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Old 05-22-2012, 09:06 AM   #1271 (permalink)
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Old 05-22-2012, 09:11 AM   #1272 (permalink)
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Man oh man! We're having an extension built, and the worm's head is pounding! Let's have something nice and relaxing, shall we?
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Old 05-22-2012, 06:08 PM   #1273 (permalink)
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Old 05-22-2012, 06:12 PM   #1274 (permalink)
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With the memory of mechanical diggers still rebounding in his skull, the worm would like to continue keeping it nice an' easy, with Mr. Rod Stewart today.
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Old 05-23-2012, 01:24 AM   #1275 (permalink)
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The City --- Vangelis --- 1990 (Atlantic)


A very strange album indeed, but one of my favourite Vangelis recordings. Apparently recorded entirely in a hotel room, “The City” puts to music and effects one day in the life of a city, lthough this city is never referred to by name, and could be any city in any country. The genericity (no half-pun intended) that runs through the normal events that take place during this album is certainly intentional: there are traffic sounds, people working in offices, people vending on the streets. It's a typical day in the life, but the life is not really the life of the people who bustle through the busy city streets, intent on their daily tasks and concentrating on their own worries and concerns, but more the living, breathing heartbeat and pulse of the city through which they wend their way.

It opens, of course, on atmospheric keyboard and synth as “Dawn” is fittingly the first track, though some well-orchestrated trumpet adds a real feeling of loneliness to the piece, and there's a sense of something slowly approaching, the sun peeping over the flat line of the horizon and thrusting its first questing fingers across the sky, touching the tops of office buildings and striking little sharp reflections off windows, breathing on the rainsoaked streets and drawing thin clouds of steam into the air, where it pirouettes and gavottes gracefully before dissipating in the first blush of dawn.

As the track fades out, we hear footsteps, then voices. One of them, apparently, is that of director Roman Polanski, who it seems was a friend of the composer's. As tannoy annoucements drone on in the background, he asks if the morning papers have arrived yet, a shake of the head and he instead asks for a sandwich. Fishing change out of his pocket, and taking the packet he walks away as breathy synth and bright piano carries “Morning papers” on a breezy little melody, a slow but steady beat mimicking the steps of a man as he unhurriedly walks along the street, perhaps glancing at streetlights or morning clouds, or squinting at the new morning sun. Nice sprinkling keyboards, possibly vibraphone or something similar (yeah, I know it's all on synth, but what am I going to say: nice synth backing to the synth that runs the main synth melody?) and some slow choral vocals with what sounds like birdsong, possibly evoking early morning memories, like walking through a park?

One thing Vangelis is good at --- one of the many things --- is painting an impression of a subject, theme or scene with music. Here you can quite easily follow the progress of the city as it moves from dawn to early morning and on into, eventually, evening as it technically stops being a day. “Nerve centre” introduces hard rock guitar, grinding chords and more solid keyboards with a heavier beat as the day gets going properly, and people head to, or begin, their workday. There's a certain industrial sound about this, with hammer-on-steel type things, almost mechanical, definitely giving the impression of work being carried out. The tempo has been upped, but only very slightly, as the lazy morning gives way to the working day, and people set about their daily tasks. As the piece nears its climax high-voiced choral synths take over from the guitar, pushing their way to the fore as the music gets louder, more insistent and more powerful.

The sound of a motorcycle engine revving and driving away (a courier?) opens “Side streets” and a mournful cello sound slows everything down after the fever pitch the preceding track reached. Stabbing, short synth chords, of the type Vangelis is well known for, punctuate the melody, with light, bongo-style percussion, then more choral synths which sound a little desperate, perhaps someone in a hurry to meet a deadline? Though nothing along the lines of Pink Floyd's “On the run”; kind of like the sound you make when you run too fast and your lungs can't quite keep up. The piece ends suddenly, and flows into “Good to see you”, which strolls along nicely on a relaxed beat with more cello or violin on the synth, as the working day snakes on, towards its close.

Halfway through we hear one side of a telephone conversation as a girl --- Roman Polanski's wife, as it happens --- talks to (presumably) him, getting ready to wrap up for the day and head home. It's interesting, as the words are not too clearly enunciated, mostly laughter, single words --- “Yeah”, “No”, “Fine”, “Ah” and so forth ---- while the synthesised cello or violin (not sure which) continues its melody in the background. Very atmospheric, and very evocative. Then of course evening falls, as we move into “Twilight”, and there's more talk, though this time not in English and not on the phone, wind sounds and then piano and some nice classical guitar with synthy effects as everything slows down, people relax, pulling on coats and switching off computers and heading home.

A very gentle and reflective piece to take us into “Red lights”, which pumps up the tension with thick synth and vocal effects, like a chant (well, really if I'm honest, like a chant of chipmunks or something) with stabbing chords and what sounds like maybe the trumpet from the opener, a nice bassline running through the piece, but I have to say the voices really put me off, and I think the track would have worked better without them. Some African style drums break in then, giving the thing further party/celebration atmosphere, and a lone horn takes us into the closer.

Now this has always confused me. Nice cello melody, slow and stately, called “Procession”, but it is, and I know it is, almost identical to a track which appears on (indeed, closes) the Alan Parsons Project's album, “I, robot”. I know Vangelis has no need to copy or use anyone else's music, and it could be that the track the APP feature, which they call “Genesis Ch. 1 V.32”, is based on some existing melody, perhaps classical? However, I know of no such piece of music, and as their album came out in 1977 I have to assume theirs was the original. It's shown as being written by Eric Woolfson and Alan Parsons, like most of the APP's material, so no other credit can be inferred or ascribed. So did Vangelis use their track as a basis for this?

I quite honestly don't know, and it has bothered me for a long long time. I'll probably never know. In truth, it's not all the same as the Alan Parsons Project tune, but the central theme of it is, and when it dovetails with “Genesis Ch. 1 V. 32” it's just too similar to assume it's a coincidence. For all that, it's a great piece, and a good closer, though what exactly it says about the city in the title of the album I'm not quite sure. Perhaps it's meant to symbolise the ceremonial setting of the sun on the day, as night covers the world. I really don't know, and without knowing I can't say how it fits into the overall theme, which is a pity, as it really leaves a lot of questions --- for me, at any rate --- unanswered, and kind of spoils the ending of the album. The first time I heard it I could not believe it, and almost expected to see a credit for Woolfson/Parsons, but no, all music on this album is said to be composed by Vangelis, as is usually, perhaps always the case.

As a mini-concept, “The City” works really well, despite the above. You can really trace the day from its merest beginnings right through and out the other side, to the falling of evening and finally night. And as “Procession” fades away in the distance, the natural conclusion that this is cyclical, of course, and tomorrow the whole thing will begin again, is confirmed as we again hear Polanski's footsteps approach out of the new morning, in quest of again the morning newspapers. Life, in all its little innumerable and often banal facets, goes on, and on, and on.

TRACKLISTING

1. Dawn
2. Morning papers
3. Nerve centre
4. Side streets
5. Good to see you
6. Twilight
7. Red lights
8. Procession
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Old 05-23-2012, 05:35 AM   #1276 (permalink)
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Robin Gibb (1949 - 2012)


This has been a bad month for music. First we lose Donna Summer, then in almost the same week Robin Gibb loses his battle with cancer. The second of the Bee Gees (third, if you count the other brother Andy, who wasn't in the group) to die, he leaves the original trio a lonely man now. The Playlist of Life offers its sympathies to Barry. Another legend has passed, may he rest in peace.
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Old 05-24-2012, 02:44 AM   #1277 (permalink)
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Old 05-24-2012, 02:48 AM   #1278 (permalink)
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Clever song by Billy Joel, almost rap-like in its quickfire rhyming delivery, this is “We didn't start the fire”. No, it was them over there, officer...
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Old 05-24-2012, 05:03 AM   #1279 (permalink)
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Yeah, it's that time of the month again, when mods go screaming, running for shelter and those who have sworn off the bottle nervously eye the fridge as another glut of YouTubes heads their way! Time once again to honour and namecheck those who have gone before us into the Great Unknown; those who were associated with the music industry, whether as performers, composers, producers, entertainers or even those who operated in a more behind-the-scenes capacity. Concentrating on the more well known, and loved, these are the people who passed in May down the years. We wish them all eternal rest and hope they received their reward, having left so much joy and beauty to mark their time on this earth.

The plaudits, as ever, go to BITTER SUITE BAND: official website! for their Herculean work in compiling a list which would otherwise have taken much longer, and a lot more effort.

Please note: if someone you know/like is missing from this list, don't take offence, because as I've already explained it's next to impossible to feature every music performer or person connected with the music biz who died in a particular month, and I usually choose the names I see as the most famous, influential or deserving of being here. The people who I know, know of, and whose contribution to music I recognise. This does not mean that anyone left out is not rated by me, but I have to draw the line somewhere.

Also, for the first time since I began doing this I seem to have overrun the character count, so I'm now going to have to split this up into two sections. Section 1 will cover the first two weeks of the month, with the last two following.


Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
Armenian composer who is best remembered for his stately adagio from the opera “Spartacus”, which was used as the theme music for the BBC drama series “The Onedin Line”, and has forever become identified with that programme. Khachaturian also composed the well-known “Sabre dance” from another of his operas, “Gayane”, and again the adagio from this was later used in the seminal science-fiction movie, “2001: A space odyssey”. Denounced by the Communist Party in 1948 with Shostakovich and Prokofiev as composing music that was seen as “anti-popular” and “formalist”, he was forced, with his fellow composers, to publicy apologise, though his heart was not in the apology. He died, May 1 1978, a few days short of his seventy-fifth birthday.


Big Hawk (1969-2006)
One of the founding members of DJ Screw's Screwed Up Click (SUC), Big Hawk was born John Edward Hawkins and helped form the group DEA as well as the independent rapper label Dead End Records. He played with people like Lil' Keke, Lil' Flip, Fat Pat (his brother) and Mike D. He died of gunshot wounds, May 1 2006.


Adam Yauch (1964-2012)
American rapper and famed member of the Beastie Boys, Adam was known as MCA within the group. He also played bass and directed many of their music videos, being a talented film director. A Buddhist, he was involved in the struggle for Tibetan independence, and was a firm supporter of other human rights movements. He died of cancer, less than three weeks ago, May 4.


Marlene Dietrich (1901- 1992)
With Dame Vera Lynne, one of the most instantly recognisable of the World War II entertainers, Marlene was born in Germany but became a US citizen in 1939, just as the war broke out. She starred in many Hollywood films, and toured the front lines entertaining the troops. She was a cabaret singer, an actor, a dancer and a chorus girl. She died in her sleep of natural causes, aged ninety-one, May 6 1992.


Eddie Rabbit (1941-1998)
One of the original country crossover artists, Eddie's songs can be heard on the Clint Eastwood movie “Every which way but loose”, for which he composed the title track, and the soap opera “Days of our lives”. He duetted with Crystal Gayle and Juice Newton, and had over twenty number one country hits, including one that crossed right over and hopped into the number one spot on the Billboard charts, “I love a rainy night”. Eddie died of lung cancer, May 7 1998.


John Walker (1943-2011)
Born John Joseph Maus, he found fame as part of the Walker Brothers, who had huge hits with “The sun ain't gonna shine anymore”, “No regrets” and “Make it easy on yourself”. John died of liver cancer May 7 last year.


Graham Bond (1937-1974)
One of the hugely influential figures in British blues music, Graham was responsible for launching the careers of two men who could go on to become Cream alumni, and massive stars in their own right, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, when he recruited both to become part of his band, the Graham Bond Organisation. Bond's death is a matter for speculation: he died after falling under a train, but was it suicide, an accident, or possibly murder? We will probably never know, but the event that brought to a tragic and untimely end the illustrious career of this talented keyboard player occurred May 8, 1974.


Neil Bogart (1943-1982)
Born Neil E. Bogatz, he was credited with the rise of bubblegum pop in the seventies. A record producer, he had albums dedicated to him from both Kiss and Donna Summer. He died of cancer May 8 1982.

Bob Marley (1945-1981)
Without question the most famous and loved reggae star, even those who aren't fans of his music know his songs, these having been covered by, most famously, Eric Clapton who scored a hit and classic with “I shot the sheriff.” But songs like “No woman no cry”, “Jamming'” and “Three little birds” are forever etched into the musical consciousness of humanity, and there are few people who would not know that Bob Marley and the Wailers were the biggest and most successful reggae artistes ever, bringing reggae music and the identity of their native Jamaica, along with the idea of rastafarianism, to a worldwide audience. Bob died of brain and lung cancer, May 11 1981.



Perry Como (1912-2001)
Born Pierino Ronaldo “Perry” Como, he was the first and most successful person to have a combined singing and television career, his TV show setting the standard for shows which would follow, where a popular singer would sing, chat with guests, and often engage in the odd whimsical sketch. In the end, he had so many gold records that he refused to allow further ones to be certified, even when they had reached or indeed exceeded the requisite sales numbers. He had huge hits with songs like “For the good times”, “Catch a falling star”, “Magic moments” and “And I love you so”. He received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002, a year after his death and five years after that was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame. Perry died in his sleep, May 12 2001.



Donald “Duck” Dunn (1941-2012)
A legend who only died this year, Donald found fame playing bass with Booker T. and the MGs, and played with everyone from Muddy Waters to Eric Clapton, Stevie Nicks to Rod Stewart, and even played with the legendary Blues Brothers, playing himself in the cult movie. His distinctive basslines featured in classics like Otis Redding's “Respect” and Albert King's “Born under a bad sign”. Donald died in his sleep, having completed a gig in Tokyo last week, May 13.


Frank Sinatra (1915-1998)
The Chairman. Old Blue Eyes. Leader of the Rat Pack. Who doesn't know Frankie? No matter who you are, where you live, or what age you are, you've heard and enjoyed his music, even if it was only at the end of a disco, when “New York, New York” was played and danced to drunkenly, with everyone getting the words wrong. A supremely talented singer, actor and promoter, Sinatra won eleven Grammys, including three very special awards: The Grammy Trustees, Life Achievement and Legend awards. He starred in over twenty movies, winning awards for some, and had recorded almost sixty albums at the time of his death. He was also linked (though never proven) to the Mafia and organised crime. His many, many hits include songs such as “Come fly with me”, “You make me feel so young”, “Strangers in the night”, the seminal and often-covered “My way”, as well as of course “New York, New York” and literally dozens more. Sinatra suffered from violent depression during his life, and died of a heart attack, May 14 1998 which was the end result of his suffering from kidney and heart disease, as well as bladder cancer and dementia.

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Old 05-24-2012, 05:19 AM   #1280 (permalink)
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Django Reinhardt (1910-1953)
Jean-Baptiste “Django” Reinhardt was one of the first guitarists to push the guitar front and centre, raising it from the level of a rhythm instrument to a solo one. Brought up in a gypsy caravan in Belgium, he was a true gypsy jazz guitarist. Having lost the use of two of his fingers in an accident when young, Django compensated in much the same way as one of the men who would later cite him as an influence, Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, did, by adapting his sound to make the loss of the fingers no impediment to his playing, and thus developing a unique style. Even the acknowledged greatest guitarist of the twentieth century, Jimi Hendrix, revered him and named his band in his honour. Django also played with renowned jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli in the Hot Club Quintet, which travelled France playing American jazz. Django died of a brain haemorrhage May 16 1953.


Sammy Davis Jr. (1925-1990)
Another member of the Rat Pack, Sammy was a dancer, singer, comedian and played many instruments, but due to his colour he could perform but not stay at the hotels where he played. After his superstardom outweighed the racial antagonism shown towards him and his people, he refused to play at places that practiced racial segregation, and was eventually instrumental in helping to bring an end to this practice. He has won many awards, mostly for his film career, which spanned over 35 movies. He died of throat cancer, May 16 1990.


Ronnie James Dio (1942-2010)
As we have already extensively covered the career of Ronald James Padavona this month in a “Rock and roll I gave you the best years of my life” special, we'll keep this short, and just state that the world of rock and roll and heavy metal lost a true gentleman and a massive talent when Ronnie died of cancer May 17 2010. (Check out my special http://www.musicbanter.com/members-j...ml#post1189511here)


Johnny “Guitar” Watson (1935-1996)
One of the most influential figures in blues music, Johnny almost single-handedly invented the idea of using feedback and reverb to enhance the sound of the guitar, and played with all the greats, including Albert King, Sam Cooke, Little Richard and George Duke. As blues became less popular and soul music began its ascension in the sixties, Johnny moved with the times and became almost as important a figure in soul as he had been in blues. He died onstage, May 17 1996 of a heart attack.


Bruce Fairbairn (1949-1999)
Record producer most famous for his work on Bon Jovi's breakthrough album “Slippery when wet”, he also worked with names like AC/DC, Kiss and Aerosmith. Canadian born, he was considered one of the best producers of his era. He died May 17 1999.

Donna Summer (1948-2012)
Another star lost to us only this year, Donna was born LaDonna Adrian Gaines, and became a huge force in the world of disco music, working with the likes of Georgio Moroder and Barbara Streisand, and having a string of disco hits, many of which have been covered by other artistes. She was the undisputed queen of disco, and became a gay icon, amassing a host of awards, including five Grammys. Donna was so universally liked, and will be so missed, that even US president Barack Obama paid tribute to her on the event of her passing. Donna died last week, May 17 2012, of lung cancer. She was not a smoker, and believed (though this is as yet unsupported) that she had contracted the disease by inhaling toxic particles after the Twin Towers attack in New York on September 11 2001.



Gustav Mahler (1860-1910)
Composer and conductor, Mahler was born in Austria but his music has reached beyond national boundaries and indeed those of time itself, his compositions still played and enjoyed today, over a hundred years after his death. Frequently linked with the film “Death in Venice”, many have come to believe this was based upon his life, but it was not: though the main character is a composer and Mahler's music is used in the film, the protagonist is fictional. Mahler died of bacterial endocartitis, May 18 1910.


Ian Curtis (1956-1980)
Vocalist and lyricist with Joy Division, he was one of the founders of that band, and despite an awkward and reserved manner gained popularity with them, particularly for his odd style of dancing. He committed suicide May 18 1980.


Camoflauge (1981-2003)
Born Jason Johnson, he was a rapper who found his first success with the band Crime Affiliates, and later his own solo album sold so well that he was offered a recording contract with Universal Music Group (UMG), but this offer was retracted when he was arrested for possession. Although he was acquitted, the label decided not to pursue their interest in him. He was shot to death May 19 2003.


Robin Gibb (1947-2012)
The most recent death in music, and a sad progression of the tragedy that has struck the famous Gibb family, Robin is the third of four brothers to leave us, his older brother Maurice having died in 2003, while his younger sibling, not in the Bee Gees but also a music performer, had passed in 1998. The Bee Gees made their name in the world of pop and disco music, their career stretching back as far as the early sixties, though their first number one did not come until 1967. After that, they had major success through the sixties though that petered out around the turn of the seventies. After they recorded the soundtrack to the movie “Saturday night fever”, however, they were again in vogue and enjoyed huge chart success through the seventies and into the eighties. One of the most recognisable voices of a generation, with his two brothers, Robin died on Sunday last, May 20 2012, reducing the surviving Bee Gees to a solitary brother.



Tommy Eyre (1949-2001)
Keyboard player who played with everyone from Gerry Rafferty to Gary Moore and BB King to, er, Wham! A session player highly in demand for his talents, he appeared on such hit singles as “With a little help from my friends” by Joe Cocker and “Baker Street”. He died of cancer, May 23 2001.


Elmore James (1918-1963)
Legendary blues guitarist who was an influence on a host of future legends, including Hendrix, Clapton, Zappa and the Fab Four. He pioneered the use of loud amplified slide guitar and played with fellow legends Sonny Boy Williamson and Robert Johnson. He died of his third heart attack, May 24 1963.


Duke Ellington (1899-1974)
One of the most important and revered figures in jazz, he played with some of the greats of the era in his band, including Cootie Williams and John Hodges. A piano player par excellence, he composed most of the material his jazz band performed, and is credited with bringing what was known as the “Spanish tinge” to big band jazz. He won a total of thirteen Grammy awards, four of which were posthumous, and was one of the only jazz musicians to feature on the cover of the magazine “Time”, sharing that honour with fellow legends Louis Armstrong, Wynton Marsalis, Thelonius Monk and Dave Brubeck. He died of cancer, May 24 1974.


Sonny Boy Williamson II (1899? 1912? 1908? - 1965)
The confusion above is due to the fact that Sonny Boy, born Aleck Miller, claimed to have been born in 1899, but census records purport to show the date as 1912, while on his tombstone the year 1908 is carved. What can't be disputed is that he was a giant among blues harmonica players, a huge figure who transformed music with his sense of timing and rhythm, and was a massive influence on generations to come. Although his publicist stole the name Sonny Boy from another blues musician, John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson, who was popular at the time in an attempt to cash in on the original's fame, Sonny Boy II would claim he was the first to use the name. At least the date of his birth is not in any dispute, and cancer took him, May 25 1965.


Desmond Dekker (1941-2006)
Before the rise of Bob Marley completely eclipsed him, Desmond Adolphus Dacres, who took the surname Dekker, was one of Jamaica's most important and well-known reggae musicians, scoring an international hit with “Israelites”, though his fame faded in the mid-eighties and he was declared bankrupt, enjoying something of a resurgence when the song was used in an advertisement and then working with the Specials in 1992. He died of cancer, May 25 2006.


The Yodelling Cowboy (1899-1933)
Born Jimmie Rodgers, he was the first true country music superstar, and one of the very first to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He played guitar, banjo and of course sung in that yodelling style that had been popular in Alpine countries like Austria and Switzerland for centuries. He died of a lung haemorrhage brought on by tuberculosis, May 26 1933.


Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840)
Acknowledged as one of the finest and most technically proficient violinists ever to grace this planet, to the extent that some believed he was in league with the Devil, Paganini explored techniques few if any others in his field would even consider, never mind attempt. He was also an inveterate gambler and ladies' man, but it was clear that if Satan was on his side, he was certainly not helping him financially, as an attempt to set up a casino in later life bankrupted him. Due however to these perceived associations with dark powers, it was some thirty-six years after his death from cancer of the larynx before the pope of the time would allow his body to be interred in consecrated ground.


Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011)
Seen as the “father of rap music”, Gilbert “Gil” Scott-Heron was one of the first popular spoken word performers, his material heavily influenced by social, topical and political issues of the time. Every generation of rappers and hip-hop musicians cites him as an influence, and owes a lot to his pioneering style. As a musician he played a mixture of jazz fusion, soul and blues with his compatriot, Brian Jackson. Although the cause of his death has never been recorded, he was HIV-positive and had been hospitalised before with pneumonia. He died May 27, almost a year ago today.


Jeff Buckley (1966-1997)
Guitarist, singer and composer, he became and remains a huge influence on many of today's rock stars, most citing him. His most famous --- and covered to death --- hit was itself a cover of Leonard Cohen's “Hallelujah”, but only became a hit after his death. He looked set to have a glittering career when his debut album “Grace” was lauded by critics, but it turned out to be his only studio album, as he drowned before completing his second on May 29 1997.


Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
One of the giants of classical music, he was especially known for his chamber music and his symphonies, though he may never have been set on the right track, as he was originally supposed to be a priest. Discovered in a Viennese choir at age eight, he learned violin and piano, and went on to become one of the most important figures of his era. He died May 31 1809 after a long illness.


Danny La Rue (1927-2009)
The most famous female impersonator ever, Danny was born Daniel Patrick Carroll and was highly honoured with many awards for his services to entertainment. He even had a hit single of a sort in 1968, and was a regular at variety performances at the likes of the London Palladium. He died of prostate cancer, May 31 2009.
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