Alfred Peet 1920--2007

Posted by Whitmore, August 31, 2007 02:04pm | Post a Comment
Alfred Peet, entrepreneur and the founder of  Peet's Coffee & Tea, who opened his first store in Berkeley over 40 years ago and is credited with spawning our insatiable appetite for gourmet coffee has died at his home in Ashland, Ore. He was 87.

He was born in Alkmaar, Holland in 1920 where
his father ran a coffee roastery business.  After the Second World War, Peet left Europe and in 1955 immigrated to San Francisco working for E.A. Johnson & Co, importing coffee.

Peet set up his first shop in 1966, opening a small store in Berkeley at 2124 Vine Street, near the UC campus. To set himself and his coffee apart, he personally hand roasted high-quality beans, soon he opened new stores in Oakland and Menlo Park.

The founders of Starbucks, such as Jerry  Baldwin,  were among his early customers and
found their inspiration in Peet's business plan.
Early on, before Starbucks became the
gargantuan enterprise it is today, they purchased their roasted coffee from Peet’s, until Peet could no longer keep up with the supply demands of the chain.

After Alfred Peet retired in 1983, Baldwin and his partners purchased Peet's Coffee for $4 million.

I can’t emphasis how important a great cup of java is to me. Back in the old days, before internet time itself, whenever a friend of mine traveled up to the Bay Area, I would beg them to bring back a couple bags of Peet’s coffee.

I salute you Alfred Peet! You've made my life richer!

Lee Hazlewood 1929 - 2007

Posted by Whitmore, August 5, 2007 10:30am | Post a Comment

Yesterday, August 4, Lee Hazlewood passed away from renal cancer at the age of 78 in his home in Las Vegas. Born Barton Lee Hazlewood in Mannford, Oklahoma in 1929, he was a music legend and viewed as one of the more iconoclastic figures of 20th-century pop. Just his baritone voice alone made him sound like a cantankerous, hard living son of a bitch. I suspect he was.

Hazlewood was mostly known for his work from the 1950s through the 1970s, he composed such masterpieces as “These Boots Are Made For Walking,”  “Some Velvet Morning,”  “Sand,”  “The Fool,”  “Summer Wine,”  “Houston” and “Trouble Is A Lonesome Town.” He built a reputation as a solo artist, producer, and label owner. In the 1950s he produced Duane Eddy developing the whole ‘twangy’ guitar sound. The single “Rebel Rouser,” co-written by both Eddy and Hazlewood, became a huge international hit in 1958.  As far as being in the public eye, 1965 was his breakthrough year when he teamed up with Nancy Sinatra for a string of hit singles and an album Nancy and Lee.  A few years later his own LHI label, released what is widely considered the first country-rock record, the International Submarine Band featuring Gram Parsons. Over the next couple of decades he produced a series of beautifully odd solo albums that were mostly unheard of in America until Sonic Youth reissued them in the 1990s. His final release, Cake Or Death (Ever), was released earlier this year. 

Side note: I once recorded one of Hazlewood’s songs about 6 or 7 years ago in a duet with Lisa Papineau. The song, “Leather and Lace” from The Cowboy in Sweden album, was the only cut from my CD that got any airplay. But hey! It charted in North Dakota, or was that South Dakota … Minnesota? And Mr. Hazlewood never sued me!

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Ron Miller

Posted by Whitmore, July 28, 2007 08:50pm | Post a Comment

This week legendary Motown songwriter Ron Miller died at age 74.

The Associated Press obituary:

Songwriter Ron Miller, whose tunes included pop classics "Touch Me in the Morning" and "For Once in My Life," has died. Miller died Monday of cardiac arrest at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center after a long battle with emphysema and cancer, he was 74.

Miller got his professional start in the music business in the 1960s, when Motown founder Berry Gordy saw him perform at a piano bar and invited him to Detroit as one of the label's first songwriters and record producers. His songs have been recorded by many leading artists, including Judy Garland, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and Ray Charles. "For Once in My Life," written with Orlando Murden, is one of the most recorded songs in history, with more than 270 versions, according to All Music Guide. A rendition by Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder won a Grammy award this year. In 2005, Charles' and Gladys Knight's version of Miller's "Heaven Help Us All" picked up the best gospel performance Grammy.

Born in Chicago, Miller was a die-hard Cubs fan, who wrote his first sad song as a child about his beloved but hapless team, his daughter said. Before meeting Gordy at the piano bar, Miller made ends meet by selling washing machines and taking odd jobs. He served in the Marines, as well, and was stationed all over the world. Throughout the 1970s, Miller wrote the book and lyrics to many musicals, including "Daddy Goodness" and "Cherry," based on William Inge's "Bus Stop." Barbra Streisand recorded "I've Never Been A Woman Before," from the musical, for her "The Way We Were" album.

"My father will be reborn every time someone sings one of his songs," Lisa Dawn Miller said. "When they feel joy or sadness or any emotion, that will be my dad and his words." Miller is survived by his wife, Aurora Miller, and six children. Here is a list of some of his songs:

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