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Sunday, 21 September 2014

Dickey Lee born 21 September 1936


 Royden Dickey Lipscomb (born 21 September 1936), known professionally as Dickey Lee (sometimes misspelled Dickie Lee or Dicky Lee), is an American pop/country singer and songwriter, best known for the 1960s teenage tragedy songs "Patches" and "Laurie (Strange Things Happen)."

Lee made his first recordings in his hometown of Memphis for Tampa Records and Sun Records in 1957-58. He achieved his first chart success in 1962, when his composition "She Thinks I Still Care" was a hit for George Jones (covered by Elvis Presley, Connie Francis, Leon Russell and later Anne Murray as "He Thinks I Still Care").
 
 
 
 
Later that year, "Patches," written by Barry Mann and Larry Kobler and recorded by Lee for Smash Records, rose to No. 6. The song tells in waltz-time the story of teenage lovers of different social classes whose parents forbid their love. The girl drowns herself in 
the "dirty old river." The singer concludes: "It may not be right, but I'll join you tonight/ Patches I'm coming to you." Because of the teen suicide theme, the song was banned by a number of radio stations. However, it sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.

Lee had a No. 14 hit in 1963 with a song he co-wrote, a conventional rocker, "I Saw Linda Yesterday." In 1965, he returned to teen tragedy with "Laurie (Strange Things Happen)," a song related to the urban legends known as the vanishing hitchhiker and Resurrection Mary.

After the 1960s, Lee devoted his efforts to country music performing and song writing. His 1970s country hits as a singer include "Never Ending Song of Love," "Rocky" (another bitter-sweet song, written by Jay Stevens of Springfield, MO - a.k.a. Woody P. Snow), "Angels, Roses, and Rain," and "9,999,999 Tears." He also co-wrote several songs with Bob McDill, including "Someone Like You" (by Emmylou Harris) and "The Door is Always Open" (by several artists, most notably by Dave and Sugar).

He co-wrote the 1994 Tracy Byrd hit "The Keeper of the Stars," and has written or co-written songs for a number of other prominent country artists, including George Strait, Charley Pride, and Reba McEntire.

He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1995. Lee is included as co-writer and singer on singer-songwriter Michael Saxell's 2005 album Wonky Windmill on the song "Two Men".  (Info Wikipedia)
 
 

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Jackie Paris born 20 September 1924

 
Carlo Jackie Paris (September 20, 1924 – June 17, 2004) was an American jazz singer and guitarist.
 
Jackie Paris was born in Nutley, New Jersey to his father Carlo and mother Rose. He had a brother, Gene. A vocalist, Paris toured with Charlie Parker. He also tap-danced from his youth and into his years in the US Army, entertaining his fellow soldiers. He is best known for his recordings of "Skylark" and "'Round Midnight" from the late 1940s to the early 1950s. He performed and/or recorded with Terry Gibbs, Lionel Hampton, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Donald Byrd, Gigi Gryce, Charles Mingus, and others. He won many jazz polls and awards, including those of Down Beat, Playboy, Swing Journal, and Metronome.
 
Jackie was born in Nutley, New Jersey to an Italian-American family. His uncle Chick had been a guitarist with Paul Whiteman's famous orchestra.
 
He was a very popular child entertainer in vaudeville, a pint-sized song and dance man, who shared the stage with — and was encouraged by — such legendary black headliners as Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and the Mills Brothers.
 
After serving in the army during World War II, Paris, inspired by his friend Nat King Cole, put together a trio featuring himself on guitar and vocals. The Jackie Paris Trio were a hit at the Onyx Club on New York's 52nd Street. They played at the club for an unprecedented 26 weeks, perhaps the longest-running residency in the history of Swing Street.
 
The first song that Jackie ever recorded was "Skylark", on one of two sessions made by his trio, for MGM Records in 1947. The composer Hoagy Carmichael once said of Paris' rendition that "the kid sings the hell out of it."
 
In 1949, he was the first white vocalist to tour with the famous Lionel Hampton Orchestra. He remembered an occasion when he actually did 78 consecutive one-nighters with the band. When he finally got off the road, he received an offer to join Duke Ellington's Orchestra, but at that time was too exhausted to take it. For years after, Ellington's son Mercer would tell him, "You're the only guy that ever turned down my old man."
 
He was the first singer to record Thelonious Monk's future jazz anthem "Round Midnight", which was produced by the famous critic Leonard Feather and featured a young Dick Hyman on piano.
 
He was the only vocalist to ever tour as a regular member of the Charlie Parker Quintet. Unfortunately, no recordings exist of the Parker-Paris combination (although the "Round Midnight" session mentioned above features Parker's bassist and drummer, Tommy Potter and Roy Haynes), but there is a classic photograph of the two working together.
 
In 1953, Jackie Paris was named Best New Male Vocalist of the Year in the first ever Down Beat Critics Poll. The winning female vocalist was Ella Fitzgerald, who repeatedly named Paris as as one of her favourites.
 
Charlie Mingus named Paris as his favourite singer and used him on several recording sessions over a period of many decades, including 1952's "Paris In Blue" (written expressly for Paris) and the Mingus classic "Duke Ellington's Sound of Love" on the album Changes Two in 1974. Paris also worked extensively with the famous bassist, composer and bandleader in clubs.
 
He was the only singer ever endorsed by the legendary comic and 20th century iconoclast Lenny Bruce. Bruce not only shared the bill with Paris on many occasions, he shouted Paris's praises, saying "I dig his talent. The audience loves him and he gets laughs. He is toooo muccchhh!"
 
 
 
 
 
Other major musicians with whom Paris recorded include Hank Jones, Charlie Shavers, Joe Wilder, Wynton Kelly, Eddie Costa, Coleman Hawkins, Bobby Scott, Max Roach, Lee Konitz, Donald Byrd, Gigi Gryce, Ralph Burns, Tony Scott, Neal Hefti, Terry Gibbs, Johnny Mandel, and Oscar Pettiford.
 
Some of Paris's best-known albums include Songs By Jackie Paris (EmArcy), Jackie Paris Sings the Lyrics of Ira Gershwin (Time), and The Song Is Paris (Impulse!). He recorded consistently through the years, from the 1940s up to and beyond 2000.
 
In 2001, he played to a standing room crowd — and to a standing ovation — at New York's Birdland jazz club in Times Square. He was virtually the only performer to have appeared at every incarnation of the famed night spot, from the legendary Birdland of the 1950s to the present. He last performed in New York in March, 2004 at the Jazz Standard. Reviewing that performance, Robert L. Daniels of Variety wrote that Mr. Paris's familiar, warm, crusty baritone voice had lost none of its earthy passion or velvety lustre.
 
 

 
 
Paris died in Manhattan June 17, 2004 due to complications of bone cancer. (Info mainly Wikipedia) 
 
Here’s a music clip featuring scenes from the feature length documentary, "Tis Autumn: The Search for Jackie Paris"
 
 

Friday, 19 September 2014

Cass Elliot born 19 September 1941

 
Cass Elliot (born  September 19, 1941 – July 29, 1974), also known as Mama Cass, was an American singer and member of The Mamas & the Papas. After the group broke up, she released five solo albums. In 1998, Elliot, John Phillips, Denny Doherty, and Michelle Phillips were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for their work as The Mamas & the Papas. 
 
Best-known as one of the singers of the renowned '60s psychedelic pop outfit the Mamas & the Papas, Cass Elliot (or Mama Cass), was born Ellen Naomi Cohen on September 19, 1941, in Baltimore, MD.  Her family moved to Alexandria, VA when she was a child and she became interested in acting while in high school.  She left before graduating to move to NYC to try her hand as a full-time actress.  She adopted the name “Cass” (but not short for Cassandra) and the name Eliot for a HS friend who had died. 
 
She toured in the musical The Music Man, but lost the part of Miss Marmelstein in I Can Get It for You Wholesale to Barbra Streisand in 1962. 
 
With the folk music movement sweeping the nation around this time, Elliot formed the Big Three with other members Tim Rose and James Hendricks, issuing a few underappreciated albums (Live at the Recording Studio, The Big 3). The group eventually metamorphosized into the Mugwumps after Rose was replaced by a few other members, including Denny Doherty, but with only an obscure single to show for their hard work, the Mugwumps were kaput by 1964.  
 
To make a long story short, Elliot and Doherty eventually teamed up with the husband/wife team of John and Michelle Phillips, forming the Mamas & the Papas by the mid-'60s. Although the group would only remain together for a few short years, their impact on the rock music world was great. Elliot, known for her sense of humor and optimism, was considered by some to be the most charismatic member of the group. Her powerful, distinctive voice was a major factor in their success. 
 
 She is best remembered for her vocals on the group's hits "California Dreamin'," "Monday Monday," and "Words of Love," and particularly for the solo "Dream a Little Dream of Me," which the group recorded in 1968 after learning about the death of Fabian Andre, one of the men who co-wrote it, whom Michelle Phillips had met years earlier. Elliot's version is noteworthy for its contemplative pace, whereas almost all earlier recordings of "Dream a Little Dream of Me" (including one by Nat King Cole and another by Ozzie Nelson) had been up-tempo versions—the song having been written in 1931 as a dance tune.
 
 
 
 
 
A popular legend about Elliot is that her vocal range was improved by three notes after she was hit on the head by some copper tubing while walking through a construction site behind the bar where The New Journeymen were playing in the Virgin Islands. Elliot herself confirmed the story in a 1968 interview with Rolling Stone magazine. 
 

Upon the group's breakup in 1968, Elliot launched a solo career, issuing such albums as 1968's Dream a Little Dream of Me, 1969's Bubble Gum, Lemonade, & Something for Mama and Make Your Own Kind of Music, 1970's Mama's Big Ones, 1971's Dave Mason & Cass Elliot, 1972's The Road Is No Place for a Lady, and finally, 1973's Don't Call Me Mama Anymore. In addition, Elliot hosted two prime time TV specials of her own in 1969 and 1973, and appeared on numerous TV shows in the early '70s (including co-hosting The Tonight Show, as well as programs by Mike Douglas, Johnny Cash, Ed Sullivan, Carol Burnett, Tom Jones, and Red Skelton).

 
At the height of her solo career in 1974, Elliot performed two weeks of sold-out concerts at the London Palladium. She telephoned Michelle Phillips after the final concert on July 28, elated that she had received standing ovations each night. She then retired for the evening, and died in her sleep at age 32. Sources state her death was due to a heart attack. Elliot died in a London flat, No. 12 at 9 Curzon Place, Shepherd Market, Mayfair, which was on loan from singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson. Four years later, The Who's drummer Keith Moon died in the same flat at the same age. Elliot was buried in Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.
 
 
 
Cass Elliot's contributions to rock music didn't go unnoticed as the Mamas & the Papas were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 (with Elliot's only child, Owen, accepting the award at the ceremony for her late mother). (Info edited from All Music & Wikipedia) 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Shelby Flint born 17 September 1939

 
Shelby Flint (born September 17, 1939 in North Hollywood, California) is an American singer-songwriter and musician. A pure and velvety soprano, she stood out among her early ‘60s
contemporaries in that she imbued her work with a tender emotional aesthetic and ground breaking lyrical maturity, inspiring a generation of female musicians. Flint has recorded and written music in genres ranging from pop and folk, to disco and jazz. She recorded two notable hit singles — “Angel on My Shoulder” (1961) and “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” (1966) — both of which reached the Hot 100 in the United States. 
 
 
Flint began learning to play the piano and acoustic guitar at the age of six; Shelby’s family background was deeply rooted in the Southern mountains of America, and throughout her childhood she was exposed to this music. While attending high school, Flint played guitar and sang for her friends, further encouraging her to perform for school assemblies, as well as church and civic programs. She attended public schools in Van Nuys California including Valerio Street Elementary, Robert Fulton Jr High and Birmingham High School where she graduated from in 1957. She wrote many songs during this period, among them “Angel on My Shoulder” which would in a few years become a pop standard 
 
In 1958, she recorded a single for Cadence Records, “I Will Love You” (b/w “Oh, I Miss Him So”) with The Jordanaires as vocal backing, though it did not materialize into a recording contract. Her original recording of “Angel on My Shoulder” was released on Valiant in 1960; it is reputed that Barry De Vorzon’s (with whom Flint would co-write several songs) singular reason for starting the label was to have the opportunity to commit Flint’s music to record. Her eponymous debut album was released in 1961; at the end of the year, “Angel on My Shoulder” was listed in the Variety Tune Index of Performance and Sales. 
 
 
 
 
Flint’s next album was Shelby Flint Sings Folk (1962), in which she paid homage to the folk songs she had grown up with, such as “The Ash Grove”, “Black Is the Color”, and “House of the Rising Sun”. It was around this time Flint made the conscientious decision to prioritize family over an active career in music, limiting her potential for nationwide, possibly even worldwide, exposure. Throughout the 1960s, she released a series of well-regarded singles on Valiant, her popularity culminating with the release of Cast Your Fate to the Wind (1966) and its accompanying single.
 
 
In the 1970s her singing voice was heard on a number of projects, including the Peanuts feature film Snoopy, Come Home, TV movie The Borrowers and an early directorial effort by Clint Eastwood, Breezy. She also had voice acting roles in the animated TV movies The Stingiest Man in Town and Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July. Her contribution of three songs to Walt Disney's 1977 animated hit The Rescuers resulted in an Academy Award nomination for Sammy Fain, Carol Connors and Ayn Robbins, composers of "Someone's Waiting For You." 
 
With a modestly resuscitated career, Flint recorded the disco/jazz funk album Don’t Stop the Music (1979), a collaboration with relative Ian Jack. The album was released in the twilight hour of the disco genre’s popularity, and failed to achieve critical acclaim. Then, in the ’80s, Flint gathered a jazz group consisting of Bill Bodine, Gregg Karukas, Jerry Peterson, Denny Seiwell, and Jerry Steinholtz. The Shelby Flint Group became one of the most popular ’80s L.A. jazz groups, releasing the 1982 live LP You’ve Been on My Mind which was adored by critics. The group split after a final performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. 
 

 Throughout the late ’80s and ’90s, Flint made guest vocal appearances on well-regarded jazz records by artists such as Chick Corea, Mike Garson, and Tim Weston. In 1994, Flint appeared on Gregg Karukas’ holiday offering Home for the Holidays, reinterpreting holiday classics and singing her own compositions. She also makes sporadic live performances as a solo artist, as well as being a member of the a capella group Inner Voices. 
 
 In 2012, the Shelby Flint Group reunited, planning the 2012/13 release of Yesterdays (formerly known as The Oceanway Tapes), a follow-up to You’ve Been on My Mind which was not released at the time. The album has been re-recorded for the occasion, and will also coincide with the re-release of the group’s first album, which has been out of print for some time. 
 
 Scores of female artists have cited Flint as an artistic influence, among them Karen Carpenter, Joni Mitchell, and Maureen McGovern. Notably, when starting out, Mitchell was intentionally copying Flint’s act. 
 
Flint's most personal work has been in collaboration with Producer/Guitarist Tim Weston. Their 1992 Jazz album Providence features tracks such as "The Lady Weeps," a sweetly passionate cry for the end of racial tension in Los Angeles. Interestingly, Lady incorporates a paraphrasing of Flint's earliest work Angel On My Shoulder in the lines "Angels we have heard, angels we have known." The angels in this instance refer to victims of hate crimes. 
 
Shelby Flint is still at it decades later, performing live, writing and recording, often in collaboration with guitarist Tim Weston (the son of singer Jo Stafford and bandleader Paul Weston) and jazz keyboard player Greg Karukas.
 
Truly this musical icon has become the angel on contemporary music's shoulder.(Info edited mainly from  last.fm)

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Joe Venuti born 16 September 1903

 
Giuseppe (Joe) Venuti (September 16, 1903 – August 14, 1978) was an Italian-American jazz musician, considered to be the father of jazz violin.
Joe Venuti claimed to have been born aboard a ship as his parents emigrated from Italy, though many believe he was simply born in Philadelphia. Later in life, he said he was born in Italy in 1896 and that he came to the U.S. in 1906.
At school in Philadelphia in 1913 he met guitarist Eddie Lang; they started playing together , at first playing polkas, inventing and trading variations, quickly moving into jazz. It was a fortuitous and rewarding partnership. From 1926 to 33 they made many recordings, in a variety of small band line-ups, becoming internationally famous, not least because the novelty of the guitar/violin combination.
Through the 1920s and early 1930s, Venuti and Lang made many recordings, as leader and as featured soloists. He and Lang became so well known for their 'hot' violin and guitar solos that on many commercial dance recordings they were hired do 12 or 24 bar solos towards the end of otherwise stock dance arrangements. In 1926, Venuti and Lang started recording for the OKeh label as a duet, followed by "Blue Four" combinations. Venuti also recorded a number of larger, more commercial dance records for OKeh under the name New Yorkers.
His approach to playing was mirrored very much in his character; he was a notorious prankster, and there are countless stories (often spread, exagerrated and quite possibly invented by himself!) of madcap adventures and escapades. He is said to have pushed a piano out of a fifth floor window in order to see what key it would play when it hit the sidewalk; to have nailed a pianist's shoes to the floor because he wouldn't stop tapping his feet; to have given a fellow musician directions to a gig which involved a 200 mile journey, ending up round the block from where he started, and perhaps most famously calling up 26 (or was it 46?) tuba players (or was it double bass players?) to an imaginary gig in Hollywood (or was it Manhatten?)- just for the fun of seeing the confusion as they all arrived at the same place at once. 
According to one source, every Christmas he sent Wingy Manone, a one-armed trumpet player, the same gift--one cufflink. He is said to have chewed up a violin he borrowed from bandleader Paul Whiteman, when still on stage after his own performance with Whiteman's band had finished.
He worked with Benny Goodman, the Dorsey Brothers, Bing Crosby, Bix Beiderbecke, Jack Teagarden, the Boswell Sisters and most of the other important white jazz and semi-jazz figures of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Venuti and Lang recorded a series of milestone jazz records for the OKeh label during the 1920s. However, following Lang's early death in 1933, his career began to wane, though he continued performing through the 1930s, recording a series of excellent commercial dance records (usually containing a Venuti violin solo) for the dime store labels, OKeh and Columbia, as well as the occasional jazz small group sessions. He was also a strong early influence on western swing players like Cecil Brower, not to mention the fact that Lang and Venuti were the primary influences of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli.
 
This productive period was brought to a tragic close by the sudden death of Eddie Lang in 1933; he died in hospital during an operation for tonsillitis. Venuti then formed his own big band, but this did not prove a big success, whether because he missed Lang's steadying influence and more astute business sense, because of Venuti's increasing drinking
problem, or simply because musical tastes were changing. His career went into a rapid decline, and after the war he folded his band and moved to the West Coast to concentrate on anonymous Hollywood studio work. The only notable feature of this largely bleak part of his career was his numerous appearances during the '50's on Bing Crosby's radio show, where he was able to show off his quick wit, outrageous stories and gruff repartee to best advantage.
His fortunes changed once more in 1967; building on an electrifying appearance at the annual Dick Gibson Colorado Jazz Party, he resumed his recording career, working with artists such as Earl Hines, Bucky Pizzarelli and most notably the swinging tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims.
In 1969 he recorded a fine album (Venupelli Blues) with Stephane Grappelli, who acknowledged that it was seeing Venuti perform in Paris in 1935 that was one of his major inspirations.
He continued working, appearing at major jazz festivals round the world up until his death from cancer in 1978.
His dazzling technique, humour and inventiveness helped to put jazz violin on the musical map, and he has been a major inspiration to all who have followed in his footsteps. (Info edited from www.fiddlingaround.co.uk & Wikipedia)
 
In a tribute to Bix dinner party in 1975 violinist Joe Venuti plays "China Boy". For a while Joe had pianist Marian McPartland on tour with him and one notices the terrific subtle back up lines Marian throws in. How light her accompanyment is as well. On bass is Major Holley and some fine drumming by Cliff Leeman.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Bobby Short born 15 September 1924

 
Robert Waltrip "Bobby" Short (September 15, 1924 – March 21, 2005) was an American cabaret singer and pianist, best known for his interpretations of songs by popular composers of the first half of the 20th century such as Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, Vernon Duke, Noel Coward and George and Ira Gershwin.
 
He also championed African-American composers of the same period such as Eubie Blake, James P. Johnson, Andy Razaf, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, presenting their work not in a polemical way, but as simply the obvious equal of that of their white contemporaries. 
His dedication to his great love – what he called the "Great American Song" – left him equally adept at performing the witty lyrics of Bessie Smith's "Gimme a Pigfoot" or Gershwin and Duke's "I Can't Get Started with You." Short always said his favorite songwriters were Ellington, Arlen and Kern, and he was instrumental in spearheading the construction of the Ellington Memorial in his beloved New York City.

Bobby Short was one of New York's greatest cabaret singers; his piano-playing and singing were as immaculate as his appearance. He excelled in the intimate Café Carlyle and he loved the great songs of the 1930s and 1940s. Cole Porter's family gave him a special award on the centenary of Porter's birth in 1991 for maintaining his legacy. 
 
Robert Waltrip Short was born into a poor black family in Danville, Illinois in 1924. He was ninth of 10 children and he taught himself to play the piano by copying the songs he heard on the radio. By the age of nine, he was performing in clubs around Danville and was even performing Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady". His mother took him to Chicago and he became known as the "Miniature King of Swing". He played on stage with Louis Armstrong and worked at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. Because he wore white tie and tails, he acquired a second sobriquet, the "Black and White Baby", which became the title of his childhood memoir in 1971. 
 
Completing his schooling, he played in clubs in Danville and then in 1948 he moved to Los Angeles for a residency. He appeared in London and Paris and then signed with Atlantic Records in New York, making the albums Songs by Bobby Short (1955) and Speaking of Love (1956). He said that his criterion for selecting material was that "first a song has to be beautiful." His clear enunciation brought out the best in the lyrics and he would add some Harlem vaudeville licks to his sophisticated playing.
 
 
            Here's "Gimme A Pigfoot" from above 1955 album 

 
In 1968 he performed in concert with the highly respected singer Mabel Mercer in Manhattan's Town Hall, which led to two popular albums, Mabel Mercer and Bobby Short at Town Hall (1968) and Mercer and Short: Second Town Hall Concert (1969). His other albums include Bobby Short Loves Cole Porter (1971), Bobby Short Celebrates Rodgers and Hart (1975), K-R-A-Z-Y For Gershwin (1990), How's Your Romance? (1997) and You're the Top: love songs of Cole Porter (1999).
 
Also in 1968 he was offered a two-week stint at the Café Carlyle in New York City, to fill in for George Feyer. Short (accompanied by Beverly Peer on bass and Dick Sheridan on drums) became an institution at the Carlyle, as Feyer had been before him, and remained there as a featured performer for over 35 years. There, a combination of traits – his seemingly-effortless elegance; his vocal phrasing (perfected, as was that of Frank , at the feet of Miss Mabel Mercer, with perhaps also some help from Ethel Waters); his talent for presenting unknown songs worth knowing while keeping well-known songs fresh; his infectious good cheer; and his resolute, self-disciplined professionalism – earned him great respect and made him tremendously popular. Bobby Short was generous with his impromptu all-night performances at his various favorite cafes and restaurants. He was a regular patron at Ted Hook's Backstage, located at Eight Avenue and Forty-Fifth Street.  
 
Woody Allen loved his work, featuring him in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and using his version of Cole Porter's "I Happen To Like New York" on the credits of Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993). Short appeared in the films Splash with Tom Hanks (1984), Blue Ice with Michael Caine (1992) and For Love or Money with Michael J. Fox (1993). In 2000 the Library of Congress designated Short a Living Legend as part of its bicentennial celebration. 
 
 
Short announced his retirement from the Cafe Carlyle with his final appearance on New Year's Eve 2004. He died of leukemia at the age of 80 on March 21, 2005.  He once joked, "One day I might learn to read music properly, but Erroll Garner once told me, 'Man, who's gonna pay to hear you read?' (Info edited from Wikipedia & www.Independent.co.uk)