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Born on this day ...
Happy Birthday to Johnny Clegg, OBE, OIS (Order of Ikhamanga), who is one of South Africa’s very well loved musical sons. He was born on this day in 1953, in Lancashire, England, moved to Zimbabwe with his mother as an infant and then to South Africa at the age of seven. He is referred to often as The White Zulu due to his having embraced the Zulu music and dance culture from his early teens on. Fascinated by the rhythms, movement and culture of the Zulu nation and with every intention of pursuing a career in anthropology, which he did, to a large extent, he spent a big chunk of his youth ducking and diving the police because at that time, by associating with persons of colour, he was contravening the apartheid laws which included, among other things, a curfew. Despite all that, he always wanted to (and whenever possible did) play and perform in his own country even when under pressure from various parties not to do so; an enthusiastic champion of the people, of human rights, and of the land itself, notwithstanding shoddy treatment at the hands of the previous regime.
Johnny Clegg first performed with Juluka which was a partnership with his longtime friend and fellow musician Sipho Mchunu. They were constantly hounded and harassed in the early years but stood their ground and also took their music on tour internationally becoming a firm favourite in France, to the extent that Clegg received his first knighthood from that country in 1991. Both Juluka, and Savuka, which followed thereafter, were immensely popular – the audiences loving the dance as much as the music. The story goes that Michael Jackson cancelled a show in Lyon due to poor ticket sales while Savuka had sold out their own concert there at the same time. Johnny’s partner in Savuka, Dudu Zulu was killed in 1993 while attempting to mediate a taxi dispute (or war, which is a more accurate description) which was a terrible shock and loss; Johnny went on to make some solo albums, briefly reuniting with Sipho and Juluka a little later on.
Sadly, Johnny Clegg has pancreatic cancer and has recently completed a farewell tour which he felt he wanted to do while in remission – to pay respects to his fans. He is held in high esteem and quite rightly so. His song titled ‘Great Heart’ is a fitting description for him, I think.
Some best known songs …
"Scatterlings of Africa" -
"African Sky Blue" -
"Impi" – which has been adopted as an anthem at some sporting events –
"Asimbonanga" -
"Hambile/The Dance" – live in Paris. Dance starts at around six minutes -
"Third World Child" -
And “The Crossing (Osiyeza)” which was written as a tribute to the fallen Dudu and which has particular poignancy –

"The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us." ~ Bill Watterson
The Crossing - brilliant piece of music. I remember reading in some music mag years ago that Clegg had outsold Michael Jackson in Lyon.
'The purpose of life is a life of purpose' - Athena Orchard.
BTW - it just shows what a hypocrisy of bureaucracy the British Musicians Union is when they cancelled his membership because he was performing in SA - the guy that was trying to bring people together across racial divides is the one they penalize. Dickheads. They were, however, quite happy to let their artists albums be sold in the country. By the bucketful. Money talks.
'The purpose of life is a life of purpose' - Athena Orchard.
^Exactly. Hypocrisy of Bureaucracy sounds like the title of something! Lol!

Francis Monkman was born on this day in 1949, in Hampstead, North London. He is a virtuoso harpshichordist and a player of pretty much all keys, notably moogs and things – he is also 100% proficient on guitar.

I’m lifting an extract from this website as I am too lazy to paraphrase - jeez - someone needs to tell them there are typos – corrected (where spotted) for this copy and paste ...  Rolleyes
“Francis went to Westminster School where he studied organ and harpsichord. During this time his first musical ambition blossomed; that of conducting a Mozart opera. In 1967 he started three years of study at the Royal Academy of Music. He took as his first subject the harpsichord, receiving the Raymond Russet Prize for that instrument, and while at the Academy he also took up electric guitar.

In 1970 Francis formed “Curved Air”, which evolved from the group “Sisyphus”. They signed a recording deal With WEA Records and had three albums released, the first being ‘Air Conditioning’. With “Curved Air” he toured all over Europe and the USA to great and enduring acclaim. Francis started doing session work whilst still at the Royal Academy and consequently he has worked with many of the top recording and performing artists in the UK — The Shadows, David Essex, Paul Nicholas, Kate Bush and Steve Harley amongst them. He also continued to give highly acclaimed classical concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, The South Bank and the Purcell Room. He is an extremely original and accomplished composer and has written and performed jingles, library albums and gramophone singles. Francis was introduced and recommended to John Williams by Stanley Myers and subsequently Francis played on John’s 'Travelling’ album. It was at this time that a relationship was established which finally has culminated in Sky.

Francis and two partners also formed their own music production company, Crocodile, which is primarily concerned with music for television and radio commercials.

Francis left Sky in the summer of 1980 to pursue other interests following the success of his score for the film 'The Long Good Friday'. He released a solo album, 'Dweller on the Threshold', which regrettably pretty much sank without a trace. He remained active in classical keyboard music, especially harpsichord and organ and played concerts up and down the country. In 1999, he released his latest creation, 21st Century Blues, from which you can hear extracts on his own web site. (And don't forget to buy the CD!).”

I never took to Curved Air much, although regret missing the recent birthday of Florian Pilkington-Miksa – what an absolutely fabulous name! But I digress – aside from those mentioned above, he also contributed to Camel’s The Single Factor and is on “The Fall of the House of Usher” from APP’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination and Al Stewart’s Past, Present and Future. I am curious about that sunken solo album, especially since Andrew Latimer plays on it, but sadly - it's nowhere to be found - in the ether, at any rate.
Side two of Sky2 which is all his – composition, that is … and some instruments …

"The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us." ~ Bill Watterson
Ruby - you sure know how to pick them - all from my favourite Sky album.
'The purpose of life is a life of purpose' - Athena Orchard.
^I like that album too. This thread is so enjoyable for me - often leads to new and/or rediscoveries!

David Longdon was born on this day in 1965, in Nottingham, England. He’s been the lead singer for Big Big Train since 2009 and plays just about every instrument imaginable - flute, keyboards, acoustic and electric 6 & 12 string guitars, bass, mandolin, lute, banjo, accordion, percussion, dulcimer, psaltry, vibraphone, theremin and also the glockenspiel. Oops – skipped the celesta … and drums too … obviously an over achiever! Lol! One of those people who has been around music from birth, pretty much.
He sounds like the vocal doppelganger of Peter Gabriel, to me (with a similar penchant for the dramatic) – or a Gabriel/Collins hybrid. In fact, he was considered for the position of lead singer in Genesis, replacing Phil Collins, and worked with the band for a bit, but they ultimately chose Ray Wilson for the role. As it happens, he also worked with Steve Hackett (and others) on a new recording of “Spectral Mornings”, a version reworked with lyrics and released as a charity single in aid of Parkinson’s disease. Prior to joining BBT, and back in the 1990’s he had been with a band called The Gifthorse who were signed to Epic records; in 2004 he recorded a solo album, Wild River, as David Longdon and The Magic Club.
BBT released two albums last year, Grimspound and The Second Brightest Star, and if the rumblings are to be believed, will release another soonish. I prefer their stuff to the other new prog bands I've heard - which is far from all of them, or even the tip of the iceberg, probably!

From English Electric Part 1 - "Winchester from St. Giles' Hill" …
“Leopards” from English Electric Part 2 – -  written by Longdon ...
…. as was this, “The Ivy Gate” from Grimspound, with additional vocals by Judy Dyble ….

"The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us." ~ Bill Watterson
Raymond Charles Jack "Ray" LaMontagne was born on this day in 1973, in Nashua, New Hampshire, USA. He’s a notoriously private person so there is not a lot to speak of, in terms of bio, however, urban legend has it that he had got a job in a shoe store in 1990, after graduating from school, and was awakened, literally and figuratively one morning by Stephen Stills’ “Treetop Flyer” ( which was playing on his radio alarm. Then and there he decided that music was going to be the thing, and kudos to him – it is.
He developed his very own breathy brand of vocalese – singing from his stomach as opposed to his nose, and proceeded to have a top five hit in the UK (go figure – he peaked in the US at 189 on the Billboard 200!) with the title track from his debut album, Trouble. He’s since scooped up a good few awards, including a Grammy for 2011’s God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise and released seven albums to date, one this year, Part of the Light. In a world where it’s becoming more and more challenging to offer up something authentic and unique in terms of artistry, IMHO, LaMontagne holds his own. And Levon Helm had time for him which says something, I think. He sang with him a bit - here they are on “The Weight” along with Alain Toussaint, Richard Thompson, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and a few others (Toussaint having an aberrant moment on the lyrics there, but oh well …)
“Trouble” –
“All the Wild Horses” – also from Trouble -
“Gold Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise” -
“Let it be Me” -
“You Are The Best Thing” -
“Empty” –  

"The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us." ~ Bill Watterson
Michael Shrieve was born on this day in 1949, in San Francisco, California, USA. Drummer extraordinaire who has done a whole shedload since his debut appearance at the tender age of 20 on stage with Santana at Woodstock. He worked and recorded with Carlos Santana for a good few moons, got a guru, as did Mr S, and mutually partook of a few other things beside – them being the times n all. Can’t find a comprehensive bio, but he must’ve had a natural aptitude for drums and percussion; he was actually responsible for turning CS on to John Coltrane and Miles Davis and had a formidable grasp of the much broader music scene from a really young age. In one interview I heard, he said, of touring with Santana, “We booked Weather Report to open for us just so we could watch ‘em every night”! Not something I imagine every twenty something year old would have chosen, and sheesh, what a privilege!!
Shrieve has made a number of collaborative albums through a number of genres, I’d say erring on the fusion and world music side of things but he’s also toyed with electronica and there’s a fair helping of ambient stuff thrown into the mix too. He is a composer, has scored a couple of movies, and has worked with a host of diverse musos, from Roger Hodgson and David Crosby to Klaus Schulze and everyone in between! He’s made peace with being remembered primarily for “Soul Sacrifice” but would really like people to have a listen to some of the other music he’s made. The obligatory clip …
I’ve heard his The Big Picture, with David Beal before, and a bit of the supergroup Go (which means five, in Japanese) – musicians included Michael Shrieve, Al Di Meola, Steve Winwood, Klaus Schulze and founder Tsutomu Yamashita aka Stomu Yamashta). This is from the aforementioned …

"The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us." ~ Bill Watterson
Must investigate this guy a little more - seems like he's done it all. Thx for the info.
'The purpose of life is a life of purpose' - Athena Orchard.
^You're welcome. He seems to have quite a cool, philosophical approach to what he does. Maybe a guru's a good thing!!
"The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us." ~ Bill Watterson

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