Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Series-Disabled Legend Charles Mingus

Charles Mingus was born on 22 April 1922 in Nogales, Arizona and died on 5 January 1979 at the age of 56 in Cuernavaca, Mexico, where he had traveled for treatment and convalescence. Charles’ ashes were scattered in the Ganges River.

At the time of his death, Charles Mingus had been recording an album with singer Joni Mitchell, which included vocal versions of some of his songs (including “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”) among Mitchell originals and short, spoken word duets and home recordings of Joni Mitchell and Charles Mingus. The album also featured Jaco Pastorius, another massively influential bassist and composer.

Charles was an American jazz bassist, composer, bandleader, and occasional pianist. Charles was also known for his activism against racial injustice.

Charles is highly ranked among the composers and performers of jazz, and he recorded many highly regarded albums. Dozens of musicians passed through his bands and later went on to impressive careers. Charles’ tunes—though melodic and distinctive—are not often re-recorded, in part because of their unconventional nature. Charles was also influential and creative as a band leader, recruiting talented and sometimes little-known artists whom he assembled into unconventional and revealing configurations.

Nearly as well known as his ambitious music was Charles’ often fearsome temperament, which earned him the nickname “The Angry Man of Jazz.” Charles’ refusal to compromise his musical integrity led to many on-stage eruptions, though it has been argued that his temper also grew from a need to vent frustration.

Charles was prone to depression. Charles tended to have brief periods of extreme creative activity, intermixed with fairly long periods of greatly decreased output.

Most of Charles’ music retained the hot and soulful feel of hard bop and drew heavily from black gospel music while sometimes drawing on elements of Third Stream, free jazz and even classical music. Yet Charles avoided categorisation, forging his own brand of music that fused tradition with unique and unexplored realms of jazz. Charles focused on collective improvisation, similar to the old New Orleans Jazz parades, paying particular attention to how each band member interacted with the group as a whole. In creating his bands, Charles looked not only at the skills of the available musicians, but also their personalities. Charles strove to create unique music to be played by unique musicians.

Due to his brilliant writing for mid-size ensembles—and his catering to and emphasizing the strengths of the musicians in his groups—Charles is often considered the heir apparent to Duke Ellington, for whom he expressed unqualified admiration. Indeed, Dizzy Gillespie had once claimed Charles reminded him “of a young Duke”, citing their shared “organisational genius.”

Charles was raised largely in the Watts area of Los Angeles, California. Charles’ mother’s paternal heritage was Chinese and English, while historical records indicate that his father was the illegitimate offspring of a black farmhand and his Swedish employer’s white granddaughter.

Charles’ mother allowed only church-related music in their home, but Charles developed an early love for jazz, especially the music of Duke Ellington. Charles studied trombone, and later cello. Much of the cello technique he learned was applicable to double bass when he took up the instrument in high school.

Beginning in his teen years, Charles was writing quite advanced pieces; many are similar to Third Stream Jazz. A number of them were recorded in 1960 with conductor Gunther Schuller, and released as Pre-Bird, referring to Charlie “Bird” Parker.

Charles gained a reputation as something of a bass prodigy. Charles toured with Louis Armstrong in 1943, then played with Lionel Hampton’s band in the late 1940s; Louis performed and recorded several of Charles’ pieces. A popular trio of Charles Mingus, Red Norvo and Tal Farlow in 1950 and 1951 received considerable acclaim, but Charles’ mixed origin caused problems with club owners and he left the group. Charles was briefly a member of Ellington’s band in the early 1950s, and notorious temper reportedly led to his being the only musician personally fired by Ellington (although there are reports that Sidney Bechet in 1925 was another), after an on-stage fight between Charles and Juan Tizol.

Also in the early 1950s, before attaining commercial recognition as a bandleader, Charles played gigs with Charlie Parker, whose compositions and improvisations greatly inspired and influenced him. Charles considered Charlie Parker the greatest genius and innovator in jazz history, but he had a love-hate relationship with Charlie Parker’s legacy. Charles Mingus blamed the Parker mythology for a derivative crop of pretenders to Charlie Parker’s throne. Charles was also conflicted and sometimes disgusted by Charlie Parker’s self-destructive habits and the romanticised lure of drug addiction they offered to other jazz musicians. In response to the many sax players who imitated Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus titled a song, “If Charlie Parker were a Gunslinger, There’d be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats” (released on Mingus Dynasty as “Gunslinging Bird”).

In 1952 Charles co-founded Debut Records with Max Roach, in order to conduct his recording career as he saw fit; the name originated with a desire to document unrecorded young musicians. Despite this, the best known recording the company issued was of the most prominent figures in bebop. On 15 May, 1953, Charles joined Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, and Max Roach for a concert at Massey Hall in Toronto, which is the last recorded documentation of the two lead instrumentalists playing together. After the event, Charles chose to overdub his barely-audible bass part back in New York; the original version was issued later. The 2 10″ albums of the Massey Hall concert (one featured the trio of Bud Powell, Charles Mingus and Max Roach) were among Debut Records’ earliest releases. Charles may have objected to the way the major record companies treated musicians, but Gillespie once commented that he did not receive any royalties “for years and years” for his Massey Hall appearance. The records though, are often regarded as among the finest live jazz recordings.

In 1955, Charles was involved in a notorious incident while playing a club date billed as a “reunion” with Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, and Max Roach. Bud Powell, who had suffered from alcoholism and mental illness for years (potentially exacerbated by a severe police beating and electroshock treatments), had to be helped from the stage, unable to play or speak coherently. As Bud Powell’s incapacitation became apparent, Charlie Parker stood in one spot at a microphone, chanting “Bud Powell…Bud Powell…” as if beseeching Bud Powell’s return. Allegedly, Charlie Parker continued this incantation for several minutes after Bud Powell’s departure, to his own amusement and Charles Mingus’ exasperation. Charles Mingus took another microphone and announced to the crowd, “Ladies and gentlemen, please don’t associate me with any of this. This is not jazz. These are sick people.” This was Charlie Parker’s last public performance, about a week later Charlie Parker died after years of alcohol and drug abuse.

Charles Mingus often worked with a mid-sized ensemble (around 8–10 members) of rotating musicians known as the Jazz Workshop. Charles Mingus broke new ground, constantly demanding that his musicians be able to explore and develop their perceptions on the spot. Those who joined the Workshop (or Sweatshops as they were colorfully dubbed by the musicians) included Pepper Adams, Jaki Byard, Booker Ervin, John Handy, Jimmy Knepper, Charles McPherson and Horace Parlan. Charles Mingus shaped these promising novices into a cohesive improvisational machine that in many ways anticipated free jazz. Some musicians dubbed the workshop a “university” for jazz.

The decade which followed is generally regarded as Charles Mingus’s most productive and fertile period. Impressive new compositions and albums appeared at an astonishing rate: some 30 records in 10 years, for a number of record labels (Atlantic Records, Candid, Columbia Records, Impulse! Records and others), a pace perhaps unmatched by any other musician except Ellington.

Charles Mingus had already recorded around 10 albums as a bandleader, but 1956 was a breakthrough year for him, with the release of Pithecanthropus Erectus, arguably his first major work as both a bandleader and composer. Like Ellington, Charles Mingus wrote songs with specific musicians in mind, and his band for Erectus included adventurous, though distinctly blues-oriented musicians, piano player Mal Waldron, alto saxophonist Jackie McLean and the Sonny Rollins-influenced tenor of J. R. Monterose. The title song is a 10 minute tone poem, depicting the rise of man from his hominid roots (Pithecanthropus erectus) to an eventual downfall. A section of the piece was improvised free of structure or theme.

Another album from this period, The Clown (1957 also on Atlantic Records), with an improvised story on the title track by humorist Jean Shepherd, was the first to feature drummer Dannie Richmond. Dannie Richmond would be his preferred drummer until Charles Mingus’s death in 1979. The two men formed one of the most impressive and versatile rhythm sections in jazz. Both were accomplished performers seeking to stretch the boundaries of their music while staying true to its roots. When joined by pianist Jaki Byard, they were dubbed “The Almighty Three”.

Though he initially expressed rather mixed feelings for Coleman’s innovative music: “…if the free-form guys could play the same tune twice, then I would say they were playing something…Most of the time they use their fingers on the saxophone and they don’t even know what’s going to come out. They’re experimenting.” Charles Mingus was in fact a prime influence of the early free jazz era. Charles Mingus formed a quartet with Dannie Richmond, trumpeter Ted Curson and saxophonist Eric Dolphy. This ensemble featured the same instruments as Coleman’s quartet, and is often regarded as Charles Mingus rising to the challenging new standard established by Coleman. Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus, the quartet’s sole album, is frequently included among the finest in Charles Mingus’s catalogue.

In 1963, Charles Mingus released The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, a sprawling, multi-section masterpiece, described as “one of the greatest achievements in orchestration by any composer in jazz history.” The album was also unique in that Charles Mingus asked his psychotherapist to provide notes for the record.

1963 also saw the release of an unaccompanied album Mingus Plays Piano. Charles’ piano technique, though capable and expressive, was somewhat unrefined when compared to Herbie Hancock or other contemporary jazz pianists, but the album is still generally well regarded. A few pieces were entirely improvised and drew on classical music as much as jazz, preceding Keith Jarrett’s landmark The Köln Concert in those respects by some 12 years.

In 1964 Charles Mingus put together one of his best-known groups, a sextet including Dannie Richmond, Jaki Byard, Eric Dolphy, trumpeter Johnny Coles, and tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan. The group was recorded frequently during its short existence; Johnny Coles fell ill during a European tour. On 28 June, 1964 Eric Dolphy died while in Berlin, and Charles Mingus was evicted from his New York home in 1966.

Charles Mingus’s pace slowed somewhat in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1974 he formed a quintet with Dannie Richmond, pianist Don Pullen, trumpeter Jack Walrath and saxophonist George Adams. They recorded 2 well-received albums, Changes 1 and Changes 2. Charles also played with Charles McPherson in many of his groups during this time.

Cumbia and Jazz Fusion in 1976 sought to blend Colombian music (the “Cumbia” of the title) with more traditional jazz forms.

In 1971, Charles Mingus taught for a semester at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York as the Slee Professor of Music.

By the mid-1970s, Charles Mingus was suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), a wastage of the musculature. Charles Mingus once formidable bass technique suffered, until he could no longer play the instrument. Charles continued composing, however, and supervised a number of recordings before his death.

The music of Charles Mingus is currently being performed and reinterpreted by the Mingus Big Band, which plays every Tuesday at Iridium Jazz Club in New York City, and often tours the rest of the U.S. and Europe. Elvis Costello has written lyrics for a few Mingus pieces. Charles Mingus had once sung lyrics for one piece, “Invisible Lady”, being backed by the Mingus Big Band on the album, Tonight at Noon: Three of Four Shades of Love.

In addition to the Mingus Big Band, there is the Mingus Orchestra and the Mingus Dynasty, each of which are managed by Jazz Workshop, Inc., and run by Charles’s widow Sue Graham Mingus. Other tribute bands are also active all around the US and the world, including Mingus Amungus in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Swedish Mingus Band Siegmund Freud’s Mothers in Stockholm.

Epitaph is considered by many to be the masterwork of Charles Mingus. It is a composition which is more than 4,000 measures long, requires 2 hours to perform and was only completely discovered during the cataloging process after his death by musicologist Andrew Homzy. With the help of a grant from the Ford Foundation, the score and instrumental parts were copied, and the piece itself was premiered by a 30-piece orchestra, conducted by Gunther Schuller. This concert was produced by Charles Mingus’s widow, Sue Graham Mingus, at Alice Tully Hall on 3 June, 1989, 10 years after his death. Epitaph is one of the longest jazz pieces ever written.

Considering the number of compositions that Charles Mingus has written, his works have not been recorded as often as comparable jazz composers. Of all his works, his elegant elegy for Lester Young, “Goodbye Porkpie Hat” (from Mingus Ah Um) has probably had the most recordings. Besides recordings from the expected jazz artists, the song has also been recorded by musicians as disparate as Jeff Beck, Andy Summers, Eugene Chadbourne, and Bert Jansch and John Renbourn with and without Pentangle. Joni Mitchell sang a version with lyrics that she wrote for the song. Elvis Costello has recorded “Hora Decubitus” (from Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus) on My Flame Burns Blue (2006). “Better Git It in Your Soul” was covered by Davey Graham on his album “Folk, Blues, and Beyond.” Trumpeter Ron Miles performs a version of “Pithecanthropus Erectus” on his EP “Witness.” New York Ska Jazz Ensemble has done a cover of Charles Mingus’s “Haitian Fight Song”, as have Pentangle and others. Hal Willner’s 1992 tribute album Weird Nightmare: Meditations on Mingus (Columbia Records) contains idiosyncratic renditions of Charles Mingus’s works involving numerous popular musicians including Chuck D, Keith Richards, Henry Rollins and Dr. John. The italian band Quintorigo recorded an entire album devoted to Charles Mingus’ music, titled Play Mingus.

As respected as Charles Mingus was for his musical talents, he was often feared for his sometimes violent onstage temper, which was at times directed at members of his band, and other times aimed at the audience. Charles Mingus was physically large, prone to obesity (especially in his later years), and was by all accounts often intimidating and frightening when expressing anger or displeasure.

When confronted with a nightclub audience talking and clinking ice in their glasses while he performed, Charles Mingus stopped his band and loudly chastised the audience, stating “Isaac Stern doesn’t have to put up with this shit.” Charles once played a prank on a similar group of nightclub chatterers by silencing his band for several seconds, allowing the loud audience members to be clearly heard, then continuing as the rest of the audience snickered at the oblivious “soloists”.

Guitarist and singer Jackie Paris was a first-hand witness to Charles Mingus’s irascibility. Paris recalls his time in the Jazz Workshop: “He chased everybody off the stand except [drummer] Paul Motian and me… The three of us just wailed on the blues for about an hour and a half before he called the other cats back.”

While onstage at a memorial concert in Philadelphia, he reportedly attempted to crush his pianist’s hands with the instrument’s keyboard cover, then punched trombonist Jimmy Knepper in the mouth.[On 12 October, 1962, Charles Mingus slapped Jimmy Knepper in the mouth while the 2 men were working together at Charles Mingus’s apartment on a score for his upcoming concert at New York Town Hall and Jimmy Knepper refused to take on more work. The blow broke a cap and its tooth stub. According to Jimmy Knepper, this ruined his embouchure and resulted in the permanent loss of the top octave of his range on the trombone. This attack ended their working relationship and Jimmy Knepper was unable to perform at the concert. Charged with assault, Charles Mingus appeared in court in January, 1963 and was given a suspended sentence. In another incident, saxophonist Jackie McLean, fearing the bassist was about to kill him, nearly stabbed Charles Mingus after Charles Mingus punched him.

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Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Gabriel Faure

Gabriel Urbain Fauré was born on 12 May 1845 in Pamiers Ariège, Midi-Pyrénées and died on 4 November 1924 in Paris, France from pneumonia. Gabriel Faure was given a state funeral at the Église de la Madeleine and is buried in the Cimetière de Passy in Paris.

Gabriel Faure was a French composer, organist, pianist, and teacher. Gabriel Faure was the foremost French composer of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th century composers. Gabriel Faure’s harmonic and melodic language affected how harmony was later taught.

Gabriel Fauré was born to, Toussaint-Honoré Fauré and Marie-Antoinette-Hélène Lalène-Laprade. Gabriel Faure was sent to live with a foster-nurse for 4 years. At the age of 9 he was sent to study at the École Niedermeyer, a school which prepared church organists and choir directors in Paris, and continued there for 11 years. Gabriel Faure studied with several prominent French musicians, including Camille Saint-Saëns, who introduced him to the music of several contemporary composers, including Robert Schumann and Franz Liszt.

In 1870, Gabriel Fauré enlisted in the army and took part in the action to raise the Siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War. During the Paris Commune he stayed at Rambouillet and in Switzerland, where he taught at the transported École Niedermeyer. When he returned to Paris in October 1871, he was appointed assistant organist at Saint-Sulpice as accompanist to the choir, and became a regular at Saint-Saëns’ salon. Here he met many prominent Parisian musicians and with those he met there and at the salon of Pauline Garcia-Viardot he formed the Société Nationale de Musique.

In 1874, Gabriel Fauré stopped working at Saint-Sulpice and began to fill in at the Église de la Madeleine for Saint-Saëns during his many absences. When Saint-Saëns retired in 1877, Gabriel Fauré became choirmaster. In the same year he became engaged to Marianne Viardot, daughter of Pauline, but the engagement was later broken off by Marianne. Following this disappointment he travelled to Weimar, where he met Liszt, and Cologne in order to see productions of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. Gabriel Fauré admired Richard Wagner, but was one of very few composers of his generation not to come under his influence.

In 1883, Gabriel Fauré married Marie Fremiet, with whom he had 2 sons. In order to support his family Gabriel Fauré spent most of his time in organising daily services at the Église de la Madeleine and teaching piano and harmony lessons. Gabriel Faure only had time to compose during the summers. Gabriel Faure earned almost no money from his compositions because his publisher bought them, copyright and all, for 50 francs each. During this period Gabriel Fauré wrote several large scale works, in addition to many piano pieces and songs, but he destroyed many of them after a few performances, only retaining a few movements in order to re-use motives.

During his youth Gabriel Fauré was very cheerful, but his broken engagement combined with his perceived lack of musical success led to bouts of depression which he described as “spleen”. In the 1890s, however, his fortunes reversed somewhat. Gabriel Faure had a successful trip to Venice where he met with friends and wrote several works. In 1892, he became the inspector of the music conservatories in the French provinces, which meant he no longer had to teach amateur students. In 1896, he finally became chief organist at the Église de la Madeleine, and also succeeded Jules Massenet as composition instructor at the Conservatoire de Paris. At this particular post he taught many important French composers, including Maurice Ravel and Nadia Boulanger.

From 1903 to 1921, Gabriel Fauré was a critic for Le Figaro. In 1905, he succeeded Théodore Dubois as director of the Paris Conservatory. Gabriel Faure made many changes at the Conservatoire, leading to the resignation of a number of faculty members. This position meant that he was better off in terms of income, and he also became much more widely known as a composer.

Gabriel Fauré was elected to the Institut de France in 1909, but at the same time he broke with the Société Nationale de Musique, and supported the rogue group which formed out of those ejected from the Société, mainly his own students. During this time Gabriel Fauré developed ear trouble and gradually lost his hearing. Sound not only became fainter, but it was also distorted, so that pitches on the low and high ends of his hearing sounded like other pitches. Gabriel Faure made efforts to conceal his difficulty, but was eventually forced to abandon his teaching position.

Gabriel Faure’s responsibilities at the Conservatoire, combined with his hearing loss, meant that Gabriel Fauré’s output was greatly reduced during this period. During World War I Gabriel Fauré remained in France. In 1920, at the age of 75, he retired from the Conservatoire mainly due to his increasing deafness. In this year he also received the Grand-Croix of the Légion d’Honneur, an honor rare for a musician. Gabriel Faure suffered from poor health, partially brought on by heavy smoking. Despite this, he remained available to young composers, including members of Les Six, who were devoted to him.

Gabriel Fauré is regarded as the master of the French art song, or mélodie. Gabriel Faure’s works ranged from an early romantic style, when in his early years he emulated the style of Mendelssohn and others, to late 19th century Romantic, and finally to a 20th century aesthetic. Gabriel Faure’s work was based on a strong understanding of harmonic structures which he received at the École Niedermeyer from his harmony teacher Gustave Lefèvre, who wrote the book Traité d’harmonie (Paris, 1889), in which Lefèvre sets forth a harmonic theory which differs significantly from the classical theory of Jean-Philippe Rameau in that 7th and 9th chords are no longer considered dissonant, and the mediant can be altered without changing the mode. In addition, Gabriel Fauré’s understanding of the church modes can be seen in various modal passages in his works, especially in his melodies.

In contrast with his harmonic and melodic style, which pushed the bounds for his time, Gabriel Fauré’s rhythmic motives tended to be subtle and repetitive, with little to break the flow of the line, although he did utilize subtle large scale syncopations, similar to those found in Brahms works. Aaron Copland referred to him as the ‘French Brahms’.

Gabriel Fauré’s piano works often use arpeggiated figures with the melody interspersed between the 2 hands, and include finger substitutions natural for organists. These aspects make them daunting for some pianists, but they are nonetheless central works.

Gabriel Fauré was a prolific composer, and among the most noteworthy of his works are his Requiem, the opera Pénélope, the orchestral suite Masques et Bergamasques (based on music for a dramatic entertainment, or divertissement comique), and music for Pelléas et Mélisande. Gabriel Faure also wrote chamber music; his 2 piano quartets are particularly well known. Other chamber music includes 2 piano quintets, 2 cello sonatas, 2 violin sonatas, and a number of piano pieces including the Nocturnes. Gabriel Faure is also known for his songs, such as Après un rêve, Les roses d’Ispahan, En prière, and several song cycles, including La Bonne Chanson with settings of poems by Verlaine, and L’horizon chimérique.

The Requiem, Op. 48, was not composed to the memory of a specific person but, in Gabriel Fauré’s words, “for the pleasure of it.” It was first performed in 1888. Gabriel Fauré is thought not to have had strong religious beliefs. It has been described as “a lullaby of death”. In setting his requiem, he left out the Dies irae, though the reference to the day of judgment appears in the Libera me, which, like Giuseppe Verdi, he added to the normal requiem mass. Several slightly different versions of the Requiem exist, and these have given rise to a number of different recordings. Personal grief may have influenced the composition as it was started after the death of his father, and before it was completed, his mother died as well. The Requiem can thus be seen as an expression of Gabriel Fauré’s personal tragedy written after the death of his parents. The Requiem is also acknowledged as a source of inspiration for the similar setting by Maurice Duruflé.

Gabriel Faure’s music is used in “Act I: Emeralds” of George Balanchine’s ballet Jewels (1967).

In the UK, the Berceuse from his Dolly Suite became known to several generations of children when it was used as the closing music for the radio programme Listen with Mother, which ran from 1950 to 1982.

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Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Johnnie Ray

John Alvin Ray was born on 10 January, 1927 in Hopewell, Oregon, USA and died on 24 February, 1990 in Los Angeles, California, USA of liver failure at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. Johnnie Ray was interred at Hopewell Cemetery near Hopewell, Oregon.

Johnnie Ray was an American singer, songwriter, and pianist. Johnnie Ray developed a unique rhythm based style, described as alternating between pre-rock R&B and a more conventional classic pop approach. Johnnie Ray was partially deaf because of an injury sustained at the age of 13. Johnnie Ray became deaf in his right ear at age 13 after an accident during a Boy Scout event. Johnnie Ray later performed his music wearing a hearing aid. Surgery performed in New York in 1958, left him almost completely deaf in both ears, although hearing aids helped his condition.

Johnnie Ray spent part of his childhood on a farm, eventually moving to Portland, Oregon. Johnnie Ray was of Native American origin; his great-grandmother was a full-blooded Indian and his great-grandfather was Oregon pioneer George Kirby Gay of Berkeley, Gloucestershire, England.

Johnnie Ray first attracted attention while performing at the Flame Showbar in Detroit, Michigan, an R&B nightclub. Inspired by rhythm singers like Kay Starr, LaVern Baker and Ivory Joe Hunter, Johnnie Ray developed a unique rhythm based style, described as alternating between pre-rock R&B and a more conventional classic pop approach.

Johnnie Ray’s first record, the self-penned R&B number for OKeh Records, Whiskey and Gin, was a minor hit in 1951. The following year he dominated the charts with the double-sided hit single of “Cry” and “The Little White Cloud That Cried”. Selling over 2, 000,000 copies of the 45 single, Johnnie Ray’s delivery struck a chord with teenagers and he quickly became a teen idol.

Johnnie Ray’s performing style included theatrics later associated with rock ‘n roll, including beating up his piano, writhing on the floor and crying. Johnnie Ray quickly earned the nicknames, “Mr. Emotion”, “The Nabob of Sob”, and “The Prince of Wails”, and several others.

More hits followed, including “Please Mr. Sun”, “Such a Night”, “Walkin’ My Baby Back Home”, “A Sinner Am I”, and “Yes Tonight Josephine”. His last hit was “Just Walkin’ in the Rain”, in 1956. Johnnie Ray was popular in the United Kingdom, breaking the record at the London Palladium formerly set by Frankie Laine. In later years, he retained a loyal fan base overseas, particularly in Australia.

Johnnie Ray had a close relationship with journalist and television game show panelist Dorothy Kilgallen who gave a boost to his sagging career during his engagement at the Tropicana Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1965.

In early 1969, Johnnie Ray befriended Judy Garland, performing as her opening act during her last concerts in Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmo, Sweden. Johnnie Ray was also the best man during Garland’s wedding to nightclub manager Mickey Deans in London.

Johnnie Ray’s American career revived in the early 1970s, with appearances on The Andy Williams Show in 1970 and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson 3 times during 1972 and 1973. Johnnie Ray’s personal manager Bill Franklin resigned in 1976 and cut off contact with the singer a few years later. Johnnie Ray’s American revival turned out to be shortlived. Johnnie Ray performed in small American venues such as El Camino College in 1987. Australian, English and Scottish promoters booked him for their large venues as late as 1989, his last year of performing.

Some writers suggested that the reason American entertainment bookers and songwriters ignored him in the 1980s was because they simply did not know who he was or what his sound was like. Johnnie Ray’s exposure during the new era of cable television was limited to a few seconds in Dexys Midnight Runners’ 1982 music video for Come On Eileen, using archival footage of Johnnie Ray from 1954. Johnnie Ray’s other video appearance was in Billy Idol’s 1986 “Don’t Need a Gun”, in which Johnnie Ray appeared on-camera.

Johnnie Ray had issues regarding his sexuality surface several times in his career, including 2 arrests for solicitation. Johnnie Ray quietly pleaded guilty and paid a fine after the first arrest, in the restroom of the Stone Theatre burlesque house in Detroit, which was just prior to the release of his first record in 1951. Johnnie Ray went to trial following the second arrest in 1959, also in Detroit, for soliciting an undercover officer in one of the city’s gay bars. Johnnie Ray was found not guilty.

Despite these issues, Johnnie Ray married Marilyn Morrison a short time after he gave his first New York concert, which was at the Copacabana in 1952. The wedding ceremony, attended by New York mayor Vincent R. Impellitteri, made the cover of the New York Daily News. Morrison, the daughter of a Los Angeles nightclub owner, was aware of the singer’s sexuality from the start, telling a friend she would “straighten it out.” The couple separated in 1953 and divorced in 1954.

In the years hence, writers have noted that the marriage occurred under false pretenses, and that Johnnie Ray had a long-term relationship with his manager, Bill Franklin. Johnnie Ray also had a relationship with columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, whom he met following an appearance on What’s My Line? in 1956. Dorothy Kilgallen was a strong support for Johnnie Ray during the 1959 solicitation trial.

Johnnie Ray drank regularly and his alcoholism caught up with him in 1960, when he was hospitalised for tuberculosis. Johnnie Ray recovered but continued drinking, and was diagnosed with cirrhosis at age 50.

For his contribution to the recording industry, Johnnie Ray has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6201 Hollywood Boulevard.

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Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Ludwig Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven, was born on 16 December 1770 in Bonn, Electorate of Cologne(now in modern-day Germany) and died on 26 March 1827 at the age of 56 due to Lead Poisoning.

Ludwig Van Beethoven was 1 Of the 7 children born to Johann Beethoven, himself the only survivor of 3, only second-born Ludwig and 2 younger brothers survived infancy. Beethoven was baptised on 17 December 1770. Although his birth date is not known for certain, his family celebrated his birthday on 16 December.

Beethoven moved to Vienna in his early 20s and settled there, studying with Joseph Haydn and quickly gaining a reputation as a virtuoso pianist. Beethoven’s hearing gradually deteriorated beginning in his 20s, yet he continued to compose masterpieces, and to conduct and perform, even after he was completely deaf. Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. Beethoven was a crucial figure in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western classical music, and remains one of the most respected and influential composers of all time.

Beethoven’s parents were Johann van Beethoven (1740 in Bonn–1792) and Maria Magdalena Keverich (1744 in Ehrenbreitstein–1787). Magdalena’s father Johann Heinrich Keverich had been Chef at the court of the Archbishopric of Trier at Festung Ehrenbreitstein fortress opposite to Koblenz. Beethoven was, like their first child Ludwig Maria, named after his grandfather Ludwig (1712–1773), a musician of Roman Catholic Flemish ancestry who was at one time Kapellmeister at the court of Clemens August of Bavaria, the Prince-Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, and who married Beethoven’s grandmother Maria Josepha Ball (1714–1775) in 1733.

Beethoven’s first music teacher was his father, who was a tenor in the service of the Electoral court at Bonn. Beethoven was reportedly a harsh instructor. Johann later engaged a friend, Tobias Pfeiffer, to preside over his son’s musical training, and it is said Johann and his friend would at times come home late from a night of drinking to pull young Beethoven out of bed to practice until morning. Beethoven’s talent was recognized at a very early age, and by 1778 he was studying the organ and viola in addition to the piano. Beethoven’s most important teacher in Bonn was Christian Gottlob Neefe, who was the Court’s Organist. Neefe helped Beethoven publish his first composition: a set of keyboard variations.

A portrait of the 13 year old Beethoven by an unknown Bonn master The young Beethoven’s talent was spotted in Bonn by Count Ferdinand Ernst Gabriel von Waldstein, who became one of his early patrons and, in 1787, enabled him to travel to Vienna for the first time, in hopes of studying with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It is not clear whether he succeeded in meeting Mozart, or if he did whether Mozart was willing to accept him as a pupil; see Mozart and Beethoven. In any event, the declining health of Beethoven’s mother, dying of tuberculosis, forced him to return home after only about 2 weeks in Vienna. Beethoven’s mother died on 17 July 1787, when Beethoven was 16.

Due to his father’s worsening alcohol addiction, Beethoven became responsible for raising his 2 younger brothers.

In 1792, Beethoven moved to Vienna, where he studied for a time with Joseph Haydn: his hopes of studying with Mozart had been shattered by Mozart’s death the previous year. Beethoven received additional instruction from Johann Georg Albrechtsberger (Vienna’s pre-eminent counterpoint instructor) and Antonio Salieri. By 1793, Beethoven established a reputation in Vienna as a piano virtuoso. Beethhoven’s first works with opus numbers, a set of 3 piano trios, appeared in 1795. Beethoven settled into the career pattern he would follow for the remainder of his life: rather than working for the church or a noble court (as most composers before him had done), he supported himself through a combination of annual stipends or single gifts from members of the aristocracy; income from subscription concerts, concerts, and lessons; and proceeds from sales of his works.

Beethoven’s patrons loved his music but were not quick to support him. Beethoven eventually came to rely more on patrons such as Count Franz Joseph Kinsky, (d. 1811), Prince Joseph Franz Maximilian Lobkowitz (1772–1816) and Karl Alois Johann-Nepomuk Vinzenz, Fürst Lichnowsky, and as these patrons died or reneged on their pledges, Beethoven fell into debt. In 1807, Prince Lobkowitz advised Beethoven to apply for the position of composer of the Imperial Theatres, but the nobility who had newly been placed in charge of the post did not respond. Beethoven considered leaving Vienna: in the fall of 1808, he was offered a position as chapel maestro at the court of Jerome Bonaparte, the king of Westphalia, which he accepted. To persuade him to stay in Vienna, the Archduke Rudolf, Count Kinsky and Prince Lobkowitz, after receiving representations from the composer’s friends, pledged to pay Beethoven a pension of 4000 florins a year. Only Archduke Rudolf paid his share of the pension on the agreed date. Kinsky, immediately called to duty as an officer, did not contribute and soon died after falling from his horse. Lobkowitz stopped paying in September 1811. No successors came forward to continue the patronage, and Beethoven relied mostly on selling composition rights and a smaller pension after 1815.

Beethoven in 1803 Around 1796, Beethoven began to lose his hearing. Beethoven suffered a severe form of tinnitus, a “ringing” in his ears that made it hard for him to perceive and appreciate music; he also avoided conversation. Beethoven lived for a time in the small Austrian town of Heiligenstadt, just outside Vienna. Here he wrote his Heiligenstadt Testament, which records his resolution to continue living for and through his art. Over time, his hearing loss became profound: there is a well-attested story that, at the end of the premiere of his Ninth Symphony, he had to be turned around to see the tumultuous applause of the audience; hearing nothing, he began to weep. Beethoven’s hearing loss did not prevent his composing music, but it made concerts—lucrative sources of income—increasingly hard.

Beethoven used a special rod attached to the soundboard on a piano that he could bite—the vibrations would then transfer from the piano to his jaw to increase his perception of the sound. A large collection of his hearing aids such as special ear horns can be viewed at the Beethoven House Museum in Bonn, Germany. Despite his obvious distress, however, Czerny remarked that Beethoven could still hear speech and music normally until 1812. By 1814 however, Beethoven was almost totally deaf, and when a group of visitors saw him play a loud arpeggio or thundering bass notes at his piano remarking, “Ist es nicht schön?” (Isn’t that beautiful?), they felt deep sympathy considering his courage and sense of humor.

Beethoven in 1823; copy of a destroyed portrait by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller as a result of Beethoven’s hearing loss, a unique historical record has been preserved: his conversation books. Beethoven’s friends wrote in the book so that he could know what they were saying, and he then responded either verbally or in the book. The books contain discussions about music and other issues, and give insights into his thinking; they are a source for investigation into how he felt his music should be performed, and also his perception of his relationship to art. Unfortunately, 264 out of a total of 400 conversation books were destroyed (and others were altered) after Beethoven’s death by Anton Schindler, in his attempt to paint an idealized picture of the composer.

Beethoven’s personal life was troubled. Beethhoven encroaching deafness led him to contemplate suicide (documented in his Heiligenstadt Testament). Beethoven was often irascible and may have suffered from bipolar disorder and irritability brought on by chronic abdominal pain beginning in his 20s that has been attributed to his lead poisoning. Beethoven, nevertheless, had a close and devoted circle of friends all his life, thought to have been attracted by his reputed strength of personality. Towards the end of his life, Beethoven’s friends competed in their efforts to help him cope with his incapacities.

Sources show Beethoven’s disdain for authority, and for social rank. Beethoven stopped performing at the piano if the audience chatted among themselves, or afforded him less than their full attention. At soirées, he refused to perform if suddenly called upon to do so. Eventually, after many confrontations, the Archduke Rudolph decreed that the usual rules of court etiquette did not apply to Beethoven.

The women who attracted Beethoven were unattainable because they were either married or aristocratic. Beethoven never married, although he was engaged to Giulietta Guiccardi. Giulietta father was the main obstacle to their marriage. Giulietta’s marriage to a nobleman was unhappy, and when it ended in 1822, she attempted unsuccessfully to return to Beethoven. Beethoven’s only other documented love affair with an identified woman began in 1805 with Josephine von Brunswick, young widow of the Graf von Deym. It is believed the relationship ended by 1807 because of Beethoven’s indecisiveness and the disapproval of Josephine’s aristocratic family.

In 1812, Beethoven wrote a long love letter to a woman he identified only as “Immortal Beloved”. Several candidates have been suggested, including Antonie Brentano, but the identity of the woman to whom the letter was written has never been proven.

Beethoven in 1818 by August Klöber On 15 November 1815 Beethoven’s brother Karl van Beethoven died of tuberculosis leaving a son Karl, Beethoven’s nephew. Although Beethoven had shown little interest in the boy up to this point, he now became totally obsessed with the possession of this nine year old child. The fight for custody of his nephew brought out the very worst aspects of Beethoven’s character. In the lengthy court cases Beethoven stopped at nothing to ensure that he achieved this goal. At this time Beethoven stopped composing for long periods.

The Austrian court system had one court for the nobility, The R&I Landrechte, and another for commoners, The Civil Court of the Magistrate. Beethoven disguised the fact that the Dutch “van” in his name did not denote nobility as does the Germanic “von”, and his case was tried in the Landrechte. Due to his influence with the court, he felt assured of a favorable outcome. Beethoven was awarded sole guardianship. Karl’s mother, Johanna, a commoner and a widow with little money, was not only refused access to her son, except under exceptional circumstances, but Beethoven insisted that she pay for her son’s education out of her inadequate pension. While giving evidence to the Landrechte, however, Beethoven inadvertently admitted that he was not nobly born. The case was transferred to the Magistracy on 18 December 1818, where he lost sole guardianship.

Beethoven appealed, and regained custody of Karl. Johanna’s appeal for justice and human rights to the Emperor was not successful: the Emperor “washed his hands of the matter”. Beethoven stopped at nothing to blacken both their characters, as can be read in surviving court papers. When Karl could stand his tyrannical uncle no longer, he attempted suicide on 31 July 1826 by shooting himself in the head. Beethoven survived, and later asked to be taken to his mother’s house. This desperate action finally freed Karl from the bonds of Beethoven.

After Beethoven lost custody of his nephew, he went into a decline that led to his death on Monday 26 March 1827 during a thunderstorm.

This was Romain Rolland’s description of Beethoven’s final day:

“That day was tragic. There were heavy clouds in the sky… around 4 or 5 in the afternoon the murky clouds cast darkness in the entire room. Suddenly a terrible storm started, with blizzard and snow… thunder made the room shudder, illuminating it with the cursed reflection of lightning on snow. Beethoven opened his eyes and with a threatening gesture raised his right arm towards the sky with his fist clenched. The expression of his face was horrifying. His hand fell to the ground. His eyes closed. Beethoven was no more.”

Beethoven grave, Vienna ZentralfriedhofA Viennese pathologist and forensic expert Christian Reiter (head of the Department of Forensic Medicine at Vienna Medical University) claimed that Beethoven’s physician, Andreas Wawruch, inadvertently hastened Beethoven’s death. According to Reiter, Wawruch worsened Beethoven’s already lead poisoned condition with lead poultices applied after repeated surgical draining of his bloated abdomen. Various theories attempt to explain how Beethoven’s lead poisoning first developed, and he was very sick for years. Reiter’s hypothesis however is at odds with Wawruch’s written instruction “that the wound was kept dry all the time”. Furthermore human hair is a very bad biomarker for lead contamination and Reiter’s hypothesis must be considered dubious, because of the lack of proper scholarly documentation in his article.

Ludwig van Beethoven: detail of an 1804 portrait by W.J. MählerBeethoven was attracted to the ideals of the Enlightenment and by the growing Romanticism in Europe. Beethoven initially dedicated his third symphony, the Eroica (Italian for “heroic”), to Napoleon, believing that the general intended to sustain the democratic and republican ideals of the French Revolution. But in 1804, when Napoleon’s imperial ambitions became clear, Beethoven took hold of the title-page and scratched the name Bonaparte out so violently that he made a hole in the paper. Beethhoven later changed the work’s title to “Sinfonia Eroica, composta per festeggiare il sovvenire d’un grand’uom” (“Heroic Symphony, composed to celebrate the memory of a great man”), and he rededicated it to his patron, Prince Joseph Franz von Lobkowitz, at whose palace it was first performed.

Beethoven gave, Vienna Zentralfriedof The fourth movement of his Ninth Symphony features an elaborate choral setting of Schiller’s Ode An die Freude (“Ode to Joy”), an optimistic hymn championing the brotherhood of humanity. Since 1972, an orchestral version of this part of the fourth movement, arranged by the conductor Herbert von Karajan, has been the European anthem as announced by the Council of Europe.

In 1985 it was adopted as the anthem of the European Community / European Union.

Scholars disagree about Beethoven’s religious beliefs, and about the role they played in his work: It has been asserted, but not proven, that Beethoven was a Freemason.

Like the earlier composer Handel, Beethoven worked freelance—arranging subscription concerts, selling his compositions to publishers, and gaining financial support from a number of wealthy patrons—rather than seeking out permanent employment by the church or by an aristocratic court.

Beethoven is acknowledged as one of the giants of Western classical music; occasionally he is referred to as one of the “three Bs” (along with Bach and Brahms) who epitomize that tradition. Beethoven was also a pivotal figure in the transition from 18th century musical classicism to 19th century romanticism, and his influence on subsequent generations of composers was profound.

Beethoven was one of the first composers of the post-Renaissance era to use, systematically, interlocking thematic devices, or “germ-motifs”, to achieve inter-movement unity in long compositions. Equally remarkable was his use of “source-motifs”, which recurred in many different compositions. Beethoven brought innovations to most of the genres in which he worked; for example, he introduced an elasticity to the previously well-crystallized form of the rondo, drawing it closer to sonata form.

Beethoven composed in various genres, including symphonies, concerti, piano sonatas, other sonatas (including for violin), string quartets and other chamber music, masses, an opera, and lieder. Beethoven is viewed as one of the most important transitional figures between the Classical and Romantic eras of musical history.

Working with the traditions of the classical sonata forms, he continued the work of Haydn and Mozart in expanding and loosening the structures and becoming increasingly reliant on motivic development.

Beethoven’s compositional career is usually divided into Early, Middle, and Late periods. In this scheme, his early period is taken to last until about 1802, the middle period from about 1803 to about 1814, and the late period from about 1815.

In his Early (Classical) period, while starting out under the influence of his great predecessors Haydn and Mozart, he explored new directions and gradually expanded the scope and ambition of his work. Some important pieces from the Early period are the first and second symphonies, the first 6 string quartets, the first 3 piano concertos, and the first 20 piano sonatas, including the famous “Pathétique” and “Moonlight” sonatas.

Beethoven’s Middle (Heroic) period began shortly after Beethoven’s personal crisis brought on by his recognition of encroaching deafness. It is noted for large-scale works that express heroism and struggle, many of which have become very famous. Middle-period works include 6 symphonies (Nos. 3–8), the 4th and 5th piano concertos, the triple concerto and violin concerto, 5 string quartets (Nos. 7–11), the next 7 piano sonatas (including the “Waldstein” and the “Appassionata”), the “Kreutzer” Violin Sonata and Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio.

Beethoven’s Late (Romantic) period began around 1815. Works from this period are characterized by their intellectual depth, their formal innovations, and their intense, highly personal expression. For example, the String Quartet, Op. 131 has seven linked movements, and the 9th Symphony adds choral forces to the orchestra in the last movement. Other compositions from this period include the “Missa Solemnis”, the last 5 string quartets (including the massive “Grosse Fuge”) and the last 5 piano sonatas, of which the “Hammerklavier” Sonata is the best known.

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Dementia Series-Disabled Legend Thomas Dorsey

Thomas Andrew Dorsey was born on 1 July, 1899 in Villa Rica, Georgia, USA and died on 23 January, 1993 in Chicago, Illinois. Thomas is known as “the father of gospel music”. Earlier in his life he was a leading blues pianist known as Georgia Tom.

As formulated by Thomas Dorsey, gospel music combines Christian praise with the rhythms of jazz and the blues. Thomas’ conception also deviates from what had been, to that time, standard hymnal practice by referring explicitly to the self, and the self’s relation to faith and God, rather than the individual subsumed into the group via belief.

Thomas Dorsey was the music director at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago from 1932 until the late 1970s. Thomas’ best known composition, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”, was performed by Mahalia Jackson and was a favorite of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, and “Peace in the Valley”, which was a hit for Red Foley in 1951 and has been performed by dozens of other artists, including Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.

In 2002, the Library of Congress honored his album Precious Lord: New Recordings of the Great Songs of Thomas A. Dorsey (1973), by adding it to the United States National Recording Registry.

Thomas Dorsey’s father was a minister and his mother a piano teacher. Thomas Dorsey learned to play blues piano as a young man. After studying music formally in Chicago, he became an agent for Paramount Records. Thomas Dorsey put together a band for Ma Rainey called the “Wild Cats Jazz Band” in 1924.

Thomas Dorsey started out playing at rent parties with the names Barrelhouse Tom and Texas Tommy, but he was most famous as Georgia Tom. As Georgia Tom, he teamed up with Tampa Red (Hudson Whittaker) with whom he recorded the raunchy 1928 hit record “Tight Like That”, a sensation, selling seven million copies. In all, he is credited with more than 400 blues and jazz songs.

Personal tragedy led Thomas Dorsey to leave secular music behind and began writing and recording what he called “gospel” music. Thomas Dorsey was the first to use that term. Thomas Dorsey’s first wife, Nettie, who had been Rainey’s wardrobe mistress, died in childbirth in 1932 along with his first son. In his grief, he wrote his most famous song, one of the most famous of all gospel songs, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”.

Unhappy with the treatment received at the hands of established publishers, Thomas Dorsey opened the first black gospel music publishing company, Thomas Dorsey House of Music. Thomas Dorsey also founded his own gospel choir and was a founder and first president of the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses.

Thomas Dorsey’s influence was not limited to African American music, as white musicians also followed his lead. “Precious Lord” has been recorded by Elvis Presley, Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Clara Ward, Roy Rogers, and Tennessee Ernie Ford, among hundreds of others. It was a favorite gospel song of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and was sung at the rally the night before his assassination, and at his funeral by Mahalia Jackson, per his request. It was also a favorite of President Lyndon B. Johnson, who requested it to be sung at his funeral. Thomas Dorsey was also a great influence on other Chicago based gospel artists such as “Queen of Gospel” Albertina Walker and The Caravans.

Thomas Dorsey wrote “Peace in the Valley” for Mahalia Jackson in 1937, which also became a gospel standard. Thomas Dorsey was the first African American elected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and also the first in the Gospel Music Association’s Living Hall of Fame. Thomas Dorsey was inducted into the Gennett Records Walk of Fame in 2007. Thomas Dorsey papers are preserved at Fisk University, along with those of W.C. Handy, George Gershwin, and the Fisk Jubilee Singers.

The works of Thomas A. Dorsey have proliferated beyond performance, into the hymnals of virtually all American churches and of English-speaking churches worldwide.

Thomas Dorsey was a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated.

In 2007, he was inducted as a charter member of the Gennett Records Walk of Fame in Richmond, Indiana.

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Tourettes Syndrome Series-Disabled Legend Michael Wolff

Michael Wolff was born on 19 September, 1954 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Michael is an American jazz pianist, composer, and actor. Wolff is the leader of a jazz band, Michael Wolff and Impure Thoughts, which features Indian tabla player Badal Roy, drummer Mike Clark and electric bassist John B. Williams. Wolff has Tourette syndrome he serves on the Board of Directors of the Tourette Syndrome Association (TSA), and is involved with mentoring children with Tourette’s through the chapters of the TSA.

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Mood Disorders Series-Disabled Legend Billy Joel

Billy Joel was born on 9 May 1949 being a singer, a pianist and a songwriter Billy Joel has won 6 Grammys and is both in the songwriter’s Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He has top ten hits in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s which is quite rare for any pop artist. He battled many times against depression and has tried to commit suicide by drinking furniture polish. He then said “I drank furniture polish, it looked tastier then bleach”. He is now semi-retired and continues to write and perform.

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