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Organist wins ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’ case December 27, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Music.
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The original organist with 1960s group Procol Harum has won his court battle over the psychedelic classic, A Whiter Shade of Pale.

Matthew Fisher, who is now a computer programmer, had sought a half-share in the song’s copyright with the group’s singer Gary Brooker, who claimed he was the 1967 hit’s sole writer. The High Court in London awarded him 40 per cent.

Fisher, 60, claimed back royalties valued at around $2.5 million for the song, which sold 10 million copies worldwide and has been voted one of the greatest pop songs of all time.

Credit for the song has always gone to Brooker, 61, who still fronts the band, and lyricist Keith Reid, another member of the original group.

Brooker originally based his tune on Johann Sebastian Bach’s Air on a G String, which he is said to have heard on an advertisement for Hamlet cigars, and Bach’s Sleepers Awake.

But Fisher, a classically-trained musician who left Procol Harum in 1969, had claimed he wrote the organ solo at the start of the song and made changes to Brooker’s chord sequence.


FBI releases last of secret John Lennon files December 27, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Music.
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The FBI has released the last 10 documents from its secret files on slain Beatle John Lennon, which had been withheld for 25 years on the ground they could prompt “military retaliation” against the United States.

But Jon Wiener, a history professor at the University of California, Irvine, and the Southern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, says the files turned out to contain only well known information about Lennon’s ties to left-wing leaders and anti-war groups in London in 1970 and 1971.

“Today we can see that the national security claims the FBI has been making for 25 years were absurd from the beginning. The Lennon FBI file is a classic case of excessive government secrecy,” Professor Wiener said in a statement.

The released documents include one that states Lennon “encouraged the belief that he holds revolutionary views … by the content of some of his songs.” Another talks of the Beatle turned anti-war campaigner promising to finance a left-wing bookshop in London.

A third describes a 1971 interview with Lennon in The Red Mole, a London underground newspaper, in which the singer “emphasised his proletarian background and his sympathy with the oppressed and underprivileged people of Britain and the world.”

Professor Wiener first requested the files in 1981. After legal action under the US Freedom of Information Act that went all the way to the Supreme Court, he got most of the 300 pages in the Lennon files released in 1997. But 10 documents remained classified on the grounds of national security.

The FBI told the US courts in 1983 that release of those documents could “lead to foreign diplomatic, economic and military retaliation against the United States.”

Professor Wiener, whose campaign was detailed in a book and formed the basis of the 2006 documentary, The US vs John Lennon, has posted the documents on the website, www.LennonFBIfiles.com.

“I doubt that Tony Blair’s Government will launch a military strike on the US in retaliation for the release of these documents,” he said.

Lennon was murdered in New York in December 1980 by a deranged fan.

James Brown dies at 73 December 27, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Music.
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Singer James Brown has died in Atlanta at the age of 73, his agent has told CNN television.

Brown’s agent, Frank Copsidas, says the self-proclaimed “godfather of soul” was admitted to hospital in Atlanta over the weekend with severe pneumonia. The American singer, who billed himself as the hardest-working man in show business, is credited with bringing funk music into the mainstream and influencing a new generation of black music that spawned rap and hip hop.

Brown’s hit Say it Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud) became a civil rights anthem during the turbulent 1960s. He performed the song at former US president Richard Nixon’s inaugural address in 1968, an act that temporarily hurt Brown’s popularity among young black people.

He had more than 119 charting singles and recorded over 50 albums, after starting his music career in jail as a juvenile offender. Brown was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and received a lifetime achievement Grammy award in 1992.

The singer, also known as “Mr Dynamite”, built a successful business empire, including a string of radio stations and his own production company. He owned a fleet of expensive cars and his own plane. Brown even played the role of a manic preacher in the hit 1980 movie The Blues Brothers.

He once said: “Soul is all the hard knocks, all the punishment the black man has had… all the unfulfilled dreams that must come true”.

He was chosen to be a member of former US president Ronald Reagan’s Council Against Drugs but was arrested several times in the mid-1980s and 90s, and charged with drug and weapons possession. By 1988, Brown was back behind bars, sentenced to six years for drug, weapons and vehicular charges after a high-speed car chase through Georgia and South Carolina. The pursuit ended with police shooting out the tires of his truck. He left prison in 1991.

Brown emerged from a boyhood of extreme poverty and petty crime to become one of the biggest record-sellers in rhythm and blues, and later achieved crossover success. His gospel-style voice backed by staccato horns brought a distinctive funky and frenetic sound to black and later, white audiences. One critic described a Brown performance as “feeling and flamboyance fused into calculated spontaneity”. The critic added he danced like a dervish and sang with “an astounding range of primitive emotional sounds – grunts, groans, screeches, screams, wails”.

Brown’s big hits included Please, Please, Please, Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag, I Got You (I Feel Good), Get Up (I feel like being a Sex Machine) and It’s a Man’s World. His 1985 monster hit Living in America, which was featured in the movie Rocky IV, brought him a whole new generation of fans and his first Grammy. Brown combined his soul-rending music with a theatrical delivery.

He also developed a trademark routine in which he would keep coming back on stage after a show and sing a few lines of Please, Please, Please with the sweat pouring from his bare-chested body. His stage crew would throw a cape over his back and he would leave, only to reappear seconds later on his knees, moaning the song into the microphone. The routine would sometimes go on for 30 to 40 minutes and send his fans delirious.