Showing posts with label music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label music. Show all posts

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Birthday Today


Born: October 9, 1940 Died: December 8, 1980

"If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace."
John Lennon

"There are places i'll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends i still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life i've loved them all"
John Lennon

Still missing you................

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Horrorcore Rapper "Syco Sam" Pleads Guilty For Four Murders

FARMVILLE, Va. (AP) - An aspiring rapper in the "horrorcore" genre pleaded guilty Monday to killing his 16-year-old girlfriend, her parents and her friend days after the adults chaperoned the teens at a music festival featuring artists rhyming about raping, killing and mutilating people.

Richard "Sam" McCroskey, 21, was sentenced to life in prison as part of his agreement to plead guilty to two counts of capital murder and two counts of first-degree murder. He initially was charged with four counts of capital murder, which could have resulted in the death penalty if convicted on the charges.

His attorney, Cary Bowen, said after the hearing that the prospect of a conviction on capital murder charges was a major factor in agreeing to the guilty plea.

"Four bodies are pretty compelling evidence," Bowen said. "This is the kind of stuff that citizens any place in this country are terrified it could happen to them. This is the kind of case death penalties arise from."

McCroskey, from Castro Valley, Calif., arrived at the Prince Edward County Circuit Court shackled, in a loose-fitting orange jumpsuit and under heavy guard. He did not look at family members gathered on side of the courtroom, and showed little emotion during the hearing. He replied "yes" and "no" to questions from the judge in Prince Edward County Circuit Court.

He declined to offer a statement in court but Bowen said his client was preparing a message to give to the victims' families. He described McCroskey's mood as "somber."

"There are four people dead here," Bowen said. "He's not happy at all."

McCroskey pleaded guilty to killing his girlfriend, 16-year-old Emma Niederbrock; her parents, Presbyterian minister Mark Niederbrock and Longwood University professor Debra Kelley; and Emma's 18-year-old friend, Melanie Wells of Inwood, W.Va. Their bodies were found last September in Kelley's home.

Family members and friends of the victims sobbed softly during the hearing in this college town 50 miles southwest of Richmond. They left without speaking to reporters, but issued a written statement: "We have endured a tragedy of unspeakable proportions. We are relieved that justice has been done.

"While we will never forget our loved ones or the circumstances of their deaths, we hope to move forward and begin the healing process."

Prosecutor James R. Ennis said that the women were bludgeoned with a wood-splitting tool _ a maul _ while they slept on Sept. 15, 2009. Mark Niederbrock was killed with the tool when he came to check on them a day and a half later.

Asked why McCroskey remained in the house, Bowen said, "I think he was contemplating suicide. He was contemplating what he had done, and not knowing what to do about it."

Ennis declined to speculate on a motive. "He's a closed individual," he said.

But Bowen said McCroskey had become increasingly angry with Emma and believed she "wasn't being loyal to him."

McCroskey and Emma Niederbrock shared an interest in the "horrorcore" genre, which sets violent lyrics over hip-hop beats.

McCroskey, a website designer and music promoter, had been rapping under the name "Syko Sam." He flew to Virginia to visit Emma, and her parents drove them and Wells to a horrorcore music festival in Michigan Sept. 12. Police found their bodies six days later after Wells' parents became worried that she didn't return home.

Bowen said McCroskey had confided to friends he had killed the four.

Asked if McCroskey's musical interests had fueled his rage, Bowen said, "Much of that music is so rampant with this exact kind of behavior, you can't help but notice the coincidence. But I don't have a sense the music led to this kind of behavior."

Ennis said McCroskey had no criminal record. He said he had discussed the plea agreement with the victims' families, and their sentiments played a role in structuring the plea.

"Anything can go wrong in a jury trial," he said. "Hopefully this can bring some measure of closure to the families."

On McCroskey's MySpace page, people have posted messages of support in recent weeks.

"free syko sam we need more tracks!!" reads a post under the name J.R.B. from last month.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

" Sing Along With Mitch" Miller Dies

All those years after "follow the bouncing ball", Mitch Miller still brings a smile to my face. I was just a child (yes, I once was) and remember sitting on the living room floor next to my sister with my mom and dad seated behind us ready to sing along. You didn't have to know the got to read them.

We loved those songs. Some we already knew because music was very much in our childhood. My father bought his records and I am sure they are packed away still today. When Mitch Miller music went onto CD's I had to have them and if my own children would admit it they too know those songs. I made sure they did.

And if they ever have to listen to it now.....well..... they will.

NEW YORK – Mitch Miller, the goateed orchestra leader who asked Americans to "Sing Along With Mitch" on television and records and produced hits for Tony Bennett, Patti Page and other performers, has died at age 99.

His daughter, Margaret Miller Reuther, said Monday that Miller died Saturday in Lenox Hill Hospital after a short illness.

Miller was a key record executive at Columbia Records in the pre-rock 'n' roll era, making hits with singers Bennett, Page, Rosemary Clooney and Johnny Mathis. As a producer and arranger, Miller had misses, too, famously striking out on projects with Frank Sinatra and a young Aretha Franklin and in general scorning the rise of rock.

"Sing Along With Mitch" started as a series of records, then became a popular NBC show starting in early 1961. Miller's stiff-armed conducting style and signature goatee became famous. The TV show ranked in the top 20 for the 1961-62 season, and soon children everywhere were parodying Miller's stiff-armed conducting. An all-male chorus sang old standards, joined by a few female singers, most prominently Leslie Uggams. Viewers were invited to join in with lyrics superimposed on the screen and followed with a bouncing ball.

"He is an odd-looking man," New York Times critic Brooks Atkinson wrote in 1962. "His sharp beard, twinkling eyes, wrinkled forehead and mechanical beat make him look like a little puppet as he peers hopefully into the camera. By now most of us are more familiar with his tonsils than with those of our families."

Atkinson went on to say that as a musician, Miller was "first rate," praising "the clean tone of the singing, the clarity of the lyrics, the aptness of the tempos, the variety and the occasional delicacy of the instrumental accompaniment."

An accomplished oboist, Miller played in a number of orchestras early in his career, including one put together in 1934 by George Gershwin. "Gershwin was an unassuming guy," Miller told The New York Times in 1989. "I never heard him raise his voice."

Miller began in the recording business with Mercury Records in the late '40s, first on the classical side, later with popular music. He then went over to Columbia Records as head of its popular records division.

Among the stars whose hits he worked on were Clooney, Page, Bennett, Frankie Laine and Jo Stafford. His decision to have Mathis switch from jazz to lushly romantic ballads launched the singer as a superstar. Bennett credits Miller with helping him become a superstar.

"Mitch Miller put me on the map by producing some of my very first million-selling records, and he was a great friend and a magnificent musician," Bennett said in a statement.

Miller had a less rewarding collaboration with Sinatra, whose recording of the novelty song "Mama Will Bark," featuring dog imitations, was considered the nadir of the singer's career. Still, Miller became known for his distinctive arrangements, such as the use of a harpsichord on Clooney's megahit version of "Come On-a My House." He used dubbing of vocal tracks back when that was considered exotic.

"To me, the art of singing a pop song has always been to sing it very quietly," Miller said in the book "Off the Record: An Oral History of Popular Music."

"The microphone and the amplifier made the popular song what it is — an intimate one-on-one experience through electronics. It's not like opera or classical singing. The whole idea is to take a very small thing and make it big."

Miller and a chorus had a No. 1 hit in 1955 with "The Yellow Rose of Texas," and that led to his sing-along records a few years later.

The years of Miller's biggest successes were also the early years of rock 'n' roll, and many fans saw his old-fashioned arrangements of standards and folk favorites as an antidote to the noisy stuff the teens adored. As an executive at Columbia, Miller would be widely ridiculed for trying to turn a young Aretha Franklin into a showbiz diva in the tradition of Sophie Tucker. She left Columbia in the mid-1960s, signed with Atlantic Records and was soon transformed into the "Queen of Soul."

But Miller was not entirely unsympathetic to rock 'n' roll, or to the counterculture. In 1969, he attended a massive demonstration in Washington against the Vietnam War. In a 1955 essay in The New York Times magazine, he said the popularity of rhythm and blues, as he called it, with white teens was part of young people's "natural desire not to conform, a need to be rebellious."

He added: "There is a steady — and healthy — breaking down of color barriers in the United States; perhaps the rhythm-and-blues rage — I am only theorizing — is another expression of it."

"Miller has often been maligned as a maestro of 1950s schlock ... Yet Miller injected elements of rhythm and blues and country music, however diluted, into mainstream pop," Ken Emerson wrote in his book "Always Magic in the Air."

In the Martin Scorsese documentary on Bob Dylan, "No Direction Home," Miller acknowledged that he was dubious when famed producer John Hammond brought the nearly unknown Dylan to the staid Columbia label in the early '60s. "He was singing in, you know, this rough-edged voice," Miller said. "I will admit I didn't see the greatness of it." But he said he respected Hammond's track record in finding talent.

Miller's square reputation in the post-rock era brought his name and music to unexpected places. In 1993, one of his "Sing Along" records was used by the FBI to drive out the Branch Davidian cult from its Waco, Texas compound.

In recent years, Miller returned to his classical roots, appearing frequently as a guest conductor with symphony orchestras.

In 2000, he won a special Grammy Award for lifetime achievement.

Reuther said her father died of "just old age."

"He was absolutely himself up until the minute he got sick," she said. "He was truly blessed with a long and wonderful life."

Miller was born in 1911, in Rochester, N.Y., son of a Russian Jewish immigrant wrought-iron worker and a seamstress. He graduated from the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester.

Reuther said there will be a memorial service for her father in the fall.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

60 Pianos In The Steets Of New York

New York (CNN) -- On Monday morning, New York City added a new sound to its usual cacophony of honking cars and taxis, groaning buses, and screeching subways: 5,280 tinkling piano keys.

In a collaboration between artist Luke Jerram and charitable organization Sing for Hope, 60 newly refurbished pianos were installed in public spaces throughout the city's five boroughs. "Play Me, I'm Yours," the brightly colored instruments announce provocatively.

Jerram has been bringing fleets of pianos to the parks, squares, bus stops, train stations, plazas, churches, post offices, zoos, ferries and bridges of major metropolises since 2008. Prior to Monday's installation, he had already installed 167 pianos in eight cities worldwide, including Sao Paulo, Brazil; Sydney, Australia; London, England; and Barcelona, Spain.

But the New York installation is his largest yet -- "twice the size of any installation I've done before," Jerram said.

In New York, no public space is too humble for a piano: The instruments have been placed at a post office (Jackson Heights, Queens), a zoo (Staten Island), churches (St. Mark's Church and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan), and a boardwalk (Coney Island, Brooklyn), among other locations.

A full list of the piano's positions can be found online at -- a site where the public is encouraged to upload and share videos, photos and stories about their encounters with the city's pianos.

The pianos come with no conditions attached -- the project insists that "who plays them and how long they remain is up to each community."

"I've been amazed, to be honest, by what's happened," Jerram told CNN. "What I'm amazed by is that musicians in New York aren't usually allowed to perform on the streets -- they need a license. So what having pianos means is that musicians have a right to go and play; suddenly they are legally allowed to perform," he said.

Jerram said that the "energy, enthusiasm, and go-getting spirit" of New Yorkers characterized the city's response to the installation, as aspiring and professional musicians alike flocked to the pianos Monday.

How will Jerram know the project has succeeded? "It comes down to people's stories," he said. "I think it's the stories that will come out over time -- how people have connected, how it's changed people's lives, how they think about music and sharing that music," he said. "There were two people who met over the pianos in Sydney and they just got married."

Later this year a new array of pianos will be installed in London, while Belfast, Ireland; Burnley and Blackburn, England; Cincinnati, Ohio; San Jose, California; and Grand Rapids, Michigan, also will be getting pianos of their own.

At the project's conclusion, the pianos will be donated to schools and community groups.

What a wonderful idea for any city street!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Singer For The Temptations Dies


Ali-Ollie Woodson, who led the legendary Motown quintet The Temptations in the 1980s and '90s and helped restore them to their hit-making glory with songs including "Treat Her Like A Lady," has died, a friend said. He was 58.

Woodson died Sunday in southern California after battling cancer, Motown Alumni Association President Billy Wilson said. Wilson said Woodson's wife, told him about the death Sunday.

Woodson was not an original member of the group, which had several lineup changes since it started in the 1960s. But he played an integral part in keeping the
Temptations from becoming just nostalgia act.

By the early 1980s, the Temptations were no longer posting hit after hit like they did in the 1960s and '70s with classics such as "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," "My Girl," and "I Wish It Would Rain."

The group had lost original members, and Woodson was charged with replacing
Dennis Edwards, whose passionate voice defined the group during the 1970s.

Woodson's voice, though similar to Edwards' with its fiery tone, was distinct in itself, and helped the group notch the R&B hits "Treat Her Like A Lady," "Sail Away," and "Lady Soul," from 1984 to 1986.

"He had this swagger about himself. He was cool. He had a coolness about himself that was really very inviting," said Wilson. He said he first met Woodson in 1980 before Woodson joined the group and that he last spoke with his friend about two weeks ago.

Despite his fame, Woodson was "always a gentleman and always polite and kind to everybody. If we ever asked him to do anything, he never said, 'well, it's going to cost you.' He'd always say, 'yeah, let's go,'" said Wilson, who founded the Detroit-based Motown association in the mid-1990s.

"He was just a star performer. Wonderful person. Wonderful, wonderful person. He was very kind."

Messages were left Monday for a producer and a manager who worked with Woodson. A recorded message at a phone number for his wife said the voice mailbox was full.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fire hazard: Walmart recalls another 2.7 million overheating DVD players

Just over a week after Walmart recalled 1.5 million of its Durabrand DVD players because their circuit boards can overheat and start fires, the world's largest retailer is recalling another 2.7 million of the low-cost machines -- 4.2 million in all, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said.

The Chinese-made DVD players were selling for $29 exclusively at Walmart stores nationwide. Consumers reported 14 incidents of the players overheating and seven fires blamed on the machines.

One reader told AOL that she came home to a strong burning smell and called the fire department. She said firefighters tracked the odor to her smoldering DVD player.

The CPSC told WalletPop that Walmart omitted purple and pink colored players from the initial recall.

UPDATE(9:35 a.m. 9/1): A Walmart spokeswoman told WalletPop the company is committed to making sure it can get as many of the DVD players out of circulation as it can. Kelly Cheeseman said stores have stopped selling the players and if one inadvertently was left behind the cash registers have been programmed to block the sale.

She said any consumer who has the player should bring it to the customer service desk at their local Walmart store to receive a full refund. It is not necessary to have a receipt, Cheeseman said.

Getting consumers to pay attention to recalls and then do what they are instructed to do has long been a challenge. Only a fraction of products in a recall typically are accounted for. It is even more difficult when the recall is issued in pieces.

"It is a positive when a company comes to us quickly to get an expanded announcement out to the public when they learn that not all units have been captured," CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson told WalletPop. "But we know here at CPSC from decades of experience that the attention of consumers is such that they are most likely to respond the first time that a major recall announcement is made."

Wolfson urged consumers who purchased the DVD players since they were first sold in 2006 to return them. Walmart stopped selling the players in July.

"The recall has tripled in size. This is not a recall without any incidents," he said. "This is a recall to be taken seriously."

The CPSC also is concerned about products that have been on the market as long as these have being resold.

"We remind those who are hosting yard sales; we remind those who are hosting online auction sites to not put this product up for resale," Wolfson said. "It needs to be returned to Walmart for a full refund."

Consumers with questions about the recall are asked to contact Walmart weekdays between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Eastern Time at (800) 925-6278.