I’m fascinated by the creative process. Watching unfiltered talent in the raw and witnessing art evolve can be far more intriguing than sampling the perfectly-polished end product. Sometimes, it’s just as interesting to watch the baker at work than to taste the cake.
Sir George Martin baked up and frosted as many rock n’ roll masterpieces as anyone else during the 1960’s, and that’s quite a statement given what a creative period that was in popular music. As the longtime producer for The Beatles, Martin consistently infused the group with new sounds and unprecedented methods of instrumentation which had never been used before by pop musicians. Some of the techniques would have been unthinkable were it not for The Beatles’ own curiosities matched with Martin as the perfect tutor of influence. The lanky and straight-laced Martin looked more like a barrister than the megaphone for the counterculture. Martin consistently pushed the Fab Four to new creative heights, obliterating old precedent with each new album release, which sometimes mystified the groups fans and risked proven commercial formulas.
The best Rene Angelil story I’ve heard was once told by his wife, the electrifying singer and stage performer Celine Dion.
While being interviewed on American television by Barbara Walters, Dion was asked point blank about her husband’s reported high-stakes gambling, which constituted a significant portion of his recreational time. Angelil lived in Las Vegas during the final ten years of his life. No doubt during much that period, Angelil enjoyed hanging out at casinos, and spent many hours in poker rooms, especially. Angelil entered tournament events at the World Series of Poker every year and was often seen sitting down in No-Limit Hold’em cash games nightly at Caesars Palace while his wife was taking center stage to standing ovations at the sold-out Colosseum Arena.
“Is your husband a compulsive gambler?” was the gist of the question.
Nolan Dalla in 1985 at The Dakota, Central Park West in New York City, the spot where John Lennon had been assassinated five years prior.
Thirty-five years ago tonight, on December 8, 1980 at 10:45 pm, a deranged loner stepped onto a dimly-lit New York City side street and fired four shots point blank from a loaded Charter Arms .38-caliber revolver into an inexplicable target that made no sense whatsoever.
Most of us learned of John Lennon’s murder a short time later, not from a breaking news flash, but from the oddest of sources — the rhapsodic voice of ABC sportscaster and quintessential New York journalist Howard Cosell. A thrilling Monday Night Football game between the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins was playing down to the closing seconds of what would turnout to be a game-winning field goal attempt. As the Pats’ placekicker, a native Englishman named John Smith, was taking the field, that’s when Cosell without hesitation broke into the national telecast and stunned millions of listeners on the edge of their seats by announcing news that Lennon had been shot and was confirmed dead.
The story goes, about 40 years ago chef Paul Prudhomme was cooking one afternoon in the kitchen of his New Orleans restaurant, when the phone rang.
Prudhomme accepted the interruption and had no choice than to take the important call. Back in those days that meant steeping into an adjacent office, since wireless mobile phones didn’t exist. Trouble started when the telephone call went way longer than was expected.
B.B. King died last week here in Las Vegas. He was 89.
I saw B.B. King perform three times. I always loved his music, even when listening to the blues wasn’t particularly fashionable.
Indeed, the blues is not now, nor has it ever been, mainstream music. It’s the wailing howl of the economically disenfranchised, the voice of the social outcasts, the sorrow of broken hearts, and the lament of persistent loss. And yet, quite often, it’s both amusing and uplifting. One figures that life really isn’t really so bad after all, especially when contrasted alongside the song’s hero who somehow loses his job on the same day he catches his lady in bed with another man. While B.B. King put out relatively few best-selling records, for millions of listeners his blues was a deeply biographical soundtrack. If nothing else, it certainly provided incendiary kindling for rock n’ roll, soul, and R&B.