Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 22: R&B singer Vesta Williams died on this date in 2011...

... she was 53-years-old when she passed away.

Vesta Williams - sometimes simply billed as Vesta - was considered a diva known for her powerful voice and 80's hits. Although she never had any albums certified gold nor any Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, she scored six Top 10 hits on the US Billboard R&B chart from the mid 1980s to the early 1990s. Williams was known for the hits, "Once Bitten, Twice Shy," "Sweet Sweet Love," "Congratulations" and "Special."
Mary Vesta Williams was born in Coshocton, Ohio, the daughter of a disc jockey. she started singing in high school. Her family moved from Ohio to Los Angeles in the 1960s, and Vesta and her sisters once appeared on the television show Jack and Jill as The Williams Sisters.

She returned to Ohio in 1977, and sang in the girl group Wild Honey - arranged by Former Fifth Dimension member Ron Townson - but ended up returning to Los Angeles to launch a solo career. Williams found work as a session musician, working with artists such as Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Stephanie Mills, and Gordon Lightfoot. Williams sang on the original version of Joe Sample's "The Survivor," and met producer David Crawford while working with his group Klique.

She eventually secured a recording contract with A&M Records which released her debut album Vesta in 1986. The album became a modest seller on the R&B Albums Chart and it featured her first Top 10 R&B hit "Once Bitten, Twice Shy," which also became her only UK hit.

In 1988, her second album, Vesta 4 U, produced the Top 10 R&B hits "Sweet Sweet Love," "4 U," and "Congratulations," with the latter peaking at #55 on the Hot 100 chart, her only single to appear in that chart. This would also be her most successful album, and her only album to appear on the US Billboard 200, peaking at #131.

In 1991, Williams released her third album entitled Special, and the title track as a single. That single became her highest charting song on the R&B chart at #2, but sales of the album were less than that of Vesta 4 U. Her next album, 1993's Everything-N-More, produced only the minor R&B hit "Always."

In 1989, Polygram Records purchased A&M Records. Williams' 1998 album Relationships was released under the Polygram name, and it became a modest seller and appeared on the R&B chart. After this album, A&M/Polygram Records parted ways with her. She continued to be a session singer, landing spots on albums by such artists as Phil Perry, Howard Hewett, and George Duke.
In 2000, Polygram released a compilation album, featuring songs from Williams and CeCe Peniston, another Polygram artist.

In 2007, Williams released an album of R&B songs on Shanachie Records entitled Distant Lover. Produced by Chris "Big Dog" Davis, it featured songs originally recorded by Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Sade, and Deniece Williams.

Williams portrayed a saloon singer in the 1993 film Posse, directed by Mario Van Peebles. She also had a hit with the SWV song, "Rain," with the smooth jazz musician, Norman Brown.

In the 1990s, Williams underwent a dramatic weight loss. She told Ebony magazine that she started to rapidly gain weight when her singing career began to falter. Williams, who was 5-foot-3, eventually reached a size 26. She said her size was the reason she lost her recording contract.

The singer lost 100 lbs, and got down down to a size 6, while finding something of a second career as a songwriter and session singer.

In recent years, Williams had become an advocate for the prevention of childhood obesity and juvenile diabetes.

On September 22, 2011, Vesta was found dead in a hotel room in El Segundo, California, south of Los Angeles. An
official cause of death has not been released.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

September 18: Jimi Hendrix died on this day in 1970...

... he was 27 years old.

James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix, born in Seattle, Washington, is considered to be the greatest electric guitarist in the history of rock music by other musicians and commentators in the industry, and one of the most important and influential musicians of his era across a range of genres.

 After success in Europe, he achieved fame in his native country following his 1967 performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. Later, Hendrix headlined the iconic 1969 Woodstock Festival and the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival.

Hendrix often favored raw over-driven amplifiers with high gain and treble. He also  was one of the musicians who popularized the wah-wah pedal in mainstream rock. 

Hendrix won many of the most prestigious rock music awards in his lifetime, and has been posthumously awarded many more, including being inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. An English Heritage blue plaque was erected in his name on his former residence at Brook Street, London, in September 1997. A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was dedicated in 1994.

In 2006, his debut US album, Are You Experienced, was inducted into the United States National Recording Registry, and Rolling Stone named Hendrix the top guitarist on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all-time in 2003. He was also the first person inducted into the Native American Music Hall of Fame.

Hendrix was ranked number 3 on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock behind Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Hendrix was ranked number 3 on VH1's list of the 100 Greatest Artists of Rock N' Roll, behind the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. He has been voted by Rolling Stone, Guitar World, and a number of other magazines and polls as the best electric guitarist of all time.

Guitar World's readers voted six of Hendrix's solos among the top "100 Greatest" of all time: "Purple Haze" (70), "The Star-Spangled Banner" (52), "Machine Gun" (32), "Little Wing" (18), "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" (11) and "All Along the Watchtower (5).

Jimi belongs to a group known as "The 27 Club" which includes Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (of the Grateful Dead), and Kurt Cobain; a group which is comprised of 1960s rock stars who suffered drug-related deaths at age 27 within months of each other, leaving legacies in death that have eclipsed the popularity and influence while alive and performing. A new member "joined" on July 23, 2011; Amu Winehouse.

HIGHLY Recommended:
BBC Sessions (2 CD/ 1 DVD Deluxe Edition)West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology (4 CD/ 1 DVD Collectors Box)Live At Woodstock (2 CD)FREEZE Boys 8-20 Jimi Hendrix T-Shirt,Brown,Large


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 14: Patrick Swayze died on this day in 2009.

The actor, dancer and singer-songwriter died at 57 from pancreatic cancer.

Patrick Wayne Swayze was best-known for his roles as romantic leading men in the films Dirty Dancing and Ghost and as Orry Main in the North and South television miniseries. In 1991 he was named by People magazine as its "Sexiest Man Alive."

Swayze received a Golden Globe Award nomination for his role in "Dirty Dancing" and also sang one of the songs on the soundtrack, "She's Like the Wind," which he had originally co-written with Stacy Widelitz for the film Grandview, U.S.A. The song became a top ten hit and has been covered by many other artists.

Press links below to view You Tube video performances:
-- "The Time of My Life" (From "Dirty Dancing")

HIGHLY Recommended (Press album covers for direct links to Amazon):
One Last DanceDirty Dancing: Limited Keepsake EditionGhost

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sept. 13: Rapper Tupac Shakur- AKA 2Pac, AKA Makaveli - died on this date in 1996...


... he was 25 years-old when he died.
Tupac Amaru Shakur has sold over 75 million albums worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists in the world. In the U.S. he has sold 37.5 million records. Rolling Stone named him the 86th Greatest Artist of All Time.
Tupac Amaru Shakur was born in the East Harlem section of New York City. He was named after Túpac Amaru II, a Peruvian revolutionary who led an indigenous uprising against Spain and was subsequently executed.

His mother, Afeni Shakur, and his father, Billy Garland, were active members of the Black Panther Party in New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Several sources list his birth name as "Lesane Parish Crooks." This name was supposedly entered on the birth certificate because his mother was afraid for his safety. She changed it later, following her marriage to Mutulu Shakur. (Shakur had a younger half-sister, Sekyiwa, and an older stepbrother, Mopreme "Komani" Shakur, who appeared on many of his records.)

Struggle and incarceration surrounded Shakur from an early age. Still, when he was twelve, Shakur enrolled in Harlem's 127th Street Repertory Ensemble and was cast as the Travis Younger character in the play A Raisin in the Sun, performed at the Apollo Theater. In 1986, the family relocated to Baltimore, Maryland. After completing his second year at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School he transferred to the Baltimore School for the Arts, where he studied acting, poetry, jazz, and ballet.

(Continued below video and Amazon portals ...)

(Press album cover for direct link to the entire Amazon Website):

All Eyez on Me


He performed in Shakespearean plays, and in the role of the Mouse King in The Nutcracker. Shakur, accompanied by one of his friends, Dana "Mouse" Smith, as his beatbox, won most of the many rap competitions that he participated in and was considered to be the best rapper in his school. He was remembered at his school because of his sense of humor, superior rapping skills, and ability to mix in with all crowds.

He developed a close friendship with a young Jada Pinkett (later Jada Pinkett Smith) that lasted until his death. A poem written by Shakur titled "Jada" appears in his book, The Rose That Grew From Concrete, which also includes a poem dedicated to Pinkett Smith called "The Tears in Cupid's Eyes."

In June 1988, his family moved to Marin City, California, Tupac enrolled at Tamalpais High School. He began attending the poetry classes of Leila Steinberg in 1989. That same year, Steinberg organized a concert with a former group of Shakur's, Strictly Dope. The concert led to his signing with Atron Gregory who set him up as a roadie and backup dancer with the young rap group Digital Underground in 1990.

Shakur's professional career began in the early 1990s, when he debuted his rapping skills in a vocal turn in Digital Underground's "Same Song" from the soundtrack to the 1991 film Nothing but Trouble and also appeared with the group in the film of the same name. The song was later released as the lead song of the Digital Underground EP;  the follow-up to their debut hit album Sex Packets. Shakur appeared in the accompanying music video.

After his rap debut, he performed with Digital Underground again on the album Sons of the P. Later, he released his first solo album, 2Pacalypse Now.

2Pacalypse Now did not do as well on the charts as future albums. His second record, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., was released in 1993.

In late 1993, Shakur formed the group Thug Life with a his friends, including Big Syke, Macadoshis, his stepbrother Mopreme Shakur, and Rated R. The group released their only record album Thug Life: Volume 1 in September 1994. It went gold.

The album featured the single "Pour Out a Little Liquor" produced by Johnny "J" Jackson, who went on to produce a large part of Shakur's album All Eyez on Me. The group usually performed their concerts without Shakur.

On his second record, Shakur continued to rap about the social ills facing African-Americans, with songs like "The Streetz R Deathrow" and "Last Wordz." He also showed his compassionate side with the anthem "Keep Ya Head Up," while simultaneously putting his legendary aggressiveness on display with the title track from the album Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.

In 1995 he released his incendiary album, Me Against the World. In 1996, Shakur released All Eyez on Me. Many of these tracks are considered by many critics to be classics, including "Ambitionz Az a Ridah," "I Ain't Mad at Cha," "California Love," "Life Goes On" and "Picture Me Rollin'". All Eyez on Me was a change of style from his earlier works. While still containing socially conscious songs and themes, Shakur's album was heavily influenced by party tracks and tended to have a more "feel good" vibe than his first albums. Shakur described it as a celebration of life, and the record was critically and commercially successful.

In addition to his career as a rap artist, he was also an actor. The themes of most of Tupac's songs are the violence and hardship in inner cities, racism, other social problems, and conflicts with other rappers during the East Coast – West Coast hip hop rivalry. Shakur began his career as a roadie and backup dancer for the alternative hip hop group Digital Underground.

On the night of September 7, 1996, Shakur attended the Mike Tyson–Bruce Seldon boxing match at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. At approximately 11:15 pm, a white, four-door, late-model Cadillac with an unknown number of occupants pulled up to the sedan's right side, rolled down one of the windows, and rapidly fired a volley of gunshots at Shakur. Bullets struck him in the chest, pelvis, and his right hand and thigh. One of the rounds ricocheted into Shakur's right lung.

While in the critical care unit on the afternoon of September 13, 1996, Shakur died of internal bleeding.