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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Day In History ► John and Yoko Bed-In in Montreal ► May 26

Dateline: 1969 - John Lennon and Yoko Ono begin their second Bed-In, this time in Montreal, Quebec. They had wanted to do it in New York City, but Lennon was still barred from entering 'Merka. The Bahamas, which Lennon had visited during the making of "Help," was considered too far away to bring the press. Finally they settled on Montreal. Here's how the Canadian Broadcasting Company covered some of it:

However, not everyone was enthralled. Al Capp, the cartoonist best known for L'il Abner -- Yeah, THAT AL Capp -- was invited to the hotel suite for what turned out to be a very contentious debate:

On June 1st a gathering recorded Lennon's "Give Peace A Chance" in the same hotel room. Included were with Dick Gregory, Tommy Smothers, Timothy Leary, Toronto Rabbi Abraham Feinberg, musician Petula Clark, and members of the Canadian Radha Krishna Temple. It's a sing-a-long:

Here are John & Yoko talking to some of those people:

On the 30th Apple Records released "The Ballad of John and Yoko" in the U.K. and 5 days later in 'Merka, on June 4th. The only Beatles on this recording are John Lennon, and Paul McCartney, who recorded in a hurry one evening while Ringo was filming "The Magic Christian" and George was on holiday. Christ, you know it ain't easy:

This was The Beatles last #1 U.K. single.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Nostalgia Ain't What It Used To Be ► Mr. Bojangles ► May 25

Dateline May 25, 1878 - Bill "Mr. Bojangles" Robinson was born. It hardly matters that the Jerry Jeff Walker song was written about a White guy in jail in New Orleans. It will always be associated with the renowned star of stage and movies who managed to break thru' the colour barriers of his time. In the day Black musical performances in movies were filmed in such a way so that they could be cut later when the movie played in the south. Bill Robinson's dance with Shirley Temple in The Little Colonel was the first time audiences saw a Black man dancing with a White girl, with Robinson reprising his famous stair dance.

It hardly seems radical today, but it was groundbreaking in 1935. Yet, he will always be known more for his for his dancing than being the first this or that...which is the way it should be. Here's his sand dance from "Stormy Weather."

He just makes it look so easy:

Bill Robinson's last public appearance was on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour in 1949, just weeks before he died:

As for the song itself? Here's Jerry Jeff Walker performing it live:

The person who popularized the song, and made it synonymous with Bill Robinson -- more than anyone else -- was Sammy Davis, Jr., who made it a signature part of act for years.

However, in montage, here's Sammy describing why emotionally it was such a difficult song for him to perform:

However, this post wouldn't be complete without Harry Nilsson's version of Mr. Bojangles. Enjoy:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Last Tonight Show with Johnny Carson ► A Day In History

Dateline May 22, 1992 - Johnny Carson made his final appearance as host of the Tonight Show after nearly 5,000 shows. Here's how that show opened:

Johnny Carson gave so many comedians their start.  A case in point: Ellen Degeneres:

Carson started in magic and particularly loved magicians. Here is The Great Flydini:

Few people realize that Michael Caine got his start doing stand up for Johnny Carson:

In 1982 Eddie Murphy jokes about the first Black president:

You'd never know who or what you would see on the Carson show:

And that included Tiny Tim:

Johnny Carson's last television's appearance was a cameo:

It hardly seems like 20 years since he's been gone from the air. There has never been another one like him and there never will be.