Kool Herc, the legendary Jamaican-born DJ famous for “inventing hip hop” during South Bronx dance parties in the early 1970s is ill, and in dire need of financial assistance. According to a story that’s appeared in places from The Source’s website to The Guardian, Kool Herc, now 55, was discharged from a Bronx hospital yesterday, but still needs desperate help to pay for his medical bills. The cause of his illness has not been disclosed and it’s unclear whether he’s had the needed surgery or not.
Armed only with dual copies of James Brown and Jimmy Castor Bunch albums—not to mention a couple copies of “Bongo Rock”—and as many turntables as his mixer would allow for, DJ Kool Herc was the first turntablist to isolate the instrumental “break beat” from hard funk songs and turn them into five to ten-minute long extended workouts for the “break” dancers at his parties. Later these same beats became the musical backdrop for the toasters of the nascent “rap” scene. Kool Herc’s style on multiple decks was soon copied by Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa.
Donations for DJ Kool Herc can be sent to Kool Herc Productions PO Box 20472 Huntington Station, NY 11746
Below, DJ Kool Herc explains how he came up with the idea for isolating the break beat, in the process helping to birth hip hop culture.
This was brought up in the comments to Marc’s last Iggy-centric post - it raised some interesting points, so I thought it would be good to expand on, and to fill in the details.
He may be one of the greatest performers in modern music, the definition of a rock’n’roll animal, but to a section of the planet Iggy Pop is now best known as being that guy in those car insurance ads. This wasn’t a simple case of Iggy licensing music to an ad (as has happened before) - he actively participates in the adverts. The fact that he did them is not news but the campaign has had a few twists and turns along the way. For the benefit of the folks who don’t know the story, here’s the low down.
The Iggy Pop/Swiftcover insurance adverts debuted on British TV in January 2009. In February 2009 it was acknowledged that Swiftcover didn’t insure musicians (who were part of a “danger group” that also included gamblers, bailiffs, professional sports people, bouncers and, um, models.) An investigation was launched by the Advertising Standards Authority (after a grand total of 12 complaints - not a lot but, hey, they made a good point) and in April 2009 the ad was banned for being misleading. The company weakly claimed that they didn’t hire Iggy Pop as a musician, but rather as an actor who “loves life.”
Well, either Swiftcover turned punk fuckin’ rock or they decided to protect their investment in Iggy as, in May 2009, they changed their minds and started covering musicians in their insurance policies. Unfortunately they still don’t cover gamblers, bailiffs, bouncers, sports people or models. It’s not clear exactly why the firm won’t cover these professions, but at least now musicians can claim with them, thanks to Mr Pop. Pity about those models though - perhaps their dainty little feet don’t contain enough muscle power to properly work a set of pedals? A company spokesperson gave this statement to the Telegraph:
Tina Shortle, marketing director of swiftcover.com, said: “Insurance premiums are based on a number of different data, including the historic claims costs for specific occupations. This means that we do not provide cover to some professions that, according to that data, have a higher level of claims costs.”
The adverts returned to the telly, and 2010 saw the appearance of the “Little Iggy” puppet. The puppet is meant to symbolize Iggy’s wildman rock’n’roll past, and how the Iggster is constantly battling to keep it under control when all he wants to do is have a quiet game of golf.
Now, regardless of your views on whether respectable artists and musicians should sell anything except themselves, credit should be due to the technical side of this campaign. The “Little Iggy” puppet is so close to the real thing that it’s creepy - the first time I saw it on a billboard I had to do a double-take and if that’s not effective advertising, I don’t know what is. The hair, the hang-dog face, the knotted muscly torso - it’s incredibly like him. Who would have guessed that in the 21st century Iggy Pop would have gone from iconic rock’n’roll wild child to insurance salesman to being at the vanguard of uncanny valley?
There are plenty of people out there who are still upset about the cancellation of Arrested Development (ahem…me included). In an attempt to keep the show a hot online topic (and hopefully feed the demand for an Arrested Development movie), Pleated-Jeans gives you the Arrested Development themed Clue board game, complete with box art, game board, suspect cards and weapon cards.
Go to Pleated-Jeans to see more hysterical Arrested Development board game images.
An uncredited photo taken of William S. Burroughs and an “up and coming” young Madonna during the author’s big 70th birthday bash at the Limelight nightclub in New York, February 1984.
You have to love this example of her insane chutzpah. He probably had no idea who she was, but there she is, right in the middle of it! I also like the detail of the joint being passed. What a great photo.
Oh dear, I wonder who thought this was a good idea? BBC Scotland News presented a live link-up to a bar, in tennis player Andy Murray’s hometown of Dunblane, after Murray had lost in the Australian Open final.
This little vignette confirms a lot of Scottish stereotypes in one go, and explains why TV News should never do live link-ups from bars.
Back in the day before pop promos, the BBC’s chart show, Top of the Pops employed dance troupe Pan’s People to fill-in for those artists who couldn’t appear on the show.
Pan’s People were the legendary dance goddesses of the 1960s and ‘70s, who are still worshipped by the writers of Lad’s Mags, and by the over-familiar contributors to self-congratulatory pop culture list shows, like I Love the 70s. And less we forget, Pan’s People were also responsible for convincing many a middle-aged dad, in the 1970s, that pop music wasn’t the devil’s plaything.
Pan’s People made their first appearance on TOTP in April 1968, replacing The Go-Jos, the original trio of dancers who had graced the chart show with their interpretative dancing since 1964. BBC bosses decided a change was needed and cast Louise Clarke, Felicity “Flick” Colby, Barbara “Babs” Lord, Ruth Pearson, Andrea “Andi” Rutherford and Patricia “Dee Dee” Wilde as Pan’s People:
London born Louise Clarke had attended the Corona Stage School where she did child modelling work and was also chosen for some minor roles in films and television.
Ruth Pearson also attended the Corona Stage School. She originally came from Kingston in Surrey and at the age of seven won a place at the Ballet Rambert.
Wolverhampton born Babs Lord began dancing an early age and after initially taking lessons at her mother’s dance school, she later attended the Arts Educational Trust stage school. At the age of eighteen Babs joined a group of young dancers called The Beat Girls and made weekly appearances on BBC2’s music show The Beat Room. Babs later appeared with The Beat Girls in the 1965 British film Gonks Go Beat.
Originally from Farnham in Surrey, Dee Dee Wilde had arrived back on British shores a few years earlier, aged seventeen, after spending most of her childhood in Africa. Prior to joining Pan’s People, Dee Dee enjoyed a stint with another dance troupe that included a tour of Spain.
American Flick Colby came from New York and originally trained as a ballet dancer. Within months of arriving in Britain in 1966 Flick, together with Andrea Rutherford and the four other girls, had formed Pan’s People. The fact that Flick also handled the group’s choreography ensured that Pan’s People remained a pretty much self-contained unit of strong-willed young women who were hungry for a little success.
During the next eighteen months Pan’s People only appeared a few times on British television, but they had more success in Amsterdam with a spot on a Dutch TV series. They got their lucky break in 1968 when the BBC finally decided to sign them up as TOTP’s new dancers. Initially Pan’s People made only semi-regular appearances on the show, perhaps once or twice a month. However, it soon became clear that Pan’s People were proving a huge hit with viewers. So by 1969 the girls were dancing on the TOTP every week and were now an integral part of the show.
As the new chart run-down was released on a Tuesday and TOTP went out on a Thursday, Pan’s People only had 24-hours in which to choose a song, work out their moves, and learn their routine. The tremendous pressure led Flick Colby to quit in 1971, and focus solely on the troupe’s choreography. Pan’s People thereafter remained a 5-piece until Louise left to start a family (Pan’s People were allegedly banned by the Beeb from getting married) and was replaced by 17-year-old Cherry Gillespie in December 1972, who was presented to the group as a Christmas present. Very enlightened.
After Pan’s People split in 1976, Flick remained choreographer for TOTP and created the shows dance groups Ruby Flipper, Legs and Co. and Zoo. Only Legs and Co. was successful out of these. Flick’s style was often criticized as far too literal (most notably in Pan’s People’s version of Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Get Down” - see below), but it fitted with the times and she did create the group’s very recognizable dance language:
By the mid 1970s Pan’s People had almost invented their own sign language to accompany song lyrics (now commonly referred to as ‘Pan Speak’).
“You” - Index finger pointing towards the camera.
“Stop”- Arm half outstretched with palm facing camera - like a policeman halting traffic.
“Love” - Both hands held over heart.
“Think”- Index finger pointing towards temple with a ‘thinking’ facial expression. Head cocked at 30° angle towards finger.
“Know” - Index finger pointing towards temple with a ‘smiling’ facial expression. Head cocked at 30° angle away from finger.
“I” or “Me” - Index finger pointing towards oneself.
“Don’t” - Index finger pointing upwards about 30cm in front of face, then move forearm in a windscreen wiper motion. Half smiling, half chastising facial expression.
“No” - Arms crossed just in front of chest with hands at neck level, palms facing outwards. Now uncross your arms until they are vertical, palms still facing outwards. Same facial expression as with “Don’t”.
Here are a few moments of Pop Heaven from Pan’s People, firstly their short film interpretation of John Barry’s “Theme from The Persuaders”, then the classic dog dancing to Gilbert O’Sullivan, ‘a best of’ and The Chi-Lites’ “Homely Girl”. Enjoy.
John Barry has died at the age of 77 of a heart attack. His James Bond movie themes were an indelible part of International pop culture. But even without Agent 007, Barry had a long and varied career. His IMDB listing for his composing work since 1960 lists over 110 titles.
Although Barry is best known for his James Bond scores — 11 in all, including Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice, and Diamonds Are Forever — he composed music for a wide variety of films, from James Hill’s Born Free (1966), the Free Willy of the 1960s, to Dino De Laurentiis’ megabudgeted King Kong (1976).
Barry was nominated for seven Oscars; he took home five statuettes: two for Born Free (Best Original Score and Best Original Song, with lyrics by Don Black), in addition to The Lion in Winter (1968), Out of Africa (1985), and Dances with Wolves (1990). His Oscar nominations were for Mary, Queen of Scots (1971) and Chaplin (1992).
Among Barry’s other notable scores are those for Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964), The Knack … and How to Get It (1965), Petulia (1968), Midnight Cowboy, the George Cukor-directed television movie Love Among the Ruins (1975), Somewhere in Time (1980), and Mike’s Murder (1984).
Barry’s last film score was for Michael Apted’s 2001 thriller Enigma.
Upon hearing of John Barry’s death, songwriter, producer and composer Richard Citroen said:
A lot of people have been described at the time of their passing as “one of the greats”, but John Barry really was. For many of us, John Barry was as influential as Keith Richards is to others. His Bond themes are practically a genre unto themselves. Jane Birkin once said that even Serge Gainsbourg was amazed by some of Barry’s arrangements, and I guess she’d know, having been married to both of them.”
While Barry’s fame is inextricably entwined with the Bond movies, he first came to the attention of the British public in the late 1950s as the singer, composer and arranger for The John Barry Seven.
As Barry was linked to Bond, Shirley Bassey was linked to Barry. Here she is in all her seductive glory evoking the sinister sexuality of Mr. Goooooldfinguh!
Fully Flared, a 2007 skateboard video directed by Ty Evans, Spike Jonze and Cory Weincheque, has been remastered in Hi Def and it’s stunning. The video was produced as a promo for Lakai Footwear and features Brandon Biebel, Danny Brady and Mike Mo Capaldi, among other pro skateboarders.
Fully Flared was amazing looking before the re-master, now it’s simply awesome. Shot with Sony DCR-VX1000 and Panasonic HVX200 cameras. Here’s the intro. Jaw will drop.
Music: M83 - “Lower Your Eyelids to Die With the Sun.”
In 1979, Gary Weis, known for his short films on Saturday Night Live, directed a documentary about South Bronx street gangs called 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s . Weis came up with idea of doing the film after reading an article in Esquire magazine by Jon Bradshaw. The article, like the film, focused on two gangs: the Savage Nomads and the Savage Skulls.
Despite its role as an important and unflinching portrait of a profoundly interesting time in New York and, as pointed out by The New York Times, hip hop’s cultural history, 80 Blocks was, for many years, impossible to find, only briefly available as an educational VHS release in 1985.
In the time since its initial release, the documentary has gained an overwhelming cult status. With little to no news coverage over the decades since its release dedicated fans continue to buzz about the film, especially now that the internet has provided fans common ground to fondly look back not only the documentary itself, but the era that it captured so vividly.
Here’s 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s in its entirety. If you dig the film and want to own a copy, you can purchase the DVD here. It comes with alot of extras, including interviews with the director, cinematographer, and a forty page book.