Aretha Franklin: 25 March 1942 – 16 August 2018

Another legend has passed away. Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” died today surrounded by family and friends after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 76 years of age. From BBC News:

Aretha Franklin, the “queen of soul” known for hits like Respect and Think, has died in Detroit at the age of 76.

The legendary singer was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and announced last year she was retiring from music.

Franklin won 18 Grammys, and had 17 Top Ten US chart hits over a music career spanning seven decades.

The star gave her final performance last November at a gala in New York held in aid of the Elton John Aids Foundation.

In a statement, her family said: “In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins knew no bounds.”

The family also confirmed her death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type.

Born in Memphis to a gospel singer/pianist and a celebrated Baptist preacher, Franklin was tutored from an early age by such gospel stars as Mahalia Jackson and Clara Ward. She struggled to find fame in the early years, with record label Columbia unsure how to frame her impressively powerful voice.

After moving to Atlantic Records in 1966 she broke through, and released some of her most iconic songs like Respect soon after the switch.

By 1968 she was renowned throughout America and Europe as “Lady Soul” – a symbol of black pride who appeared on the cover of Time and was given an award by Martin Luther King.

I knew that her time was drawing near, but makes her untimely passing no less poignant and sad. Rest easy, now. Your earthly battle is done. Time to shine amongst the other stars in the firmament.

Memorial Day

Today marks the national holiday of Memorial Day here in the States. The day set aside to pause and remember those brave men and women who gave their lives in service to this country. A lot of people get it confused with Veterans’ Day, but they are separate days of remembrance.

I pay tribute to remember my uncle Kermit, who died in the Vietnam War well before I was born. For the longest time I didn’t even know his name. I plan on going to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D. C. one day to take a rubbing of his name. If the “traveling memorial wall” comes through the Pacific Northwest again before that time, I will take one from that to frame until I’m able to visit the real thing.

To Kermit, and to all who made the ultimate sacrifice, thank you. There aren’t enough words to express the gratitude and sorrow that I feel when I think of the fallen. These images and this song will do.

Muhammad Ali – THE Greatest Of All Time (Re-blogged)

Here’s a re-blog of a tribute to Muhammad Ali. Today would have been his 76th birthday.

Eyrie Of An Aries

Muhammad Ali: 17 January 1942 – 3 June 2016

Ah, me…a titan has passed on. Muhammad Ali, born as Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., but forever known as “The Greatest of All Time,” succumbed to a respiratory illness which was exacerbated by the complications of Parkinson’s disease and CTE. He was 74 years of age. From the BBC:

“Boxing legend Muhammad Ali – one of the world’s greatest sporting figures – has died at the age of 74.

The former world heavyweight champion died late on Friday at a hospital in the US city of Phoenix, Arizona, having been admitted on Thursday.

He had been suffering from a respiratory illness, a condition that was complicated by Parkinson’s disease.

Ali’s funeral will take place in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, said his family…George Foreman, who lost his world title to Ali in the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” fight in…

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R.I.P., Ms. O’Riordan

Dolores O’Riordan, the lead singer of the Cranberries, was found dead in a London hotel on Park Lane. She was 46 years old.

Quite an untimely death. She wasn’t much older than I am.

In tribute, here are the five Cranberries songs which have always been favourites.

10 Tribute Songs: David Bowie (Re-blogged)

Eyrie Of An Aries

David Bowie (b. David Robert Jones): 8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016

Today marks the birth anniversary of the late, great David Bowie, who was taken far too soon on 10 January 2016. He was one of few celebrities that I respected, admired, and hoped to meet in person, just once. His music was epic, and I never tired of hearing his songs being played – whether they were new songs or familiar, favourite tunes.

In a little tribute to him, I decided to post 10 excellent Bowie songs that I always enjoy whenever they come on the radio. The station “Deep Tracks,” on Sirius XM, is also going to do a “head-trip” special dedicated to him. I’m looking forward to hearing some songs that I may not have heard before, as that station is known for playing some of the more obscure hits that never got over-played on…

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R.I.P Fats Domino, 89, Musical Legend, Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer and New Orleans Native

GOOD BLACK NEWS

Mr. Domino performing in 2007 on NBC’s “Today” show. (Photo Credit: Richard Drew/AP)

Jon Pareles and William Grimes via nytimes.com

Fats Domino, the New Orleans rhythm-and-blues singer whose two-fisted boogie-woogie piano and nonchalant vocals, heard on dozens of hits, made him one of the biggest stars of the early rock ’n’ roll era, has died in Louisiana. He was 89.

His death was confirmed by his brother-in-law and former road manager Reggie Hall, who said he had no other details. Mr. Domino lived in Harvey, La., across the Mississippi River from New Orleans. Mr. Domino had more than three dozen Top 40 pop hits through the 1950s and early ’60s, among them “Blueberry Hill,”“Ain’t It a Shame” (also known as “Ain’t That a Shame,” which is the actual lyric), “I’m Walkin’,” “Blue Monday” and “Walkin’ to New Orleans.”

Throughout he displayed both the buoyant spirit of New Orleans…

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R.I.P. Robert Guillaume, 89, Emmy-Award Winning Actor and Star of “Benson”

GOOD BLACK NEWS

Robert Guillaume (CREDIT: AP)

Richard Natale via variety.com

Emmy Award-winning actor Robert Guillaume, best known as the title character in the TV sitcom “Benson,” died Tuesday. He was 89.

His wife Donna Brown Guillaume told the Associated Press he died at their Los Angeles home of complications of prostate cancer. Guillaume often played acerbic, dry-witted, but ultimately lovable characters like the butler Benson Du Bois, which he created on the 1977 series “Soap,” before his character was spun off in 1979. Guillaume won Emmys both for “Soap” (as supporting actor) and “Benson” (as lead actor).

He was also known as the the voice of Rafiki in “The Lion King,” for which he also won a Grammy for a spoken word recording. “Benson” ran on ABC for seven years until 1986. The show brought Guillaume an Emmy in 1985 for lead actor in a comedy. In the late ’90s he…

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Tuesday Tribute: Tom Petty

Thomas Earl Petty: 20 October 1950 – 2 October 2017

Wow…I’m a bit stunned after hearing this news. Tom Petty passed away today, after suffering cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu late last night. He was rushed to hospital and put on life support, but he couldn’t be revived. He was 66 years of age. From BBC News:

US musician Tom Petty has died in California aged 66, says a statement issued on behalf of his family. Petty was found unconscious, not breathing and in full cardiac arrest at his Malibu home early on Monday. He was taken to hospital, but could not be revived and died later that evening.

Petty was best known as the lead singer of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers rock band, producing such hits as American Girl, Breakdown, Free Fallin’, Learning to Fly and Refugee.

“He died peacefully at 20:40 Pacific time (03:40 GMT Tuesday) surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends,” said his long-time manager Tony Dimitriades. Petty was also a co-founder of the Traveling Wilburys group in the late 1980s, touring with Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne and George Harrison.

“It’s shocking, crushing news,” said Dylan, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I thought the world of Tom. He was great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I’ll never forget him.”

Petty also found solo success in 1989 with his album Full Moon Fever, which featured one of his most popular songs Free Fallin’, co-written with Jeff Lynne.

In 2002, Petty was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Tom Petty was one of many musicians who I enjoyed listening to, in spite of some of his personal issues and beliefs. I even saw him live in concert when I was living in Portland, Oregon. He performed at the Rose Garden arena, and Jackson Browne was the opening act. It was an awesome show, and will remember it fondly.

In tribute to this legendary, musical genius, I offer up ten of my favourite songs that he did throughout his career – from the Heartbreakers to the Traveling Wilburys. Sit back, close your eyes, and drift away to the tunes…

Midweek Tribute: Joi “SJ” Harris

I was saddened to hear of the untimely and tragic accident which claimed the life of this courageous, determined, trailblazing woman. Joi “SJ” Harris, the first African-American stuntwoman, died on the set of Deadpool 2 in Vancouver, B.C. on Monday, 14 August. From CBC News:

The American stunt rider who died in Vancouver on Monday while shooting an action sequence for the film Deadpool 2 has been identified as SJ Harris, a 40-year-old from New York City.

Harris died in a motorcycle accident after she crashed through a window in Shaw Tower near Jack Poole Plaza…Deadpool 2 was Harris’s first gig as a stuntwoman. Her manager, Porsche Taylor, described her as a “trailblazer” in motorcycle road racing.

“Once she got on the track, she fell in love with it. And she was surprised that there weren’t very many women who were racing and no women of colour, or no African-American women, in particular,” Taylor said in an interview Tuesday with As It Happens.

“She was excited to be able to break some new ground.”

Harris began riding in 2009 and received her race licence in May 2013. She started competing in 2014, racing in the American Sportbike Racing Association Championship Cup Series.

“SJ was super competitive on the track,” Taylor recalled. “She would race with men as well as women — and often give as good as she got.”
In a 2015 profile published in Black Girls Ride Magazine, Harris was described as the first African-American woman to become a professional road racer.

“I am everything people never saw in this sport,” Harris told the magazine in an interview.

Muscle cars and motorcycles have always been a love of mine, and I know full well what Ms. Harris is talking about when it comes to the “good-ole-boys” atmosphere which is prevalent at any motorcycle or classic car event that I attend. With the events of Charlottesville still fresh in the mind, I recall how many confederate flags and other racist decals and emblems decorated various vehicles or articles of clothing, or people who had those emblems tattooed on every inch of exposed skin.

I’m certain that Ms. Harris was well aware of those who pushed back against her desire to succeed, and fought that much harder to prove them wrong. According to an article in the Huffington Post, Harris described herself on her website as the “first licensed African-American woman in U.S. history to actively compete in (American Motorcyclist Association) sanctioned, motorcycle road racing events.”

Kevin Elliott, president of the American Sportbike Racing Association, said Harris began racing with the association’s beginner-level Champion Cup Series in 2014 and this year moved up to a “feeder” series that is meant to prepare riders for racing at an expert level.
He said her other activities prevented her from competing enough to be automatically given expert status, but if she had requested it based on her 2016 and 2017 finishes, it would have been granted.

For the first two years she was racing on a bike that was too big, but when she switched to a bike that was more suited to her size, her talent showed itself to be “very promising,” he said.

“She was just a good, solid competitor. She rode well,” he said.

Ride on, sister…ride on. You were certainly an inspiration.

Tribute Post: Bakari Jaward Henderson

Again. I have to write another one of these tribute posts, yet again. This one is to honour 22-year-old Bakari Henderson, who had his promising young life tragically and brutally cut short on the streets of Zakynthos, Greece. He was in a sports bar on Thursday night / Friday morning, celebrating his recent graduation from the University of Arizona and preparing to launch his own clothing line, when he was attacked and beaten by six white men of Eastern European descent. From the Washington Post:

Authorities are continuing to investigate the death of an American tourist who they say was brutally beaten outside a bar in Greece.

Bakari Henderson, 22, was with friends at a bar in Laganas, a tourist village on the island of Zakynthos, when the fight occurred early Friday morning. It began when another customer approached Henderson, and the confrontation quickly escalated to a fistfight outside, where more people beat Henderson, according to state news agency ANA-MPA. It is not known whether his friends were involved in the altercation.

It remains unclear what prompted the fight. At least eight people have been arrested and charged in connection with Henderson’s death, authorities said. Tiara Henderson, Bakari Henderson’s cousin, said in a Facebook post Friday that his death was the result of a “senseless crime” and “horrendous actions by the perpetrators.”

Surveillance videos from nearby shops showed the suspects beating Henderson even after he was unconscious, ANA-MPA reported. The recent University of Arizona graduate later died at a hospital.

I can only speculate as to why he was attacked, but I’m more than certain that it had to do with the colour of his skin. Europeans, especially those from the Slavic areas, are notoriously and irrationally hateful towards anyone with skin darker than a manila envelope; seeing a Black man with his arm around a white woman no doubt sent the inbred, racist sacks of filth into paroxysms of rage.

I hurt for his family and friends. For a parent to lose a child, that is a pain that I can’t begin to fathom. Losing your child in such a horrible manner? Even more frightful, sickening, and anguish-inducing. Waving good-bye to your kid at the airport, wishing him a safe trip and to return home soon from a fun-filled holiday – instead, having to contact a foreign office to request the return of his lifeless body. All because a pack of inbred animals felt justified in provoking a violent confrontation and ending the life of another human being. Ending the life of a bright, talented, dedicated young man who had so much to offer the community and the world. It isn’t lost on me that Drumpf the nazi is completely silent about this murder, but had all sorts of things to say about the mysterious coma and death of the young criminal who was imprisoned in Korea. He and his base don’t really give two tin shits about the killing of a young man who had committed no crime.

So sickening. So senseless. So wrong.

#BlackLivesMatter

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