The King, The Queen and a vagabond bluesman

THREE MUSIC LEGENDS died on this day, August 16 — in 1938 and 1977 and 2018 — a king, a queen and an itinerant blues guitarist.

Official records show that Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, died 43 years ago at the age of 42 but for millions of people in the world, Elvis will never die.

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Aretha Franklin, who began her career as a child singing gospel at a Baptist Church in Detroit and went on to become the Queen of Soul, died two years ago at 76.

QUEEN OF SOUL

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THE BLUES ACCORDING TO ROBERT JOHNSON

We all know about Elvis and Aretha, but less is known about the founding member of the ‘Forever 27 Club,’ blues guitarist Robert Johnson, who died 82 years ago.

ITINERANT BLUESMAN

Robert Johnson is considered a master of the Delta blues style. He wasn’t around for long but his music had a great influence on many musicians of later years, including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Brian Jones and Keith Richard.

HIS DEATH IS STILL A MYSTERY

There are several theories how he died, including murder. According to his friend and fellow musician, Dave “Honeyboy” Edwards, Johnson was poisoned by his lover’s jealous boyfriend.

Johnson was playing at a country dance party near Greenwood, Mississippi, when he met his fate.

“There was this jealous man at the dance who had a good looking woman, and he didn’t want to lose her. And Robert was about to take her away,” Edwards related.

THAT LAST SWIG WAS A KILLER

The jealous man put a poison-laced pint of corn whiskey on the chair next to Johnson as he played, according to Edwards. Johnson took a swig and started feeling sick. Edwards took him to a friend’s house. Johnson died three days later.

“Robert loved whiskey and women,” Edwards said, “but some women you got to leave alone, you know what I mean?”

Johnson’s death makes him the founding member of the ‘Forever 27 Club’ — famous musicians who died at 27.

INCLUDING ROBERT JOHNSON

BOB DYLAN SINGS HIS PRAISE

Robert Johnson’s influence on generations of musicians has been huge.

Eric Clapton called him “the most important blues musician who ever lived.”

Bob Dylan wrote: “If I hadn’t heard the Robert Johnson record when I did, there probably would have been hundreds of lines of mine that I wouldn’t have felt free enough or upraised enough to write.”

Said The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, “You want to know how good the blues can get? Well, this is it.”

Crossroad

AND THAT’S THE NAME OF THAT TUNE

That’s the story of Robert Johnson. But the last tribute on this page is for the King.

Thank you very much.


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Bill Haley shook up Conservative America

ROCK ANTHEM FOR 1950s YOUTH

Remembering Bill Haley, the guy who shook up 1950s conservative white America with Rock Around the Clock, died on February 9, 1981, at the age of 55.

The song was considered by parents to be a bad influence on their kids, as exemplified when it was used as the title track of the juvenile delinquent movie The Blackboard Jungle.

Rock Around the Clock shook America.

Originally recorded by Sunny Dae in 1952, Bill Haley’s version had modest sales until the movie turned it into a megahit, topping the Billboard charts in the U.S. and the U.K.

Bill Haley and His Comets “combined black rhythm and blues, country western and western swing and came up with what they called cowboy jive” — now known as Rock ‘n Roll.

The song was written in 1952 in a 12-bar blues format by Max Freedman and James Myers (under Jimmy De Knight) in 1952.

FULL STORY OF THE SONG HERE

Rock Around the Clock shook America.
Crowds swarm theater to see the movie ‘Rock Around the Clock’ in Amsterdam.

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This cool guy saved the life of a music legend

Folk singer John Baldry was born on this day, January 12, 1941, and the world of music thanks him from the bottom of its collective heart.

If “Long John” Baldry — he was 6-feet-7 — had never been born, an unknown pianist named Reggie Dwight might have been doomed.

Back in 1969, keyboard musician Reginald Dwight was engaged to be married to a young woman. There was one problem. Dwight was secretly gay. In those days the closet door was firmly closed.

Male homosexuality was a criminal offense in Britain until 1967 — punishable by forced medication and/or jail time.

ATTEMPTED SUICIDE

As the wedding day approached Dwight was torn up inside and sank into a deep depression. He tried to kill himself.

Enter Dwight’s pals, singer John Baldry, who was also gay, and lyricist Bernie Taupin. They told their friend to admit his true sexuality and call off the wedding.

Taupin and Baldry and Elton john
Reg Dwight and Bernie Taupin

Dwight told his fiancée, Linda Woodrow, the truth and the wedding was cancelled. Dwight later changed his name to include part of Baldry’s, and the rest, as they say, is history.

🎵 ’Saved in time, thank God my music’s still alive’ 🎵

The “someone” in Elton John’s 1975 hit “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” which was written by Taupin, is Long John Baldry — Sugar Bear in the song.

PIONEER IN BRITISH ROCK SCENE

John Baldry, who died on July 21, 2005, was known as a pioneer in the British blues-rock scene in the 1960s.

He started out as a folk singer, touring Europe with American Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and formed a couple of different bands, one with the afore-mentioned Reg Dwight on keyboard, and another with a guy named Rod Stewart.

Rod Stewart and John Baldry, back when.

Baldry’s one big hit was “Let the Heartaches Begin,” which went to No. 1 on the British charts in 1967. This is one sweet song.

ROD STEWART WAS THERE FOR HIM

When John Baldry died in Vancouver, Canada, on July 21, 2005 at the age of 64, Rod Stewart was at his bedside.

P.S.

Elton John did not publicly come out as gay until 1988.

Linda Woodrow later moved to America, got married and had three children.


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