(by Jack Karney)
(originally The Ragged Edge 1946)
This was Marshall Place, where brothels and dope were as common as pushcarts and peddlers, and the kids were only one step ahead of the police. . . .
for the series: P is for Pulp
"The one and only. It used to give me a pain in the neck when people would wax indignant about Jack's crazy behavior and say he owed it to his public not to do this. He owed nothing to his public — they owed him! He hurt nobody but himself — the poor dear! I knew him better than most.
"He was always generous in giving credit. Willie Collier taught him about farce, so he said; Chaliapin about makeup. They were tops to Jack. Also Uncle John Drew, who inspired him with his elegant burlesques of pompous hams of yesteryear. But what Jack did in the theater, he did so much better than anybody else!"
for the series: The Friends of Flagg
1967-era bouncing Bee Gees with Robin Gibb front and centre in this Dezo Hoffman photo.
And then there was one: Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees has gone on to join his brothers Maurice and Andy (who was only briefly a Bee Gee before embarking on his own solo career) in the Choir Invisible after a long battle with cancer,leaving Barry behind to carry on the family name.
At their peak, the Bee Gees peaked for a long time, thanks to that unearthly blend of voices and underrated songwriting skills that led to some of the most gorgeous-sounding records of the '60s, and which would eventually turn the music industry on its head in the '70s. (I'm especially fond of the albums that came between their 1969 masterwork Odessa and the 1975 career reboot Main Course: 2 Years On, To Whom It May Concern, Life in a Tin Can, Mr. Natural and, of course, Trafalgar.) Robin had a solo career too, starting with his 1970 break from the band, Robin's Reign (long out of print, but available on iTunes), that was sporadic, but with its own share of memorable moments. Together, though, the Bee Gees were greater than the sum of their parts, with Robin's reedy tenor joining his twin Maurice's throaty warble and Barry's keen falsetto for a vocal combination that at its best could summon pop glory like few of their peers.
You can read the Telegraph's obit of Robin Gibb here.
for the series: Obits
Donald "Duck" Dunn
The world is surely a less soulful place with the passing of Memphis bass great Donald "Duck" Dunn, whose four-string superiority graces more entries in my record collection than I can count. According to this obit in the Washington Post, Dunn died of as-yet-unknown causes while in Tokyo, playing in a Stax soul revue show with Steve Cropper. I guess it's some small comfort to know that he and Cropper were still out there, matching each other riff-for-riff on Time Is Tight or slicing the air with the sharp jabs of Green Onions.
Dunn's simple, but oh-so-right playing boosts so many great moments in music, usually floating in that rarified air created by Al Jackson Jr.'s solid backbeat and organist Booker T. Jones' unqualified cool, that it's hard to single out just one, especially when frontline talents like Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave and Eddie Floyd are involved. I think I'll just stick with the MGs for now, and the aforementioned Time Is Tight, which come to think of it would make a pretty apt epitaph all on its own.
for the series: Obits
Max Schulze pours cocktails like the LZ-129 Frosted Cocktail (gin and orange juice) and the Maybach 12 (gin, kirsch and Benedictine) in the bar between the smoking room and the airlock on the German airship Hindenburg. Because of the highly flammable hydrogen on board, no one could leave the smoking room with a burning cigarette, cigar or pipe, and Schulze's duties included monitoring the airlock door.
for the series: Faces from the Past