Category: Music

RIP: Johnny Crawford

Johnny Crawford, best known as one of the original Mouseketeers and for his role on The Rifleman, died yesterday at the age of 75.  Mr. Crawford had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, COVID-19 and pneumonia, but his cause of death was not specified.

Crawford first rose to fame as one of Walt Disney’s original Mouseketeers.  He would then go on to play roles on The Lone Ranger, The Frank Sinatra Show, Have Gun – Will Travel, The Danny Thomas Show, Wagon Train and many other popular television shows before getting his co-starring role on The Rifleman with Chuck Connors.  At the age of 13, Johnny Crawford was nominated for a Prime Time Emmy for his portrayal of Mark McCain, on The Rifleman.  Crawford and Connors developed a friendship that would continue throughout their lives.  When The Rifleman ended, Crawford appeared on an episode of Connor’s follow-up series, Branded.  Johnny Crawford even spoke at Chuck Connors’ funeral decades later.

Johnny Crawford had a brief career as a singing star.  He had four top forty Billboard hits on Del-FI records.  Throughout his life Crawford acted in television and feature film roles, and in 1992, he formed the JCO (Johnny Crawford Orchestra) which performed at festivals and special events.  Johnny Crawford was an extremely talented individual with a career that spanned over 60 years of performances on stage, television and silver screen.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Johnny Crawford’s family, fans and friends.

“Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story” Teaser is Here!

Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story teaser looks wonderful.  I think the time is right for a film like this – one that will take us to another time and place filled with great music, dancing and a story of forbidden love.   I look forward to seeing Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story.

Directed by Academy Award® winner Steven Spielberg, from a screenplay by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award® winner Tony Kushner, “West Side Story” tells the classic tale of fierce rivalries and young love in 1957 New York City. This reimagining of the beloved musical stars Ansel Elgort (Tony); Rachel Zegler (María); Ariana DeBose (Anita); David Alvarez (Bernardo); Mike Faist (Riff); Josh Andrés Rivera (Chino); Ana Isabelle (Rosalía); Corey Stoll (Lieutenant Schrank); Brian d’Arcy James (Officer Krupke); and Rita Moreno (as Valentina, who owns the corner store in which Tony works). Moreno – one of only three artists to be honored with Academy®, Emmy®, GRAMMY®, Tony® and Peabody Awards – also serves as one of the film’s executive producers.

Bringing together the best of both Broadway and Hollywood, the film’s creative team includes Kushner, who also serves as an executive producer; Tony Award® winner Justin Peck, who choreographed the musical numbers in the film; renowned Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor and GRAMMY Award® winner Gustavo Dudamel, who helmed the recording of the iconic score; Academy Award®-nominated composer and conductor David Newman (“Anastasia”), who arranged the score; Tony Award®-winning composer Jeanine Tesori (“Fun Home,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie”), who supervised the cast on vocals; and Grammy®-nominated music supervisor Matt Sullivan (“Beauty and the Beast,” “Chicago”), who served as executive music producer for the film. The film is produced by Spielberg, Academy Award®-nominated producer Kristie Macosko Krieger and Tony Award®-winning producer Kevin McCollum. “West Side Story” has been adapted for the screen from the original 1957 Broadway show, with book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and concept, direction and choreography by Jerome Robbins.

From 20th Century Studios, The Walt Disney Company will release “West Side Story” in U.S. theaters on December 10, 2021.

RIP: Jim Steinman

Jim Steinman, lyricist of million-selling hit records, died yesterday at the age of 73.  No cause of death was released.

Steinman is best known for his collaborations with Meat Loaf on the albums Bat Out of Hell (1977) and Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell (1993).  Bat Out of Hell produced two top ten hits: “Two of Three Ain’t Bad” and “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” and became one of the best-selling albums ever.  Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell released one single: “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” that spent five weeks at No. 1.  Steinman also penned the music and book for Bat Out of Hell: The Musical which ran from February through April in Manchester, England.

Steinman may have been known best for his two collaborations with Meat Loaf, but he composed and produced hits with many other artists including…

  • “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” performed by Air Supply
  • “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (which he also produced) performed by Bonnie Tyler
  • “Nowhere Fast” performed by Fire, Inc. for the Streets of Fire Soundtrack
  • “Left in the Dark” performed by Barbara Streisand
  • “Hulk Hogan’s Theme” for the WWE
  • “Holding Out for a Hero” (which he also produced and co-wrote with Dean Pitchford) performed by Bonnie Tyler
  • “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” performed by Celine Dion
  • and many more.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jim Steinman’s family, friends and fans.

Elvis Presley’s Graceland – Facts You Might Not Know!


I like Elvis Presley’s music and maybe even a few of his movies.  So I’m not what you’d call an Elvis fanatic, but truth be told, I wouldn’t mind visiting Graceland.  There’d be something cool to be able to walk around in Elvis’ mansion (now a tourist hot spot) that has been kept like it was when Elvis lived there.  

Ellen Gutoskey posted 9 Rockin’ Facts About Elvis Presley’s Graceland and it was a fun read.  Before you click over for the full story, here are my three favorites…

ELVIS BOUGHT GRACELAND WHEN HE WAS ONLY 22 YEARS OLD.  (Elvis paid $102,500.00 for the mansion and almost 14 acres of land.  $102,500 in 1957 dollars equals $950,127.58 in 2021.  That shows you how popular and how much dough Elvis was bringing in at such an early stage in his career.  – Craig)

GRACELAND’S JUNGLE ROOM DOUBLED AS A RECORDING STUDIO.  (This is probably the most famous room in the mansion.  Elvis recorded his second to last studio album in the Jungle Room.  It’s cool to know that John Cougar Mellencamp, Kid Rock, and Lisa Marie Presley (Elvis’ daughter) also recorded albums in the Jungle Room. – Craig)

ELVIS KEPT GRACELAND’S KITCHEN STOCKED WITH VERY SPECIFIC ITEMS.  (A lot has been made over the years of Elvis’ love for fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches.  Other items that Elvis wanted to always be available included: banana pudding, ingredients for meatloaf, fudge cookies, fresh orange juice, ice cream, brownies, shredded coconut, hot dogs, ground round steak, biscuits, and gum. 

Looking at that list I’d  say: banana pudding only if it contained Nilla Wafers, meatloaf is a good idea for leftover sandwiches, I’d substitute chocolate chip for fudge cookies, fresh orange juice is good but with Elvis money I would have a McDonald’s Iced French Vanilla Coffee maker installed, ice cream is a must and make sure we have Hershey’s syrup, brownies are a big YES, pass on the shredded coconut, yes to hot dogs (all beef), yes to ground round steak, big YES to biscuits and pass on the gum. – Craig)

“No Ordinary Man: The Billy Tipton Documentary” – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

Here we have the poster and trailer for No Ordinary Man: The Billy Tipton Documentary.

Billy Tipton was an American musician who played in jazz bands from the 1930s through 1950.  In 1951, he formed the Billy Tipton Trio (along with Dick O’Neil and Kenny Richards).  The trio’s popularity earned them a contract for two albums: Sweet Georgia Brown and Billy Tipton Plays Hi-Fi on Piano.  The records did well enough for a new four album contract, but surprisingly, Tipton declined the offer.  Tipton instead moved to Spokane, where he became a talent agent and performed occasionally.  Tipton retired from music in the late 1970s.

Over the years Tipton had several different woman who went under the title Mrs. Tipton, but the title was without legal standing since he didn’t marry any of them.  In the early 60s, Tipton and one of his “wives” adopted 3 sons.

In 1989, as paramedics worked to save Billy Tipton’s life, they discovered he was a female!   Sadly, the paramedics were unable to save Billy Tipton.

The story that Billy Tipton was actually a woman who lived life as a man undetected by his fellow musicians, his children and even his “wives” made national news.  In 1989, there was little discussion in the main stream media about transgender people, so Billy Tipton’s story was shocking.  Truth be told, it would probably still be considered shocking.  I remember when the story broke about Billy Tipton and I couldn’t understand how so many people close to Billy would have no idea of his secret.

For decades, the life of American Jazz musician, Billy Tipton, was framed as the story of an ambitious woman passing as a man in pursuit of a music career. In No Ordinary Man, Tipton’s story is re—imagined and performed by trans artists as they collectively paint a portrait of an unlikely hero. Together, the filmmakers join Tipton’s son, Billy Jr. to reckon with a complicated and contested legacy: how do you tell the story of someone who was hiding in plain sight yet desperate to be seen? On demand April 2nd.

RIP: Lou Ottens

It has just been announced that Lou Ottens has died at the age of 94.  If Mr. Ottens name doesn’t ring a bell, don’t fell bad.  Mr. Ottens wasn’t famous, but I promise if you’re a certain age, you’ll appreciate his invention because of the hours you spent with it and the enjoyment it brought you.

Mr. Ottens invited the first cassette tape!

Mr. Ottens wanted music to portable, assessable and affordable.  He succeeded on all counts.  I can remember how exited I was to get my first cassette player and blank tapes.  If you’re of a certain age, I’m sure you remember making mix tapes for different occasions and friends.  How cool was it to be able to take your music with you and play it anywhere?  Very cool.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lou Ottens’ family, friends and fans.

RIP: Frank Lupo

It has been announced that Frank Lupo, the creator, writer and producer of many popular television series, died on February 17, 2021, at the age of 66.  No cause of death was given.  Lupo started as a writer on Battlestar Galactica and BJ and the Bear.  Lupo then teamed with Stephen Cannell to create The Greatest American Hero, Hunter, Riptide and my personal favorite, Wiseguy.  Other productions that Lupo was involved in as a writer or producer include The A-Team, Walker, Texas Ranger, and Magnum, PI and those are just the highlights.  What a career!

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Frank Lupo’s family, friends and fans. 

 

RIP: Joan Weldon

Joan Weldon’s family announced yesterday that the singer and actress, died on February 11, 2021, at the age of 90.  No cause of death was given.

Weldon was best known for her co-starring role in the sci-fi, horror classic Them!  Weldon’s career began her singing in the San Francisco Grand Opera Company. She later sang in the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera and on Broadway,  Weldon’s acting career began in 1953.  She appeared in eleven films and made eleven guest appearances on television shows including roles on Cheyenne, Perry Mason, Have Gun Will Travel and Maverick.

After her acting career, Weldon returned to her first love, singing. She appeared in many road show productions including The Music Man and Oklahoma.  Joan Weldon retired in 1980.

I had no idea that Joan Weldon was a singer.  I knew her best from her role in Them!  I thought she was excellent.  I appreciate that she came off as smart (if not smarter) than the men in the movie and she wasn’t there to be saved.  Weldon’s career in movies and television was relatively short, but what an impact she made.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family, friends and fans.

The Top 10 All-Time Most Memorable Movie Songs (and One That Should Have Made the List)!

Jonathan Blaauw at Listverse recently posted his choices for the Top 10 Memorable Movie Songs.  His list is a good one.  I was happy to see that Eye of the Tiger by Survivor for Rocky III came in at the number one spot.  Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees for Saturday Night Fever came in at #9.  I would have put Stayin’ Alive in the top spot, but who am I to quibble.  The songs in Blaauw’s Top Ten were all excellent choices.

If I was making the list however, I would have found a place for Queen’s Who Wants to Live Forever from the movie  Highlander.  I think that Who Wants to Live Forever is not only a cool song, but perfectly fit the film.  There are many other songs that I also might have picked for my top ten but watch the video below and tell me if you don’t agree, Who Wants to Live Forever is one of the great movie songs of all time.

The Bee Gees’ Record-Breaking Trivia!

Me-TV posted There’s no jive talkin’ in these 12 fascinating facts about the Bee Gees. As an unabashed Bee Gees fan, I’m happy to see it.

Unfortunately I don’t think enough people give the Bee Gees enough credit for their impact on music and culture.  Although they were making and releasing great music in the 60s, they peaked in the 70s and then continued to write and produce hits well after.  I was (and am) a Bee Gees fan.  I still love their music — it brings back great memories and makes me smile.  Before you click over, here are my three favorite facts from the Me-TV post…

  • They released eight songs in 1978 that reached number one.  (Their #1 hits were “How Deep Is Your Love,” “Stayin’ Alive,” “Night Fever” and “Too Much Heaven.” They wrote and produced the hits “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water” and “Shadow Dancing,” for their little brother, Andy Gibb.  That year they also are credited for Frankie Valli’s “Grease” and Yvonne Elliman’s “If I Can’t Have You.” – Craig)
  • In 1978, they accounted for 2% of the entire record industry.  (Please see above! If the Bee Gees had done nothing else before or after 1978, their success in that one year would have put them in the record books.- Craig)
  • After the public lost interest in the Bee Gees, the Gibbs quietly wrote and produced massive hits for other artists.  (Hits that they wrote for other artists include: Barbara Streisand’s “Woman in Love“, “Islands in the Stream” for Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers, “Emotion” for Samantha Sang, “Chain Reaction” for Diana Ross, ‘If I Can’t Have You‘ for Yvonne Elliman and many more. – Craig)

“The Beatles: Get Back” Sneak Peak from Peter Jackson!

Beatles fans will love this sneak peak…

PETER JACKSON REVEALS SNEAK PEEK OF HIS UPCOMING MUSIC DOCUMENTARY
“THE BEATLES: GET BACK” ONLINE AND STREAMING ON DISNEY+

Feature-Length Film Opens in Theatres August 27, 2021

Acclaimed filmmaker Peter Jackson has released an exclusive sneak peek of his upcoming documentary “The Beatles: Get Back” for fans everywhere to enjoy. The 5-minute special look is available to fans worldwide on TheBeatles.com and streaming on Disney+.

Jackson said, “We wanted to give the fans of The Beatles all over the world a holiday treat, so we put together this five-minute sneak peek at our upcoming theatrical film ‘The Beatles: Get Back.’ We hope it will bring a smile to everyone’s faces and some much-needed joy at this difficult time.”

Acclaimed filmmaker Peter Jackson’s “The Beatles: Get Back” is a unique cinematic experience that takes audiences back in time to The Beatles’ intimate recording sessions during a pivotal moment in music history…