Pete Willis (Def Leppard)

Pete Willis, the current guitarist with Def Leppard was born February 16th 1960. Formed in 1977 in Sheffield as part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. Def Leppard ’s best success came between the early 1980s and the early 1990s. Their 1981 album High ‘n’ Dry was produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange, who helped them begin to define their style, and the album’s stand out track “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak” became one of the first metal videos played on MTV in 1982. The band released their next studio album Pyromania in 1983, this contained the singles Photograph and Rock of Ages, and turned Def Leppard into a household name. In 2004, the album ranked number 384 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Def Leppard’s fourth album Hysteria, was released in 1987, and became an even bigger success topping both the U.S and UK album charts. As of 2009 it has 12x platinum sales in the United States, and has gone on to sell over 20 million copies worldwide. The album contained loads of great songs, including the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number one “Love Bites”, alongside Pour Some Sugar on Me , “Hysteria”, Armaggeddon It , “Animal” Rocket“., Gods of War and Women.

Def Leppard’s next studio album was Adrenalize and this reached number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 and UK Album Chart in 1992. It contained several hits including, “Let’s Get Rocked” and “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad”. Their 1993 album Retro Active contained the acoustic hit song “Two Steps Behind”, while their greatest hits album Vault released in 1995 featured track “When Love & Hate Collide. Def Leppards latest self titled album “Def Leppard” was, released In 2015 and is Def Leppard’s first studio album since the album Songs from the Sparkle Lounge which was released in 2008. The album Def Leppard Contains the tracks Let’s Go” ,”Dangerous”,”Man Enough”,”We Belong”, “Invincible”, “Sea of Love”, “Energized”, “All Time High”, “Battle of My Own”,”Broke ‘N’ Brokenhearted”, “Forever Young”, “Last Dance”, “Wings of an Angel”, “Blind Faith” and was released together with a limited edition fan pack containing a magazine, prints, a keyring in addition to the CD Itself. Def Leppard have also recently released the career spanning retrospective album “The Story so Far:The Best of Def Leppard”.

Andy Taylor (Duran Duran)

English Guitarist, singer-songwriter & Record Producer Andy Taylor was born 16 February in 1961. He began playing guitar at the age of eleven, and was soon playing with local bands, even producing one at the age of sixteen. He dropped out of school early to tour England and Europe with several different bands, playing working men’s clubs and air force bases. Then in April 1980, as Taylor puts it, “I made that fateful train journey down to Birmingham”, Where he joined the band Duran Duran, who were looking for a guitarist.

Duran Duran began their rise to fame at a Birmingham club named the “Rummrunner”. The club was owned by their managers and mentors, brothers Paul & Michael Berrow. It was centred on the music and ostentatious fashion of the era, particularly dance & disco music, which had fused with punk and electronic to create the sound and look adopted by various “New Romantic” acts of the time. The band was heavily influenced by the 12 inch cuts of the day. Taylor says… “Anybody who is familiar with early DD (Duran Duran) will be aware of the Night Versions concept… the underlying influence of the 12″ mix – Edwards & Rodgers – Giorgio Moroder … It was all part of the matrix – we tested our first hits on the dance-floor before going anywhere near the radio – it was the way you defined your style and who you were, through the club you were associated with – where you hung-out … I’m a rock fan, but the girls hung-out at the disco – I recommend a large portion of both.” The band signed to EMI Records in December 1980 only seven months after completing the line-up. Their debut single “Planet Earth” was released shortly after that, with their self-titled debut album, Duran Duran, released in June 1981. By 1983, the band was a global success story, and went on to have many other hits including Union of the Snake, Girls on Film, Rio, Wild Boys, The Reflex, Hungry like a Wolf and New Moon on Monday.

While Duran Duran were on hiatus in 1985, Andy Taylor and bassist John Taylor joined renowned session drummer and former Chic member Tony Thompson and Robert Palmer to form the band Power Station. Their eponymous album, recorded mostly at the New York studio for which the band was named, reached the Top 20 in the UK and the Top 10 in the US, and spawned two hit singles with “Some Like It Hot” and a cover of the T. Rex song “Get It On (Bang a Gong)”. Palmer performed live with the band only once that year, on Saturday Night Live. The band toured, and even played Live Aid with singer Michael Des Barres after Palmer bowed out at the last moment to go back into the studio to further his newly revitalized solo career. Taylor also performed with Duran Duran at the Live Aid event. Palmer recorded the album Riptide in 1985, recruiting Thompson and Andy Taylor to play on some tracks and Power Station producer Bernard Edwards, who worked with Thompson in the group Chic, to helm the production. Robert recruited Wally Badarou, another Compass Point Star who had laid synthesizer tracks on the Power Station album, plus his long-term drummer, Dony Wynn, for this production as well.

In 1994 Taylor participated in the reunion of Power Station and They recorded a second album “Living in Fear” for EMI, then In 2001, Taylor reunited with the other original members of Duran Duran to record their first new music together since 1985. The band secured a new recording contract with Sony Records. Their ensuing album, Astronaut, featured a blend of Taylor’s heavy guitar with the synth hooks of the classic Duran Duran sound. Months prior to the album’s release, the band played their largest ever UK tour in the spring of 2004, which was followed by a world tour in 2005, including Asia, Europe, and North America. The band also performed at Live 8. However In 2006, whilst recording a new Duran Duran album, Taylor once again parted ways with the band. In November 2007 Taylor co-founded RockAffairs.com alongside Sarah Eaglesfield, the former Flightside vocalist and webmistress at duranduran.com. RockAffairs was developed to allow unsigned artists to sell MP3s and merchandise, promote their band and keep 100% of the profit. It also pioneered a maverick Profit Share Scheme where 100% of income from listener signups was distributed amongst bands who sign up for the profit share scheme. Duran Duran’s latest albums include All You Need is Now and Paper Gods which was released in 2015.

Christopher Eccleston

English actor Christopher Eccleston was born 16 February 1964 in Langworthy, Salford, The family lived in a small terraced house in Blodwell Street, before moving to Little Hulton when Eccleston was seven months old. Eccleston attended Joseph Eastham High School, where he became head boy.

At the age of 19, he was inspired to enter the acting profession by such television dramas as Boys from the Blackstuff. Eccleston completed a two-year Performance Foundation Course at Salford Tech before going on to train at the Central School of Speech and Drama. As an actor, he was influenced in his early years by Ken Loach’s Kes and Albert Finney’s performance in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, but he soon found himself performing the classics, including the works of Shakespeare, Chekhov, and Molière. At the age of 25, Eccleston made his professional stage debut in the Bristol Old Vic’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Underemployed as an actor for some years after graduating from school, Eccleston took a variety of odd jobs at a supermarket, on building sites, and as an artist’s model.

Eccleston first came to public attention as Derek Bentley in the film Let Him Have It (1991) and an episode of Inspector Morse, “Second Time Around” (1991). In 1992, he played the role of Sean Maddox in the BBC drama miniseries Friday on my Mind. He garnered A regular role in the television series Cracker (1993–94) which brought him recognition in the UK. Eccleston also appeared in the episode “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe” of the Poirot series adapted from mysteries by Agatha Christie. He also appeared in the low-budget Danny Boyle film Shallow Grave (1994), with Ewan McGregor. The same year, he won the part of Nicky Hutchinson in the epic BBC drama serial Our Friends in the North, Alongside Mark Strong, Gina McKee and Daniel Craig. In 1996, he took the part of Trevor Hicks—a man who lost both of his daughters in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster—in the television drama film Hillsborough, penned by Jimmy McGovern. In real life, he was the best man to Trevor Hicks at his wedding in March 2009.

His film career has since taken off with a variety of roles, including Jude (1996), Elizabeth (1998), eXistenZ (1999), Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), The Others (2001), 24 Hour Party People (2002) and 28 Days Later (2002). He played a major role as the protagonist of the 2002 Revengers Tragedy, adapted from Thomas Middleton’s play of the same name.[14] He starred in the independent films A Price Above Rubies (1998) and The Invisible Circus (2001). He starred in the car-heist film Gone in 60 Seconds, but did not take his driving test until January 2004. He said on BBC’s Top Gear that his licence restricts him to vehicles with automatic transmission.

He has appeared in a variety of television roles, especially in British dramas. These have included Hearts and Minds (1995) for Channel 4, Clocking Off (2000) and Flesh and Blood (2002) for the BBC and Hillsborough (1996), a modern version of Othello (2001), playing ‘Ben Jago’, (the Iago character); and the religious telefantasy epic The Second Coming (2003) for ITV, in which he played Steve Baxter, the son of God. He has made guest appearances in episodes of the comedy drama Linda Green (2001) and macabre sketch show The League of Gentlemen (2002). Eccleston appeared in a stage role in Hamlet in the 2002 production at Leeds’s West Yorkshire Playhouse. March–April 2004 saw him return to the venue in a new play, Electricity.

Eccleston has been twice nominated in the Best Actor category at the British Academy Television Awards. His first nomination came in 1997 for Our Friends in the North, but he lost to Nigel Hawthorne (for The Fragile Heart). He was nominated in 2004 for The Second Coming; Bill Nighy won for State of Play. Eccleston won the Best Actor category at the 1997 Broadcasting Press Guild Awards for Our Friends in the North. In 2003 he won the RTS Best Actor award for a second time, for his performance in Flesh and Blood. In July 2004, a poll of industry experts, conducted by Radio Times magazine, voted Eccleston the “19th Most Powerful Person in Television Drama.”

Eccleston also portrayed the ninth incarnation of the Doctor in the 2005 revival of the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who, Eccleston was the first actor to play the role who was born after the series began, albeit by less than three months. However Eccleston decided to leave the role after just one series, because he feared becoming typecast. Other newspaper reports state he was “overworked” “exhausted” and “didn’t enjoy the environment that the cast an crew had to work in”. Following his appearance in Doctor Who Eccleston was voted “Most Popular Actor” at the 2005 National Television Awards for his portrayal of the Doctor.

In July 2012, Eccleston spoke positively of his time on Doctor Who during a talk at the National Theatre This led to speculation he was considering making a return appearance as the Ninth Doctor for the show’s 50th anniversary special, “The Day of the Doctor”, in 2013. The 11th Doctor, Matt Smith, stated that he would have loved Eccleston to return. However Eccleston declined following talks with executive producer Steven Moffat. In 2005, Eccleston appeared on stage at the Old Vic theatre in London in the one-night play Night Sky alongside Navin Chowdhry, Bruno Langley, David Warner, Saffron Burrows and David Baddiel. Eccleston sat on the 2nd Amazonas International Film Festival Film Jury in November 2005. The director Norman Jewison was chairman of the Jury. In December 2005, Eccleston travelled to Indonesia’s Aceh province for the BBC Breakfast news programme, examining how survivors of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami were rebuilding their lives.

In 2006, Eccleston appeared in the ITV documentary special Best Ever Muppet Moments and appeared as the narrator in a production of Romeo and Juliet at the Lowry theatre in Salford. The theatre company with which he performed, Celebrity Pig (of which he is patron), is made up of learning disabled actors. In August 2006, Eccleston filmed New Orleans, Mon Amour with Elisabeth Moss which was directed by Michael Almereyda and shot in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. In 2006 he also starred in Perfect Parents, an ITV drama written and directed by Joe Ahearne, who had directed him in Doctor Who. Eccleston joined the cast of the NBC TV series Heroes in the episode “Godsend”, portraying the character Claude who has the power of invisibility, and helps Peter Petrelli with his powers. Eccleston appeared as the Rider in a film adaptation of Susan Cooper’s novel The Dark Is Rising.

In 2008 Eccleston appeared on the BBC Four World Cinema Award show arguing the merits of five international hits such as The Lives of Others and Pan’s Labyrinth with Jonathan Ross and Archie Panjabi. In 2009, Eccleston starred opposite Archie Panjabi in a short film called The Happiness Salesman. He also appeared as the villainous Destro in the G.I. Joe film, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Eccleston also appeared in an episode of The Sarah Silverman Program as science fiction hero named Doctor Laser Rage. In 2010 Eccleston appeared as John Lennon Alongside Naoko Mori, who had previously appeared with him in Doctor Who, as Yoko Ono in “Lennon Naked”. Eccleston starred in the first episode of BBC One anthology drama Accused. He won an International Emmy Award for his role. In May 2011, he starred as Joseph Bede in BBC2’s seven part drama The Shadow Line and also played the role of Pod Clock in an adaptation of Mary Norton’s children’s novel The Borrowers on BBC One. In 2012, he starred in the political thriller Blackout and portrayed Creon in an adaptation of Antigone at the Royal National Theatre. In 2013, Eccleston portrayed the villainous Malekith in Thor: The Dark World, the sequel to Thor and the eighth instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe And also portrayed The Reverend Matt Jamison on the HBO drama series The Leftovers. In 2016 Eccleston began appearing as the eccentric but lovable granddad Maurice Scott in the BBC drama The A Word. Eccleston is also portraying Macbeth in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Macbeth during 2018.

Ali Campbell (UB40)

English singer-songwriter Ali Campbell, the lead singer with Birmingham reggae band UB40 was born 15th February 1959. Formed in 1978 in Birmingham, England, UB40 were named after the Unemployment Benefit form, in protest of widespread unemployment (As was the song “One in Ten” and have gone on to enjoy massive success, having placed more than 50 singles in the UK Singles Chart, and also achieving considerable international success.

The band have also been nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album four times, and in 1984, were nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Group. One of the world’s best-selling music artists, UB40 have sold over 70 million records. Among Their hit singles are their debut “Food for Thought” and two U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number ones with “Red Red Wine” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. Both of these also topped the UK Singles Chart, as did the band’s version of “I Got You Babe” featuring guest vocals from Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. Other great songs by UB40 include Rat in the Kitchen, Kingston town, Can’t Help Falling in Love with you, Don’t Break My Heart, One in Ten and Cherrio Baby.

The ethnic makeup of the band’s original lineup is diverse, with musicians of English, Scottish, Irish, Yemeni and Jamaican parentage. The band’s initial lineup lasted for 30 years from the band’s formation in 1978 until frontman Ali Campbell’s departure from the band in 2008. Since that time, two other founding members (Mickey Virtue and Astro) have also left the band, and the trio of Campbell, Virtue, and Astro have since formed UB40 Reunited and played concerts at Birmingham O2 Academy on 19 December, London IndigO2 on 20 December and Manchester Academy on 21 December 2014. The song “Reggae Music” was also available to download from the website http://www.ub40.org and they released a new album in 2015.

Matt Groening (The Simpsons, Futurama)

American cartoonist, writer, producer, animator, and voice actor Matthew Abraham Groening was born February 15, 1954. He is the creator of the comic strip Life in Hell (1977–2012) and the television series The Simpsons (1989–present), Futurama (1999–2003, 2008–2013), and Disenchantment (2018–present). The Simpsons is the longest-running U.S. primetime-television series in history and the longest-running U.S. animated series and sitcom.

Groening made his first professional cartoon sale of Life in Hell to the avant-garde Wet magazine in 1978. At its peak, the cartoon was carried in 250 weekly newspapers. Life in Hell caught the attention of James L. Brooks. In 1985, Brooks contacted Groening with the proposition of working in animation for the Fox variety show The Tracey Ullman Show. Originally, Brooks wanted Groening to adapt his Life in Hell characters for the show. Fearing the loss of ownership rights, Groening decided to create something new and came up with a cartoon family, the Simpson family, and named the members after his own parents and sisters—while Bart was an anagram of the word “brat”. The shorts would be spun off into their own series The Simpsons, which has since aired 652 episodes. In 1997, Groening and former Simpsons writer David X. Cohen developed Futurama, an animated series about life in the year 3000, which premiered in 1999, running for four years on Fox, before being picked up by Comedy Central for additional seasons. Groening developed a new series for Netflix titled Disenchantment, which premiered in August 2018.

Groening has won 12 Primetime Emmy Awards, ten for The Simpsons and two for Futurama as well as a British Comedy Award for “outstanding contribution to comedy” in 2004. In 2002, he won the National Cartoonist Society Reuben Award for his work on Life in Hell. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 14, 2012.

Lupercalia

Lupercalia was an ancient, possibly pre-Roman pastoral annual festival, observed in the city of Rome between February 13 and February 15, to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility. Lupercalia was also called dies Februatus, after the instruments of purification called februa, which gave February (Februarius) its name. Februa was also another word for Purifications” or “Purgings” after the februum which was used on the day. It was also known as Februatus and gave its name to Juno Februalis, Februlis, or Februata in her role as its patron deity; to a god called Februus, and to February (mensis Februarius), the month during which it occurred. Ovid connects februare to an Etruscan word for “purging”. Some sources connect the Latin word for fever (febris) with the same idea of purification or purging, due to the sweating commonly seen in association with fevers.

The rites were confined to the Lupercal cave, the Palatine Hill, and the Forum, all of which were central locations in Rome’s foundation myth. Near the cave stood a sanctuary of Rumina, goddess of breast feeding; and the wild fig-tree (Ficus Ruminalis) to which Romulus and Remus were brought by the divine intervention of the river-god Tiberinus; some Roman sources name the wild fig tree caprificus, literally “goat fig”. Like the cultivated fig, its fruit is pendulous, and the tree exudes a milky sap if cut, which makes it a good candidate for a cult of breastfeeding.

The Lupercalia had its own priesthood, the Luperci (“brothers of the wolf”), whose institution and rites were attributed either to the Arcadian culture-hero Evander, or to Romulus and Remus, erstwhile shepherds who had each established a group of followers. The Luperci were young men (iuvenes), usually between the ages of 20 and 40. They formed two religious collegia (associations) based on ancestry; the Quinctiliani (named after gens Quinctia) and the Fabiani (named after gens Fabia). Each college was headed by a magister. In 44 BC, a third college, the Juliani, was instituted in honor of Julius Caesar; its first magister was Mark Antony. The college of Juliani disbanded or lapsed during Caesar’s civil wars, and was not re-established in the reforms of his successor, Augustus. In the Imperial era, membership of the two traditional collegia was opened to iuvenes of equestrian status.

During Lupercalia a male goat (or goats) and a dog were sacrificed by a member of the Luperci, At the Lupercal altar, under the supervision of the Flamen dialis, Jupiter’s chief priest. An offering was also made of salted mealcakes, prepared by the Vestal Virgins.[ After the blood sacrifice, two Luperci approached the altar. Their foreheads were anointed with blood from the sacrificial knife, then wiped clean with wool soaked in milk, after which they were expected to smile and/or laugh. The sacrificial feast followed, after which the Luperci cut thongs (known as februa) from the flayed skin of the animal, and ran with these, naked or near-naked, along the old Palatine boundary, in an anticlockwise direction around the hill.

The Februa was of ancient and possibly Sabine origin. After February was added to the Roman calendar, Februa occurred on its fifteenth day (a.d. XV Kal. Mart.). Of its various rituals, the most important came to be those of the Lupercalia.[15] The Romans themselves attributed the instigation of the Lupercalia to Evander, a culture hero from Arcadia who was credited with bringing the Olympic pantheon, Greek laws and alphabet to Italy, where he founded the city of Pallantium on the future site of Rome, 60 years before the Trojan War.

Lupercalia was celebrated in parts of Italy and Gaul; Luperci are attested by inscriptions at Velitrae, Praeneste, Nemausus (modern Nîmes) and elsewhere. The ancient cult of the Hirpi Sorani (“wolves of Soranus”, from Sabine hirpus “wolf”), who practiced at Mt. Soracte, 45 km (28 mi) north of Rome, had elements in common with the Roman Lupercalia.
Descriptions of the Lupercalia festival of 44 BC attest to its continuity; Julius Caesar used it as the backdrop for his (possibly staged) public refusal of a golden crown offered to him by Mark Antony. The Lupercal cave was restored or rebuilt by Augustus, and has been speculated to be identical with a grotto discovered in 2007, 50 feet (15 m) below the remains of Augustus’ residence; according to scholarly consensus, the grotto is a nymphaeum, not the Lupercal. The Lupercalia festival is marked on a calendar of 354 alongside traditional and Christian festivals

Despite the banning in 391 of all non-Christian cults and festivals, Lupercalia was celebrated by the nominally Christian populace on a regular basis into the reign of the emperor Anastasius. Pope Gelasius I (494–96) claimed that only the “vile rabble” were involved in the festival and sought its forceful abolition; the Senate protested that the Lupercalia was essential to Rome’s safety and well-being. This prompted Gelasius’ scornful suggestion that “If you assert that this rite has salutary force, celebrate it yourselves in the ancestral fashion; run nude yourselves that you may properly carry out the mockery.” There is no contemporary evidence to support the popular notions that Gelasius abolished the Lupercalia, or that he, or any other prelate, replaced it with the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A literary association between Lupercalia and the romantic elements of Saint Valentine’s Day dates back to Chaucer and poetic traditions of courtly love.

More National Days, Holidays and Events occurring on February 15

Susan B. Anthony Day
Lupercalia
National Gumdrop Day
Presidents’ Day
Remember The Maine Day
Singles Awareness Day

John Helliwell (Supertramp)

English musician and the saxophonist and occasional keyboardist, woodwind player, and background vocalist John Anthony Helliwell was born 15 February 1945 in Todmorden, Yorkshire, England.

Helliwell started his music career with The Alan Bown Set, replacing Dave Green when he joined in January 1966, before joining the rock band Supertramp in 1973 along with bass player Dougie Thomson, who convinced Helliwell to make the move. In 2004, Helliwell formed the band Crème Anglaise with Mark Hart, who had joined Supertramp in 1985. This group recorded their eponymous debut album in 2005. In 1987, Helliwell played on Pink Floyd’s album A Momentary Lapse of Reason; his name was misspelled as “Halliwell”. This was after Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour had played on Supertramp’s album Brother Where You Bound.

He also played on the third album of French singer Jean-Jacques Goldman in 1985. During the 1990s, Helliwell began studying for a music degree at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, however he discontinued his studies to join Supertramp on tour when Some Things Never Change was released. In 2004, Helliwell contributed saxophone work on the Simon Apple album “River To The Sea”. Helliwell also contributed clarinet to The Pineapple Thief’s song “Fend For Yourself” from their Your Wilderness album which was released in 2016.