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MORE NEWS FROM THE WILD ANIMAL KINGDOM

Posted by Whitmore, November 20, 2008 03:50pm | Post a Comment

Debby, the world's oldest polar bear has died. Suffering from multiple organ failure, she was euthanized earlier this week, just a month shy of her 42nd birthday. Some polar bears living in captivity make it into their 30s, but few in the wild reach 20 years of age. Earlier this year the Guinness Book of World Records certified she was the oldest polar bear on record and one of the three oldest bears ever documented from any of the eight bear species.

Born in 1966 at the height of the Cold War in the former Soviet Union’s Arctic Island’s Region, Debby was orphaned at a very young age, but was rescued by the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In her years at the Canadian zoo she gave birth to six cubs with her mate of almost thirty years, Skipper, who died in 1999 at age 34. All of their offspring are still alive today.

As tributes pour in from around the world, a memorial is planned at the zoo this coming Saturday at noon at the zoo's Animal Tracks Café.

 

Jody Reynolds 1932 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, November 15, 2008 12:45pm | Post a Comment

Rockabilly Hall of Fame
member Jody Reynolds died this past week of liver cancer in Palm Desert, California. He was 75. His most famous record, and sole Top 10 hit, "Endless Sleep," not only added a strange evocative sound to the typical Rockabilly rave-up of the day -- Reynolds differentiated himself from many of the era’s rockabilly artists with his disquieting, haunting melodies -- but was a forerunner in the long line of melodramatic teen hit records and a genre sometimes known as “teardrop rock."

Born in Denver on Dec. 3, 1932 as Ralph Joseph Reynolds, his family soon moved to Oklahoma, where he grew up listening to country music and Western swing acts such as Eddy Arnold and Bob Wills, eventually picking up the guitar as a teenager. In 1956 while performing in Yuma, Arizona, Reynolds wrote the song “Endless Sleep” after listening to Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" five times in a row on a jukebox. Two years later Reynolds met a music publisher named Herb Montei who forwarded the demo version to the Los Angeles based label Demon Records. Demon liked the demo but executives insisted on Reynolds tacking on a more uplifting end to the song; the revised finale has the suicidal girl saved from drowning by her guilt ridden beau. Another peculiar bit of history about “Endless Sleep” -- writing credits for the song went to Jody Reynolds and Dolores Nance, but according to Reynolds, Nance was a fictitious person created by the Demon Records to make it appear that there was songwriting team.

By the summer of 1958 “Endless Sleep” became a huge national and international hit, peaking at No. 5 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart, no doubt opening the door for several other doomed tales of love-death tinged million selling pop hits including Mark Dinning's "Teen Angel," Ray Peterson's "Tell Laura I Love Her," Dickey Lee's "Patches" and the Shangri-Las' "Leader of the Pack," to name but a few. Reynolds' next single was not as successful. “Fire of Love” peaked at number 66 on the Billboard charts. It would be his last charting single. Still, he continued to record and tour into the 1970’s for several labels including Smash, Brent and Pulsar Records. His typically anomalous 1963 recording, and excellent single, on Titan Records, "Stranger in the Mirror" / "Requiem for Love" featured a very young Bobbie Gentry (“Ode to Billie Joe”) in her debut. Eventually Reynolds opened a music store in Palm Springs and worked as a real estate agent. He was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 1999.

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Yma Sumac 1922 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, November 3, 2008 10:32am | Post a Comment


Yma Sumac
the legendary, one of a kind singer famous for her 4 1/2 octave range, has died in Los Angeles. She was 86.

Peruvian born, she was the personification of exoticism, making her an international sensation in the 1950’s. After signing with Capitol Records in 1950, the striking, raven-haired beauty became known as the "Nightingale of the Andes," and the "Peruvian Songbird." Her first album, Voice of the Xtabay, rocketed to the top of the LP charts introducing a whole new genre, Exotica, to the music buying public. During her heyday, Sumac headlined at the some of the most prestigious venues in the world, such as the Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall and Royal Albert Hall. She reportedly made $25,000 a week in Las Vegas and turned down offers to sing with New York's Metropolitan Opera. Her eccentric costumes and stage settings were often extremely elaborate, filling stages with native dressed drummers and dancers and caged wild birds. Yma Sumac was also featured in the 1951 Broadway musical Flahooley and appeared in the films Secret of the Incas in 1954 and Omar Khayyam in 1957.

Although details of her birth and early life have varied greatly, lending mightily to her legend, the biggest misconception was that she was born in Brooklyn as Amy Camus -- Sumac was actually born Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chavarri del Castillo in Cajamarca, Peru, on Sept. 13, 1922. After performing and recording in Argentina in the early 40’s, she and her husband, bandleader Moises Vivanco, moved to New York City in 1946, where they performed as the Inca Taky Trio, with Vivanco on guitar, Sumac singing soprano and Cholita Rivero, her cousin, singing contralto and dancing.

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Dee Dee Warwick 1945 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, October 21, 2008 02:46pm | Post a Comment


Dee Dee Warwick,
whose classic northern soul single "Worth Every Tear I Cry" / "Lover’s Chant" can fetch upwards of 500 dollars or more, has died; she was 63. Dee Dee, who was the sister of singer Dionne Warwick, cousin of Whitney Houston, and niece to gospel singer Cissy Houston, passed away last Saturday in a nursing home in Essex County, New Jersey. She had been in failing health for several months.

Born on September 25, 1945 in Newark, New Jersey as Delia Mae Warrick, she got her start as a gospel singer. As a teenager in the 1950’s she sang with her older sister as The Gospelaires and later with the Drinkard Singers, a long-running gospel group managed by their mother. Before embarking on a solo career in the mid 1960's, Dee Dee sang back up for the likes of Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett. Eventually she signed a deal with the Mercury label where she enjoyed considerable R&B success with such hits as “I Want to be With You” and “Foolish Fool.” "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me," initially released by Warwick in 1966, was co-written by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff and was later covered by Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations.

Dee Dee Warwick was also twice nominated for a Grammy in the early 1970’s for "Foolish Fool" and "She Didn't Know" for the ATCO label. Earlier this year she was featured in the title track from her sister’s gospel album Why We Sing and toured with Dionne on her My Music and Me show throughout Europe. Below are a couple of Dee Dee's best cuts, "We're Doing Fine" and "Worth Every Tear I Cry."

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Earl Palmer 1924 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, September 23, 2008 03:55pm | Post a Comment


The feel of rock and roll would have been a hell of a lot different without the input of New Orleans musicians, and at the top of that class was drummer Earl Palmer. He provided the distinctive backbeat for the seminal sound of rock starting with the likes of Fats Domino and Little Richard and Eddie Cochran. Earl Palmer died last Friday in his home in Banning after a long illness. He was 83.

Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, Palmer played on thousands of rock, jazz and pop music sessions, as well as on countless movie, television and commercial scores. In the late fifties and early sixties he played on such rock classic singles as Fats Domino’s “I’m Walkin” and “Walking to New Orleans,” Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" and "Long Tall Sally," Ritchie Valens' “Donna” and "La Bamba," Sam Cooke's "You Send Me," Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” and "I Hear You Knockin"' by Smiley Lewis. Legendary producer Phil Spector used him to build his Wall of Sound on such songs as “You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'” by the Righteous Brothers and Ike and Tina Turner's “River Deep, Mountain High.” Palmer’s work was rarely off the charts for two decades.

Palmer left New Orleans for Los Angeles in 1957 to work for Aladdin Records. His career as a session drummer included work with a who’s who of 20th century musical icons: Frank Sinatra, Rick Nelson, Ray Charles, Bobby Day, Don and Dewey, Jan and Dean, Larry Williams, Gene McDaniels, Bobby Darin, Dick Dale, Tim Hardin, Tom Waits, Tim Buckley, Roy Brown, Neil Diamond, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Duane Eddy, Sceamin' Jay Hawkins, Barbara Streisand, Taj Mahal, David Axelrod, the Beachboys, Elvis Costello, Everly Brothers, the Mama and the Papas, the Monkees, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Young, Johnny Otis, Thurston Harris, The Byrds, Marvin Gaye and Lloyd Price, just to name a very few. Not to mention the fact he recorded with practically every great New Orleans musician who ever tracked a song to vinyl, like Professor Longhair, Huey Piano Smith, Doctor John, James Booker, Dave Batholomew and Lee Allen.

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