28 June 2009

Addenda about MJ

Just some random stuff that has come forth since Michael Jackson's death:

  • Last Monday, June 22, was the 40th anniversary of Judy Garland's death. I was actually trying to find the clip of Liza Minnelli singing "And the World Goes 'Round" from the movie New York, New York in order to commemorate the occasion but I couldn't find it (she used Judy as her model for her character in the film), so I failed to post about it. But there are some eerie connections between Judy Garland and Michael Jackson, besides the proximity of their dates of death. They were both child stars who started out performing with and outshining their older siblings. Garland, whose birth name was Frances Gumm, performed on vaudeville as part of The Gumm Sisters before signing to MGM while Jackson was the lead singer of his family's group, The Jackson Five, on Motown Records. Both were known at young ages for their preternaturally mature singing voices. And both were in movies based on L. Frank Baum's most famous book; Garland played Dorothy in 1939's The Wizard of Oz while Jackson starred as the Scarecrow in the all-black version called The Wiz in 1978. The two performers also complained bitterly throughout their adulthoods of missing out on a more normal childhood experience, as they had spent all of their youth performing. Each developed financial problems as well as an addiction to prescription drugs and both died relatively young (Garland had just turned 47), each survived by three children. Garland's oldest, the aforementioned Liza, had been friends with Jackson for years. In fact, she would often accompany him to Studio 54 in the late '70s. Michael's older brother Tito was a school friend of Liza's fourth husband, David Gest; Michael and Tito both served as Gest's best men when he married Minnelli in 2002.
  • This may also be eerie if you take any stock in it. I was first alerted to this tidbit by Solange Knowles' tweet on TMZ.com the night Michael died and I received a text message the next day with the same information. OK. Michael (and Farrah Fawcett, of course) died on June 25. James Brown died on Christmas Day, or December 25. Aaliyah was killed on August 25 while a songwriter/producer she worked with, Static Major, passed on February 25. And Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes of TLC died in a car crash on April 25. Some may say that this is more than a coincidence. Me, I dunno. Maybe if Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Curtis Mayfield, or Philip Lynott had also died on the 25th of a month, I might read more into it (their dates of death were 11 May 1981, 18 September 1970, 26 December 1999, and 4 January 1986, respectively). Nonetheless, for those who may be interested, the principles of numerology dictate that 25 be simplified to a 7 in order to be interpreted.
  • Michael has been described as the seventh of nine children when actually he was the eighth of ten (or eleven if you want to include the half-sibling that resulted from his father's affair with a Jackson Five fan). Older brother Marlon was born with a twin named Brandon (Marlon and Brandon- get it?) who died shortly after birth. Click here if you don't believe me.
  • MTV sucks. Well, I already knew this but this week, the point has been reinforced. It took the death of one of the major artists to put the fledgling Music Television channel on the map in order for them to abandon their "all-reality" shit-shows (albeit for only 24 hours) and play music videos again. Like I said, MTV sucks. They suck donkey. They suck rhino.
I also wanted to give links to my favorite MJ tributes; they're my faves because they came out while he was still alive to enjoy them and enjoy them he did! He had a great sense of humor and loved Weird Al Yankovic's parodies of his songs "Beat it" and "Bad" and he gave a big thumbs up to Alien Ant Farm's hard-rocking treatment of "Smooth Criminal" a few years back. I'm sure MJ dug all the references to his work that pop up in the video. How many can you spot?

Yo! Ding-dong, man! Ding-dong, ding-dong, yo!
Heh. That still cracks me up.

25 June 2009


What can I say? It's been a hell of a week for dying icons: first Ed McMahon two days ago, then Farrah Fawcett this morning and finally Michael Jackson this afternoon. The most shocking death was MJ, of course. I mean, Ed was in his 80s and was in failing health and Farrah had been fighting cancer for years so their passings were not really surprising.

A couple of girls came into my job today and said,"We just heard Michael Jackson died!" My coworkers and I all said,"No way!" We thought it was a hoax, even after we saw the news on the TMZ website. As soon as I got home, I turned on Entertainment Tonight to see if it was true. Apparently, when the show was taped, the news hadn't been confirmed and the episode focused on Farrah. However, they did show the picture of MJ in the ambulance, and then I realized that it was probably true, as incomprehensible as it was (is).

A lot is going to being written about Jackson in the coming days and weeks about his family, his idiosyncracies, his physical changes, and his influence on music and dance. I remember watching the debut of the moonwalk when I was small and replicating the move on the tiled kitchen floor with my friends. One could say that he is my generation's Elvis as far as his impact on music and popular culture (there's also the Lisa Marie connection). It will be interesting to see what people will eventually say about Jackson, as the shock of his death is so far bringing, from what I can tell, only glowing accolades and calls for prayers for his family and his soul's peace.

All I can say, personally, is that last week I was compelled to repeatedly listen to the song "This Place Hotel" that he wrote and performed with The Jacksons. I've always found the lyrics and the instrumentation of the tune to be fascinating, not to mention the fact that the song says "heartbreak hotel" rather than "this place hotel." Turns out, he was going to call it "Heartbreak Hotel" before he found out about that other tune with the same name, sung by his future father-in-law.

Hi-yo Ed! Farewell Farrah! Godspeed MJ!

21 June 2009


You were born in Manchester, England, in 1956. You marry an 18 year old girl named Deborah when you are 19 and begin to work at a job placement center for people with special needs in Macclesfield. At a Sex Pistols concert, you run into 3 blokes who need a new singer for their band Warsaw and you volunteer. After playing some local gigs, you attract the attentions of a new manager, Rob Gretton, and a label owner with his own TV show, Tony Wilson. Legend has it that when you and your band signs to Wilson's Factory Records, Gretton convinces Wilson to complete the contract with his own blood in order to demonstrate his enthusiasm and sincerity. Your band records its first EP after changing its name; the old name is too close to that of another music group and the new name refers to an area in concentration camps where sex slaves service Nazi soldiers. After suffering a grand mal seizure, you are diagnosed with epilepsy, prescribed a number of medications, and instructed to start going to bed earlier and to stop drinking alcohol, commands that you ignore. You become a father, quit your day job, and continue to tour and record. Your epileptic fits continue as well, sometimes on stage, which leads some of your fans to mistakenly think it's part of your performance. You take on a mistress and eventually Deborah asks for a divorce, which you actually don't want (your band's biggest hit chronicles your marital problems). Overwhelmed by the demands of your career, your family, your affair, your failing marriage, and your flagging health, you attempt suicide twice. The second time, you succeed. You are 23.

Choosing to continue without you, your band changes its name to New Order and achieves great success. Your widow writes a book about her life with you. And a Dutch photographer who used to take pictures of you and your band decides that you should be the subject of his directorial film debut in 2007.

You are Ian Curtis. Your band is Joy Division. Your biggest hit is "Love Will Tear Us Apart". The book is Touching From a Distance. The movie is Control. Its director is Anton Corbijn.

Urge everyone to see your movie.

Bye Bye Love, Bye Bye Life

So Billy Joel is getting his third divorce. This made me think of death, as in the death of a marriage. Which made me think of the ending to All That Jazz, Bob Fosse's semi-autobiographical film from 1979. Roy Scheider and Ben Vereen perform a reworking of the Everly Brothers' classic "Bye Bye Love" that references, among other songs, two Billy Joel tunes, "Stiletto" and "Captain Jack", as Scheider's character says farewell to his family, friends, lovers, and colleagues and then sashays into the hereafter.

Bye bye life...I think I'm gonna die!

And yes, that's Jessica Lange as the Angel of Death.

Fatherhood meets Barry White

I was listening to Felix Hernandez' radio show this afternoon and he played some Bill Cosby, since it's Father's Day and Cosby wrote a bestseller called Fatherhood.

This is the Cos' comedy bit Yes Yes Yes and it never fails to crack me up.

Happy Father's Day for all the Guilty Dads

If you know Harry Chapin's classic from 1974 "Cats in the Cradle" you know exactly what I mean. It's a sad tune about how when you don't spend time with your children, they won't feel so inclined to spend time with you when they grow up. Even if you think you've never heard this song, trust me , you have. It's still played constantly to musically highlight parental guilt trips in movies, TV shows, and advertisements. Here's the man himself singing live:

But if you prefer, there's the Johnny Cash version or even the grunge one from 1992 by Ugly Kid Joe. I definitely remember this video from MTV, you know back when MTV actually stood for "Music Television" and not "Mind-numbing and asinine reality shows Television."

Anyhoo, outside of "Cradle", his only #1 hit, Chapin is best remembered as a humanitarian. For example, he gave away most of his money to different charities and he cofounded the World Hunger Year Foundation, which is still going strong. Sadly, Chapin is not. While en route to perform at a free concert in July 1981, Chapin suffered a heart attack and crashed his car on the Long Island Expressway. He was 38. Find out more about him here.

12 June 2009

A Song For Chaz

Yesterday Chastity Bono revealed that she has decided to become a man. Now to be known as Chaz, Bono started the gender reassignment earlier this year. I immediately thought of that old Joe Jackson song called "Real Men" where he ponders what is it exactly that makes someone a "real man." Seems appropriate in this situation. Actually, I think it's still relevant today even without any mention of gender reassignments.

Good luck Chaz!

11 June 2009

Theresa Andersson: One-Woman Band

I know nothing of this woman other than what I saw of her on Craig Ferguson's show very early this morning. I thought she was just incredible! In fact, I was hoping someone would post it soon so that I can share it here and, luckily, I got my wish. In less than 5 minutes, Andersson sings and plays 3 instruments as though it is the most natural thing in the world. Perhaps, for her, it is. Hopefully, we will see and hear more from this uber-talented lady. After all, Prince, for example, plays a myriad of different instruments capably but he still has a full band to back him on stage; this lady just has herself, her instruments, and some electronic equipment.

10 June 2009

Forgot the Purple Post

I was so gobsmacked about seeing Poison on the Tonys that I forgot to devote a post to Prince's 51st birthday this past 7 June. I had a lazy Sunday (but, alas, no Chronic-what!-cles of Narnia). However, my buddy Reelwhore did not forget and mentioned the Purple One on his blog. I already know that he is a huge fan because I've seen Prince twice with him and his wife; Prince is safe in his hands. Take it away, Reelwhore!

08 June 2009

Poison???? Really????

I was watching the Tonys last night (OK, OK, I only watched the first 30 minutes) and I was, I dunno, astounded, flabbergasted, pumped even, to see Poison performing on stage during the opening number. I mean, let's be honest: everyone expects Elton John and Liza because the Tonys are known for being a gay man's wet dream but did anyone expect Poison to show up?

I'm not gonna lie: I'm a child of the eighties and I used to sing along to "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" on the radio when I was in elementary school. Even though I don't watch his reality shows (Behind the Music doesn't count---I love that show!) or his sex tape (tapes?), I was happy to see Bret with CC, Bobby, and who I assume was Rikki on drums because the camera didn't really get near him.(So on second thought, maybe it wasn't really him.) But I wasn't paying close attention at the end and completely missed it when Bret got whacked in the neck by that descending piece of scenery! (With that kind of attention lapse, I'm amazed I lasted a half hour.) Which is why I didn't completely get Neil Patrick Harris' joke. Thankfully, it was on YouTube.

06 June 2009

Hendrix murdered? Another theory

Earlier this week, I heard reports on the radio that a former Jimi Hendrix roadie was publishing a book that claimed that he was murdered by his manager for the insurance money. Hendrix had two managers after he became famous, Chas Chandler and Mike Jeffrey. Chandler, the bassist for the Animals, was responsible for bringing Jimi from New York City to London, for helping to hire Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell to round out the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and for serving as producer on the Experience's recordings. Jeffrey had managed the Animals and, from the beginning, worked in tandem with Chandler to oversee the Experience. However, Chandler, frustrated by the glacial pace of the making of the Experience's third album Electric Ladyland, quit in mid-1968, leaving Jeffrey as the only one in charge of Jimi and the band.

Here's the link to the story as posted to the British music magazine's website NME:

This is not the first time that suspicions have emerged about Hendrix's death. In fact, in 1994, his former girlfriend Kathy Etchingham helped persuade British authorities to reopen his case, spurred by conflicting stories that the woman who was with Hendrix during his last night had told over the years. Since 18 September 1970, Monika Danneman maintained that Hendrix was still alive when he was put into the ambulance, that she chatted with him on the way to the hospital, and that the two had been engaged to be married. But during Scotland Yard's reinvestigation in the 1990s, the emergency workers who had tended to Hendrix testified that he was already dead (and alone) when they arrived on the scene. Hendrix's friend Eric Burdon, who played in the Animals with Chandler, said Danneman had called him in a panic before summoning the ambulance. He, too, found Hendrix already dead and hurriedly cleared the room of drugs. Burdon admitted that he had initially lied to investigators in order to prevent any drug raids on Jimi's friends and associates; also, he had found one of Hendrix's poems in the room, mistook it for a suicide note, and took it with him before the authorities arrived in order to protect his now dead friend. As for the engagement, Hendrix's friends have insisted that due to his impulsive nature, he may very well have proposed to Danneman, as he had to a few other women, but that he never had any intention of following through. In the end, in 1994, Scotland Yard ruled that the cause of Hendrix's death was indeed an inhalation of vomit due to an accidental barbituate overdose. And Danneman, the only true witness of Hendrix's death, forever silenced herself by inhaling the carbon monoxide from the exhaust of her Mercedes in April 1996.

But former roadie James "Tappy" Wright now claims Jeffrey drunkenly confessed in 1971 to plying Hendrix with the wine and pills that killed him. Wright's new book alleges that Jeffrey was scared Hendrix would leave his management so Jeffrey killed him to collect on a $2 million insurance policy.

Is this scenario even plausible?

Quite possibly. I remember reading David Henderson's biography 'Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky twenty years ago (I did a book report on it in eighth grade- no kidding) and I recall that Jeffrey was portrayed as a rather shady character and that his death was called into question. Jeffrey died in a plane crash over Spain in March 1973 but according to the book, a number of people believed that, since his body was never identified, Jeffrey faked his own death and ran off to some deserted island somewhere with a wad of cash (I can't recall the specific reasons that particular book gives for Jeffrey doing such a thing as I can't find my copy ---did Mike Jeffrey steal it from my apartment?). In Charles Cross' Room Full of Mirrors, Noel Redding is counted among those who believe the faked death theory as Jeffrey was in the middle of litigation involving Jimi's estate when his plane went down. Also, Cross recalled that Hendrix was kidnapped in the latter part of 1969 and rescued unharmed by Jeffrey after being held hostage for two days. Redding, for one, thought Jeffrey had arranged the kidnapping as a warning to Hendrix to not seek other management while others insisted the incident was completely legitimate. Cross also wrote that just prior to his death, Hendrix was on the verge of firing Jeffrey and rehiring Chandler as his sole manager.

So this new claim from the roadie is something to chew on, I guess.



zach g: master of the lip synch

To celebrate the debut of The Hangover this weekend, I'm posting a link to Fiona Apple's video "Not About Love" from her third album (or fourth, if you count that album she recorded but did not release) Extraordinary Machine. Zach Galifianakis takes over lip synching duties while Fiona hangs around and bugs the hell out of him.


03 June 2009


Curtis Mayfield would have been 67 today. Fire up that Superfly, people!

Give him your love

The soldiers who are dead and gone, if only we could bring back one

2 June 1967 cont'd

An assortment of British guitar players (Townsend, Beck, Richards, and Clapton among them) were forced to reevaluate their musical stature when a whirlwind named Jimi Hendrix arrived in the UK. Managed by Animals bassist Chas Chandler, Hendrix had humbled the British music community since his London debut in the fall of 1966. While Jimi played one evening, the Rolling Stones' Brian Jones warned a fellow club-goer to not go too near the stage because "it's wet from all the guitar players crying," a reference to the British ax-men who were clearly envisioning their status as a part of the country's music elite washing away.

Jimi had also caught the ear of one of the Beatles; Paul McCartney caught a performance at the Bag O'Nails and, as a British advisor (along with Andrew Loog Oldham) to the '67 Monterey Pop Festival, recommended that Hendrix, in addition to the Who, be added to the roster of performers for the three-day American concert in mid-June 1967. Hendrix was to play two "farewell England" concert at London's Saville Theatre on Sunday, 4 June.

On that evening, thirty minutes before showtime, Hendrix ran to the backstage dressing room, toting a copy of the Beatles' newest record, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and told his Experience bandmates that they would open their set with the title track. Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding were shocked but recovered enough to listen to the record several times in order to learn the tune.

Two big reasons for the drummer's and bassist's disbelief:
1. Sgt. Pepper had been released in England on 1 June 1967, a mere three days before. Incidentally, it had blocked the Experience's debut Are You Experienced? from reaching number one on the album charts.

2. The Saville Theatre was owned by one Brian Epstein. The Beatles' manager. And Paul McCartney and George Harrison were seated in Epstein's box that evening, enjoying opening act Procol Harum as they waited for the Experience's performance.

In other words, this Hendrix kid had balls. Big ole brass ones. But he and his band also had the talent to pull off the cover, making the song their own. McCartney proclaimed it "one of the greatest honors of my career" and the Jimi Hendrix Experience rode the wave of such acclaim all the way to California.


Watch out for your ears!

02 June 2009

2 June 1967

The date that the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in America ( the album debuted in the UK the day before). But who played the title song in public first?

Jimi Hendrix!

More on this story later...