Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2021

Jackie Mason - An Obituary

J ackie Mason – Comedian, actor Born June 9, 1928; died July 24, 2021     Jackie Mason, who has died aged 93, was an acerbic and forthright comedian, whose shtick of amused outrage maintained an unreconstructed attitude over a career that stretched over more than half a century. As a stand-up, his former calling as a rabbi held him in good stead, with his Jewishness a key part of his act. This was delivered in a thickset Yiddish-inflected Brooklynese that never left him. His one-man shows filled theatres, won Tony awards, and saw him nominated for an Olivier award. As a satirist he was compared to Mark Twain, and his contemporary Mel Brooks declared him one of the greatest comedians of all time.   In the 1960s, Mason was a major draw on the American TV circuit, before being kept off The Ed Sullivan Show for two years after being accused of giving the host the finger when Sullivan gave him a three-minute to start winding up his act. There was a conflict too with Frank Sinatra in the 198

Michael Horovitz - An Obituary

Michael Horovitz – Poet, publisher, editor, promoter   Born April 4, 1935; died July 7, 2021       Michael Horovitz, who has died aged 86, was a poet who helped kick open the doors of perception for an artform hitherto presumed to be the preserve of dusty scholars penning slim volumes held in hallowed halls. While Horovitz published twelve volumes of his own work across five decades, beyond his own writing, he became a tireless evangelist for a very English counter culture. He spread the word initially through New Departures, the magazine he co-founded with Anna Lovell and David Sladen in 1959 as an audacious counterblast to received literary orthodoxies.   Early issues of New Departures published work by William Burroughs, Stevie Smith, Samuel Beckett and Allen Ginsberg, as well as poems and dialogues by future founder of 7:84 Theatre Company, John McGrath. As the magazine moved through the 1970s and into the 1980s, Horovitz introduced newer voices, including Kathy Acker, Joolz Denby,

Stuart Damon - An Obituary

Stuart Damon – Actor   Born February 5, 1937; died June 29, 2021      Stuart Damon, who has died aged 84, was an American actor best known to British viewers for his role in ITC’s 1968 series, The Champions. On home turf, however, Damon is associated for his epic stint in medical based TV soap, General Hospital (1977-2013).   In The Champions, Damon played Craig Stirling, one of three secret agents working for the Geneva based Nemesis organisation. When Stirling and his partners Sharron Macready, played by Alexandra Bastedo, and Richard Barrett, played by William Gaunt, are shot down over the Himalayas, their Tibetan saviours gift them telepathic powers, extra strength and heightened sensory skills.    The Champions’ fusion of voguish spy caper with eastern mysticism and sci-fi trappings saw the programme run for thirty episodes. Damon’s Stirling was the team’s de facto leader, a dashing pilot, whose steely American cool was a neat counterpoint to Macready and Barrett’s Englishness.   

‘Stop, Children, What’s That Sound?’

Doin’ it For the Kids the ESTATE Way – 13 Snapshots    1. ‘Is it comin’ back next year?’ asked the little girl on her bike beside the 40-foot shipping container in the car park beside North Edinburgh Arts in Muirhouse, where it had mysteriously arrived at the end of May.    It was her fourth or fifth visit to  ESTATE , Jimmy Cauty’s dystopian model village housed in the container, and she brought a different friend every time.   ‘Is it scary?’ asked her pal. The girl shook her head wisely, confident of her own experience, despite the rumbles coming from inside the container as smoke billowed out.   ‘How come you keep coming back?’ I asked her.   Her face lit up.   ‘It’s something to do!’      2.   ESTATE  consists of four model tower blocks built to 1:24 scale and standing about 2 metres high. Uninhabited, these less than des-res constructions have previously been appropriated in different ways.  One was made up of ‘Residential Live-Work-Die Units’ ‘Owned by the Residents, Controlled b

Jon Hassell - An Obituary

Jon Hassell – T rumpeter, composer   Born March 22, 1937; died June 26, 2021      Jon Hassell, who has died aged 84, was a trumpeter whose use of electronic textures alongside his primary instrument opened up sonic possibilities that expanded his musical palette alongside his notion of Fourth World music. This saw Hassell take music beyond American and European traditions to something more exploratory, as he absorbed rhythms and beats from infinitely less well-known traditions, and married them to more contemporary fare.    The result could be heard on albums such as his solo debut, Vernal Equinox (1978), and collaborations with Brian Eno on Fourth World, Vol1: Possible Musics (1980), and its follow up, Dream Theory in Malaya: Fourth World Volume Two (1981). The hypnotic future-primitive fusion Hassell described as “coffee-coloured classical music of the future” seemed to emanate from some imaginary global village.   Hassell’s musical excursions had developed out of his studies with Ka

Tonia Bern-Campbell - An Obituary

Tonia Bern-Campbell – Singer, actress   Born November 15, 1936 ; died June 14, 2021      Tonia Bern-Campbell, who has died aged 84 (there are suggestions she was actually 93), was a Belgian born singer whose career was mentored by Maurice Chevalier. The French crooner’s mother was a cousin of Bern’s grandmother. Chevalier encouraged the teenager to enter a talent contest, at which one of the judges was Jacques Brel. Taking her under his wing, Brel trained her in a vocal style akin to his own. “He changed my songs from pretty to blatantly realistic,” Bern-Campbell said. She later sang If You Go Away, the English language version of Ne me quitte pas, penned by Brel and translated by Rod McKuen.   Brel’s protégé went on to release several records, and headlined Carnegie Hall and The Savoy in London. There were stints too in Monte Carlo and Las Vegas for the artist who came to be known as Chic Belgique. On TV, she guest starred on The Jack Benny Programme (1957), and The Benny Hill Show (1

Karla Black – sculptures (2001-2021) details for a retrospective

Fruit market Gallery, Edinburgh,  July 7th-October 24 th 2021     Karla Black has been mining for gold for more than two decades now. Over that time, the accrued objects of her sculptural desires have often looked like they’ve been put together with stuff gathered from the mess of a playpen and transformed into retro-future relics occupying an adventure playground of the imagination. A decade on from Black’s Fruitmarket Gallery curated Venice Biennale show - the same year she was nominated for the Turner Prize - where better for Black to run riot some more than the former fruit and veg storeroom turned nightclub that makes up the Edinburgh gallery’s newly expanded space now christened The Warehouse.   The Fruitmarket’s existing galleries here house an array of Black’s older confections. Upstairs, almost the entire floor has become a pink powdered planet, with reels of cotton linking the threads that line its surface or else left dangling in a new iteration of Punctuation is pretty popu

Fred Dellar - An Obituary

Fred Dellar – Writer, music historian   Born May 29, 1931; died May 15, 2021    Fred Dellar, who has died aged 89, was a music writer revered by both colleagues and readers as the fount of all musical knowledge. During a lengthy tenure with NME and subsequent positions with Mojo and Q magazines, he came to be regarded as a living encyclopaedia. His Fred Fact column became an essential source for arcane and illuminating revelations of some of the lesser-known details of the rock, pop, jazz and country music worlds.   In the days before Wikipedia, a letter to Fred Fact was the only way of settling a pub argument between music obsessives. His answers were always delivered with precision, wit, and a warmth that saw him respected, admired and loved for his wisdom. In this sense, he was music journalism’s great elder statesman.   Fred Dellar was born in Willesden, north London. His father ran a fish and chip shop, while his mother’s keen but not always tuneful piano playing introduced him to