Category: Music

RIP – Stephen Verona

Stephen Verona died on Saturday after a year and a half long battle with lung cancer.  Readers of this site probably know Verona best as the Producer, Co-Writer and Director of Lords of Flatbush, but Verona was much more than that.

Verona got his start creating commercials.  He met and became friends with John Lennon which led to Verona getting to animate the Beatles song I Feel Fine.  Next came a music short with Barbara Streisand.  He went on to work with Natalie Cole, Chicago, Simon & Garfunkel and many others.

Verona was a screenwriter, an award-winning  director of feature films, television episodes and specials, an  an award-winning painter and photographer.  A renaissance man, indeed.

The Hollywood Reporter posted that “When Stallone learned that Verona was ill, he sent him an email saying that his career would not have been the same without him.”  The same could be said for many other celebrities.

Had Stephen Verona only been known as the talent behind Lords of Flatbush, it would have been worth noting here, but I hope fans know he was so much more.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Stephen Verona’s family, friends and fans.

McKay’s Used Books and Collectibles Stores!

Today my wife and I are going to do something we really enjoy.  Any guesses?

No, not that.  Get your mind out of the gutter.  Try again?

Good guess, but HeroesCon doesn’t start until Friday.  Give up?  Ok, I’ll tell you.

Today we’re going to go to two McKay’s Used Book Stores.  We’ll be swinging by the Greensboro and Winston-Salem locations.  Later this week we’ll go to the Knoxville location.  Yeah, we’re used book store junkies, but especially McKay’s Used Book Store junkies.

McKay Used Books was founded in 1974. The idea was that it would be a…

…book store that would contain a wide variety of books that an individual could obtain cheaply, keep as long as they wanted to, and return for credit on other books in the future… Since that time, the brand split ownership and McKay’s was born in Tennessee. In 1985, the first Tennessee location opened in Knoxville. Since then, two more TN locations have been added: McKay’s Chattanooga opened in 1990, and McKay’s Nashville opened in 2007…  During this time, the original idea of a bookstore has expanded to include music, movies, electronics, games, musical instruments, collectibles, and more!

We love McKay’s not only because of the wide variety of books, music, movies and other things that they carry, but because we can trade in similar items we no longer want for either cash or store credit.  (Give us store credit, please!).  Plus McKay’s prices are reasonable and they always have sales.  (Where you will usually find my wife.)  I love finding books I need for my collection and discovering new authors thanks to McKays.  The only thing that would make McKay’s Used Book Stores better is if they had a central Florida location.

RIP – Leon Redbone

Leon Redbone, the singer-songwriter known for his sense of humor and songs performed in the musical styles of the 1920’s has died at the age of 69.

Redbone’s website announced his passing with the following…

“It is with heavy hearts we announce that early this morning, May 30th, 2019, Leon Redbone crossed the delta for that beautiful shore at the age of 127.  He departed our world with his guitar, his trusty companion Rover, and a simple tip of his hat. He’s interested to see what Blind Blake, Emmett, and Jelly Roll have been up to in his absence, and has plans for a rousing sing along number with Sári Barabás. An eternity of pouring through texts in the Library of Ashurbanipal will be a welcome repose, perhaps followed by a shot or two of whiskey with Lee Morse, and some long overdue discussions with his favorite Uncle, Suppiluliuma I of the Hittites. To his fans, friends, and loving family who have already been missing him so in this realm he says, ‘Oh behave yourselves. Thank you…. and good evening everybody.’”

I first became aware of Leon Redbone from his performance on Saturday Night Live.  I loved that he was so willing to do his own thing in a style no one else (at least to my knowledge) was doing.  Redbone went on to create albums, provide songs for movies and do voice work for movies and television.

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

Peter Tork – R.I.P.

Peter Tork died today after a long battle with cancer at the age of 77.

Born Peter Thorkelson on February 13, 1942, Peter was, of course, better known as Peter Tork a member of The Monkees.

The Monkees [Peter, along with Davy JonesMickey Dolenz, and Michael Nesmith] took the world by storm in 1966.  The group was hand-picked by Screen Gems in an effort to create a tv show about a group of young musicians.  Lightning struck and the group not only had a hit tv series but became one of the biggest selling bands of the 60’s.  In 1967, The Monkees sold more albums than The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined.  The Monkees even appeared in a feature film called Head that was co-written by Jack Nicholson!

I was a huge Monkees fan like many kids my age [7].  I collected their albums, trading cards, comic books and magazines.  I had a model of The Monkeemobile.  I even followed The Monkees after Peter, then later Mike, quit the band.  Sadly, I never got to see them perform live when they reunited for several reunion tours.

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

The Impact of The Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show”

On February 9, 1964, The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.  In this age of hundreds of channels, the internet and celebrities having personal access to multiple social media outlets, it may be difficult to understand the impact that the Beatles performing on Ed Sullivan’s show had for those not alive during that time.

I was five.  My mother got me out of bed to watch.  We weren’t alone, as nearly 40% of the US population had tuned in.

Stacy Conradt presents 10 Facts About The Beatles’s ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ Debut,  Here are three of my favorites…

Much like The Tonight Show today, being asked to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show in the 1960s was a huge honor for up-and-coming (and established) artists in the 1960s. The publicity generated from an appearance on the show was enough for most talent to say yes. But The Beatles would only agree to appear if the show covered their travel expenses and paid them a $10,000 fee (which would be just over $80,000 in 2019 dollars). Sullivan and his producers agreed, but only if The Beatles would commit to making three appearances. They had a deal.

Though forking over travel expenses and an appearance fee wasn’t the norm for The Ed Sullivan Show, it ended up being a great deal for the program, and proof that Beatlemania was just as thriving in America as it was in the UK. It’s been estimated that close to 74 million people—40 percent of the country’s population at that time—tuned in to watch The Beatles play.

Davy Jones was also on The Ed Sullivan Show that night, but not as part of The Monkees. Jones was performing with the cast of Broadway’s Oliver! Jones played the Artful Dodger, first in London then in New York, and ended up being nominated for a Tony for the role.

Our Top 2018 Posts and All-Time Favorites!

As we head into 2019, I thought it would be interesting to see our top 2018 posts and our all-time favorites.  So, without further adieu, here are the 2018 most viewed posts…

  1.  Schwarzenegger in “King Lear” & Robin Williams in “Jack and the Beanstalk”
  2.  Louis Meyers: Evidence He Was the Zodiac Killer
  3.  “Dancing in the Sky” by Dani and Lizzi
  4.  11 Nightmarish Facts About “Nosferatu”
  5.  The Final “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” Trailer is Here!
  7.  Steve Reeves as Superman
  8.  New Billy the Kid Photo Discovered
  9.  Bruce Lee in The Matrix and More
  10.  “Creed 2” Poster by Gerardo Moreno!

And our all-time favs…

  1.  Schwarzenegger in “King Lear” & Robin Williams in “Jack and the Beanstalk”
  2.  Zodiac Killer Code Cracked?
  3.  Louis Meyers: Evidence He Was the Zodiac Killer
  4. New Billy the Kid Photo Discovered
  5.  Real Clown Or Horror-Movie Clown?
  6.   Joel Osteen in Jacksonville
  7.  Steve Reeves as Superman
  8.  “Fast 7” Teaser: This is Where Roads Part
  9.  The Life and Times of Deputy U.S. Marshall Bass Reeves
  10.  “Dancing in the Sky” by Dani and Lizzi

Thanks to everyone who checks in here.  I hope your 2018 was a good one and your 2019 will be even better!

The Secret Behind Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” Gravity-Defying Lean!

 Nishant S. Yagnick, Manjul Tripathi and Sandeep Mohindra are three neurosurgeons (and big-time Michael Jackson fans) who’ve published an article explaining how the King of Pop was able to make his gravity-defying lean while keeping his spine straight, not just in his Smooth Criminal video, but also in live performances.

While the secret has been known for quite a while, the illustrations used by Yagnick, Tripathi and Mohindra make it clear that the shoes aren’t the only thing required to make the illusion work.  You must also have an extremely solid core.  They explain…

“Several MJ fans, including the authors, have tried to copy this move and failed, often injuring themselves in their endeavors.  Trained dancers can lean forward a maximum of 25 to 30 degrees, but even then, it can put serious strain on the Achilles tendon.”

Jackson and some of his dancers were able to hit 45 degree angles with their lean!

If you check out Michael Jackson’s Gravity-Defying Lean Continues To Fascinate by Lars Gotrich at The Record you’ll get more details plus the extended version of Smooth Criminal as well as a link to Michael Jackson’s patent for the Method and Means for Creating Anti-Gravity Illusion!

A special tip of MJ’s fedora to Nishant S. Yagnick, Manjul Tripathi and Sandeep Mohindra for writing an academic paper for neurosurgery that is fun!

How “Gonna Fly Now” Made It Into “Rocky”

Rocky’s theme, Gonna Fly Now by Bill Conti, Carol Connors and Ayn Robbins is arguably one of the greatest movie songs of all-time.  Over 40 years later, Gonna Fly Now is still instantly recognizable by folks of all ages, is used at sporting events of all kinds and remains a popular (and inspirational) workout song.

Surprisingly, another song was set to be Rocky’s Theme!  (One of the lyrics: “He has a Sunday punch that will knock you in to Monday!”)

Check out the short video below to learn how Gonna Fly Now made into into Rocky and film/music history.