Berry was known for being as colourful offstage as he was when he performed. Photograph by Chuckberry.com
On Saturday, 18 March, rock musician Chuck Berry died at the age of 90.
As music journalist and supervising producer of Netflix’s The Get Down, Nelson George says: “He’s one of the great American songwriters.”George spoke with Tom Power today, to discuss the legacy of Berry — both his musical innovation and his troubled personal past.
“His legacy in music is indisputable,” George states.
“But do you co-mingle the person with the art?
And that’s always a complicated question but there’s no question about how important he is.”
“I doubt if there is a city in the world, where the resident population has been so divided in its origins, or where there is such a variety in the tastes, manners, habits, and moral codes of the citizens,” wrote Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect and journalist, after an 1856 visit to New Orleans.
Founded in 1718, the city became the capital of a territory that had been ruled by the Spanish and French before it became part of the US.
Local culture also absorbed African and Caribbean influences through slavery. “The state’s Creole people blend French, Spanish, Afro-Caribbean, and other influences into a distinctive culture most evident in New Orleans,” writes Yogerst.
“The Cajuns, on the other hand, are descendants of the Arcadian French settlers expelled from eastern Canada by the British in the 18th Century; they dominate the rural areas and smaller cities of southern Louisiana.”
Tyrone Turner photographed trumpeter Kenneth Terry and the New Birth Brass Band at Preservation Hall in Louisiana for an August 2007 issue of National Geographic, two years after Hurricane Katrina caused devastating flooding in the area.
The article revealed how people there had rebounded from the disaster. “The sinking city faces rising seas and stronger hurricanes… yet people are trickling back to the place they call home, rebuilding in harm’s way.”
The trumpeter in this image told National Geographic writer Joel K Bourne Jr “What we do in New Orleans you can’t find anyplace else.
The jazz we play comes from the soul.” (Credit: National Geographic Creative)
John Lennon’s former girlfriend May Pang shared a photo showing the Happy Days gang posing in 1974 with John and his young son, Julian.
She writes, “This was taken when John and I took Julian to Paramount Studios for a tour on his first trip to LA. We happened to stumble upon the set of HAPPY DAYS. It was their first season of the show and the actors were surprised by our onstage walk on.”
Photo: Famed blues guitarist B.B. King in a 2009 performance (Wikimedia Commons).
Riley B. King was born on 16 September, 1925 and died 14 May, 2015, on a cotton plantation called Berclair, near the town of Itta Bena, Mississippi, the son of sharecroppers Albert and Nora Ella King.
He considered the nearby city of Indianola, Mississippi to be his home. When Riley was 4 years old, his mother left his father for another man, so the boy was raised by his maternal grandmother, Elnora Farr, in Kilmichael, Mississippi.
While young, King sang in the gospel choir at Elkhorn Baptist Church in Kilmichael. King was attracted to the Pentecostal Church of God in Christ because of its music. The local minister lead worship with a Sears Roebuck Silvertone guitar.
The minister taught King his first three chords. It seems that 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 November 1941 “King Biscuit Time” first aired, broadcasting on KFFA in Helena, Arkansas. It was a radio show featuring the Mississippi Delta blues. King listened to it while on break at a plantation.
A self-taught guitarist, he then wanted to become a radio musician.
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 returned to Mississippi shortly afterward, 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 an audience. King’s appearances led to steady engagements at the Sixteenth Avenue Grill in West Memphis and later to a ten-minute spot on the Memphis radio station WDIA.
The radio spot became so popular that 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 to “Blues Boy” and finally to B B.
It was there that he first met T-Bone Walker. King said, “Once I’d heard him for the first time, I knew I’d have to have [an electric guitar] myself.
Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara; 5 September 1946 – 24 November 1991) was a British singer, songwriter and record producer, known as the lead vocalist and co-principal songwriter of the rock band Queen.
He also became known for his flamboyant stage persona and four-octave vocal range. Mercury wrote and composed numerous hits for Queen (“Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Killer Queen,” “Somebody to Love,” “Don’t Stop Me Now,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” and “We Are the Champions.”); occasionally served as a producer and guest musician (piano or vocals) for other artists; and concurrently led a solo career while performing with Queen.
Mercury was born of Parsi descent in the Sultanate of Zanzibar and grew up there and in India until his mid-teens, before moving with his family to Middlesex, England — ultimately forming the band Queen in 1970 with Brian May and Roger Taylor.
Mercury died in 1991 at age 45 due to complications from AIDS, having acknowledged the day before his death that he’d contracted the disease.
In 1992 Mercury was posthumously awarded the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music, with a tribute concert held at Wembley Stadium, London.
As a member of Queen, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003, the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004, and the band received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2002.