Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April 30: country singer-songwriter, author, poet, actor, and activist, Willie Nelson is 80-years-old today.


Be sure to watch video of Willie Nelson singing "Crazy" at the end of this post.
Did you know?

In March 2007, Ben & Jerry's released a new flavor, Willie Nelson’s Country Peach Cobbler Ice Cream, with a portion of Nelson's proceeds donated to Farm Aid.

"Willie's guitar, Trigger"

Born in Abbott, Texas, Willie Hugh Nelson started studying music from mail order material that his grandparents gave him. He wrote his first song at age seven and joined his first band at nine.

Nelson picked cotton at an early age, and to earn extra money, sang in local dance halls, taverns, and honky tonks beginning at age thirteen and in high school. Nelson was influenced musically during his childhood by Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, Ernest Tubb, Django Reinhardt, Ray Price and Hank Snow.

When Willie was in high school his sister married Bud Fletcher, a local musician who invited Nelson to join his band, The Bohemian Fiddlers as their lead singer and guitar player. After graduating from high school in 1950, he joined the Air Force. However, he was discharged due to back problems.

After his return, Nelson attended Baylor University for two years but dropped out because he was succeeding in music. During this time, he worked as a disc jockey in Texas radio stations and a singer in honky tonks.

Nelson moved to Vancouver, Washington, where he wrote "Family Bible" and recorded the song "Lumberjack" in 1956. In 1960, he signed a publishing contract with Pamper Music which allowed him to join Ray Price's band as a bassist. During that time, he wrote songs that would become country standards, including "Funny How Time Slips Away," "Hello Walls," "Pretty Paper," and "Crazy." In 1962, he recorded his first album, And Then I Wrote. Due to this success, Nelson signed in 1965 with RCA Victor and joined the Grand Ole Opry.

Willie in 1966
In 1973, after signing with Atlantic Records, Nelson turned to outlaw country, including albums such as Shotgun Willie and Phases and Stages. In 1975, he switched to Columbia records, where he recorded the critically acclaimed album, Red Headed Stranger. The same year, he confirmed his move to outlaw country with the 1976 album Wanted! The Outlaws, which he recorded with Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser.

During the mid 1980s, while creating hit albums like Honeysuckle Rose and recording hit songs like "On the Road Again," "To All the Girls I've Loved Before," and "Pancho & Lefty," he joined the country supergroup The Highwaymen, along with fellow singers, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson.

During the 1990s and 2000s, Nelson continued touring extensively, and released albums every year. Reviews ranged from positive to mixed. Nelson explored genres such as reggae, blues, jazz, and folk.

Nelson made his first movie appearance in the 1979 film, The Electric Horseman, followed by other appearances in movies and on television.

Today, Nelson is co-chair of the advisory board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which is in favor of marijuana legalization.

On the environmental front, Nelson owns the bio-diesel brand Willie Nelson Biodiesel, which is made from vegetable oil.

He is the co-founder and president of Farm Aid, and has been contributing to the benefit concert series since the first event in 1985, organizing concerts and performing with other prominent artists. Nelson is also the Honorary Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Texas Music Project, the official music charity of the state of Texas.

An important collection of Willie Nelson materials (1975–1994) became part of the Wittliff collections of Southwestern Writers, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas. The collection contains lyrics, screenplays, letters, concert programs, tour itineraries, posters, articles, clippings, personal effects, promotional items, souvenirs, and documents. The collection documents how Farm Aid contributions were used and Nelson's IRS troubles. Most of the material was collected by Nelson friend Bill Wittliff who wrote or co-wrote Honeysuckle Rose, Barbarosa and Red Headed Stranger.

(Continued below video and Amazon portals ...)

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

Essential Willie Nelson


On June 23, 2010 Nelson was inducted to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry. Nelson is an honorary trustee of the Dayton International Peace Museum. In 2010, Austin, Texas renamed Second Street to Willie Nelson Boulevard. The city also planned to honor him with a life-size statue to be placed at the entrance of Austin City Limits' new studio.


For more about Willie, visit his Website at -



April 30: Bobby Vee - "Rubber Ball," "Take Good Care of my Baby" - is 70-years-old today.


Video of Bobby singing "Take Good Care of My Baby" at end of this post)
Did you know?

Early in Vee's career, a musician named Elston Gunnn briefly toured with the band. "Gunnn," whose birth name was Robert Allen Zimmerman, later went on to fame as Bob Dylan.

In Dylan's autobiography, "Chronicles, Volume One," he makes special mention of Bobby Vee and shares significant and complimentary details about their friendship, both professional and personal.

Bobby Vee was born Robert Thomas Velline in Fargo, North Dakota in 1943. According to Billboard magazine, Vee has had 38 Hot 100 chart hits, 10 of which hit the Top 20.

When Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper were killed in the airplane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa in February 1959, Velline, then aged 15, and a hastily-assembled band of Fargo, North Dakota, schoolboys calling themselves The Shadows, volunteered to fill in for Holly and his band at the Moorhead engagement, where the three deceased singers were headed when they died. This performance led to Vee's career as a singer. Despite the circumstances of his debut, Vee went on to become a star, and regularly performs at the Winter Dance Party memorial concerts in Clear Lake to this day.

Bobby's first single was "Suzie Baby," an original song by Vee that mimicked Buddy Holly's "Peggy Sue." His follow-up single, a cover of Adam Faith's UK number 1 "What Do You Want?," charted in the lower reaches of Billboard in early 1960. His fourth release, a revival of The Clovers' doo-wop ballad "Devil or Angel," was his first real chart success, and his next single, "Rubber Ball," was the record that made him a musical star.

Vee's 1961 summer release "Take Good Care of My Baby" went to No.1 on the Billboard U.S. listings and number 3 in the UK Singles Chart. Vee went on to record a string of international hits in the 1960s, including "Devil or Angel," the aforementioned "Rubber Ball," "More Than I Can Say," "Run To Him," "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" and "Come Back When You Grow Up."

Vee was also a pioneer in the music video genre, appearing in several musical motion pictures as well as in the Scopitone series of early film-and-music jukebox recordings.

In 1963, Bobby Vee released a tribute album on Liberty Records called "I Remember Buddy Holly." In the sleeve notes accompanying the album, Vee recalled Holly's influence on him and the events surrounding the tragic death of Holly: "... Buddy was scheduled to appear at a dance in my home town of Fargo, North Dakota. It was going to be a big event for the whole town, but even more so for me. I was anxiously looking forward to seeing Buddy in action.'

Vee continued, 'The day he was to arrive disaster struck, taking Buddy's life, along with the lives of two other fine singers, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper. The shocking news spread through Fargo very quickly. The local radio station broadcast a plea for local talent to entertain at the scheduled dance.

"About a week before this, I had just organized a vocal and instrumental group of five guys. Our style was modelled after Buddy's approach and we had been rehearsing with Buddy's hits in mind. When we heard the radio plea for talent, we went in and volunteered. We hadn't even named the group up to that time, so we gave ourselves a name on the spot, calling ourselves 'The Shadows.'

"We appeared at the dance and were grateful to be enthusiastically accepted. Soon afterwards, I made my first record. It was called 'Suzie Baby' and I was pretty lucky with it; it was a fair-sized hit."

Vee concluded, 'For some time now, I have wanted to make an album in tribute to Buddy, but I wasn't sure it was the proper thing to do. However, during the past year, I have received many requests to do such an album. ... I have made many records, but I have never forgotten Buddy Holly and his influence on my singing style and my career.'

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


Bobby Vee is still performing and touring internationally as of 2008, along with his backup band, The Vees, which includes his two elder sons, Jeff and Tommy Vee. His youngest son, Robby Vee, is also a recording and performing artist. EMI/UK released 'The Very Best of Bobby Vee' on May 12, 2008.

Bobby Vee is a recipient of the state of North Dakota's Roughrider Award and his contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. In 2009 Bobby Vee was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.

For more about Bobby, visit his Website at -



April 30: actress, singer & dancer, Dianna Agron – “Glee” – is 27-years-old today.

Dianna Elise Agron was born on April 30, 1986 in Savannah, Georgia, and was raised in San Antonio, Texas and San Francisco, California. She has been dancing since the age of three, focusing mainly on jazz and ballet, and she later began hip-hop dancing. She fell in love with musical theater as a child, often performing in local and school productions, and played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz in fifth grade, and began teaching dance as a teenager.

She began her acting career by playing minor characters on TV series and films, such as Close to Home, When a Stranger Calls, The Romantics and Drake & Josh.

She also appeared in several episodes of Veronica Mars and Heroes.

She branched out into writing and directing with the result being the short film A Fuchsia Elephant, the story about an 18-year-old girl played by Agron who creates an ideal birthday party. She also played roles in films such as The Hunters, I Am Number Four and Glee: The 3D Concert Movie. In 2013, she is starred in the movie The Family.

Agron's most notable role to date is as Quinn Fabray, a high school cheerleader, on the Fox series Glee. Agron has won many awards and nominations thanks to this role.

Agron was the last primary actor to be cast, having won the role only days before the pilot began filming. Agron said in a 2009 interview pertaining to her casting session: "I nearly bailed on my audition for the show. I was so nervous.”

With her wholesome good looks, Agron certainly looked the part, but the producers wondered if she appeared too innocent. Agron said in an interview: "They told me to come back with straight hair and to dress sexier. Later that week, I started work."

Agron auditioned with Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon.” Quinn is described by Agron as Rachel Berry's (Lea Michele) enemy, and "terrible, the meanest girl.” Quinn was originally conceived as the antagonistic queen bee head cheerleader, a departure from Agron's actual high school experience.

Several songs performed by Agron as Quinn Fabray on Glee have been released as singles, available for digital download, also featured on the show's soundtrack albums.

Agron made her musical debut at the end of the episode "Showmance,” performing Dionne Warwick's "I Say a Little Prayer.” Quinn's next solo was in the episode "Throwdown,” performing The Supremes' "You Keep Me Hangin' On.” The song was released on Glee: The Music, Volume 1.

In season three, Quinn sings her first solo number since the first season, "Never Can Say Goodbye" by The Jackson 5, which received mostly positive reviews. In February 2013, Agron hosted and performed "Dreams" and "What's Love Got to Do with It" featuring A House For Lions to the 1st "You, Me and Charlie" concert in Los Angeles.


Monday, April 29, 2013

April 29: Lonnie Donegan - "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor..."- was born on this date in 1931...

Lonnie was 71 when he passed away from heart problems on Nov. 3, 2002. 
Lonnie Donegan was a Scottish singer, guitar, banjo, songwriter and pioneer, who launched the skiffle craze in the UK.  . Born in in Bridgeton, Glasgow, Scotland, BS commonly known as the "King of Skiffle" he was a huge influence on the generation of 1960s British musicians including Paul McCartney and John Lennon.  

The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles & Albums states Lonnie was "Britain's most successful and influential recording artist before The Beatles. He chalked up 24 successive Top 30 hits, and was the first UK male to score two U.S. Top 10s".

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

 King of SkiffleOriginal Hits of the Skiffle Explosion


Among Lonnie's many hits include "Rock Island Line," "Gamblin' Man," "Lost John," "Don't You Rock Me Daddy-O," "Cumberland Gap," "My Dixie Darlin'," "Jack O' Diamonds," "The Grand Coulee Dam," "Sally Don't You Grieve," "Tom Dooley," "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It's Flavor (On The Bedpost Over Night)," "Battle of New Orleans" and "My Old Man's A Dustman."


Sunday, April 28, 2013

April 28: Actress, dancer & “singer,” Jessica Alba is 32-years-old today.

Jessica Alba was born on April 28, 1981 in Pomona, California. During childhood, she suffered from partially collapsed lungs twice, had pneumonia four to five times a year, as well as a ruptured appendix and a tonsillar cyst.

Alba became isolated from other children at school, because she was in the hospital so often due to her illnesses. Alba has also had asthma since she was a child. Alba has said that her family's frequent moving also contributed to her isolation from her peers. She has acknowledged that she has suffered from obsessive–compulsive disorder during her childhood.

Alba graduated from high school at age 16, and she subsequently attended the Atlantic Theater Company. Alba expressed interest in acting since the age of five. In 1992, the 11-year-old Alba persuaded her mother to take her to an acting competition in Beverly Hills, whose grand prize was free acting classes. Alba won the grand prize, and took her first acting lessons. An agent signed Alba nine months later.


Her first appearance on film was a small role in the 1994 feature Camp Nowhere as Gail. She was originally hired for two weeks but her role turned into a two-month job when one of the prominent actresses dropped out. Alba appeared in two national television commercials for Nintendo and J.C. Penney as a child. She was later featured in several independent films.

Jessica branched out into television in 1994 with a recurring role as the vain Jessica in three episodes of the Nickelodeon comedy series The Secret World of Alex Mack. She then performed the role of Maya in the first two seasons of the television series Flipper. Alba rose to prominence as the lead actress in the television series Dark Angel from 2000–2002.

Alba later appeared in various films, including Honey, Sin City, Fantastic Four, Into the Blue, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Good Luck Chuck.

She appears on the "Hot 100" section of Maxim and was voted number one on AskMen.com's list of "99 Most Desirable Women" in 2006, as well as "Sexiest Woman in the World" by FHM in 2007.

In 2005, TV Guide ranked her # 45 on its "50 Sexiest Stars of All Time" list. The use of her image on the cover of the March 2006 Playboy sparked a lawsuit by her, which was later dropped.

She has also won various awards for her acting, including the Choice Actress Teen Choice Award and Saturn Award for Best Actress on Television, and a Golden Globe nomination for her lead role in the television series Dark Angel.

While not a singer per se she has appeared in a number of music videos and has danced in films.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

April 25: "First Lady of Song" Ella Fitzgerald was born on this date in 1917...

... she died on June 15, 1996 at 79 years-of-age.

"Lady Ella," Ella Jane Fitzgerald was an American jazz and song vocalist. With a vocal range spanning three octaves she was noted for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing and intonation, and a "horn-like" improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing.

Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, Virginia. When she was young, Fitzgerald wanted to be a dancer, although she loved listening to jazz recordings by Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby and The Boswell Sisters, especially the lead singer Connee Boswell.

In 1932, her mother died from a heart attack. At one point worked as a lookout at a bordello and also with a Mafia-affiliated numbers runner. When the authorities caught up with her, she was first placed in an orphanage then the New York Training School for Girls in Hudson, New York, a state reformatory.

She made her singing debut at 17 on November 21, 1934 at the Apollo Theater. in Harlem, New York. She pulled in a weekly audience at the Apollo and won the opportunity to compete in one of the earliest of its famous "Amateur Nights." She had originally intended to go on stage and dance but, intimidated by the Edwards Sisters, a local dance duo, she decided to sing Connee Boswell's "Judy" and "The Object of My Affection. She won the $25.00 first prize.

In January 1935, Fitzgerald won the chance to perform for a week with the Tiny Bradshaw band at the Harlem Opera House where she met drummer and bandleader Chick Webb. She began singing regularly with Webb's Orchestra through 1935 at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom. Fitzgerald recorded several hit songs with them, including "Love and Kisses" and "(If You Can't Sing It) You'll Have to Swing It (Mr. Paganini)."

But it was her 1938 version of the nursery rhyme, "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," a song she co-wrote, that brought her wide public acclaim.

Chick Webb died on June 16, 1939, and his band was renamed "Ella Fitzgerald and her Famous Orchestra" with Ella taking on the role of bandleader. Fitzgerald recorded nearly 150 sides during her time with the orchestra.

In 1942, Fitzgerald left the band to begin a solo career. She had several popular hits while recording with such artists as the Ink Spots, Louis Jordan, and the Delta Rhythm Boys on the Decca label.


(Continued below video and Amazon portals ...)

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

Pure Ella

With the demise of the Swing era and the decline of the great touring big bands, a major change in jazz music occurred. The advent of bebop led to new developments in Fitzgerald's vocal style, influenced by her work with Dizzy Gillespie's big band.

It was in this period that Fitzgerald started including scat singing as a major part of her performance repertoire. While singing with Gillespie, Fitzgerald said, "I just tried to do [with my voice] what I heard the horns in the band doing."

Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook, released in 1956, was the first of eight multi-album Songbook sets Fitzgerald would record for Verve Records between 1956 to 1964 after leaving Decca. Fitzgerald's song selections ranged from standards to rarities and represented an attempt by Fitzgerald to cross over into a non-jazz audience.

Fitzgerald had a number of famous jazz musicians and soloists as sidemen over her long career. The trumpeters Roy Eldridge and Dizzy Gillespie, the guitarist Herb Ellis, and the pianists Tommy Flanagan, Oscar Peterson, Lou Levy, Paul Smith, Jimmy Rowles, and Ellis Larkins all worked with Ella mostly in live, small group settings.
Ella Fitzgerald is considered a top interpreter of the Great American Songbook. Over a recording career that lasted 59 years, she was the winner of 13 Grammy Awards including one for Lifetime Achievement in 1967.

Other major awards and honors she received during her career were the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Medal of Honor Award, National Medal of Art, first Society of Singers Lifetime Achievement Award, named "Ella" in her honor, Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 23: Rock and roll pioneer Roy Orbison was born on this date in 1936...

... he was only 52 when he died after a heart attack on December 6, 1988.

Roy Kelton Orbison was a Grammy Award-winning American singer-songwriter, guitarist and a pioneer of rock and roll whose recording career spanned more than four decades. He was rarely seen on stage without his trademark black sunglasses.


Orbison grew up in Texas and began singing in a rockabilly and country & western band in high school until he was signed by Sun Records in Memphis. His greatest success came with Monument Records in the early to mid 1960s when 22 of his songs placed on the US Billboard Top Forty. His many hits included "Ooby Dooby," "Only the Lonely," "In Dreams," "Oh, Pretty Woman," "Crying," "Running Scared" and "You Got It."

He was known for his smooth, but powerful tenor voice, which could jump three octaves with seemingly little effort. The combination of Orbison's voice and complex musical arrangements led many commentators to refer to his music as operatic, dubbing him "the Caruso of Rock."

In 1988, he, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan formed the super group Traveling Wilburys who recorded two albums, but sadly Roy had died before the 2nd album.
 EssentialRoy Orbison - Black & White Night (DVD & DVD Audio)Roy Orbison - 50 All Time Greatest HitsCollection

Orbison was a member of the second class entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He was introduced by longtime admirer Bruce Springsteen. The same year he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Rolling Stone placed Orbison at number 37 in their list of The Greatest Artists of All Time, and rated him number 13 in their list of The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time in 2008. In 2002, Billboard magazine listed Orbison at number 74 in the Top 600 recording artists.

In 1989, he was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.