26 July 2009

Happy Birthday to Me (and some musicians)!

So...today is my birthday. And Mick Jagger's birthday. But everyone always talks about him because he's probably the most famous person, musician I should say, born on July 26. There are others who share the day and I want to acknowledge them:

Roger Taylor
The drummer from the UK band Queen is pretty famous, sure, but his birthday is not really mentioned if you're in America like I am. Mick runs roughshod right over him, even in Mick and Roger's native England.

Dobie Gray
His most famous song is "Drift Away" which was remade into a big hit by Uncle Kracker a few years ago. You can find a million different posts of the song on YouTube so I decided to link two other songs, "Out on the Floor" and "The In Crowd." If you click on "more info" under the poster's name for "Out..." you can read a little bio about Dobie. "Out", "In"...heh, heh, oh I love it.

Bobby Hebb
I honestly don't know much about this gentleman but his song "Sunny" has been one of my favorites since I was a kid. I do know that he has his own website and you can click on the little video on the homepage and hear the song "Sunny" with assorted pictures of Hebb. I suggest you also check out James Brown's exquisite cover of the song as performed in Paris in 1971, which I've embedded below.

Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Screaming' Jay's birthday was actually July 18, but I was on vacation all last week and didn't get to post for his day. If he hadn't died in February 2000, he would've been 80 years this year. Now who is Screamin' Jay Hawkins, you may be asking. He's the fella who did the song "I Put a Spell on You." Born Jalacy Hawkins in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1929, Screamin' Jay recorded the tune in 1956 and, in a move that predates the creepy stage antics of Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, and Marilyn Manson by at least 15-20 years, he would lay down the pseudo-voodoo vibe with a trowel and often perform the song after emerging from a coffin with a bone in his nose. Check out this video of Screamin' Jay on The Arsenio Hall Show back in the day, which features a moving disembodied hand atop his piano and his trusty smoking skull on a stick named Henry.

At the end of the clip, Arsenio mentions the song "Constipation Blues." Yes, it's just as gross as it sounds. Actually, let me rephrase that: it sounds gross because of Screamin' Jay's sound effects. Here he is performing the song with the French music legend Serge Gainsbourg. Can you imagine if Elton John and Billy Joel put their pianos together and covered this tune on tour? Yeeesh.

Here's Screamin' Jay's Wikipedia page and if you read this transcript of an interview he did in the UK in 1983, you'll find out how he got the nickname "Screamin' Jay."

...And is it just me or does Screamin' Jay look like yet another musician that the actor Leon could someday portray in a movie? They look like father and son, man!

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