A pop culture addict who loves to talk about movies, music, books, comics, and all of the other things that move and entertain us.
The Supremes' First Hit
The Supremes are a legendary "girl group" of the 60's. There have been many lineups of the group, but the most famous, and the one that originally became famous, was Diana Ross, Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson. The Supremes signed with Motown Records in 1961, but did not become overnight sensations. In fact for several years they released flop after flop until they had become a bit of a joke around Motown. That all changed with one song in 1964. Where Did Our Love Go made The Supremes stars and was the first in a string of big hits. The interesting thing is, the song was not originally meant for The Supremes. Written by Brian and Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier, the song was supposed to be for The Marvellettes who had had a big hit with Please Mr. Postman. That group didn't like the song, and passed on it. The Supremes didn't like it either, but were persuaded to record it anyway. And the rest is history.
Almost a Rock Star
Bill Corgan was a guitarist who once auditioned for and won a spot with The Amboy Dukes. They would later go on to fame with the single Journey to the Center of the Mind. Bill decided that music was too risky and declined the spot to take a 9 to 5 job to support his family. Ted Nugent ended up taking his spot and when on to a long career as a musician and a right wing spokesman. But while Corgan didn't make it into the limelight, his son Billy Corgan went on to form Smashing Pumpkins and realized his father's dreams of rock stardom. Bill Sr. even collaborated on a song with his son.
Al Kooper's Vital Organ
Al Kooper is a moderately well known musician and recording artist. His list of accomplishments far outweighs his popularity though. He is the one who discovered Lynyrd Skynyrd. He played guitar on Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland, and played French horn, piano and organ on the Rolling Stones classic You Can't Always Get What You Want. His most well known performance is on the organ on Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone. His playing is one of the main things that makes that song so great, and gives it a very distinct sound. The most amazing thing about that performance though is that it was the first time Al ever played the organ.
White Becomes Black
Cilla Black was a discovery of Brian Epstein, who became a pop star in the U.K. in the 60's. But before she was a star she was apparently forgettable enough that some had trouble remembering her name. You see, she was actually named Cilla White, but a writer at Mersey Beat got confused and called her Cilla Black instead. She decided to just roll with it and changed her name from White to Black.
Yoko Courts Controversy
Popular music has had it's fair share of controversial figures, but few have stirred as much controversy as one small Japanese woman who wasn't even a musician. Yoko was an artist, who polarized people when it became widely believed that she was responsible for splitting up arguably the most popular band of all time, the Beatles. Yoko continued to make tongues wag when she staged bed-ins with hubby John Lennon, made bizarre caterwauling noises in his shows and on his records that was supposed to be singing, or did (some would say pretentious) art installations like appearing in a bag or gluing a teacup back together one piece a day on a talk show. Of course, as often happens, the world moved on. But Yoko had one last fling with controversy. In 1996 she was giving a concert (being married to a Beatle had given her the opportunity for a music career even if she didn't have the talent to justify it) and during the song Julia she ripped pages from a Bible during the line in Julia "Half of what I say is meaningless". The uproar forced her to apologize, which is something an artist should never have to do in my opinion. Maybe she was an obnoxious press hound (there is ample evidence to bear this out), maybe she was trying to get out a message of positivity (her record on this is actually better than that of the Beatles, who pride themselves on their message of love), but regardless of her motives I think it's a shame when an artist is punished for expressing themselves, even if that expression does seem like an imitation of Sinead O'Connor's Pope picture ripping scandal of a few years earlier.
Not every family has someone famous in it. It's very rare for a family to have two members become famous independently. There is one family though that has three famous cousins. Jerry Lee Lewis is one of the pioneers of rock and roll, a man whose wild life was filled with controversy. His cousin Mickey Gilley achieved stardom in country music without all the scandal. But their other cousin outdid even Jerry Lee in the scandal department, when televangelist Jimmy Swaggart was caught with a prostitute. And then was caught again three years later. Jerry Lee was probably glad to let someone else be the black sheep of the family, but he's still the king of scandal having had his career ruined by marrying his teenage cousin, and years of drinking and domestic abuse and even allegations of having murdered one of his seven wives.
Sax Rohmer's Fitting End
Sax Rohmer is an author who is best known for creating the character Fu Manchu. The character was very popular and has been portrayed in film by horror greats Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee among others. The character has also come under some criticism for being a racist caricature inspired by the Yellow Peril idea that was widespread in the U.S. for a while, and unfortunately seems to have made a comeback. Rohmer also introduced Sumuru, who has been featured in a few films herself. While she hasn't been the focus of the same amount of criticism as Fu Manchu, I think that has more to do with their respective levels of popularity and less with the respective levels of objectionability. So it seems like a bit of karma that when Rohmer passed away in 1958, it was from the Asian flu.
Lovable Old Groucho
On his popular quiz show You Bet Your Life, Groucho Marx hated to see people go home empty handed. His solution to this was to ask "Who is buried in Grant's tomb?", so that even losers could go home with $50.
Warner Bros once threatened to sue the Marx Bros for copyright infringement for A Night In Casablanca (they had made Casablanca) Groucho sent a letter to their legal dept threatening to counter-sue for the word Brothers stating "Professionally we were brothers before you were".
Alice Cooper became friends with Groucho Marx in the 70’s. Alice says Groucho would call him late at night if a Marx Brothers movie was on television. Alice would go to Groucho’s house, and they would watch the movie with Groucho telling him all the behind the scenes gossip.
Disneyland In Color
Walt Disney’s first show in 1954 was Disneyland on ABC. Television was still in black and white at the time, but Walt insisted the show be filmed in color. This allowed him to recycle some of the material when NBC later launched Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color.
In 1958 Walt Disney had a school in Anaheim CA named after him. At the dedication he declared school was out for the day and had all the kids bused to Disneyland.
Ace Gets Backstage
Ace Frehley rose to stardom as the lead guitarist of the rock band KISS. These days he spends a lot of his time on-stage, or backstage waiting to go on-stage. As a teenager Ace Frehley would have to sneak backstage at concerts. This is how he met John Kay of Steppenwolf, Mitch Mitchell of the Experience and Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead.