His death was announced by the radio station that is still broadcasting, who said: “In a pastime populated by unusual people, Ronan was more unusual than all of them combined.” He had been diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2013.
It was also a great year for music — but who knew that the year that produced songs like “Fortunate Son,” “Age Of Aquarius” and “Everyday People” would crown a bubblegum pop tune by a fictional cartoon band as its top song of the year?
“Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies – yes, from the comics – was named No. 1 on Billboard’s Year-End Countdown in 1969.
It seems every conversation about colourism in pop music must come back to Beyoncé. So it was when Mathew Knowles, record exec, former Destiny’s Child manager and Beyoncé’s father, appeared on SiriusXM radio to discuss research by Texas Southern University, where he is a visiting professor. Their study found that over a 15-year period it was lighter-skinned black women – the likes of Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and, of course, Beyoncé – who dominated Top 40 airplay. When asked how different Beyoncé’s career would have been had she been darker-skinned, Knowles was unequivocal: “I think it would’ve affected her success.”
During World War II, with thousands of men shipping off to war, half a dozen all-female, instrumental big bands toured around America. It was a rarity in a musical world dominated by men and, for the most part, their stories have been erased or minimized in jazz history.
Jazz Night in America host Christian McBride has spent years tracing the history of some of these bands and notes that during this flourishing time for all-women groups, the 17-piece International Sweethearts of Rhythm had the most formidable level of popularity.
The teacher can be forgiven if she dismissed as an impossible dream the English schoolgirl’s declaration that she wanted to be a jazz singer when she grew up. Young Mary O’Brien was a gawky tomboy with thick spectacles — always ready for rough-and-tumble play with the neighborhood lads. She hardly matched the image of glamorous and sophisticated entertainers seen in the cinema and the picture magazines of the post-war years in London.
Nevertheless, Mary began pursuing her dream early in life. At the age of 11, she cut a demo record of Irving Berlin’s When That Midnight Choo Choo Leaves For Alabama at a London music store.
How the rappers made amends for their early-career misogyny.
The Beastie Boys Book, the cinder-block-shaped testament to three decades of hip-hop shenanigans by Mike D and Ad-Rock, is a conversational and personable trip to a brighter, more fun world. It’s full of stories about MCA’s family dog stealing a pizza and Mike D getting freaked out by Bob Dylan at a party. But a bigger, more hopeful story undergirds the entire book: the Beasties’ journey from the toxic misogyny of their early days to the relative enlightenment of their late career.
In an eye-opening new documentary, hidden Native American figures are finally given credit for influencing a vast amount of popular music.