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.

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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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.

R.I.P., Cortez Kennedy

Cortez Kennedy: 23 August 1968 – 23 May 2017

Wow…I’m just shocked right now. Cortez Kennedy, who made his name with the Seattle Seahawks by playing his entire 11-year career with the team, passed away today at the age of 48. A Pro Football Hall of Fame recipient, he was a very agile and talented athlete who helped redefine the roles of a large-bodied, interior lineman. From ESPN:

Cortez Kennedy, an icon with the Seattle Seahawks who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012, has died at age 48, the Orlando (Florida) Police Department said Tuesday. Orlando police confirmed to ESPN that they are investigating the former defensive tackle’s death but said “there is nothing suspicious to report” at this time. Kennedy was a force inside, both as a run-stopper and in threatening quarterbacks. The 1992 Defensive Player of the Year made eight Pro Bowls, had 58 sacks — an unusually high total for a tackle — and spent his entire 11-season career with Seattle, starting 153 out of 167 games.”

He was such an impressive player to watch! His size certainly would cause opponents to underestimate his speed. He would explode off of the line with such swiftness, easily breaching the defensive line and sacking a hapless quarterback. He was an incredible man, both on and off the field. His charity work and altruism will certainly live on. Rest easy, big man – Seattle is aching tonight after two big losses in one week. It’s a bit mind-blowing, to say the least.

Saturday Songs for “the Quiet Beatle”

George Harrison: 25 February 1943 – 29 November 2001

I wanted to play some Saturday songs in honour of George Harrison, known as “the Quiet Beatle” of “Fab Four” fame. Today marks what would have been his 74th birthday, were it not for his untimely death in 2001 at the age of 58 due to complications from throat and lung cancer. He also survived an attempt on his life in 1999, when a madman broke into his house and proceeded to stab him multiple times. From Wikipedia:

On 30 December 1999, Harrison and his wife were attacked at their home, Friar Park. Michael Abram, a 36-year-old fan, broke in and attacked Harrison with a kitchen knife, puncturing a lung and causing head injuries before Olivia Harrison incapacitated the assailant by striking him repeatedly with a fireplace poker and a lamp.[166][168] Following the attack, Harrison was hospitalised with more than 40 stab wounds. He released a statement soon afterwards regarding his assailant: “[he] wasn’t a burglar, and he certainly wasn’t auditioning for the Traveling Wilburys.”

While I quite like the music that John, Paul, and Ringo put out after the Beatles went their separate ways, I always felt that George was the heart and soul of that group. His spirituality and gentle nature were qualities that I appreciated in him, and felt an affinity with. Here’s my little musical tribute to this legendary genius…enjoy.

10 Tribute Songs: David Bowie

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 standard radio stations.

Enjoy…and have a pleasant Sunday.

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