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Crispian St. Peters 1939 - 2010

Posted by Whitmore, June 15, 2010 11:38am | Post a Comment
cripian st. peters, pop music, the beatles, the pied piper, we five, decca records, england swings, the 1960's, british invasion, you were on my mind, youtube, obituary
I’ve always had a soft spot for Crispian St. Peters, the 1960’s English pop star with a lilting, lyrical, tenor voice who passed away last week at the age of 71.
 
Born Robin Peter Smith in Swanley, Kent, England, on April 5th, 1939, as a youngster he performed in a variety of local bands such as The Hard Travellers, The Two Tones and The Country Gentlemen. In 1965 after being discovered by David Nicolson, an EMI publicist, he was signed to Decca as a solo recording act. At first his new stage name was to be Crispin Blacke, but after a bit of a tussle, the name Crispian St. Peters was settled upon and simultaneously, five years was deducted from Robin Peter Smith’s age.
 
His first couple of releases however, though good, went nowhere and nowhere fast. But it was his oddly england swings, crispian st. peters, the neatles, john  lennon, the 1960's, british invasion, you were on my mind, youtube, obituarysoulful cover of “You Were On My Mind,” a song which had been a million seller in the United States for the We Five, that broke him into the big time and the top ten in England and Europe. But the follow up single in 1966, “The Pied Piper,” became his biggest international hit, soaring into the top five or hitting the number one spot though out Europe, North America and Asia.
 
Originally recorded by The Changin' Times, “The Pied Piper” was written by Steve Duboff and Artie Kornfeld, though the St. Peters’ version modified the lyrics slightly, perhaps helping the groovy, England swings quotient. The line "I'll show you where life's at" was changed to the much hipper "I'll show you where it's at." A slight side note, Artie Kornfeld also wrote the song "Deadman's Curve"(with Brian Wilson & Jan Berry) for Jan & Dean and the 1967 hit by the Cowsills “The Rain, The Park, and Other Things.” Kornfeld, in his early twenties, also became the vice president of Capitol Records, the youngest to hold such a position. But in 1969, Kornfeld left Capitol Records for what he is most known for, creating the Woodstock Music & Arts Festival.
 
crispian st. peters, ngland swings, the 1960's, british invasion, you were on my mind, youtube, obituaryIn the late sixties John Lennon was quoted as saying that Crispian St. Peters’ “The Pied Piper” was one of his favorite songs.
 
Unfortunately one of the lasting images of Crispian St. Peters, while under the slippery guidance of David Nicolson, will always be his brief transformation into an arrogant arse. The only problem was, really, Crispian St. Peters was just twenty years ahead of his time. He literally scared the hell out of the era’s conservative British music press when he suggested that he’d written some 80 songs better than anything The Beatles could write and that he was greater than Elvis Presley. He even called himself the Cassius Clay of pop, but god forbid, St. Peters probably went too far when he said he was sexier than Dave Berry. Later he said it was all just flippantly done tongue-in-cheek, just some good old rawkin’ fun.
 
After the success of "The Pied Piper” St. Peters only had a couple of other charting singles, mostly skimming the bottom of the charts. Briefly in the early seventies he reinvented himself as a country-and-western performer, but later, St. Peters found constant and continued popularity working on the Sixties nostalgia circuit, while occasionally putting out some new recordings.
 
He had a series of health problems. In January 1995, at the age of 56, he suffered a stroke, which eventually led to him being confined to a wheel chair. Over the years he suffered several nervous breakdowns and battled emphysema. His last major public performance was in 1999 and in 2001 he announced his retirement from the music industry. In 2003 he was hospitalized several times with pneumonia.
 
Like I said, I’ve always liked his work; he was also a great songwriter, though he released very few self penned singles. Crispian St. Peters was divorced and is survived by his son Lee, daughter Samantha and a grandson.
 
 
 
 

rhyme or reason not necessary

Posted by Whitmore, October 11, 2009 11:11pm | Post a Comment
T.S. Eliot
This past week in Great Britain, in honor of their National Poetry Day, the BBC commissioned a poll to name Britain’s favorite poet. And oddly enough they chose the great American writer T.S. Eliot, best known for his landmark poems The Wasteland and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. The 1948 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri, but moved to England in his mid twenties where eventually he became a British citizen.
 
According to the BBC, more than 18,000 people voted online. Eliot won by a narrow margin, just ahead of John Donne, the 16th and 17th Century metaphysical poet, with Benjamin Zephaniah coming in third. Zephaniah was the only living poet on the list. Born in 1958, he is a Rastafarian dub poet who last year was included in The Times' list of Britain's top 50 post-war writers. Coming in fourth was Wilfred Owen, the First World War poet who was killed in action at the Battle of the Sambre just a week before the war ended, and rounding out the Top Five was Philip Larkin, who was also renowned as a novelist and a jazz critic.
 
Many in academia’s hierarchy were a bit perturbed by the lack of rhyme or reason to the top ten finishers. No John Milton or W. H. Auden (maybe because he became an American citizen) or Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney or Ted Hughes or even this old guy named Shakespeare. Most of the great Romantic poets were also shut out: William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Carol Ann Duffy, the current Poet Laureate of Britain, didn’t make the top ten, nor did Rudyard Kipling, who back in 1995 was named Britain’s favorite poet.
 
The rest in the exclusively male top ten include William Blake, William Butler Yeats, John Betjeman, John Keats and Dylan Thomas.
 
According to those carrying out the BBC poll, for several months Wilfred Owen led in the voting, most likely reflecting the concerns over the rise of UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan this past summer. But very surprisingly, in the last few weeks, Eliot and The Wasteland pulled it out in the end.
 
While the results of the poll demonstrated a growing interest in contemporary poetry and that classic poetry still seems to have a strange hold on reader’s affections, the National Poetry Day event and Top Ten list comes on the heels of a survey conducted by the UK Literacy Association that found more than half of primary school teachers could name no more than two poets.


Oasis

Posted by Whitmore, March 2, 2009 01:20pm | Post a Comment
The Brit-pop band Oasis’ first ever concert tour of China, planned for this spring, has been cancelled;  Chinese authorities have deemed the band as being "unsuitable." The shows scheduled for Beijing and Shanghai were due to take place on April 3rd and 5th; tickets sales were stopped on February 28, according to China Daily Newspaper.
 
Though no clear explanation has been given other than Oasis being “unsuitable,” it’s thought this cancellation might have something to do with China's Culture Ministry's recent discovery that Noel Gallagher played a Free Tibet benefit in the US in 1997 … that is a no-no in Mainland China.
 
Also uncertain is whether or not the show scheduled for Hong Kong on April 7th will take place.
 
The rest of the South East Asian tour will go ahead as planned, as Oasis is currently on a world tour promoting their latest CD, 2008’s Dig Out Your Soul -- their seventh studio album. Just this past week Oasis was voted the best British band at the annual NME Awards. They also won for Best Blog for Noel Gallagher's Tales from the Middle of Nowhere which is published on MySpace.
 
Oasis was formed in Manchester in 1991. Their first number one UK single was “Some Might Say from their second album, (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, peaking back in April 1995. Since then they have chalked up seven more number one hits and sold over 50 million records world wide. They have also collected fifteen NME Awards, five BRIT Awards, nine Q Awards and four MTV Europe Music Awards, plus odds and ends of other awards like the 2002 Top of the Pops and the 2007 Vodafone Live Music Awards.
 
A number of musical acts from the West have performed in China in recent years, including the Rolling Stones and Elton John, but some performers have run into problems on their way to China. Jay-Z was denied permission in 2006 due to his use of profane language. Britney Spears was permitted to play in 2004 but with the strict understanding that her costumes were not to be too revealing. And last year, Icelandic star Bjork made waves when she shouted "Free Tibet!" during her concert in Shanghai.

Davey Graham 1940 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, December 16, 2008 05:51pm | Post a Comment

The legendary English guitarist and a major influence on practically every fingerstyle acoustic guitarist for the past 50 years, Davey Graham, passed away on Monday of lung cancer which was detected only a few weeks ago. He was 68.

Born November 22nd, 1940 in Hinckley, Leicestershire, England, he took up the guitar at the age of 12. By the age of 19 Graham composed what would probably be his most famous piece, “Anji,” released on his debut 1962 EP, 3/4 AD, and later covered by the likes of Pentangle and Simon & Garfunkel.

Here in the United States, Graham perhaps wasn’t as well known as some of his contemporaries but he has been credited with single-handedly inventing the concept of the folk guitar instrumental in the U.K.-- simultaneous honors in the U.S would go to John Fahey, who was making similar innovations. Graham influenced a who’s who of British guitarists from Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Richard Thompson, John Martyn, Nick Drake, Martin Carthy, and Jimmy Page -- Page’s instrumental "White Summer" was heavily based on Graham's "She Moved Thru the Bazaar/Blue Raga."

In 1959 Graham first made headlines with his attention grabbing performance of “Cry Me a River’ in the BBC television documentary Hound Dogs and Bach Addicts: The Guitar Craze, produced by Ken Russell. During the 1960s he played a major role in the British folk revival, releasing a series of eclectic solo albums that touched on a wide range of music, from jazz and blues to Indian and Arabic and gypsy. He introduced to many an aspiring young guitarist the DADGAD guitar tuning, whose chief appeal is the ability to improvise freely, yet maintain a solid underlying rhythm and harmony. But Graham's career was somewhat unpredictable; his concerts were often hit or miss. Much of his reputation was based on a couple of brilliant albums, both released in the same week of 1965, Folk Routes, New Routes in a duet with the folk singer Shirley Collins and Folk, Blues and Beyond, a mostly instrumental album that combined all his world music styles. His live playing was best captured and recorded in 1967 on an incredible album entitled After Hours, which was recorded in a student's dorm room on the campus of Hull University in front of an audience of about eight people. Nonetheless, and in many ways, even as impulsive as he may have been, Davey Graham was the first guitar hero … and certainly one of mine.

There will be a private funeral held for Davey Graham later this week. A public memorial service is being planned for January.


(Wherein winter records receive writings.)

Posted by Job O Brother, December 16, 2008 11:32am | Post a Comment
postcard

It’s finally chilly in Hollywood. I mean, I still have my French windows open wide, but it’s about as cold as it ever gets, with breezes blowing from my hometown in the north, Nevada City, where loved ones are covered in white blankets of snow. (That’s a metaphor – probably very few of them have bed-sheets constructed of crystalline water ice.)

My friends in Nevada City, Jaime, Alison and Dan made a snowman. I don’t get that pleasure here. I suppose I could make a clumps-of-dying-grass-cigarette-butts-and-dog-feces man, but who has that kind of time? I have a blog to write!

sexy
Here's a picture of the snowman my friends made.
The best part will be watching him slowly melt over the next couple weeks.

My choices in music are always influenced by weather. When it’s hot city in the summertime, I’ll gravitate towards artists such as Stephen Malkmus, Thin Lizzy, or Sly & The Family Stone. If it’s a rainy day, you can bet some Siouxsie & The Banshees will be trilling from my stereo. I look out the window and see the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse trampling the Hills with all the fury of Heaven and Hell as they take the stage for a final battle in which every human soul will come to greet its eternal home in either the awesome glory of the Almighty God or the foul depths of Hell as lorded over by the king of wickedness, Satan, and more often than not I’ll play a little Burt Bacharach. Because it’s always a good time for a little Burt.

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