Happy New Year, everybody... As usual, we've had a few celebrity deaths in the waning days of 2022. One person who died yesterday was Anita Pointer, who was one of the Pointer Sisters. I always enjoyed their music back in the days when I was a wee lass growing up. Anita, who was suffering from cancer and was 74 years old, was the fourth of six children born to parents, Elton and Sarah Pointer. Anita was born in California, but her parents came from Arkansas, and they were very strict, as Elton Pointer was a minister. Anita was their fourth child of six.
Reverend and Mrs. Pointer were very much against what they called "the devil's music", which basically seemed to include any type of music that wasn't religious, especially rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and the blues. Nevertheless, the pull of pop music was too strong to resist, and the sisters came together to make their own, special brand of music.
In 1969, Anita and her sisters, June and Bonnie, who are both now deceased, formed their very successful trio, The Pointer Sisters. In 1972, their sister Ruth, also joined. Ruth is the oldest, and is still living. She is the only member of the current incarnation of the Pointer Sisters who was in the original line up. Her daughter, Issa, and granddaughter, Sadako, are also in the group today.
I always really enjoyed the Pointer Sisters when they were in their prime. I remember a lot of their songs, which were always impeccably harmonized and had broad, commercial appeal. They also covered songs by artists who sang different styles. For instance, they famously covered the song "Fire" by Bruce Springsteen. I love Bruce's version, but I always think of theirs first.
A news item about Anita Pointer's death.
Anyway, below are a few songs by The Pointer Sisters... I don't think they make 'em like this anymore...
"I'm So Excited"
"Jump For My Love"
And here's "Overnight Success", a solo song by Anita Pointer.
Wherever Anita is now, I hope she's resting in eternal peace!
Just a couple of days ago, I wrote about the unexpected death of Irene Cara. And now, I'm writing about the wonderful and incomparable Christine McVie, who passed away in a hospital yesterday at age 79 after a "short illness". At this time, the actual cause of death hasn't been officially announced, but I did read that Christine was in "poor health" over the summer and was having trouble with her back.
I just want to take a short moment to post about how much I've admired Christine McVie's incredible contributions to popular music. There's never been a time in my life when her songs haven't touched me in some way. When Fleetwood Mac was white hot, I was a small child living in England. I can't listen to songs like "Over My Head" or "You Make Loving Fun" without thinking of the woman who wrote them and remembering my sojourn living in her native country.
I've always felt that Christine McVie was extremely underrated. Stevie Nicks got a lot more attention, because she was pretty much the front woman of Fleetwood Mac, wearing outlandish Welsh "witch" costumes, dancing, and and singing out in front of the crowds. Christine, by contrast, was always behind her keyboards, quieter, more reserved, understated, but always impeccable and classy. She was a songwriting powerhouse, and always willing to chip in on projects with other musicians.
It's funny, because yesterday, I posted a review of Stephen Bishop's autobiography, On and Off, on my main blog. Bishop can always be counted on to post on the social media accounts of other celebrities. It was because of his condolences on Christine McVie's Facebook page that I "heard" about her passing so quickly.
Christine McVie was certainly old enough to pass naturally... but that doesn't mean that anyone was ready for her to go. I was shocked when I read the news, and genuinely saddened, even though I know this is a part of life. I guess reading about the heroes of my youth passing the bar is a reminder that my time is coming. But I do feel so fortunate that I was around when Christine McVie was at the top of her game. She has left an indelible mark on music that won't fade for many generations. That is extraordinary. Her death was announced about twelve hours ago, and YouTube is already flooded with tributes.
You Make Loving Fun
Over My Head
Got A Hold On Me
As Long As You Follow
And one of my personal favorites, Brown Eyes
Restin peace, Christine McVie. There's a new songbird in Heaven today...
I was so sad to read that Irene Cara, who famously starred as Coco Hernandez on the movie version of Fame, and famously sang the title songs for both Fame and Flashdance, has passed away at the age of 63. At this writing, the cause of death hasn't been announced.
As a child of the 70s and 80s, Irene Cara was definitely on my personal soundtrack. I loved the movie, Fame, but I also remember Irene because she was on The Electric Company, which was my favorite children's educational show when I was a little girl. Flashdance was also a big movie when I was growing up, and her rendition of "Flashdance: What a Feeling!" still sounds great almost forty years after that movie came out.
I remember she had some memorable dance hits in the early 80s that were very good. I still like to listen to them today, even if it's been awhile since I last saw anyone break dance. Irene was a dynamic performer who put her own special energy into every song. She was very talented, and probably should have had a much bigger career than she did. She actually graduated from the Professional Children's School in Manhattan, so she was well cast in Fame.
"Out Here On My Own"
I loved this song, "Why Me"
And on The Electric Company!
I don't listen to Irene Cara's music on a daily basis anymore, but there was a time when she was on the radio all the time. She definitely made a huge impact in music, and she will be missed. Condolences to her friends and family who will miss her the most.
At 87 years old, Jerry Lee Lewis, well known for his flamboyant piano playing and many marriages, passed away on October 28, 2022. I don't know a whole lot about Jerry Lee Lewis, but of course I couldn't escape hearing his music. He was well known for his boogie piano inflected rock n'roll hits from the 50s and beyond.
Jerry Lee Lewis suffered a temporary career setback when he married his 13 year old first cousin, once removed, Myra Gale Brown. She wasn't even his first wife, although since their marriage lasted about twelve years, it was one of his longest matrimonial unions. Myra was wife number 3 out of 7 wives. Because Lewis was not yet legally divorced from his second wife, Jane Mitchum, when Lewis and Brown married on December 12, 1957 (16 days before my parents' marriage), he married her again on June 4, 1958. They had two children, a boy named Steven and a girl named Phoebe. Sadly, Steven died in a pool accident when he was 3 years old.
Jerry Lee Lewis's shortest marriage lasted only 77 days. In June 1983, he married Shawn Stephens. By August, they had split. Lewis had a total of six children. He went to a Bible college in Texas for awhile, but was thrown out due to his penchant for playing "wordly" music. However, he reportedly didn't want to record what was probably his most famous hit, "Great Balls of Fire", because he considered it blasphemous. Both Lewis and Elvis Presley were raised in the Assembly of God church, and were supposedly friends.
Jerry Lee Lewis had a very colorful and interesting life, and there was no denying his prodigious musical talent. But not only was he controversial because of his many wives and bigamous relationships; he was also quite fond of playing with guns. In 1976, he fired his pistol at a Coke bottle in his bedroom. The bullet ricocheted and his his bass player, Butch Owens, in the chest. Fortunately, Owens survived.
In November of 1976, Lewis was arrested outside of Graceland for allegedly trying to shoot Elvis Presley. Presley had asked him to come over to Graceland, but Lewis was trying to get his father out of the Tunica (Mississippi) jail for driving while intoxicated. Later, while he was drinking Champagne at a Memphis bar, Lewis remembered Presley had wanted to see him. Someone gave him a gun, and he took it and a bottle of Champagne to Elvis's mansion. There, he ran into the gates at Graceland, then tried to hurl the bottle of Champagne out the window, which was closed. The bottle and the window both smashed, and the police were called. Lewis claimed he hadn't meant to do any harm to his old friend, Elvis. Elvis, of course, famously died anyway, nine months later.
Whole Lot of Shakin' Goin' On...
I can't say I'm a big fan of Jerry Lee Lewis's music, but I sure have been exposed to a lot of his biggest hits. And he was no doubt a very exciting performer at a time when people clutched their pearls at watching Elvis gyrating his pelvis on television. Isn't it interesting how the most religious people turn out to be the most exciting performers? If you look at the entertainment business, you find a lot of folks who grew up in cults or restrictive faiths turn out to be extremely talented, dynamic, and entertaining. Maybe it's because there's something a little eccentric about people who grow up in cults.
Well, wherever he is now, I salute him. Maybe he and Elvis have made up, wherever they are right now.
I heard yesterday that country music's grand dame, Loretta Lynn, finally passed the bar at 90 years of age! What an amazing woman she was, coming from the poorest of circumstances, one of eight children, growing up in rural Kentucky during the Depression era. Like a lot of people my age, I grew up on Loretta's no nonsense, practical, and truth telling songs. I also remember her on ads for products like Crisco, and seeing Sissy Spacek play her in the movie, Coal Miner's Daughter.
I've always loved this song. It's so true!
As a child of the 80s, I remember Loretta in these ads!
Probably Loretta's best known song.
Given that Loretta Lynn was 90 years old, I don't find her passing particularly sad. She lived a good, long, productive life. But I do find it poignant that she's passed, as I consider her a national treasure. She wrote some really excellent songs that helped a lot of people-- especially women in difficult circumstances-- cope with life. And her songs were so folksy, pragmatic, and honest, delivered with a sass that only Loretta Lynn could offer. She was definitely a unique talent.
For some reason, my husband dislikes this song. I think it's cute.
My Granny probably related to this one.
Loretta Lynn married very young, and had six children of her own, two of whom predeceased her. Two of her children were older than their aunt, Crystal Gayle! Loretta was pregnant with her third child when her youngest sister, Crystal Gayle (born Brenda Gail Webb), was born! Loretta's siblings were mostly talented musicians and songwriters, although they weren't as famous as Loretta was. Even Crystal Gayle, who did have a few hits, wasn't as big as Loretta was. She was the voice of a generation.
I'm sure there are many musicians today who were hugely influenced by Loretta Lynn. She was an inspiration to so many people. I wish her family and friends peace and comfort as they mourn her passing. She was a wonderful lady, as far as I can tell. And I definitely know she was talented!
Back in 1991, I decided to become a disc jockey for my college radio station. One of the other people who was being trained at the same time I was, played a song by the Dream Warriors, a Canadian duo who spearheaded the "jazz hip hop" genre of the early 90s. This was the song she played...
I was immediately hooked.
Years later, Canadian Mike Myers released his Austin Powers films. Those movies also used a familiar hook that was in the song, "My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style" by the Dream Warriors...
I had no idea...
Last night, I finally learned the origin of that catchy hook, that was once used as the theme to a Canadian game show called Definition. Mike Myers had grown up watching Definition, so he decided to use the theme in his Austin Powers movies. I guess the game show was also why the Canadian Dream Warriors titled their hip hop song, "My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style".
I never knew...
This catchy, familiar, hooky music was composed by none other than American musical genius, Quincy Jones. Yes, that's right. The man that helped Michael Jackson make the biggest selling album of all time. The man behind the smooth jazz staple, "Breezin'", also composed "Soul Bossa Nova", which has been used in movies, television, and music for decades now... This piece was released in 1962, but it still sounds fresh, in a cool retro kind of way, in 2022.
I can't believe it took me over thirty years to find all of this out. Now I'm gonna have to go download the album.
Pat Benatar's Crimes of Passion was my very first album purchase! I had it on vinyl.
A few days ago, I ran across a news item about the great rock singer, Pat Benatar. Those of us who have been around awhile, know Pat as a tiny woman with a voice like a freight train traveling at top speed. She's hard to match when it comes to hard driving rock vocals.
In 1980, Pat had a huge hit song called "Hit Me With Your Best Shot". It was a song uniquely suited to her feisty style, and it no doubt made her a lot of money. In fact, my very first album purchase was Crimes of Passion, which was the album that song came from. I listened to it constantly, and that album remains a guilty pleasure.
“Fans are having a heart attack and I’m like, I’m sorry,” Benatar, who is in the middle of a US summer tour, said. “I tell them, if you want to hear the song, go home and listen to it. [The title] is tongue-in-cheek, but you have to draw the line.”
“I can’t say those words out loud with a smile on my face, I just can’t. I’m not going to go on stage and soapbox – I go to my legislators – but that’s my small contribution to protesting,” Benatar said. “I’m not going to sing it. Tough.”
It's funny, because I never really equated that song with actual guns. I always figured it was either about fighting or fucking. It's a tough anthem about fighting back, with a fierce guitar solo by Benatar's husband, Nick Giraldo, and Pat's own powerhouse vocals. "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" obviously isn't literally about weapons, but I guess the imagery was too much for her. Or maybe this is her way of getting attention.
Either way, it's her song, and her career, so if she doesn't want to sing that song anymore, so be it. There are plenty of other songs from her decades of performing that she could do. I, for one, am a big fan of the jazz album she did in 1991, True Love. Pat started out as a jazz singer, and frankly, I think she's just as good or even better singing jazzy blues as opposed to rock. A lot of rock stars put out standards albums, but I think Pat's would actually be really good!
Pat is DONE with this song.
I think she should do more songs like this one!
I have not seen Pat Benatar perform live, but I wouldn't pass up tickets to her show because of this issue. I've heard "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" lots of times. I don't think this decision should be that controversial, under the circumstances.