Posts Tagged ‘obituary’

When I was at BB King’s Blues Club in NYC this past week, I noticed that Dick Gregory was scheduled to do two shows with Paul Mooney on November 2. Yes, he was still active up to the end of his life. The club’s description is a good place to start:

“An activist, philosopher, anti-drug crusader, comedian, author, actor, recording artist, and nutritionist, Dick Gregory was on the front line in the ’60s during the Civil Rights era. Today he continues to be a ‘drum major for justice and equality.’

“Born in 1932 in St. Louis, MO, his social satire has drastically changed the way white Americans perceive African Americans. After beginning to perform comedy in the mid-’50s while serving in the army, Gregory first entered the national comedy scene in 1961, when Chicago’s Playboy Club (as a direct request from publisher Hugh Hefner) booked him as a replacement for white comedian, ‘Professor’ Irwin Corey. His tenure as a replacement for Corey was so successful – at one performance he won over an audience that included Southern white convention goers – that the Playboy Club offered him a contract extension from several weeks to three years.”

Dustbury shares the fried chicken joke.

“By 1962 Gregory had become a nationally known headline performer, selling out nightclubs, making numerous national television appearances, and recording popular comedy albums.”

Though Mark Evanier knew Gregory from his LPs, I was more familiar with him from his books, especially From the Back of the Bus, my father’s paperback copy, which I devoured.

Early on, he became a civil rights activist, working with Malcolm and Martin, among others.

I have mentioned on these pages, most recently on 20160603, that Dick Gregory ran for President in 1968, and that my parents, especially my father, were inclined to vote for this black man for President. I couldn’t yet vote, but I lobbied strongly for Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic candidate, stating that Richard Nixon, the Republican, was too dangerous. What they did in the privacy of the voting booth, I’ll never know, but I STILL have the campaign button.

“Although Gregory’s steadfast commitment has limited his opportunities to perform, he’s still found ways to share his powerful and often comedic message with audiences across the country. In 1996, he took the stage stage with his critically acclaimed one-man show, Dick Gregory Live! The reviews of the show compared him to the greatest stand-ups in the history of Broadway…

“Although Gregory announced in 2001 that he had been diagnosed with lymphoma, he was able to battle the cancer into remission with a regimen of diet, vitamins, and exercise… The new millennium has found Gregory continuing to write, perform, and shape public opinion. ‘I’ve lived long enough to need two autobiographies, which is fine with me,’ he laughs. ‘I’m looking forward to writing the third and fourth volumes as well.”

Dick Gregory has died at the age of 84, and the world is diminished by that fact.

For ABC Wednesday


The first time I became really aware with Glen Campbell was when he became the host of something called the Summer Brothers Smother Show, the summer replacement for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in late June through early September 1968. It even featured the Smothers’ Presidential “candidate” Pat Paulsen. I watched it and liked it.

He had already had a couple crossover hits: Gentle on My Mind was penned by John Hartford, a regular on the show. By the Time I Get To Phoenix was written, as many of Glen’s recordings were, by Jimmy Webb. Plus he had a couple country hits.

Then he starred in the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour from January 1969 to June 1972, which I also viewed. It coincided with more hits such as Wichita Lineman, which has possibly THE most romantic couplet in pop music. Also Galveston, the Texas city I visited in 1995 or 1996 and kept singing in my head.

Sometime around this time, I learned that he had filled in for Brian Wilson on the Beach Boys tours for six months in the 1960s, and I thought that was cool.

I never saw him in the movie TRUE GRIT with John Wayne, for which the Duke won an Oscar. And I stopped paying attention to him as he went through what my buddy Johnny Bacardi called “his excessive wild man ’70s and ’80s-up phases, coke, and Tanya Tucker and all that nonsense.” But like Johnny, I learned he was part of the legendary Wrecking Crew of session musicians, and I developed a huge, newfound respect for him.

In this 2007 interview, Glen Campbell discusses his forgetfulness, which he attributed to his wild lifestyle of the past. But in 2011, it was announced that he had Alzheimer’s disease.

Then he, along with three of his six children, went on one final tour, recorded for the documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, which I thought was extraordinary.

On Facebook, Jimmy Webb wrote: “I watched him in awe executing his flawless rendition of ‘“The William Tell Overture’ on his classical guitar in his Vegas show. Jazz he loved. He claimed he learned the most about playing the guitar from Django Reinhardt.”

Glen Campbell died at the age of 81. Here’s an interview with Alice Cooper talking about his late good friend.

Listen to

Turn Around Look at Me, pop #62 in 1961, his first charted hit
Brenda, the B-side

Gentle on My Mind, pop #62 in 1967, #39 in 1968; country #30 in 1967, #44 in 1968

By the Time I Get To Phoenix, pop #26, country #2 in 1968

Wichita Lineman, pop #3, country #1 for two weeks
“And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time.” – Jimmy Webb

Galveston, pop #4, country #1 for three weeks in 1969

Rhinestone Cowboy, pop #1 for two weeks, country #1 for three weeks, his signature song

Some Dustbury links, including Adios, recorded in 2015 but released in July 2017.

Rebecca Jade, Sheila E., Lynn Mabry

Three new discoveries in a month rock our African origins

THE ARCTIC DOOMSDAY SEED VAULT FLOODED. THANKS, GLOBAL WARMING

Left-lean faith leaders are hungry to break the right’s grip on setting the nation’s moral agenda

Amy Biancolli: I yam what I yam by the grace of God

Social Capital and Inequality

Time for equal media treatment of ‘political correctness’

The toddler defense

American Ex-Pats Explain Why They Quit America

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Brexit II

Dustbury has discovered not everyone he’s likely to meet is prepared to deal with someone who walks only with a bunch of equipment

The Short, Sad Tale of Allyn King of Albany

Arthur is 15 Years a Kiwi citizen

Baby boomers are downsizing — and the kids won’t take the family heirlooms

The Negro Motorist Green Book, which I wrote about here. Check out
the 1949 edition

The art of writing an obituary

An Interview With Author Kelly Sedinger

She returned from Iraq to a broken family. Then writing changed her life

Anne Lamott: 12 truths I learned from life and writing

Anita Pallenberg Passes Away at Age 73

In appreciation of an old-school journalist, the late Dan Lynch

HEATHER FAZIO: I spent two days with Dennis Rodman

The Tony Awards — rehearsals

Documentary producer Robert Weide interviewed Woody Allen live on Facebook

Gary Burghoff explains Radar

Bill Messner-Loebs and Jack Kirby to Receive 2017 Bill Finger Award

Night Court was the black sheep of NBC’s sitcom dynasty

Pete and Harry, two rabbits in commercials for Carnation Milk. I DO NOT remember this

Too Many People Still Think Chocolate Milk Comes from Brown Cows

Now I Know: Fighting North Korea in a Flash and The Counterfeit Money Which is Intentionally Worthless and The Green Versus the Eardrums and Why Mattresses Come With Warning Tags and There’s No Place Like 0,0

Adam West, star of the ‘Batman’ TV series, dies at 88. Here’s his Idaho phone listing. Some insights from Mark Evanier and reflections by Chuck Miller, plus Eddie’s elegy and Rob Hoffman calling him one of “most accomplished and revered ‘B’ level actors of all time”

MUSIC

The Absolute Authenticity of REBECCA JADE (niece #1) and CD REVIEW – PETER SPRAGUE & REBECCA JADE: Planet Cole Porter, available here. Recently, Rebecca has sung at least twice with percussionist Sheila E. and singer Lynn Mabry. Lynn, among many other things, sang backup on the Stop Making Sense tour, which I saw at SPAC in 1984

Coverville: Sgt.Pepper 50th anniversary plus Gregg Allman tribute and All 213 Beatles Songs, Ranked From Worst to Bestand The Final Beatles Concert

What is Life – Weird Al

K-Chuck Radio: The Mystery of Blueberry Hill

Bohemian Rhapsody – Vika Yermolyeva

Pieces about Bobby Vee and Brian Hyland, both apparently inspired by me

Wap Bap, the most hated song on YouTube

Song of the Volga Boatmen sung by the Red Army Chorus

Reg Kehoe and his Marimba Queens

Billy Joel on Self-Doubt and Finally Becoming Cool

donaldyates
Donald Yates was my late mother’s first cousin. As I explained when his brother Robert died last year, they, their late older brother Raymond (d. 1978), and their older sister Frances were my mother’s closest relatives, though Raymond, the oldest, was a decade and a day younger than Mom.

They lived in Binghamton, until their dad Ernie died suddenly in 1954, when Charlotte and the kids moved to St. Albans, Queens in New York City. The Greens would go down and the Yates would come up at least annually. Their kids, including Don’s’s kids Donnie and Tanya, were the closest relatives my siblings and I had, even though they were a decade or more younger than us.

My late father arranged the flowers Read the rest of this entry »

Marcheta HamlinMarcheta Hamlin, who was always Mrs. Hamlin to me, was one of the classiest people I’ve ever known. I don’t mean she was fancy, or put on airs; quite the opposite. She was proud, but not arrogant; dignified and gracious.

When I say she was like family, this wasn’t just a saying. Her parents, Rev. Alphonso Whitfield (d. 1999) and Constance (Walker) Whitfield (d. 2000), were my godparents. Her “nephson,” her sister Pat Jones’ son Walter (“Butch”), who lived right next door to the Hamlins, and from whom I inherited TWO jobs, was MY parents’ godson, and probably the closest thing I ever had to a brother.

Mrs. Hamlin was the organist at the church in which I grew up, Trinity A.M.E. Zion in Binghamton, NY, for decades. When I was 11 or 12, I took piano lessons from her for a little over a year. I just wasn’t very good at it, though I did practice. No regrets, since it was useful for singing. Read the rest of this entry »

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