Who Was Ivan Vaughan?

Ivan Vaughan might¬†have changed your life ūüôā It’s unlikely that you know the name though. And he didn’t invent anything, he wasn’t a captain of industry or a pioneering scientist. In fact he was just a normal bloke and a schoolteacher for many of his adult years. He didn’t come from an extraordinary family and went to an ordinary school. Growing up, he had friends of course. One in particular friend was exactly...

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Gonna Be Alright – A Tribute to Abram Wilson

An appreciation of Abram Wilson, written by Andy Royston. All photos by Benjamin Amure courtesy of the Abram Wilson Foundation. Gonna Be Alright – A Tribute to Abram Wilson. ”¬†It‚Äôs about finding the inspiration and the energy to overcome any obstacles that might stand in your way as far as playing this music is concerned. You have to be a warrior to get through. It‚Äôs somebody who won‚Äôt stop pushing, who won‚Äôt give up on...

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When Fats Waller Met Al Capone

¬†When Fats Waller Met Al Capone. Fats should have seen it coming. But playing at the Sherman House Hotel, in the swinging heart of Chicago’s loop, he must have felt safe from the mob. As the song goes, the joint was jumpin’. Fats was only 21 years old in ’26 but he was already a big draw. He’d been making records for four years and was about to enter his first peak period. His¬†solo stride piano and pipe organ...

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Scandal: John Lennon and Alma Cogan

Yoko Ono did not break up the Lennon’s marriage. Cynthia Lennon, the first wife of John, died on April 1st, 2015. Four days later, a newspaper broke the story that she had told a reporter, back in 1989, that it wasn’t Yoko Ono that had split up the Lennon marriage. Cynthia had revealed, the newspaper said, that the breakup of the marriage was due to a once-famous but then-fading British singer called Alma Cogan (pictured)....

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The Loudness of Jack Bruce

“Cream‚Äôs last year was extremely painful for me.¬†When we started in 1966, Eric and Jack had one Marshall each. Then it became a stack, then a double stack and finally a triple stack. By 1968, I was just the poor bastard stuck in the middle of these incredible noise-making things. It was ridiculous.¬†I used to get back to the hotel and my ears were roaring.”¬†Ginger Baker, Drummer: Cream Jack Bruce had been playing upright...

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Bob Marley

Bob Marley Being from England, it always surprises me to discover that people have English ancestry. Did you know that Bob Marley’s father was English? Bob’s mother was only eighteen when she married Norval Marley – he was about sixty and the supervisor of a plantation in Jamaica. Bob was the result, although the couple split up when he was just a¬†baby and Norval died ten years later. Bob rarely spoke about him in...

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Bing Crosby

Who doesn‚Äôt remember that one voice in a lifetime Bing Crosby? If you are too young to remember, or think that you have never heard him sing, think again. If you have listened to any radio station around the holidays then you have probably heard his voice. The famous song ‚ÄúWhite Christmas‚ÄĚ is played over and over again during the Holiday season. Written by Irving Berlin “White Christmas” was the biggest hit of Bing...

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The Hitchcock Blondes

Who were the Hitchcock blondes? They were a trademark of Alfred Hitchcock’s many movies. I should say one of the trademarks because another was his habit of appearing in tiny cameo roles Horror and suspense were Hitchcock’s true specialities and this was enhanced – deliberately – by his use of what he referred to as ‘icy blondes’. See the quote below. In the middle of the suspense, their was...

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Carol Burnett: America’s Laughter Queen

Carol Burnett: America’s Laughter Queen The Laughter Queen In America’s Living Rooms America tuned in by the millions to the Carol Burnett Show on CBS television from 1967 to 1978. If you weren’t fortunate enough to own a TV, you managed to “accidentally” drop in on friends who did, on the night her show was televised. Laughter was rampant both at home and at the studio. The living rooms of America were...

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George Cole

Actor George Cole. George Cole started his acting career when he was fifteen and continued until 2015. At the time of his death in that year, he had just finished making a movie. His first break came along in 1940 when he was cast in a film that was released the following year. George had been given up for adoption at birth and the British actor Alastair Sim took him in along with his adopted mother. George first came to the attention...

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Who Was Toby Halicki?

Toby Halicki: Movie tragedy Toby was a film producer who had a cult following because of his car-crash movies.¬†He produced and appeared in the films he made, and also took part as a stunt driver. But in 1989, a stunt that he’d fought for went terribly wrong. He was filming a sequel, Gone in 60 Seconds II, a follow-up to a movie he had made in 1974. A highlight of the movie was a truck colliding with a water tower- see the video...

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Eddie Cochran

Eddie Cochran In 1959, Eddie Cochran found out about the tragic deaths of his young fellow musicians, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. They had been killed on tour when their plane crashed in bad weather. Eddie’s friends and family said that this led him towards thoughts of his own doom and that he too was destined to die young. Fourteen months later, when Eddie was on tour in England, he too was killed in an accident....

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Percy Sledge

Percy Sledge: When a Man Loves a Woman Did you know that Percy Sledge’s song, When a Man Loves a Woman, was based on his own experience? When he wrote the song, he had just been dumped by his girlfriend. He understood at the time that she had left him for another man. Someone had told him that was the reason why she had disappeared from his life and gone to New York. In an interview, he later said that the original title of the...

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Down With Kurt Cobain

Down With Kurt Cobain By Andy Royston Montage of Heck, a documentary film about the rock star Kurt Cobain, begins and ends with film of an adorable little boy, aged around eighteen months¬†old.¬†The film’s executive producer, Kurt’s daughter Frances Bean, was around the same age when her father was found dead at his Seattle home. He’d taken his own life. As a viewer one is left to contemplate the nature of...

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Je t’aime: Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg

Je t’aime: Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg. Je t’aime – banned. You’d have thought that by the nineteen sixties people were pretty much unshockable. Mind you, I suspect that the song Je t’aime shocked very few real¬†people, if anyone, but the stuffy BBC decided to ban it from their airwaves. I thought it was rather lovely. The title was repeated, whisperingly, to the sound of luscious organ music, by Jane...

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Houdini’s Straitjacket Escape. Invented in Yorkshire

Houdini’s straitjacket escape. Invented in Yorkshire It’s true. One of the great Harry Houdini’s most impressive escape acts was born Sheffield, Yorkshire. Houdini was born in Budapest – the family later moved to the United States – but he often performed in the British Isles. It was when he was performing in Yorkshire that one of his greatest stunts was created – the famous straitjacket escape. In...

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Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford: Loves and private life. Legendary Hollywood actress Joan Crawford was the subject of ¬†vitriolic expos√©¬†book written by her adopted daughter. Whether these revelations are true is a matter of conjecture but Christina claimed that her mother had adopted her and other children to enhance her fame, rather than because of maternal feelings. The book reveals stories of abuse and tells of Joan’s affairs – with both...

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Goodbye Chuck Berry

To mark the passing of rock-n-roll legend Chuck Berry, Andy Royston takes another listen to the man’s first big hit. It was a spring day in Chicago’s South Side, just off 47th St, then the home of the blues. Some guy up from St. Louis walked in the door on a mission to see Leonard Chess, owner of Chess Records to see if he could make a deal. His name? Chuck Berry. The night before Berry had been watching Muddy Waters at...

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Who Was Oleg Cassini?

Who was Oleg Cassini? Oleg Cassini and Grace Kelly If anyone today is familiar with the name of Oleg Cassini, that’s probably because he was the couturier of Jackie Kennedy; he designed those strange clothes she was so fond of that look so odd to us today. But what’s much more interesting – and slightly scandalous – is the affair he had with actress Grace Kelly before she became Princess Grace of Monaco. In...

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Pregnant Women on Television in the 1960s

Why Lucy was ‘enceinte’ in the nineteen fifties. One of the most popular TV shows in the nineteen fifties – if not the most popular – was I Love Lucy starring married couple, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. At the time, they were the most powerful people in the world of television. In 1952 the couple discovered that they were expecting a baby. This was great news for them. They already had a small daughter, born...

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The Day Michael Caine Discovered a Family Secret

The day Michael Caine discovered a family secret. When actor Michael Caine and his younger brother, Stanley, were growing up in London, on every single Monday their mother used to go to visit their Aunt Lil. The two boys never thought anything about it Рit was simply part of the family routine. But many years later, in 1991, the actor found out the truth.She had been going somewhere very different indeed. Michael Caine was in...

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George Burns

The Day I Met George Burns How Did I Manage to Meet George Burns? Read on….. In the 1980s I met Entertainer and Legend George Burns at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. He was signing his book, “Gracie: A Love Story,” and as the Assistant to the Entertainment Director of the Las Vegas SUN, I went to greet him and have a chat. My department did all the SUN newspaper advertising for Caesars, and we wanted to give the red...

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John Lennon: The Beatles are bigger than Jesus

John Lennon: The Beatles are bigger than Jesus. In 1966, John Lennon was interviewed by Maureen Cleave, a friend of his, for an article entitled How Does a Beatles Live? John Lennon lives like this. In the lengthy article she spoke about his reading matter, Indian music, his Siamese cats, where he bought his clothes, films , games, his family and other trivia. The article, which was published in the Evening Standard on March 4th that...

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Hollywood’s Finest Redheads

An appreciation of big screen redheads by Andy Royston “I would always hesitate to recommend as a life’s companion a young lady with quite such a vivid shade of red hair. Red hair, sir, in my opinion, is dangerous.” P.G. Wodehouse – Very Good Jeeves ‚ÄúOnce in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead.‚Ä̬† ‚Äē¬†Lucille Ball In 2014 something extraordinary happened. A rubescence of...

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Von Trapp Family Singers: The Truth

¬†What is the truth about the von Trapp Family? There can’t be many people who are unfamiliar with the story of the von Trapp Family Singers. They were immortalised in the film, The Sound of Music. How true is the story that we know so well? I have another question too – one that I’ve never heard anyone ask. We know from the film that Captain (or Baron) von Trapp was a widower who had several children. In the film, a...

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Lou Reed: A True Transformer

Written on¬†October 27, 2013 I learned, just now, that Lou died today. I never met him or even saw him perform. But in so many small ways he made my life bigger and brighter and sharper and more inspirational. I was just eleven years old and living in a small Yorkshire village miles from Lou’s great New York City. He opened my eyes to a new world. It took just one song –¬†¬†Walk On The Wild Side¬†– to opened my ears to...

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Was Carmen Nigro King Kong?

Carmen Nigro: The man who thought he was King Kong In the early 1980s, Mrs Evelyn Nigro was thoroughly fed up of having a gorilla costume in her Chicago basement apartment. The thing was over fifty years old. It had mildew and it was getting smelly. She told her husband, Carmen Рa seventy seven year old security guard, that it had to go. It was either the costume or her. It was playing havoc with her allergies. Reluctantly,...

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Who Was Barbara Payton?

Who was Barbara Payton? There are some strange and often sad stories that have come out of what was called the Golden Era of Hollywood. Barbara Payton’s is one of them. Blonde and attractive Barbara, seen here with Gregory Peck, was sure of her own stardom. She bought into the Hollywood press releases about herself. She thought she was a huge star. Yet today, hardly no-one remembers the name and she died alone aged only thirty...

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Concert for George

The George Harrison Memorial Concert. On the first anniversary of George Harrison’s death, his family and friends took part in a huge concert to celebrate his life and his music. Hundreds of people attended the event which was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Millions more have seen it since. You can see the full, two hour plus video below. The concert had been organised largely by Eric Clapton who acted as musical...

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Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti

42 Years Ago – Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti At 4pm every weekday evening the parade across the fields began. The schoolkids from the village south of town would walk the two miles down into the hill, past the burned out coal mine¬†and up the other side. In age they ranged from 11 to 18; all in school uniforms of black,gray and navy blue, with a hint of the fashions of the day. In February 1975 Maggie Thatcher had been...

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Who Was Kenneth Williams?

Who was Kenneth Williams? Kenneth Williams was a much-loved British actor and comedian. But somehow, he was so much more than that. It wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say that he was an institution. He was certainly an original, that’s for sure. Starting his career in the theatre, he first found fame on the radio in the nineteen fifties. And one absolutely hilarious character he portrayed in the early sixties...

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Britain’s Got Opera!

Britain and opera. In 1990. I still lived in the UK and a friend from America was visiting. I remember him being amazed because the most popular song at the time – it was in the charts, played on the radio and was a favourite on pub jukeboxes – was Nessun Dorma performed by Luciano Pavarotti. ‘Only in England’ he would say ‘could the most popular song be an aria from a Puccini opera’. But was this a...

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Vintage Television: Bill Cullen

Vintage television: Who was Bill Cullen? Bill Cullen was a well-known and very popular television personality during the sixties and seventies in the USA. He was a game show host and was often featured as a panellist on other shows, once of which was his appearances as part of the panel on I’ve Got A Secret. But Bill Cullen had a secret of his own When he was just a small child, he contracted polio. This meant that he had...

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Louis le Prince: The Man Who Invented the Movies

 Who invented motion pictures? Some people would say it was Thomas Edison who invented the movies. Others might mention the Lumière brothers. But in fact,  movies Рmotion pictures Рwere invented by the man you see on the left. Two of his films, taken in 1888, survive. But Louis le Prince is rarely credited with the invention and more than that, his story ends with his mysterious disappearance. Was this foul play because...

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Florida Songs: Margaritaville

And before you ask,¬†it IS a song. Sure, now you can mosey¬†into your big-resort Margaritaville restaurant and order your “Who’s to Blame” cocktail¬†with your Cheeseburger In Paradise, and wash it down with Landshark Lager before heading into the casino for your¬†Mississippi Stud or Texas Hold’em. Faux air-conditioned¬†beaches, fake palm trees, old-time photos on the wall and Hawaiian shirts on backs of the...

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Who Was Erik Rhodes?

Erik Rhodes is one of those actors from the dim and distant past whose name no one remembers. But the instant he appears on screen you know. He was a Broadway bit-parter born in Oklahoma who hit upon a role that propelled him to stardom. He played a thick-skinned suave continental gigolos so well that he would almost steal the show from Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers with the finest barrage of one-liners in movie history. Twice. Who...

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Valentine’s Day: A Girl’s Top 5 Movie Wishlist

Valentine’s Day; A Girl’s Top 5 Movie Wishlist ¬†With Valentine’s Day just around the corner what is on your wishlist? Most girls are looking for romance on Valentine’s Day so this year I have compiled a list of a girl’s favorite movie wishlist. that ooze romance. These movie selections will fit the category of the best romantic chick flicks. If you have a favorite romantic movie and don’t see it on...

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The Cramps – Poison Ivy’s Rockin’ Sound

The first I heard of The Cramps was on late night radio. The DJ on some fading pirate station was playing a massive reverb filled swamp punk number called Under The Wire, a paean to dirty phone calls. It was simultaneously subversive and hilarious. The sound was deeply familiar but disturbing and wild as if from another era. A forbidden planet. A monster from outer space. It had as much to do with old surfer music like Duane Eddy and...

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The Beatles’ Rooftop Concert

The Beatles: Rooftop concert in 1969 By January 1969, it was obvious that the Beatles were on the verge of breaking up. They were recording in the studio at the Apple headquarters and wondered where to have a live Рand final Рconcert. Various venues were  suggested including the Sahara Desert and the Cavern Club in Liverpool where their careers had started. But eventually they decided to simply move upstairs Рto...

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Cilla Black

Liverpool’s Cilla Black. When the Mersey sound of the Beatles started to dominate the hit parade in the early nineteen sixties, there was only one girl singer who was part of this phenomenon. Young Priscilla White started working as a cloakroom attendant at the now famous Cavern Club in Liverpool; the venue where the Beatles played their early gigs. And it was the Beatles who discovered that the red-haired Cilla ¬†should have...

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Who Was Colonel Tom Parker?

To start with, he wasn’t a colonel. And actually he really wasn’t called¬†Tom Parker. He wasn’t a musician but his name has gone down in musical history. He was also an illegal immigrant, an army deserter and quite possibly a murderer. Some people who knew him say that you couldn’t wish to meet a nicer guy and that his generosity was legendary. Others say he was tough, ruthless and only interested in making...

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Little Known Details About the Beautiful Audrey Hepburn

Little Known Details About the Beautiful Audrey Hepburn. When we hear the name Audrey Hepburn, we each probably visualize her in our mind in one movie or another. She has overcome all generation barriers as an example of style and class. In fact, she may be the first we think of when it comes to style. What was your favorite movie that starred Ms. Hepburn? Roman Holiday? Sabrina? Breakfast at Tiffanys? She was featured in some...

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A Song for Sunrise – The Eagles

A Song for Sunrise – The Eagles. It’s the¬†weekend. The all-night partygoers are on the beach watching the night out and the day begin. The evidence of the party chill is right there in the form of¬†a phalanx of empty Corona bottles. The sun is beginning to burn a hole in the blue.¬†Conversation fades and it’s just time to let those sloe colors do their magic. And if the luck is still on your side it’ll be a dash...

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Allen Toussaint: Six of the Best

Six of the Best: Allen Toussaint. Andy Royston picks a half dozen favorite¬†songs by the late New Orleans composer, pianist and producer Allen Toussaint. Toussaint is New Orleans music’s renaissance man, the golden boy in the golden age of rhythm and blues.¬†Keith Spera¬†Groove Interrupted: Loss, Renewal, and the Music of New Orleans “I have never doubted that Allen was a prince in a thin disguise” Elvis Costello...

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Agatha Christie’s Mysterious Disappearance

¬†Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance. In 1926 Agatha Christie seemed to have ¬†perfect life. She was married to ¬†handsome ex-wartime airman and had a lovely young daughter. The war that had kept her and her husband part was now in the past and they lived in a very pleasant home. What’s more, her dream was coming true – she was being paid to write her mystery novels. And yet on the evening of ¬†3rd.December,...

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In Praise of Elvis Presley

In Praise of Elvis! Elvis Presley was born in 1935. He first saw light of day on January 8th in Tupelo, Mississippi. Jan07 In Memory of Elvis Presley In Memory of Elvis Presley Elvis Aaron Presley was born January 8, 1935 ‚Äď August 16, 1977 His music is loved by all. He sang Rock and Roll, Country and Gospel. Elvis is regarded as one of the most popular figures of the 20th Century. His good looks, humor, impressive voice and...

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David Bowie: Early Years

David Bowie: Early years David Bowie came from a post-war London background. Born in 1947, his father was from Yorkshire and his mother from Kent. Both parents had children from previous relationships. From his earliest days, David Рhis surname was originally Jones Рwas interested in music. This was probably because of his father. Haywood Jones had been born in Doncaster in 1912. An orphan, he was brought up by the local...

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Slim Gaillard

It was at a free concert on London’s South Bank; one of the many events put on by the soon-to-be-abolished Greater London Council. The open air event was held in Jubilee Gardens, where the London Eye is situated today. I’d shown up with friends to cheer on the likes of Billy Bragg and Eddy Grant, but it was an¬†amazing old feller in a beret and a wild beard grooving away on piano that caught the imagination. I don’t...

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Leitzel: Queen of the Air

Leitzel: Love and tragedy in the circus. In the early twentieth century, the name of¬†Leitzel was famous. And yet few people today know her story. Born in Germany in 1892, she became the darling of the circus. Yet her rags-to-riches story is fascinating, as was the story of the love of her life … and her tragic end. She was born into a performing world¬†and soon became a talented acrobat. She was the product of a female acrobat...

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If I Had a Hammer

Fighting Social Injustice In the early 1960s rock was still king of the radio airwaves, but people began to take notice of another genre. It was a harmonious,  melodious sound, friendly for easy sing-alongs. The new sound was known as either American folk, folk-rock or just folk. The songs were written as poetry, and in truth, many were exactly that. Because of this, the words had to have feeling and meaning, not just nonsense words...

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Helene Stanley

Who was Helene Stanley? There are many people who left ¬†an important legacy to the world of Hollywood movies but I imagine that if most of us were asked to list them, the name of Helene Stanley wouldn’t feature. But she left a lasting legacy to the Golden Era of Hollywood and it will probably surprise you. She certainly made a handful of movies but her lasting legacy was to make two films that have never been seen by the public...

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Jimmy Buffett – The Road to Key West

After a year in Nashville, it was becoming clear things were not working out. Jimmy Buffett had moved to Nashville in late ’69 with a new wife and a promise of a music deal, but after a year it was falling apart. Out of work, his marriage already failing, his touring band breaking up within weeks… Things weren’t good. People were talking him up well enough. A local writer said “Jimmy’s music isn’t...

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Who Was Butterfly McQueen?

Who was Butterfly McQueen? I love old movies yet I have to admit ¬†that there’s one – a very famous one indeed – that I haven’t seen. I don’t know why. But I do know about one of the actors in the film. That’s Butterfly McQueen. She is one of the most memorable of the cast (even to people like me who have only seen clips but never the full film) and yet, she hated the part. She took the role because...

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The Day the Music Died

Buddy Holly memorabilia. In the spring of 2006, Buddy Holly’s widow decided that she was going to put several items of Holly memorabilia into auction. Buddy Holly was twenty two years old when he died in an air crash. Also killed in the accident were Ritchie Valens (aged seventeen), The Big Bopper Richardson (aged twenty eight) and pilot Roger Peterson (aged twenty one). Maria Elena had married Buddy Holly just six months before...

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Eva, Zsa Zsa and Magda Gabor

Three sisters, twenty marriages, nineteen husbands and one child. The Gabor sisters were all born during the First World War. They were born in Hungary, all three ended up in the States and between them they married twenty times. There were fifteen divorces, a couple of annulments yet¬†only one child resulted from these many unions.   Zsa Zsa Zsa Zsa Gabor was probably the most famous of the three sisters — and she was the...

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Fearless – Taylor Swift

Long before the fame and the glory and the VMA glamour turned her into the big superstar we know there was this honest-to-goodness teen talent. One look at this fair young swan and you know she was about to take off and really fly to the stars… On that video, though she was maybe 18, sitting with her buddies in a tour bus and doing a live spot for an Oregon country radio station.The kind of radio station you pick up on that long...

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Things You Didn’t Know About Frank Sinatra

Things You Didn’t Know About Frank Sinatra. Embed from Getty Images In The Beginning There Was Francis… Francis Albert Sinatra, born on December 12, 1915, in an upstairs tenement in Hoboken, New Jersey, would grow up to be a force to be reckoned with in America’s music industry. No one knew that yet and his birth certainly didn’t signify that kind of success. He weighed 13.5 pounds at birth and was delivered...

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Otis Redding

In the summer of 1967, it seemed that singer-songwriter Otis Redding had everything going for him. His career was really taking off and he’d bought a ranch where he lived with his wife and three children. In the autumn of that year he even purchased his own plane. He hoped that the new airplane would mean that he and his band would be able to travel more easily between gigs. On December 9th, they played for a television show in...

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Who Was Margaret Hamilton?

The lady you see in the photograph¬†is Margaret Hamilton. Do you recognise her? The chances are that you’ve seen her on the screen, especially in her most famous role. She played that part in an old movie – you can tell from the photograph that she’s not an actress of today but she was still appearing on the screen in 1982. Although her most famous part was in a movie dating from 1939, I imagine that a good percentage...

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Lennon & McCartney: The final conversation

Lennon & McCartney: The final conversation. In the final years of John Lennon’s life, the media had two major preoccupations when it came to the one-time Beatles. The first was that all four of the previous members of the group were constantly being asked if a Beatles reunion was on the cards. The answer was always in the negative. The second was the supposed animosity between John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Journalists and...

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Was Dorothy Kilgallen murdered?

Was Dorothy Kilgallen murdered? She died in 1965 so it’s likely that you don’t remember her. But in the middle of the twentieth century, Dorothy Kilgallen was a true media star. She was a journalist with many more strings to her bow. And it may be that her journalistic investigations were the cause of her untimely death. What’s My Line? Despite being a well-known journalist, gossip columnist, crime reporter, actress...

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Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Film Review

We were so lucky to be invited by Lord Hughes to the House of Commons to watch a pre- screening of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom because my husband was a ANC freedom fighter when he was a young man. It was a sombre event because Nelson Mandela had died only a couple of days before, but it was a fitting tribute to this great man. We watched Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom in the Grand Committee Room, which was the very room where Nelson...

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Ace of Bass: Jaco Pastorius

Andy Royston looks at home town connections to the world’s finest bass player, Jaco Pastorius. Jaco Pastorius is one of the great music teachers of all times, aside from just being an awesome musician, and a great catalyst. He’s kicked us all into gear. He’s directly responsible for any growth that’s perceptible in me. Joni Mitchell – In Her Own Words “Music is in the air; it’s my job to pull...

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Who Was Buster Edwards?

Who was Buster Edwards? If you’re English and ‘of a certain age’ you’ll recognise the name. If you don’t then it might intrigue you know that he was ¬†petty criminal who became something of a folk hero in Britain in the 1960s. For Buster was one of the men who took part in what was known as The Great Train Robbery in 1963. Although the robbers got away with a huge amount of money the general attitude of...

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Bjork’s Vulnicura: An Emotional Release

I was one of the first to turn on to Bjork’s extraordinary solo talent. And I mean this literally – I was listening to her first album ‘Debut’ several months before its official release. Working on the fringes of the British music scene it was not unusual to find oneself holding pre-press or advanced copies of albums before public release. I’d written a good few music reviews for listings magazines and...

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Who was Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne?

Suzanne:¬†The girl in the song. Arguably, Leonard Cohen’s most famous song is Suzanne. But who was Suzanne and what inspired the song? Like Cohen, Suzanne Verdal was Canadian. Despite what many people believe,she was not a girlfriend ¬†of his but they had a platonic friendship. And surprisingly, the lyrics of the song – which Cohen wrote¬†originally as a poem – are quite literal. Suzanne really did live in a...

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Paul McCartney: Real or Fake?

Paul McCartney died on November 9th, 1966 Or so certain people would have us believe. And recently, it’s said, Ringo Starr confirmed this. Nonsense? I think so. But according to conspiracy theorists, the bloke you see here¬†isn’t Paul McCartney at all. It’s an imposter who has been playing the part for almost fifty years. Yes, that’s a long time to live someone else’s life, isn’t it? What’s the...

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Kitchen Nightmares UK: The Ship & Anchor

The Best of Kitchen Nightmares UK: ‘Shrek in a Frock’. If you’ve watched USA episodes of Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsay, you’re missing out if you haven’t seen the UK versions. They are so much better – and funnier. And it’s hard to choose a favourite but after much deliberation, I’ve decided on the episode featuring¬†Mike and Caron Ciminera of the Ship and Anchor pub in Wales is...

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Joni and Jaco

Andy Royston takes a look how an unexpected musical collaboration Рbetween folk singer Joni Mitchell and electric jazz genius Jaco Pastorius Рcreated their finest music. He was an innovator. He was changing the bottom end of the time, and he knew it.  Joni Mitchell РMusician Magazine  It’s all in the hands; in order to get that sound, you have to know exactly where to touch the strings, exactly how much pressure...

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Just Kids – Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe

I first heard Patti Smith as a teenager. The song – if you can call it a song, was Piss Factory, an extraordinary conversational poem set to haunting improvised free-jazz piano by Richard Sohl. It turned out to be from Patti Smith’s first recording session, and tells a story¬†partly related to her time working in a low paid job back in New Jersey, at a factory that made baby buggies. It was a soul destroying environment,...

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Why is Maureen O’Hara Buried in Arlington?

Rest In Peace, Maureen O’Hara, 1920-2015 Maureen O’Hara, beautiful talented actress, passed away on October 24th, 2015. The news stated that her burial is to be in Arlington National Cemetery. Many people, including this author, wondered why she would be buried there, since she was not a veteran. First, let’s learn a bit about this lady and her acting career. ‘Tis Herself: An Autobiography About Maureen Maureen...

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Diana Dors

Who was Diana Dors? Diana Dors was an English actress and sexy movie star who was popular in the nineteen fifties and sixties. She was often compared to Marilyn Monroe. She was gorgeous, and rather a naughty girl but she typified the ‘tart with heart of gold’. She became a much loved British institution. When she was younger, and she became a well-known movie and television star when still in her teens¬†– most...

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Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine

Sisters Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine. In the golden era of Hollywood, few theatregoers realised that these two top actresses were sisters. Olivia was the eldest of the two. They were both born in Japan, to British parents. Their father was a patent attorney who had moved to Japan to further his career. He taught there and also ran his own law firm. The mother of the two girls was an actress who had given up her stage career...

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Why was October 21st, 2015 known as Back to the Future Day?

Why was October 21st, 2015 known as Back to the Future Day? Because in 1989, a sequel was made to the blockbuster movie¬†Back to the Future, somewhat predictably named Back to the Future II. In the first film. Marty McFly had travelled back in time to 1955 – in the sequel he went forward in time to – you guessed – October 21st, 2015. In 1989, I imagine that 2015 seemed to be in the distant future — yet here we...

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Who Was the Girl from Ipanema?

Antonio Carlos Jobim & Vinicius de Moraes: The Girl from Ipanema. One of the finest songs of the twentieth century is now classed as ‘muzak’ – something light to be listened to in elevators or when you’re on hold. Sadly. But who was the girl from Ipanema? Did she really exist? She certainly did – her name is Heloisa Pinto (pictured on the right). In the early nineteen sixties, when she was fifteen she...

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Gorgeous Rita Hayworth

When I was a kid, one of the most popular movie actresses was the glamorous Rita Hayworth. She was the epitome of the beautiful stars coming out of Hollywood¬† plus she had red hair. The first time I ever saw her was in a black and white movie, so I had no idea she was red-headed. But when I later saw a¬† movie called “Down to Earth” there she was with her gorgeous red-gold locks. I didn’t know they weren’t...

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Savory Jazz Treasure Trove Revealed

This week sees the long-awaited release of mythical and legendary Savory jazz recordings that had been rotting away in an Illinois basement for the better part of 50 years. Andy Royston tells the story… The story of the Savory Recordings begins and ends with the same man, Loren Schoenberg, now the director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Back in the 1980s Schoenberg played tenor sax, and in his 20s had¬†already¬†played...

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Taking The Rap – When Broward got Nasty

”It is an appeal to dirty thoughts and the loins, not to the intellect and the mind.”¬†Jose Gonzalez,¬†Federal District Court – Southern District of Florida On Monday, February 26th 1990 a Broward County Deputy Sheriff walked into his local record store, Sound Warehouse on Oakland Park Boulevard, and bought a cassette tape by 2 Live Crew. The recording,¬†As Nasty As They Wanna Be had been released in 1989 alongside a...

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Wilco – An appreciation

Andy Royston explains his musical travel companions… There’s some part of my brain geared toward making songs up, and I know it’s collecting things and I know when I get a moment to be by myself, that’s when they come out. Jeff Tweedy – Wilco Picking out a favourite band or musician out of the many thousands I’ve seen, or listened to seems impossible. But when traveling – the one time I can...

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Lyrics: Don McLean’s American Pie

Lyrics: Don McLean’s American Pie. What is Don McLean’s song American Pie about? I think that most of us would say that it’s about the death of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper in 1959. The song coined the phrase ‘the day the music died’ which, since the song was released, has come to describe that February day. Other than to confirm that certain parts of the song refer to Holly, Don McLean...

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What Happened to the Von Trapp Family Children?

The von Trapp family from ‘The Sound of Music‘. Like many people, I was just a kid when I first saw this classic movie. It’s true that it’s a sickly-sweet film – the oldies loved it – but nevertheless it had its own charm for kids. It was the idea of Mary Poppins coming to rescue a gaggle of kids from their overbearing father that did it. Now of course, we know that the story was only very loosely...

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Ben E King: Another Great is Gone!

Ben E King: Another Great is Gone! The music industry has lost another one of it’s great artists. If you were ever in the market for a song about friendship and love, then you know you would have to include Ben.E. King’s Stand by Me, in your repertoire! Ben E.King was born Benjamin Earl Nelson, on Sept 28, 1938. When he was a young lad his family moved from North Carolina to Harlem in New York. At the tender age of 20 Ben Nelson and...

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Ed Sullivan

If you were growing up in the 1950s and 60s then I‚Äôm sure you remember Ed Sullivan. Ed was a victim to many critics in the beginning of his television appearances, such as he has no talent, he is awkward, and my favorite ‚ÄúHis smile is that of a man sucking on a lemon‚ÄĚ. Despite the critics The Ed Sullivan variety show was the longest running variety show in television history. Starting in 1948 the show was broadcast as The Toast of the...

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Bessie Smith ~ Empress of the Blues

Bessie Smith ~ Empress of the Blues. Bessie Smith would have been the first one to laugh at the title “Empress of the Blues.” Not because she thought she didn’t deserve it, but because her childhood and upbringing had accustomed her not to expect much. Smith was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee on a date that is still not clear. Census records say she was born on April 15, 1894, but others say she was born in July of...

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One Hit Wonders of the 60s and 70s

In the 1960s-70s, Some Performers Flashed Across The¬† World of Rock Like A Comet, Only to Quickly Burned Out September 25th is “One Hit Wonders Day,” spotlighting those musical artists who had only one hit to their credit. There were quite a few from the great era of rock and roll, the 1960s and 1970s. Whenever you hear the song that made them famous, you remember it even though you can’t recall their names.¬† A few...

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The Real Peggy Sue

Who was the real Peggy Sue? Which is Buddy Holly’s most famous song? I’m not sure but Peggy Sue must be up there. But who was the real Peggy Sue? Peggy Sue Gerron was the girlfriend of Buddy Holly’s drummer, Jerry Allison. As she recalls,the inspiration for the song arrived in the middle of the night and Buddy called his manager, Norman Petty, ¬†saying ‘I’ve just written a song and named it after...

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Who Was Peg Entwistle?

Who was Peg Entwistle? Peg Entwistle was British girl. To be accurate she was born in 1908 in Wales ¬†to English parents. She was the eldest child¬†of Robert Entwistle, an actor. It’s unclear whether her mother died or whether her parents were divorced but her father married again and Peg acquired two half-brothers. By 1913, the family had moved to the United States but their home was soon disrupted when Robert Entwistle was the...

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Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

My colleague, Andy Royston, recently wrote an article about the music of Carole King and Gerry Goffin. He referred to the standard of music in 1960 until the time when the King-Goffin combo came up with Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. In fact, he referred to 1960 music as being ‘drivel’ and cited as an example,¬†Itsy Bitsy Yellow Polka Dot Bikini. Now on the basis of quality music, I will admit that Bikini isn’t...

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Who Remembers Columbo?

Who Remembers Columbo? It was 1989 when I packed up my family and moved to Western New York to start a new and exciting job. My new job was only 2¬Ĺ hours from where we lived, but it seemed like the other side of the world. We had to make a lot of adjustments, leaving our family and friends, getting the kids settled into a new school, finding our way around a new town. 1989 was also the year that ABC picked up the series, Columbo that...

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Bitter Tears by Johnny Cash

Bitter Tears by Johnny Cash. In the 1970s, Johnny Cash’s interest and compassion for the stories of the American Indian (as they were called in that era) grew, as the public became more aware of an activist group known as AIM ( American Indian Movement). Johnny recorded an album called “Bitter Tears Ballads of the American Indian,” for and about Native Americans. It was not one of his biggest sellers, but a few...

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The Boy in the Song: How Do You Sleep?

How Do You Sleep? By John Lennon. When John Lennon was recording the Imagine album in 1971, not all the musicians were aware that the song How Do You Sleep? was full of barbs directed at Lennon’s former band mate, Paul McCartney. But when Ringo Starr visited the recording studio during the session,it was obvious to him as soon as he walked in. He reportedly said “That’s enough, John.” Klaus Voorman, an old...

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Avicii’s Amazing Achievement

Avicii’s Amazing Achievement. Avicii’s work is a perfect example of quality modern dance music. This article explains why I like Avicii so much. I write my own songs and I make electronic music and Avicii is definitely one of my idols. He was born in 1989 in Stockholm, Sweden and his name is Tim Bergling. He is an electronic musician, DJ, and a record producer. Avicii is his stage name. The genre of his music is electronic dance music...

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Classic Movies: A Matter of Life and Death

A.K.A Stairway to Heaven starring David Niven. Made in 1946, this fabulous film takes place in England during the Second World War. It has become a true classic, mainly because it is very different to most other films made at that time and also those made about the war. It stars the wonderful David Niven and when the film begins we see that he is an air force pilot in a burning plane – somewhere over England. All his crew have...

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Rico Rodriguez – Ska Trombone Legend

Andy Royston pays a heartfelt tribute to Rico, the ‘bone man from Wareika, who died in London on September 4th after a short illness. Rico Rodriguez – Ska Trombone Legend From crucial horn breaks on the earliest ska and rocksteady songs (recorded by Coxone Dodd and Duke Reid), though session work for Chris Blackwell and Island Records (touring with Bob Marley and the Wailers) to providing the brass backline for one of the...

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The Disappearance of Jean Spangler

Who was¬†Jean Spangler? Millions of girls each year travel to Hollywood in hopes of becoming famous. This was especially so in the late nineteen forties and fifties, as the lure of fame and money drew women from all over the nation to the home of the movie industry.   Many tried, but few were chosen to become big-time movie stars. Starlets were the girls who played extras and bit parts in films where the focus was on the actual...

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Nancy Kulp

¬†Who was Nancy Kulp? Nancy Kulp starred in a television show that is still being shown worldwide. Do you recognise her? Does the face look familiar? There were two hundred and seventy four episodes of the television show made and their aired in the nineteen sixties and seventies. She won¬†an Emmy for the part she played and in 1999, her characters was deemed to be number thirty nine in the top fifty ‘greatest characters on TV of...

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Brian Epstein

The day Brian Epstein discovered the Beatles. The date was November 9th, 1961 Рthe location was Liverpool. Brian Epstein, then aged twenty seven, was working for the family business; a furniture and music store called North End Music Stores. Brian, who had been privately educated, was in charge of the music department of the store. He knew nothing whatsoever about pop or beat music Рhe was a classical music lover....

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The Boy in the Song: Hey Jude

Hey Jude, by Paul McCartney. Hey Jude was the first record that the Beatles released on their own label, Apple. It was released in 1968 and its original title  was Hey Jules Рit was written for Julian Lennon who was five years old when his parents were divorced. John Lennon had married Cynthia Powell in 1962 and Julian was born the following April, just when Beatlemania was just starting to take off. John was on tour when...

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Rudolph Valentino

The Death of a Heartthrob. Rudolph Valentino was only thirty one when he died in 1926 and the world – well, the female theatre-going world – was distraught. He was one ofthe most popular silent movies stars of the day notably for the film The Sheik. This film told of a young woman- a British aristocrat – who was kidnapped in North Africa by the supposedly brutal, but undeniably sexy and smouldering,Valentino in the...

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Mike Candys Magic Formula

Mike Candys Magic Formula. Mike Candys, or Michael Kull, was born in 1981 in Switzerland. The reason I‚Äôve chosen to write about him is because he is very, very good at what he does. He is in the DJ Magazine‚Äôs Top 100 DJs in Europe. Mike Candys has been actively making music since 1998 when he was just 17 years old, and he became popular in Europe in 2008 thanks to his track ‚ÄėLa Serenissima‚Äô. He became a very successful record producer...

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Song for Sunrise: Ed Harcourt

‘Watching The Sun Come Up’ A daily routine of mine is a beach walk in the early hours. I usually make it to the shore before sunrise and I witness the day begin over the great Atlantic Ocean from a South Florida shore. My twilight journey to the shore is a song long – in that there’s usually time for a piece of music¬†to play through before I walk out onto the sands to forget myself. There are lots of songs that...

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Frenchman Street Blues

I’m always a sucker for Brits who came to America on vacation and never got around to leaving. Jon Cleary turned up in New Orleans in his teens and ended up working doing odd jobs and bar work in one of New Orleans liveliest live venues. The star attraction at the The Maple Leaf back then was one of the great barrelhouse blues pianomen, James Booker, and Cleary got to watch Booker doing his own thing before the customers packed...

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Florida’s Finest: Cannonball Adderley

How The Cannonball Got His Name. The first in a series of profiles of Florida’s greatest artists, Andy Royston begins with Fort Lauderdale’s be-bop great Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley. “You don’t decide you’re hip. It just happens that way”. –¬†Cannonball Adderley On a Friday night in June 1955 a band director from Fort Lauderdale’s Dillard High School set out on a long drive...

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Lucille Ball

About Lucille Ball. Didn’t you love those old television shows with Lucille Ball? She was one of the most popular actresses of her day and won just about every professional award you can imagine. I thought that today I’d get together a few facts and tidbits about her fascinating career and ¬†her life. Her career was long and varied but no-one doubted her genius or her business acumen. Although she was best known as a...

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Accentuate the Positive – The language of Louise Bennett

Accentuate the Positive – The language of Louise Bennett. Back in my high school days the deputy headmaster was trying to make a point about accent and dialect. He turned to me and suddenly I was held up as an example of someone making no effort to speak properly;¬†what he called the Queen’s English. I was dumbfounded (or should I say gobsmacked) by this. I hadn’t considered that the way that I spoke made any...

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Marni Nixon

Who was Marni Nixon? Is the name unfamiliar to you? The chances are that you don’t recognise the face either. But it’s very likely that you know her voice. Marni was responsible for some of the most famous singing voices heard on the silver screen.. Have you heard the soundtrack from My Fair Lady for example? Or seen the film? That’s not Audrey Hepburn that you’re listening to – it’s the voice of...

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Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday: The Voice of a Genius On April 7th, 2016 Billie Holiday, if she was still with us, would be 101 years old. She died too young from her own excesses, but she had a golden voice that will live on well beyond her lifetime. You can find out more here. See a documentary about the life and times of Billie Holiday.       ABOUT THE AUTHOR   Nancy Hardin is a highly experienced writer and author. A retired...

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Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. When I was ¬†kid, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films often used to be shown on the television on Sunday afternoons. Despite the fact that they were about thirty years old by that time, they were truly entrancing. I loved the music, the dancing, the humour and most of all, Ginger Roger’s ¬†frocks. But it was one of those wonderful dresses – the one you see above¬†– that cause chaos when...

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Harry Pitch

Who was Harry Pitch? His name isn’t well known but it may well be that you know his music. Harry was born in 1925 in London. He was the son of a Polish immigrant and when Harry left school at the age of fourteen he knew exactly what he was going to buy with his first pay packet. He bought an instrument that was going to lead to his fame ¬†– a harmonica. Almost twenty five years later, he was in the canteen of the recording...

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In Spite of All the Danger

The Beatles’ first recording. Now that’s not strictly true, I’ll admit, but In Spite of All the Danger was the first recording by Paul McCartney, Jogn Lennon and George Harrison. Ringo Starr was yet to join the group. What’s more, although it was the Lennon McCartney duo that was to become so famous in the songwriting field, In Spite of All the Danger was credited to Lennon & Harrison. The recording was...

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The Flight of the Phoenix: Classic Movie

The Flight of the Phoenix: Classic movie This 1965 film wasn’t a huge box office hit, although it was nominated for two Academy Awards. Since then though, it has become a cult classic. Maybe it was a little ahead of its time. It was based on a novel which is equally full of suspense and conflict (see below). As you can see from the image of the left, the film has a distinguished cast, including James Stewart and Richard...

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Back to the Future Quiz

¬†Back to the Future: Classic movies. If you watched Back to the Future in the cinema, then I’m about to make you feel old. The first in the series was released in 1985 – that’s thirty years ago. I know, it seems like just a few years, doesn’t it? ¬†And now all three of the Back to the Future films have become classics, and deservedly so. They are easy to watch and a lot of fun. Time travel is always fascinating....

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Mamma Mia

Mamma Mia is one of my all time favorite musicals. The play and then the movie are based on the music of ABBA, a popular group from Sweden. The title was taken from their 1975 top of chart hit Mamma Mia. As a young adult in the 70‚Äôs I listened to all kinds of music. I always liked ABBA, as their music is just so lively and uplifting, how can you ever forget ‚ÄúDancing Queen‚ÄĚ Their music just gives me that all over good feeling every...

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The Boy in the Song: Someone Saved My Life Last Night

Elton John’s Someone Saved My Life Tonight. In 1975, Elton John released the album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy – which was an autobiographical record of his songwriting partnership with Bernie Taupin and his earlier days in the music business. So who was it who saved Elton John’s life? And was this literally or figuratively? Well, it was a bit of both. Mainly, it referred to a time when Bernie Taupin...

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Under The Covers – Hey Mr. Tambourine Man

Andy Royston explores some his favourite cover versions and the stories behind them. There’s a new thing happening, and it probably started with Bob Dylan. He gave the audience a new vocabulary, a new set of symbols to fit the feelings exploding in and around them. The Byrds take his words and put them in the framework of the beat, and make imperative the meaning of those words.¬†Billy James, Sleeve notes – ¬†Mr Tambourine...

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Quiz: The Beatles’ Children

Quiz: How much do you know about the Beatles’ children? Between them, the Beatles had eleven legal and legitimate children. There were many lawsuits and paternity claims over the years (naturally) but here were are talking about those who were all legal and above board. How much do you know about the Beatles’ offspring? Test your knowledge.   Which is the oldest of the Beatles’ children? Note that this is...

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Demis Roussos

 Who was Demis Roussos? Demis Roussos was the most unlikely popular singer. In the nineteen seventies, when women were throwing their knickers at the (mildly sexy) Tom Jones, along came this fat, hairy Greek who sang like a girl Рand his female fans loved him. He was the most unlikely sex symbol. Demis was incredibly popular in England and he put this down to the availability of cheaper European travel. He suggested that his...

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Mick Hucknall and the Art of the Cover Version

Mick knew his stuff. I knew I was on a hiding to nothing when I walked in with a brown record bag. “Hey, what’ve you got there…” “Some obscure James Brown” I replied proudly. He took the bag and removed the second hand 45 within, Prisoner of Love, 1964 on London Records with a pushed-out centre. “Bollocks, he said laughing. ¬†That’s not rare. Should be on King for a start. And it’s...

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Jerry Lewis saves Dean Martin from the Mob

When Jerry Lewis saved Dean Martin from an angry mobster. For ten years, ‘Italian-stallion’ Dean Martin and the rather less fortunate-looking Jerry Lewis worked as a double act. They worked together for ten years – from 1946 until 1956. They were popular on television but also toured the country performing in nightclubs. It was in one of these that Dean Martin was very nearly¬†shot by a mobster – until Jerry...

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Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio … and the doorman

The story of Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio … and the doorman. Marilyn Monroe was known for so many aspects of her life (including her involvement with the Kennedys, of course) but a subject of speculation is how her husbands could have been such completely different characters. Her first husband, who she married when she was just sixteen, was ¬†a US Marine. The marriage ended quite quickly. Her second husband was almost as...

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In praise of sensational women – Siouxsie

Andy Royston continues his¬†series of articles on the women in popular culture who made his world quake. “There is a fun, flippant side to me, of course. But I would much rather be known as the Ice Queen. Susan Ballion/Siouxsie¬† I started to pay attention to¬†Siouxie after a trip to London. There used to be an open air street market at the end of Gerard Street, on Newport Court not far from Leicester Square. There was a stall...

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The Alamo with John Wayne

The Alamo with John Wayne. Yesterday, I woke with a song running through my head, which then led to thoughts of the movie from which it came, The Alamo, filmed in 1960, starring John Wayne, Richard Widmark, Laurence Harvey, and other stars of the day. Based on a true story, it is now considered not factually accurate of the Battle of the Alamo, which took place in an old mission in San Antonio, Texas. Nevertheless, the movie presented...

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My Dream Lover’s Marriage Broke My Heart

On May 1, 1964, millions of broken hearted women worldwide were inconsolable. On that date, our idol and fantasy lover, Elvis Presley married Priscilla Beaulieu in a private ceremony in their suite at the Aladdin Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas. He burst our bubble, because now he was just another married man. And oh yes, this author was among those who were inconsolable. My dreams never pictured him married, but rather as a dashing,...

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Jazz Standards : Take the ‘A’ Train

Jazz Standards : Take the ‘A’ Train. The story of how Duke Ellington’s signature tune, Take The ‘A’ Train was written is¬†a classic. Billy Strayhorn, future¬†Duke’s right hand man, ¬†was said to have written the piece after Ellington had offered him a job as a writer, arranger and piano man , sending money for him to travel from Pittsburgh to New York and then up to Ellington’s apartment in Sugar...

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How to Train Your Dragon 2 -The Movie

How to Train Your Dragon 2 the animated movie follow up to How to Train Your Dragon which was released in 2010. How to Train your Dragon 2 is an amazing animated movie for both adults and children. We saw this movie with our grandson Bobby who at the time was eight years old, and I enjoyed this movie as much as he did. This film is your classic good vs. evil, with some lessons along the way. The first lesson that came to my mind was...

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Little Stevie – That boy’s a wonder!

Little Stevie – That boy’s a wonder! How Stevie Wonder got his name. It started out with pots and pans. Lula Mae Morris Hardaway’s two year old son was driving everyone crazy banging out rhythms with a set of spoons. Tabletops. crockery, anythng to hand. She came home one day with a set of cardboard drums and little Stevie wore them out. A few years later an uncle had passed on a harmonica and he never went anywhere...

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Ian Fleming, James Bond and … Bob Marley

Did Ian Fleming model James Bond on himself? Ian Fleming’s most famous creation was, of course, James Bond. And to some extent, the author was the character. He had been involved in espionage during the Second World War but there are certainly other similarities. The fictional James Bond enjoyed a drink (shaken not stirred, of course) and definitely his love of women was a great feature of the 007 persona. Fleming liked a drink...

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Star Wars Quiz

Welcome to your Star Wars Quiz In what episode did Padame Amidala wear white high-heeled boots?Who said: ‚ÄúYour focus determines your reality.‚ÄĚWhat were removed from Anakin Skywalker when he became Darth Vader?What color was Darth Vader‚Äôs Lightsaber? Who said ‚ÄúSomebody has to save our skins.‚ÄĚ In what episode did Padm√© Amidala wear a red jewel on her forehead? Who said ‚ÄúDo. Or do not. There is no try.‚ÄĚHow many buttons did Han Solo have...

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Don’t be a Dropout – James Brown and Education

Andy Royston pays tribute to the hardest working man in show business. I first saw James Brown’s amazing live act in London in the early 1980s. He was around 50 years old, but the show was every bit as passionate¬†and energetic as it as when he exploded onto the stage in the early 1960s. A recent biopic concentrated on his musical impact, but equally important was¬†the energies Brown devoted to social causes, particularly the...

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Blues In The Night Jazz Classic

Blues In The Night Jazz Classic. Ella Fitzgerald could and did sing about the blues, as no other! Her smooth voice in “Blues In The Night” particularly sticks in my mind. The music was written by Harold Arlen with Lyrics by Johnny Mercer. I first heard this song back in the 70s and was totally impressed with the sound. When Ella sings it, her voice becomes a musical instrument, melodious and mellow. When Louie sings it,...

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Is Shirley Temple Still Alive?

Is Shirley Temple Still Alive? Shirley Temple was a child star who sang and danced into the hearts of children and grownups alike, starring in movies in the 1930s. She grew up to become a wife, mom, and grandmother, a diplomat, and a breast cancer survivor. Shirley was born April 23, 1928. She died February 10, 2014, at age 85 from natural causes, at her home in California. Shirley Temple Facts at a Glance Did you know . . . Shirley...

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Songs for Sunrise: Nina Simone

“Feelin’ Good’ Sometimes I see it in the eyes of people as I walk the dawn shores. They are here at the beach for a purpose. For change.¬†In their eye the sunrise marks an important moment of¬†inspiration. The time for change is now. A¬†sunrise can be a catalyst for action – witnessing the dawn with a new, steely eye, a clarity of purpose and understanding can be a life-changing thing. In these¬†moments the sunrise...

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Quiz: The Beatles’ Wives

Quiz: How much do you know about the Beatles’ wives? Just four lads from Liverpool – but between them, they’ve had a wide variety of partners. I guess this is understandable because all four are (or were) rather cute and they certainly had the money that many a girl finds attractive. Of course, some of the wives (do you know how many and which they were?) married their Beatles before they found fame and fortune....

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Bette Davis

Bette Davis Bette Davis, who was born in 1908, was one of the most stunning and unusual actresses from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Whereas most actresses of that era made it to success because of ¬†their beauty, Bette Davis succeeded by sheer force of personality. Most actresses at the time wanted to be portrayed as beautiful and stylish women – Bette didn’t care about that. She took the parts of slovenly women, bitchy...

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Eric Clapton: Early Life

The childhood of Eric Clapton. Eric Clapton is a grandfather now but what about his own early days and his childhood? It’s all rather complicated. Various websites will tell you – seemingly with authority – who Clapton’s father was but in his autobiography, he claims he wasn’t sure. He says he was never convinced that the man who was purported to be his biological father really was. In many ways,...

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“The Blob” Introducing Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen and The Blob. Actor Steve McQueen seemed to come out of nowhere into fame as a movie actor. But he really did have a rather difficult beginning; his first leading role in a movie was in a “space invader” plot that he believed would never make any money. What’s more, he was 27 years old and cast in the role of a teenager. He was so convinced the film was doomed to failure he took his pay upfront with no...

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Songs For Cities : Dublin

Jackeens, Dubs and Liffysiders. Songs for the city of Dublin by Andy Royston  I first arrived in Dublin late in the year, November. I remember it was chucking down, and the place I stayed was on the northside, a block from the river, right up beyond the old Jameson Distillery. The whole place is all gentrified now, and posh trams run right through the place, but back then the area was all run down and deserted, and after dark the...

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Who was Pattie Boyd?

Pattie Boyd, George Harrison and Eric Clapton. There must have been something special about Pattie Boyd. Actually, you might have noticed a minor pun there because Pattie supposedly was the inspiration behind George Harrison’s song Something. The Eric Clapton song Wonderful Tonight was also reputedly written about her. She was married to both men – George first and then to his best friend, Eric. She first met George in...

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Who was Marli Renfro?

Marli Renfro: You know ¬†her well. The chances are that if you like movies, you know who Marli Renfro was but you might not recognise the name. What’s more, I’m willing to bet that you’ve seen her completely naked. She was in one of the most famous films – ever. But few people know her name. She was born in America in 1938. She grew up to be very attractive and she was only in her early twenties when she took...

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I Walk A Lonely Street – checking into Heartbreak Hotel

Andy Royston goes down to the end of lonely street in search of a rock and roll ghost. “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” Edna Buchanan 42nd street, just off Collins Avenue in Miami Beach doesn’t look anyone’s idea of¬†lonely street. These days it is home to a fancy condominium tower, and at the end is a beautiful beach boardwalk right on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, beloved of morning...

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My Sweet Lord: He’s So Fine

My Sweet Lord: He’s So Fine. George Harrison wrote My Sweet Lord in late 1969. Yet seven years later it was the cause of a huge court hearing. His fellow ex-Beatle, John Lennon, wanted peace for the world. Spiritual George wanted peace within the many different religions of the world. Hence the chorus includes both ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Hare Krishna’. The song was written when Harrison was touring with...

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In praise of Sensational Women – Mavis Staples

Andy Royston pays tribute to a true musical legend, the magnificent Mavis Staples. We’ve come here tonight to bring you some joy, some happiness, inspiration, and some positive vibrations! We want to leave you with enough to last you for maybe the next six months. – Mavis Staples /¬†Live: Hope at the Hideout Mavis is coming to Fort Lauderdale,just a walk away from my home and I just cannot wait. Here is an American voice...

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A Song for Sunrise : Bob Marley

Picking a sunshine song from the great Robert Nesta Marley isn’t too difficult; most of his music has the glow of the dawn about it. I always turn to the glorious sun-baked Sun Is Shining to throw some light on the day. It dates from my favorite¬†Wailers era –¬†that period in the early 1970s, when, for want of musical direction (a cover of The Archies’ ‘Sugar Sugar’ and the similarly saccharine Dance Do The...

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David Suchet Plays Lady Bracknell

From Hercule Poirot to Lady Bracknell. Actor Davis Suchet is probably best known for playing Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. But now he is taking on a very different role and, it must be said, a rather challenging one. It is the role of the totally wonderful Lady Bracknell is Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. He has exchanged his carefully manicured moustache for corsets and high heels. He...

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Who Was Mara Scherbatoff?

Mara Scherbatoff, Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller. Marilyn Monroe and playwright Arthur Miller had met in 1951 but by 1956, the press were aware that the couple were soon to marry.  Monroe and Miller were at his farmhouse home in Roxbury and reporters were gathering in number outside waiting for news. The couple had promised to give a press conference on the afternoon of June 29th. The media suspected that the couple would announce...

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British television in the 60s & 70s

British television in the 60s & 70s Looking back at the television programmes some of us watched when we were growing up is like looking into another world. For one thing, almost everyone smoked. Almost everyone went to the pub. But what is really astonishing today looking back is how incredibly ‘politically incorrect’ everything was. Probably the most extreme example of this was the highly popular and successful...

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Dada : Buffoonery and a Requiem Mass

Andy Royston takes us back one hundred years¬†to the very birthplace of meaninglessness. The Cabaret Voltaire, opened on 5th February 1916 in a back room of¬†run down old¬†cafe¬†in the city of Zurich, Switzerland. Freedom: Dada Dada Dada a roaring of tense colours and interlacing of opposites and of all contradictions, grotesques, inconsistencies; LIFE.¬†Tristan Tzara : Dada Manifesto 1918 “What we are celebrating is both buffoonery...

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The Alternative Phil Collins

Andy Royston takes a look at the other Phil Collins, the hipster who played on some of the most artful records of the 1970s. “And, you know, I never wanted to be a singer.”¬†Phil Collins Think Phil Collins and it’s hard not to run away with your hands over your ears. He’s been out of the public eye recently, so there was no danger of him popping up on the TV¬†getting all angst ridden with¬†Against all Odds or...

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Who Lost His Address Book from a Helicopter Over the Greek Islands?

Dorothy Kilgallen’s famous question on What’s My Line. It’s no secret that I am obssessed with watching old episodes of What’s My Line on You Tube. I mean, the old versions from the late fifties and early sixties. They are simply brilliant. And one of my favourite panellists was Dorothy Kilgallen. She was very astute. especially when it came to guessing the identity of the mystery guest. If you’re...

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Cary Grant: Early Years

[slider] Cary Grant: An actor to remember There can’t be many people who are unaware of this debonair actor from the golden era of Hollywood. What’s particularly interesting is his background. Where did Cary Grant come from? What was his background and his career before he became a famous movie actor? Sometimes, people are surprised to find out that Grant, often seen as the epitome of the American gentleman, was actually...

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The Velvet Voice – Appreciating Richard Hawley’s Coles Corner

The Velvet Voice – Appreciating Richard Hawley’s Coles Corner. My grandma Lily loved those velvet voices. Visits to gran’s house were so often soundtracked by her favorite crooners from the late 50s. Nat King Cole, Harry Belafonte, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra were the cornerstones of her musical appreciation and of course this rubbed off on my mother who carried the torch (song) into the sixties with her own Roy...

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In praise of sensational women – Debbie Allen

Andy Royston introduces a new series of articles on the women in popular culture who made his ¬†world quake. “I don’t have time for prima donnas. You want to become a dancer? You’re going to have to work.You’ve got big dreams? You want fame? Well, fame costs. And right here’s where you start paying in sweat. I want to see sweat. And the better you are, the more sweat I’m going to demand. So if you...

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Death on a Coin Toss

Death on a Coin Toss Do you believe in fate? Do you think things happen in a certain order for a reason? Do you believe, as some do, that the manner of our life’s end is already determined when we are born? The story you’re about to read may make a believer out of you. A series of events in the life of movie actress Carole Lombard caused her death on the side of a Nevada mountain as a result of the toss of a coin. Read...

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Forgiving David Bowie: China Girl

It’s a sign of how seriously I took popular music as a teenager that I would get so annoyed by a¬†silly love song. A case in point was David Bowie’s smash hit in 1983 China Girl, which followed his Lets Dance song up the pop charts across the globe. Quite why I got so hot under the collar about it is because it was a song that – in my mind at least – had real depth and meaning, and Bowie had the temerity to turn...

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My Love Affair with Elvis Presley

My Love Affair With Elvis In 1956 when I was not yet 17 years old, I visited a couple of newly wedded friends, and we watched The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show on TV. An odd looking, but handsome young man took the stage and began to perform a Bill Haley and the Comets song called “Shake, Rattle and Roll.” But he combined it with another song called “Flip, Flop and Fly.” The thing that caught my eye was that he...

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George Harrison attacked at home

In 1999, Beatle George Harrison was attacked in his own home. We like to think that we are safe in our own homes but in the early hours of December 31st, 1999, George Harrison and his wife Olivia were brutally attacked by a man wielding a knife in the Friar Park home. George said later that he was sure that he would die. George and Olivia had been watching television that night and had gone to bed at about 2am. Their son Dhani was...

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Favourite Movies – Woody Allen’s Radio Days

“Like Preston Sturges and Billy Wilder before him, Woody Allen is a writer-director with a distinctive voice and a satirical thrust. I appreciate his tone, which is bitter-sweet and self-conscious. At their best his films reflect on the process of cinematic storytelling”¬†David Evanier :¬†PBS¬†Interview¬† Woody Allen emerged into moviemaking¬†just after American Jews – who had pretty much build the American movie industry...

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While My Sitar Gently Weeps

It was February 1965 and the London R&B band Yardbirds had convened at a recording studio to record a follow up song to their smash hit For Your Love. The idea was to open the song – Heart Full of Soul – with a sitar riff and they’d recruited an authentic player from a local Indian restaurant to do the honors. Journalist Penny Valentine recalled “Apparently the man, a highly proficient classical musician...

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Sam Cooke

The murder of Sam Cooke. On December 1964, singer Sam Cooke had been¬†in a Los Angeles nightclub. There he’d met (or probably picked up) a girl of ‘English and Chinese origin’, Elisa Boyer. He had taken¬†her to a¬†motel, booked a room, registered and the couple went to their accommodation. Some time later, the manager of the motel, Bertha Franklin, was in her room which was also her office. In burst Sam Cooke, demanding...

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Judi Dench: Top Movies

I’m a huge fan of the British actress, Judi Dench. Or, I should say, Dame Judi Dench – she was honoured for her services to the performing arts by Her Majesty the Queen in 1980. She had a hugely successful career on the stage before she moved to television work but she is probably best known today for her fabulous films. Here are my favourites. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel This one gets the biggest image because I think...

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Has Anyone Seen Our Pig?

On December 3rd 1976 a large inflatable pig made a run for it during a photoshoot at Battersea Power Station. Andy Royston investigates. ¬†‚ÄúI‚Äôve a right to think,‚ÄĚ said Alice sharply,¬†¬†for she was beginning to feel a little worried. ‚ÄúJust about as much right,‚ÄĚ said the Duchess, ‚Äúas pigs have to fly.‚ÄĚ Lewis Carroll It all started as Roger Waters’ bright idea to promote the new Pink Floyd album¬†Animals. He lived within sight of the...

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Modern Classics : The Family Silver

Andy Royston¬†discovers a fine new album from England that’s an instant rock winner.¬† “He and his boys up there were keeping it new, at the risk of ruin, destruction, madness and death, in order to find new ways to make us listen. For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it must always be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light...

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A Classic Must See: Phantom of the Opera

A Classic Story That Many Still Love. The Phantom of the Opera is a movie that must be seen! The stage performances of this classic has been seen world wide for years and years. I know that when it was playing in my city, it had a run of at least 5 years. In that 5 year time span I managed to go and see it 3 times and I would have gone 3 more times if anyone had asked me……. The Phantom of the Opera has been one of the most...

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Mae Westisms

Westisms are what I call the things said by a bawdy, beloved performer named Mae West. She was born Mary Jane West on¬† August 17, 1893 to parents John Patrick West and Matilda (Tillie) Doelger in Brooklyn, New York. Her father was a prize fighter who became a “special policeman” and later had his own detective agency. Her mother modeled corsets and fashions. Mae was only five years old when she entertained a crowd at a...

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Under The Covers – Shipbuilding

Andy Royston revisits the Falklands crisis and one of the most poignant songs about war ever recorded. I’ve always been skeptical about protest songs. What is this thing, a song for the barricades or a sermon from the pulpit? Is that a broadside, a bulletin, a lecture? Can a mere song change people’s minds? I doubt that it is so, but a song can infiltrate your heart and the heart may change your mind. Elvis Costello...

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Life of Pi: A Magical Masterpiece

Life of Pi  lived with me for a very long time making me think very deeply about our very existence! I highly recommend it for anyone with a love of life and adventure. This is the kind of film that lifts you off your seat, transports you right into the screen, and swallows you up. Was what I had just seen for real or not? It is a poetic story about an Indian family who are forced to transport their entire zoo across the ocean. During...

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ABBA’s First European Tour

The First European Tour Of ABBA The musical group ABBA topped the charts from 1975 to 1982 and nearly everyone has heard of or knows at least one of their songs. Members Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-FridLyngstad¬† made their first European tour and their first tour outside of Sweden on November 17, 1974. The group’s fame spread world wide and they became one of the largest selling musical groups in...

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Vintage TV: What’s My Line

Hooked on What’s My Line from the nineteen fifties and sixties. I truly could spend hours watching old videos of the 1950s and 60s television show, the panel game¬†What’s My Line. It’s like another world. Well, I guess 1950s New York was another world. Take a look at this great photograph.   The panel and the host would dress as though they were going out for the evening. Bow ties were usual for the men and the...

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Sesame Street

Today is a day that everyone under the age of 100 will be able to relate to in some way or another……what has lasted this long or made such an impact that almost everyone has heard of it? None other than your favorite characters on Sesame Street! Today is the anniversary of the very first episode of Sesame Street that aired on November 10, 1969. On that day, Cookie Monster, Ernie and Bert, Big Bird, Grover and Oscar the...

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Ghostbusters, a Classic Movie: Review.

We are huge fans of Saturday Night Live with the original cast. So when the movie Ghostbusters came out in 1984 with Dan Aykroyd, and Bill Murray we just couldn’t wait to see it. Now it’s 29 years later and we still love to watch it, (really 29 years, what happened?), these days we have the pleasure of watching it with our grandson, as Ghostbusters is one of his favorite movies, as is the Ghostbusters video game. We have...

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Under The Covers – Hallelujah

Andy Royston looks at how a quiet and modest song became one of the most performed rock songs in history. Hallelujah is a Hebrew word, which means ‘glory to the Lord’. The song explains that many kinds of hallelujahs do exist. I say all the perfect and broken hallelujahs have an equal value. It’s a desire to affirm my faith in life, not in some formal or religious way but with enthusiasm, with emotion. Leonard Cohen...

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Three Dog Night: The Show Must Go On

Three Dog Night: Show Must Go On The rock band Three Dog Night, with 12 Gold albums to their credit, and 21 consecutive Billboard Top 40 hits, began in the late 1960s and became one of the most successful bands in the United States. Their hit recordings were due in large part to their founders and lead singers; Danny Hutton, Chuck Negron, and Cory Wells. But the backup created by the remainder of the band gave it the needed depth for...

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A Review of High Crimes, the Movie and the Book

A Review of High Crimes, the Movie and the Book If you could enjoy watching Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, James Caviezel all in the same movie, would you pass it up? I wouldn‚Äôt. When High Crimes came out in 2002, I was anxious to see it. First, there was Morgan Freeman. I’ve been a fan of his as long as I can remember, but since his role in Shawshank Redemption, he‚Äôs become a favorite. His voice alone makes his movies worthwhile,...

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Happy Birthday To You

History of¬† “Happy Birthday To You” Everyone knows the Birthday Song, from the time we’re little kids. It’s the song we always sing when someone has a birthday; it’s the song we always hear when it’s our birthday. Have you ever noticed in the restaurants where they sing to you on your birthday, that they don’t sing the usual one we’ve always heard? There’s a reason for that and...

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Learn To Play The Zither – Quickly and Easily

The Great Musician In my school years, the only musical instrument I ever wanted to play was the piano. But my school did not have one and neither did I, so that was the end of that. But I yearned to be part of music because I loved it so. In my school we were required to learn to play SOME instrument, and the music teacher handed me a violin and said, “Here, you can learn to play this.” Dutifully, I took lessons in music...

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A Review of the documentary ‘Aluna’ . The Kogi People Warn us About the End of the World

This evening I was invited to a screening of ‚ÄėAluna‚Äô (‘the mind inside nature’), which was followed by a Q&A session with its award winning British director and documentary filmmaker Alan Ereira. This is the second documentary film he has made with the indigenous Kogi people of Colombia. These people are desperately trying to warn us of the very real possibility of the end of the world unless we stop ruthlessly...

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Bob Marley’s American Connection

Andy Royston re-traces reggae legend Bob Marley’s days living in Delaware in the 1960s and how it influenced his music. When Bob Marley left his new bride to fly to America it felt like history repeating. Bob Marley’s mother Ciddy had married captain Norval Marley, on Friday, June 9 1944, a pipe stuffing white superintendent for the crown lands. She was just¬†eighteen; He was at least three years her father’s senior....

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Mary Astor: Scandal

Mary Astor’s diaries. Mary Astor was a gorgeous actress in the Golden Era of Hollywood. Yet like many of the actors of the time, she was involved in a juicy scandal. In total she was married four times. The first marriage was to a movie director names Kenneth Hawks. Less than two years later he was killed in an air crash. He was in a plane during the shooting of aerial scenes when two of the aircraft collided. Understandably she...

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Tougher than Tough – The Original Rude Boys

In the light of the 2014¬†exhibition The Return of the Rudeboys¬†at London’s Somerset House, Andy Royston looks back at Jamaica’s original rude boys and the music they inspired. Rougher than rough, tougher than tough, Strong like lion, we are iron Rudies don’t fear no boys, rudies don’t fear – Derrick Morgan Rude bwoy is that person, native, who is totally disenchanted with the ruling system, who generally...

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“Miss Bacall Did Her Own Singing…”

“Miss Bacall Did Her Own Singing…” The scene is a bar room in French Martinique, a hot and noisy club setting¬†where a piano player called Cricket (Hoagy Carmichael ) is playing for a gorgeous teenage singer, Slim. Slim was Lauren Bacall in her first movie role, and what a star turn she gave, singing one of Carmichael’s most memorable songs, How Little We Know. Her vocal training was coming along, but no-one...

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Songs about New York : The Streets

Andy Royston continues his New York music odyssey – and takes it to the streets.¬†Read Part One here. I regret profoundly that I was not an American and not born in Greenwich Village. It might be dying, and there might be a lot of dirt in the air you breathe, but this is where it‚Äôs happening.¬†John Lennon People are working every minute. The machinery is always going. Even when you sleep. Andy Warhol Songs For New York –...

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Ice Cube has a BAD Day in Ride Along

My Personal Review of Ride Along Starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart. I love comedies featuring police officers. I’m not sure why I find these movies so entertaining, but I do. In fact, some of my favorite comedies of all time include 21 Jump Street, Blue Streak, Miami Vice, Bad Boys, and many others. So, when I saw the previews for Ride Along, I was pretty sure it would be a movie that I liked. I mean with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube...

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Song Writing Success Story

A few weeks ago I entered some of my songs in the UK Songwriting Contest. This is one of the most important competitions in the music world, and gets thousands of entries from all over the world. The judges are really important people in the music world like Kipper Eldridge, Sting‚Äôs producer. Another one is Stuart Epps who has worked with Elton John, Robbie Williams, Led Zeppelin, and loads of others.   It was set up with the aim...

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Soothe Your Soul with Santana

Carlos Santana Fan for Life. My dad was a teenager in the 70s, a grown-up in the 80s, and a lifelong fan of rock ‘n roll music. As a result, I grew up listening to the greatest music ever created. For example, my childhood was filled with AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Rush, and Carlos Santana, of course. Why I Love Carlos Santana Carlos Santana and the band Santana have been on my top ten favorite bands list for as long as I can...

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Under the Covers – Woodstock

Andy Royston gets muddy listening to cover versions of Joni Mitchell’s iconic anthem from of the Summer of Love. ¬†“500,000 halos¬†out shined¬†the mud and history. We washed and drank in God’s tears of joy. And for once, and for everyone, the truth was not still a mystery.‚ÄĚ Jimi Hendrix “There were a LOT of¬†people¬†there. It was more than a city of people – it was tribal. Fires were burning, smoke was rising,...

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Best of British – Night Mail

Andy Royston celebrates Night Mail, one of the most influential documentary films of all time. “If you wanted to see what camera and sound could really do, you had to see some little film sponsored by the Post Office or the Gas, Light & Coke company.” J.B.¬†Priestley For much of the time between the wars the General Post Office (GPO)¬†was the largest employer in Britain. It was at the leading edge of business practice...

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The Shawshank Redemption The Best Movie from the 90’s

One of the Best Movies I’ve Seen There aren’t very many movies that stand the test of time as much as The Shawshank Redemption. ¬†It remains¬†¬†one of my top ten all time favorite movies. The surprising part is that I didn’t want to see it when I first heard of it. Who wants to see a movie about prison? That has never been a topic of particular interest. Was I ever wrong. It was such a wonderful movie I even recommended...

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Songs about New York : From Broadway to Harlem

Andy Royston writes about the songs that made New York. Part One : From Broadway to Harlem To say that New York came up to its advance billing would be the baldest of understatements. Being there was like being in heaven without going to all the bother and expense of dying. РP.G. Wodehouse New York is an ugly city, a dirty city. Its climate is a scandal, its politics are used to frighten the children, its traffic is madness,...

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The Wizard of Oz

The year was 1939 and Hollywood was still a small town that was just starting to grow. Film and movies were already a favorite pastime, and inroads were being made to make films even more interesting and stimulating. Produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, The Wizard of Oz was breaking all kinds of new frontiers in story telling, especially in the film market. A fantasy, based on the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank...

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Higher Than The Sun – The Art of Paul Cannell

Andy Royston remembers one of London’s wildest artists, Paul Cannell, London’s Basquiat. “Like¬†all¬†great¬†dyslexic¬†artists Paul Cannell pants”¬†JEFF BARRETT Jeff Coons? Do¬†me¬†a favour!¬†Gilbert and George! Fuck off and die! The Grey Organisation?? In three years time if Paul Cannell is not a superstar artist with constant exhibitions in every main city throughout the world come and find me…¬†EDWARD BALL...

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Indie Classics : McCarthy – I Am A Wallet

Andy Royston revisits McCarthy’s ‘I Am A Wallet’, one of the great subversive indie records, as the band’s material gets a timely re-issue on bright red vinyl. Main headline photograph by Steve DT. “The most perfect record, a¬†Communist¬†manifesto with tunes” Nicky Wire – The Manic Street Preachers In modern rock and pop music the¬†band that showed the most striking influence of the German...

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Musical Journeys – The Mayan and the Whale

Andy Royston tells the story of David Crosby’s ’47 schooner, Mayan, and a legendary sail¬†from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego. David was wonderful company and a great appreciator. When it comes to expressing infectious enthusiasm he is probably the most¬†capable¬†person I know. His eyes were like star sapphires to me. When he laughed they seemed to twinkle like no one else and so I fell into his merry company and we rode bikes...

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In Memory of Elvis Presley

In Memory of Elvis Presley.  Elvis Aaron Presley was born January 8, 1935 РAugust 16, 1977 His music is loved by all. He sang Rock and Roll, Country and Gospel. Elvis is regarded as one of the most popular figures of the 20th Century. His good looks, humor, impressive voice and charismatic moves on stage was endeared by everyone. In 1977 his death shook the nation including me and at present time it’s been 37 yrs. since he has...

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More of Hollywood’s Finest Redheads

Andy Royston continues his appreciation of¬†Hollywood’s redheads. “It is observed that the red-haired of both sexes are more libidinous and mischievous than the rest, whom yet they much exceed in strength and activity” ‚Äď ¬†Jonathan Swift,¬†Gullivers Travels “You‚Äôd find it easier to be bad than good if you had red hair, people who haven‚Äôt red hair don‚Äôt know what trouble is” ‚Äď Anne of Green Gables In Part One...

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Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedy Family

Did the Kennedys murder Marilyn Monroe? Most people are aware that there was a strong connection between Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedy family, especially John Kennedy and his brother, Robert. There is also speculation that the Kennedys were responsible for her death. Could this be the case? It’s certainly true that Marilyn had affairs with both the Kennedy brothers. It’s also true that she had a serious problem with using...

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Songs for Cities – New Orleans

‚ÄúNew Orleans is the only place I know of where you ask a little kid what he wants to be and instead of saying, I want to be a policeman, or I want to be a fireman, he says, I want to be a musician.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Alan Jaffe, Jazz Musician and Founder of Preservation Hall Where do you begin with New Orleans music? We all know that jazz music began in this city, and that it profoundly influenced American music thoughout the 20th century....

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Songs For Yorkshire

Yorkshire is, for those that don’t know, God’s own County, the largest in England. Visitors have to a bit tougher than the average. Yorkshire is a big, strapping¬†rough-hewn diamond that even those born here are slightly in awe of. Here’s the tourism vid for the uninitiated. If you come to catch fish, be prepared to stand waist high in a¬†picturesque, unforgiving river. If you want to write your poem expect¬†to stand...

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Electric Guitar Kit Review

Electric Guitar Kit Review. I was given an electric guitar kit for my birthday, which was in February. The fact that I finished in June gives you an idea of how many difficulties I had making it. I don’t want to put anyone off making a guitar from a kit, because it’s been great fun to do and I have learned so much. I’m just pointing out that how much you already know about woodwork, finishes, and electronics, will determine how long...

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Songs about Cities – Manchester

I must confess I knew little of Manchester before I arrived there to study in the late 1970s. Thanks to my cricket fanatic father I was a little wary of the place. The red rose of Lancashire were the enemy of any self respecting Yorkshireman and not to be trusted. Yorkshire Vs Lancashire? Think ‘Game of Thrones’ with cricket bats. For them as don’t know, cotton was the making of Manchester. It¬†was imported through...

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The Ghost and Mrs Muir

The Ghost and Mrs Muir: Movie This is the most lovely film. It’s a love story, a weepie, a ghost story and a comedy all in one. Released in 1945, it has all the charm and drama of the Hollywood era. It’s set in the early 1900s and Lucy Moore has recently been widowed. Determined to start ¬†new life away from her in-laws, she and her small daughter move to a remote rented house near the sea. She’s been warned that the...

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