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 Pete Townshend

Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend was born on 19 May 1945 in Chiswick, London. Pete Townshend is an award-winning English rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, composer, and writer, known principally as the guitarist and songwriter for The Who, as well as for his own solo career. Pete Townshend’s career with The Who spans more than 40 years, during which time the band grew to be considered one of the most influential bands of the rock era, in addition to being “possibly the greatest live band ever.

Pete Townshend is the primary songwriter for the Who, writing well over 100 songs for the band’s 11 studio albums, including the rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia, plus dozens more that appeared as non-album singles, bonus tracks on reissues, and tracks on rarities compilations such as Odds and Sods. Pete has also written over 100 songs for his solo albums and rarities compilations. Although known mainly for being a guitarist, he is also an accomplished singer and keyboard player, and has played many other instruments on his solo albums, and on some Who albums (such as banjo, accordion, synthesizer, piano, bass guitar, drums).

Pete has also written newspaper and magazine articles, book reviews, essays, books, and scripts.

Born into a musical family (his father Cliff Townshend was a professional saxophonist in The Squadronaires and his mother Betty a singer), Pete Townshend exhibited a fascination with music at an early age. Pete Townshend had early exposure to American Rock and Roll (his mother recounts that he repeatedly saw the 1956 film Rock Around the Clock and obtained his first guitar from his grandmother at the age of 12, which he described as a “Cheap Spanish thing”. Townshend’s biggest guitar influences include Link Wray, John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley and Hank Marvin of The Shadows. 

In 1961Pete Townshend enrolled at Ealing Art College, and a year later he and his school friend from Acton County Grammar School John Entwistle founded their first band, The Confederates, a Dixieland duet featuring Pete Townshend on banjo and Entwistle on horn. From this beginning they moved on to The Detours, a skiffle/rock and roll band fronted by then sheet-metal welder Roger Daltrey. In early 1964, due to another band having the same name, The Detours renamed themselves The Who. Drummer Doug Sandom was replaced by Keith Moon not long afterwards. The band (now comprising Daltrey on vocals and harmonica, Pete Townshend on guitar, Entwistle on bass, and Moon on drums) were soon taken on by a mod publicist (named Peter Meaden) who convinced them to change their name to The High Numbers to give the band more of a mod feel. After bringing out one single (“Zoot Suit”), they dropped Meaden and were signed on by two new managers, Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert. They dropped The High Numbers name and reverted to The Who.

Pete Townshend met Karen Astley (daughter of composer Ted Astley) while in art school and married her in 1968. The couple separated in 1994 and Pete Townshend announced they would divorce in 2000. They have 3 children Emma born in 1969, who is a singer/songwriter, Aminta born in 1971 and Joseph born in 1989. For many years Pete Townshend refused to confirm or deny rumors that he was bisexual. In a 2002 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, however, he explained that, although he engaged in some brief same-sex experimentation in the 1960s, he is hetrosexual. Pete Townshend currently lives with his long-time partner, musician Rachel Fuller, in Richmond, England. Pete Townshend also owns a house in Churt, Surrey, England.

Pete Townshend has woven a long history of involvement with various charities and other philanthropic efforts throughout his career, both as a solo artist and with The Who. Pete’s  first solo concert, for example, was a 1974 benefit show which was organized to raise funds for the Camden Square Community Play Center.

The earliest public example of Pete Townshend’s involvement with charitable causes is the relationship he established with the Richmond-based Meher Baba Association. In 1968, Pete Townshend donated the use of his former Wardour Street apartment to the Meher Baba Association. The following year, the association was moved to another Townshend-owned apartment, the Eccleston Square former residence of wife Karen.

Pete Townshend sat on a committee which oversaw the operation and finances of the center. “The committee sees to it that it is open a couple of days a week, and keeps the bills paid and the library full,” he wrote in a 1970 Rolling Stone article.

In 1969 and 1972 Pete Townshend produced 2 limited-release albums, Happy Birthday and I Am, for the London-based Baba association. This led to 1972’s Who Came First, a more widespread release, 15 percent of the revenue of which went to the Baba association. A further limited release, With Love, was released in 1976. A limited-edition boxed set of all 3 limited releases on CD, Avatar, was released in 2000, with all profits going to the Avatar Meher Baba Trust in India, which provided funds to a dispensary, school, hospital and pilgrimage center.

In July 1976, Pete Townshend opened Meher Baba Oceanic, a London activity centre for Baba followers which featured film dubbing and editing facilities, a cinema and a recording studio. In addition, the centre served as a regular meeting place for Baba followers. Pete Townshend offered very economical (reportedly £1 per night) lodging for American Baba followers who needed an overnight stay on their pilgrimages to India. “For a few years, I had toyed with the idea of opening a London house dedicated to Meher Baba,” he wrote in a 1977 Rolling Stone article. “In the 8 years I had followed him, I had donated only coppers to foundations set up around the world to carry out the Master’s wishes and decided it was about time I put myself on the line. The Who had set up a strong charitable trust of its own which appeased, to an extent, the feeling I had that Meher Baba would rather have seen me give to the poor than to the establishment of yet another so-called ‘spiritual center’.”

Pete Townshend also embarked on a project dedicated to the collection, restoration and maintenance of Meher Baba-related films. The project was known as MEFA, or Meher Baba European Film Archive.

Pete Townshend has been an active champion of children’s charities. The debut of Pete Townshend’s stage version of Tommy  took place at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse in July 1992. The show was earmarked as a benefit for the London-based Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Foundation, an organization which helps autistic and retarded children.

Pete Townshend performed at a 1995 benefit organized by Paul Simon at Madison Square Garden’s Paramount Theatre, for The Children’s Health Fund. The following year, Pete Townshend performed at a benefit for the Bridge School, a California facility for children with severe speech and physical impairments. In 1997, Pete Townshend established a relationship with Maryville Academy, a Chicago area children’s charity. Between 1997 and 2002, Pete Townshend played 5 benefit shows for Maryville Academy, raising at least $1,600,000. In addition, proceeds from the sales of his 1999 release Pete Townshend Live were also donated to Maryville Academy.

As a member of The Who, Pete Townshend has also performed a series of concerts, beginning in 2000, benefitting the Teenage Cancer Trust in the UK, raising several million pounds. In 2005, Pete Townshend performed at New York’s Gotham Hall for Samsung’s Four Seasons of Hope, an annual children’s charity fundraiser.

The Who rocker Pete Townshend is losing his hearing, and fears the disability will end his songwriting career. Pete Townshend blames his hearing loss on a lifetime spent using headphones, experts say today’s iPod Generation is storing up trouble for the future by listening to music at high volumes.

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Series-Disabled Legend Warren Zevon

Warren Zevon was born on 24 January, 1947 and died on 7 September, 2003. Warren was a Grammy Award-winning American rock singer-songwriter and musician. Warren turned to a musical career early, including a stretch with high school friend Violet Santangelo as part of a Sonny and Cher-type male/female duo called lyme & cybelle (in a 60s-ish affectation, the band name eschewed capitalization). In the mid-1970s, Warren returned to Los Angeles, where he roomed with then-unknown Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham and became associated with the then-burgeoning West Coast music scene. There, he collaborated with Jackson Browne, who would produce and promote Warren’s self-titled major-label debut, with the Eagles, who appeared on Warren’s second album, and with Linda Ronstadt, who both appeared on Warren’s albums and covered many of his songs, including “Hasten Down the Wind”, “Carmelita”, “Poor Poor Pitiful Me”, and “Mohammed’s Radio”.

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Series-Disabled Legend Joey Ramone

Joey Ramone was born on 19 May, 1951 and died on 15 April, 2001. Joey was a vocalist and songwriter best known for his work in the punk rock group the Ramones. During his youth, he was by general accounts something of an outcast and had a dysfunctional family life, which inspired the song “We’re A Happy Family”. Joey was said to be the “heart and soul” of the Ramones, and his favorite songs from their repertoire were often the ballads and love songs. C.J. Ramone called him the “hippie of the group”. Joey has admitted that he has OCD, which he certainly had never done before (he actually got in a big fight with Marky on the Howard Stern Show once because Marky had been telling people about his OCD – they made up at the end).

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Spina Bifida Series-Disabled Legend John Mellencamp

John Cougar Mellencamp also known as John Cougar and John Cougar Mellencamp, was born on 7 October, 1951. John is best known for being an American rock singer-songwriter. As a child in Seymour, IN, Mellencamp had suffered a number of setbacks, including being born with a neural tube defect called spina bifida that necessitated a lengthy hospitalization as a baby. As a teenager, he was rebellious, often getting in trouble with the law. He formed his first band at the age of 14, and continued to play throughout his teens.

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Mood Disorders Series-Disabled Legend Kurt Cobain

Kurt Donald Cobain born 20, February 1967 and died on 5 April, 1994 was an American musician, best known for his roles as lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the Seattle-based rock band Nirvana. Throughout most of his life, Cobain battled depression, chronic bronchitis, and intense physical pain due to an undiagnosed chronic stomach condition. This last condition was especially debilitating to his emotional welfare, and he spent years trying to find its source. However, none of the doctors he consulted were able to pinpoint the specific cause, guessing that it was either a result of Cobain’s childhood scoliosis or related to the stresses of performing.

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Mood Disorders Series-Disabled Legend Billy Corgan

Billy Corgan – William Patrick Corgan, Jr. Was born on 17 March 1967 in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, U.S.A. Is an American singer, guitarist, and songwriter. Billy Corgan is the vocalist and lead guitarist for alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins. Billy Corgan dated Courtney Love prior to her courtship and marriage to Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. In 1993, he married his longtime girlfriend, museum worker Chris Fabian. Corgan has been writing about his life on his Web site detailing everything from the childhood abuse he says he suffered at the hands of his father and stepmother to his very adult battles with depression and other demons.

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