2016: A Year In Music

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2016 has been a year marked by loss: David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen, to name but three giants who have left the stage. Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, spoke directly to our troubled times. Continue reading

So Long, Leonard Cohen…

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I first heard his music while watching Robert Altman’s anti-Western, McCabe and Mrs Miller, in Camden during the late eighties. That cinema is now long-gone, but the film – made not long before I was born – left a lasting impression. Continue reading

Marilyn Monroe: A Day in the Life

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April VeVea is a 26 year-old ‘Marilynista.’ “My knowledge of her started in 1993, when I was three, and saw a life size cut-out in an antique store,” she recalls. “Marilyn had her dress blowing over her head in the iconic Seven Year Itch dress. As her smile radiated through me all I could think about were two things: her beauty and that she would look better with longer hair.” Continue reading

Born On This Day: John Gilbert 1897-1936

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John Cecil Pringle was born on July 10, 1897, in Logan, Utah. His parents were both stock company actors, and after their divorce his mother married Walter Gilbert. After many years on the road, the family settled in California. Jack, as he was nicknamed, began working at Thomas Ince’s studio in 1915, graduating from bit parts to more substantial roles over the next five years. He married Olivia Burwell in 1918, but they separated a year later. Continue reading

‘True Blue’ at 30

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Madonna’s third album, True Blue, was released on June 30, 1986. Recorded during the honeymoon period of her stormy marriage to Sean Penn, and revealing a sleeker, more sophisticated style, True Blue yielded a slew of classic pop singles, affirming Madonna’s status as one of the decade’s musical icons. Thirty years on, you can read my expanded review here.

Born On This Day: Anthony Bushell 1904-1997

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Anthony BushellAnthony Arnatt Bushell was born in Westerham, Kent on May 19, 1904. He was educated at Magdalen College School, and later Hertford College in Oxford. He was a champion boxer, rower, and member of the Hypocrites Club, infamous for its wild parties. After graduating, Bushell trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and made his theatrical debut in Diplomacy (1924), opposite Gerald Du Maurier. Continue reading

‘How Could You Just Leave Me Standing…’

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I first discovered Prince in 1983, while scrabbling for singles in a bargain bin. The song was ‘Controversy’, and its B-side, ‘When You Were Mine.’ Then along came Purple Rain, and so much more.

Born in the same Midwestern summer of ’58 that brought us Michael Jackson (the entertainer), and Madonna (the provocateur), Prince Rogers Nelson – the maestro – headed the holy trinity of Eighties pop.

Sign O’ The Times heralded a new age, and rock ‘n’ roll’s last hurrah. Technology rules now, but Prince stood alone.

Art Decades 7: Bowie, Madonna and More

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Ever since the death of David Bowie in January, there has been an outpouring of public grief. Not corporate-led, but a genuine groundswell of feeling from generations of fans to whom Bowie was not just an idol, but an inspiration. Continue reading

Born On This Day: George Arliss 1868-1946

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Augustus George Andrews was born in London on April 10, 1868. He was educated at Harrow, one of Britain’s leading public schools. He worked for the publishing house owned by his father, William Joseph Arliss Andrews, before leaving at eighteen to pursue a life on the stage. After a long apprenticeship in provincial theatre, George Arliss established himself as a supporting actor in London’s West End. Continue reading