Elvis stayed up all night on the day of August 16, 1977. This was not unusual behavior for the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, for earlier, Elvis had entertained some friends, played the piano and sang, and even played racquetball in the early morning hours that day. Elvis retired to his bedroom sanctuary at approximately 8:00 am that morning. His fiancée, Ginger Alden, was staying with him, but sleeping in a different room. She was the last person to see him alive.
In the hazy moments before his death it is obvious that Elvis was sitting on the toilet and reading a book. There are some witness contradictions as to whether Elvis was nude or wearing pajamas at the time of his death. Examination of the scene revealed that the bathroom had been cleaned prior to the medical examiner arriving. Bodily fluids were cleaned from the bathroom shag carpet and there were no prescription medicines at the scene of death. Elvis had probably been dead for many hours by the time his body was found, but it is not really known for sure.
At 2:33 pm, a Memphis Fire Department ambulance from Engine House 29 responded to the emergency call, resuscitation was attempted, and by 2:56 pm, Elvis was quickly taken to the emergency room of Baptist Memorial Hospital. Elvis Presley was officially pronounced dead by attending medical personnel at 3:30 pm. The very sad announcement was made to the public at 4:00 pm.
The autopsy commissioned immediately after his death involved draining all body fluids, removal of all vital organs, and sent to a pathology lab for testing to ascertain the cause of death. Subsequently, it was ruled that Elvis died as a result of coronary arrhythmia (an irregular beating of the heart resulting from myocardial infarction). The contents of Elvis’ digestive tract, essential for determining intoxication levels, were not saved, and to this day prevents a realistic and conclusive official cause of death.
I want an ocean and some sunscreen lotion. Take me to the beach with a thousand pretty girls in reach. Hardly any clothes, sand between my toes and white stuff on my nose. Sitting on my chair in the salty air. Lounging on the deck with a whistle ’round my neck.
The word jazz has proved to be very difficult to define, since it encompasses such a wide range of music spanning a period of over 100 years. Attempts have been made to define jazz from the perspective of other musical traditions, such as European music history or African music. This image is an attempt to define or visualize jazz from a visual arts perspective.
Stop Making Sense is a highly praised concert film that features the Talking Heads live on stage in 1983. The film was directed by Jonathan Demme and was shot over a period of 3 evening concerts in December 1983. The Talking Heads album that was being promoted during this concert tour was Speaking In Tongues. The movies is most known for its 100% use of digital audio recording techniques.
In this rarely seen video for the promotional video for Stop Making Sense, David Byrne pulls off the impossible and interviews himself as only he could manage. Please note that Mr. Byrne is wearing his signature “big suit” so constructed as to “make his head appear smaller.” David Byrne’s style and delivery is reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s clever but seemingly disinterested interview style from the 1960s. Just stop making sense…please.
Alton Ellis, the Godfather of Rocksteady music, was born in 1938 in Trenchtown, Kingston, Jamaica. Along with his younger sister Hortense, who was born in 1941, the two created singles and duets for Clement and Coxsone Dodd’s legendary Studio One in Kingston during the early days of ska and rocksteady.
The pair also recorded for Studio One’s chief competition at the time which was the Treasure Isle label owned by none other than Duke Reid. This switching between label by the Ellis siblings gave them the opportunity to record for some of the biggest names in Reggae music – people like Bunny Lee, King Jammy, Prince Buster, Eddy Perkins and Sugar Minott. And we are rewarded today with an outstanding collection of the best from the Ellis siblings.
Unfortunately, Alton passed away in 2008 and was preceded in death by Hortense (died 2000). However, some of their recordings have survived over the years. In fact, Hortense recorded so little that any song by her could be considered rare. This album contains the rarest of their singles, but oddly, only one duet appears on the album. Included in this gem of a collection are the best soul covers by Alton and Hortense. These are two of the best voices you will ever hear. Highly recommended for anybody who likes soul, reggae or the rocksteady beat.
Many women over the years have been called the “Queen of the Blues.” Bessie Smith (1894-1937), Dinah Washington (1924-1963), Memphis Minnie (1897-1973), Mary Ann Fisher (1923-2004) and Koko Taylor (1928-2009) were all know as the “Queen of the Blues” at various times. However, there is one name that belongs on this list and her absence from this list is conspicuous to say the least. This woman, born Willie Mae Thornton (1926-1984) and affectionately called “Big Mama” Thornton was an American rhythm and blues singer and songwriter.
Big Mama has the unique privilege of belting out a hit song called “Hound Dog” in 1952. This hit song from Big Mama Thornton charted at #1 on the Billboard R&B charts three years before Elvis Presley recorded his version of “Hound Dog” (which was actually based on a previous version performed by Freddie Bell and the Bellboys). And, the B-side of this record, “They Call Me Big Mama”, sold nearly 2 million copies in 1952. If that wasn’t enough, Big Mama penned a song called “Ball ‘n’ Chain” which she performed as another hit song for her. A few years later, Janis Joplin released her version of “Ball ‘n’ Chain” which became a big hit for her in the 1960s.
Big Mama Thornton, besides being an accomplished songwriter and performer, was also a self-taught drummer and virtuoso harmonica player. She often played these instruments on stage when at a performance. Weighing in at 350 pounds, Big Mama had a big voice to match and often dressed in mens clothing which was a reflection of her existence in the rough and violent men’s world of the 1950s. She lived hard and played even harder. Often living in poverty throughout her career, she dropped most of her weight by the 1970s and weighed a mere 95 pounds when she appeared at her last performance in 1984. If you want to hear some blues (the real thing) sung by a real big voice coming from a real big soul, then you owe it to yourself to check out Big Mama Thornton and her wonderful music. And, she certainly deserves to be called Queen of the Blues. Yes she does.
Mille, a/k/a Millie Small, born in Clarendon, Jamaica, is the 1960s ska, bluebeat, and rocksteady singer who is most famous for her 1964 smash hit “My Boy Lollipop.” Her fourth recording, “My Boy Lollipop,” was cut in London by a group of session musicians that included guitarist Ernest Ranglin (and, according to some accounts, Rod Stewart on harmonica) and featuring her childlike, extremely high-pitched vocals, was the first (and indeed, one of the few) international ska hits. It remains one of the biggest-selling reggae or ska discs of all time with more than seven million sales.
Sometimes called “Little Millie Small”, she began her career as a teenager in the early 1960s as a partner with Roy Panton (“Roy and Millie”). Millie is probably the original Rude Girl, and she recorded for Coxsone Dodd’s legendary and influential Studio One Record Label in Jamaica. “My Boy Lollipop” is a song written in the mid-1950s and is most usually credited to the doo-wop group The Cadillacs’s Robert Spence.