Bez off of the Happy Mondays is a Beekeeper. He says that he finds it ‘a great, soothing, calming, restful thing to do’. I’m sure that you all wondered, as I did, whether the appropriately name Sting keeps bees. Sadly he doesn’t, but he is the patron of the Bees For Development Trust. The organisation helps to establish and promote sustainable beekeeping around the world.
Cover me in honey and throw me to the tantric lesbians
this man is a Knight of the Realm................ no seriously, he is!
I think it would be fair to say that there is one area of my life that my Mother may be disappointed in me. That is my dislike of the institution of the British Royal family and all condescending pomposity it has. Yes in case you hadn’t noticed I am very much a Republican (not in the US political sense obviously) and most definitely not a Royalist. Having posted recently about Mick Jagger (aka Sir Michael Philip Jagger) turning down afternoon tea with ‘Call Me Dave’ Cameron and Boris Johnson it’s strangely appropriate that a story about those who turned down Royal Honours appeared in the news today. Following a freedom of information request by the BBC a list of those now deceased who have turned down various Royal Honours form 1951 and 1999 has been published. There are 277 people on the list including artists Henry Moore, Francis Bacon and LS Lowry and authors Roald Dahl and Aldous Huxley. There are no rock or pop stars on the list. Read the full story on the BBC site by clicking here.
Sir Tom shows off his first house
However it got me thinking about those rock and pop stars who have accepted honours and those that haven’t. The obvious list of those who have are the rock and pop ‘Sirs’ Paul McCartney, Cliff Richard, Elton John, Mick Jagger, Tom Jones and Bono and Bob Geldof who as Irish citizens are Honorary Knights of the British Empire (KBE). Add to that list Dame Shirley Bassey. A large number of British musicians have received the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), which is the highest honour a British subject can receive below a knighthood or damehood. Those include: Annie Lennox, Roger Daltrey, Eric Clapton, Sting, Robert Plant the Bee Gees and Rod Stewart. It was alleged that at the time of Elton receiving his knighthood Rod was just a little jealous.
Macca ponders his failure to win top score in Rate My Mullet
What really interests me though are those rock and pop stars who turned down Royal honours. David Bowie turned down a CBE in 2000 and a knighthood in 2003 and was quoted as saying that “was not what he spent his life working for”. George Melly and Paul Weller also turned down the offer of a CBE in 2001 and 2007 respectively. Thankfully Keith Richards also turned down a CBE; I’d have been gutted if he had accepted! His comment on Jagger’s knighthood was that he felt it was ludicrous. Influential guitarist and stalwart of the Shadows Hank Marvin turned down an OBE as did Dub Poet Benjamin Zephaniah. At the time Zephaniah publicly stated ‘I get angry when I hear the word ’empire’; it reminds me of slavery, it reminds me of thousands of years of brutality, it reminds me of how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalised’ An MBE was offered to John Lydon who turned it down. I’m pretty amazed that they offered him one really.
Never a Knight of the realm but the only one who came close to looking the part as opposed to looking like an anagram of part
The four Beatles all received the MBE in 1965. John Lennon later returned his to the Queen in 1969 accompanied by a note which read ‘I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam, and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts’. It has been alleged that his Aunt Mimi who brought him up and upon whose mantelpiece the award lived was not amused!
Getting closer to the big day by the hour now and behind one of the few remaining perforated cardboard door flaps on my UK Christmas Number Ones Advent Calendar today, December 23rd, is a song that has been the Christmas number one on three separate occasions and technically by different acts each time. It was number one firstly in the Christmas of 1984, then in 1989 and most recently in 2004. It was the last UK Christmas number one before the X Factor winners had four years in a row, finally broken last year by Rage Against The Machine. You have probably guessed that the song is “Do They Know It’s Christmas” originally by Band Aid in 1984, then Band Aid II (1989) followed by Band Aid 20 (2004). Maybe it’ll be top again for the 30th anniversary in 2014.
It was number one fora total of 12 weeks; 5 weeks in 1984, 3 weeks in 1989 and 4 weeks in 2004. The song was written by Bob Geldof off of the Boomtown Rats and Midge Ure off of Ultravox after they had seen the news coverage of the 1984 famine in Ethiopia. They had aimed to raise money for famine relief and the single and subsequent Live Aid concert probably went way beyond their initial expectations. It sold more than a million copies in its first week alone and went on to sell 3.5 million copies. It remained the fastest and highest selling UK single until Elton John’s rerecording of “Candle In The Wind” following the death of Princess Diana in August 1997. The song was recorded on November 29th 1984 at SARM Studios in London after Geldof gathered the great and good of pop music at the time. The opening line was originally written for David Bowie, who was unfortunately unable to make it, so it was done by Paul Young. The single was released just 4 days after the recording on December 3rd 1984 and remember this was way before the days of downloads.
Midge Ure produced the original version, it was offered to Trevor Horn but he was not in the UK at the time. Stock, Aitken and Waterman produced the 1989 version. Some artists such as David Bowie and Paul McCartney were unable to be at the recording of the original so provided messages that appeared on the B-Side. Members of Bananarama appeared on the 1984 and 1989 version whilst Bono sang the same line in 1984 as he did in 2004; ‘Well, tonight, thank God it’s them, instead of you’. On the 2004 version Dizzee Rascal also added some new lyrics.
The artists that appeared on each version are listed below;
BAND AID (1984)
Bono, U2, Phil Collins, Bob Geldof, Boomtown Rats, Tony Hadley, Spandau Ballet, Midge Ure, Ultravox, Simon Le Bon, Duran Duran, Paul Young, Heaven 17, Marilyn, Bananarama, Jody Watley, Paul Weller, Kool & The Gang, George Michael , Status Quo, Boy George, Culture Club, Sting, Holly Johnson, Big Country
BAND AID II (1989)
Bananarama, Big Fun, Bros, Cathy Dennis, D Mob, Jason Donovan, Kevin Godley, Glen Goldsmith, Kylie Minogue, Pasadenas, Chris Rea, Cliff Richard, Jimmy Somerville, Sonia, Lisa Stansfield, Technotronic, Wet Wet Wet
BAND AID 20 (2004)
Bono, Daniel Bedingfield, Natasha Bedingfield, Vishal Das, Busted, Chris Martin, Dido, Dizzee Rascal, Ms Dynamite, Skye Edwards, Estelle, Neil Hannon, Justin Hawkins, Jamelia, Tom Chaplin, Tim Rice-Oxley, Beverley Knight, Lemar, Shaznay Lewis, Katie Melua, Róisín Murphy, Feeder, Snow Patrol, Rachel Stevens, Joss Stone, Sugababes, Thrills, Turin Brakes, Robbie Williams, Will Young, Francis Healy, Danny Goffey, Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Paul McCartney, Francis Healy, Andy Dunlop, Dougie Payne
If you would like to donate to Oxfam then click here
Just over a week to the big day now people, it’s December 17th so let’s open todays door on my UK Christmas Number OnesAdvent Calendar. This one is a little softer than yesterdays. It’s a cover version of the classic Yazoo song “Only You” by the Flying Pickets. It was number one for Christmas 1983 and remained top dog for 5 weeks. The original was written by Vince Clarke while he was still a member of Depeche Mode. He allegedly offered the song to the band when he left and they declined. He then recorded it himself with superb vocalist Alison Moyet aka Alf when he formed Yazoo. The original version went to number 2 in the UK in 1982.
The Flying Pickets version was a cappella. That is nothing to do with Fabio Acappella who might be the England manager but it just means that they recorded the whole thing without instruments. Bloody tight gits! Incidentally they weren’t really tight gits, they were socialists though and in a bizarre twist none other than Margaret Thatcher claimed that the song was one of her favourites. This kind of echoes the current spat between Johnny Marr and David Cameron. Marr with the support of Morrissey has forbidden Cameron from liking any Smiths songs.
Arthur Scargill turns up at the Police gig but struggles to find Sting and the boys!
During the 1984 Miners Strikes the band performed at a number of benefits for striking miners. Their record company Virgin threw a bit of a hissy fit when the band took part in a protest at the Drax Power Station. Some record shops refused to stock anything by the band owing to their support for the miners. Bad move from the record shops if you ask me. Original singer Brian Hibbard went on to appear in Doctor Who and Coronation Street.
To paraphrase the words of the Beatles, “it was 25 years ago today that Mr Geldof got the bands to play!” Yes folks 25 years ago this very day (July 13th 2010) the event that was Live Aid took place featuring most of the great and good in music at that time. Looking back on it now it was a fantastic achievement engineered by Bob Geldof. I watched the whole of the live broadcast on the BBC which kicked off at midday with Status Quo performing “Rocking All Over The World”. It really launched a couple of acts into the stratosphere for me, notably U2 and Queen, although Freddie and the boys were close to it anyway. In my opinion there were some obvious disappointments as well; Bob Dylan’s performance, no Jacko appearance, no Prince appearance, Simon Le Bon’s vocals and Spandau Ballet’s suits.
Phil Collins played on both sides of the Atlantic having flown to the USA in Concorde. Sting performed with Dire Straits. Mick Jagger performed with Tina Turner. Paul McCartney’s microphone failed to work and David Bowie gave up one his songs to allow a short documentary to be shown, which helped raise even more money. The total raised was around £150 million toward famine relief in Africa, especially Ethiopia. The Wembley leg of the concert was attended by 72,000 people and the Philadelphia leg by 99,000 people. Click on Wembley or Philadelphia in the previous sentence for the set lists at each show. But more than 2 billion people watched it around the world! In a strange little incident at the Wembley gig the helicopters carrying the artists were allowed to land at a London Transport Bowling Club near the stadium. The interesting thing here is that there was a wedding reception being held there at the time. So the happy couple might have been inconvenienced but they did have a string of music superstars appearing in their wedding pictures!
Will anything like this ever happen again? Well there was Live 8, but that was small by comparison. Live Aid was a tremendous event that was very much of its time and to me it seems like a lifetime ago. Will it need to happen again? I think it will for the sake of Africa and other parts of the Third World. But for now enjoy some of the finest Live Aid moments below, including the heartbreaking CBC video introduced by David Bowie and soundtracked by the Cars “Drive”
This is Ryefield School in Hillingdon a great place where I was a pupil from 1965 to 1970
Once again it’s been a long while since my last post, but not as long ago as the last time I attended Ryefield Junior School in Hillingdon. I was just a little boy called Billy in those days. I attended the school from 1965 until 1970 up until I was 11 years old. I discovered this week that it is Ryefield School’s 50th birthday celebrations this year, I hadn’t appreciated that I was just one year older than the school. One year and three days to be precise as it opened on January 4th 1960. So how did I find out about this auspicious occasion? Well I have mentioned Ryefield in a previous post and the present Headmaster Mr Dodd was doing some research and chanced upon my blog. Serendipity huh?
Anyway it got me thinking about those good old school days and for me Infant and Junior School was so much more fun than Senior School. I will remember Ryefield for many things. But the two that spring to mind immediately are the wonderful headmaster from my days there, Mr Yates. I don’t know much about him other than the fact that to me he was a wonderful man and although I didn’t realise it at the time he was probably my first mentor from outside my family circle. He encouraged me to learn by reading and indeed writing too. I also loved all those mental arithmetic tasks he set. The second thing that is in my mind about those years is my first ever foreign trip. It was a school trip to Paris and it was my first ever flight too. One of the things we were asked to do was write a postcard on the first day to send back to our parents. I did write my postcard, but I left it in my case and gave it to my Mum and Dad when I came home. I can only assume that they weren’t too worried about me
And so on to the music, for that is the purpose of this little blog. And obviously todays choices are all school related, I hope you enjoy them and as usual your school song suggestions would be welcomed
Schools Out – Alice Cooper. OK I know this was an obvious choice, but it is good isn’t it. For me it was one of the defining moments of early 70s music television
Remember The Days Of The Old School Yard – Cat Stevens. Just how talented was this man? Still just as talented these days now he is known as Yusuf. I believe the additional female vocal on this track is Elkie Brooks. Linda Lewis also recorded an excellent cover of this song, although sadly I can’t find it on line
Teacher I Need You – Elton John. A classic slice of Elton and Bernie from the wonderful 1973 album ‘Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player’
Teach Your Children – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. This is accompanied by a photo montage that shows the Iraq war through the eyes of children
Don’t Stand So Close To Me – Police. Written by a former teacher, Gordon Sumner aka Sting and probably the only lyric which manages to rhyme cough with Nabokov, albeit it rather clumsily! This is the original version which is so much better than the 1986 remake
So after all those rumours from Blogland that Mr Bowie would come out of retirement and headline New Zealand’s Big Day Out Festival next year it has finally been announced that he was apparently ‘never really an option’. In other Bowie news I can report that his has a new album released in January 2010, well you can guess how excited I was when I read that only to find that it is not a new album but a double CD compilation drawn from shows on the Reality Tour from 2003………. Oh well one can always hope! Incidentally if you’re interested in the line up for the Big Day Out here is a summary of the biggies; Muse, Dizzee Rascal, Lily Allen, Kasabian, The Mars Volta, Rise Against, Peaches, Horrors, Girl Talk and Mastodon.
Lily Allen follows the advice of this blog or probably not!
On the subject of Lily Allen those regular readers among you will be familiar with this blogs ‘Lily Allen Naked’ experiment. The objective of which was to expand the number of blog views by attracting people who were searching for ‘Lily Allen Naked’. Obviously I have felt guilty about this for some time as there were never any naked Lily Allen pictures here, despite the fact that more than 600 people had arrived here seeking them. Although of course it might have been one person arriving 600 times, come on Tom own up! So if you’re among that group or you are that person or if it was you Tom then please accept my apologies and let me also give you some good news. Lily was clearly influenced by our experiment because she recently completed a rather tasteful nude photo shoot for GQ magazine. Click here to see a selection of those, rather good, pictures. I would also like to mention the countless other searches for naked pictures of; Eminem, Sting, Kate Bush, Katy Perry, Ronan Keating, Bryan Ferry among others and perhaps most bizarrely of all a handful of people arrived here while searching for Meatloaf naked…………….I mean COME ON! That is so wrong in many ways…………..WHY????? So in my humble opinion that brings the ‘Lily Allen Naked’ experiment to a close. So now all we need to do is think of what the next experiment will be. Any suggestions? I have a few on my mind;
Although to be fair the last one has probably been done to death already! Anyway I do look forward to receiving your own ideas. I would also like to state categorically that I really haven’t been thinking about these for long. While you ponder them why don’t you enjoy the fabulous Lily Allen with “It’s Not Fair” Lily I know you have some very strong and indeed valid views abot downloading, but whatever your thoughts I and many others would rather you carried on recording!
As this is somewhat of a random post let me continue with a jolly good link that was passed to me by my good friend Nick H from the parish of Marlow. It’s a piece that the NME are running on line about the best gig you ever saw. Now that’s a really tough one for me. Obviously I would select at least one Bowie gig (probably 1976 at Wembley) plus Radiohead (at Lancashire County Cricket ground in 2008), Suede at the Reading Rivermead (hmmmmm when was that? Late 90’s methinks), Gene (the Old Trout in Windsor 1994). But if my life depended upon it I would have to say Parliament/ Funkadelic at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1978 a truly unforgettable concert experience! George Clinton and Bootsy Collins two cast iron geniuses in my opinion! Anyway to check out the NME link click here. What was the greatest gig you ever saw, I think we’d all like to know, wouldn’t we?
And finally for today I must draw your attention to the rather excellent C’Mon Son posts, if you click here you can see number 4 and boy does he deal brilliantly with uber twat Mr Kanye West for barging into into Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech recently! What do you think?
It’s me again people, I’m back with another one of those annoyingly intermittent blog posts. Actually they may well become more intermittent these days as I move back to being much more fully immersed in the corporate world, I start a new job next week. What will I be doing and who will I be working for? Well (and to those of you who truly believe that gullible really has been removed from the dictionary this next bit should be read with tongue in cheek!) I have searched far and wide to discover and produce an alternative cheap and environmentally friendly fuel to power our motor vehicles. I have left no stone unturned and no sting unstung. Indeed it is the sting thing that finally led me to my discovery. For some time I have been extracting the urine from Bumble Bees, well frankly anyone who wears a black and yellow hooped jumper deserves to have the piss taken out of them don’t you think? The extraction process is quite painful, well it is for the bees! Anyway I now have so much of the stuff in the fridge that it’s beginning to curdle the milk, so it’s time to put some in the car and guess what…….. it works! It powered the mighty Volvo for around ten yards, yes I am now being fuelled by Bee Pee. So can you guess who I’ll be working for? 😉
You may be smiling now but just wait until the extraction starts!
I know that this is really supposed to be a music blog and this one isn’t even about bees either but this story was too good not to share. It’s about a cat called Henry who steals socks. Click here to read it on the Beeb.
In keeping with the first part of this post todays trivia will be Bee related 🙂
So let’s start with the late great (those ever present l’s & g’s are here again) Elvis Aaron Presley, who had a hit with “I Got Stung” in 1958. A song so old it even has more wrinkles than me. The song was one of many that Elvis recorded during his National Service and was in fact on the flipside of “One Night”. some of you dedicated trivia fans probably know that the song also topped the UK charts during the 2005 reissues programme, indeed I have all those reissued singles, how sad am I? “I Got Stung” was written by Aaron Schroeder and David Hill but is was produced by Mike Stoller off of Leiber and Stoller. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote a number of hits for Elvis, including “Jailhouse Rock” A young Phil Spector also worked with the pair in his early career in the music industry.
Elvis really swelled up after he got stung
Those of you that are older than me will remember that Arthur Askey recorded “The Bee Song” but did you know that he also starred in a 1944 movie called ‘Bees In Paradise’? Whilst it was set on a mysterious island in the South Atlantic (so not the Falklands then?) where men are regarded as disposable beings useful only for breeding purposes. The island is ruled by scantily clad warrior women. The story involves four airmen, including Arthur Askey, parachuting onto the island with Askey’s character becoming the object of desire for one of the native women played by Ann Shelton. Whilst the film may have been set on a tropical island it was actually filmed in Torquay.
That’s not glasses that Arthur is wearing they’re protective goggles
How could I do a post relating to Bees without mentioning Sting, well quite easily actually, but I won’t. Sting or Gordon Sumner to his nearest and dearest got his nickname after wearing a black and yellow hooped jumper when playing a gig with a jazz band, the Phoenix Jazzmen. As I said earlier anyone who wears a black and yellow hooped jumper deserves to have the piss taken out of them, I rest my case! Anyway here is Mr Sting with the fabulous “Englishman In New York”
Actually I think I’d prefer him in the yellow and black hooped jumper
And without further ado let me end with a classic philosophical Monty Python song “Eric The Half A Bee” Enjoy!