the track slewed off-centre beneath the bridges to allow adequate clearance at least on the side with doors, which would allow passengers to get out of the carriages if the train stopped underneath a bridge. Consequently all carriages on the Talyllyn have doors on one side only. Improvements were also made to the railway’s first two steam locomotives, as locomotive No. 1 suffered from excessive “vertical motion” and No. 2 was said to suffer from “horizontal oscillation”. No. 1 was returned to its manufacturer where a set of trailing wheels was added to reduce the rear overhang, and the springs on No. 2 were adjusted and crank pins shortened to reduce oscillation.

The first public passenger timetable was issued in December 1866, and the first purpose-built, steam-worked, narrow gauge public railway in Britain opened for service with two locomotives, one carriage and several goods vehicles in use. It was operated under a “one engine in steam” policy to ensure that two trains could not collide Initially the working locomotive was housed in a wooden shed at Ty Dwr on the mineral line above Abergynolwyn station, while the main engineering works at Pendre were constructed. The Pendre works opened on 17 February 1867 and from then on trains began working from Pendre instead of Abergynolwyn. Stations were provided at Pendre and Abergynolwyn. In 1867, the halt at Rhydyronen opened, followed by Brynglas and Dolgoch in 1873. Some time shortly after the opening of the railway a branch to Abergynolwyn village was provided. A steep incline dropped from the mineral line east of Abergynolwyn station to the village below, where a series of tram lines radiated. Unlike the horse-drawn Corris Railway The Talyllyn Railway used steam locomotives from the start, . The original two locomotives, although of entirely different design, were both purchased from Fletcher, Jennings & Co. of Whitehaven in Cumbria and both are still in service, 150 years on.

. The Talyllyn’s unusual gauge is thought to have been adopted to match that of the Corris Railway, and the line’s two original steam locomotives were among the earliest locomotives built for such a narrow gauge. No. 1 Talyllyn is an 0-4-2ST (saddle tank) and No. 2 Dolgoch is an 0-4-0WT (well tank). The line carried slate from the quarry to the wharf at Tywyn and general goods along its length. Public passenger trains initially ran between Abergynolwyn, Dolgoch and Pendre stations only; quarrymen were carried from Abergynolwyn to the foot of the Alltwyllt incline in Nant Gwernol gorge. The line served the quarry industry and the local district. By 1880, Bryn Eglwys employed 300 workers and was producing 8,000 long tons (8,100 t) of finished slate per year, all shipped via the railway. Passenger traffic rose from 11,500 passengers carried in 1867 to over 23,000 (roughly equivalent to 40,000 passenger journeys) in 1877. From the 1880s onwards the “Grand Tour” was a popular option with tourists. This used charabancs to link the Talyllyn and Corris railways via Tal-y-llyn Lake and Cadair Idris, returning on Cambrian Railways trains.

The last two decades of the 19th century saw a decline in the demand for slate and many smaller quarries fell on hard times, including Bryn Eglwys, where by 1890 production had halved to 4,000 long tons (4,100 t) a year. In 1896, production at the Penrhyn Quarry in north Wales, one of the largest producers of slate, was stopped due to labour disputes, resulting in a temporary increase in demand at other quarries. However In 1910 McConnell’s lease expired and work began on dismantling Bryn Eglwys quarry’s equipment. The Bryn Eglwys quarry had been the primary employer in the Abergynolwyn district, so its closure caused significant distress. In 1910, local landowner Henry Haydn Jones was elected the Liberal MP for Merioneth. He understood the importance of Bryn Eglwys, and purchased the quarry company for just over £5000. The quarry re-opened in January 1911. The first workings reopened were on the “Broad Vein”, which yielded relatively hard slate that was less popular and therefore difficult to sell. The lack of an available market for this output forced the quarry to switch to extracting softer slate from the “Narrow Vein.

Following the First World War A brief construction boom saw production return to around 4,000 long tons (4,100 t) per year and The 1920s also saw an upsurge in holiday traffic, as Britain recovered from the war and tourism gained in popularity. The Talyllyn saw summer passenger numbers grow significantly and regularly had to supplement its formal passenger stock with slate wagons fitted with planks as seats. An unusual tourist service offered by the railway was to hire a slate wagon, which would be left at Abergynolwyn. At the end of the day the tourists would return to Tywyn in the wagon, powered by gravity. However This service was discontinued in the early 1930s. The lease on Bryn Eglwys expired in 1942, but was extended on an annual basis. Sadly on 26 December 1946, several weakened support columns in the quarry gave way, resulting in a significant collapse; the quarry was deemed unsafe and closed immediately. Haydn Jones had promised to continue operating the railway as long as he was alive and so, despite the closure of the quarry, the railway continued to run trains on a shoestring budget. In 1948 the British railway system was nationalized however the Talyllyn was one of the few operating railways not included. Between 1947 and 1949 the railway ran a passenger service two days a week. In 1949 Haydn Jones, who owned the Aberllefenni Slate Quarry purchased 10 tons of rail from the recently lifted Corris Railway.

Sadly Haydn Jones died on 2 July 1950 and closure of the railway seemed inevitable, but the line continued to operate until October and in 1951 it became the first railway in the world to be preserved as a heritage railway by volunteers after the author and biographer Tom Rolt, visited the line in 1949, along with the locomotive engineer David Curwen and wrote a letter to the Birmingham Post newspaper suggesting that a rescue of the Talyllyn be undertaken. He received sufficient positive response for a meeting of interested enthusiasts to be held on 11 October 1950 at the Imperial Hotel in Birmingham. Around 70 people, including Patrick Whitehouse, attended the meeting. The committee – with Rolt as chairman and Whitehouse as Secretary – met for the first time on 23 October and entered into negotiation with Haydn Jones’ executor concerning the legally complex transfer of ownership from Haydn Jones’ estate to a new company called Talyllyn Holdings Ltd which took place on 8 February 1951, henceforth the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society effectively took control of the Railway and immediately began to publicise its efforts, hoping to raise funds and find further volunteers to help reopen the railway, and by May nearly 650 members had joined the society. The railway re-opened under the control of the Society for the first time on the Whit Monday bank holiday, 14 May 1951, with trains running between Wharf and Rhydyronen stations. Regular trains began to run on 4 June throughout the summer, with David Curwen acting as the first Chief Mechanical Engineer.

During the early years of preservation, the line struggled to operate using the original rolling stock. When the line was taken over in 1950 Dolgoch was the only operating locomotive and it was apparent that it was in need of a major overhaul. To enable operations to continue two further steam locomotives, Nos. 3 and 4, were purchased from the recently closed Corris Railway in 1951 and named Sir Haydn and Edward Thomas respectively. Because both railways were built to the unusual gauge of 2 ft 3 in (686 mm) it was relatively easy to adapt the Corris locomotives to work on the Talyllyn. No. 3 became the first new locomotive to travel on the railway for over 80 years in 1951, but it frequently derailed, and on inspection it turned out that the Talyllyn track was laid approximately half an inch (13 mm) wider than the official gauge, a deliberate policy by the old company to accommodate the long wheelbase of Talyllyn. Both Talyllyn and Dolgoch had unusually wide wheel treads that allowed them to stay on the wide-of-gauge track however This problem was eventually cured. No. 4 was unserviceable when it arrived, but John Alcock, the chairman of the Hunslet Engine Company, was a member of the Preservation Society and had No. 4 overhauled free of charge at his works. No. 4 then began service on the railway in 1952 and worked the majority of the trains that season.

On 22 May 1957 the BBC produced a live outside broadcast from the railway, during which Wynford Vaughan Thomas and Huw Weldon undertook a trip from Dolgoch to Abergynolwyn. The publicity from this broadcast drew substantial numbers of visitors to the railway that summer, with more than 57,500 passengers carried, and this increase in revenue in turn enabled the railway to continue to improve its infrastructure and provide tourists with a better experience. In 1958 No. 1 Talyllyn also returned to steam after an extensive overhaul.

The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum at Tywyn Wharf station was also built. The first exhibit for what was to become the museum was a locomotive donated in 1952 by Guinness from their recently closed St. James’s Gate Brewery railway. In 1954 the Preservation Society agreed to start work on a formal museum and exhibits from around the United Kingdom were acquired to form the nucleus of the collection. In 1955 work started on converting the old gunpowder store at Wharf station into a temporary museum building, and in 1956 the first exhibit arrived at Tywyn. The preservation society had long held ambitions to extend the railway along the former mineral extension from Abergynolwyn to the foot of the Alltwyllt incline but construction did not start until 1968 when the winding house for the Abergynolwyn village incline was demolished. In 1976, an extension was opened along the former mineral line from Abergynolwyn to the new station at Nant Gwernol by Wynford Vaughan Thomas who drove in the ceremonial “golden spike” to complete the extension. creation of footpaths also began connecting to the new station and A new footbridge was built crossing the Nant Gwernol gorge and connecting the station with the existing path on the east side of the river. The bridge and paths were opened on 3 May 1980 by Lord Parry, the chairman of the Wales Tourist Board

The Preservation Society celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2001, and as part of the year of celebrations a major new project was launched to once more extend and improve facilities at Tywyn Wharf station. semi-permanent buildings existed housing the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum, but the new plans for the station included the construction of a new two-storey building to house the museum and the extension of the existing station building to house a new cafe and booking office these were officially opened by Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall on 13 July 2005. In 2008 a large amount of equipment was purchased from the 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge military railway at RNAD Trecwn, including a large quantity of track components and three diesel locomotives. In 2011, the railway celebrated the 60th anniversary as a heritage line and In April 2012, locomotive No.2 Dolgoch appeared at the Steel Steam and Stars Gala at the Llangollen Railway, running on a temporary section of narrow gauge track. In June 2013 the railway was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. 2015 was the 150th anniversary of the official opening of the railway. The Talyllyn has also inspired many other people; The fictional Skarloey Railway, which featured in Thomas the Tank Engine by The Rev. W. Awdry, was based on the Talyllyn Railway and preservation of the line inspired the Ealing Comedy film The Titfield Thunderbolt.

B. B. King

Legendary American blues musician, singer, songwriter, and guitarist B B. King sadly passed away 14 May 2015. He was born September 16, 1925 and grew up singing in the gospel choir at Elkhorn Baptist Church in Kilmichael. At the age of 12, he purchased his first guitar for $15.00, although another source indicates he was given his first guitar by Bukka White, his mother’s first cousin (King’s grandmother and White’s mother were sisters). In 1943, King left Kilmichael to work as a tractor driver and play guitar with the Famous St. John’s Quartet of Inverness, Mississippi, performing at area churches and on WGRM in Greenwood, Mississippi. In 1946, King followed Bukka White to Memphis, Tennessee. White took him in for the next ten months. However, King shortly returned to Mssissippi, where he decided to prepare himself better for the next visit, and returned to West Memphis, Arkansas, two years later in 1948. He performed on Sonny Boy Williamson’s radio program on KWEM in West Memphis, where he began to develop a local audience for his sound. King’s appearances led to steady engagements at the Sixteenth Avenue Grill in West Memphis and later to a ten-minute spot on the legendary Memphis radio station WDIA. King’s Spot became so popular, it was expanded and became the Sepia Swing Club.Initially he worked at WDIA as a singer and disc jockey, gaining the nickname Beale Street Blues Boy, which was later shortened toBlues Boy and finally to B.B.It was there that he first met T-Bone Walker.

In 1949, King began recording songs under contract with Los Angeles-based RPM Records. Many of King’s early recordings were produced by Sam Phillips, who later founded Sun Records. Before his RPM contract King had debuted on Bullet Records by issuing the single “Miss Martha King” (1949), which did not chart well. “My very first recordings [in 1949] were for a company out of Nashville called Bllet, the Bullet Record Transcription company,” King recalls. “I had horns that very first session. I had Phineas Newborn on piano; his father played drums, and his brother, Calvin, played guitar with me. I had Tuff Green on bass, Ben Branch on tenor sax, his brother, Thomas Branch, on trumpet, and a lady trombone player. The Newborn family were the house band at the famous Plantation Inn in West Memphis.”Performing with his famous guitar, LucilleKing assembled his own band; the B.B. King Review, under the leadership of Millard Lee. The band initially consisted of Calvin Owens and Kenneth Sands (trumpet), Lawrence Burdin (alto saxophone),George Coleman (tenor saxophone), Floyd Newman (baritone saxophone), Millard Lee (piano),George Joyner (bass) and Earl Forest and Ted Curry (drums). Onzie Horne was a trained musician elicited as an arranger to assist King with his compositions. By his own admission, he cannot play chords well and always relies on improvisation. This was followed by tours across the USA with performances in major theaters in cities such as Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit and St. Louis, as well as numerous gigs in small clubs and juke joints of the southern US states.

In 1949, King played at a dance hall in Twist, Arkansas Sadly During a performance, a brawl resulted in the hall bursting into flames, which triggered an evacuation. Once outside, King realized that he had left his guitar inside the burning building. He entered the blaze to retrieve his beloved guitar, a Gibson hollow electric. Two people died in the fire. The next day, King learned that the two men were fighting over a woman named Lucille. King named that first guitar Lucille, as well as every one he owned since that near-fatal experience, as a reminder never again to do something as stupid as run into a burning building or fight over women. King also toured the entire “Chitlin’ circuit”, with 342 concerts booked during 1956. He also founded his own record label, Blues Boys Kingdom, with headquarters at Beale Street in Memphis, he produced artists such as Millard Lee and Levi Seabury. In the 1950s, B.B. King became one of the most important names in R&B music, amassing an impressive list of hits including “3 O’Clock Blues”, “You Know I Love You,” “Woke Up This Morning,” “Please Love Me,” “When My Heart Beats like a Hammer,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “You Upset Me Baby,” “Every Day I Have the Blues”, “Sneakin’ Around,” “Ten Long Years,” “Bad Luck,” “Sweet Little Angel”, “On My Word of Honor,” and “Please Accept My Love.”

During 1956 King made 342 appearances and 3 recording sessions. In November 1964, King recorded the Live at the Regal album at the Regal Theater in Chicago, Illinois and won a Grammy Award for “The Thrill Is Gone”; which is 183 in Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. He gained further visibility among rock audiences as an opening act on The Rolling Stones’ 1969 American Tour. King’s mainstream success continued throughout the 1970s with songs like “To Know You is to Love You” and “I Like to Live the Love”. King was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980, and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2004 he was awarded the international Polar Music Prize, given to artists “in recognition of exceptional achievements in the creation and advancement of music.”

During the 1980s he remained active appearing on numerous television shows and performing 300 nights a year. In 1988, King reached a new generation of fans with the single “When Love Comes to Town”, a collaborative effort between King and the Irish band U2 on their Rattle and Hum album. Also that year King played for the 1988 Republican National Convention at the behest of the notorious Republican operative Lee Atwater. King has remained friendly with the Bush Family ever since and in 1990 was awarded the Presidential Medal of the Arts by George H.W. Bushand the Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2008. In 2000, King teamed up with guitaristEric Clapton to record Riding With the King. In 1998, King appeared in The Blues Brothers 2000, playing the part of the lead singer of the Louisiana Gator Boys, along with Clapton, Dr. John, Koko Taylor and Bo Diddley.

In 2006, King played at Hallam Arena in Sheffield, England supported by Northern Irish guitarist Gary Moore, with whom King had previously toured and recorded, and on June 28, 2009 King returned to Wembley arena with British blues icon John Mayall. In July King went back to Europe, playing twice at the Zürich at the Blues at Sunset and the 40th Montreux Jazz Festival where he jammed with Joe Sample, Randy Crawford, David Sanborn, Gladys Knight, Lella James, Andre Beeka, Earl Thomas, Stanley Clarke, John McLaughlin, Barbara Hendricks and George Duke. In November and December, King played six times in Brazil. .”In June 2006, King was present at a memorial of his first radio broadcast at the Three Deuces Building in Greenwood, Mississippi, where an official marker of the Mississippi Blues Trail was erected. The same month, a groundbreaking was held for a new museum, dedicated to King. in Indianola, Mississippi. The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center opened on September 13, 2008. In late October 2006, he recorded a concert CD and DVD entitled B.B. King: Live at his B.B. King Blues Clubs in Nashville and Memphis. which was his first live performance recording in 14 years.On July 28, 2007, King played at Eric Clapton’s second Crossroads Guitar Festival with 20 other guitarists to raise money for the Crossroads Centre for addictive disorders. Performing in Chicago, he played “Paying the Cost to Be the Boss”, “Rock Me Baby” and “Thrill is Gone” ( with Robert Cray, Jimmie Vaughan and Hubert Sumlin. Also in 2007, King accepted an invitation to contribute to Goin’ Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino (Vanguard Records). With Ivan Neville’s DumpstaPhunk, King contributed his version of the title song, “Goin’ Home”.

In 2007 King performed “One Shoe Blues” on the Sandra Boynton children’s album Blue Moo, In June 2008, King played at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee; he was also the final performer at the 25th annual Chicago Blues Festival on June 8, 2008, and at the Monterey Blues Festival, following Taj Mahal. King was also inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame alongside Liza Minnelli and Sir James Galway.In July 2008, Sirius XM Radio’s Bluesville channel was renamed B.B. King’s Bluesville. On December 3, King was the closing act at the 51st Grammy Nomination Concert, . On December 30, 2008, King played at The Kennedy Center Honors Awards Show; his performance was in honor of actor Morgan Freeman.European Tour 2009, Vienna, July 2009In Summer 2009, King started a European Tour with concerts in France, Germany, Belgium, Finland and Denmark.In March 2010, King contributed to Cyndi Lauper’s album Memphis Blues. King performed at the Mawazine festival in Rabat, Morocco, In 2010 and played the pyramid stage at The Glastonbury Music Festival in 2011 . He embarked on a European tour starting at The Royal Albert Hall, London, supported byDerek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, Ronnie Wood, Mick Hucknall and Slash.Barack Obama and B.B. King singing “Sweet Home Chicago”. in 2012, Barack Obama and Michelle Obama hosted, “In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues”, a celebration of blues music held in the East Room of the White House and B.B. King was among the performers. Later on that night, President Obama, encouraged by Buddy Guy and B.B. King, sang part of “Sweet Home Chicago”. In 2012, King played a concert at the Chicago House of Blues, where Benson made a guest appearance and both King & Benson held a jammin’ session for over 20 minutes, it was also the celebration of Benson’s birthday.King performed on the debut album of rapper and producer Big K.R.I.T., who also hails from Mississippi.On July 5, 2012, King performed a concert at the Byblos Festival, Lebanon.

During his 64 years as. Performer, King played in excess of 15,000 performances. A feature documentary about B.B. King narrated by Morgan Freeman, was released In 2012. King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He is one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname “The King of Blues”, and one of the “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar” (along with Albert King and Freddie King). Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at No. 6 on its list of the 100 greatst guitarists of all time , and he was ranked No. 7 in Gibson’s “Top 50 Guitarists of All Time”. Throughout his musical career King performed tirelessly, appearing at 250-300 concerts per year until his seventies. Over the years, King developed one of the world’s most identifiable guitar styles. He borrowed from Blind Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker and others, integrating his precise and complex vocal-like string bends and his left hand vibrato, he has inspired thousands of players, from Eric Clapton and George Harrison to Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. King has mixed blues, jazz, swing, mainstream pop and jump into a unique sound.

Frank Sinatra

American singer and film actor Frank Sinatra saldy passed away May 14, 1998. He was born December 12, 1915 and He began his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra found unprecedented success as a solo artist from the early to mid-1940s after being signed to Columbia Records in 1943. Being the idol of the “bobby soxers”, he released his first album, The Voice of Frank Sinatra in 1946. His professional career had stalled by the 1950s, but it was reborn in 1953 after he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in From Here to Eternity.He signed with Capitol Records in 1953 and released several critically lauded albums (such as In the Wee Small Hours, Songs for Swingin’ Lovers, Come Fly with Me, Only the Lonely and Nice ‘n’ Easy).

Sinatra left Capitol to found his own record label, Reprise Records in 1961 (finding success with albums such as Ring-a-Ding-Ding!, Sinatra at the Sands and Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim), toured internationally, was a founding member of the Rat Pack and fraternized with celebrities and statesmen, including John F. Kennedy. Sinatra turned 50 in 1965, recorded the retrospective September of My Years, starred in the Emmy-winning television special Frank Sinatra: A Man and His Music, and scored hits with “Strangers in the Night” and “My Way”. However With sales of his music dwindling and after appearing in several poorly received films, Sinatra retired for the first time in 1971. Two years later, however, he came out of retirement and in 1973 recorded several albums, scoring a Top 40 hit with “(Theme From) New York, New York” in 1980.

Using his Las Vegas shows as a home base, he toured both within the United States and internationally, until a short time before his death in 1998.Sinatra also forged a highly successful career as a film actor, winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in From Here to Eternity, a nomination for Best Actor for The Man with the Golden Arm, and critical acclaim for his performance in The Manchurian Candidate. He also starred in such musicals as High Society, Pal Joey, Guys and Dolls and On the Town. Sinatra was honored at the Kennedy Center Honors in 1983 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan in 1985 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1997. Sinatra was also the recipient of eleven Grammy Awards, including the Grammy Trustees Award, Grammy Legend Award and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and his music remains popular and legend lives on.

C. C. DeVille (Poison)

C.C. DeVille (Bruce Anthony Johannesson), lead guitarist of the multi-platinum-selling glam metal band Poison. Was born May 14, 1962 in the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn, New York. His interest in music began at age two while watching The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show. DeVille began playing the guitar at the age of five after he was given a $27 Japanese Telecaster copy. As his love of music grew, he began listening to bands such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Aerosmith, Van Halen, The Who, Cheap Trick, New York Dolls, Queen, and especially Kiss. At the age of 18, DeVille auditioned for and eventually joined the band Lace based in Boro Park Brooklyn, NY, which adopted a highly sexual, “glam” image. It was during this time period that DeVille began writing the song “Talk Dirty To Me”, which would later appear on Poison’s first album, Look What the Cat Dragged In. DeVille began studying music theory at New York University, but never completed his studies. Instead, he moved to Los Angeles in 1981 and played in various bands, including Screaming Mimi, Lace Slip, and St. James, before auditioning for Poison.

DeVille’s audition impressed drummer Rikki Rockett and bassist Bobby Dall, but angered vocalist Bret Michaels. DeVille refused to play the songs that had been given to him as preparation, and instead jammed with a guitar riff he had written. The riff, which would eventually be featured in the Poison single “Talk Dirty to Me”, would ultimately launch the band’s career. Slash, who would go on to fame with Guns N’ Roses, also auditioned for the position and made it to the final three, but lost to DeVille; In his autobiography Slash acknowledged discomfort with Poison’s image when Rikki Rockett suggested that Slash wear make-up and change his clothing style.

DeVille co-wrote Poison’s debut album with Bret Michaels, Bobby Dall, and Rikki Rockett. Look What the Cat Dragged In was released on August 2, 1986. It included the hits “Talk Dirty to Me”, “I Want Action”, and “I Won’t Forget You”. Sales for the album topped 3 million copies in the United States. DeVille also wrote much of the material for Poison’s second album, the multi-platinum selling Open Up And Say… Ahh!, which was released on May 21, 1988 and would ultimately go on to sell 8 million copies worldwide. It included the hit song “Nothin’ But a Good Time”, co-written by DeVille, and Poison’s only number 1 single “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”.

In 1990, Poison released the multi-platinum selling Flesh & Blood, an album which was again largely written by DeVille. During this period, DeVille also performed lead guitar on Warrant’s hit song “Cherry Pie”, from the album Cherry Pie. despite Poison’s success, substance abuse and tensions with other members of the band, particularly lead singer Bret Michaels, led to conflict within the band. While touring in support of Flesh and Blood, and the live album Swallow This Live. conflict between Michaels and DeVille culminated in a fistfight backstage at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards after DeVille played the wrong song, playing “Talk Dirty To Me” instead of “Unskinny Bop”, and being high and intoxicated during the performance. DeVille subsequently left Poison and was replaced by guitarist Richie Kotzen.

Following his departure from Poison, DeVille joined a band called “Needle Park” and recorded “Hey Good Lookin'” for the soundtrack to the Pauly Shore movie Son In Law. He later joined Samantha 7, a short-lived band composed of guitarist DeVille, guitarist Ty Longley, bassist Krys Baratto, and drummer Francis Ruiz. They played at Woodstock 1999. Originally the band’s name was The Stepmothers, but the band was forced to change their name following a legal dispute with another band of the same name. DeVille can be heard referring to this band as The Stepmothers in a Behind the Music interview. Samantha 7 released the self-titled album Samantha 7 in 2000, and toured the US and UK in support of the record that was released on Columbia/Portrait Records. The Samantha 7 song “I Wanna be Famous” would later be used in the opening of the reality show The Surreal Life: Fame Games, in which DeVille starred.

In 1996 DeVille regained contact with his ex-bandmates from Poison and made a successful return to the band for the Greatest Hits reunion tour in 1999. Several shows were recorded and released as a studio album/live album hybrid release in the following year titled Power to the People. DeVille continues to record and perform with Poison. In 2005 and 2006, DeVille starred in a popular TV series South of Nowhere on The N. He played the role of Raife Davies, the father of Ashley Davies and Kyla Woods. Also in 2006 when Poison celebrated their 20th anniversary, DeVille starred in The Surreal Life on VH1. He also starred in the spin-off series The Surreal Life: Fame Games in 2007. In 2002, DeVille had a brief cameo appearance as “Lloyd”, a member of the airband GFK Groovecart, on the last episode of season 6 of Just Shoot Me (titled “The Boys In The Band”).

Ian Astbury (The Cult)

Best known as the lead vocalist for the rock band The Cult, the English rock musician and songwriter Ian Robert Astury was (born 14 May 1962, Heswall, Merseyside.The Cult are a Post Modern Rock band formed by Billy Duffy and Ian Astbury After the initial punk rock movement (led by the Sex Pistols) died out, They met while Duffy was guitarist for the Theatre of Hate while Ian Astbury fronted gothic rock band Southern Death Cult. Astbury was impressed with Duffy’s playing and abandoned Southern Death Cult to start a new band with him.Together, they exploited the Southern Death Cult’s success by calling themselves Death Cult. After initial fanfare and a couple of singles, Duffy convinced Astbury to shorten the band’s name to The Cult in 1984.

The Cult’s debut single “Spiritwalker”,and Their first album, Dreamtime was released in 1984, and Duffy began establishing a distinctive sound and helped change the bands sound for the release of the next album Love in 1985, which included singles such as “She Sells Sanctuary” and “Rain”, which introduced them to an international audience. For their third album,Electric, The Cult dropped their post-punk sound in favour of metal-blues , with the help of producer and AC/DC fan Rick Rubin.who gave both Duffy and The Cult a new musical direction and facillitated a polish on this new sound and produced the record which includes the songs “Fire Woman” “Li’l Devil” “Love Removal Machine“& “Wild Flower.

In 1988 the two writing partners (with longtime bassist Jamie Stewart) turned to stadium rock and recorded Sonic Temple, which appealed to a larger, mainstream audience. their next album, Ceremony, was released during the grunge age. Following the ‘Ceremonial Stomp’ tour of 1992, Astbury and Duffy returned to their roots, with The Cult’s The Cult album. This led to Astbury’s departure from Duffy and The Cult in 1995. However Duffy reformed The Cult with Astbury in 1999, which led to a new recording contract with Atlantic Records, and the album Beyond Good and Evil was released. Sadly this did not do very well and the band split, reforming again In 2006, to perform a series of worldwide tours. In October 2007, the band released the album Born into This. In July 2009, Astbury announced that The Cult would not record or produce any more studio albums, focusing on LPs and Digital Releases instead for new material and The album, Choice of Weapon, was released on 22 May 2012.

David Byrne (Talking Heads)

Scottish-born American musician David Byrne was born 14 May 1952 in Dumbarton, Scotland, to parents Tom (from Lambhill, Glasgow) and Emma. He is the elder of two children. Two years after his birth, his parents moved to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and then to Arbutus, Maryland, in the United States, when he was 8 or 9 years old. His father worked as an electronics engineer. Before high school, Byrne already knew how to play the guitar, accordion, and violin. He was rejected from his middle school’s choir because they claimed he was “off-key and too withdrawn”. From a young age, he had a strong interest in music. His parents say that he would constantly play his phonograph from age three and he learned how to play the harmonica at age five.

Byrne graduated from Lansdowne High School in southwest Baltimore County. He started his musical career in a high school band called Revelation, then between 1971 and 1972, he was one half of a duo named Bizadi with Marc Kehoe. Their repertoire consisted mostly of songs such as “April Showers”, “96 Tears”, “Dancing on the Ceiling” and Frank Sinatra songs. Byrne attended the Rhode Island School of Design (during the 1970–71 term) and the Maryland Institute College of Art (during the 1971–72 term) before dropping out. He returned to Providence in 1973 and formed a band called the Artistics with fellow RISD student Chris Frantz. The band dissolved in 1974. Byrne moved to New York City in May that year and was joined by Frantz and his girlfriend Tina Weymouth in September. Unable to find a bass player in New York, Frantz and Byrne persuaded Weymouth to learn to play the bass guitar. Byrne gave her lessons.

Byrne was the founding member, principal songwriter, and lead singer and guitarist of the American new wave band Talking Heads, active between 1975 and 1991. Byrne is a multi-instrumentalist and is known for his distinctive voice. Talking Heads and had their first gig in June and Byrne quit his day job in May 1976 and the three-piece band signed to Sire Records in November. Multi-instrumentalist Jerry Harrison joined the band in 1977. The band released eight studio albums before going into hiatus in 1988. Byrne desired to go solo, but it took three years until 1991 to announce that the band was breaking up. A brief reunion for a single “Sax and Violins” in 1991 occurred before dissolving again. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, when they reunited to play four tracks, including “Psycho Killer” and “Burning Down the House”.

Byrne also collaborated with Brian Eno during 1979 and 1981 on the album My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, which attracted considerable critical acclaim due to its early use of analogue sampling and found sounds. Following this record, Byrne focused his attention on Talking Heads. My Life in the Bush of Ghosts was re-released for its 25th anniversary in early 2006, with new bonus tracks. In keeping with the spirit of the original album. Rei Momo (1989) was the first solo album Byrne released after leaving Talking Heads, and features mainly Afro-Cuban, Afro-Hispanic, and Brazilian song styles including popular dances including merengue, son cubano, samba, mambo, cumbia, cha-cha-chá, bomba and charanga. His third solo album, Uh-Oh (1992), featured a brass section and was driven by catchy tracks such as “Girls on My Mind” and “The Cowboy Mambo (Hey Lookit Me Now)”. His fourth solo album, titled David Byrne (1994), was a more proper rock record, with Byrne playing most of the instruments on it, leaving percussion for session musicians. “Angels” and “Back in the Box” were the two main singles released from the album. The first one entered the US Modern Rock Tracks chart, reaching No. 24. For his fifth studio effort the emotional Feelings (1997), Byrne employed a brass orchestra called Black Cat Orchestra. His sixth Look into the Eyeball (2001) continued the same musical exploration of Feelings, but was compiled of more upbeat tracks, like those found on Uh-Oh.

The album Grown Backwards (2004), used orchestral string arrangements, and includes two operatic arias as well as a rework of X-Press 2 collaboration “Lazy”. He also launched a North American and Australian tour with the Tosca Strings. This tour ended with Los Angeles, San Diego and New York shows in August 2005. He has also collaborated with Selena for her 1995 album Dreaming Of You with God’s Child (Baila Conmigo) in 1995. Byrne and Eno reunited for his eighth album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today (2008) and toured worldwide on the Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno Tour. In 2012 he released a collaborative album with American singer songwriter St. Vincent called Love This Giant. In 1981, Byrne partnered with choreographer Twyla Tharp, on the album The Catherine Wheel for a ballet with the same name, which features unusual rhythms and lyrics. The Catherine Wheel appeared on Broadway in 1981. David Byrne produced Spite of Wishing and Wanting for the Belgian choreographer Wim Vandekeybus’s dance company Ultima Vez. In 1991, Byrne released a classical instrumental album The Forest.

His work has been extensively used in film soundtracks, most notably in collaboration with Ryuichi Sakamoto and Cong Su on Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor, which won an Academy Award for Best Original Score. In 2004, Lead Us Not into Temptation (music from the film “Young Adam”) included tracks and musical experiments from his score to Young Adam. Byrne also wrote, directed, and starred in True Stories, a musical collage of discordant Americana released in 1986, as well as producing most of the film’s music. Byrne also directed the documentary Île Aiye and the concert film of his 1992 Latin-tinged tour titled Between the Teeth. He was chiefly responsible for the stage design and choreography of Stop Making Sense in 1984. Byrne added “Loco de Amor” with Celia Cruz to Jonathan Demme’s 1986 film Something Wild.

Byrne wrote the Dirty Dozen Brass Band-inspired score for Robert Wilson’s Opera The Knee Plays from The Civil Wars: A Tree Is Best Measured When It Is Down. The Forest premiered at the Theater der Freien Volksbühne, Berlin in 1988. It received its New York premiere in December 1988 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). The Forestry Maxi-single contained dance and industrial remixes of pieces from The Forest by Jack Dangers, Rudy Tambala, and Anthony Capel. In 2005, Byrne and Fatboy Slim began work on Here Lies Love, a disco opera or song cycle about the life of Imelda Marcos, the controversial former First Lady of the Philippines. In 2008, Byrne released Big Love: Hymnal – his soundtrack to season two of Big Love. Byrne and Brian Eno provided the soundtrack for the film Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

Byrne has contributed songs to five AIDS benefit compilation albums produced by the Red Hot Organization: Red Hot + Blue: A Tribute to Cole Porter, Red Hot + Rio, Silencio=Muerte: Red Hot + Latin, Onda Sonora: Red Hot + Lisbon, and Offbeat: A Red Hot Soundtrip. Byrne appeared as a guest vocalist/guitarist for 10,000 Maniacs during their MTV Unplugged concert, though the songs in which he is featured were cut from their following album. One of them, “Let the Mystery Be”, appeared as the fourth track on 10,000 Maniacs’ CD single “Few and Far Between”. Byrne worked with Latin superstar Selena, writing, producing and singing a song (“God’s Child (Baila Conmigo)”), included on her last album before her murder, Dreaming of You. Byrne was the host of Sessions at West 54th during its second of three seasons and collaborated with members of Devo and Morcheeba to record the album Feelings in 1997. In 1992 he performed with Richard Thompson. Their joint acoustic concert at St. Ann & The Holy Trinity in Brooklyn Heights, New York on March 24, produced the album An Acoustic Evening which was released the same year. In 2001 a version of Byrne’s single “Like Humans Do”, edited to remove its drug reference, was selected by Microsoft as the sample music for Windows XP to demonstrate Windows Media Player.

In 2002, he co-wrote and provided vocals for a track, “Lazy” by X-Press 2, which reached No. 2 in the United Kingdom and number-one on the US Dance Charts. Byrne said in an interview on BBC Four Sessions coverage of his Union Chapel performance that “Lazy” was number-one in Syria. The track later featured with orchestral arrangements on his Grown Backwards (2004) album. In 2006, his singing was featured on “The Heart’s a Lonely Hunter” on The Cosmic Game by Thievery Corporation. He is featured on the tracks “Money” and “The People Tree”, on N.A.S.A.’s 2009 album The Spirit of Apollo. Also in 2009, Byrne appeared on HIV/AIDS charity album Dark Was the Night for Red Hot Organization. He collaborated with Dirty Projectors on the song “Knotty Pine”. In the same year, Byrne performed at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. He also was a signator of a letter protesting the decision of the Toronto International Film Festival to choose Tel Aviv as the subject of City-to-City Spotlight

In 2007, Byrne provided a cover of the Fiery Furnaces’ song “Ex-Guru” for a compilation to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the founding of Chicago-based record label Thrill Jockey. a In 2008, Byrne and his production team turned the Battery Maritime Building, a 99-year-old ferry terminal in Manhattan, into a playable musical instrument. The structure was connected electronically to a pipe organ and made playable for a piece called “Playing the Building”. This project was previously installed in Stockholm, Sweden in 2005, and later at the London Roundhouse in 2009. It bears similarities to a series of installations created by New Zealand and Detroit based artists Alastair Galbraith and Matt De Genaro, which were recorded on their 1998 record Wire Music and on the 2006 follow-up Long Wires in Dark Museums, Vol. 2. In April 2008, Byrne took part in the Paul Simon retrospective concert series at BAM performing “You Can Call Me Al” and “I Know What I Know” from Simon’s Graceland album.

In 2008, Byrne collaborated with the Brighton Port Authority, composing the music and singing the lyrics for “Toe Jam. In May 2011, Byrne contributed backing vocals to the Arcade Fire track “Speaking in Tongues” which appeared on the deluxe edition of their 2010 album The Suburb and also debuted a fully staged production of his 2010 concept album Here Lies Love at New York’s Public Theater, directed by Tony Award-nominee Alex Timbers following its premiere at MoCA earlier in the year. In 2014, Byrne announced his involvement with Anna Calvi’s EP, Strange Weather, collaborating with her on a cover of Keren Ann’s “Strange Weather” and Connan Mockasin’s “I’m the Man, That Will Find You”. In 2016, Byrne was featured on “Snoopies” and the Anonymous Nobody… by De La Soul. Byrne founded the world music record label Luaka Bop in 1990 to release Latin American compilations, music from Cuba, Africa, the Far East from artists such as Cornershop, Os Mutantes, Los De Abajo, Jim White, Zap Mama, Tom Zé, Los Amigos Invisibles and King Changó. Byrne guest starred as himself on The Simpsons episode, Dude, Where’s My Ranch? In 2005, Byrne created his own internet radio station, Radio David Byrne. On which he posts a playlist of music he likes, linked by themes or genres, such as African popular music, country music classics, vox humana, classical opera and film scores from Italian movies. In 2006, Byrne released Arboretum, a sketchbook facsimile of his Tree Drawings. Byrne’s work has been shown in art galleries and museums since the 1990s. In 2010 his original artwork was in the exhibition The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.

George Lucas

American Producer screenwriter, director and Entreprenuer George Lucas was born May 14th 1944 in Modesto California. He is best known as the creator of the space opera franchise Star Wars and the archaeologist-adventurer character Indiana Jones and is one of the American film industry’s most financially successful directors/producers.Lucas grew up in Modesto and his early passion for cars and motor racing would eventually serve as inspiration for his USC student film 1:42.08, as well as his Oscar-nominated low-budget phenomenon, American Graffiti. Lucas originally wanted to be a race-car driver. However, a near-fatal accident on June 12, 1962, changed his mind and he attended Modesto Junior College instead and got accepted into a junior college where he developed a passion for cinematography and camera tricks.After George Lucas graduated from USC in California he met an experimental filmmaker who toured local coffee houses and screened the work of underground, avant-garde 16 mm filmmakers. Lucas regularly went to San Francisco to hang out in jazz clubs and find news of these screenings. Already a promising photographer, Lucas became infatuated with these abstract films and transferred to the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. where he became very good friends with fellow acclaimed student filmmaker and future Indiana Jones collaborator, Steven Spielberg. Lucas was also deeply influenced by the Filmic Expression course taught at the school & saw many great films, which inspired him to make many 16 mm nonstory noncharacter visual tone poems and cinéma vérité concentrating on camerawork and editing, defining himself as a filmmaker as opposed to being a director.

Star WarsAfter graduating with a bachelor of fine arts in film, Lucas re-enrolled as a USC graduate student in film production. and directed the short film Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB, which won first prize at the 1967–68 National Student Film Festival, and was later adapted into his first full-length feature film, THX 1138. Lucas was also awarded a student scholarship by Warner Brothers.Aside from the nine short films he made in the 1960s, he also directed six major features. His work from 1971 and 1977 as a writer-director, which established him as a major figure in Hollywood, and consists of just three films: THX 1138, American Graffiti, and Star Wars. Lucas acted as a writer and executive producer on another successful Hollywood film franchise, the Indiana Jones series.

In addition, he established his own effects company, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), to make the original Star Wars film. Lucas also co-founded the studio American Zoetrope with Francis Ford Coppola—whom he met at Warner Brothers, and then created his own company, Lucasfilm, Ltd. His new-found wealth and reputation enabled him to develop a story set in space – Star Wars, which quickly became the highest-grossing film of all-time, displaced five years later by Spielberg’s E.T.the Extra-Terrestrial. Due to the overwhelming success of Star Wars George was able to finance the sequel “Empire Strikes Back” himself.Since Star Wars, Lucas has worked extensively as a writer and/or producer, on the many Star Wars spinoffs made for film, TV, and other media, and was also executive producer for the next two Star Wars films as well as as executive producer and story writer on all four of the Indiana Jones films.

For the 20th anniversary of Star Wars, Lucas was able to enhance the trilogy and add certain scenes using newly available digital technology, which were released as the Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition. In 1994, Lucas began work on the prequel Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, which was released in 1999, beginning a new trilogy of Star Wars films. Lucas also directed Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. In 2008, he also reteamed with Spielberg for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The American Film Institute awarded Lucas its Life Achievement Award on June 9, 2005, shortly after the releaseof Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and On June 5, 2005, Lucas was named among the 100 “Greatest Americans” by the Discovery Channel,and was also nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Directing and Writing for American Graffiti, and Best Directing and Writing for Star Wars.

He received the Academy’s Irving G. Thalberg Award in 1991. He appeared at the 79th Academy Awards ceremony in 2007 with Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola to present the Best Director award to their friend Martin Scorsese.On June 17, 2006, the Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted George Lucas and three others and On August 25, 2009, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver announced that Lucas would be one of 13 California Hall of Fame inductees in The California Museum’s yearlong exhibit. Then On September 6, 2009, Lucas, along with the the Pixar team was presented with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2009 Biennale Venice Film Festival. George Lucas is also involved in Star Wars episode VII The Force Awakens, directed by J.J.Abrahams and starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher.