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Showing posts from 2021

David McKail - An Obituary

David McKail – Actor, writer,   Born March 13,1938; died December 6, 2021   David McKail, who has died aged 83, was an actor best known for his long running role as police surgeon Dr McKenzie in TV drama, A Touch of Frost (1992-2008). Beyond that, he was a long standing stalwart of theatre in Scotland and beyond. In the guise of Frederic Mohr, he was also an accomplished playwright. This nom de plume was drawn from his German grandfather’s name out of a desire for his writing to stand on its own terms. All this made McKail a proudly Scottish renaissance man, possessed with a vast intelligence and a mischievous wit.    David Fredrick Mohr McKail   was born  in Glasgow, the youngest of three children to David and Janetta McKail (nee Mohr). He grew up in Bridgeton, and, as a war child, spent three years in Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae. He attended John Street Elementary School, then John Street Senior Secondary School for a term before moving to Allan Glen's School.    While his fa

Robbie Shakespeare - An Obituary

Robbie Shakespeare – bass guitarist, record producer Born September 27, 1953; died December 8, 2021    Robbie Shakespeare, who has died aged 68, was one of the greatest bass guitarists of the last half-century. His muscular but laidback style saw him form a long-term creative partnership with drummer Sly Dunbar that led to them becoming one of the most in-demand rhythm sections in the world.    The duo released six albums under their own name, and played crucial roles as the rhythmic spine of records by numerous other artists. These ranged from key reggae classics by the likes of Peter Tosh, Bob Marley, Black Uhuru and Burning Spear, to playing with Grace Jones during her early 1980s peak.    As part of Island Records’ Nassau based studio band, the Compass Point All Stars, Sly and Robbie worked on a trilogy of albums by Jones. Led by the vocalist’s ice-cool delivery, Warm Leatherette (1980), Nightclubbing (1981) and Living My Life (1982) fused reggae, funk and electronics, Shakespeare’

Janice Long - An Obituary

Janice Long – Broadcaster Born April 5, 1955; died December 25, 2021    Janice Long, who has died aged 66 following a short illness, was a radio presenter who broke the mould several times over. She was the first woman to have her own daily show on BBC Radio One, and the first woman to be a regular presenter on Top of the Pops. She was also one of the main presenters of Live Aid in 1985.   Arriving on national radio during a period of mainstream blandness, Long was a passionate music fan, whose Liverpool roots saw her champion her home city’s thriving 1980s music scene, as well as a welter of independent artists across the UK.   Long did this first on her Sunday night BBC Radio Merseyside show, Streetlife, then on Radio One, initially on Saturday afternoons, before being moved to a prestigious weekday evening slot. She also presented Friday teatime review show, Singled Out.    Whenever she presented Top of the Pops, it was no coincidence that she was paired with the late John Peel. Tog

Richard Rogers - An Obituary

Richard Rogers, Lord Rogers of Riverside – Architect   Born July 23, 1933; died December 18, 2021    Richard Rogers, who has died aged 88, was an architect of towering ambition, whose creations transformed urban landscapes in major cities across the world. His buildings include the Pompidou Centre in Paris, designed with Italian architect Renzo Piano, and which opened in 1977; the Lloyd’s of London building, completed in 1986; and the Millennium Dome, the symbol of New Labour triumphalism that opened to the public on New Year’s Day 2000, and which evolved into the O2 venue.   Other key buildings by Rogers included the Leadenhall Building (2013), situated across the street from Lloyd’s, and which became known as the Cheesegrater. He also designed the law courts in Bordeaux (1998) and Antwerp (2005), the National Assembly in Wales (2005), and Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport (2008). This was eventually built following a labyrinthine public inquiry and associated objections and protests, an

Mary Collinson - An Obituary

Mary Collinson – Actress, model Born July 22, 1952; died November 23, 2021    Mary Collinson, who has died of bronchopneumonia aged 69, was an actress and model, who, for a brief period at the start of the 1970s, captured the imaginations of B-movie film producers and softcore men’s magazine editors. This was done in tandem with her identical twin sister Madeleine. The siblings’ highest profile came when they took the title roles in Twins of Evil (1971).    Director John Hough and screenwriter Tudor Gates’ film was produced by horror specialist Hammer Films, and was the third part of the studio’s Karnstein trilogy, which began with The Vampire Lovers (1970), followed by Lust for a Vampire. While the first film was loosely based on Carmilla (1872), J Sheridan Le Fanu’s gothic yarn about a female vampire, as the titles of the films suggest, the studio’s commercial instincts saw them taking an increasingly sexualised tone in their depictions of Sapphic creatures of the night.    Set in se

Michael Nesmith - An Obituary

Michael Nesmith – Musician, songwriter Born December 30 1942; died December 10, 2021    Michael Nesmith, who has died aged 78, was a guitarist and songwriter who will forever be remembered for The Monkees (1966-1968), the surreal sitcom that featured Nesmith as part of a manufactured band that became a genuine pop sensation. Post Monkees, Nesmith released several albums of under-the-radar country rock as Michael Nesmith & The First National Band. He was a key player too in the development of the music video, and, in 1982, received the first Grammy given to video for his hour-long show, Elephant Parts (1981).    It was The Monkees, however, that first showcased Nesmith’s musical talent for a mass audience. Inspired by the success of The Beatles’ film, A Hard Day’s Night. The Monkees put Nesmith together with Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork for a series of madcap adventures punctuated by songs penned by some of the Brill Building song factory’s greatest pop hit makers. Hits

Margo Guryan - An Obituary

Margo Guryan – Singer, songwriter, composer Born September 20,1937; died November 8, 2021    Margo Guryan, who has died aged 84, was a singer and songwriter whose debut album, Take a Picture (1968), disappeared almost immediately after it was released. By rights, the record’s collection of smart, playful and sometimes fragile self-penned songs should have made her a star. Her creations were by turns jauntily soulful and delicately romantic, with occasional psychedelic trappings evoking a sunkissed wooziness that sounded like off-kilter showtunes for the Aquarian age. Her refusal to tour or promote her material, however, saw both Guryan and Take a Picture fade from view.   Only when she started receiving royalty cheques from a Japanese bootleg release of Take a Picture did Guryan become aware of the influence her Beach Boys inspired confections were having among sixties obsessed baroque-pop cognoscenti. Duglas T. Stewart of BMX Bandits was a fan; he tweeted late last week that part of h

Gerald Sinstadt - An Obituary

Gerald Sinstadt – Sports commentator Born February 19, 1930; died November 10, 2021    Gerald Sinstadt, who has died aged 91, was a sports commentator who rose to prominence in what now looks like a golden age, both of British football and regional independent television. As lead football voice for Granada TV in north west England during the 1970s, Sinstadt saw out many a Saturday afternoon either in Liverpool or Manchester, helming the matches by each of the city’s big teams. He also covered some of the smaller domestic fixtures, as well as international matches, and commentated at four World Cups.   In an era predating the wall- to-wall TV coverage football receives today, Sinstadt stood out, both for his impeccable reporting and for his distinctive and distinguished appearance. As seen in his on camera post match reports, his spectacles, moustache and decidedly non-northern accent gave him the unflappably old school air of a football-obsessed wing commander. He laced his commentarie

Stephen Sondheim - A Tribute

Stephen Sondheim – Composer, songwriter Born March 22, 1930; died November 26, 2021   When news broke about Stephen Sondheim’s death aged 91 late last Friday night, my immediate response was to play Tom Waits’ version of Somewhere. A key number from West Side Story (1957), Sondheim’s breakout Broadway show as a lyricist, Somewhere is an emotive hymn to outsiderdom. The song’s teenage protagonists Tony and Maria are determined to rise above the hand-me-down prejudices of their blue-collar backgrounds to build something better.    Somewhere was penned by 26-year-old Sondheim with composer Leonard Bernstein for a book by Arthur Laurents. Two decades after West Side Story premiered, Waits invested Sondheim’s words with an after hours stumblebum melancholy, transcending its source to become a sliver of hope to hold on to in a world of broken dreams.   West Side Story first filtered into my consciousness by way of Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins’ multiple Oscar winning1961 film version starri

Andy Mackinnon - Waterwheel

When visitors to the Heart of Hawick arts centre in the Scottish Borders view the fourteen-foot wide Victorian waterwheel spin into life below the glass floor in the former mill’s café, local history will be brought to life several times over.   Waterwheel (2021) is a new permanent installation by filmmaker Andy Mackinnon, which projects archive film footage of Hawick’s annual week-long Common Riding festival onto the wheel. More archive footage of Hawick’s recent past is beamed by three projector onto a series of nine panels on the café floor.   The wheel based part of the installation will see images from the late 1960s depicting the festival’s lead rider, or Cornet, animated in the gold and blue of Hawick’s Common Riding flag. The event and flag were introduced to commemorate the victory of the town’s unmarried men over English raiders in 1514, when the English flag was captured after most of the men of the town had been killed in the Battle of Flodden the previous year.   It was He