Schizophrenia Series-Disabled Legend Syd Barrett

Syd Barrett was born Roger Keith Barrett; on 6 January 1946 and died on 7 July 2006. Syd Barrett was an English singer, songwriter, guitarist and artist. Syd Barrett is most remembered as a founding member of British psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd, providing major musical and stylistic direction in their early work, although he left the group in 1968 amidst speculations of mental illness exacerbated by heavy drug use.

Syd Barrett was active as a rock musician for about 7 years, recording 2 albums with Pink Floyd and 2 solo albums before going into self-imposed seclusion lasting more than 30 years. Syd Barrett’s post–rock band life was as an artist and keen gardener, ending with his death in 2006, and a number of biographies have been written about him since the 1980s. During his withdrawal from public life there were numerous speculative, although largely appreciative works about him, most notably his former band Pink Floyd’s 1975 album Wish You Were Here.

Syd Barrett was born in the English city of Cambridge to a middle-class family. Syd Barrett’s father, Arthur Max Barrett, was a prominent pathologist, and both he and his wife, Winifred, encouraged the young Roger (as he was known then) in his music. When Syd Barrett was 3 years old, his family moved to 183 Hills Road. After his brothers and sisters left home, his mother rented out rooms to lodgers, including a future Prime Minister of Japan. Syd Barrett acquired the nickname “Syd” at the age of 14, a reference to an old local Cambridge jazz drummer, Sid Barrett. Syd Barrett changed the spelling in order to differentiate himself from his namesake. Syd Barrett’s father died of cancer on 11 December, 1961, less than a month before Syd Barrett’s 16th birthday. Syd Barrett attended Cambridgeshire High School for Boys, now known as Hills Road 6th Form College in Cambridge, and, from 1962 to 1963/64 and Cambridge College of Arts and Technology (now Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University) since 1964. Syd Barrett then enrolled in Camberwell art school in South London in 1964 before forming his 1st band in 1965. During this pre–Pink Floyd time he wrote such tunes as “Effervescing Elephant” to play at local parties.

Starting in 1964, the band that would become Pink Floyd underwent various line-up and name changes such as “The Abdabs”, “The Screaming Abdabs”, “Sigma 6” and “The Meggadeaths”. In 1965, Syd Barrett joined them as “The Tea Set”, and when they found themselves playing a concert with a band of the same name, Syd Barrett came up with the name “The Pink Floyd Sound” (later “The Pink Floyd”). Syd Barrett devised the name “Pink Floyd” by juxtaposing the 1st names of Pink Anderson and Floyd Council whom he had read about in a sleeve note by Paul Oliver for a 1962 Blind Boy Fuller LP (Philips BBL-7512): “Curley Weaver and Fred McMullen, (…) Pink Anderson or Floyd Council—these were a few amongst the many blues singers that were to be heard in the rolling hills of the Piedmont, or meandering with the streams through the wooded valleys”.

While Pink Floyd began by playing cover versions of American R&B songs (in much the same vein as contemporaries The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds and The Kinks), by 1966they had carved out their own style of improvised rock and roll, which drew as much from improvised jazz as it did from British pop-rock, such as that championed by The Beatles. In that year, a new rock concert venue, the UFO, opened in London and quickly became a haven for British psychedelic music. Pink Floyd, the house band, was their most popular attraction, and, after making appearances at the rival Roundhouse, became the most popular musical group of the so-called “London Underground” psychedelic music scene.

By the end of 1966 Pink Floyd had gained a reliable management team in Andrew King and Peter Jenner. The duo soon befriended American expatriate Joe Boyd, who was making a name for himself as one of the more important entrepreneurs on the British music scene. Joe Boyd produced a recording session for the group in January 1967 at Sound Techniques in Chelsea, which resulted in a demo of the single “Arnold Layne”. King and Jenner took the song to the recording behemoth EMI, who were impressed enough to offer the band a contract, under which they would be allowed to record an album. The band accepted. By the time the album was released, “Arnold Layne” had reached number 20 on the British singles charts (despite a ban by Radio London) and a follow-up single, “See Emily Play” had done even better, peaking at number 6.

These 1st 2 singles, as well as a 3rd(“Apples and Oranges”), were written by Syd Barrett, who also was the principal visionary/author of their critically acclaimed 1967 debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. The album’s title was taken from the mystical “Pan” chapter of The Wind in the Willows. Of the 11 songs on The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Syd Barrett wrote 8 and co-wrote another 2.

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was recorded intermittently between January and July 1967 in Studio 2 at Abbey Road Studios. At that same time at Abbey Road the Beatles were recording Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in Studio 1 and the Pretty Things were recording S.F. Sorrow. When The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was released in August of that year, it became a smash hit in the UK, hitting #6 on the British album charts (the album was not nearly so successful in the USA). However, as the band began to attract a large fanbase, the pressures on Syd Barrett contributed to his experiencing increasing psychiatric illness.

Syd Barrett’s behaviour became increasingly unpredictable, partly as a consequence of frequent experimentation with psychedelic drugs such as LSD. Many report having seen him on stage with the group, strumming on 1 chord through the entire concert, or not playing at all. At a show at The Fillmore West in San Francisco, during a performance of “Interstellar Overdrive”, Syd Barrett slowly detuned his guitar. The audience seemed to enjoy such antics, unaware of the rest of the band’s consternation. Before a performance in late 1967, Syd Barrett apparently crushed Mandrax and an entire tube of Brylcreem into his hair, which subsequently melted down his face under the heat of the stage lighting, making him look like “a guttered candle”. Nick Mason later disputed the Mandrax portion of this story, stating that “Syd would never waste good mandies”.

Following a disastrous abridged tour of the United States, David Gilmour (a school friend of Syd Barrett’s) was asked to join the band as a 2nd guitarist to cover for Syd Barrett as Syd Barrett’s erratic behaviour prevented him from performing. For a handful of shows David played and sang while Syd Barrett wandered around on stage, occasionally deigning to join in playing. The other band members soon tired of Syd Barrett’s antics and, in January 1968, on the way to a show at Southampton University, the band elected not to pick Syd Barrett up: 1 person in the car said, “Shall we pick Syd up?” and another person said, “Let’s not bother” (Gilmour interview in Guitar World – January 1995). They attempted to retain him in the group as a songwriter.

There are many stories about Syd Barrett’s bizarre and intermittently psychotic behaviour — some are known to be true. According to Roger Waters, Syd Barrett came into what was to be their last practice session with a new song he had dubbed “Have You Got It, Yet?”. The song seemed simple enough when he first presented it to his bandmates, but it soon became impossibly difficult to learn: while they were practising it, Syd Barrett kept changing the arrangement. Syd Barrett would then play it again, with the arbitrary changes, and sing “Have you got it yet?”. Eventually they realised they never would and that they were simply bearing the brunt of Syd Barrett’s idiosyncratic sense of humour.

Syd Barrett did not contribute any material to the band after A Saucerful of Secrets was released in 1968. Of the songs he wrote for Pink Floyd after The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, only 1 (“Jugband Blues”) made it to the band’s 2nd album; 1 became a less-than-successful single (“Apples and Oranges”), and 2 others (“Scream Thy Last Scream” and “Vegetable Man”) were never officially released. Syd Barrett supposedly spent some time outside the recording studio, waiting to be invited in (he also showed up to a few gigs and glared at Gilmour). Syd Barrett played slide guitar on “Remember a Day” (which had been 1st attempted during the The Piper at the Gates of Dawn sessions) and also played on “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”. Syd Barrett’s main contribution to the album, “Jugband Blues,” is often seen by Pink Floyd fans as Syd Barrett’s admission that his days in the band were probably numbered (“It’s awfully considerate of you to think of me here/And I’m most obliged to you for making it clear/that I’m not here”, the song opens). In March 1968 it was officially announced that he was no longer a member of Pink Floyd.

After leaving Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett distanced himself from the public eye. However, at the behest of EMI and Harvest Records, he did have a brief solo career, releasing 2 solo albums, The Madcap Laughs and Barrett. Much of the material on both albums dates from Barrett’s most productive period of songwriting, late 1966 to mid 1967, and it is believed that he wrote few new songs after he left Pink Floyd.

The 1st album, The Madcap Laughs, was recorded in 2 distinct sessions, both at Abbey Road Studios: a few tentative sessions took place between May and June 1968 (produced by Peter Jenner), while the bulk of the album was recorded between April and July 1969. The record was produced 1st by Malcolm Jones, a young EMI executive, and then by David Gilmour and Roger Waters. Malcolm Jones states in his book “The Making of the Madcap Laughs” that “when Dave came to me and said that Syd Barrett wanted him and Roger Waters to do the remaining parts of the album, I acquiesced.” A few tracks on the album feature overdubs by members of the band Soft Machine. Syd Barrett also played guitar on the sessions for Soft Machine founder Kevin Ayers’ debut LP Joy of a Toy, although his performance on “Religious Experience” was not released until the album was reissued in 2003.

The 2nd album, Barrett, was recorded more sporadically than the 1st, with sessions taking place between February and July 1970. This effort sounds more polished than the 1st, but Barrett was arguably in a worse state. The album was produced by David Gilmour and featured Gilmour on bass guitar, Rick Wright on keyboard and Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley.

Despite the numerous recording dates for his 2 solo albums, Syd Barrett undertook very little musical activity between 1968 and 1972 outside the studio. On 24 February 1970, he appeared on John Peel’s BBC radio programme Top Gear playing 5 songs—only 1 of which had been previously released. 3 would be re-recorded for the Barrett album, while the song “Two of a Kind” was a one-off performance (the song appears on the 2001 compilation The Best of Syd Barrett: Wouldn’t You Miss Me?) with the lyrics and composition having since been credited to Richard Wright. Syd Barrett was accompanied on this session by David Gilmour and Jerry Shirley who played bass and percussion, respectively.

Gilmour and Shirley also backed Syd Barrett for his one and only live concert during this period. The gig took place on 6 June 1970 at the Olympia Exhibition Hall, London, and was part of a Music and Fashion Festival. The trio performed 4 songs, playing for less than half an hour, and because of poor mixing, the vocals were inaudible until part-way through the last number. At the end of the 4th song, Syd Barrett unexpectedly but politely put down his guitar and walked off the stage.

Syd Barrett made 1 last appearance on BBC Radio, recording 3 songs at their studios on 16 February 1971. All 3 came from the Barrett album, and were presumably aired to encourage people to buy the record. After this session, he would take a hiatus from his music career that lasted more than a year, although in an extensive interview with Mick Rock and Rolling Stone in December, he discussed himself at length, showed off his new 12-string guitar, talked about his American tour with Jimi Hendrix, and stated that he was frustrated in terms of his musical work because of his inability to find anyone good to play with.

In 1972, Syd Barrett formed a short-lived band called Stars with ex–Pink Fairies member Twink on drums and Jack Monck on bass. Though the band was initially well received, one of their gigs at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge proved to be disastrous (Monck describes just how disastrous it was in a TV interview in 2001 for the BBC Omnibus series documentary ‘Crazy Diamond’). A few days after this final show, Twink recalled that Barrett stopped him on the street, showed him a scathing review of the gig they had played, and quit on the spot.

In August 1974, Peter Jenner convinced Syd Barrett to return to Abbey Road Studios in hope of recording another album. However, little became of the sessions, which lasted 3 days and consisted of blues rhythm tracks with tentative and disjointed guitar overdubs (the only titled track is “If You Go, Don’t Be Slow”). Once again, Syd Barrett withdrew from the music industry. Syd Barrett sold the rights to his solo albums back to the record label, moved into a London hotel and when the money ran out he walked back to Cambridge to live in his mother’s basement. Further attempts to bring him back (including one endeavour by The Damned who wanted him to produce their 2nd album) were all fruitless. Until his death, Syd Barrett still received royalties from his work with Pink Floyd from each compilation and some of the live albums and singles that had featured his songs; Gilmour has commented that he (Gilmour) “[made] sure the money [got] to him all right”.

According to a 2005 profile by a recent biographer Tim Willis, Syd Barrett, who had reverted to using his original name of Roger, continued to live in his late mother’s semi-detached home in Cambridge, and had returned to his original art-form of painting, creating large abstract canvases. Syd Barrett was also said to have been an avid gardener. Syd Barrett’s main point of contact with the outside world was his sister, Rosemary, who lived nearby. While reclusive, it was his physical health that prompted most concern, being afflicted with stomach ulcers and type 2 diabetes.

Although Syd Barrett had not appeared or spoken in public since the mid-1970s, time did little to diminish interest in his life and work; reporters and fans still travelled to Cambridge to seek him out, despite his attempts to live a quiet life. Many photos of Syd Barrett being annoyed by paparazzi when walking or biking, from the 1980s until his death in 2006, had been published in various media.

Apparently, Syd Barrett was not happy being reminded about his past as a musician and the other members of Pink Floyd had no direct contact with him. However, he did go to his sister’s house in November 2001 to watch the BBC Omnibus documentary made about him – reportedly he found some of it “too noisy”, enjoyed seeing Mike Leonard (of Leonard’s Lodgers) again (whom he called his ‘teacher’), and enjoyed hearing “See Emily Play” again.

Syd Barrett died on Friday 7 July 2006 at his home in Cambridge of pancreatic cancer, but this was usually reported as “complications from diabetes.” The occupation on his death certificate was given as “retired musician.”

In 2006, his home, located in St. Margaret’s Square, was placed on the market and reportedly attracted considerable interest. After over 100 viewings, many by fans, his house was sold to a French couple who bought the house simply because they liked it—reportedly they knew nothing about Syd Barrett. Syd Barrett’s other possessions were auctioned for £120,000. NME produced a tribute issue to Syd Barrett the week after with a photo of the songwriter on the cover. In an interview with The Times, Syd Barrett’s sister revealed that he had written a book: “He read very deeply about the history of art and actually wrote an unpublished book about it, which I’m too sad to read at the moment. But he found his own mind so absorbing that he didn’t want to be distracted.”

According to a local Cambridge newspaper, Syd Barrett left approximately £1.25,000,000 to his 2 brothers and 2 sisters. This income was apparently largely acquired via royalties from Pink Floyd compilations and live recordings which featured songs he had written while with the band.

A tribute concert was held at the Barbican Centre, London on 10 May 2007 with Robyn Hitchcock, Captain Sensible, Damon Albarn, Chrissie Hynde, Kevin Ayers and his Pink Floyd bandmates performing (albeit not on stage at the same time for the last).

Syd Barrett had 1 noted reunion with the members of Pink Floyd in 1975 during the recording sessions for Wish You Were Here. Syd Barrett attended the Abbey Road session unannounced, and watched the band record “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” — as it happened, a song about him. By that time, Syd Barrett had become quite overweight, had shaved off all of his hair, including his eyebrows, and his ex-bandmates did not at first recognise him (one of the photographs in Nick Mason’s book Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd appears to have been taken that day it is captioned: Syd Barrett at Abbey Road Studios, 5th June 1975). Eventually, they realised who he was and Roger Waters was so distressed that he was reduced to tears. A reference to this reunion appears in the film Pink Floyd The Wall (1982), where the character ‘Pink,’ played by Bob Geldof, shaves off his eyebrows (and body hair) after succumbing to the pressures of life and fame.

In an interview for the 2001 BBC Omnibus documentary Syd Barrett: Crazy Diamond (later released on DVD as The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story), the story is told in full. Rick Wright spoke about the session, saying: “One thing that really stands out in my mind, that I’ll never forget; I was going in to the “Shine On” sessions. I went in the studio and I saw this guy sitting at the back of the studio, he was only as far away as you are from me. And I didn’t recognize him. I said, ‘Who’s that guy behind you?’ ‘That’s Syd’. And I just cracked up, I couldn’t believe it… he had shaven all his hair off… I mean, his eyebrows, everything… he was jumping up and down brushing his teeth, it was awful. And, uh, I was in, I mean Roger was in tears, I think I was; we were both in tears. It was very shocking… 7 years of no contact and then to walk in while we’re actually doing that particular track. I don’t know – coincidence, karma, fate, who knows? But it was very, very, very powerful”. In the same documentary, Nick Mason stated: “When I think about it, I can still see his eyes, but… it was everything else that was different”. In that same interview, Roger Waters has said: “I had no idea who he was for a very long time”. David Gilmour stated : “None of us recognised him. Shaved…shaved bald head and very plump”.

In 1988, EMI Records released an album of Barrett’s studio outtakes and previously unreleased material recorded from 1968 to 1970 under the title Opel. The disc was originally set to include the unreleased Barrett Pink Floyd songs “Scream Thy Last Scream” and “Vegetable Man”, which had been remixed for the album by Malcolm Jones. However, the two songs were pulled (reportedly by the remaining members of Pink Floyd) before Opel was finalised.

In 1993 EMI issued another release, Crazy Diamond, a box set of all 3 albums, each loaded with further out-takes from his solo sessions that illustrated vividly Syd Barrett’s inability or refusal to play a song the same way twice.

EMI also released The Best of Syd Barrett: Wouldn’t You Miss Me? in the UK on 16 April, 2001, and in the US on 11 September, 2001. This was the 1st time his song “Bob Dylan Blues” was ever officially released, taken from a demo tape that David Gilmour had kept after an early 1970s recording session. David Gilmour still has the tape, which also contains the unreleased “Living Alone” from the Syd Barrett sessions.

A number of bootleg LPs, CDs and other recordings of Syd Barrett’s live and solo material exist.

For years the “off air” recordings of the BBC sessions with Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd circulated, until an engineer who had taken a tape of the early Pink Floyd gave it back to the BBC—who played it during a tribute to John Peel on their website. During this tribute, the 1st Peel programme (Top Gear) was aired in its entirety. This show featured 1967 live versions of “Flaming”, “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”, and a brief 90-second snippet of the instrumental “Reaction in G”.

Syd Barrett’s 1st acoustic guitar Syd Barrett wrote most of the Pink Floyd’s early material. Syd Barrett was also an innovative guitarist, using extended techniques and exploring the musical and sonic possibilities of dissonance, distortion, feedback, the echo machine, tapes and other effects; his experimentation was partly inspired by free improvisation guitarist Keith Rowe. One of Syd Barrett’s trademarks was playing his guitar through an old echo box while sliding a Zippo lighter up and down the fret-board to create the mysterious, otherworldly sounds that became associated with the group. Syd Barrett was known to have used Binson delay units to achieve his trademark echo sounds.

Syd Barrett brought the guitar in a new direction. Syd Barrett’s free-form sequences of sonic carpets pioneered a new way to play the rock guitar. Syd Barrett played several different guitars during his tenure with Pink Floyd, including an old Harmony hollowbody electric, a Harmony acoustic, a Fender acoustic, a single-coil Danelectro 59 DC, several different Fender Telecasters, and a white Fender Stratocaster used in late 1967. However, a silver Fender Esquire with mirrored discs glued to the body was the guitar he was most often associated with and the guitar Syd Barrett himself “felt most close to.”

Many artists have acknowledged Syd Barrett’s influence on their work. Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend, Marc Bolan, and David Bowie were early fans; Jimmy Page, Brian Eno, and The Damned all expressed interest in working with him at some point during the 1970s. David Bowie recorded a cover of “See Emily Play” on his 1973 album Pin Ups. Pete Townshend called Syd Barrett legendary.

Syd Barrett’s decline had a profound effect on Roger Waters’s songwriting, and the theme of mental illness would permeate Pink Floyd’s later albums, particularly 1973’s Dark Side of the Moon and 1975’s Wish You Were Here which was a deliberate and affectionate tribute to Syd Barrett, the songs “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” and the title track being specifically about him. The title track borrows imagery of a “steel rail” from Syd Barrett’s solo song, “If It’s In You,” from the Madcap Laughs album.

In 1987, an album of Barrett cover songs called Beyond the Wildwood was released. The album collected songs from Barrett’s Pink Floyd albums and his solo albums. Artists appearing were UK and USA indie bands including The Shamen, Opal, The Soup Dragons, and Plasticland.

Other artists that have written tributes to Syd Barrett include his contemporary Kevin Ayers, who wrote “Oh Wot a Dream” in his honour (Syd Barrett provided guitar to an early version of Ayers’ song “Religious Experience: Singing a Song in the Morning”). Syd Barrett fan Robyn Hitchcock has covered many of his songs live and on record, and has paid homage to his forebear with the songs “The Man Who Invented Himself” and “(Feels Like) 1974”. The Television Personalities’ track “I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives” from their 1981 album And Don’t the Kids Love It is another tribute. (The Television Personalities became the subject of controversy and derision when, as they had been selected as the opening act on David Gilmour’s About Face tour in the early 1980s, lead singer Dan Treacy decided to read aloud Barrett’s real home address to the audience of thousands. David Gilmour removed them from the tour immediately afterwards.)

Johnny Depp has shown interest in a biographical film based on Barrett’s life.

Syd Barrett is also portrayed briefly in the opening scene of Tom Stoppard’s play Rock ‘n’ Roll (2006), performing Golden Hair. Syd Barrett’s life and music, including the disastrous Cambridge Corn Exchange concert and his later reclusive lifestyle, are a recurring motif in the work. Syd Barrett died during the play’s run in London.

There has been much speculation concerning Syd Barrett’s psychological well-being. Many believe he suffered from schizophrenia. A diagnosis of bipolar disorder (aka manic depression) has also been considered.

Syd Barrett’s use of psychedelic drugs, especially LSD, during the 1960s is well documented. Some believe that Syd Barrett’s drug use was responsible for, or at least contributed to, his mental illness. In an article published in 2006, David Gilmour was quoted as saying: “In my opinion, his breakdown would have happened anyway. It was a deep-rooted thing. But I’ll say the psychedelic experience might well have acted as a catalyst. Still, I just don’t think he could deal with the vision of success and all the things that went with it.”

Many stories of Syd Barrett’s erratic behaviour off stage as well as on are also well-documented. In Saucerful of Secrets: The Pink Floyd Odyssey, author Nicholas Schaffner interviewed a number of people who knew Syd Barrett before and during his Pink Floyd days. These included friends Peter and Susan Wynne-Wilson, artist Duggie Fields (with whom Syd Barrett shared a flat during the late 1960s), June Bolan and Storm Thorgerson, among others.

“For June Bolan, the alarm bells began to sound only when Syd kept his girlfriend under lock and key for three days, occasionally shoving a ration of biscuits under the door.” A claim of cruelty against Syd Barrett committed by the groupies and hangers-on who frequented his apartment during this period was described by writer and critic Jonathan Meades. “I went [to Syd Barrett’s flat] to see Harry and there was this terrible noise. It sounded like heating pipes shaking. I said, ‘What’s up?’ and he sort of giggled and said, ‘That’s Syd having a bad trip. We put him in the linen cupboard.'” Storm Thorgerson responded to this claim by stating “I do not remember locking Syd up in a cupboard. It sounds to me like pure fantasy, like Jonathan Meades was on dope himself.”

However, in the book Crazy Diamond: Syd Barrett and the Dawn of Pink Floyd, authors Mike Watkinson and Pete Anderson included quotes from a story told to them by Thorgerson that underscored how volatile Barrett could be. “On one occasion, I had to pull him off Lynsey (Syd Barrett’s girlfriend at the time) because he was beating her over the head with a mandolin.”

According to David Gilmour in an interview with Nick Kent, the other members of Pink Floyd approached psychiatrist R.D. Laing with the ‘Barrett problem’. After hearing a tape of a Syd Barrett conversation, Laing declared him incurable.

David Gilmour also proposed, in an interview with the National Post’s John Geiger, that the stroboscopic lights used in their shows combined with the drugs could have had a seriously detrimental effect on Syd Barrett’s mental health if he was a photo-epileptic who suffered partial seizures. When partial seizures occur in the temporal lobes patients are often misdiagnosed with schizophrenia or psychosis.

After Syd Barrett died, his sister, Rosemary Breen, spoke to biographer Tim Willis for The Sunday Times. Rosemary insisted that Syd Barrett neither suffered from mental illness nor received treatment for it at any time since they resumed regular contact in the 1980s. Rosemary allowed that he did spend some time in a private “home for lost souls” — Greenwoods in Essex — but claimed there was no formal therapy programme there. Some years later, Syd Barrett apparently agreed to sessions with a psychiatrist at Fulbourn psychiatric hospital in Cambridge, but Breen claimed that neither medication nor therapy was considered appropriate in her brother’s case.

Syd Barrett’s sister denied he was a recluse or that he was vague about his past: “Roger may have been a bit selfish — or rather self-absorbed — but when people called him a recluse they were really only projecting their own disappointment. Syd Barrett knew what they wanted but he wasn’t willing to give it to them.” Syd Barrett, she said, took up photography, and sometimes they went to the seaside together. “Quite often he took the train on his own to London to look at the major art collections — and he loved flowers. Syd Barrett made regular trips to the Botanic Gardens and to the dahlias at Anglesey Abbey, near Lode. But of course, his passion was his painting”, she said.

A series of events, called “The City Wakes” will be held in Cambridge, UK in October 2008 to celebrate Barrett’s life, art and music. Barrett’s sister, Rosemary Breen, is promoting the 1st ever series of official events in memory of her brother.

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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Series-Disabled Legend Dennis Day

Dennis Day was born on 21 May, 1916 in New York City, New York, USA and died on 22 June, 1988 of Lou Gehrig’s disease at the age of 72 in Los Angeles, California, USA. Dennis Day is interred at Holy Cross Cemetery. Dennis Day’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is at 6646 Hollywood Boulevard.

Born Owen Patrick Eugene McNulty, was an Irish-American singer, radio and television personality.

Dennis Day was born and raised in New York City, the son of Irish immigrants. Dennis Day’s father was a stationary engineer. Dennis Day graduated from St. Patrick’s Cathedral High School, and attended Manhattan College, where he sang in the glee club.

Dennis Day appeared for the 1st time on Jack Benny’s radio show on 8 October, 1939, taking the place of another famed tenor, Kenny Baker. Dennis Day remained associated with Benny’s radio and television programs until Benny’s death in 1974. Dennis Day was introduced (with actress Verna Felton playing his mother) as a young (19 year old), naive boy singer — a character he kept through his whole career. Dennis Day’s
1st song was “Goodnight My Beautiful”.

Besides singing, Dennis Day was an excellent mimic. Dennis Day did many imitations on the Benny programme of various noted celebrities of the era, such as Ronald Colman, Jimmy Durante, and Jimmy Stewart.

Sam Berman’s caricature of Dennis Day for 1947 NBC promotional bookFrom 1944 through 1946, he served in the US Navy as a Lieutenant. On his return to civilian life, he continued to work with Benny while also starring his own show, A Day in the Life of Dennis Day (1946-1952). Dennis Day’s having 2 programmes in comparison to Benny’s 1was the subject of numerous jokes and gags on Benny’s show, usually revolving around Dennis Day rubbing Benny’s, and sometimes other cast members and guest stars’ noses in that fact.

Dennis Day’s TV series, The Dennis Day Show (aka The RCA Victor Show) was telecast from 1952 to 1954. Between 1952 and 1978, he made numerous TV appearances as a singer, actor and voice for animation (such as the Walt Disney feature Melody Time, voicing multiple characters).

In 1948,Dennis Day married Peggy Almquist; the marriage lasted until his death in 1988. The couple had 10 children. 1 of his brothers was wed to actress/singer Ann Blyth.

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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Series-Disabled Legend Lead Belly

Huddie William Ledbetter, was born in January, 1888 and died on 6 December, 1949 in New York City, New York, USA and was buried in the Shiloh Baptist Church cemetery in Mooringsport, 8 miles (13 km) west of Blanchard, Louisiana, in Caddo Parish.

Lead Belly was an American folk and blues musician, notable for his clear and forceful singing, his virtuosity on the 12 string guitar, and the rich songbook of folk standards he introduced.

Ledbetter is best known as Leadbelly or Lead Belly. Though many releases list him as “Leadbelly,” he himself spelled it “Lead Belly.” This is also the usage on his tombstone, as well as the Lead Belly Foundation.

Although he most commonly played the 12 string, he could also play the piano, mandolin, harmonica, violin, concertina, and accordion. In some of his recordings, such as in one of his versions of the folk ballad “John Hardy”, he performs on the accordion instead of the guitar. In other recordings he just sings while clapping his hands or stomping his foot. The topics of Lead Belly’s music covered a wide range of subjects, including gospel songs; blues songs about women, liquor and racism; and folk songs about cowboys, prison, work, sailors, cattle herding and dancing. Lead Belly also wrote songs concerning the newsmakers of the day, such as President Franklin Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, Jean Harlow, the Scottsboro Boys, and Howard Hughes.

Lead Belly’s date of birth is uncertain. Lead Belly was probably born in January 1888, although his gravestone gives his year of birth as 1889. The earliest year given for his birth has been 1885, although other sources stated either 1888 or 1889. According to the 1900 census, Hudy (the spelling given in the census) is 1 of 2 listed children (the other is his step-sister, Australia Carr), of Wes and Sallie (Brown) Ledbetter of Justice Precinct 2, Harrison County, Texas. Wesley and Sallie were legally born on wednesday 26 February, 1888, shortly after Lead Belly’s likely date of birth, even though they had lived together as husband and wife for years. The 1900 census, differing from the usual census in that it lists the month and year of birth, rather than just the age, states the birth year of ‘Hudy’ Ledbetter to be 1888 and the month listed as January; Huddie’s age is listed as 12. The census of 1910 and the census of 1930 confirm 1888 as the year of birth.

The day of his birth has also been debated. The most common date given is 20 January, but other sources suggest he was born on 21 or 29 January. The only document we have that Lead belly, himself, helped fill out is his World War II draft registration from 1942 where he gives his birth date as 23 January, 1889.

Lead Belly was born to Wesley and Sallie Ledbetter as Huddie William Ledbetter in a plantation near Mooringsport, Louisiana, but the family moved to Leigh, Texas, when he was 5 years old. By 1903, Lead Belly was already a ‘musicianer’, a singer and guitarist of some note. Lead Belly performed for nearby Shreveport, Louisiana audiences in St. Paul’s Bottoms, a notorious red-light district in the city. Lead Belly began to develop his own style of music after exposure to a variety of musical influences on Shreveport’s Fannin Street, a row of saloons, brothels, and dance halls in the Bottoms.

At the time of the 1910 census, Lead Belly, still officially listed as ‘Hudy’, was living next door to his parents with his first wife, Aletha “Lethe” Henderson, who at the time of the census was 17 years old, and was, therefore, 15 at the time of their marriage in 1908. It was also there that he received his first instrument, an accordion, from his uncle, and by his early 20s, after fathering at least 2 children, he left home to find his living as a guitarist (and occasionally, as a laborer). Lead Belly would later claim that as a youth he would “make it” with 8 to 10 women a night.

Influenced by the sinking of the RMS Titanic in April 1912, he would go on to write the song “The Titanic”, which noted the racial indifferences of the time. “The Titanic” was the first song he ever learned to play on a 12 string guitar, which was later to become his signature instrument. Lead Belly first played it in 1912 when performing with Blind Lemon Jefferson (1897-1929) in and around Dallas, Texas. Lead Belly noted that he had to leave out the verse about boxer Jack Johnson when playing before a white audience.

Lead Belly’s volatile nature sometimes led him into trouble with the law. In 1915 he was convicted “of carrying a pistol” and sentenced to do time on the Harrison County chain gang, from which he miraculously escaped, finding work in nearby Bowie County under the assumed name of Walter Boyd. In January 1918 he was thrown into prison for the second time, this time after killing one of his relatives, Will Stafford, in a fight over a woman. In 1918 he was incarcerated in Sugar Land, Texas, where he probably learned the song Midnight Special. In 1925 he was pardoned and released, having served 7 years, or virtually all of the minimum of his 7 to 35 year sentence, after writing a song appealing to Governor Pat Morris Neff for his freedom. Lead Belly had swayed Governor Neff by appealing to his strong religious values. That, in combination with good behavior (including entertaining by playing for the guards and fellow prisoners), was Lead Belly’s ticket out of jail. It was quite a testament to his persuasive powers, as Neff had run for governor on a pledge not to issue pardons (pardon by the governor was at that time the only recourse for prisoners, since in most Southern prisons there was no provision for parole). According to Charles K. Wolf and Kip Lornell’s book, The Life and Legend of Lead belly (1999), Neff had regularly brought guests to the prison on Sunday picnics to hear Lead belly perform.

In 1930, Lead Belly was back in prison, after a summary trial, this time in Louisiana, for attempted homicide — he had knifed a white man in a fight. It was there, 3 years later, that he was “discovered” by musicologists John Lomax and his 18 year old son Alan Lomax during a visit to the Angola Prison Farm. They were enchanted by Lead Belly’s talent, passion, and singularity as a performer and recorded hundreds of his songs on portable aluminum disc recording equipment for the Library of Congress. They returned to record in July of the following year (1934). On 1 August, Lead Belly was released (again having served almost all of his minimum sentence), this time after the Lomaxes had taken a petition to Louisiana Governor O.K. Allen at Lead belly’s urgent request. The petition was on the other side of a recording of his signature song, “Goodnight Irene.” A prison official later wrote to John Lomax denying that Lead Belly’s singing had anything to do with his release from Angola, and state prison records confirm that he was eligible for early release due to good behavior. A descendant of his has also confirmed this. For a time, however, both Lead Belly and the Lomaxes believed that the record they had taken to the governor had hastened his release from Angola.

There are several, somewhat conflicting stories about how Ledbetter acquired his famous nickname, though the consensus is that it was probably while in prison. Some say his fellow inmates dubbed him “Lead Belly” as a play on his last name and reference to his physical toughness; others say he earned the name after being shot in the stomach with shotgun buckshot. Another theory has it that the name refers to his ability to drink homemade liquor, which Southern farmers, black and white, used to make to supplement their incomes. Blues singer Big Bill Broonzy thought it came from a supposed tendency to lay about “with a stomach weighted down by lead” in the shade when the chain gang was supposed to be working. (This seems unlikely, unless it was ironic, given his well-known capacity for hard work.) Whatever its origin, he adopted the nickname as a pseudonym while performing, and it stuck. Regarding his toughness, it is also recounted that during his second prison term, another inmate stabbed him in the neck (leaving him with a fearsome scar that he subsequently covered with a bandanna), and he took the knife away and in turn almost killed his attacker with it. Lead belly – King of the 12 String Guitar Retrieved on 30 January, 2007.

Bob Dylan once remarked, on his XM radio show, that Lead Belly was “One of the few ex-cons who recorded a popular children’s album.”

It was the Depression and jobs were very scarce. A month after his release and in need of regular work in order to avoid having his release canceled and being sent back to prison, in September 1934, Lead Belly met with John A. Lomax and begged him to take him on as a driver. For 3 months he assisted the 67 year old John Lomax in his folk song collecting in the South. (Alan Lomax (then 19) was ill and didn’t accompany them on this trip.) In December, Lead Belly participated in a “smoker” (group sing) at an MLA meeting in Bryn Mawr College in PA., where John A. Lomax had a prior lecturing engagement. Lead Belly was written up in the press as a convict who had sung his way out of prison. On New Year’s Day, 1935, the pair arrived in New York City, where John Lomax was scheduled to meet with his publisher, Macmillan, about a new collection of folk songs. The newspapers were eager to write about the “singing convict” and Time magazine made one of its first filmed newsreels about him. Lead Belly attained fame (though not fortune). The following week, he began recording with the American Record Corporation (ARC), but achieved little commercial success with these records. Part of the reason for the poor record sales may have been because ARC insisted on releasing only his blues songs rather than the folk songs for which he would later become better known. In any case, Lead Belly continued to struggle financially. Like many performers, what income he made during his lifetime would come from touring, not from record sales. In February 1935, he married his sweetheart, Martha Promise, who came north from Louisiana for the purpose. The month of February was spent recording his and other African-American repertoire and interviews about his life with Alan Lomax for their forthcoming book, Negro Folk Songs as Sung by Lead Belly (1936). Concert appearances were slow to materialize, however, and in March 1935, Lead Belly accompanied John A. Lomax on a 2 week lecture tour of colleges and universities in the Northeast, culminating at Harvard. These lectures had been scheduled before John Lomax had teamed up with Lead Belly. At the end of month, John Lomax decided he could no longer work with Lead Belly and gave him and Martha money to go back to Louisiana by bus. Lead Belly gave Martha the money that he had earned from 3 months of performing, but in installments, on the pretext that Lead Belly would drink it all if given a lump sum. From Louisiana Lead Belly then successfully sued Lomax for the full amount and for release from his management contract with Lomax. The quarrel was very bitter and there were hard feelings on both sides. Curiously, however, in the midst of the legal wrangling Lead Belly wrote to John A. Lomax proposing that they team up together once again. But it was not to be. Nor was the book the Lomaxes published that year about Lead Belly financially successful.

In January of 1936, Lead Belly returned to New York on his own without John Lomax for an attempted comeback. Lead Belly performed twice a day at Harlem’s Lafayette theater in a live dramatic recreation of the Time Life newsreel (itself a recreation) about his prison encounter with John A. Lomax, in which he had worn stripes, even though by this time he was no longer associated with Lomax. Life magazine ran a 3 page article titled, “Lead Belly – Bad Nigger Makes Good Minstrel,” in the 19 April, 1936 issue. It included a full-page, colour (rare in those days) picture of him sitting on grain sacks playing his guitar and singing. Also included was a striking picture of Martha Promise (identified in the article as his manager); photos showing Lead Belly’s hands playing the guitar (with the caption “these hands once killed a man”); Texas Governor Pat M. Neff; and the “ramshackle” Texas State Penitentiary. The article attributes both of his pardons to his singing of his petitions to the governors, who were so moved that they pardoned him. The article’s text ends with “he… may well be on the brink of a new and prosperous period.” Lead Belly failed to stir the enthusiasm of Harlem audiences. Instead, he attained success playing at concerts and benefits for an audience of leftist folk music aficionados. Lead Belly developed his own style of singing and explaining his repertoire in the context of Southern black culture, taking the hint from his previous participation in John A. Lomax’s college lectures. Lead Belly was especially successful with his repertoire of children’s game songs (as a younger man in Louisiana he had sung regularly at children’s birthday parties in the black community). Lead Belly was written up as a heroic figure by the black novelist, Richard Wright, then a member of the Communist Party, in the columns of the Daily Worker, of which he (Wright) was the Harlem editor. The 2 men became personal friends, though Lead Belly himself was a-political — if anything, a supporter of Wendell Willkie, the centrist Republican candidate, for whom he wrote a campaign song.

In 1939, Lead Belly was back in jail for assault, after stabbing a man in a fight in Manhattan. Alan Lomax, then 24, took him under his wing and helped raise money for his legal expenses, dropping out of graduate school to do so. After his release (in 1940-41), Lead Belly appeared as a regular on Alan Lomax and Nicholas Ray’s groundbreaking CBS radio show, Back Where I Come From, broadcast nationwide. Lead Belly also appeared in night clubs with Josh White, becoming a fixture in New York City’s surging folk music scene and befriending the likes of Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Woody Guthrie, and a young Pete Seeger, all fellow performers on Back Where I Come From. During the first half of the decade he recorded for RCA, the Library of Congress, and for Moe Asch (future founder of Folkways Records), and in 1944 headed to California, where he recorded strong sessions for Capitol Records. Lead belly was the first American country blues musician to see success in Europe. In 1949 Lead Belly had a regular radio broadcast on station WNYC in New York on Sunday nights on Henrietta Yurchenko’s show. Later in the year he began his first European tour with a trip to France, but fell ill before its completion, and was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Lead Belly’s final concert was at the University of Texas in a tribute to his former mentor, John A. Lomax, who had died the previous year. Martha also performed at that concert, singing spirituals with her husband.

Lead Belly styled himself “King of the 12-string guitar,” and despite his use of other instruments like the concertina, the most enduring image of Lead Belly as a performer is wielding his unusually large Stella 12-string. This guitar had a slightly longer scale length than a standard guitar, slotted tuners, ladder bracing, and a trapeze-style tailpiece to resist bridge lifting.

Lead Belly played with finger picks much of the time, using a thumb pick to provide a walking bass line and occasionally to strum. This technique, combined with low tunings and heavy strings, gives many of his recordings a piano-like sound. Lead Belly’s tuning is debatable, but appears to be a downtuned variant of standard tuning; more than likely he tuned his guitar strings relative to one another, so that the actual notes shifted as the strings wore. Lead Belly’s playing style was popularised by Pete Seeger, who adopted the 12-string guitar in the 1950s and released an instructional LP and book using Lead belly as an exemplar of technique.

In some of the recordings where Lead Belly accompanied himself, he would make an unusual type of grunt between his verses. Lead Belly would do this grunt, “Haah!”, through many of his songs, such as, Looky Looky Yonder, Take this Hammer, Linin’ Track and Julie Ann Johnson. It gave a somewhat catchy sound to the songs. Lead Belly explains that, “Every time the men say ‘haah’, the hammer falls. The hammer rings, and we swing, and we sing”, an apparent reference to prisoners’ work songs. The grunt represents the tired deep breaths the men would take while working, singing and pausing in cadence with the work.

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Hearing Impairment series-Disabled Legend Ayumi Hamasaki

Ayumi Hamasaki was born on 2 October, 1978. Ayumi is a Japanese singer-songwriter and former actress. Also known as Ayu to her fans, Ayumi has been dubbed the “Empress of pop” and “the Empress of J-Pop” due to her popularity and widespread influence in Japan. Born and raised in Fukuoka, she moved to Tokyo at the age of 14 to pursue a career in entertainment. In 1998, under the tutelage of Avex CEO Max Matsuura, she released a string of modestly selling singles that concluded with her 1999 debut album A Song for XX, which debuted atop the Oricon charts and stayed there for 4 weeks in a row, establishing her popularity in Japan.

Because of her constantly changing image and tight control over her artistry, Ayumi has become a “trendsetter” and an “icon of fashion” in Asia; her popularity and influence in music and fashion extend to China, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea. Ayumi has appeared in or lent her songs to many advertisements and television commercials. Though she originally supported this, a 2001 event in which Avex forced her to put her greatest hits album in direct competition with Hikaru Utada’s Distance made Ayumi reconsider and eventually oppose her status as an Avex “product”.

Since her 1998 debut with the single “Poker Face”, Ayumi has sold around 50 million records, making her one of Japan’s best-selling singers. Ayumi’s singles have set records: she is the Japanese female artist with the highest singles sales, most number-one singles, and most million-seller singles. Ayumi is also the only Japanese artist to have a No. 1 single every year for 10 years straight and the 1st to have her 1st 8 studio albums top the Oricon.

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Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams was born on 5 November, 1974 in Jacksonville, North Carolina, USA. Ryan Adams was born to Susan and Robert Adams, . Ryan Adams’ father left home when he was 9 years old. Ryan Adams’ mother, an English teacher, encouraged Adams to read, and as a child he became familiar with the works of authors including Jack Kerouac, Edgar Allan Poe, Sylvia Plath and Henry Miller.

Ryan Adams is an American alt-country/rock singer-songwriter. Raised by his mother and grandmother, Ryan Adams dropped out of school at the age of 16 and performed with several local bands before moving to Raleigh and forming the band Whiskeytown. Ryan Adams made his solo debut in 2000, with Heartbreaker (also produced by Ethan Johns). Emmylou Harris, who was originally Gram Parsons’ singing partner, sang backup on “Oh My Sweet Carolina.” Other backing vocals and instruments were provided by Gillian Welch, David Rawlings and Kim Richey as Ryan Adams embraced a style more reminiscent of folk music. It was met with considerable critical success, but sales were slow.

Ryan Adams is probably best known for his song “New York, New York”, which appeared on his 2001 release Gold. Ryan Adams has since released 4 more solo albums and 3 albums and 1 EP with backing band The Cardinals. Ryan Adams latest release, the EP Follow The Lights, was released on 23 October, 2007.

Ryan Adams has also produced albums by Jesse Malin and Willie Nelson and contributed to the albums of artists, including Toots and the Maytals, Beth Orton, The Wallflowers, Jesse Brand, Minnie Driver, Counting Crows, America and Cowboy Junkies. Ryan Adams also appeared on CMT’s Crossroads with Elton John.

Ryan Adams’ grandmother played a modest role in his childhood, serving as his babysitter after school while his mother worked. When he was 8 years old, Ryan Adams began writing short stories and poetry on his grandmother’s typewriter. Ryan Adams is quoted as saying, “I started writing short stories when I was really into Edgar Allan Poe. Then later, when I was a teenager, I got really hard into cult fiction: Hubert Selby, Jr., Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac.” At the age of 14, Ryan Adams began learning to play the electric guitar that his mom and stepdad had bought him, and shortly afterwards joined a local band named Blank Label. Although Blank Label did not stay together long, a three-track 7″ record exists, dated 1991 and lasting less than 7 minutes in total.

Ryan Adams dropped out of high school in his first week of 10th grade, moving into Jere McIlwean’s rental house just outside Jacksonville. Around this time he performed briefly with 2 local bands, Ass and The Lazy Stars. Following this, Ryan Adams joined The Patty Duke Syndrome, and once played in a bar in Jacksonville. After obtaining his GED, Ryan Adams left Jacksonville for Raleigh, shortly followed by bandmate Jere McIlwean. The Patty Duke Syndrome split in 1994, after releasing a 7″ single containing 2 songs (The Patty Duke Syndrome was on one side, while the other side was a band called GlamourPuss).

Following the break up of The Patty Duke Syndrome, Ryan Adams went on to found Whiskeytown with Caitlin Cary, Eric “Skillet” Gilmore, Steve Grothmann and Phil Wandscher. The founding of Whiskeytown saw Ryan Adams move to alt-country, describing punk rock as “too hard to sing” in the title track of Whiskeytown’s debut album Faithless Street. Whiskeytown was heavily influenced by the country-rock pioneers, most notably Gram Parsons (with whom Ryan Adams shares a birthday). Whiskeytown quickly gained critical acclaim with the release of their 2nd full-length album, Stranger’s Almanac, their 1st major label release.

Many of the other members of the band found Ryan Adams difficult to work with, resulting in multiple line-up changes during Whiskeytown’s 5 year career. By the time of the recording of their final album, Pneumonia, in 1999, Caitlin Cary was the only founding member other than Ryan Adams still with the band. Pneumonia was the first of several collaborations between Ryan Adams and producer Ethan Johns. The release of Pneumonia was held up until 2001 because of legal troubles stemming from the merger of Universal and PolyGram.

Ryan Adams made his solo debut in 2000, with Heartbreaker (also produced by Ethan Johns). Emmylou Harris, who was originally Gram Parsons’ singing partner, sang backup on “Oh My Sweet Carolina.” Other backing vocals and instruments were provided by Gillian Welch, David Rawlings and Kim Richey as Ryan Adams embraced a style more reminiscent of folk music. It was met with considerable critical success, but sales were slow.

In 2001, Ryan Adams released Gold, a sprawling 16-song album with a limited edition 5 song bonus disc. Unlike Ryan Adams’ previous work the album adopted less of a country style, going on to sell 364,000 copies and making Gold Ryan Adams’ best-selling album to-date. The album earned Ryan Adams 2 Grammy Award nominations in 2002; “Best Male Rock Vocal” for “New York, New York” and “Best Rock Album”. Ryan Adams also received a nomination the same year for “Best Male Country Vocal” for his version of Hank Williams’ “Lovesick Blues” from the tribute album Timeless. Gold’s “When the Stars Go Blue” has been covered by The Corrs and Bono, Tyler Hilton and Tim McGraw.

The music video for “New York, New York”, shot on 7 September, 2001, the week before the September 11, 2001 attacks, prominently featured the twin towers of the World Trade Center in the background, with Ryan Adams in the foreground singing “I’ll always love you, though, New York.” The video received a large amount of air time on MTV in the days following the attacks.

Following the success of Gold, in 2002 Ryan Adams released Demolition. A compilation of tracks from earlier recording sessions, Demolition included tracks which were recorded for but never included in his previous releases, including songs from the unreleased albums 48 Hours and The Suicide Handbook. Although the album garnered more critical attention it failed to sell as well as Gold. That same year, Ryan Adams produced Jesse Malin’s first album, The Fine Art of Self Destruction, and later worked with Malin to form the punk-rock group The Finger (under the pseudonyms, “Warren Peace” and “Irving Plaza” respectively), who released 2 E.P.s which were collected together to form We Are Fuck You, released on One Little Indian Records in 2003. Ryan Adams also starred in a Gap advertisement with Willie Nelson, performing a cover of Hank Williams’ “Move It On Over.”

In May of 2002, Ryan Adams joined Elton John on CMT’s Crossroads, which brings together country artists with musicians from other genres. During the show, John referred to Ryan Adams as “fabulous one” and spoke of how Heartbreaker inspired him to record Songs from the West Coast, which at the time was his most successful album in several years. Also in 2002, Ryan Adams reportedly recorded a cover of The Strokes’ debut album Is This It, though it has never been publicly released.

During 2002 and 2003 Ryan Adams worked on recording Love Is Hell, intending to release it in 2003. Lost Highway deemed that it was not commercially viable and was reluctant to release it, leading Ryan Adams to go back to the studio. 2 weeks later he returned to Lost Highway with Rock n Roll, which featured guest musicians including Melissa Auf der Maur, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, and Ryan Adams’ girlfriend at the time, Parker Posey.

Ryan Adams and Lost Highway eventually agreed that the label would release Rock N Roll as well as Love Is Hell, on the condition that Love Is Hell be split into 2 EP installments. Rock N Roll and Love Is Hell, Pt. 1 were released in November 2003, followed by Love Is Hell, Pt. 2 in December. Both albums were well received by critics, and in May 2004 Love Is Hell was re-released as a full-length album.

Love Is Hell included a cover of Oasis’ “Wonderwall”, which Ryan Adams had previously performed live, and about which Noel Gallagher once said, “I never got my head round this song until I went to see heard Ryan Adams play and he did an amazing cover of it.” The song earned Ryan Adams a Grammy nomination for “Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance”.

While on tour to support Love Is Hell in January 2004, Ryan Adams broke his left wrist during a performance at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool. Ryan Adams fell off the end of the stage into the lowered orchestra pit 6 feet below, while performing “The Shadowlands”. Dates from Ryan Adams’ European and American tours had to be cancelled as a result of his injury.

2005 saw Ryan Adams join with backing band The Cardinals to produce 2 albums, Cold Roses and Jacksonville City Nights. Cold Roses, a double album, included backing vocals from Rachael Yamagata on 3 songs; “Let It Ride”, “Cold Roses” and “Friends”. Ryan Adams’ 2nd album of the year, Jacksonville City Nights, featured a duet with Norah Jones on “Dear John”. As well as releasing 2 albums with The Cardinals, Ryan Adams released the solo album 29 late in the year.

In addition to releasing 3 albums, that year Adams joined other musicians in playing a Hurricane Katrina benefit show at Irving Plaza in New York City. Ryan Adams also contributed 3 songs to the soundtrack of Elizabethtown; “Come Pick Me Up”, “Words” and “English Girls Approximately”.

Ryan Adams befriended Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead, after first meeting him at the Jammys awards in New York in 2005. The 2 performed Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter’s Grateful Dead classic, “Wharf Rat”. Ryan Adams performed at subsequent outings of Phil Lesh and Friends, including a 2 night stand at Red Rocks Park outside of Denver, Colorado and on New Year’s Eve 2005 at the Bill Graham Event Center in San Francisco. Throughout 2006, Lesh’s live performances included compositions by Ryan Adams, including several from Cold Roses (“Cold Roses”, “Let It Ride”, and “Magnolia Mountain”).

In early 2006 Ryan Adams performed a solo tour of the United Kingdom, often accompanied by Brad Pemberton (drummer for The Cardinals) and on the final date in London by Neal Casal. Ryan Adams then toured the United States with The Cardinals, including a performance at Lollapalooza in Chicago. Ryan Adams and The Cardinals then returned to the UK in the summer to begin a tour of Europe.

Ryan Adams produced Willie Nelson’s album Songbird, while he and The Cardinals performed as Nelson’s backing band. The album was released in October, 2006. Ryan Adams also opened for Nelson at the Hollywood Bowl later that fall, a show that featured Phil Lesh on bass and multiple Grateful Dead songs. Late in 2006, Ryan Adams experimented with hip hop music, adding to his website 18 albums worth of new recordings under various pseudonyms, featuring humorous and nonsensical lyrics.

After announcing and subsequently cancelling a performance at Stonehenge as part of the Salisbury International Arts Festival, Ryan Adams released his 9th album on 26 June, 2007, titled Easy Tiger.

The album includes many tracks which were debuted during 2006’s tours, as well as other older tracks which were previously unreleased. Later that year, Ryan Adams revealed that he had endured “an extended period of substance abuse” that ended in 2006. Ryan Adams indicated that he routinely snorted heroin mixed with cocaine, and abused alcohol and pills. Ryan Adams beat his addiction with the assistance of his girlfriend at the time, Jessica Joffe, using Valium therapy and occasionally attending meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.

On 23 October, 2007 Ryan Adams released Follow the Lights, an EP featuring 3 new songs: “Follow The Lights”, “Blue Hotel”, and “My Love For You Is Real”, along with live studio versions of other previously released songs. Ryan Adams also appeared as a guest musician on Cowboy Junkies’ 2007 album and DVD Trinity Revisited, a 20th-anniversary re-recording of their classic album The Trinity Session.

In a 7 November, 2007 post at the Ryan Adams Archive, Ryan Adams stated that the Cardinals will start working on a new album in Paris, France, after the band’s west coast tour ends. According to Ryan Adams, the album will be entitled The Cardinals III/IV. Ryan Adams stated that the record will “reflect the Cardinals you hear live, during those 2 set nights.” Ryan Adams also said that he will be recording a solo record in 2008, reminiscent of “an old style crooner record”. In a second post, dated 12 November, 2007 Ryan Adams stated that he has experienced significant hearing loss over the course of the 2007 tour. An excerpt from the post reads, “I lost so much on this tour too. It was humbling. I lost most of my hearing in my left ear and possibly some now on the right. It is rather dramatic and something I am going to have to learn to live with and work around. But it is a huge challenge.”

According to various sources, The Cardinals III/IV has a tentative release date for later in the year, coinciding with a fall tour.

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Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Foxy Brown

Foxy Brown – Inga Marchand, born on 6 September, 1978, in Brooklyn, New York City, better known as Foxy Brown, is an American rapper of Afro-Trinidadian and Asian descent. Foxy Brown is known for her solo work and her brief stint as part of hip-hop music group The Firm. Foxy Brown has revealed that she is slowly losing her hearing after being diagnosed with a rare condition that only affects 1 in 10,000. On 5 December, 2005, outside of Manhattan criminal court, Foxy Brown’s attorney Joseph Tacopina stated he wanted to confirm rumors that Foxy Brown was almost totally deaf and claimed that he could no longer communicate with her verbally. Foxy Brown told reporters on 15 December that she was diagnosed with sudden hearing loss in May while she was recording her upcoming album. Shortly after Tacopina spoke to the public about her hearing condition, news spread that Foxy Brown had fired him. According to reports, Tacopina was never given permission by Foxy Brown or her agent to discuss her medical condition to reporters.

While still a teenager, Foxy Brown won a talent contest in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. At the time, production team Trackmasters were working on LL Cool J’s Mr. Smith album, the pair were in attendance that night and being impressed, they decided to let her rap over “I Shot Ya.” Foxy Brown followed her debut with appearances on several RIAA platinum and gold singles from other artists, including remixes of songs “You’re Makin’ Me High” by Toni Braxton. Foxy Brown was also featured on the soundtrack to the 1996 film The Nutty Professor, on the songs “Touch Me Tease Me” by Case and “Ain’t No Nigga” by Jay-Z. The immediate success led to a label bidding war at the beginning of 1996, and in March, Def Jam Records won as they added the then 16 year old talent to their roster.

In 1996 Foxy Brown released her debut album Ill Na Na to mixed reviews but strong sales. The album sold over 109,000 copies in the first week, and debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 album charts. The album was heavily produced by Trackmasters, and featured guest appearances from Jay-Z, Blackstreet, Method Man, and Kid Capri. The album went on to go platinum selling over 3 million records in the US, 6 million worldwide and launched 2 hit singles: “Get Me Home” (featuring Blackstreet) and “I’ll Be” (featuring Jay-Z).

Following the release of Ill Na Na, Foxy Brown joined fellow New York based hip hop artists, Nas, AZ and Nature to form the supergroup known as The Firm. The album was released via Aftermath Records and was produced and recorded by the collective team of Dr. Dre, The Trackmasters, and Steve “Comissioner” Stout of Violator Entertainment. An early form of The Firm appeared on “Affirmative Action,” from Nas’ second album, It Was Written. A remix of the song, and several group freestyles were in the album, Nas, Foxy Brown, AZ, and Nature Present The Firm: The Album. The album entered the Billboard 200 album chart at No. 1 and sold over 1 000,000 records and is RIAA certified platinum.

On 25 January, 1997 Foxy Brown spat on 2 hotel workers in Raleigh, North Carolina when they told her they didn’t have an iron available. When she missed a court appearance, an arrest warrant was issued and she finally turned herself in on 30 April, 1997. Foxy Brown eventually received a 30 day suspended sentence and was ordered to perform 80 hours of community service.

In March 1997, she joined the spring break festivities hosted by the MTV cable television network in Panama City, Florida, among other performers including rapper Snoop Dogg, pop group The Spice Girls, and rock band Stone Temple Pilots. Later, she joined the Smokin’ Grooves tour hosted by the House of Blues with the headlining rap group Cypress Hill, along with other performers like Erykah Badu, The Roots, OutKast, and The Pharcyde, the tour set to begin in Boston, Massachusetts in the summer of 1997. However, after missing several dates in the tour, she left it.

Foxy Brown made an appearance on Ricky Lake in 1998 and mentioned that she had been cast alongside Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz in the 2000 film Charlie’s Angels. However, due to her legal troubles around that time she was replaced, at first by Thandie Newton, and ultimately by Lucy Liu.

On 20 January, 1999 Foxy Brown released her second album Chyna Doll, delayed from its original November 1998 release date. It entered the Billboard 200 charts at number 1, selling 173,000 copies in its opening week. However, its sales quickly declined in later weeks. The album’s lead single “Hot Spot” failed to enter the top 50 of the Billboard pop charts, as did the follow-up single, “I Can’t” (featuring Total). Chyna Doll has been certified platinum after surpassing 1 000,000 copies in sales.

On 3 July, 1999 Foxy Brown was escorted off the stage by police at a concert in Trinidad and Tobago for using obscene language but was neither charged nor arrested. In 2000, she announced she was suffering from depression and entered rehab at Cornell University Medical College for an addiction to prescription painkillers, in particular, morphine, even stating that she couldn’t perform or make records unless she was on the illegal drug. On 6 March, 2000 Foxy Brown crashed her Range Rover in Flatbush, Brooklyn. That year she was also arrested for driving without a license.

In 2001, Foxy Brown released Broken Silence. Its first single was “BK Anthem” showcased Foxy Brown changing to a “street” image and giving a tribute to her hometown Brooklyn and famous rappers such as The Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z. The second single from the album was “Oh Yeah”, which featured her then-boyfriend, Jamaican dancehall artist Spragga Benz. The album debuted on the Billboard Charts at No. 5, selling 131,000 units its first week. Like previous albums, Broken Silence also sold over 1 000,000 records and is certified platinum by the RIAA.

In 2002, Foxy Brown returned to the music scene briefly with her single “Stylin'”, whose remix featured rappers Birdman, her brother Gavin, Loon, and N.O.R.E. was to be the first single off of her upcoming album Ill Na Na 2: The Fever. Threat of arrest faced her following an altercation at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Jamaica from July she would be arrested if she ever would return to the country. The next year, she was featured on DJ Kayslay’s single “Too Much for Me” from his Street Sweeper’s Volume One Mixtape. Foxy Brown also appeared on Luther Vandross’ final studio album Dance with My Father. That April, Foxy Brown appeared on popular New York radio jock Wendy Williams’ radio show, and revealed the details of her relationships with Lyor Cohen, president of Def Jam Recordings at the time, and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. Foxy Brown accused both of illegally trading her recording masters. Foxy Brown also announced that Cohen shelved her long awaited fourth album Ill Na Na 2: The Fever over personal disagreements. Therefore, “Stylin'” was released on the compilation album The Source Presents: Hip Hop Hits Vol. 6 in December 2002.

In 2004, Foxy Brown reunited with her old friend and mentor Jay-Z, when he became the president of Def Jam and signed her to its subsidiary, Roc-A-Fella Records. Later that year, Foxy Brown joined Jay-Z and several other hip-hop acts on his Jay-Z and Friends tour. Foxy Brown began recording her fourth solo album, Black Roses. Its first single was “Come Fly With Me” featuring Sizzla. Other tracks Foxy Brown recorded included a remix of the song “You Already Know” by the R&B group 112.

On 29 August, 2004 Foxy Brown attacked 2 manicurists in Chelsea, Manhattan during a dispute over a $20 bill that she refused to pay, and she in April 2005 pled not guilty to assault charges and entered 3 years of probation effective October 2006. For that incident, she would also take anger management classes. Female rapper Jacki-O, in April 2005, alleged that she and Foxy Brown got into a physical altercation at a recording studio in Miami, Florida, saying that Foxy Brown came into the studio during her session and expected her to “bow down” to her. The next month, Foxy Brown denied any such altercation in an interview with the Miami, Florida hip-hop radio station WEDR.

Joseph Tacopina, Foxy Brown’s attorney, stated on 5 December, 2005 that he wanted to confirm rumors that Foxy Brown was almost totally deaf and claimed that he could no longer communicate with her verbally. Foxy Brown told reporters on 15 December that she was diagnosed with sudden hearing loss in May while she was recording her upcoming album. Shortly after Tacopina spoke to the public about her hearing condition, news spread that Foxy Brown had fired him. According to reports, Tacopina was never given permission by Foxy Brown or her agent to discuss her medical condition to reporters.

As a result of her legal troubles, Foxy Brown entered a confrontation with radio host Egypt on New York City radio station WWPR-FM (“Power 105.1”). Foxy Brown pled not guilty in March 2007 to assaulting a beauty supply store employee. Foxy Brown’s other arrests during 2007 included leaving New York state without permission during probation, hitting a neighbor with a BlackBerry, and almost running over a stroller with a baby inside.

On 24 July, 2008 publisher Simon & Schuster Inc. sued Foxy Brown in state court in New York claiming that it paid Foxy Brown $75,000 under a 2006 contract for an autobiography tentatively titled “Broken Silence” and Foxy Brown never delivered on the contract. The case is Simon & Schuster v. Inga Marchand, 110125/2008, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).

On 7 September, 2007, New York Criminal Court Judge Melissa Jackson sentenced Foxy Brown to 1 year in jail for violating her probation that stemmed from the 2004 fight with 2 manicurists in a New York City nail salon. Foxy Brown was eventually released from prison on 18 April, 2008. No mention was made during the trial by anyone about Foxy Brown expecting a baby. On 12 September, 2007 her representatives stated the rapper was not pregnant in response to claims by her lawyer that she was.

On 23 October, 2007, Foxy Brown was given 76 days in solitary confinement due to a physical altercation that took place on 3 October, 2007 with another prisoner. According to the prison authorities, Foxy Brown, the next day after the incident, was also verbally abusive toward correction officers and refused to take a random drug test. Prison authorities reported on 27 November that she was released “from solitary confinement…for good behavior”, and Foxy Brown was finally released from prison on 18 April, 2008.

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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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