Tag Archives: R.I.P.

R.I.P. Frankie Knuckles

Saddened to hear the passing of the Godfather of House.

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Talking with Myself (Frankie Knuckles Mix) by Electribe 101 (Hip-Notic Records 1990)

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R.I.P. Junior Murvin

Sad to hear the news today of the death of one of the sweetest voices in Reggae music.

Police & Thieves

R.I.P. Terry Callier

It was a pleasure to experience Terry Callier live. It was 20th September 2001 at the Big Chill festival, which was held at Larmer Tree Gardens (they never bettered this venue). I was captivated, and so were the crowd. More so when the sound went AWOL, but Callier just carried on a cappella style. It was beautiful!

A Terry Callier track I discovered in 2010, and absolutely love, from his debut album…

900 Miles by Terry Callier from the album The New Folk Sound Of Terry Callier (Prestige 1968)

Here’s some short, wobbly, footage I filmed at the Big Chill gig…

R.I.P. Donna Summer

Disco legend Donna Summer died this morning in Florida at the age of 63. The singer had been battling cancer for some time.

We all know the classics, but I have a particular liking for this collaboration with John Barry, who I’ve mentioned before on this blog.

Down Deep Inside (Theme From The Deep) by Donna Summer (Casablanca Records 1977)

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Theme From The Deep (Instrumental) by John Barry (Casablanca Records 1977)

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And this is one of my all time favourite songs….CHOON!…

State Of Independence by Donna Summer (WEA Records 1982)

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Donna Summer’s disco was as radical as punk

R.I.P. Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch

The Beastie Boys were a big part of my DJ career through the late 80s. Three cool dudes who not only made music…

Adam Yauch, a rapper and founder of the pioneering and multimillion-selling hip-hop group the Beastie Boys, died on Friday in Manhattan. He was 47.

His mother, Frances Yauch, confirmed his death. He had been treated for cancer of the salivary gland for the last three years.

With a scratchy voice that grew scratchier through the years, Mr. Yauch rapped as MCA in the Beastie Boys, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. They offered many listeners in the 1980s their first exposure to hip-hop. They were vanguard white rappers who helped extend the art of sampling and gained the respect of their African-American peers.

While many hip-hop careers are brief, the Beastie Boys appealed not only to the fans they reached in the 1980s but to successive generations, making million-selling albums into the 2000s. They grew up without losing their sense of humor or their ear for a party beat.

Mr. Yauch (pronounced yowk) was a major factor in the Beastie Boys’ evolution from their early incarnation, as testosterone-driven pranksters, to their later years as sonic experimenters, as socially conscious rappers — championing the cause of freedom in Tibet — and as keepers of old-school hip-hop memories. The Beastie Boys became an institution — one that could have arisen only amid the artistic, social and accidental connections of New York City.

In the history of hip-hop, the Beastie Boys were both improbable and perhaps inevitable: appreciators, popularizers and extrapolators of a culture they weren’t born into.

“The Beasties opened hip-hop music up to the suburbs,” said Rick Rubin, who produced the group’s 1986 debut album, in a recent interview with The Plain Dealer of Cleveland. “As crazy as they were, they seemed safe to Middle America, in a way black artists hadn’t been up to that time.”

The rapper Eminem said in a statement, “I think it’s obvious to anyone how big of an influence the Beastie Boys were on me and so many others.”

The Beastie Boys started their major-label career with two pivotal albums: “Licensed to Ill” (1986), a cornerstone of rap-rock that became the first hip-hop album to top the Billboard chart, and “Paul’s Boutique” (1989), a wildly eclectic, sample-based production that became a template for experimental hip-hop.

The Beasties brand expanded well beyond music: with their own magazine and record label, Grand Royal; with the social activism of Mr. Yauch’s Milarepa Foundation, which produced an international series of Tibetan Freedom Concerts; and with work in film, as Mr. Yauch (calling himself Nathanial Hörnblowér) directed Beastie Boys videos and went on to start Oscilloscope Laboratories, an independent film production and distribution company.

The Beastie Boys’ appeal endured. Into the 2000s they could headline large events like theCoachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Each of their albums up to “To the Five Boroughs” in 2004 has sold at least a million copies, and many of them have sold in the multimillions, in the United States alone.

“I burn the competition like a flame thrower/My rhymes they age like wine as I get older,” Mr. Yauch rapped on the Beastie Boys’ 2011 album, “Hot Sauce Committee Part Two.”

When they started rapping in 1983, the Beastie Boys — Mr. Yauch, Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) and Mike Diamond (Mike D) — were greeted by some hip-hop purists as a novelty act. They were Jewish bohemians, not ghetto survivors; they were jokers, not battlers. Yet the Beastie Boys recorded for a label that was a bastion of New York hip-hop, Def Jam, and they toured alongside Run-D.M.C. and LL Cool J.

They went on to garner admiration and influence with productions that kept coming up with surprises — including, eventually, the rappers’ playing instruments again — and with rhymes that would mingle humor, boasting and an increasing idealism. Even when the Beastie Boys were treated as a joke, it was a joke they would be in on for decades to come.

Adam Nathaniel Yauch was born on Aug. 5, 1964, in Brooklyn. Playing bass, he and Mr. Diamond started the Beastie Boys in 1981 as a hard-core punk band. The group’s original drummer, Kate Schellenbach, has said, “Whereas other bands, just as awful as the Beastie Boys, would actually believe they were good, for Mike and Adam the whole point was to be terrible and admit it.”

That group broke up after releasing an eight-song, seven-inch EP, “Polly Wog Stew.” The Beastie Boys reappeared in 1983 with Mr. Horovitz on guitar, and made “Cooky Puss,” a 12-inch single of prank phone call recordings over a rock guitar riff and hip-hop scratching. The group had been listening to New York hip-hop since the late 1970s.

Mr. Yauch once said that the Beasties had started rapping as a joke, but found that audiences liked it better than their punk-rock. Mr. Rubin, then a student at New York University, joined the group as a disc jockey. He also brought them to the attention of Russell Simmons, the manager of Run-D.M.C. and other leading hip-hop acts of the era. He added the Beasties to his roster.

When Mr. Rubin and Mr. Simmons started Def Jam, the Beastie Boys were one of the label’s first signings: catalog number DJ 002, in 1984, was the Beastie Boys’ single “Rock Hard.” The Beastie Boys toured with Madonna in 1985, to the confusion of pop audiences.

But with the 1986 release of “Licensed To Ill,” hip-hop pushed its way onto rock radio. The songs blasted rock guitar riffs from bands like AC/DC and Led Zeppelin behind the Beastie Boys’ cartoon-voiced rhymes about girls, drunken escapades, vandalism and guns. “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)” became a Top 10 single, and “Licensed to Ill” went on to sell more than nine million copies in the United States. The group toured with a stage set including caged go-go dancers and a 20-foot hydraulic penis.

The Beasties parted ways with Mr. Rubin and Def Jam amid a lawsuit over royalties. On “Paul’s Boutique,” their first album for Capitol, they worked with the Dust Brothers production team. The results were innovative, densely packed tracks that quick-cut amid rock, funk, jazz and more; meanwhile, the rappers shared the lyrics so thoroughly that all three might rap a word or two in a single line. The album went on to sell two million copies, and musicians inside and outside hip-hop have praised it as a landmark.

In 1992, the Beastie Boys expanded their ambitions as tastemakers by starting a label, Grand Royal, in association with Capitol. The label released music by, among others, At the Drive-In, Sean Lennon, Atari Teenage Riot and Jimmy Eat World. They also started Grand Royal magazine, which delved into fashion and movies as well as music. But those efforts lost money, and shut down in 2001.

With their album “Check Your Head” in 1992, the Beastie Boys began featuring their own instruments. They would go on to make an instrumental album, “The Mix-Up,” in 2007, which won a Grammy Award.

While the Beastie Boys’ music continued to offer a crunching, squealing good time during the 1990s, the rhymes it carried grew more mature. Vandalism was replaced by constructive thoughts, and offhand sexism was replaced by explicit respect for women. After travels in Tibet and Nepal, Mr. Yauch became a practicing Tibetan Buddhist. On the Beastie Boys’ 1994 album, “Ill Communication,” he rapped “Bodhisattva Vow,” a version of a pledge taken by devout Buddhists, over a hip-hop drumbeat mixed with the deep chanting of Buddhist monks. The Beasties also brought Buddhist monks to perform ceremonies at the 1994 Lollapalooza Festival.

In 1994 Mr. Yauch started the nonprofit Milarepa Fund, which presented the Tibetan Freedom Concert series to raise awareness of Chinese control of Tibet. The first one, in 1996, drew more than 100,000 people to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco; concerts followed in New York, Washington, Tokyo, Sydney, Amsterdam, Taipei and elsewhere. After Sept. 11, 2001, Milarepa organized New Yorkers Against Violence, offering relief efforts for victims of violence.

In 1998 he married Dechen Wangdu, who survives him along with their daughter, Tenzin Losel; and his parents, Frances and Noel Yauch.

Yet onstage and on albums, the Beastie Boys never grew overly serious. Mr. Yauch directed Beastie Boys videos, including “So Whatcha Want,” “Intergalactic,” “Body Movin’ ” and “Ch-Check It Out,” with a deft touch for slapstick and retro references. He also directed a 2006 documentary made from footage shot by Beasties fans, and a 2008 basketball documentary, “Gunnin’ for That No. 1 Spot.”

Mr. Yauch moved into film distribution and production with Oscilloscope Laboratories, operating it like an independent record label where everything was done in-house. Oscilloscope’s first releases, small indie films and documentaries, were modest in critical reception and box office, but the company quickly scaled up.

In 2009 Oscilloscope drew recognition for Oren Moverman’s military drama “The Messenger,” including Oscar nominations for best original screenplay and best supporting actor (Woody Harrelson). Another Oscar nomination, for the documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” followed.

Oscilloscope has continued to release films that often do not shy away from difficult topics, like a Columbine-style killing in “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and the documentary “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front.” It also kept a hand in music with documentaries like “Shut Up and Play the Hits,” about the band LCD Soundsystem. In his brief film career, Mr. Yauch had the respect of many veteran industry players, earning a reputation for nurturing films and filmmakers that others wouldn’t touch.

After his cancer diagnosis in 2009, Mr. Yauch went under extensive treatment. But he was eventually able to participate in the recording of “Hot Sauce Committee Part Two,” which is full of songs celebrating the sound and bygone figures of the 1980s New York City — uptown and downtown — that had nurtured the Beastie Boys.

© The New York Times

Son of Neckbone by Beastie Boys from the album The In Sound From Way Out! (Capitol Records 1996)

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I used to look forward to receiving their magazine, Grand Royal, too…

With articles like this…

Marie Curie a great organisation

27

R.I.P.

Love Is A Losing Game (Moody Boyz Vocal Mix) by Amy Winehouse (Universal/Island Records 2007)

27 Club

R.I.P. Gil Scott-Heron

Turned on my phone this morning to a text from my good friend Adam Regan, informing me that Gil Scott-Heron has passed away. Sad news indeed.

Gil Scott-Heron, soul poet, dead at 62

Public Enemy’s Chuck D once said hip-hop was black America’s CNN. If so, Gil Scott-Heron was the network’s first great anchorman, presaging hip-hop and infusing soul and jazz with poetry, humor and pointed political commentary.
Scott-Heron died Friday at the age of 62, according to his U.K. publisher. The Pitchfork Web site said the report was confirmed by a record-company publicist.His songs, including “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” “The Bottle” and “Johannesburg,” were hard-edged yet melodic, influencing subsequent generations of soul and hip-hop artists who revered him as a pioneer, including Common, Erykah Badu, Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest and Kanye West.Scott-Heron was born in 1949 in Chicago and spent most of his childhood in Tennessee and then New York. He showed an affinity for writing at an early age. His first novel, “The Vulture,” was published when he was 19, then he shifted to music in an effort to reach a wider audience. He teamed with Brian Jackson, a gifted musician he met while attending Lincoln University in Oxford, Pa.”I had an affinity for jazz and syncopation, and the poetry came from the music,” Scott-Heron told the Tribune in a 1998 interview. “We made the poems into songs, and we wanted the music to sound like the words, and Brian’s arrangements very often shaped and molded them.”
Together they crafted jazz-influenced soul and funk that brought new depth and political consciousness to ‘70s music alongside Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. In classic albums such as “Winter in America” and “From South Africa to South Carolina,” Scott-Heron took the news of the day and transformed it into social commentary, wicked satire, and proto-rap anthems. He updated his dispatches from the front lines of the inner city on tour, improvising lyrics with an improvisational daring that matched the jazz-soul swirl of the music.Though celebrated for his political broadsides, Scott-Heron was a master of many styles. He could be playful and mischievous, and he found joy in the power of words and their ability to transform the tragic and tawdry into the comical and uplifting.His “H20gate Blues,” for example, took President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew to task as the Watergate scandal was unfolding: “If Nixon knew, ‘Ag’ knew/But ‘Ag’ didn’t know enough to stay out of jail.” On “Jaws,” he identified with the shark in the Steven Spielberg movie; common sense and trespassing laws were on the big predator’s side, Scott-Heron argued. Mixed in with the laughs were songs about love, addiction, childbirth, spirituality.”If you only focus on the political aspects of our work, you change us,” Scott-Heron said in the ’98 Tribune interview. “We’ve done 20 albums and not all of the songs on them are political. We acknowledged politics, just like we acknowledged the existence of condoms, guns, family, neighborhood issues. We were songwriters who tried to represent all the different aspects of the community.”After nearly a decade away from the record business, Scott-Heron returned in 1994 with the album “Spirits,” in which he addressed a new generation of rappers and urban poets who were in his debt with tracks such as “Message to the Messengers.”His work slowed to a trickle in recent years as he battled drug addiction and spent several years in prison for drug-related crimes. A 2010 album, “I’m New Here,” received acclaim, but also offered aural evidence of his declining health.

Scott-Heron never had any chart hits, but his work never really went out of style. Kanye West closed his latest album by including an excerpt from Scott-Heron’s spoken-word piece, “Comment No. 1,” on the track “Who Will Survive in America?”

“We never had a lot of airplay, so I never miss it,” Scott-Heron told the Tribune. “I wrote my first book before I knew how to get it published, and we started making music before we knew there was a marketplace for it. I have always worked like that, because the work itself should be motivation enough.”

I also posted about Gil Scott-Heron in an earlier post

DJ’ing Can Seriously Damage Your Health

In May 1996, Kruder & Dorfmeister invited Rockers Hi Fi (Glyn ‘Bigga’ Bush, Farda P, DJDick) over to Vienna for a couple of DJ gigs. I wasn’t to know that this particular weekend would be the worst weekend of my life. The trip started off as normal – Birmingham International Airport to Flughafen Wein (Vienna Airport). It all started to go wrong whilst waiting in baggage claim, yes you guessed it, our records didn’t turn up and they never turned up for the first show, so we had to rummage through Richard Dorfmeister’s  record collection and scrape a set together – it was an uncomfortable couple of hours behind the decks. The following morning we get the news that our records had been found and were waiting for us in the hotel lobby. Great news? I’m afraid not, only one of mine, out of four boxes turned up. Then I get a message to call my wife in Birmingham, she breaks the news to me that our dog, Lad, had passed away. My shadow had shuffled off this mortal coil.

Lad 1982-1996

I decided to fly home to be with my wife and to bury Lad. Glyn and Farda P took my record box to the next gig – another painful two hours behind the decks.

Four days later KLM delivered the remaining three record boxes, unfortunately mine turned up like this……

Amazingly, only five or six records were unplayable, unfortunately, one of those was one of my favourite Drum & Bass tracks….

R.I.P. Loleatta Holloway.

Whilst checking Sam Redmore’s Freestyle blog, I’ve just found out about the death of this great soul diva.

‘Vertigo/Relight My Fire’ by Dan Hartman feat. Loleatta Holloway (CBS 1979)

Download Here.

A superb and fitting obituary from Ben Beaumont Thomas on the Guardian Music Blog.