Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Best Songs of 1957 - Nos. 23 to 16

23. Searchin’ – The Coasters

A story of a guy looking all over town for his girl, invoking names like Charlie Chan, Sam Spade and Bulldog Drummond to help enhance his detecting skills. It made it to number three on the pop charts and spent twelve weeks atop the R&B charts.

22. I’m Walkin’ – Fats Domino

Another wonderful track from Fats with good piano and great sax work. It epitomizes his New Orleans based sound more than most of his songs. This one made it to number four on the pop charts and number one on the R&B charts.

21. Everyday – Buddy Holly

This is a beautifully arranged song. Who else but Buddy Holly would have thought to use a celesta in a rock song in 1957? The drummer is just slapping his hands on his knees. Buddy Holly was certainly the most creative of all the 50’s rock pioneers.

20. Oh, Boy – Buddy Holly

This one only made it to number ten on the pop charts, but it was one of Buddy’s finest vocal performances. He lets loose one hell of a growl in this song and the Crickets rocked the house behind him.

19. Come Go With Me – The Del-Vikings

This one made it to number 18 on the pop charts and is one of the most fondly remembered doo-wop songs. The Del-Vikings were one of the few racially integrated groups to find success in the 1950s. Interestingly, all the members were in the US Air Force, so there was a constant concern that the group could be broken up by members being stationed in far-flung locations.

18. That’ll Be The Day – Buddy Holly

The inspiration for this song was one of John Wayne’s lines from The Searchers. It became one of Buddy’s most famous and popular songs making it to number one on the pop charts.

17. Rock And Roll Music – Chuck Berry

Yet another Chuck Berry song that became a rock anthem. This song speaks to the virtues of rock and roll as opposed to numerous other genres. The bass on the track was played by blues legend Willie Dixon. It was also famously covered by both The Beatles and The Beach Boys.

16. (You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care – Elvis Presley

This is a great little Elvis number from Jailhouse Rock. The girl is square and he doesn’t care. I can totally respect that. I’ve always had a thing for nerdy chicks. What a fun song.

What else happened in 1957?

In the news…

*Jan. 13 – The Wham-O Company produces the first Frisbee.
*Jan. 14 – Humphrey Bogart dies of throat cancer at age 58.
*Jan. 16 – The Cavern Club opens in Liverpool.
*Jan. 20 – Dwight Eisenhower is inaugurated for a second term as President of the US.
*Mar. 19 – Elvis Presley buys Graceland.
*Jul. 6 – John Lennon and Paul McCartney first meet.
*Jul. 29 – Jack Paar takes over as Tonight Show host from Steve Allen.
*Sep. 4 – Orville Faubus, the governor of Arkansas, calls out the National Guard to prevent black students from enrolling in Central High School in Little Rock.
*Sep. 4 – The Ford Motor Company introduces the Edsel.
*Sep. 5 – Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is published.
*Sep. 24 – Eisenhower sends federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas to protect nine African-American students from a mob protesting their enrollment in Central High School.
*Oct. 4 – The USSR launches Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth.
*Nov. 3 – The USSR launches Sputnik II carrying the first animal to enter space, the dog, Laika.
*Nov. 16 – Serial killer Ed Gein murders his last victim.
*Nov. 25 – Pres. Dwight Eisenhower has a stroke.
*Dec. 20 – Elvis Presley receives his draft board notice.

Famous Births…

*Jan. 24 – Adrian Edmondson, British sitcom star. He was the punk Vyvyan on The Young Ones.
*Jan. 27 – Frank Miller, great comic book creator. Check out The Dark Knight Returns and Sin City.
*Feb. 16 – LeVar Burton, cool actor. He was Geordi La Forge on Next Gen.
*Feb. 28 – Cindy Wilson, singer with The B-52s.
*Mar. 20 – Spike Lee, great director. Check out Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X.
*Mar. 23 – Amanda Plummer, very cool actress.
*Apr. 29 – Daniel Day-Lewis, great actor. Check out Gangs of New York. He created one of the great villains in film history in that one.
*May 10 – Sid Vicious, punk rock icon, bassist for The Sex Pistols.
*May 11 – Peter North, porn icon.
*May 27 – Siouxsie Sioux, singer for Siouxsie and the Banshees.
*Jun. 8 – Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert.
*Jun. 21 – Berke Breathed, creator of Bloom County.
*Jun. 23 – Frances McDormand, very cool actress. Check out Fargo and Almost Famous.
*July 2 – Bret “The Hitman” Hart, famous wrestler.
*Jul. 11 – Peter Murphy, singer for Bauhaus.
*Jul. 13 – Cameron Crowe, great director. Check out Singles and Almost Famous.
*Jul. 26 – Nana Visitor, cool actress. She was Major Kira Nerys on Deep Space Nine. I had a huge crush on her.
*Aug. 2 – Mojo Nixon, incredibly cool alt-rock icon. Mojo Nixon is the man!
*Aug. 9 – Melanie Griffith, cool actress. Check out Something Wild.
*Sep. 22 – Nick Cave, awesome Aussie rock star.
*Sep. 22 – Johnette Napolitano, singer of Concrete Blonde.
*Oct. 25 – Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, and Ralph Wiggum.
*Oct. 29 – Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer Simpson.
*Dec. 13 – Steve Buscemi, extremely cool actor. Check out… Well, hell. Buscemi has been awesome in more movies than I can list here.
*Dec. 13 – Morris Day, Prince protégé and singer for The Time.
*Dec. 25 – Shane McGowan, singer for The Pogues.

Famous Deaths…

*Jan. 14 – Humphrey Bogart, legendary movie star, great actor, cultural icon, and the coolest individual who ever walked the face of the Earth.
*Feb. 10 – Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of Little House on the Prairie.
*Mar. 11 – Richard E. Byrd, Antarctic explorer.
*Mar. 25 – Max Ophuls, great German filmmaker.
*May 2 – Joseph McCarthy, US Senator, red-baiter, and destroyer of countless American lives.
*May 12 – Erich von Stroheim, great German filmmaker.
*May 16 – Eliot Ness, famous G-Man.
*Aug. 7 – Oliver Hardy, great silent film comedian. One half of the Laurel and Hardy comedy team.
*Oct. 24 – Christian Dior, great fashion designer.
*Oct. 26 – Nikos Kazantzakis, Greek author. He wrote Zorba the Greek and The Last Temptation.
*Oct. 29 – Louis B. Mayer, famous film producer and studio head.
*Nov. 24 – Diego Rivera, great Mexican artist.

In the world of movies…

The Top Grossing Films of 1957

5. Pal Joey
4. Oklahoma!
3. Giant
2. Around the World in Eighty Days
1. The Ten Commandments

Oscar Winners of 1957

Best Picture – The Bridge on the River Kwai
Best Actor – Alec Guinness (The Bridge on the River Kwai)
Best Actress – Joanne Woodward (The Three Faces of Eve)
Best Supp. Actor – Red Buttons (Sayonara)
Best Supp. Actress – Miyoshi Umeki (Sayonara)
Best Director – David Lean (The Bridge on the River Kwai)

Other Films released in 1957

12 Angry Men
An Affair to Remember
Aparajito (good one from Satyajit Ray)
A Face in the Crowd (I highly recommend this film. It predicts the future of American popular and political culture in much the same way that Paddy Chayefsky’s Network did nearly twenty years later. Andy Griffith was brilliant playing against type. Seriously, check this movie out.)
Funny Face
Jailhouse Rock
Nights of Cabiria (good Fellini)
Old Yeller
Paths of Glory (I highly recommend this magnificent anti-war film from the master, Stanley Kubrick. This story of military injustice during the First World War features a tremendous performance from Kirk Douglas. You should not miss this one.)
Peyton Place
The Seventh Seal
Wild Strawberries

In the world of television…

Shows premiering in 1957

The Gumby Show
Leave It to Beaver
Perry Mason
Wagon Train

Shows ending in 1957

I Love Lucy
Kukla, Fran and Ollie

Most Watched Shows of 1957

10. You Bet Your Life
9. December Bride
8. The Restless Gun
7. General Electric Theatre
6. The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp
5. I’ve Got A Secret
4. Have Gun Will Travel
3. Tales of Wells Fargo
2. The Danny Thomas Show
1. Gunsmoke

Emmy Winners of 1957

Best Dramatic Series with Continuing Characters – Gunsmoke (CBS)
Best Dramatic Anthology Series – Playhouse 90 (CBS)
Best Comedy Series – The Phil Silvers Show (CBS)
Best Actor in a Series – Robert Young (Father Knows Best)
Best Actress in a Series – Jane Wyatt (Father Knows Best)

In the world of books…

Great Books published in 1957

From Russia with Love – Ian Fleming
On the Road – Jack Kerouac (My second favorite book of all time)
Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak
Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Dr. Seuss
The Cat in the Hat – Dr. Seuss

In the world of comics…

DC Comics publishes Showcase #8 in June, featuring the first appearance of Captain Cold, one the first super-villains in the Flash’s Rogues Gallery.

In the world of sports…

*World Series – The Milwaukee Braves win 4 games to 3 over the New York Yankees.
*NBA Finals – The Boston Celtics win 4 games to 3 over the St. Louis Hawks.
*NFL Championship – The Detroit Lions win 59-14 over the Cleveland Browns.
*College Football champions – The Auburn Tigers and The Ohio State Buckeyes (shared)
*Stanley Cup – The Montreal Canadiens win 4 games to 1 over the Boston Bruins.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Best Songs of 1956 - Nos. 5 to 1

5. Be Bop A Lula – Gene Vincent

Gene Vincent is the most underrated artist of the fifties. He was one of the greatest rockabilly artists of all time. He brought so much soul and feeling to this performance in particular that he absolutely deserves to be ranked right up there with Chuck, Elvis, Richard, Buddy and Jerry Lee as one of the primary pioneers of rock and roll.

4. Please, Please, Please – James Brown

James Brown - Please Please Please

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This was the first single for James Brown and the Famous Flames. Although it was mostly ignored by pop audiences, it was a number five hit on the R&B charts. It was a full two years before James had another hit, but this one left quite an impression on his core audience. It remains one of his signature songs.

3. Long Tall Sally – Little Richard

This is one of Richard’s finest and most popular songs. It’s been covered by hundreds of artists over the years and tells one hell of an entertaining little story. Aunt Mary is on the lookout for Uncle John who’s foolin’ around with Long Tall Sally and Sally is built for speed. I just love this song. The infectious joy of a Little Richard song is hard to beat.

2. Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash

I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die. Damn. That’s just a mean dude. He’s a remorseful guy though. He hears the whistle of the train and he knows the free folks are on the move and it tears him up. This is a damn good song that tells one hellacious story. Johnny and his deep voice are in fine form here.

1. Heartbreak Hotel – Elvis Presley

This one made it to number one on the pop, R&B, and country charts. This was the song that truly brought Elvis to the forefront of popular music. The emotion in his voice combined with that great echo effect was highly effective. This one is definitely the best song of 1956.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Best Songs of 1956 - Nos. 10 to 6

10. Hallelujah, I Love Her So – Ray Charles

Here’s a story of a terrific girl. Ray goes on about her great qualities in his incredibly soulful voice. The piano and sax work are fabulous. It’s another in a group of great songs that Ray recorded in the fifties.

9. Rip It Up – Little Richard

This one’s about a guy blowing his whole paycheck partying on the weekend. Richard tears it up again. Nobody else of this era really expressed that feel of utter abandon and cutting loose like Richard and this is a fine example. The song only made it to number 17 on the pop charts, but it was a number one hit on the R&B charts.

8. Roll Over Beethoven – Chuck Berry

Kicking off with one of the great guitar riffs, this song makes explicit the rise of rock as the popular music of the day. It features some of the finest guitar work of the decade. It is also one of the most widely covered songs if the era. As John Lennon said, “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry.”

7. I Walk The Line – Johnny Cash

This is a song about faithfulness. It was written about Johnny’s first wife, Vivian. One of the things I love about Johnny is the depth of his voice, which is greatly evident on this track. As a natural bass myself, I’ve always been irritated by how many pop songs are written for tenor voices. Johnny gives hope to us low-voiced guys.

6. Drown In My Own Tears – Ray Charles

Oh, so soulful. Such great piano work. That stop and start beat. Ray’s voice just dripping with passion and emotion. The Raylettes were fantastic. This is an amazing song and one of the great soul numbers of all time.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Best Songs of 1956 - Nos. 15 to 11

15. Love Me Tender – Elvis Presley

Nothing but Elvis singing in his softest voice accompanied by a single acoustic guitar, this beautiful love song spent five weeks at number one. He first sang the song in his very first movie also called “Love Me Tender.”

14. In The Still Of The Night – The Five Satins

This great doo-wop number left a much greater legacy than its chart performance indicated. It peaked at number 24 on the pop charts, but it has consistently been among the most fondly remembered tunes of its era.

13. I Put A Spell On You – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

This was the birth of shock rock. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins grabs this song like a madman and tears it apart. The screams, grunts, and groans were unlike anything heard before in a pop song. This was way ahead of its time.

12. Blue Suede Shoes – Carl Perkins

This rockabilly number was considerably more countrified than the Elvis version. It made it to number 2 on the pop charts and number 1 on the country charts. Elvis preferred Carl’s version to his own. I have to agree.

11. Don’t Be Cruel – Elvis Presley

This one stayed at number one for eleven weeks, tying a record that stood until 1992. It was the B-side to Hound Dog, but has had a very long life of its own.

More to come...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Best Songs of 1956 - No. 21 to 16

21. Hound Dog – Elvis Presley

Elvis took Big Mama Thornton’s blues hit and transformed it into early rock and roll. This was one of Elvis’s most popular singles, making it to number one on the R&B, Country, and Pop charts. Scotty Moore played a mean guitar as always. Rolling Stone ranked it at number 19 on their top 500 list, higher than any other Elvis track.

20. Blueberry Hill – Fats Domino

This was Fats Domino’s biggest hit, spending eleven weeks atop the R&B charts. It’s a rolling piano-driven love song that still stands up well. The song was originally recorded by singing cowboy Gene Autry in 1941, although it certainly must have sounded quite different.

19. Blue Suede Shoes – Elvis Presley

Elvis really rocked out on this one, although I do prefer the Carl Perkins version. This one made it to number 20 on the pop charts. Interestingly, Elvis refused to release this single until his friend Carl’s version left the charts. He really was a sweet guy, huh?

18. Why Do Fools Fall In Love? – Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers

Frankie was only 13 when he sang this song and with four key changes, it was one hell of a hard song to sing well. The song made it to number 3 on the pop charts. It has since been covered several times, most famously by Diana Ross.

17. All Around The World – Little Richard

This isn’t one of Richard’s more famous songs, although it did make it to number 13 on the R&B chart. I was introduced to it in the 1985 sci-fi film “Explorers” starring a young River Phoenix and a young Ethan Hawke. I was 14 at the time and every cool sci-fi movie that came out was an instant favorite. There was a terrific scene where an alien lip-synched to this particular number and I’ve loved the song ever since.

16. Love Me – Elvis Presley

This was one of Elvis’s first great ballads making great use of his amazing singing voice and the talents of the Jordanaires, his great vocal back-up group. It made it to number six on the pop charts. It’s a really pretty love song.

more to come from 1956 in the next few days....

What else happened in 1956?

In the news…

*Jan. 9 – “Dear Abby” first appears in newspapers.
*Jan. 26 – The 1956 Winter Olympics open in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
*Feb. 22 – Elvis Presley enters the US music charts for the first time, with “Heartbreak Hotel.”
*Mar. 15 – My Fair Lady opens on Broadway.
*Apr. 18 – Actress Grace Kelly marries Prince Rainier III of Monaco.
*Jun. 29 – Pres. Dwight Eisenhower signs the Federal-Aid Highway Act, creating the Interstate Highway System.
*Jul. 9 – Dick Clark hosts American Bandstand for the first time.
*Aug. 6 – The DuMont Television Network airs its final broadcast.
*Sep. 9 – Elvis Presley appears on The Ed Sullivan Show.
*Oct. 8 – Don Larsen of the New York Yankees throws the only perfect game in World Series history.
*Oct. 29 – The first hard disk drive is created at IBM. It has a capacity of 5MB.
*Nov. 3 – “The Wizard of Oz” is shown on television for the first time by CBS.
*Nov. 6 – Republican incumbent Dwight Eisenhower is reelected by defeating Democrat Adlai Stevenson in the 1956 US Presidential election.
*Nov. 22 – The 1956 Summer Olympics open in Melbourne, Australia.

Famous Births…

*Jan. 3 – Mel Gibson, cool actor. Hey! He was Mad Max! C’mon!
*Jan. 4 – Bernard Sumner, guitarist with Joy Division and New Order.
*Jan. 4 – Ann Magnuson, cool actress and singer for Bongwater.
*Jan. 17 – Paul Young, cool British pop star.
*Jan. 20 – Bill Maher, talk show host, comedian, and one of the coolest guys around. Bill Maher freakin’ rocks!!!
*Jan. 21 – Geena Davis, cool actress.
*Jan. 27 – Mimi Rogers, very cool actress. The best natural breasts in Hollywood, bar none.
*Jan. 31 – John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, singer for the Sex Pistols and Public Image.
*Feb. 1 – Exene Cervenka, singer for X and one half of the greatest harmony in the history of rock music.
*Feb. 13 – Peter Hook, bassist for Joy Division and New Order.
*Feb. 20 – Patty Hearst, our beloved revolutionary sweetheart.
*Apr. 4 – David E. Kelley, really good TV producer. Created Ally McBeal.
*Apr. 30 – Lars von Trier, interesting Danish director. Check out Breaking the Waves.
*Jul. 9 – Tom Hanks, cool actor.
*Jul. 15 – Ian Curtis, singer for Joy Division.
*Aug. 17 – John Romita, Jr. – great comic book artist.
*Sep. 4 – Blackie Lawless, singer for W.A.S.P.
*Sep. 16 – Mickey Rourke, cool actor. Check out Angel Heart and Sin City.
*Sep. 26 – Linda Hamilton, cool actress. Damn, she was buff as hell in T2.
*Oct. 18 – Martina Navritilova, awesome tennis player.
*Oct. 21 – Carrie Fisher, cool actress. Princess Leia.
*Dec. 6 – Peter Buck, guitarist for R.E.M.
*Dec. 6 – Randy Rhoads, great guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne.

Famous Deaths…

*Jan. 31 – A.A. Milne, creator of Winnie the Pooh.
*Apr. 30 – Alben Barkley, Harry Truman’s Vice President.
*Aug. 11 – Jackson Pollock, great American artist.
*Aug. 14 – Bertolt Brecht, great German playwright.
*Aug. 16 – Bela Lugosi, legendary horror icon. The definitive Dracula.
*Aug. 25 – Alfred Kinsey, important American sex researcher.
*Nov. 5 – Art Tatum, great jazz pianist.
*Nov. 26 – Tommy Dorsey, great big band leader.

In the world of movies…

The Top Grossing Films of 1956

5. Picnic
4. (tie) High Society & I’ll Cry Tomorrow
3. Trapeze
2. The King and I
1. Guys and Dolls

Oscar Winners of 1956

Best Picture – Around the World in Eighty Days
Best Actor – Yul Brynner (The King and I)
Best Actress – Ingrid Bergman (Anastasia)
Best Supp. Actor – Anthony Quinn (Lust for Life)
Best Supp. Actress – Dorothy Malone (Written on the Wind)
Best Director – George Stevens (Giant)

Other Films released in 1956

Baby Doll
The Bad Seed
The Conqueror
The Court Jester
Forbidden Planet (I recommend this sci-fi adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The special effects were ahead of the time and it’s really hilarious to see a young Leslie Nielsen playing it straight.)
The Girl Can’t Help It
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
The Killing (I highly recommend this amazing film noir from Stanley Kubrick. This story of a heist at a racetrack was far ahead of its time in its use of non-linear chronology. The performances are outstanding across the board, but especially Sterling Hayden and Elisha Cook, Jr.)
Love Me Tender
The Searchers

In the world of television…

Shows premiering in 1956

As the World Turns
The Edge of Night
The Huntley-Brinkley Report
The Nat King Cole Show
Playhouse 90
The Price is Right
To Tell the Truth

Shows ending in 1956

The Honeymooners
The Milton Berle Show

Most Watched Shows of 1956

10. The Jack Benny Show
9. The Perry Como Show
8. Gunsmoke
7. I’ve Got A Secret
6. Alfred Hitchcock Presents
5. December Bride
4. The $64,000 Question
3. General Electric Theatre
2. The Ed Sullivan Show
1. I Love Lucy

Emmy Winners of 1956

Best Series, half hour or less – The Phil Silvers Show (CBS)
Best Series, one hour or more – Caesar’s Hour (NBC)
Best Actor, Drama series – Robert Young (Father Knows Best)
Best Actress, Drama series – Loretta Young (The Loretta Young Show)

In the world of books…

Great Books published in 1956

Minority Report – Philip K. Dick
Diamonds Are Forever – Ian Fleming
Profiles in Courage – John F. Kennedy
Peyton Place – Grace Metalious

In the world of comics…

DC Comics publishes Showcase #4 in October. Widely considered the beginning of the Silver Age, this issue introduced Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash.

In the world of sports…

*World Series – The New York Yankees win 4 games to 3 over the Brooklyn Dodgers.
*NBA Finals – The Philadelphia Warriors win 4 games to 1 over the Fort Wayne Pistons.
*Boxing – On Apr. 27, Rocky Marciano retires as the only undefeated Heavyweight Champion of the world with a perfect record (49-0). On Nov. 30, in Chicago, Floyd Patterson knocks out Archie Moore in the 5th round to win the vacant World Heavyweight title.
*NFL Championship – The New York Giants win 47-7 over the Chicago Bears.
*College Football champions – The Oklahoma Sooners.
*Stanley Cup – The Montreal Canadiens win 4 games to 1 over the Detroit Red Wings.
*Summer Olympics – The USSR wins the most medals (98) and the most gold medals (37).
*Winter Olympics – The USSR wins the most medals (16) and the most gold medals (7).

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Best Songs of 1955

5. Ain’t That A Shame – Fats Domino

Ain’t That A Shame only made it to number 10 on the pop charts, which is a shame because the weak, watered-down version by Pat Boone hit number one. It was the first of many trips to the Hot 100 for Fats, who never made it to number one. Fats had 66 hits on the Hot 100, the second most by any artist without a number one hit. James Brown had the most. This tune introduced folks across the country to Fats and his rolling, New Orleans-style piano playing.

4. Cry, Cry, Cry – Johnny Cash

Cry, Cry, Cry was one of Johnny’s first recordings on the Sun label. It set the standard for the churning train-like sound of his backing band, the Tennessee Three. This story of an unfaithful love made it to number 6 on the country charts and started Cash on the road to legend.

3. Maybellene – Chuck Berry

Maybellene was Chuck’s first single and his first hit. The story of another unfaithful lover and a smokin’ car race punctuated by Chuck’s revolutionary guitar work introduced teenage America to its new bard.

2. Tutti Frutti – Little Richard

Tutti Frutti was Little Richard’s first hit and still the song he is most well remembered for. Originally a much dirtier song (“Tutti Frutti, Good Booty” was changed to “Tutti Frutti, Aw Rooty”), it was toned down for recording but still blew the minds of thousands of parents across the country when “Womp-Bomp-A-Loom-Bop” came blaring out of their kids radios. Intense piano pounding and a blaring sax solo by Lee Allan made this song iconic, but Richard had a lot more great music to come.

1. Mannish Boy – Muddy Waters

In my opinion, this is the definitive Muddy Waters song. This is the definitive song for declaration of masculinity. This is one of the greatest blues songs ever recorded. The driving and insistent riff still rocks harder than almost anything that has come since. Muddy sings this song as if his life depended on it with more soul than any ten men could muster. There’s no question in my mind that this is the best song of 1955.

What else happened in 1955?

In the news…

*Jan. 14 – Alan Freed produces the first rock and roll concert in New York City.
*Jan. 19 – Scrabble debuts on the board game market.
*Feb. 8 – Bulganin becomes Soviet premier.
*Feb. 12 – Pres. Dwight Eisenhower sends the first US advisors to South Vietnam.
*Mar. 20 – Blackboard Jungle opens in theaters featuring the song Rock Around the Clock, thus propelling rock and roll as a musical genre.
*Apr. 5 – Winston Churchill resigns as Prime Minister of the UK.
*Apr. 15 – Ray Kroc starts the McDonald’s restaurant chain.
*Apr. 18 – Albert Einstein dies from a ruptured aortic aneurysm.
*Jul. 9 – Rock Around the Clock becomes the first rock and roll single to reach number one on the US charts.
*Jul. 17 – Disneyland opens.
*Aug. 28 – Emmett Till is killed in Mississippi.
*Sep. 10 – Gunsmoke debuts on CBS.
*Sep. 15 – Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is published.
*Sep. 30 – James Dean is killed in an auto accident.
*Oct. 7 – Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” is first performed.
*Dec. 1 – Rosa Parks refuses to give up her bus seat to a white man and is arrested.

Famous Births…

*Feb. 12 – Arsenio Hall, talk show host and funny guy.
*Feb. 19 – Jeff Daniels, cool actor. See Dumb and Dumber and Something Wild.
*Feb. 21 – Kelsey Grammer, Frasier Crane.
*Feb. 23 – Howard Jones, cool British New Wave artist.
*Mar. 5 – Penn Jillette, awesome magician.
*Mar. 15 – Dee Snider, singer of Twisted Sister.
*Mar. 17 – Gary Sinise, cool actor. Check out Forrest Gump.
*Mar. 19 – Bruce Willis, cool actor. Check out The Fifth Element.
*Mar. 31 – Angus Young, lead guitarist for AC/DC. One of the most under-rated guitarists in rock.
*Apr. 6 – Michael Rooker, cool actor. Check out Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.
*Apr. 8 – Kane Hodder, horror icon. Played Jason in several Friday the 13th movies.
*Apr. 17 – Pete Shelley, singer for The Buzzcocks.
*May 16 – Debra Winger, cool actress.
*May 17 – Bill Paxton, cool actor. Check out A Simple Plan and One False Move.
*May 18 – Chow Yun-Fat, one of the coolest actors in the world today. Awesome action hero. Check out Crouching Tiger and The Killer. Actually, check out anything he’s done with John Woo directing.
*May 30 – Topper Headon, drummer for The Clash.
*Jun. 2 – Dana Carvey, SNL alum and funny guy.
*Jun. 6 – Sandra Bernhard, extremely funny woman.
*Jun. 23 – Glenn Danzig, very buff rock star.
*Jun. 26 – Mick Jones, singer and guitarist for The Clash.
*Jul. 22 – Willem Dafoe, cool actor. Check out The Last Temptation of Christ and Shadow of the Vampire.
*Aug. 4 – Billy Bob Thornton, cool actor. Check out Sling Blade.
*Sep. 3 – Steve Jones, lead guitarist for The Sex Pistols.
*Sep. 9 – John Kricfalusi, creator of Ren and Stimpy.
*Oct. 29 – Kevin Dubrow, singer for Quiet Riot.
*Nov. 13 – Whoopi Goldberg, cool actress and very funny person.
*Nov. 30 – Billy Idol, cool British rock star.
*Dec. 15 – Paul Simonon, bass player for The Clash.

Famous Deaths…

*Mar. 11 – Sir Alexander Fleming, discoverer of penicillin.
*Mar. 12 – Charlie Parker, legendary jazz saxophonist.
*Apr. 7 – Theda Bara, great silent film actress.
*Apr. 18 – Albert Einstein, physicist, Nobel Prize laureate, and one of the great minds of human history.
*May 10 – Tommy Burns, great boxer, former World Heavyweight Champion.
*Sep. 30 – James Dean, great actor and cultural icon.
*Nov. 22 – Shemp Howard, one of the Three Stooges.

In the world of movies…

The Top Grossing Films of 1955

5. The Country Girl
4. Not as a Stranger
3. (tie) Battle Cry & 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
2. Mister Roberts
1. Cinerama Holiday

Oscar Winners of 1955

Best Picture – Marty
Best Actor – Ernest Borgnine (Marty)
Best Actress – Anna Magnani (The Rose Tattoo)
Best Supp. Actor – Jack Lemmon (Mister Roberts)
Best Supp. Actress – Jo Van Fleet (East of Eden)
Best Director – Delbert Mann (Marty)

Other Films released in 1955

Bad Day at Black Rock
Blackboard Jungle
The Desperate Hours
Guys and Dolls
Kiss Me Deadly
Lady and the Tramp
The Ladykillers
The Man with the Golden Arm
Night and Fog
The Night of the Hunter (I highly recommend this amazing film. Wonderfully directed by Charles Laughton, it was the great actor’s only film as a director. It featured a terrifying performance by Robert Mitchum and an incredible comeback for silent film icon Lillian Gish. If you haven’t seen it, run out and rent it now.)
Pather Panchali
The Quatermass Xperiment
Richard III
Rebel Without a Cause
To Catch a Thief

In the world of television…

Shows premiering in 1955

Alfred Hitchcock Presents
The Benny Hill Show
Captain Kangaroo
The Johnny Carson Show
The Lawrence Welk Show
The Mickey Mouse Club

Emmy Winners of 1955

Best Dramatic Series – Producers’ Showcase (NBC)
Best Actor in a Series – Phil Silvers (The Phil Silvers Show, You’ll Never Get Rich)
Best Actress in a Series – Lucille Ball (I Love Lucy)
Best Comedy Series – The Phil Silvers Show, You’ll Never Get Rich (CBS)
Best Variety Series – The Ed Sullivan Show (CBS)

In the world of books…

Great Books published in 1955

Notes of a Native Son – James Baldwin
The Body Snatchers – Jack Finney
The Quiet American – Graham Greene
The Talented Mr. Ripley – Patricia Highsmith
Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – J.R.R. Tolkien

In the world of comics…

DC Comics publishes Detective Comics #225 in November, featuring the first appearance of Jonn J’onnz, the Martian Manhunter, arguably the first Silver Age character.

In the world of sports…

*World Series – The Brooklyn Dodgers win 4 games to 3 over the New York Yankees.
*NBA Finals – The Syracuse Nationals win 4 games to 3 over the Fort Wayne Pistons.
*Boxing – On Sep. 21, Rocky Marciano knocks out Archie Moore in the 9th round to retain his World Heavyweight Championship.
*NFL Championship – The Cleveland Browns win 38-14 over the Los Angeles Rams.
*College Football champions – The Oklahoma Sooners.
*Stanley Cup – The Detroit Red Wings win 4 games to 3 over the Montreal Canadiens.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Best Songs of 1954

7. Earth Angel – The Penguins

Earth Angel is one of the most famous songs of the doo-wop genre. The competing “white” version by The Crew Cuts was nowhere near as good as The Penguins’ original and that Penguins version sold much better. It hit number 8 on the pop charts and had a three week run at number 1 on the R&B charts. Rolling Stone Magazine placed the song at number 151 on their top 500 list. I sang choir in high school and we played around with a bit of doo-wop. This was always one of my favorites.

6. Sh-Boom – The Chords

Generally believed to be the first popular doo-wop song, The Chords’ Sh-Boom topped out at number 2 on the pop charts. A lesser version by The Crew Cuts made it to number one later that year. This was a very fun song. While many of the detractors of the new music of the day reviled this song for having nonsensical lyrics, the kids got it and it is a song that is remembered fondly more than fifty years later.

5. Blue Moon of Kentucky – Elvis Presley

This song was the B-side of Elvis’ first single, That’s All Right Mama. It was a total rockabilly re-imagining of Bill Monroe’s classic bluegrass number. Elvis’ totally original phrasing along with Scotty Moore’s hoppin’ guitar work brought this song a brand new life. Great stuff.

4. I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man – Muddy Waters

This was one of Muddy’s songs that was written by the brilliant blues poet Willie Dixon, who also played bass on the track. The vivid use of voodoo terminology in the lyrics adds a distinct layer of mystery to the song and Muddy’s growl is truly intense.

3. Rock Around the Clock – Bill Haley & the Comets

This was the song that, in many ways, originally popularized rock and roll for teens across the country. When the opening strains kicked off the movie Blackboard Jungle, kids got up and danced in the theater aisles. Still a very boppable song, thanks to Haley’s vocals and Danny Cedrone’s blistering guitar solo. Rock Around the Clock has been a consistently popular song even into the new century.

2. I Got a Woman – Ray Charles

This was the birth of soul. Ray built this song on an old gospel hymn and by mixing the beat of highly charged gospel with R&B, he invented soul music. It was Ray’s first number 1 hit on the R&B charts and was listed as number 235 on Rolling Stone’s top 500 list.

1. That’s All Right Mama – Elvis Presley

This was Elvis’ first single and it was one of his greatest songs. His vocals held a soul that had rarely been heard from a white singer before and the guitar work by Scotty Moore was magnificent. This was certainly the best song of 1954.

What else happened in 1954?

In the news…

*Jan. 14 – Marilyn Monroe marries Joe DiMaggio.
*Feb. 10 – Pres. Dwight Eisenhower warns against US intervention in Vietnam.
*Feb. 23 – The first mass vaccination of children against polio begins in Pittsburgh.
*Mar. 9 – Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly produce a See It Now special entitled “A Report on Sen. Joseph McCarthy”.
*Mar. 13 – French troops begin battle against the Vietminh in Dien Bien Phu.
*Mar. 25 – RCA manufactures the first color TV set. It cost $1,000.00 and had a twelve inch screen.
*Apr. 6 – Swanson and Sons puts the first TV Dinners on sale.
*Apr. 12 – Bill Haley & His Comets record “Rock Around the Clock” in New York City.
*May 6 – Roger Bannister runs the first four minute mile.
*May 7 – The Battle of Dien Bien Phu ends in a French defeat.
*May 17 – The US Supreme Court hands down its decision in Brown vs. the Topeka, Kansas Board of Education.
*Jun. 9 – Joseph Welch asks Sen. Joseph McCarthy “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” during Senate-Army hearings.
*Jul. 7 – WHBQ in Memphis becomes the first radio station to air an Elvis Presley record.
*Aug. 16 – The first issue of Sports Illustrated is published.
*Nov. 3 – The first Godzilla movie is released in Japan.
*Dec. 2 – The US Senate votes 67 to 22 to condemn Joseph McCarthy for “conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute.”

Famous Births…

*Jan. 12 – Howard Stern, the king of all media.
*Jan. 19 – Katey Sagal, Peg Bundy on Married with Children and Leela on Futurama.
*Jan. 29 – Oprah Winfrey, talk show host.
*Feb. 15 – Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons and Futurama.
*Feb. 18 – John Travolta, occasionally cool actor. Well, he was really good in Pulp Fiction.
*Feb. 25 – John Doe, singer for X and one half of the greatest harmony in the history of rock music.
*Mar. 1 – Ron Howard, Opie Taylor, Richie Cunningham, and a pretty damn good director.
*Mar. 4 – Catherine O’Hara, SCTV alum, part of Chris Guest’s wonderful mockumentary troupe, and a very hot woman.
*Apr. 7 – Jackie Chan, kung fu movie icon.
*Apr. 9 – Dennis Quaid, very cool actor.
*Apr. 15 – Seka, porn icon.
*Apr. 17 – Roddy Piper, famous wrestler and cool actor. Check out They Live.
*Apr. 23 – Michael Moore, great documentary filmmaker.
*Apr. 29 – Jerry Seinfeld, great stand-up and sitcom star.
*Jun. 9 – George Perez, brilliant comic book artist. Check out Crisis on Infinite Earths and JLA/Avengers.
*Jul. 23 – Annie Sprinkle, porn star, performance artist, and one of the world’s coolest people.
*Aug. 11 – Joe Jackson, great British rock star.
*Aug. 16 – James Cameron, great director of awesome action movies.
*Aug. 25 – Elvis Costello, amazing rock star and one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th and probably the 21st century.
*Sep. 9 – Jeffrey Combs, very cool actor. Check out Re-Animator.
*Oct. 3 – Stevie Ray Vaughan, the second greatest guitar player who ever lived.
*Oct. 9 – Scott Bakula, very cool actor. See Quantum Leap and Star Trek: Enterprise.
*Oct. 23 – Ang Lee, brilliant filmmaker. Crouching Tiger freakin’ rocked!
*Oct. 25 – Ed Powers, amateur porn icon.
*Nov. 3 – Adam Ant, great British rock star.
*Nov. 29 – Joel Coen, incredibly talented filmmaker. I highly recommend everything he’s ever done.
*Dec. 18 – Ray Liotta, cool actor. Check out Goodfellas.
*Dec. 28 – Denzel Washington, brilliant actor.

Famous Deaths…

*Jan. 18 – Sydney Greenstreet, terrific movie bad guy. Check out The Maltese Falcon.
*Apr. 10 – Auguste Lumiere, one of the founding fathers of the art of filmmaking.
*Jul. 13 – Frida Kahlo, great Mexican artist.
*Nov. 3 – Henri Matisse, great French artist.

In the world of movies…

The Top Grossing Films of 1954

5. Rear Window
4. The Egyptian
3. The Glenn Miller Story
2. The Caine Mutiny
1. White Christmas

Oscar Winners of 1954

Best Picture – On the Waterfront
Best Actor – Marlon Brando (On the Waterfront)
Best Actress – Grace Kelly (The Country Girl)
Best Supp. Actor – Edmond O’Brien (The Barefoot Contessa)
Best Supp. Actress – Eva Marie Saint (On the Waterfront)
Best Director – Elia Kazan (On the Waterfront)

Other Films released in 1954

Creature from the Black Lagoon
Dial M for Murder
The Seven Samurai (I highly recommend this magnificent adventure film directed by Akira Kurosawa, arguably the greatest filmmaker in the history of the cinema, and starring Toshiro Mifune, one of the coolest actors ever.)
La Strada

In the world of television…

Shows premiering in 1954

Face the Nation
Father Knows Best
The Tonight Show

Shows ending in 1954

Your Show of Shows

Emmy Winners of 1954

Best Actor in a Regular Series – Danny Thomas (Make Room for Daddy)
Best Actress in a Regular Series – Loretta Young (Loretta Young Show)
Best Dramatic Series – U.S. Steel Hour
Best Situation Comedy Series – Make Room for Daddy
Best Variety Series – Disneyland
Best Mystery or Intrigue Series – Dragnet

In the world of books…

Great Books published in 1954

Live and Let Die – Ian Fleming
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
The Doors of Perception – Aldous Huxley
Story of O – Pauline Reage
Horton Hears a Who! – Dr. Seuss
The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook – Alice B. Toklas
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien

In the world of comics…

Fredric Wertham publishes Seduction of the Innocent.
The Comics Code Authority is created.
DC Comics publishes World’s Finest Comics #71 in July, featuring the first teaming of Superman and Batman.

In the world of sports…

*World Series – The New York Giants win 4 games to 0 over the Cleveland Indians.
*NBA Finals – The Minneapolis Lakers win 4 games to 3 over the Syracuse Nationals.
*Boxing – On Sep. 17th, Rocky Marciano retains his World Heavyweight title with an 8th round knockout of Ezzard Charles.
*NFL Championship – The Cleveland Browns win 56-10 over the Detroit Lions.
*College Football champions – The Ohio State Buckeyes.
*World Cup – The 1954 World Cup is held in Switzerland. West Germany beats Hungary 3-2.
*Stanley Cup – The Detroit Red Wings win 4 games to 3 over the Montreal Canadiens.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What else happened in 1953?

In the news…

*Jan. 13 – Marshal Tito becomes President of Yugoslavia.
*Jan. 19 – 68% of all US TV sets were tuned in to I Love Lucy to watch the birth of Little Ricky.
*Jan. 20 – Eisenhower’s inauguration.
*Jan. 22 – The Crucible opens on Broadway.
*Feb. 18 – The first 3D film, Bwana Devil opens.
*Feb. 28 – James D. Watson and Francis Crick announce that they have discovered the structure of the DNA molecule.
*Mar. 5 – Joseph Stalin dies.
*Mar. 6 – Georgy Maksimilianovich Malenkov succeeds Stalin as Soviet Premier.
*Mar. 26 – Jonas Salk announces his polio vaccine.
*Apr. 3 – TV Guide is published for the first time.
*Apr. 13 – Ian Fleming publishes his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale.
*May 29 – Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay perform the first successful ascent to the summit of Mount Everest.
*Jun. 2 – Coronation of Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey.
*Jun. 19 – The execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
*Jun. 30 – The first Corvette is built.
*Jul. 27 – The Korean War ends.
*Aug. 8 – Malenkov announces that the Soviet Union has a hydrogen bomb.
*Oct. 5 – Earl Warren sworn in as 14th Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court.
*Dec. 10 – The first issue of Playboy is published.

Famous Births…

*Jan. 10 – Pat Benatar, rock star.
*Jan. 22 – Jim Jarmusch, cool director.
*Feb. 8 – Mary Steenburgen, cool actress. I always found her to be very hot, check out Melvin and Howard.
*Feb. 22 – Nigel Planer, British sitcom star. He was the hippie, Neil, on The Young Ones.
*Mar. 12 – Ron Jeremy, porn legend.
*Mar. 23 – Chaka Khan, great singer.
*Apr. 18 – Rick Moranis, SCTV alum and one of the MacKenzie brothers.
*Apr. 28 – Kim Gordon, singer and bassist for Sonic Youth.
*May 16 – Pierce Brosnan, cool actor, excellent James Bond.
*May 29 – Danny Elfman, leader of Oingo Boingo and creator of great movie music.
*May 30 – Colm Meaney, cool actor. Played Miles O’Brien on Next Gen and DS9.
*Jun. 22 – Cyndi Lauper, amazing singer and my first big celebrity crush.
*Jul. 27 – Yahoo Serious, funny dude.
*Jul. 29 – Ken Burns, great documentary filmmaker.
*Jul. 29 – Geddy Lee, singer and bassist for Rush.
*Aug. 11 – Hulk Hogan, famous wrestler.
*Aug. 17 – Kevin Rowland, singer of Dexy’s Midnight Runners.
*Aug. 27 – Peter Stormare, cool Swedish actor. Check out Fargo.
*Sep. 4 – Paul Smith, great comic book artist. He did some incredible work on X-Men back in the 80’s. I love his Kitty Pryde.
*Oct. 10 – David Lee Roth, lead singer of Van Halen and one of the coolest men who ever lived.
*Oct. 31 – Michael J. Anderson, cool actor. He was Samson on Carnivale. God, I miss Carnivale.
*Nov. 11 – Andy Partridge, singer of XTC.
*Nov. 18 – Alan Moore, genius writer and comic book creator. Responsible for the greatest comic book of all time, The Watchmen.
*Dec. 8 – Sam Kinison, brilliant comedian.
*Dec. 9 – John Malkovich, very cool actor.

Famous Deaths…

*Jan. 1 – Hank Williams, legendary country music singer.
*Mar. 3 – James J. Jeffries, former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion.
*Mar. 5 – Herman J. Mankiewicz, co-writer of Citizen Kane.
*Mar. 5 – Joseph Stalin, Soviet leader.
*Mar. 28 – Jim Thorpe, legendary athlete.
*May 16 – Django Reinhardt, brilliant jazz guitarist.
*Sep. 28 – Edwin Hubble, astronomer.
*Nov. 9 – Dylan Thomas, great Welsh poet and author.
*Nov. 27 – Eugene O’Neill, great American playwright.

In the world of movies…

The Top Grossing Films of 1953

5. Peter Pan
4. How to Marry a Millionaire
3. Shane
2. From Here to Eternity
1. The Robe

Oscar Winners of 1953

Best Picture – From Here to Eternity
Best Actor – William Holden (Stalag 17)
Best Actress – Audrey Hepburn (Roman Holiday)
Best Supp. Actor – Frank Sinatra (From Here to Eternity)
Best Supp. Actress – Donna Reed (From Here to Eternity)
Best Director – Fred Zinnemann (From Here to Eternity)

Other Films released in 1953

The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
Beat the Devil
The Big Heat (I highly recommend this wonderful film noir. It was directed by genius German filmmaker Fritz Lang and starred Glenn Ford, Lee Marvin, and the gorgeous Gloria Grahame. Gloria Grahame should have been a much bigger star. Check this one out. It was way ahead of its time.)
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Glen or Glenda
House of Wax
It Came from Outer Space
Robot Monster
The Wages of Fear (I recommend this one too. A French film, otherwise known as La Salaire de la peur, starring Yves Montand. It is the story of four desperate men hired to drive two trucks filled with nitroglycerin through the perilous roads of a South American jungle. This is one of the most suspenseful films I have ever seen.)
The War of the Worlds
The Wild One

In the world of television…

Shows premiering in 1953

Make Room for Daddy
Romper Room

In the world of books…

Great Books published in 1953

Second Foundation – Isaac Asimov
Go Tell it on the Mountain – James Baldwin
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
Junkie – William Burroughs
The Long Goodbye – Raymond Chandler
Casino Royale – Ian Fleming
Plexus – Henry Miller

In the world of comics…

Harvey publishes Little Dot #1 in September, featuring the 1st appearance of Richie Rich.
Marvel publishes Young Men #24 in December, featuring a revival of Captain America, The Sub-Mariner, and The Human Torch.

In the world of sports…

*World Series – The New York Yankees win 4 games to 2 over the Brooklyn Dodgers.
*NBA Finals – The Minneapolis Lakers win 4 games to 1 over the New York Knicks.
*NFL Championship – The Detroit Lions win 17-16 over the Cleveland Browns.
*College Football Champions – The Maryland Terrapins
*Boxing – Rocky Marciano keeps his World Heavyweight title with a TKO over Roland La Starza in the 11th round.
*Stanley Cup – The Montreal Canadiens win 4 games to 1 over the Boston Bruins.

The Best Songs of 1953

2. Take These Chains From My Heart – Hank Williams

Yet another sad song of love from Hank. It’s a familiar tale of a man who feels that his love no longer loves him, so he wants her to set him free so he can seek his happiness elsewhere. This song went to number one on the country charts after Hank’s untimely death. Again, I must say, that man had one hell of a beautiful voice.

1. Your Cheatin’ Heart – Hank Williams

This time his girl is cheating on him. Poor Hank, the guy just can’t catch a break where romance is concerned. This is probably his most famous song and I call it as the best song of 1953.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What else happened in 1952?

In the news…

*Feb. 6 – Elizabeth II becomes Queen upon the death of her father George VI.
*Feb. 14 – The Winter Olympics in Oslo begin.
*Feb. 26 – Winston Churchill announces that Britain has an atomic bomb.
*Mar. 27 – Sun Records begins operations.
*May 1 – Mr. Potato Head is introduced.
*May 8 – Mad Magazine debuts.
*Jun. 15 – The Diary of Anne Frank is published.
*Jul. 19 – The Summer Olympics in Helsinki begin.
*Sep. 23 – Nixon’s “Checkers” speech.
*Nov. 1 – The US successfully detonates the first hydrogen bomb at Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
*Nov. 4 – Dwight D. Eisenhower defeats Adlai Stevenson in the 1952 US Presidential Election.
*Dec. 15 – Christine Jorgensen is the recipient of the first successful sexual reassignment operation.

Famous Births…

*Jan. 20 – Paul Stanley, singer for Kiss
*Mar. 2 – Laraine Newman, original SNL cast member
*Mar. 11 – Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy
*Mar. 22 – Bob Costas, the best interviewer on TV today
*Apr. 16 – Billy West, very cool voice actor, does Ren on Ren & Stimpy and Fry on Futurama
*Apr. 22 – Marilyn Chambers, legendary porn actress
*Apr. 24 – Jean-Paul Gaultier, interesting fashion designer.
*May 14 – David Byrne, singer for The Talking Heads
*May 21 – Mr. T, no description needed, It’s Mr. freakin’ T!
*Jun. 7 – Liam Neeson, very cool Irish actor
*Jun. 18 – Carol Kane, very cool and oddly attractive actress
*Jun. 20 – John Goodman, very cool and funny actor
*Jul. 1 – Dan Aykroyd, original SNL cast member, Blues Brother, and Doctor Detroit!
*Jul. 15 – Terry O’Quinn, cool actor. Check out The Stepfather and Lost.
*Aug. 8 – Robin Quivers, Howard Stern sidekick
*Aug. 13 – Herb Ritts, really awesome photographer
*Aug. 19 – Jonathan Frakes, Commander William Riker from Next Gen
*Aug. 21 – Joe Strummer, punk rock legend, singer for The Clash
*Aug. 27 – Paul Reubens. Dude, it’s Pee-Wee Herman.
*Sep. 12 – Neil Peart, drummer for Rush, one of the greatest drummers of all time
*Sep. 25 – Christopher Reeve, Superman!
*Oct. 5 – Clive Barker, great horror writer. Check out Cabal.
*Oct. 22 – Jeff Goldblum, cool actor.
*Nov. 30 – Keith Giffen, great comic book creator, I loved that funny Justice League stuff
*Dec. 9 – Michael Dorn, Worf!!!

Famous Deaths…

*Jan. 18 – Curly Howard, one of The Three Stooges, I love Curly
*May 21 – John Garfield, extremely cool classic actor, check out The Postman Always Rings Twice
*Jul. 26 – Evita Peron, famous Argentine first lady.
*Oct. 26 – Hattie McDaniel, played Mammy in Gone with the Wind

In the world of movies…

The Top Grossing Films of 1952

5. Sailor Beware
4. The Snows of Kilimanjaro
3. Ivanhoe
2. Quo Vadis
1. The Greatest Show on Earth

Oscar Winners of 1952

Best Picture – The Greatest Show on Earth
Best Actor – Gary Cooper (High Noon)
Best Actress – Shirley Booth (Come Back, Little Sheba)
Best Supp. Actor – Anthony Quinn (Viva Zapata!)
Best Supp. Actress – Gloria Grahame (The Bad and the Beautiful)
Best Director – John Ford (The Quiet Man)

Other Films released in 1952

Singin’ in the Rain

In the world of television…

Shows premiering in 1952

The Today Show
American Bandstand
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet
The Ernie Kovacs Show
Hockey Night in Canada
The Honeymooners
This Is Your Life

In the world of books…

Great Books published in 1952

Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
East of Eden – John Steinbeck
Foundation and Empire – Isaac Asimov
Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
The Devils of Loudon – Aldous Huxley

In the world of comics…

Mad Magazine is first published.
Marvel Comics first publishes Journey into Mystery.

In the world of sports…

*World Series – The New York Yankees win 4 games to 3 over the Brooklyn Dodgers.
*NBA Finals – The Minneapolis Lakers win 4 games to 3 over the Syracuse Nationals.
*Boxing – On Sep. 23 in Philadelphia, Rocky Marciano knocks out Jersey Joe Walcott in the 13th round to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
*NFL Championship – The Detroit Lions win 17-7 over the Cleveland Browns.
*Stanley Cup – The Detroit Red Wings win 4 games to 0 over the Montreal Canadiens.
*Summer Olympics – The US wins the most medals (76) and the most gold medals (40).
*Winter Olympics – Norway wins the most medals (16) and the most gold medals (7).

The Best Songs of 1952

2. Honky Tonk Blues – Hank Williams

This one feels like home. As I said before, I’m from Alabama myself. I don’t miss much beyond the food, but this song really puts me in an interesting place. I love the vocal inflections that Hank uses and even though I find that little yodeling thing really irritating when most singers do it, Hank pulls it off like nobody else. Beautiful song.

1. Kaw-Liga – Hank Williams

Now this is one entertaining story song. A wooden cigar store Indian falls in love with another statue in the antique store across the street. Hank sang many songs of unrequited love, but none quite like this one.

Friday, November 03, 2006

What else happened in 1951?

In the news…

*Jan. 9 – United Nations headquarters officially opens in New York City.
*Jan. 17 – Chinese and North Korean forces capture Seoul.
*Feb. 6 – A Pennsylvania Railroad passenger train derails near Woodbridge Township, New Jersey. 85 people are killed and over 500 are injured in one of the worst rail disasters in US history.
*Feb. 27 – The 22nd Amendment to the US Constitution is ratified, limiting Presidents to two terms.
*Mar. 6 – The trail of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg begins
*Mar. 12 – Dennis the Menace appears in newspapers for the first time.
*Mar. 29 – The King And I opens on Broadway.
*Apr. 11 – Truman fires MacArthur.
*Jul. 13 – The Great Flood of 1951 reaches its highest point in Northeast Kansas, culminating in the greatest flood damage to date in the Midwestern US.
*Oct. 15 – The first oral contraceptive is invented.
*Oct. 15 – I Love Lucy debuts on CBS.

Famous Births…

*Feb. 16 – William Katt; The Greatest American Hero
*Mar. 13 – Fred Berry; Rerun on What’s Happening!
*Mar. 14 – Jerry Greenfield; co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream
*Mar. 17 – Kurt Russell; cool actor, check out Escape From New York and Big Trouble in Little China
*Mar. 18 – Ben Cohen; co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream
*Apr. 13 – Max Weinberg; drummer for the E Street Band and Conan O’Brien
*Apr. 27 – Ace Frehley; guitarist for Kiss
*May 4 – Mick Mars; guitarist for Motley Crue
*May 15 – Jonathan Richman; indie rock icon and leader of The Modern Lovers
*May 19 – Joey Ramone; punk rock legend and Ramones lead singer
*Jul. 1 – Fred Schneider; singer for The B-52s
*Jul. 8 – Anjelica Huston; cool actress
*Jul. 16 – Stewart Copeland; drummer for The Police
*July 24 – Lynda Carter; cool actress, Wonder Woman
*Aug. 19 – John Deacon; bassist for Queen
*Aug. 24 – Orson Scott Card; author of Ender’s Game
*Sep. 5 – Michael Keaton; cool actor, check out Batman
*Sep. 7 – Chrissie Hynde; singer for The Pretenders
*Sep. 12 – Joe Pantoliano; cool actor, Joey Pants! He was Ralphie on The Sopranos
*Sep. 25 – Mark Hamill; Luke Skywalker!
*Oct. 2 – Sting; lead singer of The Police
*Oct. 7 – John Mellencamp; rock star
*Oct. 25 – Richard Lloyd; guitarist for Television
*Oct. 26 – Bootsy Collins; bass player for P-Funk
*Nov. 26 – Cicciolina; Italian porn star and member of the Italian parliament

Famous Deaths…

*Aug. 14 – William Randolph Hearst, inspiration for Charles Foster Kane

In the world of movies…

The Top Grossing Films of 1951

5. Born Yesterday
4. A Streetcar Named Desire
3. (tie) The Great Caruso & An American in Paris
2. Show Boat
1. David and Bathsheba

Oscar Winners of 1951

Best Picture – An American in Paris
Best Actor – Humphrey Bogart (The African Queen)
Best Actress – Vivien Leigh (A Streetcar Named Desire)

Other Films released in 1951

Bedtime for Bonzo
The Day the Earth Stood Still
The Lavender Hill Mob
A Place in the Sun
Strangers on a Train
The Thing from Another World
When Worlds Collide

In the world of television…

Shows premiering in 1951

I Love Lucy
The Roy Rogers Show

In the world of books…

Great Books published in 1951

The Caine Mutiny – Herman Wouk
The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
Foundation – Isaac Asimov
From Here to Eternity – James Jones

In the world of sports…

*World Series – The New York Yankees win 4 games to 2 over the New York Giants.
*NBA Finals – Rochester Royals win 4 games to 3 over the New York Knicks.
*Boxing – Jersey Joe Walcott knocks out Ezzard Charles in round 7.
*NFL Championship – The Los Angeles Rams won 24-17 over the Cleveland Browns.
*Stanley Cup – The Toronto Maple Leafs win 4 games to 1 over the Montreal Canadiens.

The Best Songs of 1951

4. I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You) – Hank Williams

This is a beautiful love song and was a number two hit on the country charts for Hank. It is a continuation of Hank’s ongoing theme of pining for lost love. The mournful, yearning tone is something that always gets to me.

3. Hey Good Lookin’ – Hank Williams

Here’s another of Hank’s more upbeat numbers. This is one of the finest examples of a pick-up line being turned into a song.

2. Ramblin’ Man – Hank Williams

This one has such a wonderfully mysterious undertone. There’s not another country song of the period that sounds quite like it. It really puts you in a different place.

1. Jambalaya (On The Bayou) – Hank Williams

This one is a terrific party song. It infectiously describes what seems to be one hell of a fun celebration. Jambalaya, crawfish pie, and filé gumbo all sound really good. Hell, I feel like a Mardi Gras party right now.