celebrity culture

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michael scuffil
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celebrity culture

Post by michael scuffil » Tue Dec 27, 2016 12:49 pm

I remember when Buddy Holly died (it was while I was at CH). The event got about two column inches in the Daily Mail, and those of us who took any notice of pop music (a very small minority) were derided for even thinking this might be important. But this year has seen the deaths of David Bowie, Prince and George Michael, and the news is full of it. As it happens, I had actually heard of all three, and could even put a face to David Bowie (because he played Nicola Tesla in a film called 'The Prestige'). I daresay they deserved headlines in New Musical Express (a paper I had sent to me every week at CH). But the national press? For adults?

As it happens, the real greats of my adolescence are still alive: Little Richard, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry. But I doubt whether the news media will get quite so hysterical when they pop off.
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Re: celebrity culture

Post by Avon » Tue Dec 27, 2016 3:34 pm

michael scuffil wrote: As it happens, the real greats of my adolescence are still alive: Little Richard, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry. But I doubt whether the news media will get quite so hysterical when they pop off.
The generation that venerated such artists no longer pulls the strings at NME and MM. They've overshot their nostalgia opportunity.

George Michael made truly awful music. But it made the young ladies at CH extraordinarily pliant. And he was a good bloke.

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Re: celebrity culture

Post by Straz » Tue Dec 27, 2016 4:36 pm

A small point.
MM - or Melody Maker - is actually no more.
Its last issue was in December 2000, 74 years after the first issue was launched in 1926.
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Re: celebrity culture

Post by rockfreak » Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:25 pm

It's all a question of generation Michael, and I guess we all feel sentimental about the music of our adolescence. Popular culture wasn't taken seriously in the papers back then because the country was still stuck in a stiff upper lip, colonial, establishment, time-warp. What the Beatles, Stones, Bowie, etc did was to give British popular music its own distinctive voice. We started off copying the Americans in the 50s but by the mid-60s our artists were writing their own material and we started to storm the American market with it. One of the things you note in some stuff by the Beatles, Who, Kinks is a nod towards the English music hall, a quirkiness that made them particularly English. In addition of course to their ability to play live. To this day the Rolling Stones are considered one of the best live acts ever. I used to know David Bowie back in 1966 when he was just a fringe figure and he said that Anthony Newley was a big influence on him - the cheeky chappie, cockney outsider. But of course his music went on to develop in diverse and astonishing ways. It became a matter in the 60s not just of songs but of production and atmosphere; and astonishing visuals in the case of Bowie. Some of it (including Bowie) reflected the use of certain types of drugs.
I saw some of the 50s rock 'n' rollers when they came over in the 60s and 70s and some were still impressive, some not. Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis seemed to be just going through the motions but Carl Perkins came over to play the Wembley Country Music Festival and tore it up like it was still Memphis 1956.

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Re: celebrity culture

Post by J.R. » Fri Dec 30, 2016 11:33 am

Lucky you meeting Bowie, Freaky why back in the distant past.

I've got a lot of his music, and although he was often slated as an actor, I thought his performances were great.
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Re: celebrity culture

Post by LongGone » Fri Dec 30, 2016 2:47 pm

rockfreak wrote: I saw some of the 50s rock 'n' rollers when they came over in the 60s and 70s and some were still impressive, some not. Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis seemed to be just going through the motions but Carl Perkins came over to play the Wembley Country Music Festival and tore it up like it was still Memphis 1956.
I certainly disagree about Chuck Berry. I saw him early 64 in Liverpool and he was really on form. Incidentally, the Animals were the lead-in band and they played Rising Sun for the first time, and we all hated it because we were Joan Baez fans. Living in Brighton (one hour from London) and university at Bangor (two hours to Liverpool) let me see almost all the bands of the era, many before they made it big.
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Re: celebrity culture

Post by rockfreak » Fri Dec 30, 2016 10:33 pm

J.R. wrote:Lucky you meeting Bowie, Freaky why back in the distant past.

I've got a lot of his music, and although he was often slated as an actor, I thought his performances were great.

The Bowie story is this. In 1966 I was working on the advertising side of Disc and Music Echo, sister paper to Melody Maker at IPC, and I had an expense account which enabled me to take anyone in the music industry to lunch at expensive restaurants. This, for me, a music fanatic, was a dream ticket. I knew Bowie's then manager Ralph Horton and was trying to persuade him to take an ad for Bowie's latest single. Come and have lunch and talk about it, I said. So I booked at Gennaro's, a posh Italian in Soho which has since been knocked down, and Ralph turned up with the act in tow looking very dapper and very much the young mod. He was incredibly friendly and talkative on different subjects and said that Anthony Newley was his big influence. I got to know him for a while and went down to the Marquee when he was on. It was only about half full and his act was all soul; Don Covay, Wilson Pickett, etc, in contrast to his records which were quirky and completely unlike anything else at the time. But even then he seemed to have a winning personality and chatted to the audience across the footlights. Then I lost touch, but crossed over and started writing for the music press, before long getting Hunky Dory to review. As always with Bowie it was different to what had gone before and what was to come. He never trod water. What are your favourite albums? Mine are Aladdin Sane, Diamond Dogs and Station to Station. I'm a bit less keen on the Kraftwerk-influenced stuff.

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Re: celebrity culture

Post by J.R. » Sat Dec 31, 2016 10:20 am

rockfreak wrote:
J.R. wrote:Lucky you meeting Bowie, Freaky why back in the distant past.

I've got a lot of his music, and although he was often slated as an actor, I thought his performances were great.

The Bowie story is this. In 1966 I was working on the advertising side of Disc and Music Echo, sister paper to Melody Maker at IPC, and I had an expense account which enabled me to take anyone in the music industry to lunch at expensive restaurants. This, for me, a music fanatic, was a dream ticket. I knew Bowie's then manager Ralph Horton and was trying to persuade him to take an ad for Bowie's latest single. Come and have lunch and talk about it, I said. So I booked at Gennaro's, a posh Italian in Soho which has since been knocked down, and Ralph turned up with the act in tow looking very dapper and very much the young mod. He was incredibly friendly and talkative on different subjects and said that Anthony Newley was his big influence. I got to know him for a while and went down to the Marquee when he was on. It was only about half full and his act was all soul; Don Covay, Wilson Pickett, etc, in contrast to his records which were quirky and completely unlike anything else at the time. But even then he seemed to have a winning personality and chatted to the audience across the footlights. Then I lost touch, but crossed over and started writing for the music press, before long getting Hunky Dory to review. As always with Bowie it was different to what had gone before and what was to come. He never trod water. What are your favourite albums? Mine are Aladdin Sane, Diamond Dogs and Station to Station. I'm a bit less keen on the Kraftwerk-influenced stuff.
Probably Station to Station, though with all CD's, there are tracks I like and tracks I'm not so keen on, on every disc.
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Re: celebrity culture

Post by jhopgood » Sat Dec 31, 2016 12:04 pm

I am sure every generation will make the same claim, but the '60s were certainly the era to see, if not meet, some of the greats. Unlike my sister, who was a dancer in pantomimes, TV and at the Palladium, I never spoke to any of the "stars", some of whom would prop up the bar at Uni before going on stage. I managed to see close up, the Who at Bromley Court Hotel and then some 6 years later at Uni, Joe Cocker when he had just had his first hit, (i was fascinated by his apparently arthritic hands when he sang), Alan Price and a lot more who were probably one hit wonders.
After I left Uni, a friend told me that Paul McCartney and Wings had done an impromptu lunch time concert there, which I thought was probably BS until I saw a plaque commemorating the event when I visited a couple of years ago.
I get the impression that nowadays groups concentrate more on the celebrity aspect rather than their music, which was more important in my era.
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Re: celebrity culture

Post by rockfreak » Sat Dec 31, 2016 7:20 pm

Yes I'd certainly agree that the celeb bit has got uppermost these days. I remember seeing the Butterfield Blues Band on their only tour of the UK in 66 or 67 and they trooped on stage without any introduction in what appeared to be their work clothes, looking as if they'd just come off a building site and launched straight into their set. But who cared. We just wanted to hear the mighty Mike Bloomfield. And I remember that Rory Gallagher always used to wear that red check shirt with the sleeves rolled up, presumably to give himself what he imagined was the working man's look.

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Re: celebrity culture

Post by sejintenej » Sat Dec 31, 2016 11:03 pm

jhopgood wrote:I am sure every generation will make the same claim, but the '60s were certainly the era to see, if not meet, some of the greats. Unlike my sister, who was a dancer in pantomimes, TV and at the Palladium, I never spoke to any of the "stars", some of whom would prop up the bar at Uni before going on stage.
Apart from my Best Man (a successful businessman) and his wife (him music and she song writer) many of my closest contacts have been through family. One (who I knew from birth) danced with the Northern Ballet when she was 14 after several years as a trainee and is now officially a "Princess" working outside Paris for a US company I am not allowed to name! Another has umpteen fansites about her as a London musical star. One top singing star drank in my local pub and I never recognised her! Another neighbour had what has to have been the worst N°1 hit ever - my wife worked with his wife! Later I was one of two guests of the Brazilian Minister of Finance's beach house outside São Paulo - nice lady.

Whilst at CH I came across the Hawthorne,Salvadori and Moss crowd when working in the paddock at Goodwood. I went back to that later, working in England and Holland, meeting many of the top drivers of the seventies to nineties including Senna as a Formula Ford driver. I handed my track licence in about 18 years ago. Peter Hildrew and I were "invited" and went to Buck House (Seaman objected!) whilst I also had contact with a couple of well known writers with Scottish names - one was my godmother!

It is all a matter of luck if you meet someone famous - I assume they crap the same as you and I, they have red blood like the rest of us and those I have come across have been perfectly normal. As the dustman said, they can be rich or poor but they all throw out the same types of rubbish.
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Re: celebrity culture

Post by J.R. » Sun Jan 01, 2017 3:26 pm

Perhaps someone would like to start a new thread along the lines of "Famous People I Have Met" !
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Re: celebrity culture

Post by rockfreak » Sun Jan 01, 2017 8:28 pm

Further to Michael Scuffil's post about the old rock 'n'rollers, I think you can take it Michael that most papers will give these people a generous obit, especially Chuck Berry. Certainly the Guardian which has always been strong on the arts. Have you ever read Charlie Gillett's book "The Sound of the City" which is the seminal book about the evolvement of rock 'n' roll and shows that its roots actually go way back?

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Re: celebrity culture

Post by sejintenej » Sun Jan 01, 2017 8:45 pm

rockfreak wrote:Further to Michael Scuffil's post about the old rock 'n'rollers, I think you can take it Michael that most papers will give these people a generous obit, especially Chuck Berry. Certainly the Guardian which has always been strong on the arts. Have you ever read Charlie Gillett's book "The Sound of the City" which is the seminal book about the evolvement of rock 'n' roll and shows that its roots actually go way back?
My understanding is that most newspapers write obituaries of important people well before they die just to be prepared. Having it on file I suspect that they wouldn't want a leak of any negative text.
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Re: celebrity culture

Post by rockfreak » Fri Jan 13, 2017 8:33 pm

Michael has got me thinking back to the early '60s. The people I knew then who joined bands (or groups as they were known) never seemed to imagine that they would be on television next week or indeed necessarily get a record contact. For many they never got further than bashing out R&B and soul covers on the local pub and club circuit. But for many it gave them an opportunity to score illicit substances more easily and to catch sexually transmitted diseases in the back of the transit.

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