Harmonica_header

Strangers In The Night (with lyrics)

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

trang – ers – in – the – night | ex – chang – ing – glan – ces
4 (4) (4) 4 (4) | 4 (4) 5 (4) 4

Won – dr’ng – in – the – night | what – were – the – chan – ces
(3) 4 4 (3) 4 | (3) 4 (4) 4 (3)

We’d – be – sha – ring – love | be – fore – the – night — was – through
3 (3) (3) 3 (3) | 3 (3) 4 (3) 3 (5)

Some – thing – in – your – eyes | was – so – in – vi – ting
(4) 5 5 (4) 5 | (4) 5 (5) 5 (4)

Some – thing – in – your – smile | was – so – ex – ci – ting
4 (4) (4) 4 (4) | 4 (4) 5 (4) 4

Some – thing – in – my – heart | told – me – I – must — have – you
(3) 4 4 (3) 4 | (3) 4 (4) 4 (3) 6

Strang – ers – in – the – night | Two – lone – ly – peo – ple – we – were
6 (5) (5) 5 5 | (5) (5) 6 6 (5) (5) 5

Strang – ers – in – the – night | Up – to – the – mo – ment – when – we
6 (5) (5) 5 5 | (5) (5) 6 6 (5) (5) 5

Said – our – first – hell – o | Litt – the – did – we – know
(5) 5 5 (4) (4) | (5) 5 5 (4) (4)

Love – was – just – a – glance – aw – a – y | A warm – em – bra – cing – dance – aw – ay – and
(5) 5 5 (4) (4) 4 (3) 4 | 5 (4) (4) 4 4 (3) 3 (3)

Ev – er – since – that – night | We’ve – been – to – ge – ther
4 (4) (4) 4 (4) | 4 (4) 5 (4) 4

Lo – vers – at – first – sight | In – love – for – ev – er
(3) 4 4 (3) 4 | (3) 4 (4) 4 (3)

It – turned – out – so – right | For – strang – ers – in — the – night
3 (3) (3) 3 (3) | (3) 4 (4) 4 (3) 4

Love – was – just – a – glance – aw – a – y | A warm – em – bra – cing – dance – aw – ay
(5) 5 5 (4) (4) 4 (3) 4 | 5 (4) (4) 4 4 (3) 3

Ev – er – since – that – night | We’ve – been – to – ge – ther
4 (4) (4) 4 (4) | 4 (4) 5 (4) 4

Lo – vers – at – first – sight | In – love – for – ev – er
(3) 4 4 (3) 4 | (3) 4 (4) 4 (3)

It – turned – out – so – right | For – strang – ers – in — the – night
3 (3) (3) 3 (3) | (3) 4 (4) 4 (3) 4

Lyrics


Strangers In The Night (chromatic)

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

By: Charles Singleton, Eddie Snyder,
Bert Kaempfert
Frank Sinatra
Key: F

-2 3 3 -2 3 -2 3 -3 3 -2
Strang-ers in the night ex-chang-ing glanc-es
2 -2 -2 2 -2 2 -2 3 -2 2
Won-d’ring in the night what were the chanc-es
-1 2 2 -1 2
We’d be shar-ing love
-1 2 -2 2 -1 -3*
Be-fore the night was through

3 -3 -3 3 -3 3 -3 -3* -3 3
Some-thing in your eyes was so in-vit-ing
-2 3 3 -2 3 -2 3 -3 3 -2
Some-thing in your smile was so ex-cit-ing
2 -2 -2 2 -2 2 -2 3 -2 2 4
Some-thing in my heart told me I must have you

4 -3* -3* -3 -3
Strang-ers in the night
-3* -3* 4 4 -3*
Two lone-ly peo-ple,
-3* -3 4 -3* -3* -3 -3
we were strang-ers in the night
-3*-3* 4 4 -3* -3* -3 -3* -3 -3 3 3
Up to the mo-ment when we said our first hel-lo
-3* -3 -3 3 3
Lit-tle did we know
-3* -3 -3 3 3 -2 2
Love was just a glance a-way,
-2 -3 3 3 -2 -2 2 -1
a warm em-brac-ing dance a-way
2
and
-2 3 3 -2 3 -2 3 -3 3 -2
Ev-er since that night we’ve been to-geth-er
2 -2 -2 2 -2 2 -2 3 -2 2
Lov-ers at first sight, in love for-ev-er
-1 2 2 -1 2 2
It turned out so right for
-2 3 -2 2 -2
strang-ers in the night

-3* -3 -3 3 3 -2 2
Love was just a glance a-way,
-2 -3 3 3 -2 -2 2 -1
a warm em-brac-ing dance a-way
2
and
-2 3 3 -2 3 -2 3 -3 3 -2
Ev-er since that night we’ve been to-geth-er
2 -2 -2 2 -2 2 -2 3 -2 2
Lov-ers at first sight, in love for-ev-er
-1 2 2 -1 2 2
It turned out so right for
-2 3 -2 2 -2
strang-ers in the night

Lyrics


Strangers In The Night (Chromatic C)

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

-2 3 3 -2 3 -2 3 -3 3 -2
Strang-ers in the night ex-chang-ing glanc-es
2 -2 -2 2 -2 2 -2 3 -2 2
Won-d’ring in the night what were the chanc-es
-1 2 2 -1 2__
We’d be shar-ing love
-1 2 -2 2 -1 -3*___
Be-fore the night was through
3 -3 -3 3 -3 3 -3 -3* -3 3
Some-thing in your eyes was so in-vit-ing
-2 3 3 -2 3 -2 3 -3 3 -2
Some-thing in your smile was so ex-cit-ing
2 -2 -2 2 -2 2 -2 3 -2 2 4___
Some-thing in my heart told me I must have you
4 -3* -3* -3 -3
Strang-ers in the night
-3* -3* 4 4 -3*
Two lone-ly peo-ple,
-3* -3 4 -3* -3* -3 -3__
we were strang-ers in the night
-3*-3* 4 4 -3* -3* -3 -3* -3 -3 3 3
Up to the mo-ment when we said our first hel-lo
-3* -3 -3 3 3
Lit-tle did we know
-3* -3 -3 3 3 -2 2 (Slower)
Love was just a glance a-way,
-2 -3 3 3 -2 -2 2 -1 2 (Slower)
a warm em-brac-ing dance a-way and
-2 3 3 -2 3 -2 3 -3 3 -2
Ev-er since that night we’ve been to-geth-er
2 -2 -2 2 -2 2 -2 3 -2 2
Lov-ers at first sight, in love for-ev-er
-1 2 2 -1 2 2
It turned out so right for
-2 3 -2 2 -2___
strang-ers in the night

4 -3* -3* -3 -3
Strang-ers in the night
-3* -3* 4 4 -3*
Two lone-ly peo-ple,
-3* -3 4 -3* -3* -3 -3__
we were strang-ers in the night
-3*-3* 4 4 -3* -3* -3 -3* -3 -3 3 3
Up to the mo-ment when we said our first hel-lo
-3* -3 -3 3 3
Lit-tle did we know
-3* -3 -3 3 3 -2 2 (Slower)
Love was just a glance a-way,
-2 -3 3 3 -2 -2 2 -1 2 (Slower)
a warm em-brac-ing dance a-way and
(Short Pause)

3 -3 -3 3 -3 3 -3 -4 -3 3
Ev-er since that night we’ve been to-geth-er
-2* 3 3 -2* 3 -2* 3 -3 3 -2*
Lov-ers at first sight, in love for-ev-er
2 -2* -2* 2 -2* -2*
It turned out so right for
3 -3 3 -2* 3____ (Short Pause)
strang-ers in the night
3 -3 -3 3 -3 3 -3 -4 -3 3
Ev-er since that night we’ve been to-geth-er
-2* 3 3 -2* 3 -2* 3 -3 3 -2* 3___
Lov-ers at first sight, in love for-ev-er

This song plays with karaoke music run time 2:40.

Lyrics


Strangers In The Night (Chrom C)

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

Stran-gers In The Night Ex-chang-ing Glan-ces

5 -5 -5 5 -5 5 -5 6 -5 5

Wond-ring In The Night What Were The Chan-ces

-4 5 5 -4 5 -4 5 -5 5 -4

We’d Be Shar-ing Love Bef-ore The Night Was Through

-3 -4 -4 -3 -4 -3 -4 4 -4 -3 -6

Some-thing In Your Eyes Was So In- Vi -ting

-5 6 6 -5 6 -5 6 -6 6 -5

Some-thing In Your Smile Was So Ex-cit-ing

5 -5 -5 5 -5 5 -5 6 -5 5

Some-thing In My Heart Told Me I Must Have You

-4 5 5 -4 5 -4 5 -5 5 -4 7

Stran-gers In The Night Two Lone-ly Peo-ple

7 -6 -6 6 6 6 -6 7 7 -6

We Were Stran-gers In The Night

-6 6 7 -6 -6 6 6

Up To The Mo-ment When We Said Our First Hel-lo

6 -6 7 7 -6 -6 6 -6 6 6 -5 -5

Lit-tle Did We Know

-6 6 6 -5 -5

Love Was Just A Glance A-way

-6 6 6 -5 -5 5 -4

A Warm Em-brac-ing Dance A-way And

5 6 -5 -5 4 4 -4 -3 -4

Ev-er Since That Night We’ve Been To-get-her

5 -5 -5 5 -5 5 -5 6 -5 5

Lov-ers At First Sight In Love For-ev-er

7 6 -5 4 -4 -4 5 -5 5 -4

It Turned Out So Right For Strang-ers In The Night

-3 -4 -4 -3 -4 -4 5 -5 4 -4 5

Lyrics


Strangers In The Night

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

4 (4) (4) 4 (4) “ 4 (4) 5 (4) 4

(3) 4 4 (3) 4 “ (3) 4 (4) 4 (3)

3 (3) (3) 3 (3) “ 3 (3) 4 (3) 3 – (5)

(4) 5 5 (4) 5 “ (4) 5 (5) 5 (4)

4 (4) (4) 4 (4) “ 4 (4) 5 (4) 4

(3) 4 4 (3) 4 “ (3) 4 (4) 4 (3) – 6
—————————————–
6 (5) (5) 5 5 “ (5) (5) 6 6 (5) (5) 5

6 (5) (5) 5 5 “ (5) (5) 6 6 (5) (5) 5

(5) 5 5 (4) (4) “ (5) 5 5 (4) (4)

(5) 5 5 (4) (4) 4 (3) 4 “ 5 (4) (4) 4 4 (3) 3 (3)
——————————————-
4 (4) (4) 4 (4) “ 4 (4) 5 (4) 4

(3) 4 4 (3) 4 “ (3) 4 (4) 4 (3)

3 (3) (3) 3 (3) “ (3) 4 (4) 4 (3) “ 4

Lyrics


In The Air Tonight

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

-6 -6 -6 -6 -6 6 6 5 6 -6 -4 4
I can feel it coming in the air tonight ~~
5 -4 5
Oh lord ~~~~~
5 -6 -6 -6 -6 -6 -6
And I’ve been waiting for this
-6 6 5 6 -6 -4 4
Moment for all my life ~~~~
5 -4 4
Oh lord ~~~~
-6 -6 -6 -6 -6 6 6 5 6 -6 -4 4
Can you feel it coming in the air tonight ~~~~
5 -4 5 5 -4 4
Oh lord ~~~~ Oh lord ~~~

Verse 1

5 6 -6 -6 -6 -6 6 -6 -6
Well if you told me, you were drowning
5 -4 -4 -4 4 5
I would not lend a hand
-3b -4 -4 -4 4 -4 -4 -4
I’ve seen your face before my friend
4 4 4 5 6 6 6 6 6 6
But I don’t know if you know who I am
5 -6 -6 -6 -6 6 -6 6 5 6
Well I was there and I saw what you did
-4 -4 5 5 5 -4 4 5
I saw it with my own two eyes
3 -3b 4 5 -4 4 5
So you can wipe off that grin
-3b 5 -4 4 -4
I know where you’ve been
3 5 6 6 6 5 -6
It’s all been a pack of lies

-6 -6 -6 -6 -6 6 6 5 6 -6 -4 4
I can feel it coming in the air tonight ~~
5 -4 5
Oh lord ~~~~~
5 -6 -6 -6 -6 -6 -6
And I’ve been waiting for this
-6 6 5 6 -6 -4 4
Moment for all my life ~~~~
5 -4 4
Oh lord ~~~~~
-6 -6 -6 -6 -6 6 6 5 6 -6 -4 4
Can you feel it coming in the air tonight ~~~~
5 -4 5 5 -4 4
Oh lord ~~~~ Oh lord ~~~

DRUMS

Verse 2

Well I remember, I remember don’t worry
How could I ever forget, It’s the first time
The last time, we ever met
But I know the reason why you keep this silence up
No you don’t fool me
The hurt doesn’t show
But the pain still grows
It’s no stranger to you or me

Finish with….

-6 -6 -6 -6 -6 -6 -6 6 6 6
I can feel it in the air ~~ tonight
-6 -4 4 5 -4 5
Oh lord ~~~ Oh lord ~~~
5 -6 -6 -6 -6 -6 -6
And I’ve been waiting for this
-6 6 5 6 -6 -4 4
Moment for all my life ~~~
5 -4 5
Oh lord ~~~
5 -6 -6 -6 -6 -6 6 6 5 6 -6 -4 4
And I can feel it coming in the air tonight ~~~
5 -4 5
Oh lord ~~~
5 -6 -6 -6 -6 -6 -6 -6 6
Well I’ve been waiting for this moment
5 6 -6 -4 4
For all my life ~~~
5 -4 5 5 -4 4
Oh lord ~~~~ Oh lord ~~~ …..

Lyrics


I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

6 -6 7 7 5 -5 6 -6 6 -5 -3__
Would be better for us had we never
-7 7* 7 7 -6 -5 -4 -3 3 6__
In this wide, wicked world ever met
6 -6 7 7 5 -5 6 -6 6 -5 -3__
For the pleasures we’ve both seen together
-7 7* 7 -6 -5 -4 6 -5 5__
I am sure love I’ll never forget

6 -6 7 5 -5 6 -6 6 -5 -3__
Oh, I’m thinking tonight of my blue eyes
-7 7* 7 -6 -5 -4 -3 3 6__
Who is sailing far over the sea
6 -6 7 5 -5 6 -6 6 -5 -3__
Oh, I’m thinking tonight of my blue eyes
-7 7* 7 -6 -5 -4 6 -5 5__
And I wonder if she ever thinks of me?
(Repeat 2X)

Oh, you told me once, dear, that you loved me
You said that we never would part
But a link in the chain has been broken
Leaves me with a sad and aching heart

Oh, I’m thinking tonight of my blue eyes
Who is waiting far over the sea
Oh, I’m thinking tonight of her only
And I wonder if she ever thinks of me?

When in time the cold grave shall enclose me
Will you come, dear, and shed just one tear
Will you say to the strangers around you
A poor heart you’ve broken lies here

Oh, I’m thinking tonight of my blue eyes
Who is waiting far over the sea
Oh, I’m thinking tonight of her only
And I wonder if she ever thinks of me?

This plays with karaoke music, same Artist, run time 2:23.

Lyrics


Out Tonight

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

Words and Music by Jonathan Larson

6 5 -6
What`s the time?
6 6 7 7 7 7 6 -6 6 -4 4
Well it’s gotta be close to midnight~~~
4 5 6 6 5 5 -6
My body’s talking to me
4 4 -4 4 -4 5
It says, “Time for danger”
7 7 4 5 6 6 6 5 -5
It says “I wanna commit a crime
6 6 7 7 7 -8 -8 -8
Wanna be the cause of a fight
4 4 4 5 6 6 6 -6 4 4
I Wanna put on a tight skirt and flirt
-4 4 -4 5
With a stranger”
-6 -6 5 -6 -6 -6 6-5
I’ve had a knack from way back
4 7 7 7 8 -8 -8 -8 7 6
At breaking the rules once I learn the games
-7 -6 5 5 5
Get up – life’s too quick
-8 -8 -8 =8 -8
I know someplace sick
6 7 7 7 -8 -8 -8 -7 -6 6
Where this chick’ll dance in the flames
7 7 7 -7-7 -7-6
We don’t need any money
7 7 7 -7 -6 6 -6
I always get in for free
-5 6 6 6 -6
You can get in too
-6 -6 -6 7 -8 -7 -6 6
If you get in with me

-5 6 6 9 6 6 -6
Let’s go out~~~~ tonight
5 5 -5 6 6 9 6 6
I have to go out~~~~ tonight
-6 -6-6 -6
You wanna play?
-6 -7 -7-7
Let’s run away
-7 7 -6 7 6 -6 7 -8 -8 -8 7
We won’t be back before it’s Christmas day
5 6 6 4 4 -8-8
Take me out tonight (meow)

(The Rest Of The Song Follows The Same Notes
As Above)

When I get a wink from the doorman
Do you know how lucky you’ll be?
That you’re on line with the feline of
Avenue B

Let’s go out tonight
I have to go out tonight
You wanna prowl
Be my night owl?
Well take my hand we’re gonna howl
Out tonight

In the evening I’ve got to roam
Can’t sleep in the city of neon and chrome
Feels too damn much like home
When the Spanish babies cry
So let’s find a bar
So dark we forget who we are
And all the scars from the
Nevers and maybes die

Let’s go out tonight
Have to go out tonight
You’re sweet
Wanna hit the street?
Wanna wail at the moon like a cat in heat?
Just take me out tonight
Please take me out tonight
Don’t forsake me – out tonight
I’ll let you make me – out tonight
Tonight – tonight – tonight

Lyrics


Singing to strangers

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

-5 -5 54 -4-4~ -3

-5 -5-55 -4-4~

He hails from the great state of confusion
in the army he was a major disappointment
now he’s pulling a push broom at the inconvenience store

he had never heard speaking in tongues
just screamin’ and wailin’ guitars
and he’d do most anything, to get that feeling in his heart
so he sings to himself
but he never feels right until he’s

singin’ to strangers
every night

-5 -5 54 -4-4~ -3

-5 -5-55 -4-4~

when it’s cold she wears a mitten and a glove
she says jesus was handsome but god is just love
and she feels just like and angel stuck on her back in the snow

but she’s not scared she will shoot you with a glance
if you look her right back in the eyes you’ll see infinite road

and she’d do most anything not to feel so alone
so she sings to herself
but she never feels right until she’s

singin’ to strangers
every night

-5 -5-554

-4-4~ 4 -4-4~ -5

have you ever heard speaking in tongues
or screaming and wailing guitars
would you do most anything, to get that feeling in your heart
try

singin’ to strangers
every night

Lyrics


The District Sleeps Alone Tonight

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

4 -2” 2 3 -3” 3 2 1

Smeared black ink. Your palms are sweaty

2 2 2 -1 2 -2 2 2 4 -2” 2

And I’m barely listening to last demands

2 2 2 2 3 -3” 3 2 1 2 2 -1 2 -2 2

I’m staring at the asphalt wondering what’s buried underneath

4 -2 -2”

Where I am (x2)

4 -2” 2 2 2 2 2 3 -3” 3 2 1

Wear my badge. Vinyl sticker with big block letters

2 2 -1 2 -2 2

adherent to my chest

4 -2” -2 2 2 2 3 -3” 3 2 1

Tells your new friends I am a visitor here

2 2 3 -3” 3 2

I am not permanent

4 -2” 2 1 -1 2 -1 1

(And the) only thing keeping me dry is…

(Where I am)

CHORUS:

3 4 3 4 3 4 -4 3 3 5 5 5 5 -4 -4 4

You seem so out of context in this gaudy apartment complex

3 4 3 4 3 4 -4 3 3 3 3 5 -4 -4 4 3

A stranger with your door key explaining that I’m just visiting

3 4 3 4 3 4 -4

And I am finally seeing

3 5 5 5 5 -4 -4 4

Why I was the one worth leaving (x2)

3 -3 4 -3” -3” 3 1

D.C. sleeps alone tonight

[REPEAT CHORUS]

3 4 3 4 3 4 4 -4

The district sleeps alone tonight

-4 -4 -4 5 -4 -4 4 3

after the bars turn out their lights

3 4 3 4 3 4 -4 3 3 3 5 5 -4 -4 4

And send the autos swerving into the loneliest evening

3 4 3 4 3 4 -4

And I am finally seeing

3 5 5 5 5 -4 -4 4

Why I was the one worth leaving (x4)

Lyrics


The District Sleeps Alone Tonight

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

4 -2” 2 3 -3” 3 2 1

Smeared black ink. Your palms are sweaty

2 2 2 -1 2 -2 2 2 4 -2” 2

And I’m barely listening to last demands

2 2 2 2 3 -3” 3 2 1 2 2 -1 2 -2 2

I’m staring at the asphalt wondering what’s buried underneath

4 -2 -2”

Where I am (x2)

4 -2” 2 2 2 2 2 3 -3” 3 2 1

Wear my badge. Vinyl sticker with big block letters

2 2 -1 2 -2 2

adherent to my chest

4 -2” -2 2 2 2 3 -3” 3 2 1

Tells your new friends I am a visitor here

2 2 3 -3” 3 2

I am not permanent

4 -2” 2 1 -1 2 -1 1

(And the) only thing keeping me dry is…

(Where I am)

CHORUS:

3 4 3 4 3 4 -4 3 3 5 5 5 5 -4 -4 4

You seem so out of context in this gaudy apartment complex

3 4 3 4 3 4 -4 3 3 3 3 5 -4 -4 4 3

A stranger with your door key explaining that I’m just visiting

3 4 3 4 3 4 -4

And I am finally seeing

3 5 5 5 5 -4 -4 4

Why I was the one worth leaving (x2)

3 -3 4 -3” -3” 3 1

D.C. sleeps alone tonight

[REPEAT CHORUS]

3 4 3 4 3 4 4 -4

The district sleeps alone tonight

-4 -4 -4 5 -4 -4 4 3

after the bars turn out their lights

3 4 3 4 3 4 -4 3 3 3 5 5 -4 -4 4

And send the autos swerving into the loneliest evening

3 4 3 4 3 4 -4

And I am finally seeing

3 5 5 5 5 -4 -4 4

Why I was the one worth leaving (x4)

Lyrics


Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

VINCENT (Starry, Starry Night)
By: Don McLean
Key: G

-1 2 3 -3 -4
Star-ry, star-ry night
-4 -3 3 2 -3 -4 2
paint your pal-ette blue and grey
-4 -3 3 2 -3 -4 2
look out on a sum-mer’s day
-2* 3 -2* 2 -1
with eyes that know the
2 -2* 3 -3 -4
dark-ness in my soul.
-1 2 3 -3 -4
Shad-ows on the hills
-4 -3 3 2 2 -3 -4 2
sketch the trees and the daf-fo-dils
-4 -3 3 2 2 -3 -4 2
catch the breeze and the win-ter chills
-2* 3 -2* 2 -1 2 -2* 3 -3 3
in col-ors on the snow-y lin-en land.

3 -3 -4 3 -3
Now I un-der-stand
-3 -4 4 -5 -4 -4 -4
what you tried to say to me
-4 4 -4 -3 3 2 -4 -3 -3
how you suf-fered for your san-i-ty
-3 -3 -3 -4 4 -3 -4
how you tried to set them free.
-4 -4 4 -4 -3
They would not lis-ten
3 2 -3 -4 2
they did not know how
-1 -2* 3 -3 -2* 3
per-haps they’ll lis-ten now.

-1 2 3 -3 -4
Star-ry, star-ry night
-4 -3 3 2 -3 -4 2
flam-ing flow’rs that bright-ly blaze
-4 -3 3 2 -3 -4 2
swirl-ing clouds in vio-let haze
-2* 3 -2* 2 -1 2 -2* 3 -3 -4
re-flect in Vin-cent’s eyes of Chi-na blue.
-1 2 3 -3 -4
Col-ors chang-ing hue
-4 -3 3 2 -3 -4 2
Morn-ing fields of am-ber grain
-4 -3 3 2 -3 -4 2
weath-ered fac-es lined in pain
-2* 3 -2* 2 -1
are soothed be-neath the
2 -2* 3 -3 3
art-ist’s lov-ing hand.

3 -3 -4 3 -3
Now I un-der-stand
-3 -4 4 -5 -4 -4 -4
what you tried to say to me
-4 4 -4 -3 3 2 -4 -3 -3
how you suf-fered for your san-i-ty
-3 -3 -3 -4 4 -3 -4
how you tried to set them free.
-4 -4 4 -4 -3
They would not lis-ten
3 2 -3 -4 2
they did not know how
-1 -2* 3 -3 -2* 3
per-haps they’ll lis-ten now.

3 3 -3 -4 -4 -3
For they could not love you
-1 -3 -3 -4 4 -5
but still your love was true
-4 4 -5 6 -5 -5 4 4 -4
and when no hope was left in sight
-4 4 -5* -5 -5 5 -5
on that star-ry, star-ry night.
-5* -5 4 4
You took your life
-4 -4 3 -3 -4 -4
as lov-ers of-ten do;
-4 -4 4 -4 -4 -3 -3 -4
But I could have told you Vin-cent
-4 4 -4 -4 -3 -3 3 -2*
this world was nev-er meant for one
3 -4 -3 3 -2* 3
as beau-ti-ful as you.

Starry, starry night
portraits hung in empty halls
frameless heads on nameless walls
with eyes
that watch the world and can’t forget.
Like the stranger that you’ve met
the ragged men in ragged clothes
the silver thorn of bloddy rose
lie crushed and broken
on the virgin snow.
And now I think I know what you
tried to say to me
how you suffered for your sanity
how you tried to set them free.
They would not listen
they’re not
list’ning still
perhaps they never will.

Lyrics


Vincent (Starry Night) (Chrom C)

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

(Guitar Plays 1st Line)
-5 6 7 -7 -8__
Starry starry night
-8 -7 7 6 -7 -8 6__
Paint your palette blue and gray
-8 -7 7 6 -7 -8 6__
Look out on a summer’s day
-6* 7 -6* 6 -5 6 -6* 7 -7 -8__
In colors on the snowy linen land

-5 6 7 -7 -8
Shadows on the hills
-8 -7 7 6 -7 -8 6
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
-8 -7 7 6 -7 -8 6
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
-6* 7 -6* 6 -5 6 -6* 7 -7 7__
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul
(Short Pause 1st Time)

7 -7 -8 7 -7__
Now I understand
-7 -8 9 -9 -8 -8 -8__
What you tried to say to me
-8 9 -8 -7 7 6 -8 -7 -7__
How you suffered for your sanity
-7 -7 -7 -8 9 -7 -8
How you tried to set them free
-8 -8 9 -8 -7 7 6 -7 -8 6__
They would not listen they did not know how
-5 -6* 7 -7 -6* 7 (Repeat Line Slow on Ending)
Perhaps they’ll listen now
(Repeat)

3 3 -3 -4 -4 -3__
For they could not love you
-1 -3 -3 -4 5 -5__
But still your love was true
-4 5 -5 6 -5 -5 5 5 -4
And when no hope was left inside
-4 5 -5* -5 -5 5 -5
On that starry starry night
6 -5 5 5 -4 -4 3 -3 -4 -4__
You took your life as lovers often do
-4 -4 5 -4 -4 -3 -3 -4
But I could have told you Vincent
-4 5 -4 -4 -3 -3 3 -2* 3 -4 -3 3 -2* 3__
This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you
(Repeat 1st Three Verses)

Starry starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent’s eyes of china blue
Colors changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now

Starry starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frameless heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can’t forget
Like the strangers that you’ve met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
The silver thorn of bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

Now I think I know
What you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
They did not listen, they’re not listening still
Perhaps they never will

This plays with karaoke music, same Artist, run time 4:07.

Lyrics


Ranger’s Command

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

RANGER’S COMMAND
Traditional folk song
Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez
Key: G

-8 8 -8 8 -8 7 8 8 -8 7 -6
Come all of you cow-boys all ov-er this land
-8 -8 -8 -7 -66 6 6 -6 7 -8 7
I’ll sing you the law of the Ran-ger’s com-mand.

To hold a six-shooter and never to run
As long as there’s bullets in both of your guns.

I met a fair maiden whose name I don’t know
I asked her to the round-up with me would she go.

She said she’d go with me to the cold round-up
And drink that hard liquor from a cold bitter cup.

We started for the round-up in the fall of the year
Expecting to get there with a herd of fat steer.

When the rustlers broke on us in the dead hour of night
She rose from her warm bed a battle to fight.
She rose from her warm bed with a gun in each hand
Saying, “Come all you cowboys, and fight for your land.”

Come all of you cowboys, and don’t ever run
As long as there’s bullets in both of your guns.

Lyrics


O Holy Night (tremolo)

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

This is tabbed for a 24 hole Echo Celeste tremolo

6 6 6 7
O holy night
7 -7 -7 -6 -7 8 7
The stars are brightly shining
7 6 -5 5 6 -6 7
It is the night of the dear
-6 -5 5
Savior’s birth
6 6 6 7 7 -7
Long lay the world in sin
-7 -6-7 8 7
And error pining
7 -6 6 -8 7 -7 -8
Til he appeared and the soul
8 -8 6 7 7 -7 -5
Felt it’s worth A thrill of hope
7 -7 7 8 6 -7 7
The weary soul rejoices
7 7 -7 -5 7 -7
For yonder breaks a new
7 8 6 7
And glorious morn
8 -8 -7 -8
Fall on your knees
-8 -9 -7 -7 -7 8 8
Oh hear the angels voices
8 9 7 8 -7 7
O night divine O night
7 -7 7 7
When Christ was born
8 -9 7 9-9 8
O night O holy night
-8 8 -98
O night divine

 

Led by the light
Of faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts
By his cradle we stand
So led by light
Of a star sweetly gleaming
Here came the wise men
From Orient land
The king of kings lay
Thus in lowly manger
In all our trials
Born to be our friend
He knows our need
To our weakness is no stranger
Behold your king
Before him lowly bend
Behold your king
Before him lowly bend

Truly he taught us
To love one another
His law is love
And his gospel is peace
Chains shall he break
For the slave is our brother
And in his name
All oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy
In grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us
Praise his holy name
Christ is the Lord
Oh praise his name forever
His power is glory
Evermore proclaim
His power and glory
Evermore proclaim

Lyrics


O Holy Night

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

5 5 5 6 6 -6 -6 -5 -6 7 6
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,

6 5 -4 4 5 -5 6 -5 -4 4
It is the night of the dear Sa-viour’s birth.

5 5 5 6 6 -6 -6 -5 -6 7 6
Long lay the world in sin and er-ror pining,

6 -5 5 -7 6 -6 -7 7 -7 5
Till He appeared and the Soul felt its worth.

6 6 -6 -4 6 -6 6 7 5 -6 6
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,

6 6 -6 -4 6 -6 6 7 5 6
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

7 -7 -6 -7 -7 -8 -6 -6 -6 7 7
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the an-gel voices!

7 8 -8 6 7 -7 -6 6 6 -6 6 6
O night divine, O—- night when Christ was born;

7 -8 6 9 -9 8 -8 7 -7 7 -8 7
O night divine, O— night, O- night di-vine.

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
Over the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay in the lowly manger;
In all our trials he is to be our friend.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another.
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise his name forever,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Lyrics


Can I Sleep In Your Arms Tonight Lady

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

CAN I SLEEP IN YOUR ARMS TONIGHT LADY
By Willie Nelson
Mickey Raphael solo
A harp, cross position
Key: D

From Willie Nelson�s �Red-Headed Stranger�
Album. This is the harp break on the last
Chorus, following the last vocal verse.

(I chord)
Ahhh-Ah-Oooo Ahh-Oooo Ah-Woo-Ahhhhhhhh
-1 2 -3 4 -4 -3 -3� 3

(V)
Ahhh-Ah-Oooo Wah-Ah-Ooo-Wah Ah-Eeeeeee
-1 2 -3 3 -3� -3 -4 5 -4

(I)
Ah-Wa-Ah-Eee Ooo-WAHH-Ahh-Wah-Ahh-Ooo
-3 -4 -5 6 -6 7 -6 6 5 -4

(IV)
Wah-Ahh-Ah-Wooo
5 -4 4 3

(V)
Wa-Ha-A-Oo Ahh-Ooo Wa-Ha�Ah-Ooo-Ah-Ah-Ooo
2 -2-3�-3 4 -4 -5 5 -4 -4� 4 -4� -4

Wah-Ahh-Oooooooooooo
-3 -3� 3

WAHH in caps means to hit this tone a bit harder.
The Ah�s Ooo�s & Eee�s etc. are hints on how
To sound the notes. Add a little tremolo to
Held notes.

Lyrics


John Osbourne

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

John Michael “Ozzy” Osbourne (born 3 December 1948)[2] is an English singer, songwriter, and television personality. He rose to prominence during the 1970s as the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath, during which period he adopted the nickname “Prince of Darkness”.

Osbourne was fired from Black Sabbath in 1979 due to alcohol and drug problems, but went on to have a successful solo career, releasing 12 studio albums, the first seven of which received multi-platinum certifications in the US. Osbourne has since reunited with Black Sabbath on several occasions. He rejoined in 1997 and helped record the group’s final studio album, 13 (2013), before they embarked on a farewell tour that ended with a February 2017 performance in their hometown, Birmingham, England. His longevity and success have earned him the informal title “Godfather of Metal”.

Osbourne’s total album sales from his years in Black Sabbath, combined with his solo work, is over 100 million. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Black Sabbath and into the UK Music Hall of Fame as a solo artist and as a member of the band. He has been honoured with stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Birmingham Walk of Stars. At the 2014 MTV Europe Music Awards, he received the Global Icon Award. In 2015, Osbourne received the Ivor Novello Award for Lifetime Achievement from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.

In the early 2000s, Osbourne became a reality television star, appearing as himself in the MTV reality show The Osbournes alongside wife and manager Sharon and two of their three children, Kelly and Jack. He co-stars with Jack and Kelly in the television series Ozzy & Jack’s World Detour. The show’s third season debuted in June 2018.

Early life

Osbourne was born in the Aston area of Birmingham, England.[2] His mother, Lilian (née Unitt; 1916–2001), was a non-observant Catholic who worked days at a factory. His father, John Thomas “Jack” Osbourne (1915–1977), worked night shifts as a toolmaker at the General Electric Company. Osbourne has three older sisters, Jean, Iris, and Gillian, and two younger brothers, Paul and Tony. The family lived in a small two-bedroom home at 14 Lodge Road in Aston. Osbourne has had the nickname “Ozzy” since primary school. Osbourne dealt with dyslexia at school. At the age of 11, he suffered sexual abuse from school bullies. Drawn to the stage, he took part in school plays such as Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado and HMS Pinafore. He possesses a “hesitant” Brummie accent.

Upon hearing their first hit single at age 14, Osbourne became a fan of the Beatles. He credits their 1963 song “She Loves You” for inspiring him to become a musician. He said in the 2011 documentary God Bless Ozzy Osbourne, “I knew I was going to be a rock star the rest of my life.” Osbourne left school at 15 and was employed as a construction site labourer, trainee plumber, apprentice toolmaker, car factory horn-tuner, and abattoir worker. He attempted burglary, stealing a television (which fell on him during his getaway and had to be abandoned), a handful of baby clothes (originally thought to be adult clothes as it was too dark to see when he committed the burglary, and which were stolen to sell to people at a pub), and some T-shirts. He spent six weeks in Winson Green Prison when he was unable to pay a fine after being convicted of burgling a clothes shop; to teach his son a lesson, his father refused to pay the fine.

Career

Black Sabbath

In late 1967, Geezer Butler formed his first band, Rare Breed, and soon recruited Osbourne to serve as vocalist.  The band played two shows, then broke up. Osbourne and Butler reunited in Polka Tulk Blues, along with guitarist Tony Iommi and drummer Bill Ward, whose band Mythology had recently broken up. They renamed themselves Earth, but after being accidentally booked for a show instead of a different band with the same name, they decided to change their name again. They finally settled on the name Black Sabbath in August 1969, based on the film of the same title. The band had noticed how people enjoyed being frightened; inspired, the band decided to play a heavy blues style of music laced with gloomy sounds and lyrics. While recording their first album, Butler read an occult book and woke up seeing a dark figure at the end of his bed. Butler told Osbourne about it and together they wrote the lyrics to “Black Sabbath”, their first song in a darker vein.

Despite only a modest investment from their US record label Warner Bros. Records, Black Sabbath met with swift and enduring success. Built around Tony Iommi’s guitar riffs, Geezer Butler’s lyrics, Bill Ward’s dark tempo drumbeats, and topped by Osbourne’s eerie vocals, early records such as their debut album Black Sabbath and Paranoid sold huge numbers, as well as getting considerable airplay. Osbourne recalls a band lament, “in those days, the band wasn’t very popular with the women”.

At about this time, Osbourne first met his future wife, Sharon Arden. After the unexpected success of their first album, Black Sabbath were considering her father, Don Arden, as their new manager, and Sharon was at that time working as Don’s receptionist. Osbourne admits he was attracted to her immediately but assumed that “she probably thought I was a lunatic”.  Osbourne said years later that the best thing about eventually choosing Don Arden as manager was that he got to see Sharon regularly, though their relationship was strictly professional at that point.

Just five months after the release of Paranoid, the band released Master of Reality. The album reached the top ten in both the United States and UK, and was certified gold in less than two months. In the 1980s it received platinum certification  and went Double Platinum in the early 21st century. Reviews of the album were unfavourable. Lester Bangs of Rolling Stone famously dismissed Master of Reality as “naïve, simplistic, repetitive, absolute doggerel”, although the very same magazine would later place the album at number 298 on their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, compiled in 2003. Black Sabbath’s Volume 4 was released in September 1972. Critics were again dismissive of the album, yet it achieved gold status in less than a month. It was the band’s fourth consecutive release to sell one million copies in the United States.

In November 1973, Black Sabbath released the critically acclaimed Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. For the first time, the band received favourable reviews in the mainstream press. Gordon Fletcher of Rolling Stone called the album “an extraordinarily gripping affair”, and “nothing less than a complete success”. Decades later, AllMusic’s Eduardo Rivadavia called the album a “masterpiece, essential to any heavy metal collection”, while also claiming the band displayed “a newfound sense of finesse and maturity”. The album marked the band’s fifth consecutive platinum selling album in the US. Sabotage was released in July 1975. Again there were favourable reviews. Rolling Stone stated, “Sabotage is not only Black Sabbath’s best record since Paranoid, it might be their best ever.” In a retrospective review, AllMusic was less favourable, noting that “the magical chemistry that made such albums as Paranoid and Volume 4 so special was beginning to disintegrate”. Technical Ecstasy, released on 25 September 1976, was also met with mixed reviews. AllMusic gives the album two stars, and notes that the band was “unravelling at an alarming rate”.

Dismissal

In 1978, Osbourne left the band for three months to pursue a solo project he called Blizzard of Ozz, a title which had been suggested by his father. Three members of the band Necromandus, who had supported Sabbath in Birmingham when they were called Earth, backed Osbourne in the studio and briefly became the first incarnation of his solo band.

At the request of the other members, Osbourne rejoined Sabbath. The band spent five months at Sounds Interchange Studios in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, writing and recording what would become Never Say Die! “It took quite a long time”, Iommi said. “We were getting really drugged out, doing a lot of dope. We’d go down to the sessions, and have to pack up because we were too stoned; we’d have to stop. Nobody could get anything right, we were all over the place, everybody’s playing a different thing. We’d go back and sleep it off, and try again the next day.”

Touring in support of Never Say Die! began in May 1978 with openers Van Halen. Reviewers called Sabbath’s performance “tired and uninspired”, in stark contrast to the “youthful” performance of Van Halen, who were touring the world for the first time. The band filmed a performance at the Hammersmith Odeon in June 1978, released on video as Never Say Die. The final show of the tour – and Osbourne’s last appearance with the band until 1985 – was in Albuquerque, New Mexico on 11 December.

In 1979, back in the studio, tension and conflict arose between the members. Osbourne recalls being asked to record his vocals over and over, and tracks being manipulated endlessly by Iommi. This was a point of contention between Osbourne and Iommi. At Iommi’s insistence, and with the support of Butler and Ward, Osbourne was fired on 27 April 1979. The reasons provided to him were that he was unreliable and had excessive substance abuse issues compared to the other members. Osbourne claims his drug use and alcohol consumption at that time was neither better nor worse than that of the other members.

The band replaced him with former Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio. “I was not, and never will be, Ozzy Osbourne,” Dio noted. “He was the vocalist and songwriter in that era who helped create that band and make it what it was, and what it is in its classic form.”

Conflict had existed between Iommi and Osbourne from the beginning. When responding to a 1969 flyer reading “Ozzy Zig Needs Gig- has own PA”  posted in a record store, Iommi and Ward arrived at the listed address to speak with Ozzy Zig. When Iommi saw Osbourne emerge from another room of the house, he left upon discovering it was the same “pest” he knew from growing up, as he knew of and disliked Osbourne from back in their school days.  Iommi had reportedly “punched out” Osbourne numerous times over the years when the singer’s drunken antics had become too much to take. Iommi recalls one incident in the early 1970s in which Osbourne and Butler were fighting in a hotel room. Iommi pulled Osbourne off Butler in an attempt to break up the drunken fight, and the vocalist proceeded to turn around and take a wild swing at him. Iommi responded by knocking Osbourne unconscious with one punch to the jaw.

Solo career

On leaving Sabbath, Osbourne recalled, “I’d got £96,000 for my share of the name, so I’d just locked myself away and spent three months doing coke and booze. My thinking was, ‘This is my last party, because after this I’m going back to Birmingham and the dole.”[41] However, Don Arden signed him to Jet Records with the aim of recording new material. Arden dispatched his daughter Sharon to Los Angeles to “look after Ozzy’s needs, whatever they were”, to protect his investment.[42] Initially, Arden hoped Osbourne would return to Sabbath (who he was personally managing at that time), and later attempted to convince the singer to name his new band “Son of Sabbath”, which Osbourne hated.[10] Sharon attempted to convince Osbourne to form a supergroup with guitarist Gary Moore.[10] “When I lived in Los Angeles,” Moore recalled, “[Moore’s band] G-Force helped him to audition musicians. If drummers were trying out, I played guitar, and if a bassist came along, my drummer would help out. We felt sorry for him, basically. He was always hovering around trying to get me to join, and I wasn’t having any of it.”

In late 1979, under the management of the Ardens, Osbourne formed the Blizzard of Ozz, featuring drummer Lee Kerslake (of Uriah Heep), bassist-lyricist Bob Daisley (of Rainbow and later Uriah Heep), keyboardist Don Airey (of Rainbow, and later Deep Purple), and guitarist Randy Rhoads (of Quiet Riot). The record company would eventually title the group’s debut album Blizzard of Ozz, credited simply to Osbourne, thus commencing his solo career. Cowritten with Daisley and Rhoads, it brought Osbourne considerable success on his first solo effort. Though it is generally accepted that Osbourne and Rhoads started the band, Daisley later claimed that he and Osbourne formed the band in England before Rhoads officially joined.

Blizzard of Ozz is one of the few albums amongst the 100 best-sellers of the 1980s to have achieved multi-platinum status without the benefit of a top-40 single. As of August 1997, it had achieved quadruple platinum status, according to RIAA. “I envied Ozzy’s career…” remarked former Sabbath drummer Bill Ward. “He seemed to be coming around from whatever it was that he’d gone through and he seemed to be on his way again; making records and stuff… I envied it because I wanted that… I was bitter. And I had a thoroughly miserable time.”

Osbourne’s second album, Diary of a Madman, featured more songs co-written with Lee Kerslake. For his work on this album and Blizzard of Ozz, Rhoads was ranked the 85th-greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2003. This album is known for the singles “Over the Mountain” and “Flying High Again” and, as Osbourne explains in his autobiography, is his personal favourite. Tommy Aldridge and Rudy Sarzo soon replaced Kerslake and Daisley. Aldridge had been Osbourne’s original choice for drummer, but a commitment to Gary Moore had made him unavailable. Sarzo had played in Quiet Riot with Rhoads, who recommended him for the position.

On 19 March 1982, the band were in Florida for the Diary of a Madman tour, and a week away from playing Madison Square Garden in New York City. A light aircraft piloted by Andrew Aycock (the band’s tour bus driver) – carrying Rhoads and Rachel Youngblood, the band’s costume and make-up designer – crashed while performing low passes over the band’s tour bus. The left wing of the aircraft clipped the bus, causing the plane to graze a tree and crash into the garage of a nearby mansion, killing Rhoads, Aycock, and Youngblood. The crash was ruled the result of “poor judgement by the pilot in buzzing the bus and misjudging clearance of obstacles”. Experiencing firsthand the horrific death of his close friend and bandmate, Osbourne fell into a deep depression. The tour was cancelled for two weeks while Osbourne, Sharon, and Aldridge returned to Los Angeles to take stock while Sarzo remained in Florida with family.

Gary Moore was the first approached to replace Rhoads, but refused. With a two-week deadline to find a new guitarist and resume the tour, Robert Sarzo, brother of the band’s bassist Rudy Sarzo, was chosen to replace Rhoads. However, former Gillan guitarist Bernie Tormé had flown to California from England with the promise from Jet Records that he had the job. Once Sharon realized that Jet Records had already paid Tormé an advance, he was reluctantly hired instead of Sarzo. The tour resumed on 1 April 1982, but Tormé’s blues-based style was unpopular with fans. After a handful of shows he informed Sharon that he would be returning to England to continue work on a solo album he had begun before coming to America. At an audition in a hotel room, Osbourne selected Night Ranger’s Brad Gillis to finish the tour. The tour culminated in the release of the 1982 live album Speak of the Devil, recorded at the Ritz in New York City. A live tribute album for Rhoads was also later released. Despite the difficulties, Osbourne moved on after Rhoads’ death. Speak of the Devil, known in the United Kingdom as Talk of the Devil, was originally planned to consist of live recordings from 1981, primarily from Osbourne’s solo work. Under contract to produce a live album, it ended up consisting entirely of Sabbath covers recorded with Gillis, Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge.

In 1982 Osbourne appeared as lead vocalist on the Was (Not Was) pop dance track “Shake Your Head (Let’s Go to Bed)”. Remixed and rereleased in the early 1990s for a Was (Not Was) hits album in Europe, it reached number four on the UK Singles Chart. In 1983, Jake E. Lee, formerly of Ratt and Rough Cutt, joined Osbourne to record Bark at the Moon. The album, cowritten with Daisley, featured Aldridge and former Rainbow keyboard player Don Airey. The album contains the fan favourite “Bark at the Moon”. The music video for “Bark at the Moon” was partially filmed at the Holloway Sanitorium outside London, England. Within weeks the album became certified gold. It has sold three million copies in the US. 1986’s The Ultimate Sin followed (with bassist Phil Soussan and drummer Randy Castillo), and touring behind both albums with former Uriah Heep keyboardist John Sinclair joining prior to the Ultimate Sin tour. At the time of its release, The Ultimate Sin was Osbourne’s highest charting studio album. The RIAA awarded the album Platinum status on 14 May 1986, soon after its release; it was awarded Double Platinum status on 26 October 1994.

Jake E. Lee and Osbourne parted ways in 1987. Osbourne continued to struggle with chemical dependency. That year he commemorated the fifth anniversary of Rhoads’ death with Tribute, a collection of live recordings from 1981. In 1988 Osbourne appeared in The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years and told the director Penelope Spheeris that “sobriety fucking sucks”. Meanwhile, Osbourne found Zakk Wylde, who was the most enduring replacement for Rhoads to date. Together they recorded No Rest for the Wicked with Castillo on drums, Sinclair on keyboards, and Daisley co-writing lyrics and playing bass. The subsequent tour saw Osbourne reunited with erstwhile Black Sabbath bandmate Geezer Butler on bass. A live EP (entitled Just Say Ozzy) featuring Geezer was released two years later. In 1988, Osbourne performed on the rock ballad “Close My Eyes Forever”, a duet with Lita Ford, reaching No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1989 Osbourne performed at the Moscow Music Peace Festival.

Successful through the 1980s, Osbourne sustained commercial success into the 1990s, starting with 1991’s No More Tears, featuring “Mama, I’m Coming Home”. The album enjoyed much radio and MTV exposure. It also initiated a practice of bringing in outside composers to help pen Osbourne’s solo material instead of relying on his recording ensemble. The album was mixed by veteran rock producer Michael Wagener. Osbourne was awarded a Grammy Award for the track “I Don’t Want to Change the World” from Live & Loud, for Best Metal Performance of 1994. Wagener also mixed the live album Live & Loud released on 28 June 1993. Intended to be Osbourne’s final album, it went platinum four times over, and ranked at number 10 on that year’s Billboard rock charts. At this point Osbourne expressed his fatigue with touring, and proclaimed his “retirement tour” (which was to be short-lived). It was called “No More Tours”, a pun on No More Tears. Alice in Chains’ Mike Inez took over on bass and Kevin Jones played keyboards as Sinclair was touring with the Cult.

Osbourne’s entire CD catalogue was remastered and reissued in 1995. In 1995 Osbourne released Ozzmosis and returned to touring, dubbing his concert performances “The Retirement Sucks Tour”. The album reached number 4 on the US Billboard 200. The RIAA certified the album gold and platinum in that same year, and double platinum in April 1999.

The line-up on Ozzmosis was Wylde, Butler (who had just quit Black Sabbath again) and former Bad English, Steve Vai and Hardline drummer Deen Castronovo, who later joined Journey. Keyboards were played by Rick Wakeman and producer Michael Beinhorn. The tour maintained Butler and Castronovo and saw Sinclair return, but a major line-up change was the introduction of former David Lee Roth guitarist Joe Holmes. Wylde was considering an offer to join Guns N’ Roses. Unable to wait for a decision on Wylde’s departure, Osbourne replaced him. In early 1996, Butler and Castronovo left. Inez and Randy Castillo (Lita Ford, Mötley Crüe) filled in. Ultimately, Faith No More’s Mike Bordin and former Suicidal Tendencies and future Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo joined on drums and bass respectively. A greatest hits package, The Ozzman Cometh, was issued in 1997.

Ozzfest

Osbourne’s biggest financial success of the 1990s was a venture named Ozzfest, created and managed by his wife/manager Sharon and assisted by his son Jack. The first Ozzfest was held in Phoenix, Arizona on 25 October 1996 and in Devore, California on 26 October. Ozzfest was an instant hit with metal fans, helping many up-and-coming groups who were featured there to broad exposure and commercial success. Some acts shared the bill with a reformed Black Sabbath during the 1997 Ozzfest tour, beginning in West Palm Beach, Florida. Osbourne reunited with the original members of Sabbath in 1997 and has performed periodically with them since.

Since its beginning, five million people have attended Ozzfest which has grossed over US$100 million. The festival helped promote many new hard rock and heavy metal acts of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Ozzfest helped Osbourne to become the first hard rock and heavy metal star to hit $50 million in merchandise sales. In 2005, Osbourne and his wife Sharon starred in an MTV competition reality show entitled “Battle for Ozzfest”. A number of yet unsigned bands send one member to compete in a challenge to win a spot on the 2005 Ozzfest and a possible recording contract. Shortly after Ozzfest 2005, Osbourne announced that he will no longer headline Ozzfest. Although he announced his retirement from Ozzfest, Osbourne came back headlining the tour. In 2006 Osbourne closed the event for just over half the concerts, leaving the others to be closed by System of a Down. He also played the closing act for the second stage at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California on 1 July as well as Randalls Island, New York on 29 July. After the concert in Bristol, Virginia, Osbourne announced he would return for another year of Ozzfest in 2007.

Tickets for the 2007 tour were offered to fans free of charge, which led to some controversy. In 2008, Ozzfest was reduced to a one-day event in Dallas, where Osbourne played, along with Metallica and King Diamond. In 2010, Osbourne appeared as the headliner closing the show after opening acts Halford and Mötley Crüe. The tour, though small (only six US venues and one UK venue were played), generated rave reviews.

2000s

Down to Earth, Osbourne’s first album of new studio material in six years, was released on 16 October 2001. A live album, Live at Budokan, followed in 2002. Down to Earth, which achieved platinum status in 2003, featured the single “Dreamer”, a song which peaked at number 10 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks. In June 2002, Osbourne was invited to participate in the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, performing the Black Sabbath anthem “Paranoid” at the Party at the Palace concert in the grounds of Buckingham Palace. In 2003, Osbourne recruited former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted, though his time with Osbourne would be short. Interestingly, Osbourne’s former bassist Robert Trujillo replaced Newsted in Metallica during this same period.

On 8 December 2003, Osbourne was rushed into emergency surgery at Wexham Park Hospital in Slough, England when he had an accident with his quad bike on his estate in Jordans, Buckinghamshire. Osbourne broke his collar bone, eight ribs, and a neck vertebra.  An operation was performed to lift the collarbone, which was believed to be resting on a major artery and interrupting blood flow to the arm. Sharon later revealed that Osbourne had stopped breathing following the crash and was resuscitated by Osbourne’s then personal bodyguard, Sam Ruston. While in hospital, Osbourne achieved his first ever UK number one single, a duet of the Black Sabbath ballad, “Changes” with daughter Kelly. In doing so, he broke the record of the longest period between an artist’s first UK chart appearance (with Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”, number four in August 1970) and their first number one hit: a gap of 33 years. Since the quad accident, apart from some short-term memory problems, he fully recovered and headlined the 2004 Ozzfest, in the reunited Black Sabbath.

In March 2005, Osbourne released a box set called Prince of Darkness. The first and second discs are collections of live performances, B-sides, demos and singles. The third disc contained duets and other odd tracks with other artists, including “Born to Be Wild” with Miss Piggy. The fourth disc, is entirely new material where Osbourne covers his favourite songs by his biggest influences and favourite bands, including the Beatles, John Lennon, David Bowie and others. In November 2005, Osbourne released the covers album Under Cover, featuring 10 songs from the fourth disc of Prince of Darkness and 3 more songs. Osbourne’s band for this album included Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell, bassist Chris Wyse and Faith No More drummer Mike Bordin.

Osbourne also helped judge the 2005 UK series of the X-Factor where his wife Sharon was one of the main judges. In March 2006, he said that he hoped to release a new studio album soon with longtime on-off guitarist, Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society. In October 2006, it was announced that Tony Iommi, Ronnie James Dio, Vinny Appice, and Geezer Butler would be touring together again, though not as Black Sabbath, but under the moniker Heaven and Hell (the title of Dio’s first Black Sabbath album). The response to the news on Osbourne’s website was that Osbourne wished Tony and Ronnie well and that there is only one Sabbath. Osbourne’s album, titled Black Rain, was released on 22 May 2007. Osbourne’s first new studio album in almost six years, it featured a more serious tone than previous albums. “I thought I’d never write again without any stimulation… But you know what? Instead of picking up the bottle I just got honest and said, ‘I don’t want life to go [to pieces]’”, Osbourne stated to Billboard magazine.

Osbourne revealed in July 2009 that he was currently seeking a new guitar player. While he states that he has not fallen out with Zakk Wylde, he said he felt his songs were beginning to sound like Black Label Society and fancied a change. In August 2009, Osbourne performed at the gaming festival BlizzCon with a new guitarist in his line-up Gus G. Osbourne also provided his voice and likeness to the video game Brütal Legend character The Guardian of Metal. In November, Slash featured Osbourne on vocals in his single “Crucify The Dead”, and Osbourne with wife Sharon were guest hosts on WWE Raw. In December, Osbourne announced he would be releasing a new album titled Soul Sucka with Gus G, Tommy Clufetos on drums, and Blasko on bass.[80] Negative fan feedback was brought to Osbourne’s attention regarding the album title. In respect of fan opinion, on 29 March Osbourne announced his album would be renamed Scream.

2010s

On 13 April 2010, Osbourne announced the release date for Scream would be 15 June 2010. The release date was later changed to a week later. A single from the album, “Let Me Hear You Scream”, debuted on 14 April 2010 episode of CSI: NY. The song spent eight weeks on the Billboard Rock Songs chart, peaking at No. 7.

On 9 August 2010, Osbourne announced that the second single from the album would be “Life Won’t Wait” and the video for the song would be directed by his son Jack. When asked of his opinions on Scream in an interview, Osbourne announced that he is “already thinking about the next album”. Osbourne’s current drummer, Tommy Clufetos, has reflected this sentiment, saying that “We are already coming up with new ideas backstage, in the hotel rooms and at soundcheck and have a bunch of ideas recorded”.[84] In October 2014, Osbourne released Memoirs of a Madman, a collection celebrating his entire solo career. A CD version contained 17 singles from across his career, never before compiled together. The DVD version contained music videos, live performances, and interviews.

In August 2015, Epic Records president Sylvia Rhone confirmed with Billboard that Osbourne was working on another studio album;  in September 2019, Osbourne announced he had finished the album in four weeks following his collaboration with Post Malone. In April 2017, it was announced that guitarist Zakk Wylde would reunite with Osbourne for a summer tour to mark the 30th anniversary of their first collaboration on 1988’s No Rest for the Wicked. The first show of the tour took place on 14 July at the Rock USA Festival in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

On 6 November 2017, Ozzy was announced as the headline act for the Sunday of the 2018 Download Festival held annually at Donington Park in Leicestershire, England. Having previously graced the main stage in previous years fronting Black Sabbath, this will be his first ever Download headline solo appearance. The Download Festival set comes as part of Osbourne’s final world tour announcement that morning.

On 6 February 2018, Osbourne announced that he would embark on his final world tour dubbed No More Tours II, a reference to his 1992 tour of the same name, with support from Stone Sour on the North American portion of the tour. He later insisted that he would not retire, “It’s ‘No More Tours’, so I’m just not doing world tours anymore. I’m still going to be doing gigs, but I’m not going on tour for six months at a time anymore. I’d like to spend some time at home.”

On 6 September 2019, Osbourne featured on the song “Take What You Want” by Post Malone. The song would peak on the Billboard Hot 100 charts at number 8, making it Osbourne’s first US Top 10 single in 30 years since he was featured on Lita Ford’s “Close My Eyes Forever”.

2020s

On 21 February 2020, Osbourne released his first solo album in almost ten years, Ordinary Man, which received positive reviews from music critics and debuted at number three on the UK Albums Chart. A few days after the release, Osbourne told IHeartRadio that he wanted to make another album with Andrew Watt, the main producer of Ordinary Man. One week after the release of the album, an 8-bit video game dedicated to Osbourne was released, called Legend of Ozzy. Osbourne has started working on his follow up album, once again with Andrew Watt.

Black Sabbath reunion

It was announced on 11 November 2011 during a news conference at the Whisky a Go Go club on West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip that the original Black Sabbath line up of Ozzy, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward would reunite for a world tour and new album, to be produced by Rick Rubin. Bill Ward dropped out for contractual reasons, but the project continued with Rage Against the Machine’s Brad Wilk stepping in for Ward on drums. On 21 May 2012, Black Sabbath played at the O2 Academy in their hometown Birmingham, their first concert since their reunion. The album, entitled 13, was released 11 June 2013, and topped both the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard 200.

In January 2016, the band began a farewell tour, titled “The End”, signifying the final performances of Black Sabbath. The final shows of The End tour took place at the Genting Arena in their home city of Birmingham, England on 2 and 4 February 2017, with Tommy Clufetos replacing Bill Ward as the drummer for the final show.

Other production work

Osbourne achieved greater celebrity status via his own brand of reality television. The Osbournes, a series featuring the domestic life of Osbourne and his family (wife Sharon, children Jack and Kelly, occasional appearances from his son Louis, but eldest daughter Aimee did not participate). The program became one of MTV’s greatest hits. It premiered on 5 March 2002, and the final episode aired 21 March 2005.

The success of The Osbournes led Osbourne and the rest of his family to host the 30th Annual American Music Awards in January 2003. The night was marked with constant “bleeping” due to some of the lewd and raunchy remarks made by Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne. Presenter Patricia Heaton walked out midway in disgust. On 20 February 2008, Ozzy, Sharon, Kelly and Jack Osbourne hosted the 2008 BRIT Awards held at Earls Court, London. Ozzy appeared in a TV commercial for I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! which began airing in the UK in February 2006. Ozzy appears in a commercial for the online video game World of Warcraft. He was also featured in the music video game Guitar Hero World Tour as a playable character. He becomes unlocked upon completing “Mr. Crowley” and “Crazy Train” in the vocalist career.

Osbourne published an autobiography in October 2009, titled I Am Ozzy. Osbourne says ghost writer Chris Ayres told the singer he has enough material for a second book. A movie adaptation of I Am Ozzy is also in the works, and Osbourne says he hopes “an unknown guy from England” will get the role over an established actor, while Sharon stated she would choose established English actress Carey Mulligan to play her.

A documentary film about Osbourne’s life and career, entitled God Bless Ozzy Osbourne, premiered in April 2011 at the Tribeca Film Festival and was released on DVD in November 2011. The film was produced by Osbourne’s son Jack. On 15 May 2013 Osbourne, along with the current members of Black Sabbath, appeared in an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation titled “Skin in the Game”. The History Channel premiered a comedy reality television series starring Ozzy Osbourne and his son Jack Osbourne on 24 July 2016 named Ozzy & Jack’s World Detour. During each episode Ozzy and Jack visit one or more sites to learn about history from experts, and explore unusual or quirky aspects of their background.

Osbourne appeared in a November 2017 episode of Gogglebox along with other UK celebrities such as Ed Sheeran, former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher, and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn as part of Channel 4 and Cancer Research UK’s Stand Up to Cancer fundraising campaign. In November 2017, Osbourne entered into a new realm of sponsorship as he signed on as an ambassador of a rock-themed online casino known as Metal Casino, which was founded by metal music fans in August 2017. In February 2019, Osbourne’s merchandising partner announced that Ozzy would have his own branded online slots game as part of the NetEnt Rocks music-themed portfolio.

Awards

Osbourne has received several awards for his contributions to the music community. In 1994, he was awarded a Grammy Award for the track “I Don’t Want to Change the World” from Live & Loud for Best Metal Performance of 1994.[ At the 2004 NME Awards in London, Osbourne received the award for Godlike Genius. In 2005 Osbourne was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame both as a solo artist and as a member of Black Sabbath. In 2006, he was inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Black Sabbath bandmates Tony Iommi, Bill Ward, and Geezer Butler.

In 2007 Osbourne was honoured at the second annual VH1 Rock Honors, along with Genesis, Heart, and ZZ Top. In addition, that year a bronze star honouring Osbourne was placed on Broad Street in Birmingham, England while Osbourne watched. On 18 May Osbourne had received notice that he would be the first inductee into The Birmingham Walk of Stars. He was presented the award by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham. “I am really honoured”, he said, “All my family is here and I thank everyone for this reception—I’m absolutely knocked out”.

In 2008 Osbourne was crowned with the prestigious Living Legend award in the Classic Rock Roll of Honour Awards. Past recipients include Alice Cooper, Lemmy, Jimmy Page. Slash, the former Guns N’ Roses guitarist, presented the award. In 2010 Osbourne won the “Literary Achievement” honour for his memoir, I Am Ozzy, at the Guys Choice Awards at Sony Pictures Studio in Culver City, California. Osbourne was presented with the award by Sir Ben Kingsley. The book debuted at No. 2 on the New York Times’ hardcover non-fiction best-seller list. Osbourne was also a judge for the 6th, 10th and 11th  annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists’ careers. In May 2015, Osbourne received the Ivor Novello Award for Lifetime Achievement from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors at a ceremony held at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London. In 2016, Osbourne had a tram named after him in his home city of Birmingham.

Personal life

In 1971, Osbourne met his first wife Thelma (née Riley) at a nightclub in Birmingham called the Rum Runner, where she worked. They were married in 1971 and children Jessica and Louis were soon born while Osbourne adopted Thelma’s son Elliot. Osbourne later referred to his first marriage as “a terrible mistake”. His drug and alcohol abuse, coupled with his frequent absences while touring with Black Sabbath, took their toll on his family life, with his children later complaining that he was not a good father. In the 2011 documentary film God Bless Ozzy Osbourne, produced by his son Jack, Osbourne sheepishly admitted that he could not even remember when Louis and Jessica were born.

Osbourne married his manager Sharon Arden on 4 July 1982 and the couple would have three children together, Aimee (born 2 September 1983), Kelly (born 27 October 1984), and Jack (born 8 November 1985). He later confessed that the well known “Fourth of July” US Independence Day date was chosen so that he would never forget his anniversary. Guitarist Randy Rhoads predicted in 1981 that the couple would “probably get married someday” despite their constant bickering and the fact that Osbourne was still married to Thelma at the time. Osbourne has numerous grandchildren.

Osbourne wrote a song for his daughter Aimee, which appeared as a B-side on the album Ozzmosis. At the end of the song, his daughter can be heard saying “I’ll always be your angel”, referring to the song’s chorus lyrics. The song My Little Man, which appears on Ozzmosis, was written about his son Jack. The Osbourne family divide their time between their Buckinghamshire mansion and a home in Los Angeles, California.

Though Osbourne has long been accused of being a Satanist, it was reported by The New York Times in 1992 that he was a practicing member of the Church of England and prayed before each show. In 2002, Osbourne and wife Sharon were invited to the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner by Fox News Channel correspondent Greta Van Susteren for that year’s event. Then-President George W. Bush noted Osbourne’s presence by joking, “The thing about Ozzy is, he’s made a lot of big hit recordings – ‘Party with the Animals’, ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’, ‘Facing Hell’, ‘Black Skies’ and ‘Bloodbath in Paradise’. Ozzy, Mom loves your stuff.”

Ozzy and his wife are one of the UK’s richest couples, according to the Sunday Times Rich List. They ranked at number 458 in 2005, with an estimated £100 million earned from recording, touring, and TV shows. Osbourne has over 15 tattoos, the most famous of which are the letters O-Z-Z-Y across the knuckles of his left hand. This was his first tattoo, created by himself as a teenager with a sewing needle and pencil lead. A longtime fan of the comedy troupe Monty Python, in a 2010 interview with Us Weekly Osbourne stated, “My favourite movie is Monty Python’s Life of Brian”. Osbourne suffered minor burns after a small house fire in January 2013. On his 65th birthday on 3 December 2013, he asked fans to celebrate his birthday by donating to the Royal Marsden cancer charity in London.

On 6 February 2019, Osbourne was hospitalized in an undisclosed location on his doctor’s advice due to flu complications, postponing the European leg of his “No More Tours 2” tour. The issue was described as a “severe upper-respiratory infection” following a bout with the flu which his doctor feared could develop into pneumonia, given the physicality of the live performances and an extensive travel schedule throughout Europe in harsh winter conditions. Pneumonia targets the airway and breathing and is typically fatal in elderly patients, necessitating the preventive measures. By 12 February 2019, Osbourne had been moved to intensive care. Tour promoters Live Nation said in a statement that they were hopeful that Osbourne would be “fit and healthy” and able to honor tour dates in Australia and New Zealand in March. Osbourne later cancelled the tour entirely, and ultimately all shows scheduled for 2019, after sustaining serious injuries from a fall in his Los Angeles home while still recovering from pneumonia. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in February 2019, which he publicly revealed in January 2020. In February 2020, Osbourne cancelled the 2020 North American tour, seeking treatment in Switzerland until April.

Drug and alcohol abuse

Osbourne has abused alcohol and other drugs for most of his adult life. He admitted to Sounds in 1978, “I get high, I get fucked up … what the hell’s wrong with getting fucked up? There must be something wrong with the system if so many people have to get fucked up … I never take dope or anything before I go on stage. I’ll smoke a joint or whatever afterwards.” Black Sabbath bandmate Tony Iommi said that while all the band were involved with alcohol and other drugs to various degrees in the 1970s, Osbourne had the unhealthiest lifestyle of them all. Despite this, said Iommi, he was typically the only one left standing when the others were “out for the count”. Longtime guitarist Zakk Wylde has attributed Osbourne’s longevity in spite of decades of substance abuse to “a very special kind of fortitude that’s bigger than King Kong and Godzilla combined… seriously, he’s hard as nails, man!”[

Osbourne’s first experience with cocaine was in early 1971 at a hotel in Denver, Colorado, after a show Black Sabbath had done with Mountain. He states that Mountain’s guitarist, Leslie West, introduced him to the drug.[ Though West is reluctant to take credit for introducing Osbourne to cocaine, Osbourne remembers the experience quite clearly: “When you come from Aston and you fall in love with cocaine, you remember when you started. It’s like having your first fuck!” Osbourne says that upon first trying the drug, “The world went a bit fuzzy after that.”

Osbourne’s drug and alcohol abuse have at times caused friction within his band. Don Airey, keyboardist for Osbourne during his early solo career, has said that the vocalist’s substance-abuse issues were what ultimately caused him to leave the band. In his memoir Off the Rails, former bassist Rudy Sarzo detailed the frustrations felt by him and his bandmates as they coped with life on the road with the vocalist, who was in a state of near-constant inebriation and was often so hungover that he would refuse to perform. When he was able to perform, his voice was often so damaged from cigarettes and alcohol that the performance suffered. Many shows on the American leg of the 1981-82 Diary of a Madman tour were simply canceled, and the members of his band quickly began to tire of the unpredictability, coupled with the often violent mood swings he was prone to when drunk.

Osbourne claims in his autobiography that he was invited in 1981 to a meeting with the head of CBS Europe in Germany. Intoxicated, he decided to lighten the mood by performing a striptease on the table and then kissing the record executive on the lips. According to his wife Sharon, he had actually performed a goose-step up and down the table and urinated in the executive’s wine, but was too drunk to remember.

On 18 February 1982, while wearing his future wife Sharon’s dress for a photoshoot near the Alamo, Osbourne drunkenly urinated on a cenotaph erected in honour of those who died at the famous battle in Texas, across the street from the actual building. A police officer arrested Osbourne, and he was subsequently banned from the city of San Antonio for a decade. Osbourne had been on a long drinking binge and earlier that same day had drunkenly fired his entire band, including Randy Rhoads, after they had informed him that they would not participate in a planned live album of Black Sabbath songs. He also physically attacked Rhoads and Rudy Sarzo in a hotel bar that morning, and Sharon informed the band that she feared he had “finally snapped”. Osbourne later had no memory of firing his band and the tour continued, though his relationship with Rhoads never fully recovered. In May 1984, Osbourne was arrested in Memphis, Tennessee, again for public intoxication. The most notorious incident came in August 1989, when Sharon claimed that Ozzy had tried to strangle her after returning home from the Moscow Music Peace Festival, in a haze of alcohol and drugs. The incident led Ozzy to six months in rehabilitation, after which time, Sharon regained her faith in her husband and did not press charges.

Though he has managed to remain clean and sober for extended periods in recent years, Osbourne has frequently commented on his former wild lifestyle, expressing bewilderment at his own survival through 40 years of drug and alcohol abuse. Upon being fired from Black Sabbath in 1979, Osbourne spent the next three months locked in his hotel room taking vast amounts of alcohol and other drugs all day, every day. He claims that he would certainly have died if his future wife Sharon had not offered to manage him as a solo artist.

In 2003, Osbourne told the Los Angeles Times how he was nearly incapacitated by medication prescribed by a Beverly Hills doctor. The doctor was alleged to have prescribed 13,000 doses of 32 drugs in one year. However, after a nine-year investigation by the Medical Board of California, the Beverly Hills physician was exonerated of all charges of excessive prescribing.

Osbourne experienced tremors for some years and linked them to his continuous drug abuse. In May 2005, he found out it was actually Parkin syndrome, a genetic condition, the symptoms of which are similar to Parkinson’s disease. Osbourne will have to take daily medication for the rest of his life to combat the involuntary shudders associated with the condition. Osbourne has also shown symptoms of mild hearing loss, as depicted in the television show, The Osbournes, where he often asks his family to repeat what they say. At the TEDMED Conference in October 2010, scientists from Knome joined Osbourne on stage to discuss their analysis of Osbourne’s whole genome, which shed light on how the famously hard-living rocker has survived decades of drug abuse.

In April 2013, Osbourne revealed through Facebook that he had resumed drinking and taking drugs for the past year and a half, stating he “was in a very dark place” but said he had been sober again since early March. He also apologised to Sharon, his family, friends, bandmates and his fans for his “insane” behaviour during that period.

Controversy

Throughout his career, many religious groups have accused Osbourne of being a negative influence on teenagers, stating that his genre of rock music has been used to glorify Satanism. Scholar Christopher M. Moreman compared the controversy to those levelled against the occultist Aleister Crowley. Both were demonised by the media and some religious groups for their antics. Although Osbourne tempts the comparison with his song “Mr. Crowley“, he denies the charge of being a Satanist; conversely it has been alleged that Osbourne is a member of the Church of England and that he prays before taking the stage each night before every concert.

In 1981, after signing his first solo career record deal, Osbourne bit the head off a dove during a meeting with CBS Records executives in Los Angeles. Apparently, he had planned to release doves into the air as a sign of peace, but due to being intoxicated at the time, he instead grabbed a dove and bit its head off. He then spat the head out, with blood still dripping from his lips. Despite its controversy, the head-biting act has been parodied and alluded to several times throughout his career and is part of what made Osbourne famous.

On 20 January 1982, Osbourne bit the head off a bat that he thought was rubber while performing at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa. Rolling Stone magazine in 2004 ranked this incident number two on its list of “Rock’s Wildest Myths”. While the Rolling Stone article stated the bat was alive, 17-year-old Mark Neal who threw it onto the stage said it was brought to the show dead. According to Osbourne in the booklet to the 2002 edition of Diary of a Madman, the bat was not only alive but managed to bite him, resulting in Osbourne being treated for rabies. On 20 January 2019, Osbourne commemorated the 37th anniversary of the bat incident by offering an ‘Ozzy Plush Bat’ toy “with detachable head” for sale on his personal web-store. The site claimed the first batch of toys sold out within hours.

On New Year’s Eve 1983, Canadian youth James Jollimore killed a woman and her two sons in Halifax, Nova Scotia, after listening to the “Bark at the Moon” song. A friend of the murderer quoted: “Jimmy said that every time he listened to the song he felt strange inside … He said when he heard it on New Year’s Eve he went out and stabbed someone”.

In 1984, California teenager John McCollum committed suicide while listening to Osbourne’s “Suicide Solution”. The song deals with the dangers of alcohol abuse. McCollum’s suicide led to allegations that Osbourne promoted suicide in his songs. Despite knowing McCollum suffered clinical depression, his parents sued Osbourne (McCollum v. CBS for their son’s death, saying the lyrics in the song, “Where to hide, suicide is the only way out. Don’t you know what it’s really about?” convinced McCollum to commit suicide. The family’s lawyer suggested that Osbourne should be criminally charged for encouraging a young person to commit suicide, but the courts ruled in Osbourne’s favour, saying there was no connection between the song and McCollum’s suicide. Osbourne was sued for the same reason in 1991 (Waller v. Osbourne), by the parents of Michael Waller, for $9 million, but the courts once again ruled in Osbourne’s favour.

In lawsuits filed in 2000 and 2002 which were dismissed by the courts in 2003, former band members Bob Daisley, Lee Kerslake, and Phil Soussan stated that Osbourne was delinquent in paying them royalties and had denied them due credit on albums they played on. In November 2003, a Federal Appeals Court unanimously upheld the dismissal by the US District Court for the Central District of California of the lawsuit brought by Daisley and Kerslake. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that Osbourne does not owe any royalties or credit to the former band members who were let go in 1981. To resolve further issues, management chose to replace Daisley and Kerslake’s contributions on the original masters, replacing them with Robert Trujillo on bass and Mike Bordin on drums. The albums were then reissued. The original tracks have since been restored in accordance with the 30th anniversary of those albums.

In July 2010, Osbourne and Tony Iommi decided to discontinue the court proceedings over ownership of the Black Sabbath trademark. As reported to Blabbermouth, “Both parties are glad to put this behind them and to cooperate for the future and would like it to be known that the issue was never personal, it was always business.”

 

Lyrics


James Taylor

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

James Vernon Taylor (born March 12, 1948) is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 100 million records worldwide.

Taylor achieved his breakthrough in 1970 with the No. 3 single “Fire and Rain” and had his first No. 1 hit in 1971 with his recording of “You’ve Got a Friend”, written by Carole King in the same year. His 1976 Greatest Hits album was certified Diamond and has sold 12 million US copies. Following his 1977 album, JT he has retained a large audience over the decades. Every album that he released from 1977 to 2007 sold over 1 million copies. He enjoyed a resurgence in chart performance during the late 1990s and 2000s, when he recorded some of his most-awarded work (including Hourglass, October Road, and Covers). He achieved his first number-one album in the US in 2015 with his recording Before This World.

He is known for his covers, such as “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)” and “Handy Man”, as well as originals such as “Sweet Baby James”.

Early years

James Vernon Taylor was born at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where his father, Isaac M. Taylor, worked as a resident physician. His father came from a wealthy family from the South. Aside from having ancestry in Scotland, part of Taylor’s roots are deep in Massachusetts Bay Colony and include Edmund Rice, one of the founders of Sudbury, Massachusetts. His mother, the former Gertrude Woodard (1921–2015), studied singing with Marie Sundelius at the New England Conservatory of Music and was an aspiring opera singer before the couple’s marriage in 1946. James was the second of five children, the others being Alex (1947–1993), Kate (born 1949), Livingston (born 1950), and Hugh (born 1952).

In 1951, his family moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina[10] when Isaac took a job as an assistant professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. They built a house in the Morgan Creek area off the present Morgan Creek Road, which was sparsely populated. James would later say, “Chapel Hill, the Piedmont, the outlying hills, were tranquil, rural, beautiful, but quiet. Thinking of the red soil, the seasons, the way things smelled down there, I feel as though my experience of coming of age there was more a matter of landscape and climate than people.” James attended a public primary school in Chapel Hill. Isaac’s career prospered, but he was frequently away from home on military service at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland, or as part of Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica in 1955 and 1956. Isaac Taylor later rose to become dean of the UNC School of Medicine from 1964 to 1971. Beginning in 1953, the Taylors spent summers on Martha’s Vineyard.

James took cello lessons as a child in North Carolina, before learning the guitar in 1960. His guitar style evolved, influenced by hymns, carols, and the music of Woody Guthrie, and his technique derived from his bass clef-oriented cello training and from experimenting on his sister Kate’s keyboards: “My style was a finger-picking style that was meant to be like a piano, as if my thumb were my left hand, and my first, second, and third fingers were my right hand.” Spending summer holidays with his family on Martha’s Vineyard, he met Danny Kortchmar, an aspiring teenage guitarist from Larchmont, New York. The two began listening to and playing blues and folk music together, and Kortchmar felt that Taylor’s singing had a “natural sense of phrasing, every syllable beautifully in time. I knew James had that thing.”[19] Taylor wrote his first song on guitar at 14, and he continued to learn the instrument effortlessly. By the summer of 1963, he and Kortchmar were playing coffeehouses around the Vineyard, billed as “Jamie & Kootch”.

James went to Milton Academy, a preparatory boarding school in Massachusetts in 1961. He faltered during his junior year, feeling uneasy in the high-pressure college prep environment despite having a good scholastic performance. The Milton headmaster would later say, “James was more sensitive and less goal-oriented than most students of his day.” He returned home to North Carolina to finish out the semester at Chapel Hill High School.  There he joined a band formed by his brother Alex called The Corsayers (later The Fabulous Corsairs), playing electric guitar; in 1964, they cut a single in Raleigh that featured James’s song “Cha Cha Blues” on the B-side. Having lost touch with his former school friends in North Carolina, Taylor returned to Milton for his senior year, where he started applying to colleges to complete his education. But he felt part of a “life that [he was] unable to lead”, and he became depressed; he slept 20 hours each day, and his grades collapsed. n late 1965 he committed himself to McLean, a psychiatric hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, where he was treated with chlorpromazine, and where the organized days began to give him a sense of time and structure. As the Vietnam War escalated, Taylor received a psychological rejection from Selective Service System when he appeared before them with two white-suited McLean assistants and was uncommunicative. Taylor earned a high school diploma in 1966 from the hospital’s associated Arlington School. He would later view his nine-month stay at McLean as “a lifesaver… like a pardon or like a reprieve,” and both his brother Livingston and sister Kate would later be patients and students there as well. As for his mental health struggles, Taylor would think of them as innate and say: “It’s an inseparable part of my personality that I have these feelings.”

Career

1966–1969: Early career

At Kortchmar’s urging, Taylor checked himself out of McLean and moved to New York City to form a band. They recruited Joel O’Brien, formerly of Kortchmar’s old band King Bees to play drums, and Taylor’s childhood friend Zachary Wiesner (son of noted academic Jerome Wiesner) to play bass. After Taylor rejected the notion of naming the group after him, they called themselves the Flying Machine. They played songs that Taylor had written at and about McLean, such as “Knocking ‘Round the Zoo”, “Don’t Talk Now”, and “The Blues Is Just a Bad Dream”. In some other songs, Taylor romanticized his life, but he was plagued by self-doubt. By summer 1966, they were performing regularly at the high-visibility Night Owl Cafe in Greenwich Village, alongside acts such as the Turtles and Lothar and the Hand People.

Taylor associated with a motley group of people and began using heroin, to Kortchmar’s dismay, and wrote the “Paint It Black”–influenced “Rainy Day Man” to depict his drug experience. In a late 1966 hasty recording session, the group cut a single, Taylor’s “Night Owl”, backed with his “Brighten Your Night with My Day”. Released on Jay Gee Records, a subsidiary of Jubilee Records, it received some radio airplay in the Northeast, but only charted at No. 102 nationally. Other songs had been recorded during the same session, but Jubilee declined to go forward with an album. After a series of poorly-chosen appearances outside New York, culminating with a three-week stay at a failing nightspot in Freeport, Bahamas for which they were never paid, the Flying Machine broke up. (A UK band with the same name emerged in 1969 with the hit song “Smile a Little Smile for Me”. The New York band’s recordings were later released in 1971 as James Taylor and the Original Flying Machine.)

Taylor would later say of this New York period, “I learned a lot about music and too much about drugs.” Indeed, his drug use had developed into full-blown heroin addiction during the final Flying Machine period: “I just fell into it, since it was as easy to get high in the Village as get a drink.” He hung out in Washington Square Park, playing guitar to ward off depression and then passing out, letting runaways and criminals stay at his apartment. Finally out of money and abandoned by his manager, he made a desperate call one night to his father. Isaac Taylor flew to New York and staged a rescue, renting a car and driving all night back to North Carolina with James and his possessions. Taylor spent six months getting treatment and making a tentative recovery; he also required a throat operation to fix vocal cords damaged from singing too harshly.

Taylor decided to try being a solo act with a change of scenery. In late 1967, funded by a small family inheritance, he moved to London, living in various areas: Notting Hill, Belgravia, and Chelsea. After recording some demos in Soho, his friend Kortchmar gave him his next big break. Kortchmar used his association with the King Bees (who once opened for Peter and Gordon), to connect Taylor to Peter Asher. Asher was A&R head for the Beatles’ newly formed label Apple Records. Taylor gave a demo tape of songs, including “Something in the Way She Moves”, to Asher, who then played the demo for Beatles Paul McCartney and George Harrison. McCartney remembers his first impression: “I just heard his voice and his guitar and I thought he was great … and he came and played live, so it was just like, ‘Wow, he’s great.’” Taylor became the first non-British act signed to Apple, and he credits Asher for “opening the door” to his singing career. Taylor said of Asher, who later became his manager, “I knew from the first time that we met that he was the right person to steer my career. He had this determination in his eye that I had never seen in anybody before.” Living chaotically in various places with various women, Taylor wrote additional material, including “Carolina in My Mind”, and rehearsed with a new backing band. Taylor recorded what would become his first album from July to October 1968, at Trident Studios, at the same time the Beatles were recording The White Album. McCartney and an uncredited George Harrison guested on “Carolina in My Mind”, whose lyric “holy host of others standing around me” referred to the Beatles, and the title phrase of Taylor’s “Something in the Way She Moves” provided the lyrical starting point for Harrison’s classic “Something”.[ McCartney and Asher brought in arranger Richard Anthony Hewson to add both orchestrations to several of the songs and unusual “link” passages between them; they would receive a mixed reception, at best.

During the recording sessions, Taylor fell back into his drug habit by using heroin and methedrine. He underwent physeptone treatment in a British program, returned to New York and was hospitalized there, and then finally committed himself to the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, which emphasized cultural and historical factors in trying to treat difficult psychiatric disorders. Meanwhile, Apple released his debut album, James Taylor, in December 1968 in the UK and February 1969 in the US. Critical reception was generally positive, including a complimentary review in Rolling Stone by Jon Landau, who said that “this album is the coolest breath of fresh air I’ve inhaled in a good long while. It knocks me out.” The record’s commercial potential suffered from Taylor’s inability to promote it because of his hospitalization, and it sold poorly; “Carolina in My Mind” was released as a single but failed to chart in the UK and only reached No. 118 on the U.S. charts.

In July 1969, Taylor headlined a six-night stand at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. On July 20, he performed at the Newport Folk Festival as the last act and was cheered by thousands of fans who stayed in the rain to hear him. Shortly thereafter, he broke both hands and both feet in a motorcycle accident on Martha’s Vineyard and was forced to stop playing for several months. However, while recovering, he continued to write songs and in October 1969 signed a new deal with Warner Bros. Records.

1970–1972: Fame and commercial succes

Once he had recovered, Taylor moved to California, keeping Asher as his manager and record producer. In December 1969, he held the recording sessions for his second album there. Titled Sweet Baby James, and featuring the participation of Carole King, the album was released in February 1970 and was Taylor’s critical and popular triumph, buoyed by the single “Fire and Rain”, a song about both Taylor’s experiences attempting to break his drug habit by undergoing treatment in psychiatric institutions and the suicide of his friend, Suzanne Schnerr. Both the album and the single reached No. 3 on the Billboard charts, with Sweet Baby James selling more than 1.5 million copies in its first year[22] and eventually more than 3 million in the United States alone. Sweet Baby James was received at its time as a folk-rock masterpiece, an album that effectively showcased Taylor’s talents to the mainstream public, marking a direction he would take in following years. It earned several Grammy Award nominations including one for Album of the Year. It went on to be listed at No. 103 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2003, with “Fire and Rain” listed as No. 227 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004.

During the time that Sweet Baby James was released, Taylor appeared with Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys in a Monte Hellman film, Two-Lane Blacktop. In October 1970, he performed with Joni Mitchell, Phil Ochs, and the Canadian band Chilliwack at a Vancouver benefit concert that funded Greenpeace’s protests of 1971 nuclear weapons tests by the US Atomic Energy Commission at Amchitka, Alaska; this performance was released in album format in 2009 as Amchitka, The 1970 Concert That Launched Greenpeace. In January 1971, sessions for Taylor’s next album began.

He appeared on The Johnny Cash Show, singing “Sweet Baby James”, “Fire and Rain”, and “Country Road”, on February 17, 1971. His career success at this point and appeal to female fans of various ages piqued tremendous interest in him, prompting a March 1, 1971, Time magazine cover story of him as “the face of new rock”. It compared his strong-but-brooding persona to that of Wuthering Heights’ Heathcliff and to The Sorrows of Young Werther, and said, “Taylor’s use of elemental imagery—darkness and sunlight, references to roads traveled and untraveled, to fears spoken and left unsaid—reaches a level both of intimacy and controlled emotion rarely achieved in purely pop music.” One of the writers described his look as “a cowboy Jesus”, to which Taylor later replied, “I thought I was trying to look like George Harrison.” Released in April, Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon also gained critical acclaim and contained Taylor’s biggest hit single in the US, a version of Carole King’s new “You’ve Got a Friend” (featuring backing vocals by Joni Mitchell), which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in late July. The follow-up single, “Long Ago and Far Away”, also made the Top 40 and reached No. 4 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. The album itself reached No. 2 on the album charts, which would be Taylor’s highest position ever until the release of his 2015 album, Before This World, which went to No. 1 superseding Taylor Swift.

In early 1972, Taylor won his first Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, for “You’ve Got a Friend”; King also won Song of the Year for the same song in that ceremony. The album went on to sell 2.5 million copies in the United States.

November 1972 heralded the release of Taylor’s fourth album, One Man Dog. A concept album primarily recorded in his home recording studio, it featured a cameo by Linda Ronstadt along with Carole King, Carly Simon, and John McLaughlin. The album consisted of eighteen short pieces of music put together. Reception was generally lukewarm and, despite making the Top 10 of the Billboard Album Charts, its overall sales were disappointing. The lead single, “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight”, peaked at No. 14 on the Hot 100, and the follow-up, “One Man Parade”, barely reached the Top 75. Almost simultaneously, Taylor married fellow singer-songwriter Carly Simon on November 3, in a small ceremony at her Murray Hill, Manhattan apartment. A post-concert party following a Taylor performance at Radio City Music Hall turned into a large-scale wedding party, and the Simon-Taylor marriage would find much public attention over the following years. They had two children, Sarah Maria “Sally” Taylor, born January 7, 1974, and Benjamin Simon “Ben” Taylor, born January 22, 1977. During their marriage, the couple would guest on each other’s albums and have two hit singles as duet partners: a cover of Inez & Charlie Foxx’s “Mockingbird” and a cover of The Everly Brothers’ “Devoted to You”.

1973–1976: Career ups and downs

Taylor spent most of 1973 enjoying his new life as a married man and did not return to the recording studio until January 1974, when sessions for his fifth album began. Walking Man was released in June and featured appearances of Paul and Linda McCartney and guitarist David Spinozza. The album was a critical and commercial disaster and was his first album to miss the Top 5 since his contract with Warner. It received poor reviews and sold only 300,000 copies in the United States. The title track failed to appear on the Top 100.

However, James Taylor’s artistic fortunes spiked again in 1975 when the Gold album Gorilla reached No. 6 and provided one of his biggest hit singles, a cover version of Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)”, featuring wife Carly on backing vocals and reached No. 5 in America and No. 1 in Canada. On the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, the track also reached the top, and the follow-up single, the feelgood “Mexico”, featuring a guest appearance by Crosby & Nash, also reached the Top 5 of that list. A well-received album, Gorilla showcased Taylor’s electric, lighter side that was evident on Walking Man. However, it was arguably a more consistent and fresher-sounding Taylor, with classics such as “Mexico”, “Wandering” and “Angry Blues”. It also featured a song about his daughter Sally, “Sarah Maria”.

Gorilla was followed in 1976 by In the Pocket, Taylor’s last studio album to be released under Warner Bros. Records. The album found him with many colleagues and friends, including Art Garfunkel, David Crosby, Bonnie Raitt, and Stevie Wonder (who co-wrote a song with Taylor and contributed a harmonica solo). A melodic album, it was highlighted with the single “Shower the People”, an enduring classic that hit No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart and almost hit the Top 20 of the Pop Charts. However, the album was not well received, reaching No. 16 and being criticized, particularly by Rolling Stone. Still, In The Pocket went on to be certified gold.

With the close of Taylor’s contract with Warner, in November, the label released Greatest Hits, the album that comprised most of his best work between 1970 and 1976. With time, it became his best-selling album ever. It was certified 11× Platinum in the US, earned a Diamond certification by the RIAA, and eventually sold close to 20 million copies worldwide.

1977–1981: Move to Columbia and continued success

In 1977 Taylor signed with Columbia Records. Between March and April, he quickly recorded his first album for the label. JT, released that June, gave Taylor his best reviews since Sweet Baby James, earning a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year in 1978. Peter Herbst of Rolling Stone was particularly favorable to the album, of which he wrote in its August 11, 1977 issue, “JT is the least stiff and by far the most various album Taylor has done. That’s not meant to criticize Taylor’s earlier efforts. … But it’s nice to hear him sounding so healthy.” JT reached No. 4 on the Billboard charts and sold more than 3 million copies in the United States alone. The album’s Triple Platinum status ties it with Sweet Baby James as Taylor’s all-time biggest selling studio album. It was propelled by the successful cover of Jimmy Jones’s and Otis Blackwell’s “Handy Man”, which hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart and reached No. 4 on the Hot 100, earning Taylor another Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for his cover version. The song also topped the Canadian charts. The success of the album propelled the release of two further singles; the up-tempo pop “Your Smiling Face”, an enduring live favorite, reached the American Top 20; however, “Honey Don’t Leave L.A.”, which Danny Kortchmar wrote and composed for Taylor, did not enjoy much success, reaching only No. 61.

Back in the forefront of popular music, Taylor guested with Paul Simon on Art Garfunkel’s recording of a cover of Sam Cooke’s “Wonderful World”, which reached the Top 20 in the U.S. and topped the AC charts in early 1978. After briefly working on Broadway, he took a one-year break, reappearing in the summer of 1979, with the cover-studded Platinum album titled Flag, featuring a Top 30 version of Gerry Goffin’s and Carole King’s “Up on the Roof”. (Two selections from Flag, “Millworker” and “Brother Trucker” were featured on the PBS production of the Broadway musical based on Studs Terkel’s non-fiction book Working, which Terkel himself hosted. Taylor himself appeared in that production as a trucker; he performed “Brother Trucker” in character.) Taylor also appeared on the No Nukes concert in Madison Square Garden, where he made a memorable live performance of “Mockingbird” with his wife Carly. The concert appeared on both the No Nukes album and film.

On December 7, 1980, Taylor had an encounter with Mark David Chapman who would assassinate John Lennon just one day later. Taylor told the BBC in 2010: “The guy had sort of pinned me to the wall and was glistening with maniacal sweat and talking some freak speak about what he was going to do and his stuff with how John was interested, and he was going to get in touch with John Lennon. And it was surreal to actually have contact with the guy 24 hours before he shot John.” The next night, Taylor, who lived in a building next-door to Lennon heard the assassination occur. Taylor commented: “I heard him shoot—five, just as quick as you could pull the trigger, about five explosions.”

In March 1981, Taylor released the album Dad Loves His Work whose themes concerned his relationship with his father, the course his ancestors had taken, and the effect that he and Simon had on each other. The album was another Platinum success, reaching No. 10 and providing Taylor’s final real hit single in a duet with J. D. Souther, “Her Town Too”, which reached No. 5 on the Adult Contemporary chart and No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1981–1996: Troubled times and new beginnings

Simon announced her separation from Taylor in September 1981 saying, “Our needs are different; it seem impossible to stay together” and their divorce finalized in 1983. Their breakup was highly publicized. At the time, Taylor was living on West End Avenue in Manhattan and on a methadone maintenance program to cure him of his drug addiction.  Over the course of four months starting in September 1983, spurred on in part by the deaths of his friends John Belushi and Dennis Wilson and in part by the desire to be a better father to his children Sally and Ben, he discontinued methadone and overcame his heroin habit.

Taylor had thoughts of retiring by the time he played the Rock in Rio festival in Rio de Janeiro in January 1985. He was encouraged by the nascent democracy in Brazil at the time, buoyed by the positive reception he got from the large crowd and other musicians, and musically energized by the sounds and nature of Brazilian music. “I had … sort of bottomed-out in a drug habit, my marriage with Carly had dissolved, and I had basically been depressed and lost for a while”, he recalled in 1995:

I sort of hit a low spot. I was asked to go down to Rio de Janeiro to play in this festival down there. We put the band together and went down and it was just an amazing response. I played to 300,000 people. They not only knew my music, they knew things about it and were interested in aspects of it that to that point had only interested me. To have that kind of validation right about then was really what I needed. It helped get me back on track.

The song “Only a Dream in Rio” was written in tribute to that night, with lines like I was there that very day and my heart came back alive. The October 1985 album, That’s Why I’m Here, from which that song came, started a series of studio recordings that, while spaced further apart than his previous records, showed a more consistent level of quality and fewer covers, most notably the Buddy Holly song “Everyday”, released as a single reached No. 61. On the album track “Only One”, the backing vocals were performed by an all star duo of Joni Mitchell and Don Henley.

Taylor’s next albums were partially successful; in 1988, he released Never Die Young, highlighted with the charting title track, and in 1991, the platinum New Moon Shine provided Taylor some popular songs with the melancholic “Copperline” and the upbeat “(I’ve Got to) Stop Thinkin’ About That”, both hit singles on Adult Contemporary radio. In the late 1980s, he began touring regularly, especially on the summer amphitheater circuit. His later concerts feature songs spanning his career and are marked by the musicianship of his band and backup singers. The 1993 two-disc Live album captures this, with a highlight being Arnold McCuller’s descants in the codas of “Shower the People” and “I Will Follow”. He provided a guest voice to The Simpsons episode “Deep Space Homer”, and also appeared later on in the series when the family put together a jigsaw puzzle with his face as the missing final piece. In 1995, Taylor performed the role of the Lord in Randy Newman’s Faust.

1997–present: Comeback

In 1997, after six years since his last studio album, Taylor released Hourglass, an introspective album that gave him the best critical reviews in almost twenty years. The album had much of its focus on Taylor’s troubled past and family. “Jump Up Behind Me” paid tribute to his father’s rescue of him after The Flying Machine days, and the long drive from New York City back to his home in Chapel Hill. “Enough To Be on Your Way” was inspired by the alcoholism-related death of his brother Alex earlier in the decade. The themes were also inspired by Taylor and Walker’s divorce, which took place in 1996. Rolling Stone Magazine found that “one of the themes of this record is disbelief”, while Taylor told the magazine that it was “spirituals for agnostics”. Critics embraced the dark themes on the album, and Hourglass was a commercial success, reaching No. 9 on the Billboard 200 (Taylor’s first Top 10 album in sixteen years) and also provided a big adult contemporary hit on “Little More Time With You”. The album also gave Taylor his first Grammy since JT, when he was honored with Best Pop Album in 1998.

Flanked by two greatest hit releases, Taylor’s Platinum-certified October Road appeared in 2002 to a receptive audience. It featured a number of quiet instrumental accompaniments and passages. Overall, it found Taylor in a more peaceful frame of mind; rather than facing a crisis now, Taylor said in an interview that “I thought I’d passed the midpoint of my life when I was 17.” The album appeared in two versions, a single-disc version and a “limited edition” two-disc version which contained three extra songs including a duet with Mark Knopfler, “Sailing to Philadelphia”, which also appeared on Knopfler’s album by the same name. Also in 2002, Taylor teamed with bluegrass musician Alison Krauss in singing “The Boxer” at the Kennedy Center Honors Tribute to Paul Simon. They later recorded the Louvin Brothers duet, “How’s the World Treating You?” In 2004, after he chose not to renew his record contract with Columbia/Sony, he released James Taylor: A Christmas Album with distribution through Hallmark Cards.

Always visibly active in environmental and liberal causes, in October 2004, Taylor joined the Vote for Change tour playing a series of concerts in American swing states. These concerts were organized by MoveOn.org with the goal of mobilizing people to vote for John Kerry and against George W. Bush in that year’s presidential campaign. Taylor’s appearances were joint performances with the Dixie Chicks.

Taylor performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Game 2 of the World Series in Boston on October 24, 2004, on October 25, 2007, both the anthem and “America” for the game on October 24, 2013, and Game 1 on October 23, 2018. He also performed at Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals in Boston on June 5, 2008, and at the NHL’s Winter Classic game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins.

In December 2004, he appeared as himself in an episode of The West Wing entitled “A Change Is Gonna Come”. He sang Sam Cooke’s classic “A Change Is Gonna Come” at an event honoring an artist played by Taylor’s wife Caroline. Later on, he appeared on CMT’s Crossroads alongside the Dixie Chicks. In early 2006, MusiCares honored Taylor with performances of his songs by an array of notable musicians. Before a performance by the Dixie Chicks, lead singer Natalie Maines acknowledged that he had always been one of their musical heroes and had, for them, lived up to their once-imagined reputation of him.[64] They performed his song, “Shower the People”, with a surprise appearance by Arnold McCuller, who has sung backing vocals on Taylor’s live tours and albums for many years.

In the fall of 2006, Taylor released a repackaged and slightly different version of his Hallmark Christmas album, now entitled James Taylor at Christmas, and distributed by Columbia/Sony. In 2006, Taylor performed Randy Newman’s song “Our Town” for the Disney animated film Cars. The song was nominated for the 2007 Academy Award for the Best Original Song. On January 1, 2007, Taylor headlined the inaugural concert at the Times Union Center in Albany, New York honoring newly sworn in Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer.

Taylor’s next album, One Man Band was released on CD and DVD in November 2007 on Starbucks’ Hear Music Label, where he joined with Paul McCartney and Joni Mitchell. The introspective album grew out of a three-year tour of the United States and Europe called the One Man Band Tour, featuring some of Taylor’s most beloved songs and anecdotes about their creative origins—accompanied solely by the “one man band” of his longtime pianist/keyboardist, Larry Goldings. The digital discrete 5.1 surround sound mix of One Man Band won a TEC Award for best surround sound recording in 2008.

On November 28–30, 2007, Taylor accompanied by his original band and Carole King, headlined a series of six shows at the Troubadour. The appearances marked the 50th anniversary of the venue, where Taylor, King and many others, such as Tom Waits, Neil Diamond, and Elton John, performed early in their music careers. Proceeds from the concert went to benefit the Natural Resources Defense Council, MusiCares, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, and the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank, a member of America’s Second Harvest, the nation’s Food Bank Network. Parts of the performance shown on CBS Sunday Morning in the December 23, 2007, broadcast showed Taylor alluding to his early drug problems by saying, “I played here a number of times in the 70s, allegedly”. Taylor has used versions of this joke on other occasions, and it appears as part of his One Man Band DVD and tour performances.

In December 2007, James Taylor at Christmas was nominated for a Grammy Award. In January 2008, Taylor recorded approximately 20 songs by others for a new album with a band including Luis Conte, Michael Landau, Lou Marini, Arnold McCuller, Jimmy Johnson, David Lasley, Walt Fowler, Andrea Zonn, Kate Markowitz, Steve Gadd and Larry Goldings. The resulting live-in-studio album, named Covers, was released in September 2008. The album forays into country and soul while being the latest proof that Taylor is a more versatile singer than his best known hits might suggest. The Covers sessions stretched to include “Oh What a Beautiful Morning”, from the musical Oklahoma!, a song that his grandmother had caught him singing over and over at the top of his lungs when he was seven years old. Meanwhile, in summer 2008, Taylor and this band toured 34 North American cities with a tour entitled James Taylor and His Band of Legends. An additional album, called Other Covers, came out in April 2009, containing songs that were recorded during the same sessions as the original Covers but had not been put out to the full public yet.

During October 19–21, 2008, Taylor performed a series of free concerts in five North Carolina cities in support of Barack Obama’s presidential bid.  On Sunday, January 18, 2009, he performed at the We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial, singing “Shower the People” with John Legend and Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland.  On May 29, 2009, Taylor performed on the final episode of the original 17-year run of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

On September 8, 2009, Taylor made an appearance at the 24th-season premiere block party of The Oprah Winfrey Show on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue.

Taylor appeared briefly in the 2009 movie Funny People, where he played “Carolina in My Mind” for a MySpace corporate event as the opening act for the main character.

On January 1, 2010, Taylor sang the American national anthem at the NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park, while Daniel Powter sang the Canadian national anthem.

On March 7, 2010, Taylor sang the Beatles’ “In My Life” in tribute to deceased artists at the 82nd Academy Awards.

In March 2010, he commenced the Troubadour Reunion Tour with Carole King and members of his original band, including Russ Kunkel, Leland Sklar, and Danny Kortchmar. They played shows in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and North America with the final night being at the Honda Center, in Anaheim, California. The tour was a major commercial success and in some locations found Taylor playing arenas instead of his usual theaters or amphitheaters. Ticket sales amounted to over 700,000 and the tour grossed over $59 million. It was one of the most successful tours of the year.

He appeared in 2011 in the ABC comedy Mr. Sunshine as the ex-husband of the character played by Allison Janney, and he performs a duet of sorts on Leon Russell’s 1970 classic “A Song for You”.

On September 11, 2011, Taylor performed “You Can Close Your Eyes” in New York City at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

On November 22, 2011, Taylor performed “Fire and Rain” with Taylor Swift who was named after him,  at the last concert of her Speak Now World Tour in Madison Square Garden. They also sang Swift’s song, “Fifteen”. Then, on July 2, 2012 Swift appeared as Taylor’s special guest in a concert at Tanglewood.

He was active in support of Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign and opened the 2012 Democratic National Convention singing three songs. He performed “America the Beautiful” at the President’s second inauguration.

He appeared on the final of Star Académie, the Quebec version of American Idol, on April 13, 2009.

On April 24, 2013, Taylor performed at the memorial service for slain MIT police officer Sean Collier who was killed by Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the men responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing. Taylor was accompanied by the MIT Symphony Orchestra and three MIT a cappella groups while performing his songs “The Water is Wide” and “Shower the People”.

On September 6 and 7, 2013, he performed with the Utah Symphony and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in the Thirtieth Anniversary O.C. Tanner Gift of Music Gala Concert at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. He called the choir “a national treasure” In addition to the symphony and choir he was backed by some of his touring band pianist Charles Floyd, bassist Jimmy Johnson and percussionist Nick Halley.

After a 45-year wait, James earned his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart with Before This World. The album which was released on June 16 through Concord Records, arrived on top the chart of July 4, 2015, more than 45 years after Taylor arrived on the list with Sweet Baby James (on the March 14, 1970 list). The album launched atop the Billboard 200 with 97,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending June 21, 2015 according to Nielsen Music. Of its start, pure album sales were 96,000 copies sold, Taylor’s best debut week for an album since 2002’s October Road.

Taylor cancelled his 2016 concert in Manila as a protest to the extrajudicial killings of suspects in the Philippine Drug War.

Taylor’s album American Standard was released on February 28, 2020. American Standard debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, making Taylor the first act to earn a top 10 album in each of the last six decades. In May 2020, James Taylor and Jackson Browne cancelled their 2020 tour dates due to the COVID-19 crisis, and rescheduled them to 2021. On November 24, 2020, the album was nominated for a Grammy in the category of “Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album”.

Family and personal life

Taylor’s four siblings (Alex, Livingston, Hugh, and Kate) have also been musicians with recorded albums. Livingston is still an active musician; Kate was active in the 1970s but did not record another album until 2003; Hugh operates a bed-and-breakfast with his wife, The Outermost Inn in Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard; and Alex died in 1993 on James’s birthday.

Taylor and Carly Simon were married in November 1972. His children with Simon, Sally and Ben, are also musicians. After Taylor and Simon divorced in 1983, he married actress Kathryn Walker on December 14, 1985, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. She had helped him get off heroin, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1996.

On February 18, 2001, at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Boston, Taylor wed for the third time marrying Caroline (“Kim”) Smedvig, the director of public relations and marketing for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. They had begun dating in 1995 when they met as he appeared with John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra. Part of their relationship was worked into the album October Road, on the songs “On The 4th Of July” and “Caroline I See You”.[90] Following the birth of their twin boys, Rufus and Henry in April 2001, Taylor moved with his family to Lenox, Massachusetts.

Awards and recognition

Grammy Awards

  • 1972: Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, “You’ve Got a Friend
  • 1977: Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, “Handy Man”
  • 1998: Best Pop Album, Hourglass
  • 2001: Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight”
  • 2003: Best Country Collaboration With Vocals, “How’s the World Treating You” with Alison Krauss
  • 2006: Grammy Award-sponsored MusiCares Person of the Year. At a black tie ceremony held in Los Angeles, musicians from several eras paid tribute to Taylor by performing his songs, often prefacing them with remarks on his influence on their decisions to become musicians. Artists include Carole King, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Taj Mahal, Dr. John, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, David Crosby, Sheryl Crow, India.Arie, the Dixie Chicks, Jerry Douglas, Alison Krauss, and Keith Urban. Paul Simon performed as well, although he was not included in the televised program; Taylor’s brother Livingston appeared on stage as a “backup singer” for the finale, along with Taylor’s twin boys, Rufus and Henry.

Other recognition

  • 1995: Honorary doctorate of music from the Berklee College of Music, Boston, 1995.
  • 2000: Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 2000.
  • 2000: Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, 2000.
  • 2003: The Chapel Hill Museum in Chapel Hill, North Carolina opened a permanent exhibit dedicated to Taylor. At the same occasion the US-15-501 highway bridge over Morgan Creek, near the site of the Taylor family home and mentioned in Taylor’s song “Copperline”, was named in honor of Taylor.
  • 2004: George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement, UCLA Spring Sing.
  • 2004: Ranked 84th in Rolling Stone’s list of “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.
  • 2009: Honorary Doctorate of Music from Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts.
  • 2009: Inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2009.
  • 2010: Inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame
  • 2012: Received the Montréal Jazz Spirit Award
  • 2012: Named “Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” by the Ministry of Culture & Communication of France.
  • 2014: Emmy Award for The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Presents an Evening with James Taylor
  • 2015: Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • 2016: Kennedy Center Honors

Lyrics


Les Misérables

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

Les Misérables (/l ˌmɪzəˈrɑːbəl, –blə/, French: [le mizeʁabl(ə)]) is a French historical novel by Victor Hugo, first published in 1862, that is considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th century.

In the English-speaking world, the novel is usually referred to by its original French title. However, several alternatives have been used, including The Miserables, The Wretched, The Miserable Ones, The Poor Ones, The Wretched Poor, The Victims and The Dispossessed. Beginning in 1815 and culminating in the 1832 June Rebellion in Paris, the novel follows the lives and interactions of several characters, particularly the struggles of ex-convict Jean Valjean and his experience of redemption.

Examining the nature of law and grace, the novel elaborates upon the history of France, the architecture and urban design of Paris, politics, moral philosophy, antimonarchism, justice, religion, and the types and nature of romantic and familial love. Les Misérables has been popularized through numerous adaptations for film, television and the stage, including a musical.

Novel form

Upton Sinclair described the novel as “one of the half-dozen greatest novels of the world”, and remarked that Hugo set forth the purpose of Les Misérables in the Preface:

So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.

Towards the end of the novel, Hugo explains the work’s overarching structure:

The book which the reader has before him at this moment is, from one end to the other, in its entirety and details … a progress from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsehood to truth, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from corruption to life; from bestiality to duty, from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God. The starting point: matter, destination: the soul. The hydra at the beginning, the angel at the end.

The novel contains various subplots, but the main thread is the story of ex-convict Jean Valjean, who becomes a force for good in the world but cannot escape his criminal past. The novel is divided into five volumes, each volume divided into several books, and subdivided into chapters, for a total of 48 books and 365 chapters. Each chapter is relatively short, commonly no longer than a few pages.

The novel as a whole is one of the longest ever written, with 655,478 words in the original French. Hugo explained his ambitions for the novel to his Italian publisher:

I don’t know whether it will be read by everyone, but it is meant for everyone. It addresses England as well as Spain, Italy as well as France, Germany as well as Ireland, the republics that harbour slaves as well as empires that have serfs. Social problems go beyond frontiers. Humankind’s wounds, those huge sores that litter the world, do not stop at the blue and red lines drawn on maps. Wherever men go in ignorance or despair, wherever women sell themselves for bread, wherever children lack a book to learn from or a warm hearth, Les Misérables knocks at the door and says: “open up, I am here for you”.

Digressions

More than a quarter of the novel—by one count 955 of 2,783 pages—is devoted to essays that argue a moral point or display Hugo’s encyclopedic knowledge but do not advance the plot, nor even a subplot, a method Hugo used in such other works as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Toilers of the Sea. One biographer noted that “the digressions of genius are easily pardoned”. The topics Hugo addresses include cloistered religious orders, the construction of the Paris sewers, argot, and the street urchins of Paris. The one about convents he titles “Parenthesis” to alert the reader to its irrelevance to the story line.

Hugo devotes another 19 chapters (Volume II, Book I) to an account of—and a meditation on the place in history of—the Battle of Waterloo, the battlefield which Hugo visited in 1861 and where he finished writing the novel. It opens volume 2 with such a change of subject as to seem the beginning of an entirely different work. The fact that this ‘digression’ occupies such a large part of the text demands that it be read in the context of the ‘overarching structure’ discussed above. Hugo draws his own personal conclusions, taking Waterloo to be a pivot-point in history, but definitely not a victory for the forces of reaction.

Waterloo, by cutting short the demolition of European thrones by the sword, had no other effect than to cause the revolutionary work to be continued in another direction. The slashers have finished; it was the turn of the thinkers. The century that Waterloo was intended to arrest has pursued its march. That sinister victory was vanquished by liberty.

One critic has called this “the spiritual gateway” to the novel, as its chance encounter of Thénardier and Colonel Pontmercy foreshadows so many of the novel’s encounters “blending chance and necessity”, a “confrontation of heroism and villainy”.

Even when not turning to other subjects outside his narrative, Hugo sometimes interrupts the straightforward recitation of events, his voice and control of the story line unconstrained by time and sequence. The novel opens with a statement about the bishop of Digne in 1815 and immediately shifts: “Although these details in no way essentially concern that which we have to tell…” Only after 14 chapters does Hugo pick up the opening thread again, “In the early days of the month of October, 1815…”, to introduce Jean Valjean.

Hugo’s sources

An incident Hugo witnessed in 1829 involved three strangers and a police officer. One of the strangers was a man who had stolen a loaf of bread, similar to Jean Valjean. The officer was taking him to the coach. The thief also saw the mother and daughter playing with each other which would be an inspiration for Fantine and Cosette. Hugo imagined the life of the man in jail and the mother and daughter taken away from each other.

Valjean’s character is loosely based on the life of the ex-convict Eugène François Vidocq. Vidocq became the head of an undercover police unit and later founded France’s first private detective agency. He was also a businessman and was widely noted for his social engagement and philanthropy. Vidocq also inspired Hugo’s “Claude Gueux” and Le Dernier jour d’un condamné (The Last Day of a Condemned Man).

In 1828, Vidocq, already pardoned, saved one of the workers in his paper factory by lifting a heavy cart on his shoulders as Valjean does. Hugo’s description of Valjean rescuing a sailor on the Orion drew almost word for word on a Baron La Roncière’s letter describing such an incident. Hugo used Bienvenu de Miollis (1753–1843), the Bishop of Digne during the time in which Valjean encounters Myriel, as the model for Myriel.

Hugo had used the departure of prisoners from the Bagne of Toulon in one of his early stories, Le Dernier Jour d’un Condamné. He went to Toulon to visit the Bagne in 1839 and took extensive notes, though he did not start writing the book until 1845. On one of the pages of his notes about the prison, he wrote in large block letters a possible name for his hero: “JEAN TRÉJEAN”. When the book was finally written, Tréjean became Valjean.

In 1841, Hugo saved a prostitute from arrest for assault. He used a short part of his dialogue with the police when recounting Valjean’s rescue of Fantine in the novel. On 22 February 1846, when he had begun work on the novel, Hugo witnessed the arrest of a bread thief while a duchess and her child watched the scene pitilessly from their coach. He spent several vacations in Montreuil-sur-Mer.

During the 1832 revolt, Hugo walked the streets of Paris, saw the barricades blocking his way at points, and had to take shelter from gunfire. He participated more directly in the 1848 Paris insurrection, helping to smash barricades and suppress both the popular revolt and its monarchist allies.

Victor Hugo drew his inspiration from everything he heard and saw, writing it down in his diary. In December 1846, he witnessed an altercation between an old woman scavenging through rubbish and a street urchin who might have been Gavroche. He also informed himself by personal inspection of the Paris Conciergerie in 1846 and Waterloo in 1861, by gathering information on some industries, and on working-class people’s wages and living standards. He asked his mistresses, Léonie d’Aunet and Juliette Drouet, to tell him about life in convents. He also slipped personal anecdotes into the plot. For instance Marius and Cosette’s wedding night (Part V, Book 6, Chapter 1) takes place on 16 February 1833, which is also the date when Hugo and his lifelong mistress Juliette Drouet made love for the first time.

Plot

Volume I: Fantine

The story begins in 1815 in Digne, as the peasant Jean Valjean, just released from 19 years’ imprisonment in the Bagne of Toulon—five for stealing bread for his starving sister and her family and fourteen more for numerous escape attempts—is turned away by innkeepers because his yellow passport marks him as a former convict. He sleeps on the street, angry and bitter.

Digne’s benevolent Bishop Myriel gives him shelter. At night, Valjean runs off with Myriel’s silverware. When the police capture Valjean, Myriel pretends that he has given the silverware to Valjean and presses him to take two silver candlesticks as well, as if he had forgotten to take them. The police accept his explanation and leave. Myriel tells Valjean that his life has been spared for God, and that he should use money from the silver candlesticks to make an honest man of himself.

Valjean broods over Myriel’s words. When opportunity presents itself, purely out of habit, he steals a 40-sous coin from 12-year-old Petit Gervais and chases the boy away. He quickly repents and searches the city in panic for Gervais. At the same time, his theft is reported to the authorities. Valjean hides as they search for him, because if apprehended he will be returned to the galleys for life as a repeat offender.

Six years pass and Valjean, using the alias Monsieur Madeleine, has become a wealthy factory owner and is appointed mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer. Walking down the street, he sees a man named Fauchelevent pinned under the wheels of a cart. When no one volunteers to lift the cart, even for pay, he decides to rescue Fauchelevent himself. He crawls underneath the cart, manages to lift it, and frees him. The town’s police inspector, Inspector Javert, who was an adjutant guard at the Bagne of Toulon during Valjean’s incarceration, becomes suspicious of the mayor after witnessing this remarkable feat of strength. He has known only one other man, a convict named Jean Valjean, who could accomplish it.

Years earlier in Paris, a grisette named Fantine was very much in love with Félix Tholomyès. His friends, Listolier, Fameuil, and Blachevelle were also paired with Fantine’s friends Dahlia, Zéphine, and Favourite. The men abandon the women, treating their relationships as youthful amusements. Fantine must draw on her own resources to care for her and Tholomyès’ daughter, Cosette. When Fantine arrives at Montfermeil, she leaves Cosette in the care of the Thénardiers, a corrupt innkeeper and his selfish, cruel wife.

Fantine is unaware that they are abusing her daughter and using her as forced labor for their inn, and continues to try to meet their growing, extortionate and fictitious demands. She is later fired from her job at Jean Valjean’s factory, because of the discovery of her daughter, who was born out of wedlock. Meanwhile, the Thénardiers’ monetary demands continue to grow. In desperation, Fantine sells her hair and two front teeth, and she resorts to prostitution to pay the Thénardiers. Fantine is slowly dying from an unspecified disease.

A dandy named Bamatabois harasses Fantine in the street, and she reacts by striking him. Javert arrests Fantine. She begs to be released so that she can provide for her daughter, but Javert sentences her to six months in prison. Valjean (Mayor Madeleine) intervenes and orders Javert to release her. Javert resists but Valjean prevails. Valjean, feeling responsible because his factory turned her away, promises Fantine that he will bring Cosette to her. He takes her to a hospital.

Javert comes to see Valjean again. Javert admits that after being forced to free Fantine, he reported him as Valjean to the French authorities. He tells Valjean he realizes he was wrong, because the authorities have identified someone else as the real Jean Valjean, have him in custody, and plan to try him the next day. Valjean is torn, but decides to reveal himself to save the innocent man, whose real name is Champmathieu. He travels to attend the trial and there reveals his true identity. Valjean returns to Montreuil to see Fantine, followed by Javert, who confronts him in her hospital room.

After Javert grabs Valjean, Valjean asks for three days to bring Cosette to Fantine, but Javert refuses. Fantine discovers that Cosette is not at the hospital and fretfully asks where she is. Javert orders her to be quiet, and then reveals to her Valjean’s real identity. Weakened by the severity of her illness, she falls back in shock and dies. Valjean goes to Fantine, speaks to her in an inaudible whisper, kisses her hand, and then leaves with Javert. Later, Fantine’s body is unceremoniously thrown into a public grave.

Volume II: Cosette

Valjean escapes, is recaptured, and is sentenced to death. The king commutes his sentence to penal servitude for life. While imprisoned in the Bagne of Toulon, Valjean, at great personal risk, rescues a sailor caught in the ship’s rigging. Spectators call for his release. Valjean fakes his own death by allowing himself to fall into the ocean. Authorities report him dead and his body lost.

Valjean arrives at Montfermeil on Christmas Eve. He finds Cosette fetching water in the woods alone and walks with her to the inn. He orders a meal and observes how the Thénardiers abuse her, while pampering their own daughters Éponine and Azelma, who mistreat Cosette for playing with their doll. Valjean leaves and returns to make Cosette a present of an expensive new doll which, after some hesitation, she happily accepts. Éponine and Azelma are envious. Madame Thénardier is furious with Valjean, while her husband makes light of Valjean’s behaviour, caring only that he pay for his food and lodging.

The next morning, Valjean informs the Thénardiers that he wants to take Cosette with him. Madame Thénardier immediately accepts, while Thénardier pretends to love Cosette and be concerned for her welfare, reluctant to give her up. Valjean pays the Thénardiers 1,500 francs, and he and Cosette leave the inn. Thénardier, hoping to swindle more out of Valjean, runs after them, holding the 1,500 francs, and tells Valjean he wants Cosette back. He informs Valjean that he cannot release Cosette without a note from the child’s mother. Valjean hands Thénardier Fantine’s letter authorizing the bearer to take Cosette. Thénardier then demands that Valjean pay a thousand crowns, but Valjean and Cosette leave. Thénardier regrets that he did not bring his gun and turns back toward home.

Valjean and Cosette flee to Paris. Valjean rents new lodgings at Gorbeau House, where he and Cosette live happily. However, Javert discovers Valjean’s lodgings there a few months later. Valjean takes Cosette and they try to escape from Javert. They soon find shelter in the Petit-Picpus convent with the help of Fauchelevent, the man whom Valjean once rescued from being crushed under a cart and who has become the convent’s gardener. Valjean also becomes a gardener and Cosette becomes a student at the convent school.

Volume III: Marius

Eight years later, the Friends of the ABC, led by Enjolras, are preparing an act of anti-Orléanist civil unrest (i.e. the Paris uprising on 5–6 June 1832, following the death of General Lamarque, the only French leader who had sympathy towards the working class. Lamarque was a victim of a major cholera epidemic that had ravaged the city, particularly its poor neighborhoods, arousing suspicion that the government had been poisoning wells). The Friends of the ABC are joined by the poor of the Cour des miracles, including the Thénardiers’ eldest son Gavroche, who is a street urchin.

One of the students, Marius Pontmercy, has become alienated from his family (especially his royalist grandfather M. Gillenormand) because of his Bonapartism views. After the death of his father, Colonel Georges Pontmercy, Marius discovers a note from him instructing his son to provide help to a sergeant named Thénardier who saved his life at Waterloo—in reality Thénardier was looting corpses and only saved Pontmercy’s life by accident; he had called himself a sergeant under Napoleon to avoid exposing himself as a robber.

At the Luxembourg Garden, Marius falls in love with the now grown and beautiful Cosette. The Thénardiers have also moved to Paris and now live in poverty after losing their inn. They live under the surname “Jondrette” at Gorbeau House (coincidentally, the same building Valjean and Cosette briefly lived in after leaving the Thénardiers’ inn). Marius lives there as well, next door to the Thénardiers.

Éponine, now ragged and emaciated, visits Marius at his apartment to beg for money. To impress him, she tries to prove her literacy by reading aloud from a book and by writing “The Cops Are Here” on a sheet of paper. Marius pities her and gives her some money. After Éponine leaves, Marius observes the “Jondrettes” in their apartment through a crack in the wall. Éponine comes in and announces that a philanthropist and his daughter are arriving to visit them. In order to look poorer, Thénardier puts out the fire and breaks a chair. He also orders Azelma to punch out a window pane, which she does, resulting in cutting her hand (as Thénardier had hoped).

The philanthropist and his daughter enter—actually Valjean and Cosette. Marius immediately recognizes Cosette. After seeing them, Valjean promises them he will return with rent money for them. After he and Cosette leave, Marius asks Éponine to retrieve her address for him. Éponine, who is in love with Marius herself, reluctantly agrees to do so. The Thénardiers have also recognized Valjean and Cosette, and vow their revenge. Thénardier enlists the aid of the Patron-Minette, a well-known and feared gang of murderers and robbers.

Marius overhears Thénardier’s plan and goes to Javert to report the crime. Javert gives Marius two pistols and instructs him to fire one into the air if things get dangerous. Marius returns home and waits for Javert and the police to arrive. Thénardier sends Éponine and Azelma outside to look out for the police. When Valjean returns with rent money, Thénardier, with Patron-Minette, ambushes him and he reveals his real identity to Valjean. Marius recognizes Thénardier as the man who saved his father’s life at Waterloo and is caught in a dilemma.

He tries to find a way to save Valjean while not betraying Thénardier. Valjean denies knowing Thénardier and tells him that they have never met. Valjean tries to escape through a window but is subdued and tied up. Thénardier orders Valjean to pay him 200,000 francs. He also orders Valjean to write a letter to Cosette to return to the apartment, and they would keep her with them until he delivers the money. After Valjean writes the letter and informs Thénardier of his address, Thénardier sends out Mme. Thénardier to get Cosette. Mme. Thénardier comes back alone, and announces the address is a fake.

It is during this time that Valjean manages to free himself. Thénardier decides to kill Valjean. While he and Patron-Minette are about to do so, Marius remembers the scrap of paper that Éponine wrote on earlier. He throws it into the Thénardiers’ apartment through the wall crack. Thénardier reads it and thinks Éponine threw it inside. He, Mme. Thénardier and Patron-Minette try to escape, only to be stopped by Javert.

He arrests all the Thénardiers and Patron-Minette (except Claquesous, who escapes during his transportation to prison, and Montparnasse, who stops to run off with Éponine instead of joining in on the robbery). Valjean manages to escape the scene before Javert sees him.

Volume IV: The Idyll in the Rue Plumet and the Epic in the Rue St. Denis

After Éponine’s release from prison, she finds Marius at “The Field of the Lark” and sadly tells him that she found Cosette’s address. She leads him to Valjean’s and Cosette’s house on Rue Plumet, and Marius watches the house for a few days. He and Cosette then finally meet and declare their love for one another. Thénardier, Patron-Minette and Brujon manage to escape from prison with the aid of Gavroche (a rare case of Gavroche helping his family in their criminal activities). One night, during one of Marius’s visits with Cosette, the six men attempt to raid Valjean’s and Cosette’s house. However, Éponine, who has been sitting by the gates of the house, threatens to scream and awaken the whole neighbourhood if the thieves do not leave. Hearing this, they reluctantly retire. Meanwhile, Cosette informs Marius that she and Valjean will be leaving for England in a week’s time, which greatly troubles the pair.

The next day, Valjean is sitting in the Champ de Mars. He is feeling troubled about seeing Thénardier in the neighbourhood several times. Unexpectedly, a note lands in his lap, which says “Move Out.” He sees a figure running away in the dim light. He goes back to his house, tells Cosette they will be staying at their other house on Rue de l’Homme Arme, and reconfirms to her that they will be moving to England. Marius tries to get permission from M. Gillenormand to marry Cosette. His grandfather seems stern and angry, but has been longing for Marius’s return. When tempers flare, he refuses his assent to the marriage, telling Marius to make Cosette his mistress instead. Insulted, Marius leaves.

The following day, the students revolt and erect barricades in the narrow streets of Paris. Gavroche spots Javert and informs Enjolras that Javert is a spy. When Enjolras confronts him about this, he admits his identity and his orders to spy on the students. Enjolras and the other students tie him up to a pole in the Corinth restaurant. Later that evening, Marius goes back to Valjean’s and Cosette’s house on Rue Plumet, but finds the house no longer occupied. He then hears a voice telling him that his friends are waiting for him at the barricade. Distraught to find Cosette gone, he heeds the voice and goes.

When Marius arrives at the barricade, the revolution has already started. When he stoops down to pick up a powder keg, a soldier comes up to shoot Marius. However, a man covers the muzzle of the soldier’s gun with his hand. The soldier fires, fatally wounding the man, while missing Marius. Meanwhile, the soldiers are closing in. Marius climbs to the top of the barricade, holding a torch in one hand, a powder keg in the other, and threatens to the soldiers that he will blow up the barricade. After confirming this, the soldiers retreat from the barricade.

Marius decides to go to the smaller barricade, which he finds empty. As he turns back, the man who took the fatal shot for Marius earlier calls Marius by his name. Marius discovers this man is Éponine, dressed in men’s clothes. As she lies dying on his knees, she confesses that she was the one who told him to go to the barricade, hoping they would die together. She also confesses to saving his life because she wanted to die before he did.

The author also states to the reader that Éponine anonymously threw the note to Valjean. Éponine then tells Marius that she has a letter for him. She also confesses to have obtained the letter the day before, originally not planning to give it to him, but decides to do so in fear he would be angry at her about it in the afterlife. After Marius takes the letter, Éponine then asks him to kiss her on the forehead when she is dead, which he promises to do. With her last breath, she confesses that she was “a little bit in love” with him, and dies.

Marius fulfills her request and goes into a tavern to read the letter. It is written by Cosette. He learns Cosette’s whereabouts and he writes a farewell letter to her. He sends Gavroche to deliver it to her, but Gavroche leaves it with Valjean. Valjean, learning that Cosette’s lover is fighting, is at first relieved, but an hour later, he puts on a National Guard uniform, arms himself with a gun and ammunition, and leaves his home.

Volume V: Jean Valjean

Valjean arrives at the barricade and immediately saves a man’s life. He is still not certain if he wants to protect Marius or kill him. Marius recognizes Valjean at first sight. Enjolras announces that they are almost out of cartridges. When Gavroche goes outside the barricade to collect more ammunition from the dead National Guardsmen, he is shot dead.

Valjean volunteers to execute Javert himself, and Enjolras grants permission. Valjean takes Javert out of sight, and then shoots into the air while letting him go. Marius mistakenly believes that Valjean has killed Javert. As the barricade falls, Valjean carries off the injured and unconscious Marius. All the other students are killed. Valjean escapes through the sewers, carrying Marius’s body. He evades a police patrol, and reaches an exit gate but finds it locked. Thénardier emerges from the darkness. Valjean recognizes Thénardier, but Thénardier does not recognize Valjean. Thinking Valjean a murderer lugging his victim’s corpse, Thénardier offers to open the gate for money. As he searches Valjean and Marius’s pockets, he surreptitiously tears off a piece of Marius’s coat so he can later find out his identity. Thénardier takes the thirty francs he finds, opens the gate, and allows Valjean to leave, expecting Valjean’s emergence from the sewer will distract the police who have been pursuing him.

Upon exiting, Valjean encounters Javert and requests time to return Marius to his family before surrendering to him. Surprisingly Javert agrees, assuming that Marius will be dead within minutes. After leaving Marius at his grandfather’s house, Valjean asks to be allowed a brief visit to his own home, and Javert agrees. There, Javert tells Valjean he will wait for him in the street, but when Valjean scans the street from the landing window he finds Javert has gone. Javert walks down the street, realizing that he is caught between his strict belief in the law and the mercy Valjean has shown him. He feels he can no longer give Valjean up to the authorities but also cannot ignore his duty to the law. Unable to cope with this dilemma, Javert commits suicide by throwing himself into the Seine.

Marius slowly recovers from his injuries. As he and Cosette make wedding preparations, Valjean endows them with a fortune of nearly 600,000 francs. As their wedding party winds through Paris during Mardi Gras festivities, Valjean is spotted by Thénardier, who then orders Azelma to follow him. After the wedding, Valjean confesses to Marius that he is an ex-convict. Marius is horrified, assumes the worst about Valjean’s moral character, and contrives to limit Valjean’s time with Cosette. Valjean accedes to Marius’ judgment and his separation from Cosette. Valjean loses the will to live and retires to his bed.

Thénardier approaches Marius in disguise, but Marius recognizes him. Thénardier attempts to blackmail Marius with what he knows of Valjean, but in doing so, he inadvertently corrects Marius’s misconceptions about Valjean and reveals all of the good he has done. He tries to convince Marius that Valjean is actually a murderer, and presents the piece of coat he tore off as evidence. Stunned, Marius recognizes the fabric as part of his own coat and realizes that it was Valjean who rescued him from the barricade. Marius pulls out a fistful of notes and flings it at Thénardier’s face. He then confronts Thénardier with his crimes and offers him an immense sum to depart and never return. Thénardier accepts the offer, and he and Azelma travel to America where he becomes a slave trader.

As they rush to Valjean’s house, Marius tells Cosette that Valjean saved his life at the barricade. They arrive to find Valjean near death and reconcile with him. Valjean tells Cosette her mother’s story and name. He dies content and is buried beneath a blank slab in Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Characters

Major

  • Jean Valjean (also known as Monsieur Madeleine, Ultime Fauchelevent, Monsieur Leblanc, and Urbain Fabre) – The protagonist of the novel. Convicted for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s seven starving children and sent to prison for five years, he is paroled from prison nineteen years later (after four unsuccessful escape attempts added twelve years and fighting back during the second escape attempt added two extra years). Rejected by society for being a former convict, he encounters Bishop Myriel, who turns his life around by showing him mercy and encouraging him to become a new man. While sitting and pondering what Bishop Myriel had said, he puts his shoe on a forty-sou piece dropped by a young wanderer. Valjean threatens the boy with his stick when the boy attempts to rouse Valjean from his reverie and recover his money. He tells a passing priest his name, and the name of the boy, and this allows the police to charge him with armed robbery – a sentence that, if he were caught again, would return him to prison for life. He assumes a new identity (Monsieur Madeleine) in order to pursue an honest life. He introduces new manufacturing techniques and eventually builds two factories and becomes one of the richest men in the area. By popular acclaim, he is made mayor. He confronts Javert over Fantine’s punishment, turns himself in to the police to save another man from prison for life, and rescues Cosette from the Thénardiers. Discovered by Javert in Paris because of his generosity to the poor, he evades capture for the next several years in a convent. He saves Marius from imprisonment and probable death at the barricade, reveals his true identity to Marius and Cosette after their wedding, and is reunited with them just before his death, having kept his promise to the bishop and to Fantine, the image of whom is the last thing he sees before dying.
  • Javert – A fanatic police inspector in pursuit to recapture Valjean. Born in the prisons to a convict father and a fortune teller mother, he renounces both of them and starts working as a guard in the prison, including one stint as the overseer for the chain gang of which Valjean is part (and here witnesses firsthand Valjean’s enormous strength and just what he looks like). Eventually he joins the police force in Montreuil-sur-Mer. He arrests Fantine and comes into conflict with Valjean/Madeleine, who orders him to release Fantine. Valjean dismisses Javert in front of his squad and Javert, seeking revenge, reports to the Police Inspector that he has discovered Jean Valjean. He is told that he must be incorrect, as a man mistakenly believed to be Jean Valjean was just arrested. He requests of M. Madeline that he be dismissed in disgrace, for he cannot be less harsh on himself than on others. When the real Jean Valjean turns himself in, Javert is promoted to the Paris police force where he arrests Valjean and sends him back to prison. After Valjean escapes again, Javert attempts one more arrest in vain. He then almost recaptures Valjean at Gorbeau house when he arrests the Thénardiers and Patron-Minette. Later, while working undercover behind the barricade, his identity is discovered. Valjean pretends to execute Javert, but releases him. When Javert next encounters Valjean emerging from the sewers, he allows him to make a brief visit home and then walks off instead of arresting him. Javert cannot reconcile his devotion to the law with his recognition that the lawful course is immoral. After composing a letter to the prefect of police outlining the squalid conditions that occur in prisons and the abuses that prisoners are subjected to, he takes his own life by jumping into the Seine.
  • Fantine – A beautiful Parisian grisette abandoned with a small child by her lover Félix Tholomyès. Fantine leaves her daughter Cosette in the care of the Thénardiers, innkeepers in the village of Montfermeil. Mme. Thénardier spoils her own daughters and abuses Cosette. Fantine finds work at Monsieur Madeleine’s factory. Illiterate, she has others write letters to the Thénardiers on her behalf. A female supervisor discovers that she is an unwed mother and dismisses her. To meet the Thénardiers’ repeated demands for money, she sells her hair and two front teeth, and turns to prostitution. She becomes ill. Valjean learns of her plight when Javert arrests her for attacking a man who called her insulting names and threw snow down her back, and sends her to a hospital. As Javert confronts Valjean in her hospital room, because her illness has made her so weak, she dies of shock after Javert reveals that Valjean is a convict and hasn’t brought her daughter Cosette to her (after the doctor encouraged that incorrect belief that Jean Valjean’s recent absence was because he was bringing her daughter to her).
  • Cosette (formally Euphrasie, also known as “the Lark”, Mademoiselle Lanoire, Ursula) – The illegitimate daughter of Fantine and Tholomyès. From approximately the age of three to the age of eight, she is beaten and forced to work as a drudge for the Thénardiers. After her mother Fantine dies, Valjean ransoms Cosette from the Thénardiers and cares for her as if she were his daughter. Nuns in a Paris convent educate her. She grows up to become very beautiful. She falls in love with Marius Pontmercy and marries him near the novel’s conclusion.
  • Marius Pontmercy – A young law student loosely associated with the Friends of the ABC. He shares the political principles of his father and has a tempestuous relationship with his royalist grandfather, Monsieur Gillenormand. He falls in love with Cosette and fights on the barricades when he believes Valjean has taken her to London. After he and Cosette marry, he recognizes Thénardier as a swindler and pays him to leave France.
  • Éponine (the Jondrette girl) – The Thénardiers’ elder daughter. As a child, she is pampered and spoiled by her parents, but ends up a street urchin when she reaches adolescence. She participates in her father’s crimes and begging schemes to obtain money. She is blindly in love with Marius. At Marius’ request, she finds Valjean and Cosette’s house for him and sadly leads him there. She also prevents her father, Patron-Minette, and Brujon from robbing the house during one of Marius’ visits there to see Cosette. After disguising herself as a boy, she manipulates Marius into going to the barricades, hoping that she and Marius will die there together. Wanting to die before Marius, she reaches out her hand to stop a soldier from shooting at him; she is mortally wounded as the bullet goes through her hand and her back. As she is dying, she confesses all this to Marius, and gives him a letter from Cosette. Her final request to Marius is that once she has passed, he will kiss her on the forehead. He fulfills her request not because of romantic feelings on his part, but out of pity for her hard life.
  • Monsieur Thénardier and Madame Thénardier (also known as the Jondrettes, M. Fabantou, M. Thénard. Some translations identify her as the Thenardiess) – Husband and wife, parents of five children: two daughters, Éponine and Azelma, and three sons, Gavroche and two unnamed younger sons. As innkeepers, they abuse Cosette as a child and extort payment from Fantine for her support, until Valjean takes Cosette away. They become bankrupt and relocate under the name Jondrette to a house in Paris called the Gorbeau house, living in the room next to Marius. The husband associates with a criminal group called “the Patron-Minette”, and conspires to rob Valjean until he is thwarted by Marius. Javert arrests the couple. The wife dies in prison. Her husband attempts to blackmail Marius with his knowledge of Valjean’s past, but Marius pays him to leave the country and he becomes a slave trader in the United States.
  • Enjolras – The leader of Les Amis de l’ABC (Friends of the ABC) in the Paris uprising. He is passionately committed to republican principles and the idea of progress. He and Grantaire are executed by the National Guards after the barricade falls.
  • Gavroche – The unloved middle child and eldest son of the Thénardiers. He lives on his own as a street urchin and sleeps inside an elephant statue outside the Bastille. He briefly takes care of his two younger brothers, unaware they are related to him. He takes part in the barricades and is killed while collecting bullets from dead National Guardsmen.
  • Bishop Myriel – The Bishop of Digne (full name Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel, also called Monseigneur Bienvenu) – A kindly old priest promoted to bishop after a chance encounter with Napoleon. After Valjean steals some silver from him, he saves Valjean from being arrested and inspires Valjean to change his ways.
  • Grantaire – Grantaire (Also known as “R”) was a student revolutionary with little interest in the cause. He reveres Enjolras, and his admiration is the main reason that Grantaire spends time with Les Amis de l’ABC (Friends of the ABC), despite Enjolras’s occasional scorn for him. Grantaire is often drunk and is unconscious for the majority of the June Rebellion. He and Enjolras are executed by the National Guards after the barricade falls.

Friends of the ABC

A revolutionary student club. In French, the letters “ABC” are pronounced identically to the French word abaissés, “the abased”.

  • Bahorel – A dandy and an idler from a peasant background, who is known well around the student cafés of Paris.
  • Combeferre – A medical student who is described as representing the philosophy of the revolution.
  • Courfeyrac – A law student who is described as the centre of the group of Friends. He is honorable and warm and is Marius’ closest companion.
  • Enjolras – The leader of the Friends. A resolute and charismatic youth, devoted to progress.
  • Feuilly – An orphaned fan maker and passionate Polonophile who taught himself to read and write. He is the only member of the Friends who is not a student.
  • Grantaire – A drunk with little interest in revolution. Despite his pessimism, he eventually declares himself a believer in the Republic, and dies alongside Enjolras.
  • Jean Prouvaire (also Jehan) – A Romantic with knowledge of Italian, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and an interest in the Middle Ages.
  • Joly – A medical student who has unusual theories about health. He is a hypochondriac and is described as the happiest of the Friends.
  • Lesgle (also Lègle, Laigle, L’Aigle [The Eagle] or Bossuet) – The oldest member of the group. Considered notoriously unlucky, Lesgle begins balding at the age of twenty-five. It is Lesgle who introduces Marius to the Friends.

Minor

  • Azelma – The younger daughter of the Thénardiers. Like her sister Éponine, she is spoiled as a child, impoverished when older. She abets her father’s failed robbery of Valjean. On Marius and Cosette’s wedding day, she tails Valjean on her father’s orders. She travels to America with her father at the end of the novel.
  • Bamatabois – An idler who harasses Fantine. Later a juror at Champmathieu’s trial.
  • (Mlle) Baptistine Myriel – Bishop Myriel’s sister. She loves and venerates her brother.
  • Blachevelle – A wealthy student in Paris originally from Montauban. He is a friend of Félix Tholomyès and becomes romantically involved with Fantine’s friend Favourite.
  • Bougon, Madame (called Ma’am Burgon) – Housekeeper of Gorbeau House.
  • Brevet – An ex-convict from Toulon who knew Valjean there; released one year after Valjean. In 1823, he is serving time in the prison in Arras for an unknown crime. He is the first to claim that Champmathieu is really Valjean. He used to wear knitted, checkered suspenders.
  • Brujon – A robber and criminal. He participates in crimes with M. Thénardier and the Patron-Minette gang (such as the Gorbeau Robbery and the attempted robbery at the Rue Plumet). The author describes Brujon as being “a sprightly young fellow, very cunning and very adroit, with a flurried and plaintive appearance.”
  • Champmathieu – A vagabond who is misidentified as Valjean after being caught stealing apples.
  • Chenildieu – A lifer from Toulon. He and Valjean were chain mates for five years. He once tried to unsuccessfully remove his lifer’s brand TFP (“travaux forcés à perpetuité”, “forced labour for life”) by putting his shoulder on a chafing dish full of embers. He is described as a small, wiry but energetic man.
  • Cochepaille – Another lifer from Toulon. He used to be a shepherd from the Pyrenees who became a smuggler. He is described as stupid and has a tattoo on his arm, 1 Mars 1815.
  • Colonel Georges Pontmercy – Marius’s father and an officer in Napoleon’s army. Wounded at Waterloo, Pontmercy erroneously believes M. Thénardier saved his life. He tells Marius of this great debt. He loves Marius and although M. Gillenormand does not allow him to visit, he continually hid behind a pillar in the church on Sunday so that he could at least look at Marius from a distance. Napoleon made him a baron, but the next regime refused to recognize his barony or his status as a colonel, instead referring to him only as a commandant. The book usually calls him “The colonel”.
  • Dahlia – A young grisette in Paris and member of Fantine’s group of seamstress friends along with Favourite and Zéphine. She becomes romantically involved with Félix Tholomyès’ friend Listolier.
  • Fameuil – A wealthy student in Paris originally from Limoges. He is a friend of Félix Tholomyès and becomes romantically involved with Fantine’s friend Zéphine.
  • Fauchelevent – A failed businessman whom Valjean (as M. Madeleine) saves from being crushed under a carriage. Valjean gets him a position as gardener at a Paris convent, where Fauchelevent later provides sanctuary for Valjean and Cosette and allows Valjean to pose as his brother.
  • Favourite – A young grisette in Paris and leader of Fantine’s group of seamstress friends (including Zéphine and Dahlia). She is independent and well versed in the ways of the world and had previously been in England. Although she cannot stand Félix Tholomyès’ friend Blachevelle and is in love with someone else, she endures a relationship with him so she can enjoy the perks of courting a wealthy man.
  • Listolier – A wealthy student in Paris originally from Cahors. He is a friend of Félix Tholomyès and becomes romantically involved with Fantine’s friend Dahlia.
  • Mabeuf – An elderly churchwarden, friend of Colonel Pontmercy, who after the Colonel’s death befriends his son Marius and helps Marius realize his father loved him. Mabeuf loves plants and books, but sells his books and prints in order to pay for a friend’s medical care. When Mabeuf finds a purse in his yard, he takes it to the police. After selling his last book, he joins the students in the insurrection. He is shot dead raising the flag atop the barricade.
  • Mademoiselle Gillenormand – Daughter of M. Gillenormand, with whom she lives. Her late half-sister (M. Gillenormand’s daughter from another marriage), was Marius’ mother.
  • Madame Magloire – Domestic servant to Bishop Myriel and his sister.
  • Magnon – Former servant of M. Gillenormand and friend of the Thénardiers. She had been receiving child support payments from M. Gillenormand for her two illegitimate sons, who she claimed were fathered by him. When her sons died in an epidemic, she had them replaced with the Thénardiers’ two youngest sons so that she could protect her income. The Thénardiers get a portion of the payments. She is incorrectly arrested for involvement in the Gorbeau robbery.
  • Monsieur Gillenormand – Marius’ grandfather. A monarchist, he disagrees sharply with Marius on political issues, and they have several arguments. He attempts to keep Marius from being influenced by his father, Colonel Georges Pontmercy. While in perpetual conflict over ideas, he holds his grandson in affection.
  • Mother Innocente (a.k.a. Marguerite de Blemeur) – The prioress of the Petit-Picpus convent.
  • Patron-Minette – A quartet of bandits who assist in the Thénardiers’ ambush of Valjean at Gorbeau House and the attempted robbery at the Rue Plumet. The gang consists of Montparnasse, Claquesous, Babet, and Gueulemer. Claquesous, who escaped from the carriage transporting him to prison after the Gorbeau Robbery, joins the revolution under the guise of “Le Cabuc” and is executed by Enjolras for firing on civilians.
  • Petit Gervais – A travelling Savoyard boy who drops a coin. Valjean, still a man of criminal mind, places his foot on the coin and refuses to return it.
  • Sister Simplice – A famously truthful nun who cares for Fantine on her sickbed and lies to Javert to protect Valjean.
  • Félix Tholomyès – Fantine’s lover and Cosette’s biological father. A wealthy, self-centered student in Paris originally from Toulouse, he eventually abandons Fantine when their daughter is two years old.
  • Toussaint – Valjean and Cosette’s servant in Paris. She has a slight stutter.
  • Two little boys – The two unnamed youngest sons of the Thénardiers, whom they send to Magnon to replace her two dead sons. Living on the streets, they encounter Gavroche, who is unaware they are his siblings but treats them like they are his brothers. After Gavroche’s death, they retrieve bread tossed by a bourgeois man to geese in a fountain at the Luxembourg Garden.
  • Zéphine – A young grisette in Paris and member of Fantine’s group of seamstress friends along with Favourite and Dahlia. She becomes romantically involved with Félix Tholomyès’ friend Fameuil.

The narrator

Hugo does not give the narrator a name and allows the reader to identify the narrator with the novel’s author. The narrator occasionally injects himself into the narrative or reports facts outside the time of the narrative to emphasize that he is recounting historical events, not entirely fiction. He introduces his recounting of Waterloo with several paragraphs describing the narrator’s recent approach to the battlefield: “Last year (1861), on a beautiful May morning, a traveller, the person who is telling this story, was coming from Nivelles …” The narrator describes how “[a]n observer, a dreamer, the author of this book” during the 1832 street fighting was caught in crossfire: “All that he had to protect him from the bullets was the swell of the two half columns which separate the shops; he remained in this delicate situation for nearly half an hour.” At one point he apologizes for intruding—”The author of this book, who regrets the necessity of mentioning himself”—to ask the reader’s understanding when he describes “the Paris of his youth … as though it still existed.” This introduces a meditation on memories of past places that his contemporary readers would recognize as a self-portrait written from exile: “you have left a part of your heart, of your blood, of your soul, in those pavements.” He describes another occasion when a bullet shot “pierced a brass shaving-dish suspended … over a hairdresser’s shop. This pierced shaving-dish was still to be seen in 1848, in the Rue du Contrat-Social, at the corner of the pillars of the market.” As evidence of police double agents at the barricades, he writes: “The author of this book had in his hands, in 1848, the special report on this subject made to the Prefect of Police in 1832.”

Contemporary reception

The appearance of the novel was a highly anticipated event as Victor Hugo was considered one of France’s foremost poets in the middle of the nineteenth century. The New York Times announced its forthcoming publication as early as April 1860. Hugo forbade his publishers from summarizing his story and refused to authorize the publication of excerpts in advance of publication. He instructed them to build on his earlier success and suggested this approach: “What Victor H. did for the Gothic world in Notre-Dame of Paris [The Hunchback of Notre Dame], he accomplishes for the modern world in Les Miserables”. A massive advertising campaign preceded the release of the first two volumes of Les Misérables in Brussels on 30 or 31 March and in Paris on 3 April 1862. The remaining volumes appeared on 15 May 1862.

Critical reactions were wide-ranging and often negative. Some critics found the subject matter immoral, others complained of its excessive sentimentality, and others were disquieted by its apparent sympathy with the revolutionaries. L. Gauthier wrote in Le Monde of 17 August 1862: “One cannot read without an unconquerable disgust all the details Monsieur Hugo gives regarding the successful planning of riots.” The Goncourt brothers judged the novel artificial and disappointing. Flaubert found “neither truth nor greatness” in it. He complained that the characters were crude stereotypes who all “speak very well – but all in the same way”. He deemed it an “infantile” effort and brought an end to Hugo’s career like “the fall of a god”. In a newspaper review, Charles Baudelaire praised Hugo’s success in focusing public attention on social problems, though he believed that such propaganda was the opposite of art. In private he castigated it as “repulsive and inept” (“immonde et inepte”). The Catholic Church placed it on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

The work was a commercial success and has been a popular book ever since it was published. Translated the same year it appeared into several foreign languages, including Italian, Greek, and Portuguese, it proved popular not only in France, but across Europe and abroad.

English translations

  • Charles E. Wilbour. New York: Carleton Publishing Company, June 1862. The first English translation. The first volume was available for purchase in New York beginning 7 June 1862.[39] Also New York and London: George Routledge and Sons, 1879.
  • Lascelles Wraxall. London: Hurst and Blackett, October 1862. The first British translation.
  • Translator identified as “A.F.” Richmond, Virginia, 1863. Published by West and Johnston publishers. The Editor’s Preface announces its intention of correcting errors in Wilbour’s translation. It said that some passages “exclusively intended for the French readers of the book” were being omitted, as well as “[a] few scattered sentences reflecting on slavery” because “the absence of a few antislavery paragraphs will hardly be complained of by Southern readers.” Because of paper shortages in wartime, the passages omitted became longer with each successive volume.
  • Isabel Florence Hapgood. Published 1887, this translation is available at Project Gutenberg.
  • Norman Denny. Folio Press, 1976. A modern British translation later re-published in paperback by Penguin Books, ISBN 0-14-044430-0. The translator explains in an introduction that he has placed two of the novel’s longer digressive passages into appendices and made some minor abridgements in the text.
  • Lee Fahnestock and Norman McAfee. Signet Classics. 3 March 1987. An unabridged edition based on the Wilbour translation with its language modernized. Paperback ISBN 0-451-52526-4
  • Julie Rose. 2007. Vintage Classics, 3 July 2008. A new translation of the full work, with a detailed biographical sketch of Victor Hugo’s life, a chronology, and notes. ISBN 978-0-09-951113-7
  • Christine Donougher. Penguin Classics, 7 November 2013. A new translation of the full work, with a detailed biographical sketch of Victor Hugo’s life, a chronology, and notes. ISBN 978-0141393599

Adaptations

Since its original publication, Les Misérables has been the subject of a large number of adaptations in numerous types of media, such as books, films, musicals, plays and games.

Notable examples of these adaptations include:

  • The 1934 film, 4½-hour French version directed by Raymond Bernard and starring Harry Baur, Charles Vanel, Florelle, Josseline Gaël and Jean Servais.
  • The 1935 film directed by Richard Boleslawski, starring Fredric March and Charles Laughton, nominated for Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Assistant Director at 8th Academy Awards.
  • The 1937 radio adaptation by Orson Welles.
  • The 1952 film adaptation directed by Lewis Milestone, starring Michael Rennie and Robert Newton.
  • The 1958 film adaptation directed by Jean-Paul Le Chanois, with an international cast starring Jean Gabin, Bernard Blier, and Bourvil. Called “the most memorable film version”, it was filmed in East Germany and was overtly political.
  • The 1978 television film adaptation, starring Richard Jordan and Anthony Perkins.
  • The 1980 musical, by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg.
  • The 1982 film adaptation, directed by Robert Hossein, starring Lino Ventura and Michel Bouquet.
  • The 1995 film, by Claude Lelouch, starring Jean-Paul Belmondo
  • The 1998 film, starring Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush.
  • The 2000 TV miniseries, starring Gérard Depardieu and John Malkovich.
  • The 2007 TV anime adaptation, by Studio Nippon Animation.
  • The 2012 film of the musical, starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried.
  • A 2018 TV miniseries by Andrew Davies, starring Dominic West, David Oyelowo and Lily Collins.

Sequels

  • Laura Kalpakian’s Cosette: The Sequel to Les Misérables was published in 1995. It continues the story of Cosette and Marius, but is more a sequel to the musical than to the original novel.
  • In 2001, two French novels by François Cérésa [fr] that continue Hugo’s story appeared: Cosette ou le temps des illusions and Marius ou le fugitif. The former has been published in an English translation. Javert appears as a hero who survived his suicide attempt and becomes religious; Thénardier returns from America; Marius is unjustly imprisoned. The works were the subject of an unsuccessful lawsuit, Société Plon et autres v. Pierre Hugo et autres brought by Hugo’s great-great-grandson.

Lyrics


Burt Bacharach

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

Burt Freeman Bacharach (/ˈbækəræk/ BAK-ə-rak; born May 12, 1928) is an American composer, songwriter, record producer, and pianist who has composed hundreds of pop songs from the late 1950s through the 1980s, many in collaboration with lyricist Hal David. A six-time Grammy Award winner and three-time Academy Award winner, Bacharach’s songs have been recorded by more than 1,000 different artists. As of 2014, he had written 73 US and 52 UK Top 40 hits. He is considered one of the most important composers of 20th-century popular music.

His music is characterized by unusual chord progressions, influenced by his background in jazz harmony, and uncommon selections of instruments for small orchestras. Most of Bacharach’s and David’s hits were written specifically for and performed by Dionne Warwick, but earlier associations (from 1957 to 1963) saw the composing duo work with Marty Robbins, Perry Como, Gene McDaniels, and Jerry Butler. Following the initial success of these collaborations, Bacharach went on to write hits for Gene Pitney, Cilla Black, Dusty Springfield, Jackie DeShannon, Bobbie Gentry, Tom Jones, Herb Alpert, B. J. Thomas, the Carpenters, among numerous other artists. He arranged, conducted, and produced much of his recorded output.

Songs that he co-wrote which have topped the Billboard Hot 100 include “This Guy’s in Love with You” (1968), “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” (1969), “(They Long to Be) Close to You” (1970), “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” (1981), and “That’s What Friends Are For” (1986).

A significant figure in easy listening,[2] Bacharach is described by writer William Farina as “a composer whose venerable name can be linked with just about every other prominent musical artist of his era.” In later years, his songs were newly appropriated for the soundtracks of major feature films, by which time “tributes, compilations, and revivals were to be found everywhere”. He has been noted for his influence on later musical movements such as chamber pop and Shibuya-kei. In 2015, Rolling Stone ranked Bacharach and David at number 32 for their list of the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time. In 2012, the duo received the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, the first time the honor has been given to a songwriting team.

[toc]

Early life and education

Bacharach was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and grew up in the Kew Gardens section of New York City, graduating from Forest Hills High School in 1946. He is the son of Irma M. (née Freeman) and Mark Bertram “Bert” Bacharach, a well-known syndicated newspaper columnist. His mother was an amateur painter and songwriter who was responsible for making Bacharach learn piano during his childhood. His family was Jewish, but he says that they did not practice or give much attention to their religion. “But the kids I knew were Catholic”, he adds. “I was Jewish but I didn’t want anybody to know about it.”

Bacharach showed a keen interest in jazz as a teenager, disliking his classical piano lessons, and often used a fake ID to gain admission into 52nd Street nightclubs. He got to hear bebop musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie, whose style would later influence his songwriting.

Bacharach studied music (Bachelor of Music, 1948) at Montreal’s McGill University, under Helmut Blume, at the Mannes School of Music, and at the Music Academy of the West in Montecito, California. During this period he studied a range of music, including jazz harmony, which has since been important to songs which are generally considered pop music. His composition teachers included Darius Milhaud, Henry Cowell, and Bohuslav Martinů. Bacharach cites Milhaud as his biggest influence, under whose guidance he wrote a “Sonatina for Violin, Oboe and Piano.”

Beginning work as a musician

Following his tour of duty in the United States Army,[when?] Bacharach spent the next three years as a pianist and conductor for popular singer Vic Damone. Damone recalls: “Burt was clearly bound to go out on his own. He was an exceptionally talented, classically trained pianist, with very clear ideas on the musicality of songs, how they should be played, and what they should sound like. I appreciated his musical gifts.” He later worked in similar capacity for various other singers, including Polly Bergen, Steve Lawrence, the Ames Brothers and Paula Stewart (who became his first wife). When he was unable to find better jobs, Bacharach worked at resorts in the Catskill Mountains of New York, where he accompanied singers such as Joel Grey.

In 1956, at the age of 28, Bacharach’s productivity increased when composer Peter Matz recommended him to Marlene Dietrich, who needed an arranger and conductor for her nightclub shows. He then became part-time music director for Dietrich, the actress and singer who had been an international screen star in the 1930s. They toured worldwide off and on until the early 1960s; when they were not touring, he wrote songs.  As a result of his collaboration with Dietrich, he gained his first major recognition as a conductor and arranger.

In her autobiography, Dietrich wrote that Bacharach loved touring in Russia and Poland because the violinists were “extraordinary”, and musicians were greatly appreciated by the public. He liked Edinburgh and Paris, along with the Scandinavian countries, and “he also felt at home in Israel”, she wrote, where music was similarly “much revered”. Their working relationship ceased by the early 1960s, after about five years with Dietrich, with Bacharach telling her that he wanted to devote himself full-time to songwriting. She thought of her time with him as “seventh heaven … As a man, he embodied everything a woman could wish for. … How many such men are there? For me he was the only one.”

Songwriting career

1950s and 1960s

In 1957, Bacharach and lyricist Hal David met while at the Brill Building in New York City, and began their writing partnership. They received a career breakthrough when their song “The Story of My Life” was recorded by Marty Robbins, becoming a number 1 hit on the U.S. Country Chart in 1957.

Soon afterwards, “Magic Moments” was recorded by Perry Como for RCA Records, and reached #4 in the U.S. These two songs were back-to-back No. 1 singles in the UK (the British chart-topping “The Story of My Life” version was sung by Michael Holliday), giving Bacharach and David the honor of being the first songwriters to have written consecutive No. 1 UK singles.

In 1961 Bacharach was credited as arranger and producer, for the first time on both label and sleeve, for the song Three Wheels on My Wagon, written jointly with Bob Hilliard for Dick Van Dyke.

Bacharach and David formed a writing partnership in 1963. Bacharach’s career received a boost when singer Jerry Butler asked to record “Make it Easy on Yourself,” and wanted him to direct the recording sessions. It became the first time he managed the entire recording process for one of his own songs.

In the early and mid-1960s, Bacharach wrote well over a hundred songs with David. In 1961 Bacharach discovered singer Dionne Warwick while she was a session accompanist. That year the two, along with Dionne’s sister Dee Dee Warwick, released a single “Move It on the Backbeat” under the name Burt and the Backbeats. The lyrics for this Bacharach composition were provided by Hal David’s brother Mack David. Dionne made her professional recording debut the following year with her first hit, “Don’t Make Me Over”.

Bacharach and David then wrote more songs to make use of Warwick’s singing talents, which led to one of the most successful teams in popular music history. Over the next 20 years, Warwick’s recordings of his songs sold over 12 million copies, with 38 singles making the charts and 22 in the Top 40. Among the hits were “Walk on By”, “Anyone Who Had a Heart”, “Alfie”, “I Say a Little Prayer”, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”, and “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” She would eventually have more hits during her career than any other female vocalist except Aretha Franklin.[36]

Bacharach released his first solo album in 1965 on the Kapp Records label. “Hit Maker! Burt Bacharach Plays His Hits” was largely ignored in the US but rose to #3 on the UK album charts, where his version of “Trains and Boats and Planes” had become a top 5 single. In 1967, Bacharach signed as an artist with A&M Records, recording a mix of new material and re-arrangements of his best-known songs. He recorded for A&M until 1978.

Although Bacharach’s compositions are typically more complex than the average pop song, he has expressed surprise in the fact that many jazz musicians have sought inspiration from his works, saying “I’ve sometimes felt that my songs are restrictive for a jazz artist. I was excited when [Stan] Getz did a whole album of my music” (What The World Needs Now: Stan Getz Plays The Burt Bacharach Songbook, Verve, 1968).

His songs were adapted by a few jazz artists of the time, such as Stan Getz, Cal Tjader, Grant Green, and Wes Montgomery. The Bacharach/David composition “My Little Red Book”, originally recorded by Manfred Mann for the film What’s New Pussycat?, has become a rock standard.

Bacharach composed and arranged the soundtrack of the 1967 film Casino Royale, which included “The Look of Love”, performed by Dusty Springfield, and the title song, an instrumental Top 40 single for Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. The resulting soundtrack album is widely considered to be one of the finest engineered vinyl recordings of all time, and is much sought after by audiophile collectors.

Bacharach and David also collaborated with Broadway producer David Merrick on the 1968 musical Promises, Promises, which yielded two hits, including the title tune and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.” Bacharach and David wrote the song when the producer realized the play urgently needed another before its opening the next evening. Bacharach, who had just been released from the hospital after contracting pneumonia, was still sick, but worked with David’s lyrics to write the song which was performed for the show’s opening. It was later recorded by Dionne Warwick and was on the charts for several weeks.

The year 1969 marked, perhaps, the most successful Bacharach-David collaboration, the Oscar-winning “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”, written for and prominently featured in the acclaimed film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The two were awarded a Grammy for Best Cast album of the year for “Promises, Promises” and the score was also nominated for a Tony award.

Other Oscar nominations for Best Song in the latter half of the 1960s were for “The Look Of Love”, “What’s New Pussycat?” and “Alfie”.

1970s and 1980s

Throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, Bacharach continued to write and produce for artists, compose for stage, TV, and film, and release his own albums. He enjoyed a great deal of visibility in the public spotlight, appearing frequently on TV and performing live in concert. He starred in two televised musical extravaganzas: “An Evening with Burt Bacharach” and “Another Evening with Burt Bacharach,” both broadcast nationally on NBC.Newsweek magazine gave him a lengthy cover story entitled “The Music Man 1970.”

In 1971, Barbra Streisand appeared on “The Burt Bacharach Special,” (aka “Singer Presents Burt Bacharach”) where they discussed their careers and favorite songs and performed songs together. The other guests on the television special were dancer Rudolph Nureyev and singer Tom Jones.

In 1973, Bacharach and David wrote the score for Lost Horizon, a musical version of the 1937 film. The remake was a critical and commercial disaster and a flurry of lawsuits resulted between the composer and the lyricist, as well as from Warwick. She reportedly felt abandoned when Bacharach and David refused to work together further.

Bacharach tried several solo projects, including the 1977 album Futures, but the projects failed to yield hits. He and David reunited briefly in 1975 to write and produce other records.

By the early 1980s, Bacharach’s marriage to Angie Dickinson had ended, but a new partnership with lyricist Carole Bayer Sager proved rewarding, both commercially and personally. The two married and collaborated on several major hits during the decade, including “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” (Christopher Cross), co-written with Cross and Peter Allen; “Heartlight” (Neil Diamond); “Making Love” (Roberta Flack); “On My Own” (Patti LaBelle with Michael McDonald.)

Another of their hits, “That’s What Friends Are For” in 1985, reunited Bacharach and Warwick. When asked about their coming together again, she explained:

We realized we were more than just friends. We were family. Time has a way of giving people the opportunity to grow and understand … Working with Burt is not a bit different from how it used to be. He expects me to deliver and I can. He knows what I’m going to do before I do it, and the same with me. That’s how intertwined we’ve been.

Other artists continued to revive Bacharach’s earlier hits in the 1980s and 1990s. Examples included Luther Vandross’ recording of “A House is Not a Home”; Naked Eyes’ 1983 pop hit version of “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me”, and Ronnie Milsap’s 1982 country version of “Any Day Now”. Bacharach continued a concert career, appearing at auditoriums throughout the world, often with large orchestras. He occasionally joined Warwick for sold-out concerts in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York, where they performed at the Rainbow Room in 1996.

1990s and beyond

In 1998, Bacharach co-wrote and recorded a Grammy-winning album with Elvis Costello, Painted from Memory, on which the compositions began to take on the sound of his earlier work. The duo later reunited for Costello’s 2018 album, Look Now, working on several tracks together.

In 2003, he teamed with singer Ronald Isley to release the album Here I Am, which revisited a number of his 1960s compositions in Isley’s signature R&B style. Bacharach’s 2005 solo album At This Time was a departure from past works in that Bacharach penned his own lyrics, some of which dealt with political themes. Guest stars on the album included Elvis Costello, Rufus Wainwright, and hip-hop producer Dr. Dre.

In 2008, Bacharach opened the BBC Electric Proms at The Roundhouse in London, performing with the BBC Concert Orchestra accompanied by guest vocalists Adele, Beth Rowley and Jamie Cullum. The concert was a retrospective look back at his six-decade career. In early 2009, Bacharach worked with Italian soul singer Karima Ammar and produced her debut single “Come In Ogni Ora”, which became a #4 hit.

In June 2015, Bacharach performed in the UK at the Glastonbury Festival, and a few weeks later appeared on stage at the Menier Chocolate Factory to launch ‘What’s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined’, a 90-minute live arrangement of his hits.

In 2016, Bacharach, at 88 years old, composed and arranged his first original score in 16 years for the film A Boy Called Po (along with composer Joseph Bauer ). The score was released on September 1, 2017. The entire 30-minute score was recorded in just two days at Capitol Studios. The theme song Dancing With Your Shadow, was composed by Bacharach, with lyrics by Billy Mann, and performed by Sheryl Crow. After seeing the film, a true story about a child with Autism, Bacharach decided he wanted to write a score for it, as well as a theme song, in tribute to his daughter Nikki — who had gone undiagnosed with Asperger syndrome, and who committed suicide at the age of 40. Bacharach asked Director John Asher to see the film and offered to score it. “It touched me very much,” the composer says. “I had gone through this with Nikki. Sometimes you do things that make you feel. It’s not about money or rewards.”

Though not known for political songs, Live To See Another Day was released in 2018. “Dedicated to survivors of school gun violence” proceeds for the release went to charity Sandy Hook Promise, a non-profit organization founded and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. A co-write with Rudy Pérez it also featured the Miami Symphony Orchestra.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Burt Bacharach among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.

In July 2020, Bacharach collaborated with songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Tashian on the EP “Blue Umbrella”, Bacharach’s first new material in 15 years.

Film and television

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Bacharach was featured in a dozen television musical and variety specials videotaped in the UK for ITC; several were nominated for Emmy Awards for direction (by Dwight Hemion). The guests included artists such as Joel Grey, Dusty Springfield, Dionne Warwick, and Barbra Streisand. Bacharach and David did the score for an original musical for ABC-TV titled On the Flip Side, broadcast on ABC Stage 67, starring Ricky Nelson as a faded pop star trying for a comeback. While the ratings were dismal, the soundtrack showcased Bacharach’s abilities to try different kinds of musical styles, ranging from (almost) 1960s rock, to pop, ballads, and Latin-tinged dance numbers.

In 1969, Harry Betts arranged Bacharach’s instrumental composition “Nikki” (named for Bacharach’s daughter) into a new theme for the ABC Movie of the Week, a television series that ran on the U.S. network until 1976.

During the 1970s, Bacharach and then-wife Angie Dickinson appeared in several television commercials for Martini & Rossi beverages, and even penned a short jingle (“Say Yes”) for the spots. Bacharach also occasionally appeared on television/variety shows, such as The Merv Griffin Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and many others.

In the 1990s and 2000s, Bacharach had cameo roles in Hollywood movies, including all three Austin Powers movies, inspired by his score for the 1967 James Bond parody film Casino Royale.

Bacharach appeared as a celebrity performer and guest vocal coach for contestants on the television show, “American Idol” during the 2006 season, during which an entire episode was dedicated to his music. In 2008, Bacharach featured in the BBC Electric Proms at The Roundhouse with the BBC Concert Orchestra. He performed similar shows in the same year at the Walt Disney Concert Hall and with the Sydney Symphony.

Musical style

Bacharach’s music is characterized by unusual chord progressions, influenced by jazz harmony, with striking syncopated rhythmic patterns, irregular phrasing, frequent modulation, and odd, changing meters. He arranged, conducted, and produced much of his recorded output. Though his style is sometimes called “easy listening”, he has expressed apprehension regarding that label. According to NJ.com contributor Mark Voger, “It may be easy on the ears, but it’s anything but easy. The precise arrangements, the on-a-dime shifts in meter, and the mouthfuls of lyrics required to service all those notes have, over the years, proven challenging to singers and musicians.” Bacharach’s selection of instruments included flugelhorns, bossa nova sidesticks, breezy flutes, molto fortissimo strings and cooing female voices.  According to editors of The Mojo Collection, it led to what became known as the “Bacharach Sound.” He explains:

I didn’t want to make the songs the same way as they’d been done, so I’d split vocals and instrumentals and try to make it interesting  … For me, it’s about the peaks and valleys of where a record can take you. You can tell a story and be able to be explosive one minute, then get quiet as kind of a satisfying resolution.

While he did not mind singing during live performances, he sought mostly to avoid it on records. When he did sing, he explains, “I [tried] to sing the songs not as a singer, but just interpreting it as a composer and interpreting a great lyric that Hal [David] wrote.”[ When performing in front of live audiences, he would often conduct while playing piano., as he did during a televised performance on The Hollywood Palace, where he played piano and conducted at the same time.

Personal life

Bacharach has been married four times. His first marriage was to Paula Stewart and lasted five years (1953–1958). His second marriage was to actress Angie Dickinson, lasting for 15 years (1965–1980). Bacharach and Dickinson had a daughter named Nikki Bacharach, who struggled with Asperger’s Syndrome and took her own life on January 4, 2007 at the age of 40.

Bacharach’s third marriage was to lyricist Carole Bayer Sager, which lasted nine years (1982–1991). Bacharach and Bayer Sager collaborated on a number of musical pieces and adopted a son named Cristopher. Bacharach married his fourth wife, Jane Hansen, in 1993; they have two children, a son named Oliver, and a daughter named Raleigh. His autobiography, Anyone Who Had a Heart, was published in 2013.

Honors and awards

  • 1969, Grammy Awards, Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid (1969) and Promises, Promises.
  • 1969, Academy Award, “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.”
  • 1981, Academy Award and Golden Globe, “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)”
  • 1997, Trustees Award from NARAS on the Grammy Awards broadcast.
  • 1997, subject of a PBS “Great Performances” biography, “Burt Bacharach: This is Now,”.
  • 1998, Grammy Award for the single “I Still Have That Other Girl,” in collaboration with Elvis Costello.
  • 2000, People magazine named him one of the “Sexiest Men Alive”, and one of the “50 Most Beautiful People” in 1999.
  • 2001, Polar Music Prize, presented in Stockholm by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.
  • 2002, National Academy Of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) New York Heroes Award.
  • 2005, GQ Magazine Inspiration Award.
  • 2006, George and Ira Gershwin Award for Musical Achievement from UCLA.
  • 2006, Thornton Legacy Award, USC; They also created the Burt Bacharach Music Scholarship at the Thornton School to support outstanding young musicians.
  • 2008, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, when he was proclaimed music’s “Greatest Living Composer.”
  • 2009, Bacharach received an honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music. The award was presented to him during the Great American Songbook concert, which paid tribute to his music.
  • 2011, Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, with Hal David, awarded by the Library of Congress.

Television and film appearances

  • Analyze This
  • An Evening with Marlene Dietrich
  • Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
  • Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
  • Austin Powers in Goldmember
  • Marlene Dietrich: Her Own Song
  • Nip/Tuck
  • The Nanny

Lyrics


Willie Nelson

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

Willie Hugh Nelson (born April 29, 1933) is an American musician, actor, and activist. The critical success of the album Shotgun Willie (1973), combined with the critical and commercial success of Red Headed Stranger (1975) and Stardust (1978), made Nelson one of the most recognized artists in country music. He was one of the main figures of outlaw country, a subgenre of country music that developed in the late 1960s as a reaction to the conservative restrictions of the Nashville sound. Nelson has acted in over 30 films, co-authored several books, and has been involved in activism for the use of biofuels and the legalization of marijuana.

Born during the Great Depression and raised by his grandparents, Nelson wrote his first song at age seven and joined his first band at ten. During high school, he toured locally with the Bohemian Polka as their lead singer and guitar player. After graduating from high school in 1950, he joined the U.S. Air Force but was later discharged due to back problems. After his return, Nelson attended Baylor University for two years but dropped out because he was succeeding in music. During this time, he worked as a disc jockey in Texas radio stations and a singer in honky-tonks. Nelson moved to Vancouver, Washington, where he wrote “Family Bible” and recorded the song “Lumberjack” in 1956. He also worked as a disc jockey at various radio stations in Vancouver and nearby Portland, Oregon. In 1958, he moved to Houston, Texas, after signing a contract with D Records. He sang at the Esquire Ballroom weekly and he worked as a disk jockey. During that time, he wrote songs that would become country standards, including “Funny How Time Slips Away”, “Hello Walls”, “Pretty Paper”, and “Crazy”. In 1960 he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and later signed a publishing contract with Pamper Music which allowed him to join Ray Price’s band as a bassist. In 1962, he recorded his first album, …And Then I Wrote. Due to this success, Nelson signed in 1964 with RCA Victor and joined the Grand Ole Opry the following year. After mid-chart hits in the late 1960s and the early 1970s, Nelson retired in 1972 and moved to Austin, Texas. The ongoing music scene of Austin motivated Nelson to return from retirement, performing frequently at the Armadillo World Headquarters.

In 1973, after signing with Atlantic Records, Nelson turned to outlaw country, including albums such as Shotgun Willie and Phases and Stages. In 1975, he switched to Columbia Records, where he recorded the critically acclaimed album Red Headed Stranger. The same year, he recorded another outlaw country album, Wanted! The Outlaws, along with Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser. During the mid-1980s, while creating hit albums like Honeysuckle Rose and recording hit songs like “On the Road Again”, “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”, and “Pancho and Lefty”, he joined the country supergroup The Highwaymen, along with fellow singers Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson.

In 1990, Nelson’s assets were seized by the Internal Revenue Service, which claimed that he owed $32 million. The difficulty of paying his outstanding debt was aggravated by weak investments he had made during the 1980s. In 1992, Nelson released The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories?; the profits of the double album—destined to the IRS—and the auction of Nelson’s assets cleared his debt. During the 1990s and 2000s, Nelson continued touring extensively, and released albums every year. Reviews ranged from positive to mixed. He explored genres such as reggae, blues, jazz, and folk.

Nelson made his first movie appearance in the 1979 film The Electric Horseman, followed by other appearances in movies and on television. Nelson is a major liberal activist and the co-chair of the advisory board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), which is in favor of marijuana legalization. On the environmental front, Nelson owns the bio-diesel brand Willie Nelson Biodiesel, which is made from vegetable oil. Nelson is also the honorary chairman of the advisory board of the Texas Music Project, the official music charity of the state of Texas.

Early life

Nelson was born in Abbott, Texas, on April 29, 1933,[1] the son of Myrle Marie (née Greenhaw) and Ira Doyle Nelson. His birth was incorrectly recorded by Dr. F. D. Sims as April 30.  He was named Willie by his cousin Mildred, who also chose Hugh as his middle name, in honor of her recently deceased younger brother.[1] Nelson traces his genealogy to the American Revolutionary War, in which his ancestor John Nelson served as a major. His parents moved to Texas from Arkansas in 1929 to look for work. His grandfather, William, worked as a blacksmith, while his father worked as a mechanic. His mother left soon after he was born, and his father remarried and also moved away, leaving Nelson and his sister Bobbie to be raised by their grandparents, who taught singing back in Arkansas and started their grandchildren in music. Nelson’s grandfather bought him a guitar when he was six, and taught him a few chords, and Nelson sang gospel songs in the local church alongside Bobbie. He wrote his first song at age seven, and when he was nine, he played guitar for local band Bohemian Polka. During the summer, the family picked cotton alongside other Abbott residents. Nelson disliked picking cotton, so he earned money by singing in dance halls, taverns, and honky tonks from age 13, which he continued through high school. His musical influences were Hank Williams, Bob Wills, Lefty Frizzell, Ray Price, Ernest Tubb, Hank Snow, Django Reinhardt, Frank Sinatra, and Louis Armstrong.

Nelson attended Abbott High School, where he was a halfback on the football team, guard on the basketball team, and shortstop in baseball. He also raised pigs with the Future Farmers of America. While still at school, he sang and played guitar in The Texans, a band formed by his sister’s husband, Bud Fletcher. The band played in honky tonks, and also had a Sunday morning spot at KHBR in Hillsboro, Texas. Meanwhile, Nelson had a short stint as a relief phone operator in Abbott, followed by a job as a tree trimmer for the local electric company, as well as a pawn shop employee. After leaving school in 1950, he joined the U.S. Air Force for eight to nine months. Upon his return in 1952, he married Martha Matthews, and from 1954 to 1956 studied agriculture at Baylor University, where he joined the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, until dropping out to pursue a career in music. He worked as a nightclub bouncer, autohouse partsman, saddle maker, and tree trimmer again. He later joined Johnny Bush’s band.

Nelson moved with his family to Pleasanton, Texas, where he auditioned for a job as a DJ at KBOP. The owner of the station, Dr. Ben Parker, gave Nelson the job despite his lack of experience working on radio. With the equipment of the station, Nelson made his first two recordings in 1955: “The Storm Has Just Begun” and “When I’ve Sung My Last Hillbilly Song”. He recorded the tracks on used tapes, and sent the demos to the local label SARG Records, which rejected them.  He then had stints working for KDNT in Denton, KCUL, and KCNC in Fort Worth, where he hosted The Western Express, taught Sunday school, and played in nightclubs. He then decided to move to San Diego but, when he was unable to find a job there, he hitchhiked to Portland, Oregon, where his mother lived.[15] When nobody picked him up, he ended up sleeping in a ditch[19] before hopping a freight train bound for Eugene. A truck driver drove him to a bus station and loaned him $10 for a ticket to reach Portland.

Music career

Beginnings (1956–1971)

Nelson was hired by KVAN in Vancouver, Washington and appeared frequently on a television show. He made his first record in 1956, “No Place for Me”, that included Leon Payne’s “Lumberjack” on the B-side. The recording failed. Nelson continued working as a radio announcer and singing in Vancouver clubs. He made several appearances in a Colorado nightclub, later moving to Springfield, Missouri. After failing to land a spot on the Ozark Jubilee, he started to work as a dishwasher. Unhappy with his job, he moved back to Texas. After a short time in Waco, he settled in Fort Worth, and quit the music business for a year. He sold bibles and vacuum cleaners door-to-door,[ and eventually became a sales manager for the Encyclopedia Americana.

After his son Billy was born in 1958, the family moved to Houston, Texas. On the way, Nelson stopped by the Esquire Ballroom to sell his original songs to house band singer Larry Butler. Butler refused to purchase the song “Mr. Record Man” for $10, instead giving Nelson a $50 loan to rent an apartment and a six-night job singing in the club. Nelson rented the apartment near Houston in Pasadena, Texas, where he also worked at the radio station as the sign-on disc jockey. During this time, he recorded two singles for Pappy Daily on D Records “Man With the Blues”/”The Storm Has Just Begun” and “What a Way to Live”/”Misery Mansion”. Nelson then was hired by guitar instructor Paul Buskirk to work as an instructor in his school. He sold “Family Bible” to Buskirk for $50 and “Night Life” for $150. “Family Bible” turned into a hit for Claude Gray in 1960.

Nelson moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1960, but was unable to find a label to sign him. During this period he often spent time at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, a bar near the Grand Ole Opry frequented by the show’s stars and other singers and songwriters. There Nelson met Hank Cochran, a songwriter who worked for the publishing company Pamper Music, owned by Ray Price and Hal Smith. Cochran heard Nelson during a jam session with Buddy Emmons and Jimmy Day. Cochran had just earned a raise of $50 a week, but convinced Smith to pay Nelson the money instead to sign him to Pamper Music. On hearing Nelson sing “Hello Walls” at Tootsie’s, Faron Young decided to record it.  After Ray Price recorded Nelson’s “Night Life”, and his previous bassist Johnny Paycheck quit, Nelson joined Price’s touring band as a bass player. While playing with Price and the Cherokee Cowboys, his songs became hits for other artists, including “Funny How Time Slips Away” (Billy Walker), “Pretty Paper” (Roy Orbison), and, most famously, “Crazy” by Patsy Cline. Nelson and Cochran also met Cline’s husband, Charlie Dick at Tootsie’s. Dick liked a song of Nelson’s he heard on the bar’s jukebox. Nelson played him a demo tape of “Crazy.” Later that night Dick played the tape for Cline, who decided to record it. “Crazy” became the biggest jukebox hit of all time.

Nelson signed with Liberty Records and was recording by August 1961 at Quonset Hut Studio. His first two successful singles as an artist were released by the next year, including “Willingly” (a duet with his soon-to-be second wife, Shirley Collie, which became his first charting single and first Top Ten at No. 10) and “Touch Me” (his second Top Ten, stalling at No. 7).  Nelson’s tenure at Liberty yielded his first album entitled …And Then I Wrote, released in September 1962. In 1963 Collie and Nelson were married in Las Vegas. He then worked on the west coast offices of Pamper Records, in Pico Rivera, California. Since the job did not allow him the time to play music of his own, he left it and bought a ranch in Ridgetop, Tennessee, outside of Nashville. Fred Foster of Monument Records signed Nelson in early 1964, but only one single was released: “I Never Cared For You”.

By the fall of 1964, Nelson had moved to RCA Victor at the behest of Chet Atkins, signing a contract for $10,000 per year.[38] Country Willie – His Own Songs became Nelson’s first RCA Victor album, recorded in April 1965. That same year he joined the Grand Ole Opry,  and he met and became friends with Waylon Jennings after watching one of his shows in Phoenix, Arizona.  In 1967, he formed his backing band “The Record Men”, featuring Johnny Bush, Jimmy Day, Paul English and David Zettner. During his first few years on RCA Victor, Nelson had no significant hits, but from November 1966 through March 1969, his singles reached the Top 25 in a consistent manner. “One in a Row” (#19, 1966), “The Party’s Over” (#24 during a 16-week chart run in 1967), and his cover of Morecambe & Wise’s “Bring Me Sunshine” (#13, March 1969) were Nelson’s best-selling records during his time with RCA.[23]

By 1970, most of Nelson’s songwriting royalties were invested in tours that did not produce significant profits. In addition to the problems in his career, Nelson divorced Shirley Collie in 1970. In December, his ranch in Ridgetop, Tennessee, burned down. He interpreted the incident as a signal for a change. He moved to a ranch near Bandera, Texas, and married Connie Koepke. In early 1971 his single “I’m a Memory” reached the top 30. After he recorded his final RCA single, “Mountain Dew” (backed with “Phases, Stages, Circles, Cycles and Scenes”), in late April 1972, RCA requested that Nelson renew his contract ahead of schedule, with the implication that RCA would not release his latest recordings if he did not. Due to the failure of his albums, and particularly frustrated by the reception of Yesterday’s Wine, although his contract was not over, Nelson decided to retire from music.

Outlaw country and success (1972–1989)

Nelson moved to Austin, Texas, where the burgeoning hippie music scene (see Armadillo World Headquarters) rejuvenated the singer. His popularity in Austin soared as he played his own brand of country music marked by country, folk and jazz influences. In March, he performed on the final day of the Dripping Springs Reunion, a three-day country music festival aimed by its producers to be an annual event. Despite the failure to reach the expected attendance, the concept of the festival inspired Nelson to create the Fourth of July Picnic, his own annual event, starting the following year.

Nelson decided to return to the recording business, he signed Neil Reshen as his manager to negotiate with RCA, who got the label to agree to end his contract upon repayment of $14,000. Reshen eventually signed Nelson to Atlantic Records for $25,000 per year, where he became the label’s first country artist. He formed his backing band, The Family, and by February 1973, he was recording his acclaimed Shotgun Willie at Atlantic Studios in New York City.

Shotgun Willie, released in May 1973, earned excellent reviews but did not sell well. The album led Nelson to a new style, later stating that Shotgun Willie had “cleared his throat”. His next release, Phases and Stages, released in 1974, was a concept album about a couple’s divorce, inspired by his own experience. Side one of the record is from the viewpoint of the woman, and side two is from the viewpoint of the man. The album included the hit single “Bloody Mary Morning.” The same year, he produced and starred in the pilot episode of PBS’ Austin City Limits.

Nelson then moved to Columbia Records, where he signed a contract that gave him complete creative control, made possible by the critical and commercial success of his previous albums. The result was the critically acclaimed and massively popular 1975 concept album Red Headed Stranger. Although Columbia was reluctant to release an album with primarily a guitar and piano for accompaniment, Nelson and Waylon Jennings insisted. The album included a cover of Fred Rose’s 1945 song “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”, that had been released as a single previous to the album, and became Nelson’s first number one hit as a singer. Throughout his 1975 tour, Nelson raised funds for PBS-affiliated stations across the south promoting Austin City Limits. The pilot was aired first on those stations, later being released nationwide. The positive reception of the show prompted PBS to order ten episodes for 1976, formally launching the show.

As Jennings was also achieving success in country music in the early 1970s, the pair were combined into a genre called outlaw country, since it did not conform to Nashville standards. The album Wanted! The Outlaws in 1976 with Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser cemented the pair’s outlaw image and became country music’s first platinum album. Later that year Nelson released The Sound in Your Mind (certified gold in 1978 and platinum in 2001) and his first gospel album Troublemaker (certified gold in 1986).

In the summer of 1977, Nelson discovered that Reshen had been filing tax extensions and not paying the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) since he took over as his manager. In June, a package containing cocaine was sent from Reshen’s office in New York to Jennings in Nashville.  The package was followed by the DEA, and Jennings was arrested. The charges were later dropped, since Reshen’s assistant, Mark Rothbaum stepped in and took the charges. Rothbaum was sentenced to serve time in jail. Impressed by his attitude, Nelson fired Reshen and hired Rothbaum as his manager. In 1978, Nelson released two more platinum albums. One, Waylon & Willie, was a collaboration with Jennings that included “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys”, a hit single written and performed by Ed Bruce. Though observers predicted that Stardust would ruin his career, it went platinum the same year. Nelson continued to top the charts with hit songs during the late 1970s, including “Good Hearted Woman”, “Remember Me”, “If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time”, and “Uncloudy Day”.

During the 1980s, Nelson recorded a series of hit singles including “Midnight Rider”, a 1980 cover of the Allman Brothers song which Nelson recorded for The Electric Horseman,[68] the soundtrack “On the Road Again” from the movie Honeysuckle Rose, and a duet with Julio Iglesias titled “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”.[69]

In 1982, Pancho & Lefty, a duet album with Merle Haggard produced by Chips Moman was released.[70] During the recording sessions of Pancho and Lefty, session guitarist Johnny Christopher and co-writer of “Always on My Mind”, tried to pitch the song to an uninterested Haggard. Nelson, who was unaware of Elvis Presley’s version of the song asked him to record it. Produced by Moman, the single of the song was released, as well as the album of the same name. The single topped Billboard’s Hot Country Singles, while it reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100. The release won three awards during the 25th Annual Grammy Awards: Song of the Year, Best Country Song and Best Male Country Vocal Performance. The single was certified platinum; while the album was certified quadruple-platinum, and later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008.

Meanwhile, two collaborations with Waylon Jennings were released;WWII in 1982, and Take it to the Limit, another collaboration with Waylon Jennings was released in 1983. In the mid-1980s, Nelson, Jennings, Kristofferson, and Johnny Cash formed The Highwaymen, who achieved platinum record sales and toured the world. Meanwhile, he became more involved with charity work, such as singing on We are the World in 1984. In 1985, Nelson had another success with Half Nelson, a compilation album of duets with a range of artists such as Ray Charles and Neil Young. In 1980, Nelson performed on the south lawn of the White House. The concert of September 13 featured First Lady Rosalynn Carter and Nelson in a duet of Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother”. Nelson frequently visited the White House, where according to the biography by Joe Nick Patoski, Willie Nelson: An Epic Life, he smoked marijuana on the White House roof.

Later career (1990–present)

In 1996, Nelson re-recorded the tracks “Hello Walls” with the band The Reverend Horton Heat, and “Bloody Mary Morning” with the Supersuckers for Twisted Willie, a tribute album featuring rock versions of Nelson’s songs performed by artists such as Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Cantrell, Mark Lanegan, L7, The Presidents of the United States of America, and Jello Biafra, among others. Proceeds from the sale of the record benefit Nelson’s Farm Aid.

During the 1990s and 2000s, Nelson toured continuously, recording several albums including 1998’s critically acclaimed Teatro,  and performed and recorded with other acts including Phish, Johnny Cash, and Toby Keith. His duet with Keith, “Beer for My Horses”, was released as a single and topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts for six consecutive weeks in 2003, while the accompanying video won an award for “Best Video” at the 2004 Academy of Country Music Awards. A USA Network television special celebrated Nelson’s 70th birthday, and Nelson released The Essential Willie Nelson as part of the celebration. Nelson also appeared on Ringo Starr’s 2003 album, Ringo Rama, as a guest vocal on “Write One for Me”.

Nelson was featured on the album True Love by Toots and the Maytals, which won the Grammy Award in 2004 for Best Reggae Album, and showcased many notable musicians including Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Trey Anastasio, Gwen Stefani, and Keith Richards. In the following year of 2005, Nelson released a reggae album entitled Countryman which featured Toots Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals on the song “I’m a Worried Man”.

Nelson headlined the 2005 Tsunami Relief Austin to Asia concert to benefit the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, which raised an estimated $75 thousand for UNICEF. Also in 2005, a live performance of the Johnny Cash song “Busted” with Ray Charles was released on Charles’ duets album Genius & Friends. Nelson’s 2007 performance with jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis at the Lincoln Center, was released as the live album Two Men with the Blues in 2008; reaching number one in Billboard’s Top Jazz Albums and number twenty on the Billboard 200. The same year, Nelson recorded his first album with Buddy Cannon as the producer, Moment of Forever. Cannon acquainted Nelson earlier, during the production of his collaboration with Kenny Chesney on the duet “That Lucky Old Sun”, for Chesney’s album of the same name. In 2009 Nelson and Marsalis joined with Norah Jones in a tribute concert to Ray Charles, which resulted in the Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles album, released in 2011.

In 2010, Nelson released Country Music, a compilation of standards produced by T-Bone Burnett. The album peaked number four in Billboard’s Top Country Albums, and twenty on the Billboard 200. It was nominated for Best Americana Album at the 2011 Grammy Awards. In 2011 Nelson participated in the concert Kokua For Japan, a fund raising event for the victims of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan which raised $1.6 million.

In February 2012, Legacy Recordings signed a deal with Nelson that included the release of new material, as well as past releases that would be selected and complemented with outtakes and other material selected by him. With the new deal, Buddy Cannon returned to produce the recordings of Nelson. After selecting the material and the sound of the tunes with the singer, Cannon’s work method consisted in the recording of the tracks with studio musicians, with the takes later completed on a separate session by Nelson with his guitar. Cannon’s association to Nelson also extended to songwriting, with singer and producer composing the lyrics by exchanging text messages.

Nelson’s first release for the Legacy Recordings was Heroes, that included guest appearances by his sons Lukas and Micah of the band Insects vs Robots, Ray Price, Merle Haggard, Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson, Billy Joe Shaver and Sheryl Crow. The album reached number four on Billboard’s Top Country Albums.  His 2013 release To All the Girls…, a collection of duets with all female partners, featured among others Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Rosanne Cash, Sheryl Crow, Mavis Staples, Norah Jones, Emmylou Harris, Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert. The album entered Billboard’s Top Country Albums at number two, marking his highest position on the chart since the release of his 1989 A Horse Called Music, and extending his record to a total of forty-six top ten albums on the country charts. Nelson scored as well his second top ten album on the Billboard 200, with the release entering at number nine.

His following release was Band of Brothers, in 2014, the first Nelson album to feature the most newly self-penned songs since 1996’s Spirit. Upon its release, it topped Billboard’s Top Country albums chart, the first time since 1986’s The Promiseland, the last Nelson album to top it. The release reached number five on the Billboard 200, Nelson’s highest position on the chart since 1982’s Always on My Mind. In December 2014, a duet with Rhonda Vincent, “Only Me”, topped Bluegrass Unlimited’s National Airplay chart. In June 2015, his collaboration with Haggard Django and Jimmie topped Billboard’s Top Country albums chart and reached number seven on the Billboard 200.

In 2017, Nelson released God’s Problem Child. The release, consisting mostly of Nelson originals co-written with Cannon, entered the Top country albums at number one, while it reached number ten on the Billboard 200.

In 2018, Nelson sang a song written by Daniel Lanois called “Cruel World” for the soundtrack of Rockstar Games’s action-adventure video game Red Dead Redemption 2. Lanois wrote the song especially for Nelson. When a hurricane prevented Nelson from recording the song, the production team sent the track to Josh Homme in the hopes that he could record it in time for the game’s release. Nelson was ultimately able to record the song in time in Los Angeles; the team considered combining the two versions into a duet, but ultimately included both versions in the game. Also in 2018, Nelson was one of several artists on Restoration, a cover album containing various country renditions of songs originally by Elton John, on which he performed “Border Song”.

Following the U.S. coronavirus pandemic lockdowns that began in March 2020, Nelson livestreamed a series of benefit concerts. The first two raised $700,000 for people who had suffered financial loss due to effects on the U.S. economy.  The third, which was held on April 20, 2020, was a variety show titled Come and Toke It.  Some of the content was cannabis-themed, and some of the proceeds will be used to support The Last Prisoner Project, a restorative justice program relating to persons convicted of cannabis related crimes.

In 2020, Nelson was approached by Karen O of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs to collaborate. They chose to do a cover of David Bowie and Queen’s Under Pressure.

IRS troubles

In 1990, the IRS seized most of Nelson’s assets, claiming that he owed $32 million. In addition to the unpaid taxes, Nelson’s situation was worsened by the weak investments he had made during the early 1980s.  In 1978, after he fired Reshen, Nelson was introduced by Dallas lawyer Terry Bray to the accounting firm Price Waterhouse. To repay the debt Reshen had created with the IRS, Nelson was recommended to invest in tax shelters that ultimately flopped.  While the IRS disallowed his deductions for 1980, 1981 and 1982 (at a time that Nelson’s income multiplied), due to penalties and interests, the debt increased by the end of the decade.

His lawyer, Jay Goldberg, negotiated the sum to be lowered to $16 million. Later, Nelson’s attorney renegotiated a settlement with the IRS in which he paid $6 million, although Nelson did not comply with the agreement. Nelson released The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories? as a double album, with all profits destined for the IRS. Many of his assets were auctioned and purchased by friends, who donated or rented his possessions to him for a nominal fee. He sued Price Waterhouse, contending that they put his money in illegal tax shelters. The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount and Nelson cleared his debts by 1993.

Other ventures

Nelson’s acting debut was in the 1979 film The Electric Horseman, followed by appearances in Honeysuckle Rose, Thief, and Barbarosa. He played the role of Red Loon in Coming Out of the Ice in 1982 and starred in Songwriter two years later. He portrayed the lead role in the 1986 film version of his album Red Headed Stranger. Other movies that Nelson acted in include Wag the Dog, Gone Fishin’ (as Billy ‘Catch’ Pooler), the 1986 television movie Stagecoach (with Johnny Cash), Half Baked, Beerfest, The Dukes of Hazzard, Surfer, Dude and Swing Vote. He has also made guest appearances on Miami Vice (1986’s “El Viejo” episode); Delta; Nash Bridges; The Simpsons; Monk; Adventures in Wonderland; Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman; King of the Hill; The Colbert Report; Swing Vote; and Space Ghost Coast to Coast.

In 1988 his first book, Willie: An Autobiography, was published. The Facts of Life: And Other Dirty Jokes, a personal recollection of tour and musical stories from his career, combined with song lyrics, followed in 2002. In 2005 he co-authored Farm Aid: A Song for America, a commemorative book about the twentieth anniversary of the foundation of Farm Aid. His third book, co-authored with long-time friend Turk Pipkin, The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart, was published in 2006. In 2007 a book advocating the use of bio-diesel and the reduction of gas emissions, On The Clean Road Again: Biodiesel and The Future of the Family Farm, was published. His next book, A Tale Out of Luck, published in 2008 and co-authored by Mike Blakely, was Nelson’s first fictional book. In 2012, it was announced the release of a new autobiography by Nelson, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road. Released on November 13, it was named after the song from his album Heroes. The book contained further biographical details, as well as family pictures and stories about Nelson’s political views, as well as his advocation for marijuana. The artwork of the book was designed by Nelson’s son, Micah, and the foreword written by Kinky Friedman. In 2015, the publication of a second Nelson autobiography entitled It’s a Long Story: My Life co-authored with David Ritz, the book was published on May 5, 2015. Pretty Paper, another collaboration with Ritz was published the following year.

In 2002, Nelson became the official spokesman of the Texas Roadhouse, a chain of steakhouses. Nelson heavily promoted the chain and appeared on a special on Food Network. The chain installed Willie’s Corner, a section dedicated to him and decked out with Willie memorabilia, at several locations.

In 2008, Nelson reopened Willie’s Place, a truck stop in Carl’s Corner, Texas. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court allowed Nelson to invest in it. The establishment had about 80 employees and was used as a concert hall with a bar and a 1,000 square feet (93 m2) dance floor. It closed in 2011 after defaulting on a loan, leading to foreclosure and bankruptcy. In 2010, Nelson founded with the collaboration of producers and filmmakers Luck Films, a company dedicated to produce feature films, documentaries and concerts. The next year, he created the Willie’s Roadhouse show which aired on channel 56 of SiriusXM radio. The channel was a result of the merger of his two other channels The Roadhouse and Willie’s Place.

In November 2014, it was announced that Nelson would be the host of the television series Inside Arlyn, shot at Arlyn Studio in Austin, Texas. The thirteen-episode first season would feature artists being interviewed by Nelson and Dan Rather, followed by a performance. The series concept received attention from cable channels that requested to see the pilot episode. Following the legalization of marijuana in different states, Nelson announced in 2015 through spokesman Michael Bowman the establishment of his own marijuana brand, Willie’s Reserve. Plans to open chain stores in the states where marijuana was legalized were announced, to be expanded state-to-state if marijuana legalization is further expanded. Bowman called the brand “a culmination of (Nelson’s) vision, and his whole life”.

In 2017, Nelson appeared as himself in Woody Harrelson’s live film, Lost in London. In June 2017, he appeared alongside Merle Haggard in the documentary The American Epic Sessions directed by Bernard MacMahon. They performed a song Haggard had composed for the film, “The Only Man Wilder Than Me”, and Bob Wills’s classic “Old Fashioned Love”,  which they recorded live direct to disc on the first electrical sound recording system from the 1920s. It was the last filmed performance of the pair. Rolling Stone commented that “in the final performance of Sessions, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard perform the duet ‘The Only Man Wilder Than Me.’ Haggard has a look of complete joy on his face throughout the session in the old-timey recording set-up once used by his musical heroes.”

Music style

Nelson uses a variety of music styles to create his own distinctive blend of country music, a hybrid of jazz, pop, blues, rock and folk. His “unique sound”, which uses a “relaxed, behind-the-beat singing style and gut-string guitar” and his “nasal voice and jazzy, off-center phrasing”, has been responsible for his wide appeal, and has made him a “vital icon in country music”, influencing the “new country, new traditionalist, and alternative country movements of the 1980s and 1990s”.

Guitars

In 1969, the Baldwin company gave Nelson an amplifier and guitar with their “Prismatone” pickup. During a show in Helotes, Texas, Nelson left the guitar on the floor of the stage, and it was later stepped on by a drunk man. He sent it to be repaired in Nashville by Shot Jackson, who told Nelson that the damage was too great. Jackson offered him a Martin N-20 Classical guitar, and, at Nelson’s request, moved the pickup to the Martin. Nelson purchased the guitar unseen for $750 and named it after Roy Rogers’ horse “Trigger”. The next year Nelson rescued the guitar from his burning ranch.

Constant strumming with a guitar pick over the decades has worn a large sweeping hole into the guitar’s body near the sound hole—the N-20 has no pick-guard since classical guitars are meant to be played fingerstyle instead of with picks. Its soundboard has been signed by over a hundred of Nelson’s friends and associates, ranging from fellow musicians to lawyers and football coaches. The first signature on the guitar was Leon Russell’s, who asked Nelson initially to sign his guitar. When Nelson was about to sign it with a marker, Russell requested him to scratch it instead, explaining that the guitar would be more valuable in the future. Interested in the concept, Nelson requested Russell to also sign his guitar. In 1991, during his process with the IRS, Nelson was worried that Trigger could be auctioned off, stating: “When Trigger goes, I’ll quit”. He asked his daughter, Lana, to take the guitar from the studio before any IRS agent arrived there, and then deliver it to him in Maui. Nelson then concealed the guitar in his manager’s house until his debt was paid off in 1993.

Activism

Nelson is active in a number of issues. Along with Neil Young and John Mellencamp, he set up Farm Aid in 1985 to assist and increase awareness of the importance of family farms, after Bob Dylan’s comments during the Live Aid concert that he hoped some of the money would help American farmers in danger of losing their farms through mortgage debt. The first concert included Dylan, Billy Joel, B.B. King, Roy Orbison, and Neil Young among many others, and raised over $9 million for America’s family farmers. Besides organizing and performing in the annual concerts, Nelson is the president of the board of Farm Aid.

Nelson is a co-chair of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) advisory board. He has worked with NORML for years, promoting marijuana legalization. In 2005 Nelson and his family hosted the first annual “Willie Nelson & NORML Benefit Golf Tournament”, leading to a cover appearance and inside interview in the January 2008 issue of High Times magazine. After his arrest for possession of marijuana in 2010, Nelson created the TeaPot party under the motto “Tax it, regulate it and legalize it!”

In 2001, following the September 11 attacks, he participated in the benefit telethon America: A Tribute to Heroes, leading the rest of the celebrities singing the song “America the Beautiful”. In 2010, during an interview with Larry King, Nelson expressed his doubts with regards to the attacks and the official story. Nelson explained that he could not believe that the buildings could collapse due to the planes, attributing instead the result to an implosion.

Nelson supported Dennis Kucinich’s campaign in the 2004 Democratic presidential primaries. He raised money, appeared at events, and composed the song “Whatever Happened to Peace on Earth?”, criticizing the war in Iraq. He recorded a radio advertisement asking for support to put musician/author Kinky Friedman on the ballot as an independent candidate for the 2006 Texas gubernatorial election.  Friedman promised Nelson a job in Austin as the head of a new Texas Energy Commission due to his support of bio-fuels. In January 2008, Nelson filed a suit against the Texas Democratic Party, alleging that the party violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution by refusing to allow co-plaintiff Kucinich to appear on the primary ballot because he had scratched out part of the loyalty oath on his application.

In 2004, Nelson and his wife Annie became partners with Bob and Kelly King in the building of two Pacific Bio-diesel plants, one in Salem, Oregon, and the other at Carl’s Corner, Texas (the Texas plant was founded by Carl Cornelius, a longtime Nelson friend and the eponym for Carl’s Corner). In 2005, Nelson and several other business partners formed Willie Nelson Biodiesel (“Bio-Willie”), a company that is marketing bio-diesel bio-fuel to truck stops. The fuel is made from vegetable oil (mainly soybean oil), and can be burned without modification in diesel engines.

Nelson is an advocate for better treatment for horses and has been campaigning for the passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (H.R. 503/S. 311) alongside the Animal Welfare Institute. He is on its board of directors and has adopted a number of horses from Habitat for Horses. In 2008, Nelson signed on to warn consumers about the cruel and illegal living conditions for calves raised to produce milk for dairy products. He wrote letters to Land O’Lakes and Challenge Dairy, two of the major corporations that use milk from calves raised at California’s Mendes Calf Ranch, which employs an intensive confinement practice that was the subject of a lawsuit and campaign brought by the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Nelson is seen in the film The Garden supporting the impoverished community South Central Farm in Southern Los Angeles.

A supporter of the LGBT movement, Nelson published in 2006 through iTunes a version of Ned Sublette’s “Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly Fond of Each Other”, that met instant success. During an interview with Texas Monthly in 2013, regarding the Defense of Marriage Act and Same-sex marriage in the United States, Nelson responded to a comparison the interviewer made with the Civil Rights Movement, stating: “We’ll look back and say it was crazy that we ever even argued about this”. He also presented two logos with the pink equal sign, symbol of the LGBT movement. The first one, featured the sign represented with two long braids; while the second one, featured the sign represented with two marijuana cigarettes. The use of the logos became popular quickly in social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

In June 2018, Nelson deplored the Trump administration family separation policy. During his Fourth of July Picnic, he performed a song with Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic candidate for the Senate election in Texas. Nelson endorsed O’Rourke, and received negative reactions from the conservative part of his followers. On September 29, 2018, Nelson offered a free concert in Austin supporting the candidate’s run. The last number he performed was “Vote ‘Em Out”, a new track that was subsequently released as a single.

Personal life

Nelson has been married four times and has seven children. His first marriage was to Martha Matthews from 1952 to 1962. The couple had three children: Lana, Susie, and Willie “Billy” Hugh, Jr. The latter killed himself in 1991. The marriage was marked by violence, with Matthews assaulting Nelson several times, including one incident when she sewed him up in bedsheets and beat him with a broomstick. Nelson’s next marriage was to Shirley Collie in 1963. The couple divorced in 1971, after Collie found a bill from the maternity ward of a Houston hospital charged to Nelson and Connie Koepke for the birth of Paula Carlene Nelson. Nelson married Koepke the same year, and they had another daughter, Amy Lee Nelson. Following a divorce in 1988, he married his current wife, Annie D’Angelo, in 1991. They have two sons, Lukas Autry and Jacob Micah.

Nelson owns “Luck, Texas”, a ranch in Spicewood, and also lives in Maui, Hawaii with several celebrity neighbors. While swimming in Hawaii in 1981, Nelson’s lung collapsed. He was taken to the Maui Memorial Hospital and his scheduled concerts were canceled. Nelson temporarily stopped smoking cigarettes each time his lungs became congested, and resumed when the congestion ended. He was then smoking between two and three packs per day. After suffering from pneumonia several times, he decided to quit either marijuana or tobacco. He chose to quit tobacco.[181] In 2008, he started to smoke marijuana with a carbon-free system to avoid the effects of smoke. In 2004 Nelson underwent surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome, as he had damaged his wrists by continuously playing the guitar. On the recommendation of his doctor, he canceled his scheduled concerts and only wrote songs during his recovery. In 2012 he canceled a fund-raising appearance in the Denver area. He suffered from breathing problems due to high altitude and emphysema and was taken to a local hospital. His publicist Elaine Schock confirmed soon after that Nelson’s health was good and that he was heading to his next scheduled concert in Dallas, Texas. After repeated instances of pneumonia and emphysema through the years, Nelson underwent stem-cell therapy in 2015 to improve the state of his lungs.

During his childhood, Nelson grew interested in martial arts. He ordered self-defense manuals on jujitsu and judo that he saw advertised in Batman and Superman comic books. Nelson started to formally practice kung fu after he moved to Nashville, in the 1960s. During the 1980s, Nelson began training in taekwondo and now holds a second-degree black belt in that discipline. During the 1990s, Nelson started to practice the Korean martial art GongKwon Yusul. In 2014, after twenty years in the discipline, his Grand Master Sam Um presented him with a fifth-degree black belt in a ceremony held in Austin, Texas. A 2014 Tae Kwon Do Times magazine interview revealed that Nelson had developed an unorthodox manner of training during the lengthy periods of time he was on tour. Nelson would conduct his martial arts training on his tour bus “The Honeysuckle Rose” and send videos to his supervising Master for review and critique.

Legal issues

Nelson has been arrested several times for marijuana possession. The first occasion was in 1974 in Dallas, Texas. In 1977 after a tour with Hank Cochran, Nelson traveled to The Bahamas. Nelson and Cochran arrived late to the airport and boarded the flight without luggage. The bags were later sent to them. As Nelson and Cochran claimed their luggage in the Bahamas, a customs officer questioned Nelson after marijuana was found in a pair of his jeans. Nelson was arrested and jailed. As Cochran made arrangements to pay the bail, he took Nelson a six-pack of beer to his cell. Nelson was released a few hours later. Inebriated, he fell after he jumped celebrating and was taken to the emergency room. He then appeared before the judge, who dropped the charges but ordered Nelson to never return to the country.

In 1994, highway patrolmen found marijuana in his car near Waco, Texas. His requirement to appear in court prevented him attending the Grammy awards that year.  While traveling to Ann W. Richards’ funeral in 2006, Nelson, along with his manager and his sister, Bobbie, were arrested in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana and charged with possession of marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms.  Nelson received six months probation.

On November 26, 2010, Nelson was arrested in Sierra Blanca, Texas, for possession of six ounces of marijuana found in his tour bus while traveling from Los Angeles back to Texas. He was released after paying bail of $2,500. Prosecutor Kit Bramblett supported not sentencing Nelson to jail due to the small amount of marijuana involved, but suggested instead a $100 fine and told Nelson that he would have him sing “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” for the court. Judge Becky Dean-Walker said that Nelson would have to pay the fine but not to perform the song, explaining that the prosecutor was joking. Nelson’s lawyer Joe Turner reached an agreement with the prosecutor. Nelson was set to pay a $500 fine to avoid a two-year jail sentence with a 30-day review period, which in case of another incident would end the agreement. The judge later rejected the agreement, claiming that Nelson was receiving preferential treatment for his celebrity status; the offense normally carried a one-year jail sentence. Bramblett declared that the case would remain open until it was either dismissed or the judge changed her opinion.

Legacy

Nelson is widely recognized as an American icon. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993, and he received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1998.[ In 2011, Nelson was inducted to the National Agricultural Hall of Fame, for his labor in Farm Aid and other fund raisers to benefit farmers. In 2015 Nelson won the Gershwin Prize, the lifetime award of the Library of Congress. In 2018 The Texas Institute of Letters inducted him among its members for his songwriting. He was included by Rolling Stone on its 100 Greatest Singers and 100 Greatest Guitarists lists.

In 2003, Texas Governor Perry signed bill No. 2582, introduced by State Representative Elizabeth Ames Jones and Senator Jeff Wentworth, which funded the Texas Music Project, the state’s official music charity. Nelson was named honorary chairman of the advisory board of the project. In 2005, Democratic Texas Senator Gonzalo Barrientos introduced a bill to name 49 miles (79 km) of the Travis County section of State Highway 130 after Nelson, and at one point 23 of the 31 state senators were co-sponsors of the bill. The legislation was dropped after two Republican senators, Florence Shapiro and Wentworth, objected, citing Nelson’s lack of connection to the highway, his fund raisers for Democrats, his drinking, and his marijuana advocacy.

An important collection of Willie Nelson materials (1975–1994) became part of the Wittliff collections of Southwestern Writers, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas. The collection contains lyrics, screenplays, letters, concert programs, tour itineraries, posters, articles, clippings, personal effects, promotional items, souvenirs, and documents. It documents Nelson’s IRS troubles and how Farm Aid contributions were used. Most of the material was collected by Nelson’s friend Bill Wittliff, who wrote or co-wrote Honeysuckle Rose, Barbarosa and Red Headed Stranger. In 2014, Nelson donated his personal collection to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. The items include photographs, correspondence, song manuscripts, posters, certificate records, awards, signed books, screenplays, personal items and gifts and tributes from Nelson’s fans.

In April 2010, Nelson received the “Feed the Peace” award from The Nobelity Project for his extensive work with Farm Aid and overall contributions to world peace. On June 23, 2010, he was inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry. Nelson is an honorary trustee of the Dayton International Peace Museum. In 2010, Austin, Texas renamed Second Street to Willie Nelson Boulevard. The city also unveiled a life-size statue to honor him, placed at the entrance of Austin City Limits’ new studio. The non-profit organization Capital Area Statues commissioned sculptor Clete Shields to execute the project. The statue was unveiled on April 20, 2012. The date selected by the city of Austin unintentionally coincided with the number 4/20, associated with cannabis culture. In spite of the coincidence and Nelson’s advocacy for the legalization of marijuana, the ceremony was scheduled also for 4:20 pm. During the ceremony, Nelson performed the song “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die”. The same year, Nelson was honored during the 46th Annual Country Music Association Awards as the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, which was also named after him.[ In 2013, he received an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music. The following year, he was part of the inaugural class inducted into the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame. Also included among the first inductees was his friend Darrell Royal, whose jamming parties that Nelson participated in were the source of inspiration for the show.

For many years, Nelson’s image was marked by his red hair, often divided into two long braids partially concealed under a bandanna. In the April 2007 issue of Stuff Magazine Nelson was interviewed about his long locks. “I started braiding my hair when it started getting too long, and that was, I don’t know, probably in the 70’s.” On May 26, 2010, the Associated Press reported that Nelson had cut his hair, and Nashville music journalist Jimmy Carter published a photograph of the pigtail-free Nelson on his website. Nelson wanted a more maintainable hairstyle, as well helping him stay cool more easily at his Maui home. In October 2014, the braids of Nelson were sold for $37,000 at an auction of the Waylon Jennings estate. In 1983, Nelson cut his braids and gave them to Jennings as a gift during a party celebrating Jennings’ sobriety.

Nelson’s touring and recording group, the Family, is full of longstanding members. The original lineup included his sister Bobbie Nelson, drummer Paul English, harmonicist Mickey Raphael, bassist Bee Spears, Billy English (Paul’s younger brother), and Jody Payne. The current lineup includes all the members but Jody Payne, who retired, and Bee Spears, who died in 2011. Willie & Family tours North America in the bio-diesel bus Honeysuckle Rose, which is fueled by Bio-Willie. Nelson’s tour buses were customized by Florida Coach since 1979. The company built the Honeysuckle Rose I in 1983, which was replaced after a collision in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1990. The interior was salvaged and reused for the second version of the bus the same year. Nelson changed his tour bus in 1996, 2005 and 2013, currently touring on the Honeysuckle Rose V.

 

 

Lyrics


Belcalis Almanzar

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar (born October 11, 1992), known professionally as Cardi B, is an American rapper, songwriter, and actress. Born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx, New York City, she became an Internet celebrity after several of her posts and videos became popular on Vine and Instagram. From 2015 to 2017, she appeared as a regular cast member on the VH1 reality television series Love & Hip Hop: New York, which depicted her pursuit of her music aspirations. She released two mixtapes—Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, before signing with label Atlantic Records in early 2017.

Her debut studio album, Invasion of Privacy (2018), debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, broke several streaming records, was certified triple platinum by the RIAA and named by Billboard the top female rap album of the 2010s. Critically acclaimed, it won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, making Cardi B the only woman to win the award as a solo artist, as well as the first female rap artist in 15 years to be nominated for Album of the Year. It spawned two number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100; “Bodak Yellow”, which made her the second female rapper to top the chart with a solo output—following Lauryn Hill in 1998—and “I Like It”, which made her the first female rapper to attain multiple number-one songs on the chart. Her Maroon 5 collaboration “Girls Like You” made her the only female rapper to top the Hot 100 three times. “WAP”, the lead single of her second album, expanded her record as the female rapper with the most Hot 100 number-one singles as her fourth leader, and made her the only female rap artist to achieve chart-topping singles in two decades (2010s and 2020s).

Recognized by Forbes as one of the most influential female rappers of all time, Cardi B is known for her aggressive flow and candid lyrics, which have received widespread media coverage. She is the highest-certified female rapper of all time on the RIAA’s Top Artists (Digital Singles) ranking, also appearing among the ten highest-certified female artists and having the top certified song by a female rap artist. She is the only female rapper with multiple billion-streamers on Spotify. Her accolades include a Grammy Award, eight Billboard Music Awards, five Guinness World Records, five American Music Awards, eleven BET Hip Hop Awards and two ASCAP Songwriter of the Year awards. In 2018 Time magazine included her on their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and in 2020, Billboard honored her as Woman of the Year.

Early life

Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar was born on October 11, 1992, in Washington Heights, Manhattan. The daughter of a Dominican father and Trinidadian mother, she was raised in the Highbridge neighborhood of the South Bronx, and spent much time at her paternal grandmother’s home in Washington Heights, which she credits with giving her “such a thick accent.” Almánzar developed the stage name “Cardi B” as a derivation of Bacardi, a rum brand that was formerly her nickname. She has said she was a gang member with the Bloods in her youth, since the age of 16 However, she has stated ever since that she would not encourage joining a gang.[15] She went on to attend Renaissance High School for Musical Theater & Technology, a vocational high school on the Herbert H. Lehman High School campus.

During her teens, Cardi B was employed at a deli in Tribeca. She was fired, and her manager suggested she apply to be a stripper at the strip club across the street. Cardi B has said that becoming a stripper was positive for her life in many ways: “It really saved me from a lot of things. When I started stripping I went back to school.” She has stated that she became a stripper in order to escape poverty and domestic violence, having been in an abusive relationship at the time after being kicked out of her mother’s house, and that stripping was her only way to earn enough money to escape the situation and get an education. She attended Borough of Manhattan Community College before eventually dropping out. While stripping, Cardi B lied to her mother by telling her she was making money babysitting.

In 2013, she began to gain publicity due to several of her videos spreading on social media, on Vine and her Instagram page.

Career

2015–2016: Career beginnings

In 2015, Cardi B joined the cast of the VH1 reality television series Love & Hip Hop: New York, debuting in season six. Jezebel considered her the breakout star of the show’s sixth season. The sixth and seventh seasons chronicle her rise to stardom and her turbulent relationship with her incarcerated fiancé. On December 30, 2016, after two seasons, she announced that she would be leaving the show to further pursue a career in music.

In November 2015, Cardi B made her musical debut on Jamaican reggae fusion singer Shaggy’s remix to his single “Boom Boom”, alongside fellow Jamaican dancehall singer Popcaan. She made her music video debut on December 15, 2015, with the song “Cheap Ass Weave”, her rendition of British rapper Lady Leshurr’s “Queen’s Speech 4”. On March 7, 2016, Cardi B released her first full-length project, a mixtape titled Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1. In November 2016, she was featured on the digital cover of Vibe magazine’s “Viva” issue. On September 12, 2016, KSR Group released the compilation Underestimated: The Album, which is a collaboration between KSR Group artists Cardi B, HoodCelebrityy, SwiftOnDemand, Cashflow Harlem, and Josh X. It was previously released only to attendees of their U.S. tour. KSR Group’s flagship artist Cardi B said “I wanted to make a song that would make girls dance, twerk and at the same time encourage them to go get that Shmoney,” in regard to the compilation’s single “What a Girl Likes”.

She appeared on the December 9, 2015 episode of Uncommon Sense with Charlamagne. On April 6, 2016, she was on the twelfth episode of Khloé Kardashian’s Kocktails with Khloé: In it, she revealed how she told her mother that she was a stripper. In November 2016, it was announced that she would be joining the cast of the BET series Being Mary Jane. TVLine describes her character, Mercedes, as a “round-the-way beauty with a big weave, big boobs and a big booty to match her oversize, ratchet personality.”

In 2016, Cardi B was featured in her first endorsement deal with Romantic Depot, a large New York chain of lingerie stores that sell sexual health and wellness products. The ad campaign was featured on radio and cable TV. This was noted by the NY Post in a feature article about “Cardi B’s meteoric rise from stripper to superstar” in April 2018.

2017–2018: Breakthrough with Invasion of Privacy

On January 20, 2017, Cardi B released her second mixtape, Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 2. In February 2017, Cardi B partnered with MAC Cosmetics and Rio Uribe’s Gypsy Sport for an event for New York Fashion Week. In late February, it was reported that Cardi B signed her first major record label recording contract with Atlantic Records. On February 25, 2017, Cardi B was the opening act for East Coast hip hop group The Lox’s Filthy America… It’s Beautiful Tour, alongside fellow New York City-based rappers Lil’ Kim and Remy Ma. In April 2017, she was featured in i-D’s “A-Z of Music” video sponsored by Marc Jacobs. Cardi also guest-starred on the celebrity panel show Hip Hop Squares, appearing on the March 13 and April 3, 2017 episodes. In May 2017, the nominees for the 2017 BET Awards were announced, revealing that Cardi B had been nominated for Best New Artist and Best Female Hip-Hop Artist, tying with DJ Khaled and Kendrick Lamar for the most nominations with nine. Although she failed to win any awards, losing to Chance the Rapper and Remy Ma, respectively, Cardi B performed at the BET Awards Afterparty show. On June 11, 2017, during Hot 97’s annual Summer Jam music festival, Remy Ma brought out Cardi B, along with The Lady of Rage, MC Lyte, Young M.A, Monie Love, Lil’ Kim and Queen Latifah, to celebrate female rappers and perform Latifah’s 1993 hit single “U.N.I.T.Y.” about female empowerment. In June 2017, it was revealed that Cardi B would be on the cover of The Fader’s Summer Music issue for July/August 2017. She performed at MoMA PS1 on August 19 to a crowd of 4,000.

On June 16, 2017, Atlantic Records released Cardi B’s commercial debut single, “Bodak Yellow”, via digital distribution. She performed the single on The Wendy Williams Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live! The song climbed the charts for several months, and, on the Billboard Hot 100 chart dated September 25, 2017, “Bodak Yellow” reached the number one spot, making Cardi B the first female rapper to do so with a solo single since Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” debuted atop the chart in 1998.  The song stayed atop the charts for three consecutive weeks, tying with American pop singer Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” as the longest running female at the number one spot in 2017. Cardi B became the first person of Dominican descent to reach number one in the history of the Hot 100 since it was launched in 1958. An editor of The New York Times called it “the rap anthem of the summer”. Selected by The Washington Post and Pitchfork music critics as the best song of 2017,  “Bodak Yellow” was eventually certified nonuple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The song received nominations for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song at the 60th Grammy Awards.  It won Single of the Year at the 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards.

With her collaborations “No Limit” and “MotorSport”, she became the first female rapper to land her first three entries in the top 10 of the Hot 100,  and the first female artist to achieve the same on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. In October 2017, Cardi B headlined Power 105.1’s annual Powerhouse music celebration, alongside The Weeknd, Migos, and Lil Uzi Vert, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. In December, she released two songs: a collaboration with Puerto Rican singer Ozuna titled “La Modelo”, and “Bartier Cardi”, the second single from her debut album.

On January 3, 2018, Cardi B was featured on Bruno Mars’ remix version of “Finesse”, and also appeared in the 90s inspired video. It reached the top three on the Hot 100, Canada and New Zealand. On January 18, 2018, Cardi B became the first woman to have five top 10 singles simultaneously on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. She released another single, “Be Careful”, on March 30, 2018, a week before her album’s release.

Her debut studio album, Invasion of Privacy, was released on April 6, 2018, to universal acclaim from music critics. Editors from Variety and The New York Times called it “one of the most powerful debuts of this millennium” and “a hip-hop album that doesn’t sound like any of its temporal peers,” respectively. The album entered at number one in the United States, while she became the first female artist to chart 13 entries simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100, on the chart issue dated April 21. It also became the most streamed album by a female artist in a single week in Apple Music, and the largest on-demand audio streaming week ever for an album by a woman. Cardi held the latter record until 2019. The album’s title reflects Cardi B’s feeling that as she gained popularity her privacy was being invaded in a variety of ways. Following the album’s release, during a performance on Saturday Night Live, Cardi B officially announced her pregnancy, after much media speculation. She also co-hosted an episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Several months later, in July 2018, the album’s fourth single, “I Like It”, which features vocals from Bad Bunny and J Balvin, reached number one on the Hot 100; this marked her second number one on the chart and made her the first female rapper to achieve multiple chart-toppers. It received critical acclaim, with Rolling Stone naming it “the best summer song of all time” in 2020. Her collaboration with Maroon 5, “Girls Like You”, also reached number one the Hot 100 chart, extending her record among female rappers and also making her the sixth female artist to achieve three number-one singles on the chart during the 2010s. The song’s music video has received more than 2.7 billion views on YouTube and was the fifth-best selling song of the year globally. With “Girls Like You” following “I Like It” at the top of the Billboard Radio Songs chart, Cardi B became the first female rapper to ever replace herself at number one on that chart. The single spent seven weeks atop the Hot 100, making Cardi the female rapper with the most cumulative weeks atop the chart, with eleven weeks. It spent 33 weeks in the top 10, tying both Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” and Post Malone and Swae Lee’s “Sunflower” for the longest top 10 run in the chart’s archives at the time. In October 2018, Invasion of Privacy was certified double platinum by the RIAA, and the following year it was updated to triple platinum. With the thirteen tracks, she became the first female artist to have all songs from an album certified gold or higher in the US.

Cardi B received the most nominations for the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards with 12 mentions—including for Video of the Year, winning three awards. She also tied with Drake for the most nominations at the 2018 American Music Awards. She won three AMAs and performed at the ceremony. Her single “Money” earned her a fourth Video Music Award. Her collaboration with DJ Snake “Taki Taki” topped the charts in a number of Hispanic countries, made Cardi B the first female rapper to top the Spotify Global 50 chart, and has garnered more than 1.8 billion views. Both singles were certified multiple-platinum by the RIAA. People en Español named her Star of the Year,  and Entertainment Weekly deemed her “a pop culture phenomenon”, as she was named one of “2018 Entertainers of the Year.”

On November 30, 2018, Cardi B was honored at Ebony’s annual Power 100 Gala. Cardi ranked fifth on the 2018 Billboard Year-End Top Artists chart, while Invasion of Privacy ranked sixth. She achieved the most-streamed album of the year by a female artist globally in Apple Music, and ranked as the most streamed female artist of the year in the United States in Spotify. Editorial staff from Apple Music and Billboard named “I Like It” the best song of 2018,  while Time magazine and Rolling Stone named Invasion of Privacy the best album of the year. Also in 2018, Time included her on their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.[ In its decade-end review article, NME stated that the era secured “her crown as the new Queen of Rap.”

2019–present: Hustlers, Rhythm + Flow and upcoming second studio album

Cardi B received five nominations at the 61st Grammy Awards, including for Album of the Year, Best Rap Album and Record of the Year (“I Like It”). She became the third female rapper to be nominated for Album of the Year, following Lauryn Hill (1999) and Missy Elliott (2004). On February 10, 2019, she then performed at the award ceremony, where she wore three vintage Thierry Mugler couture looks during the telecast and became the first female rapper to win Best Rap Album as a solo artist. Cardi B also led the 2019 Billboard Music Awards nominations, with 21, the most nominations in a single year ever by a woman and the third most nominations in a year ever (behind Drake and The Chainsmokers, who both had 22 in a year). She ended up winning six awards, including for Top Hot 100 Song, bringing her career total wins to seven—the most of any female rapper in history. An article by Omaha World-Herald called her “the biggest rapper in the world.”

On February 15, 2019, Cardi B released “Please Me”, a collaboration with Bruno Mars, which became her seventh top-ten song on the Hot 100, reaching number three. The song marked Cardi and Bruno’s second collaboration, following “Finesse” in 2018. The official music video was released two weeks later. On March 1, Cardi set a new attendance record at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, with 75,580 fans in the audience. With “Backin’ It Up”, “Twerk” and “Money”, Cardi became the first female artist to occupy the top three on the Billboard Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop airplay chart. Her following single titled “Press” was released on May 31, 2019. The parental-advisory labeled music video marked her directorial debut—being credited as co-director, and was released on June 26, 2019. It had its debut performance at the 2019 BET Awards, where she won Album of the Year. During the summer of 2019 she embarked on an arena tour.

Cardi B made her film debut in Hustlers directed by Lorene Scafaria, opposite Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, and Lili Reinhart. The film was released on September 13, 2019 to critical acclaim. Cardi B, along with Chance the Rapper and T.I., were confirmed as judges for the Netflix series Rhythm + Flow, a ten-part hip-hop talent search that premiered on October 9, 2019, which she also executive produced. She will next appear in F9, which is set to be released on May 28, 2021, by Universal Pictures. In September 2019, Cardi B became the highest-certified female rapper of all time on the RIAA’s Top Artists (Digital Singles) ranking, with 31.5 million certified units, also being the ninth highest-certified female artist overall. Forbes has recognized her as one of the most influential female rappers of all time. In December 2019, Cardi B embarked on her first tour of Africa, performing in Nigeria and Ghana. Her collaboration “Clout” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance. She was the most streamed female rapper of 2019 in the US, according to Spotify. Consequence of Sound deemed her “one of the most formidable hip-hop artists of the decade.”  In March 2020, Cardi B created a reaction video about the coronavirus pandemic. DJ iMarkkeyz, a Brooklyn DJ known for turning memes and online moments into full-length songs, created a track, based on her reaction titled “Coronavirus”, which became an internet meme and was released to music platforms. Netflix announced the return of Rhythm + Flow for 2021.

Cardi B released the single “WAP” featuring American rapper Megan Thee Stallion on August 7, 2020 as the lead single off her forthcoming second studio album. The song received critical acclaim and was praised for its sex positive messages. The Colin Tilley-directed music video accompanied the song itself, and broke the record for the biggest 24-hour debut for an all-female collaboration on YouTube. She became the only female rap artist to top the Global Spotify chart multiple times.[151] “WAP” debuted at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, garnering Cardi B her fourth chart-topper in the US, extending her record as the female rapper with the most number-one singles, and also making her the first female rapper to achieve Hot 100 number one singles in two different decades (2010s and 2020s). With 93 million streaming units, it became the largest first-week streams for a song, breaking the all-time record held by Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings”. It has spent four weeks atop the Hot 100. The single has also spent multiple weeks at number one in seven other countries, including Australia and the United Kingdom. Neil Shah of The Wall Street Journal deemed it “a big moment for female rappers” and “a historic sign that women artists are making their mark on hip-hop like never before”. “WAP” became the first number one single on the inaugural Billboard Global 200 chart. Cardi B won the Billboard Music Award for Top Rap Female Artist for the third time at the 2020 ceremony.  In December 2020, Cardi B became the first female rapper to be named Woman of the Year at the Billboard Women in Music Awards. With her win for “WAP” at the American Music Awards, she became the first artist to win the American Music Award for Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Song multiple times, following her win for “Bodak Yellow” in 2018.

Artistry

Influences

In Billboard’s “You Should Know” series, Cardi B said the first albums she ever purchased were by American entertainers Missy Elliott and Tweet, respectively. She has credited Puerto Rican rapper Ivy Queen and Jamaican dancehall artist Spice as influences, as well as Lady Gaga, Lil’ Kim, Madonna,  and Selena.  When asked about the initial direction for her music, Cardi B said in an interview,

“When I first started rapping […] I liked certain songs from Khia and Trina, and they [were] fighting songs. I haven’t heard fighting songs for a very long time,” crediting the two female rappers for her aggressive rap style. She continued, saying “a lot of girls they cannot afford red bottoms, a lot of girls they cannot afford foreign cars […] but I know that every girl has beef with a girl […] I know that every bitch don’t like some bitch, and it’s like ‘that’s what I wanna rap about.’”

She also credits growing up in the South Bronx and real life experiences as influences for her songwriting; “I wouldn’t be able to rap about the things that I rap about now [if I hadn’t grown up there].

Musical style

Her first studio album, Invasion of Privacy, is primarily a hip hop record, which comprises elements of trap, Latin music, and R&B. Consequence of Sound described her flow as “acrobatic and nimble.” AllMusic editor David Jeffries called Cardi B “a raw and aggressive rapper”. Stereogum called her voice “a full-bodied New Yawk nasal bleat, the sort of thing that you’ve heard if someone has ever told you that you stupid for taking too long at swiping your MetroCard.” They continued to call her voice “an unabashedly loud and sexual fuck-you New York honk—that translates perfectly to rap.” In a 2017 Complex article about her, the editor wrote “unapologetic does not begin to describe the totally unfiltered and sheer Cardi B-ness of Cardi B’s personality. She’s a hood chick who’s not afraid to be hood no matter the setting. Cardi B is Cardi B 24/7, 365, this is why she resonates with people, and that same energy comes out in her music.” Her flow has been described as aggressive. Cardi B has defended her musical content primarily comprising sexually-charged lyrics—like most contemporary female rappers; she stated that the content “seems like that’s what people want to hear”, since she faced negative reactions after releasing her more emotional song, “Be Careful.”

Other ventures

In February 2017, she partnered with M.A.C and Rio Uribe’s Gypsy Sport for an event for New York Fashion Week. During an April 2017 interview with HotNewHipHop, Cardi B spoke on being rejected by fashion designers. Her April appearance in i-D’s “A-Z of Music” video was sponsored by designer Marc Jacobs, and she made the cover of The Fader’s July/August 2017 Summer Music issue. Tom Ford’s Cardi B-inspired lipstick, and named after her, was released in September 2018. It sold out within 24 hours. In November, she partnered with Reebok, promoting the brand’s Aztrek sneaker. The same month she released a clothing line collection with Fashion Nova.

Cardi B teamed up with Pepsi for two television commercials, which aired during the Super Bowl LIII and the 61st Annual Grammy Awards. In early 2019, Cardi also joined other hip hop artists (including her husband Offset, as part of Migos) in releasing her flavors of snack food Rap Snacks: two flavors of chips, and two of popcorn. The bags’ artwork were inspired by the cover of Invasion of Privacy. In partnership with Reebok, she released a footwear and apparel collection, inspired by her personal style and paying homage to “classic 80s styling” and motifs.

Public image

Cardi B identifies as a feminist. The New York Times wrote “on Love & Hip Hop: New York some viewers saw her as a hero of female empowerment, as she made pronouncements such as ‘Ever since I started using guys, I feel so much better about myself. I feel so damn powerful.’”

Political statements

The star has been called “unabashedly, directly political” and often uses social media to advocate for causes she believes in, such as gun control. During the 2016 presidential primaries, she warned her fans of President Trump’s immigration policies and encouraged them to vote for Senator Bernie Sanders. At the Grammy Awards in 2018, she appeared in a video along with Hillary Clinton to narrate a portion of Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff’s insider’s account of Trump’s administration, and stated “Why am I even reading this shit? I can’t believe this. I can’t believe—this is how he really lives his life?” Cardi B endorsed Sanders once again in his second bid for the presidency in the 2020 United States presidential election, while also praising U.S. Representative Tim Ryan. She also stated that one of the reasons for her endorsement is Sanders’ long-time involvement in supporting underprivileged minorities and “people getting Medicare because he knows they can’t afford it,” while Politico website argued that she “might be one of Bernie’s most powerful 2020 allies.” She has also used her social pages to raise awareness for victims of police brutality, and has encouraged people to vote for mayors, judges and district attorneys in local elections. In a conversation with Democratic candidate Joe Biden for Elle, they discussed Medicare, free college tuition, and racial equality.[ According to a study published by The Hollywood Reporter, Cardi B ranked as the fifth most influential celebrity, and fourth among Generation Z, for the 2020 presidential election.

She has praised President Franklin D. Roosevelt for advocating for the Social Security program and the New Deal project in general and has noted her admiration for his wife Eleanor Roosevelt’s humanitarianism and advocacy for African-Americans. She said of President Roosevelt, “he helped us get over the Depression, all while he was in a wheelchair. Like, this man was suffering from polio at the time of his presidency, and yet all he was worried about was trying to make America great—make America great again for real. He’s the real ‘Make America Great Again,’ because if it wasn’t for him, old people wouldn’t even get Social Security.” Sanders himself has praised her for her “leading role” in calling attention to Social Security. During the 2018–19 United States federal government shutdown she released a video on Instagram, where she said “our country is a hellhole right now”.

On October 8, 2020, Cardi B posted a message on her Instagram condemning Azerbaijan for attacking Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), a disputed territory, and asked her followers to donate to Armenia Fund, a humanitarian organization that supports Armenia’s development and the needy. The next day she removed the message and apologized to her followers for posting such a message and instead she said she is just in favor of ending the war.

Controversies

Cardi B caused controversy after throwing one of her high heel shoes at, and attempting to physically fight, fellow rapper Nicki Minaj at an after-party hosted by Harper’s Bazaar during New York Fashion Week 2018. She later stated that Minaj had previously “liked” comments made by other users on social media who spoke negatively about Cardi B’s abilities to take care of her newly born daughter. Minaj denied the accusations. Nevertheless, she covered the spring fashion issue of Harper’s Bazaar in early 2019, featuring her in a Cinderella-themed photo shoot wearing a red gown and leaving a shoe behind, which some writers found reflective of the incident.

After the release of “Girls” in May 2018, a collaboration where she had a featured verse, Cardi B responded to the accusations of the song trivializing and sexualizing LGBT relationships. She stated on Twitter, “We never try to cause harm or had bad intentions with the song.” Cardi B then went on to say, “I personally myself had experiences with other women.”

In March 2019, a livestream from Instagram resurfaced from 2016 where she can be heard claiming that in the past she “had drugged and robbed men” who willingly came with her to hotel rooms for sex. She stated that the men she referred to were conscious, willing and aware; they were getting “twisted in the club” before approaching her, and denied putting anything on a man’s drink. She added that she took some money from them because they wasted her time by falling asleep, and then “kept coming back.” She concluded by saying that at the time she had very limited options to survive, and feels a responsibility not to glorify it.

Fashion

Cardi has a noted affinity for Christian Louboutin heels, a running theme in her song “Bodak Yellow”. She has also mentioned her affinity for cheap, fast-fashion brands stating “I don’t care if it cost $20 or $15. If it looks good on me, it looks good on me”. In November 2018 she released a collection with Fashion Nova.  Cardi wore vintage Thierry Mugler to the 2018 Grammy Awards. An article from Vogue noted she “is famous for her statement getups—whether she’s rocking archival Mugler on the red carpet, or dripping in Chanel while sitting courtside at a basketball game.” Her over-the-top manicures, designed by nail artist Jenny Bui and studded with Swarovski crystals, has become a part of her signature look.

In 2018, she became the first female rapper in the US to appear on the cover of Vogue. Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, the cover, one of four for the January 2019 issue that included Stella McCartney, features her in a red and white Michael Kors dress and matching red Jimmy Choo shoes, while holding her daughter, Kulture.

In 2019, the Council of Fashion Designers of America included her on their list of “28 Black Fashion Forces”.

Cardi B became the face of Balenciaga’s ad campaign for the winter 2020 season. The campaign includes billboards in several international locations, including the Louvre museum. Vogue’s Brooke Bobb commented, “This is Cardi’s first campaign for a luxury fashion house, though she’s definitely no stranger to the Parisian style scene”, citing her floral printed Richard Quinn ensemble “that literally covered her from head to toe” and her being “a front row fixture” at high fashion shows, adding, “She and her stylist Kollin Carter have been wildly successful in carving out a much-needed space for Cardi within the fashion industry, and they’ve cultivated a personal style that is all her own while being inspiring to all”.

In 2020, Cardi B became the first female rapper to be awarded by the FN Achievement Awards when she won the Style Influencer of the Year award. In a press release for the awards show, she was called an “influence just about everything in pop culture—from music, fashion and style to social media, politics and even public service”.

Impact

Multiple publications, including Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, and Entertainment Weekly, have called her “Hip Hop’s Reigning Queen” since the release of Invasion of Privacy. Spin staff credited her for opening “the table to a new generation of pop artists remaking American music in their own image and accents. [Cardi B] recognized that POC artists no longer need to pander or soften themselves in order to become household names.” An article from Uproxx noted Cardi B for promoting up-and-coming female rappers; “[she is] choosing to use her position at the height of stardom to open doors for other women to flourish in hip-hop at a greater level than any since the Golden Era and “Ladies First”. This is something of a departure from tradition; for the decade previous to Cardi’s precipitous come-up, it seemed hip-hop had an unspoken, Highlander-esque rule in place regarding women.” The New Yorker also credited her for “changing a genre that has rarely allowed for more than one female superstar at a time.” Billboard editors stated that with “Bodak Yellow”‘s commercial success, “she left an indelible mark on the summer of 2017, not only because she rewrote history, but she gave hope to the have nots…”. “I Like It” became the first Latin trap song to reach number one on the Hot 100, which reflected “the times, the moment and the new openness of the world” towards Spanish-infused music in streaming services according to the magazine. In 2020, The Wall Street Journal’s Neil Shah stated that “today’s female-rap renaissance was sparked partly by the success of Cardi B”, while Genius staff credited her for “helping jumpstart a new wave of female hip-hop signings and promotion at labels”.

NPR defined “Cardi B effect” as “a branding power rooted in specific authenticity, created and permeated by rapper Cardi B” and noticed that with her breakthrough, “brands finally started to become hip to [her] effect, noticing the cultural markers outside of the rap world that were proving it wasn’t limited to clubs, concerts and radio.” Business magazine Inc. stated that her success “shows how social media changed everything we knew about traditional marketing and media”, which no longer relies on a “well-thought marketing scheme or millions of dollars in advertising.” Articles by Vogue and The Telegraph have referred to her as a “fashion icon for our times.” In 2019, a life-sized sculpture of her was on display at the Brooklyn Museum, as part of Spotify’s RapCaviar “Pantheon”. Bloomberg reported that her data bill helped to boost Ghana’s GDP growth in 2019, after it was part of a concert tour. She inspired the creation of the sitcom Partners in Rhyme, executively produced by MC Lyte about a young woman in high school who “aspires to be the next Cardi B.” P-Valley creator Katori Hall credited her influence for “helping prepare the public” for the storyline depicted in the TV series. Singer-songwriter Rosalía has cited her among her influences. Cardi B has been credited for supporting and uniting female rappers in the industry.

Achievements

Cardi B is the recipient of numerous accolades, including a Grammy Award, eight Billboard Music Awards, five Guinness World Records, five American Music Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, four BET Awards, and eleven BET Hip Hop Awards. Time included her on their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2018. She received the ASCAP award for Songwriter of the Year in 2019, becoming the first female rapper to win the award. She received the honor for the second time in 2020, making her the first female songwriter to win the award twice. In 2020, Cardi B became the first female rapper to be named Woman of the Year at the Billboard Women in Music Awards.

Cardi B is the female rapper with the most Billboard Hot 100 number one singles (4) and the one with the most total weeks on the top position (15). “Bodak Yellow”—certified nonuple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)—became the highest-certified single by a female rapper. “I Like It” became the first song led by a female rapper to surpass a billion streams on Spotify, also making her the first woman in hip hop with multiple billion-streamers on the service, with a total of three so far. Invasion of Privacy was the top female rap album of the 2010s, according to the Billboard 200 decade-end chart. It also became the longest-charting album by a female rapper on the Billboard 200, and the most-streamed album by a female rapper on Spotify.  Invasion of Privacy—which made her the first female rapper to win the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album as a solo artist—became the first female rap album in fifteen years to be nominated for a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Rolling Stone and Billboard ranked her debut album number 13 and 34 on their critics’ lists of best albums of the 2010s respectively, both the highest rank for a female rapper for the decade.

Personal life

Cardi B is Catholic;  she has mentioned her “strong relationship” with God in interviews, often saying that she directly communicates with God.

Cardi B’s younger sister, Hennessy Carolina, also has a strong following on social media and has accompanied her to award shows, such as the 2017 Grammy Awards.

In an interview in 2018, Cardi talked about being Afro-Latina and Afro-Caribbean:

We are Caribbean people […] Some people want to decide if you’re black or not, depending on your skin complexion, because they don’t understand Caribbean people or our culture. I feel like people need to understand or get a passport and travel. I don’t got to tell you that I’m black. I expect you to know about it. When my father taught me about Caribbean countries, he told me that these Europeans took over our lands. That’s why we all speak different languages […] Just like everybody else, we came over here the same way. I hate when people try to take my roots from me. Because we know that there’s African roots inside of us…

She has been a resident of Edgewater, New Jersey, renting an apartment for $3,000 a month that she says would be twice as much in Manhattan for an equivalently sized unit.

Cardi has opened up about the #MeToo movement and being sexually assaulted.

Relationships

As of early 2017, Cardi B began publicly dating fellow American rapper Offset, of the southern hip hop group Migos. When speaking on her relationship with Offset, Cardi B told The Fader, “It’s been a blessing, me meeting him and meeting his friends. I see how hard they work. And that motivated me to work even harder. And I see how good things are going for them and how popping it is to be number one. And I’m like, I want that. A lot of people just see they jewelry and they money, but I don’t think a lot of people see how hard they work for that shit every single day.” Cardi B and Offset became engaged on October 27, 2017, after Offset proposed to her at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, during the Power 99 Powerhouse concert. On April 7, 2018, during her second performance on Saturday Night Live, Cardi B wore a stunning, white Christian Siriano evening gown which, along with several deliberate camera side shots, revealed her pregnancy. She was about 6 months (24 weeks) pregnant at the time. On June 25, 2018, TMZ found a marriage license revealing Cardi B and Offset had actually secretly married in September 2017, doing so one month before the public proposal. Cardi B later went on to confirm this revelation in a social media post. In July 2018, Cardi B gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Kulture Kiari Cephus  In December 2018 she announced on Instagram that she and Offset had broken up, though the pair later reunited. In February 2019, the couple made a public appearance for the Grammys.  He accompanied her on the stage during her acceptance speech for Best Rap Album. In September 2020, it was reported that Cardi B had filed for divorce, but the next month it was revealed they were back together.

Legal issues

On October 1, 2018, Cardi B agreed to meet with investigators at a Queens police station in connection with an alleged assault. She denied involvement through her attorney. She was charged with two misdemeanors: assault and reckless endangerment. Cardi B appeared in court for her arraignment on December 7, 2018, after she failed to show up for the originally scheduled date due to a scheduling conflict, according to her attorney. She was ordered by the judge to avoid having any contact with the two bartenders. She was released by the judge despite prosecutors requesting bail to be set at $2,500. On June 21, 2019, a grand jury indicted Cardi B on 14 charges, including two counts of felony assault with intent to cause serious physical injury, stemming from the incident. She was arraigned on June 25, 2019 and pleaded not guilty on all charges

 

Lyrics


George Gershwin

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

George Gershwin (/ˈɡɜːrʃ.wɪn/; born Jacob Bruskin Gershowitz; September 26, 1898 – July 11, 1937) was an American composer, pianist and painter whose compositions spanned both popular and classical genres. Among his best-known works are the orchestral compositions Rhapsody in Blue (1924) and An American in Paris (1928), the songs “Swanee” (1919) and “Fascinating Rhythm” (1924), the jazz standard “I Got Rhythm” (1930), and the opera Porgy and Bess (1935) which gave birth to the hit “Summertime”. 

Gershwin studied piano under Charles Hambitzer and composition with Rubin Goldmark, Henry Cowell, and Joseph Brody. He began his career as a song plugger but soon started composing Broadway theater works with his brother Ira Gershwin and with Buddy DeSylva. He moved to Paris intending to study with Nadia Boulanger, but she refused him. He subsequently composed An American in Paris, returned to New York City and wrote Porgy and Bess with Ira and DuBose Heyward. Initially a commercial failure, it came to be considered one of the most important American operas of the twentieth century and an American cultural classic.

Gershwin moved to Hollywood and composed numerous film scores. He died in 1937 of a malignant brain tumor.  His compositions have been adapted for use in film and television, with several becoming jazz standards recorded and covered in many variations.

[toc]

Biography

Ancestors

Gershwin was of Russian-Jewish ancestry. His grandfather, Jakov Gershowitz, was born in Odessa and had served for 25 years as a mechanic for the Imperial Russian Army to earn the right of free travel and residence as a Jew; finally retiring near Saint Petersburg. His teenage son, Moishe Gershowitz, worked as a leather cutter for women’s shoes. Moishe Gershowitz met and fell in love with Roza Bruskina, the teenage daughter of a furrier in Vilnius. She and her family moved to New York because of increasing anti-Jewish sentiment in Russia, changing her first name to Rose. Moishe, faced with compulsory military service if he remained in Russia, moved to America as soon as he could afford to. Once in New York, he changed his first name to Morris. Gershowitz lived with a maternal uncle in Brooklyn, working as a foreman in a women’s shoe factory. He married Rose on July 21, 1895, and Gershowitz soon Americanized his name to Gershwine. Their first child, Ira Gershwin, was born on December 6, 1896, after which the family moved into a second-floor apartment on Snediker Avenue in Brooklyn.

Early life

On September 26, 1898, George was born as second son to Morris and Rose Bruskin Gershwin in their second-floor apartment at 242 Snediker Avenue in Brooklyn. His birth certificate identifies him as Jacob Gershwin, with the surname pronounced ‘Gersh-vin’ in the Russian and Yiddish immigrant community. He had just one given name, contrary to the American practice of giving children both a first and a middle name. He was named after his grandfather, the army mechanic. He soon became known as George, and changed the spelling of his surname to ‘Gershwin’ around the time he became a professional musician; other family members followed suit.[8] After Ira and George, another boy, Arthur Gershwin (1900–1981), and a girl, Frances Gershwin (1906–1999), were born into the family.

The family lived in many different residences, as their father changed dwellings with each new enterprise in which he became involved. They grew up mostly in the Yiddish Theater District. George and Ira frequented the local Yiddish theaters, with George occasionally appearing onstage as an extra.

George lived a boyhood not unusual in New York tenements, which included running around with his friends, roller-skating and misbehaving in the streets. Until 1908, he cared nothing about music. Then as a ten-year-old, he was intrigued upon hearing his friend Maxie Rosenzweig’s violin recital. The sound, and the way his friend played, captivated him. At about the same time, George’s parents had bought a piano for his older brother Ira. To his parents’ surprise, though, and to Ira’s relief, it was George who spent more time playing it as he continued to enjoy it.

Although his younger sister Frances was the first in the family to make a living through her musical talents, she married young and devoted herself to being a mother and housewife, thus precluding spending any serious time on musical endeavors. Having given up her performing career, she settled upon painting as a creative outlet, which had also been a hobby George briefly pursued. Arthur Gershwin followed in the paths of George and Ira, also becoming a composer of songs, musicals, and short piano works.

With a degree of frustration, George tried various piano teachers for about two years (circa 1911) before finally being introduced to Charles Hambitzer by Jack Miller (circa 1913), the pianist in the Beethoven Symphony Orchestra. Until his death in 1918, Hambitzer remained Gershwin’s musical mentor, taught him conventional piano technique, introduced him to music of the European classical tradition, and encouraged him to attend orchestral concerts.

Tin Pan Alley and Broadway, 1913–1923

In 1913, Gershwin left school at the age of 15 and found his first job as a “song plugger”. His employer was Jerome H. Remick and Company, a Detroit-based publishing firm with a branch office on New York City’s Tin Pan Alley, and he earned $15 a week.

His first published song was “When You Want ‘Em, You Can’t Get ‘Em, When You’ve Got ‘Em, You Don’t Want ‘Em” in 1916 when Gershwin was only 17 years old. It earned him 50 cents.

In 1916, Gershwin started working for Aeolian Company and Standard Music Rolls in New York, recording and arranging. He produced dozens, if not hundreds, of rolls under his own and assumed names (pseudonyms attributed to Gershwin include Fred Murtha and Bert Wynn). He also recorded rolls of his own compositions for the Duo-Art and Welte-Mignon reproducing pianos. As well as recording piano rolls, Gershwin made a brief foray into vaudeville, accompanying both Nora Bayes and Louise Dresser on the piano. His 1917 novelty ragtime, “Rialto Ripples”, was a commercial success.

In 1919 he scored his first big national hit with his song “Swanee,” with words by Irving Caesar. Al Jolson, a famous Broadway singer of the day, heard Gershwin perform “Swanee” at a party and decided to sing it in one of his shows.

In the late 1910s, Gershwin met songwriter and music director William Daly. The two collaborated on the Broadway musicals Piccadilly to Broadway (1920) and For Goodness’ Sake (1922), and jointly composed the score for Our Nell (1923). This was the beginning of a long friendship. Daly was a frequent arranger, orchestrator and conductor of Gershwin’s music, and Gershwin periodically turned to him for musical advice.

Musical, Europe and classical music, 1924–1928

In 1924, Gershwin composed his first major classical work, Rhapsody in Blue, for orchestra and piano. It was orchestrated by Ferde Grofé and premiered by Paul Whiteman’s Concert Band, in New York. It subsequently went on to be his most popular work, and established Gershwin’s signature style and genius in blending vastly different musical styles in revolutionary ways.

Since the early 1920s Gershwin had frequently worked with the lyricist Buddy DeSylva. Together they created the experimental one-act jazz opera Blue Monday, set in Harlem. It is widely regarded as a forerunner to the groundbreaking Porgy and Bess. In 1924, George and Ira Gershwin collaborated on a stage musical comedy Lady Be Good, which included such future standards as “Fascinating Rhythm” and “Oh, Lady Be Good!”. They followed this with Oh, Kay! (1926),[19] Funny Face (1927) and Strike Up the Band (1927 and 1930). Gershwin allowed the song, with a modified title, to be used as a football fight song, “Strike Up The Band for UCLA”.

In the mid-1920s, Gershwin stayed in Paris for a short period of time, during which he applied to study composition with the noted Nadia Boulanger, who, along with several other prospective tutors such as Maurice Ravel, turned him down, afraid that rigorous classical study would ruin his jazz-influenced style. Maurice Ravel’s rejection letter to Gershwin told him, “Why become a second-rate Ravel when you’re already a first-rate Gershwin?” While there, Gershwin wrote An American in Paris. This work received mixed reviews upon its first performance at Carnegie Hall on December 13, 1928, but it quickly became part of the standard repertoire in Europe and the United States.

New York, 1929–1935

In 1929, the Gershwin brothers created Show Girl; The following year brought Girl Crazy, which introduced the standards “Embraceable You”, debuted by Ginger Rogers, and “I Got Rhythm”. 1931’s Of Thee I Sing became the first musical comedy to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama; the winners were George S. Kaufman, Morrie Ryskind, and Ira Gershwin.

Gershwin spent the summer of 1934 on Folly Island in South Carolina after he was invited to visit by the author of the novel Porgy, DuBose Heyward. He was inspired to write the music to his opera Porgy and Bess while on this working vacation. Porgy and Bess was considered another American classic by the composer of Rhapsody in Blue — even if critics could not quite figure out how to evaluate it, or decide whether it was opera or simply an ambitious Broadway musical. “It crossed the barriers,” per theater historian Robert Kimball. “It wasn’t a musical work per se, and it wasn’t a drama per se – it elicited response from both music and drama critics. But the work has sort of always been outside category.”

Last years, 1936–37

After the commercial failure of Porgy and Bess, Gershwin moved to Hollywood, California. In 1936, he was commissioned by RKO Pictures to write the music for the film Shall We Dance, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Gershwin’s extended score, which would marry ballet with jazz in a new way, runs over an hour in length. It took Gershwin several months to compose and orchestrate.

Gershwin had a ten-year affair with composer Kay Swift, whom he frequently consulted about his music. The two never married, although she eventually divorced her husband James Warburg in order to commit to the relationship. Swift’s granddaughter, Katharine Weber, has suggested that the pair were not married because George’s mother Rose was “unhappy that Kay Swift wasn’t Jewish”. The Gershwins’ 1926 musical Oh, Kay was named for her. After Gershwin’s death, Swift arranged some of his music, transcribed several of his recordings, and collaborated with his brother Ira on several projects.

Illness and death

Early in 1937, Gershwin began to complain of blinding headaches and a recurring impression that he smelled burning rubber. On February 11, 1937, he performed his Piano Concerto in F in a special concert of his music with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra under the direction of French maestro Pierre Monteux.[31] Gershwin, normally a superb pianist in his own compositions, suffered coordination problems and blackouts during the performance. He was at the time working on other Hollywood film projects while living with Ira and his wife Leonore in their rented house in Beverly Hills. Leonore Gershwin began to be disturbed by George’s mood swings and his seeming inability to eat without spilling food at the dinner table. She suspected mental illness and insisted he be moved out of their house to lyricist Yip Harburg’s empty quarters nearby, where he was placed in the care of his valet, Paul Mueller. The headaches and olfactory hallucinations continued.

On the night of July 9, 1937 Gershwin collapsed in Harburg’s house, where he had been working on the score of The Goldwyn Follies. He was rushed back to Cedars of Lebanon,  and fell into a coma. Only then did his doctors come to believe that he was suffering from a brain tumor. Leonore called George’s close friend Emil Mosbacher and explained the dire need to find a neurosurgeon. Mosbacher immediately called pioneering neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing in Boston, who, retired for several years by then, recommended Dr. Walter Dandy, who was on a boat fishing in Chesapeake Bay with the governor of Maryland. Mosbacher called the White House and had a Coast Guard cutter sent to find the governor’s yacht and bring Dandy quickly to shore. Mosbacher then chartered a plane and flew Dandy to Newark Airport, where he was to catch a plane to Los Angeles; however, by that time, Gershwin’s condition was critical and the need for surgery was immediate. In the early hours of July 11, doctors at Cedars removed a large brain tumor, believed to have been a glioblastoma, but Gershwin died on the morning of Sunday, July 11, 1937, at the age of 38.  The fact that he had suddenly collapsed and become comatose after he stood up on July 9, has been interpreted as brain herniation with Duret haemorrhages.

Gershwin’s friends and fans were shocked and devastated. John O’Hara remarked: “George Gershwin died on July 11, 1937, but I don’t have to believe it if I don’t want to.” He was interred at Westchester Hills Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. A memorial concert was held at the Hollywood Bowl on September 8, 1937, at which Otto Klemperer conducted his own orchestration of the second of Gershwin’s Three Preludes.

Musical style and influence

Gershwin was influenced by French composers of the early twentieth century. In turn Maurice Ravel was impressed with Gershwin’s abilities, commenting, “Personally I find jazz most interesting: the rhythms, the way the melodies are handled, the melodies themselves. I have heard of George Gershwin’s works and I find them intriguing.” The orchestrations in Gershwin’s symphonic works often seem similar to those of Ravel; likewise, Ravel’s two piano concertos evince an influence of Gershwin.

George Gershwin asked to study with Ravel. When Ravel heard how much Gershwin earned, Ravel replied with words to the effect of, “You should give me lessons.” (Some versions of this story feature Igor Stravinsky rather than Ravel as the composer; however Stravinsky confirmed that he originally heard the story from Ravel.)

Gershwin’s own Concerto in F was criticized for being related to the work of Claude Debussy, more so than to the expected jazz style. The comparison did not deter him from continuing to explore French styles. The title of An American in Paris reflects the very journey that he had consciously taken as a composer: “The opening part will be developed in typical French style, in the manner of Debussy and Les Six, though the tunes are original.”

Gershwin was intrigued by the works of Alban Berg, Dmitri Shostakovich, Igor Stravinsky, Darius Milhaud, and Arnold Schoenberg. He also asked Schoenberg for composition lessons. Schoenberg refused, saying “I would only make you a bad Schoenberg, and you’re such a good Gershwin already.” (This quote is similar to one credited to Maurice Ravel during Gershwin’s 1928 visit to France – “Why be a second-rate Ravel, when you are a first-rate Gershwin?”) Gershwin was particularly impressed by the music of Berg, who gave him a score of the Lyric Suite. He attended the American premiere of Wozzeck, conducted by Leopold Stokowski in 1931, and was “thrilled and deeply impressed”.

Russian Joseph Schillinger’s influence as Gershwin’s teacher of composition (1932–1936) was substantial in providing him with a method of composition. There has been some disagreement about the nature of Schillinger’s influence on Gershwin. After the posthumous success of Porgy and Bess, Schillinger claimed he had a large and direct influence in overseeing the creation of the opera; Ira completely denied that his brother had any such assistance for this work. A third account of Gershwin’s musical relationship with his teacher was written by Gershwin’s close friend Vernon Duke, also a Schillinger student, in an article for the Musical Quarterly in 1947.

What set Gershwin apart was his ability to manipulate forms of music into his own unique voice. He took the jazz he discovered on Tin Pan Alley into the mainstream by splicing its rhythms and tonality with that of the popular songs of his era. Although George Gershwin would seldom make grand statements about his music, he believed that “true music must reflect the thought and aspirations of the people and time. My people are Americans. My time is today.”

In 2007, the Library of Congress named its Prize for Popular Song after George and Ira Gershwin. Recognizing the profound and positive effect of popular music on culture, the prize is given annually to a composer or performer whose lifetime contributions exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins. On March 1, 2007, the first Gershwin Prize was awarded to Paul Simon.

Recordings and film

Early in his career, under both his own name and pseudonyms, Gershwin recorded more than one hundred and forty player piano rolls which were a main source of his income. The majority were popular music of the period and a smaller proportion were of his own works. Once his musical theatre-writing income became substantial, his regular roll-recording career became superfluous. He did record additional rolls throughout the 1920s of his main hits for the Aeolian Company’s reproducing piano, including a complete version of his Rhapsody in Blue.

Compared to the piano rolls, there are few accessible audio recordings of Gershwin’s playing. His first recording was his own “Swanee” with the Fred Van Eps Trio in 1919. The recorded balance highlights the banjo playing of Van Eps, and the piano is overshadowed. The recording took place before “Swanee” became famous as an Al Jolson specialty in early 1920.

Gershwin recorded an abridged version of Rhapsody in Blue with Paul Whiteman and his orchestra for the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1924, soon after the world premiere. Gershwin and the same orchestra made an electrical recording of the abridged version for Victor in 1927. However, a dispute in the studio over interpretation angered Whiteman and he left. The conductor’s baton was taken over by Victor’s staff conductor Nathaniel Shilkret.

Gershwin made a number of solo piano recordings of tunes from his musicals, some including the vocals of Fred and Adele Astaire, as well as his Three Preludes for piano. In 1929, Gershwin “supervised” the world premiere recording of An American in Paris with Nathaniel Shilkret and the Victor Symphony Orchestra. Gershwin’s role in the recording was rather limited, particularly because Shilkret was conducting and had his own ideas about the music. When it was realized that no one had been hired to play the brief celeste solo, Gershwin was asked if he could and would play the instrument, and he agreed. Gershwin can be heard, rather briefly, on the recording during the slow section.

Gershwin appeared on several radio programs, including Rudy Vallee’s, and played some of his compositions. This included the third movement of the Concerto in F with Vallee conducting the studio orchestra. Some of these performances were preserved on transcription discs and have been released on LP and CD.

In 1934, in an effort to earn money to finance his planned folk opera, Gershwin hosted his own radio program titled Music by Gershwin. The show was broadcast on the NBC Blue Network from February to May and again in September through the final show on December 23, 1934. He presented his own work as well as the work of other composers. Recordings from this and other radio broadcasts include his Variations on I Got Rhythm, portions of the Concerto in F, and numerous songs from his musical comedies. He also recorded a run-through of his Second Rhapsody, conducting the orchestra and playing the piano solos. Gershwin recorded excerpts from Porgy and Bess with members of the original cast, conducting the orchestra from the keyboard; he even announced the selections and the names of the performers. In 1935 RCA Victor asked him to supervise recordings of highlights from Porgy and Bess; these were his last recordings.

A 74-second newsreel film clip of Gershwin playing I Got Rhythm has survived, filmed at the opening of the Manhattan Theater (now The Ed Sullivan Theater) in August 1931.[  There are also silent home movies of Gershwin, some of them shot on Kodachrome color film stock, which have been featured in tributes to the composer. In addition, there is newsreel footage of Gershwin playing “Mademoiselle from New Rochelle” and “Strike Up the Band” on the piano during a Broadway rehearsal of the 1930 production of Strike Up the Band. In the mid-30s, “Strike Up The Band” was given to UCLA to be used as a football fight song, “Strike Up The Band for UCLA”. The comedy team of Clark and McCullough are seen conversing with Gershwin, then singing as he plays.

In 1945, the film biography Rhapsody in Blue was made, starring Robert Alda as George Gershwin. The film contains many factual errors about Gershwin’s life, but also features many examples of his music, including an almost complete performance of Rhapsody in Blue.

In 1965, Movietone Records released an album MTM 1009 featuring Gershwin’s piano rolls of the titled George Gershwin plays RHAPSODY IN BLUE and his other favorite compositions. The B-side of the LP featured nine other recordings.

In 1975, Columbia Records released an album featuring Gershwin’s piano rolls of Rhapsody In Blue, accompanied by the Columbia Jazz Band playing the original jazz band accompaniment, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. The B-side of the Columbia Masterworks release features Tilson Thomas leading the New York Philharmonic in An American In Paris.

In 1976, RCA Records, as part of its “Victrola Americana” line, released a collection of Gershwin recordings taken from 78s recorded in the 1920s and called the LP “Gershwin plays Gershwin, Historic First Recordings” (RCA Victrola AVM1-1740). Included were recordings of “Rhapsody in Blue” with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra and Gershwin on piano; “An American in Paris”, from 1927 with Gershwin on celesta; and “Three Preludes”, “Clap Yo’ Hands” and Someone to Watch Over Me”, among others. There are a total of ten recordings on the album. At the opening ceremony of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, “Rhapsody in Blue” was performed in spectacular fashion by many pianists.

The soundtrack to Woody Allen’s 1979 film Manhattan is composed entirely of Gershwin’s compositions, including Rhapsody in Blue, “Love is Sweeping the Country”, and “But Not for Me”, performed by both the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta and the Buffalo Philharmonic under Michael Tilson Thomas. The film begins with a monologue by Allen: “He adored New York City … To him, no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin.”

In 1993, two audio CDs featuring piano rolls recorded by Gershwin were issued by Nonesuch Records through the efforts of Artis Wodehouse, and entitled Gershwin Plays Gershwin: The Piano Rolls.

In October 2009, it was reported by Rolling Stone that Brian Wilson was completing two unfinished compositions by George Gershwin,[51] released as Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin on August 17, 2010, consisting of ten George and Ira Gershwin songs, bookended by passages from “Rhapsody in Blue”, with two new songs completed from unfinished Gershwin fragments by Wilson and band member Scott Bennett.

Compositions

Orchestral

Solo piano

  • Three Preludes (1926)
  • George Gershwin’s Song-book (1932), solo piano arrangements of 18 songs

Operas

London musicals

Broadway musicals

Films for which Gershwin wrote original scores

Legacy

Estate

Gershwin died intestate, and his estate passed to his mother. The estate continues to collect significant royalties from licensing the copyrights on his work. The estate supported the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act because its 1923 cutoff date was shortly before Gershwin had begun to create his most popular works. The copyrights on all Gershwin’s solo works expired at the end of 2007 in the European Union, based on its life-plus-70-years rule.

In 2005, The Guardian determined using “estimates of earnings accrued in a composer’s lifetime” that George Gershwin was the wealthiest composer of all time.

The George and Ira Gershwin Collection, much of which was donated by Ira and the Gershwin family estates, resides at the Library of Congress.

In September 2013, a partnership between the estates of Ira and George Gershwin and the University of Michigan was created and will provide the university’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance access to Gershwin’s entire body of work, which includes all of Gershwin’s papers, compositional drafts, and scores.[ This direct access to all of his works will provide opportunities to musicians, composers, and scholars to analyze and reinterpret his work with the goal of accurately reflecting the composers’ vision in order to preserve his legacy. The first fascicles of The Gershwin Critical Edition, edited by Mark Clague, are expected in 2017; they will cover the 1924 jazz band version of Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris and Porgy and Bess.

Awards and honors

  • In 1937, Gershwin received his sole Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song at the 1937 Oscars for “They Can’t Take That Away from Me”, written with his brother Ira for the 1937 film Shall We Dance. The nomination was posthumous; Gershwin died two months after the film’s release.
  • In 1985, the Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to George and Ira Gershwin. Only three other songwriters, George M. Cohan, Harry Chapin and Irving Berlin, have had the honor of receiving this award.
  • In 1998 a special Pulitzer Prize was posthumously awarded to Gershwin “commemorating the centennial year of his birth, for his distinguished and enduring contributions to American music.”
  • The George and Ira Gershwin Lifetime Musical Achievement Award was established by UCLA to honor the brothers for their contribution to music and for their gift to UCLA of the fight song “Strike Up the Band for UCLA”.
  • In 2006, Gershwin was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.

Namesakes

  • The Gershwin Theatre on Broadway is named after George and Ira.
  • The Gershwin Hotel in the Flatiron District of Manhattan in New York City was named after George and Ira.
  • In Brooklyn, George Gershwin Junior High School 166 is named after him.
  • One of Holland America Line’s ships, MS Koningsdam has a Gershwin Deck (Deck 5)
  • The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

Biopics

  • The 1945 biographical film Rhapsody in Blue starred Robert Alda as George Gershwin.
  • Director Steven Spielberg planned a Biopic film in 2010 based of the life of Gershwin, casting Zachary Quinto as Gershwin.

Portrayals in other media

  • Since 1999, Hershey Felder has produced a one-man show with him portraying George Gershwin Alone, which has played over 3,000 performances and was winner of two 2007 Ovation Awards. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Felder launched a global live-streaming Hershey Felder Presents: Live from Florence featuring a performance of “Hershey Felder as George Gershwin Alone” in September 2020.
  • Paul Rudd portrays an imaginary friend based on George Gershwin, said to be his creator’s favorite composer, in the 2015 series finale of the Irish sitcom Moone Boy, “Gershwin’s Bucket List”.

Lyrics


Áine Minogue

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

Áine Minogue (born 27 May 1977, Borrisokane, County Tipperary) is an Irish harpist, singer, arranger and composer, now living in the Boston area. She has recorded thirteen solo albums in styles generally categorized as Celtic, world, folk, spiritual, and new age.

Early life

Áine Minogue was born in Ireland to a family of ten, which often played and sang at traditional Irish events such as fleadhs and Hunting the Wren. She was 12 when she started playing the Irish harp at a boarding school in Galway. Minogue became a harpist at Bunratty Castle in County Clare. She obtained a Master’s Degree in Traditional Irish Harp Performance from the University of Limerick.  She moved to Boston in 1990.

Music career

Minogue’s debut album, Were You at the Rock, consisted of traditional dance and concert pieces.

Mysts of Time (1996) was a mix of traditional tunes and original songs, with mostly Gaelic lyrics. It was seen as belonging to the Irish wave of New Age/Celtic fusion and associated with the sound of Enya. Her voice was described as “fragile, lilting… like a gently windblown satin sheet.”[8] To Warm the Winter’s Night (1996) was a popular collection of Celtic and English midwinter and Christmas music.

Circle of the Sun (1998) was a musical journey through the seasons with a focus on the four Celtic calendar festivals of Lughnasadh, Samhain, Imbolc, and Beltane.[10] She mixed her own Celtic harp with guitars, cellos, fiddles, flutes, and bodhráns, but also folk instruments from other traditions such as didgeridoo and djembe. Celtic Lamentations (2005) explored how ancient people used music to mourn.  It won Zone Music Reporter’s Best Celtic Album award.

A Winter’s Journey, a CatholicTV Christmas special produced by Minogue where she plays Celtic music with her friends in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, was nominated for a New England Emmy Award.

Lyrics


Antônio Carlos Jobim

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

Antônio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim (January 25, 1927 – December 8, 1994), also known as Tom Jobim (Portuguese pronunciation: [tõ ʒoˈbĩ]), was a Brazilian composer, pianist, songwriter, arranger and singer. Widely considered as one of the great exponents of Brazilian music, Jobim internationalized bossa nova and, with the help of important American artists, merged it with jazz in the 1960s to create a new sound with remarkable popular success. As such he is sometimes known as the “father of bossa nova”.

Jobim was a primary force behind the creation of the bossa nova style, and his songs have been performed by many singers and instrumentalists internationally.

In 1965, the album Getz/Gilberto was the first jazz album to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. It also won for Best Jazz Instrumental Album – Individual or Group and for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. The album’s single “Garota de Ipanema” (“The Girl from Ipanema”), one of the most recorded songs of all time, won the Record of the Year. Jobim composed many songs that are now included in jazz and pop standard repertoires. The song “Garota de Ipanema” has been recorded over 240 times by other artists. His 1967 album with Frank Sinatra, Francis Albert Sinatra & Antônio Carlos Jobim, was nominated for Album of the Year in 1968.

Early life

Antônio Carlos Jobim was born in the middle-class district of Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro. His father, Jorge de Oliveira Jobim (São Gabriel, Rio Grande do Sul, April 23, 1889 – July 19, 1935), was a writer, diplomat, professor and journalist. He came from a prominent family, being the great nephew of José Martins da Cruz Jobim, senator, privy councillor and physician of Emperor Dom Pedro II. While studying medicine in Europe, José Martins added Jobim to his last name, paying homage to the village where his family came from in Portugal, the parish of Santa Cruz de Jovim, Porto.  His mother, Nilza Brasileiro de Almeida (c. 1910 – November 17, 1989), was of partly Indigenous descent from Northeastern Brazil.

When Antônio was still an infant, his parents separated and his mother moved with her children (Antônio Carlos and his sister Helena Isaura, born February 23, 1931) to Ipanema, the beachside neighborhood the composer would later celebrate in his songs. In 1935, when the elder Jobim died, Nilza married Celso da Frota Pessoa (died February 2, 1979), who would encourage his stepson’s career. He was the one who gave Jobim his first piano. As a young man of limited means, Jobim earned his living by playing in nightclubs and bars and later as an arranger for a recording label, before starting to achieve success as a composer.

Musical influences

Jobim’s musical roots were planted firmly in the work of Pixinguinha, the legendary musician and composer who began modern Brazilian music in the 1930s. Among his teachers were Lúcia Branco and, from 1941 on, Hans-Joachim Koellreutter, a German composer who lived in Brazil and introduced atonal and twelve-tone composition in the country. Jobim was also influenced by the French composers Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel, and by the Brazilian composers Ary Barroso and Heitor Villa-Lobos, who has been described as Jobim’s “most important musical influence.”  Among many themes, his lyrics talked about love, self-discovery, betrayal, joy and especially about the birds and natural wonders of Brazil, like the “Mata Atlântica” forest, characters of Brazilian folklore and his home city of Rio de Janeiro.

Career

In the 1940s, Tom Jobim started to play piano in bars and nightclubs of Rio de Janeiro and in the first years of the 1950s he worked as an arranger in the Continental Studio, where he had his first composition recorded, in April 1953, when the Brazilian singer Mauricy Moura recorded Incerteza, a composition by Tom Jobim with lyrics by Newton Mendonça.

Jobim became prominent in Brazil when he teamed up with poet and diplomat Vinicius de Moraes to write the music for the play Orfeu da Conceição (1956). The most popular song from the show was “Se Todos Fossem Iguais A Você” (“If Everyone Were Like You”). Later, when the play was adapted into a film, producer Sacha Gordine did not want to use any of the existing music from the play. Gordine asked de Moraes and Jobim for a new score for the film Orfeu Negro, or Black Orpheus (1959). Moraes was at the time away in Montevideo, Uruguay, working for the Itamaraty (the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and so he and Jobim were only able to write three songs, primarily over the telephone (“A felicidade”, “Frevo” and “O nosso amor”). This collaboration proved successful, and de Moraes went on to pen the lyrics to some of Jobim’s most popular songs.

In 1958 the Brazilian singer and guitarist João Gilberto recorded his first album with two of the most famous songs of Tom Jobim: Desafinado and Chega de Saudade. This album inaugurates the Bossa Nova movement in Brazil. The sophisticated harmonies of his songs caught the attention of jazz musicians in the United States, principally after the first performance of Tom Jobim at Carnegie Hall, in 1962.

A key event in making Jobim’s music known in the English-speaking world was his collaboration with the American jazz saxophonist Stan Getz, the Brazilian singer João Gilberto, and Gilberto’s wife at the time, Astrud Gilberto, which resulted in two albums, Getz/Gilberto (1963) and Getz/Gilberto Vol. 2 (1964). The release of Getz/Gilberto created a bossa nova craze in the United States and subsequently internationally. Getz had previously recorded Jazz Samba with Charlie Byrd (1962), and Jazz Samba Encore! with Luiz Bonfá (1964). Jobim wrote many of the songs on Getz/Gilberto, which became one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time, and turned Astrud Gilberto, who sang on “Garota de Ipanema” (The Girl from Ipanema) and “Corcovado”, into an international sensation. At the Grammy Awards of 1965 Getz/Gilberto won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group and the Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. “The Girl from Ipanema” won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year. Among his later hits is “Águas de Março” (Waters of March, 1972), for which he wrote both the Portuguese and English lyrics.

Personal life

Jobim was married to Thereza Otero Hermanny on October 15, 1949, and had two children with her: Paulo Jobim (born 1950), an architect and musician, married and father of Daniel Jobim (born 1973) and Dora Jobim (born 1976); and Elizabeth “Beth” Jobim (born 1957), a painter. Jobim and Thereza divorced in 1978. On April 30, 1986, he married 29-year-old photographer Ana Beatriz Lontra, with whom he had two more children: João Francisco Jobim (1979–1998) and Maria Luiza Helena Jobim (born 1987). Daniel, Paulo’s son, followed his grandfather to become a pianist and composer,[11] and performed “The Girl from Ipanema” during the opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Death

In early 1994, after finishing his album Antonio Brasileiro, Jobim complained to his doctor, Roberto Hugo Costa Lima, of urinary problems. He underwent an operation at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City on December 2, 1994. On December 8, while recovering from surgery, he had a cardiac arrest caused by a pulmonary embolism, and two hours later another cardiac arrest, from which he died. He was survived by his children and grandchildren. His last album, Antonio Brasileiro, was released posthumously three days after his death.

His body lay in state until given a proper burial on December 20, 1994. He is buried in the Cemitério São João Batista in Rio de Janeiro.

Lyrics


George David Weiss

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

George David Weiss (April 9, 1921 – August 23, 2010) was an American songwriter and arranger, who had been a president of the Songwriters Guild of America.

Career

Weiss was born in a Jewish family, and originally planned a career as a lawyer or accountant, but out of a love for music he was led to attend the Juilliard School of Music,  developing his skills in writing and arranging. After leaving school, he became an arranger for such big bands as those of Stan Kenton, Vincent Lopez, and Johnny Richards.

He was a very prolific songwriter during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, with many of his songs attaining high rankings on the charts.  Although he worked with many collaborators, the largest proportion of his well-known songs were written with Bennie Benjamin.

Weiss contributed to a number of film scores: Murder, Inc. (1960), Gidget Goes to Rome (1963), Mediterranean Holiday (1964), and Mademoiselle (1966).

Collaborations on three Broadway musicals were among his compositions. Mr. Wonderful was written in 1956 with Jerry Bock and Larry Holofcener. The Broadway production starred Sammy Davis, Jr. First Impressions was based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It was written in 1959, with Bo Goldman and Glenn Paxton. Maggie Flynn was written in 1968, with Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore. It was set in New York during the American Civil War, and the Broadway production starred Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy. In addition, Weiss and Will Severin composed the family musical, A Tale of Cinderella, which was first presented in December 1994 at the Theater Institute in Troy, New York, and filmed for presentation on PBS.

Weiss wrote the lyrics for the Jazz standard “Lullaby of Birdland”, which became a huge hit for Ella Fitzgerald. In 1984 Weiss was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

In 2006 a court settlement was reached regarding royalties for the worldwide rights of the song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” best known as a #1 hit for The Tokens, which was based on a 1939 song, “Mbube”, by the South African musician, Solomon Linda. The settlement, which operates worldwide and in settlement of all claims, encompasses the following:

  1. Linda’s heirs will receive payment for past uses of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and an entitlement to future royalties.
  2. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” is acknowledged as derived from “Mbube”.
  3. Solomon Linda is acknowledged as a co-composer of the song and will be designated as such.
  4. A trust will be formed to administer the heirs’ copyright and to receive on their behalf the payments due.

Death

Weiss died at age 89 on August 23, 2010, of natural causes at his home in Oldwick, New Jersey.

Lyrics


Paul Simon

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

Paul Frederic Simon (born October 13, 1941) is an American musician, singer, songwriter and actor. Simon’s musical career has spanned over six decades. He reached fame and commercial success as half of the duo Simon & Garfunkel, formed in 1956 with Art Garfunkel. Simon wrote nearly all of their songs, including US number-one singles “The Sound of Silence”, “Mrs. Robinson”, and “Bridge over Troubled Water”.

After Simon & Garfunkel split up in 1970, at the height of their popularity, Simon began a successful solo career. He recorded three acclaimed albums over the following five years. In 1986, following a career slump, he released Graceland, an album inspired by South African township music, which sold 14 million copies worldwide and remains his most popular solo work. Simon also wrote and starred in the film One-Trick Pony (1980) and co-wrote the Broadway musical The Capeman (1998) with the poet Derek Walcott.On June 3, 2016, Simon released his 13th solo album, Stranger to Stranger, which debuted at number one on the Billboard Album Chart and the UK Albums Chart.

Simon has earned sixteen Grammy awards for his solo and collaborative work, including three for Album of the Year (Bridge Over Troubled Water, Still Crazy After All These Years, and Graceland), and a Lifetime Achievement Award.[5] He is a two-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: first in 1990 as a member of Simon & Garfunkel and again in 2001 for his solo career. In 2006 he was selected as one of the “100 People Who Shaped the World” by Time. In 2011, Rolling Stone named Simon one of the 100 greatest guitarists, and in 2015 he was ranked eighth in their list of the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time. Simon was the first recipient of the Library of Congress’s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in 2007.

Biography

Early years

Simon was born on October 13, 1941, in Newark, New Jersey, to Hungarian-Jewish parents. His father, Louis (1916–1995), was a college professor, double-bass player, and dance bandleader who performed under the name “Lee Sims”. His mother, Belle (1910–2007), was an elementary school teacher. In 1945, his family moved to the Kew Gardens Hills section of Flushing, Queens, in New York City.

The musician Donald Fagen described Simon’s childhood as that of “a certain kind of New York Jew, almost a stereotype, really, to whom music and baseball are very important. I think it has to do with the parents. The parents are either immigrants or first-generation Americans who felt like outsiders, and assimilation was the key thought—they gravitated to black music and baseball looking for an alternative culture.” Simon, upon hearing Fagen’s description, said it “isn’t far from the truth.” Simon said about his childhood, “I was a ballplayer. I’d go on my bike, and I’d hustle kids in stickball.” He added that his father was a New York Yankees fan:

I used to listen to games with my father. He was a nice guy. Fun. Funny. Smart. He didn’t play with me as much as I played with my kids. He was at work until late at night. … Sometimes [until] two in the morning.

Simon’s musical career began after meeting Art Garfunkel when they were both 11. They performed in a production of Alice in Wonderland for their sixth-grade graduation, and began singing together when they were 13, occasionally performing at school dances. Their idols were the Everly Brothers, whom they imitated in their use of close two-part harmony. Simon also developed an interest in jazz, folk, and blues, especially in the music of Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly.

Simon’s first song written for himself and Garfunkel, when Simon was 12 or 13, was called “The Girl for Me,” and according to Simon became the “neighborhood hit.” His father wrote the words and chords on paper for the boys to use. That paper became the first officially copyrighted Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel song, and is now in the Library of Congress. In 1957, in their mid-teens, they recorded the song “Hey, Schoolgirl” under the name “Tom & Jerry”, a name that was given to them by their label Big Records. The single reached No. 49 on the pop charts.

After graduating from Forest Hills High School, Simon majored in English at Queens College and graduated in 1963, while Garfunkel studied mathematics education at Columbia University in Manhattan. Simon was a brother in the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, earned a degree in English literature, and briefly attended Brooklyn Law School for one semester after graduation in 1963.

Early career

Between 1957 and 1964, Simon wrote, recorded and released more than 30 songs, occasionally reuniting with Garfunkel as Tom & Jerry for some singles, including “Our Song” and “That’s My Story”. Most of the songs Simon recorded during that time were performed alone or with musicians other than Garfunkel. They were released on minor record labels including Amy, Big, Hunt, King, Tribute, and Madison. He used several pseudonyms for these recordings, usually “Jerry Landis”, but also “Paul Kane” and “True Taylor”. By 1962, working as Jerry Landis, he was a frequent writer/producer for several Amy Records artists, overseeing material released by Dotty Daniels, The Vels and Ritchie Cordell.

Simon enjoyed moderate success with singles as part of the group Tico and the Triumphs, including “Motorcycle”, which reached No. 97 on the Billboard charts in 1962. Tico and the Triumphs released four 45s. Marty Cooper, known as Tico, sang lead on several of these releases, but “Motorcycle” featured Simon’s vocal. Also in 1962, Simon reached No. 99 on the pop charts as Jerry Landis with the novelty song “The Lone Teen Ranger”. Both chart singles were released on Amy Records.

Simon and Garfunkel

In early 1964, Simon and Garfunkel got an audition with Columbia Records, whose executive Clive Davis signed them to produce an album. Columbia decided that the two would be called “Simon & Garfunkel” instead of “Tom & Jerry”. According to Simon, this was the first time artists’ surnames had been used in pop music without their first names. Simon and Garfunkel’s first LP, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., was released on October 19, 1964, with 12 folk songs, five of which were written by Simon. The album initially flopped.

After the album release, Simon moved to England. While in the UK, Simon co-wrote several songs with Bruce Woodley of the Australian pop group the Seekers, including “I Wish You Could Be Here”, “Cloudy”, and “Red Rubber Ball”. Woodley’s co-author credit was omitted from “Cloudy” on the Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme album. The American group the Cyrkle recorded a cover of “Red Rubber Ball” that reached No. 2 in the U.S. Simon also contributed to the Seekers’ catalogue with “Someday One Day”, which was released in March 1966, charting around the same time as Simon and Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound” (a Top 10 hit from their second U.K. album, Sounds of Silence and later included on their third U.S. album, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme).

Back on the American east coast, radio stations began receiving requests for the Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. track “The Sound of Silence”. Simon & Garfunkel’s producer, Tom Wilson, overdubbed the track with electric guitar, bass guitar and drums, releasing it as a single that eventually went to No. 1 on the U.S. pop charts. Wilson did not inform the duo of his plan, and Simon was “horrified” when he first heard it.

The success of “The Sound of Silence” drew Simon back to the United States to reunite with Garfunkel. Together they recorded four more albums: Sounds of Silence; Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme; Bookends; and the hugely successful Bridge over Troubled Water. Simon and Garfunkel also contributed extensively to the soundtrack of the Mike Nichols film The Graduate (1967), starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft. While writing “Mrs. Robinson”, Simon originally toyed with the title “Mrs. Roosevelt”. When Garfunkel reported this indecision over the song’s name to the director, Nichols replied, “Don’t be ridiculous! We’re making a movie here! It’s Mrs. Robinson!”

Simon and Garfunkel returned to the UK in the fall of 1968 and did a church concert appearance at Kraft Hall, which was broadcast on the BBC, and also featured Paul’s brother Ed on a performance of the instrumental “Anji”.

Simon pursued solo projects after Bridge over Troubled Water, reuniting occasionally with Garfunkel for various projects. Actor Warren Beatty brought Simon into a solo performance at the Cleveland Arena in April 1972 —a benefit concert for the George McGovern 1972 presidential campaign—and after that, Beatty obtained the duo’s agreement to reunite in mid-June at Madison Square Garden, another political concert called Together for McGovern. Garfunkel joined Simon again on the 1975 Top Ten single “My Little Town”. Simon wrote it for Garfunkel, whose solo output Simon judged to be lacking “bite”. The song was included on their respective solo albums: Paul Simon’s Still Crazy After All These Years and Garfunkel’s Breakaway. Contrary to popular belief, the song is not autobiographical of Simon’s early life in New York City. Simon also provided guitar on Garfunkel’s 1973 album Angel Clare, and added backing vocals to the song “Down in the Willow Garden”. In 1981, they reunited again for the famous concert in Central Park, followed by a world tour and an aborted reunion album, to have been entitled Think Too Much, which was eventually released (without Garfunkel) as Hearts and Bones. Together, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

In 2003, Simon and Garfunkel reunited once again when they received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. This reunion led to a US tour—the acclaimed “Old Friends” concert series—followed by a 2004 international encore that culminated in a free concert at the Colosseum in Rome that drew 600,000 people.[31] In 2005, the pair sang “Mrs. Robinson” and “Homeward Bound”, plus “Bridge Over Troubled Water” with Aaron Neville, in the benefit concert From the Big Apple to The Big Easy – The Concert for New Orleans (eventually released as a DVD) for Hurricane Katrina victims.

The pair performed together in April 2010 in New Orleans at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

1971–1976

After Simon and Garfunkel split in 1970, Simon began writing and recording solo material again. His album Paul Simon was released in January 1972, preceded by his first experiment with world music, the Jamaican-inspired “Mother and Child Reunion”. The single was a hit, reaching both the American and British Top 5. The album received universal acclaim, with critics praising the variety of styles and the confessional lyrics, reaching No. 4 in the U.S. and No. 1 in the UK and Japan. It later spawned another Top 30 hit with “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard”.

Simon’s next project was the pop-folk album, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, released in May 1973. It contained some of his most popular and polished recordings. The lead single, “Kodachrome”, was a No. 2 hit in America, and the follow-up, the gospel-flavored “Loves Me Like a Rock” was even bigger, topping the Cashbox charts. Other songs like the weary “American Tune” or the melancholic “Something So Right” — a tribute to Simon’s first wife, Peggy, which received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Song of the Year – became standards in the musician’s catalog. Critical and commercial reception for this second album was even stronger than for his debut. At the time, reviewers noted how the songs were fresh and unworried on the surface, while still exploring socially and politically conscious themes on a deeper level. The album reached No. 1 on the Cashbox album charts. As a souvenir for the tour that came next, in 1974 it was released as a live album, Live Rhymin’, which was moderately successful and displayed some changes in Simon’s music style, adopting world and religious music.

Highly anticipated, Still Crazy After All These Years was his next album. Released in October 1975 and produced by Simon and Phil Ramone, it marked another departure. The mood of the album was darker, as he wrote and recorded it in the wake of his divorce. Preceded by the feel-good duet with Phoebe Snow, “Gone at Last” (a Top 25 hit) and the Simon & Garfunkel reunion track “My Little Town” (a No. 9 on Billboard), the album was his only No. 1 on the Billboard charts to date. The 18th Grammy Awards named it the Album of the Year and Simon’s performance the year’s Best Male Pop Vocal. With Simon in the forefront of popular music, the third single from the album, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” reached the top spot of the Billboard charts, his only single to reach No. 1 on this list. Also, on May 3, 1976, Simon put together a benefit show at Madison Square Garden to raise money for the New York Public Library. Phoebe Snow, Jimmy Cliff and the Brecker Brothers also performed. The concert produced over $30,000 for the Library.

1977–1985

After three successful studio albums, Simon became less productive during the second half of the 1970s. He dabbled in various projects, including writing music for the film Shampoo, which became the music for the song “Silent Eyes” on the Still Crazy album, and acting (he was cast as Tony Lacey in Woody Allen’s film Annie Hall). He achieved another hit in this decade, with the lead single of his 1977 compilation, Greatest Hits, Etc., “Slip Slidin’ Away,” reaching No. 5 in the United States.

In 1980, Simon released One-Trick Pony, his debut album with Warner Bros. Records and his first in almost five years. It was paired with the motion picture of the same name, which Simon wrote and starred in. Although it produced his last Top 10 hit with the upbeat “Late in the Evening” (also a No. 1 hit on the Radio & Records American charts), the album did not sell well.

Simon & Garfunkel included eight songs from Simon’s solo career on the set list for their September 19, 1981 concert in Central Park. Five of those were rearranged as duets; Simon performed the other three songs solo. The resulting live album, TV special, and videocassette (later DVD) releases were all major hits.

Simon released Hearts and Bones in 1983. This was a polished and confessional album that was eventually viewed as one of his best works, but the album did not sell well when it was released. This marked a low point in Simon’s commercial popularity; both the album and the lead single, “Allergies”, missed the American Top 40. Hearts and Bones included “The Late Great Johnny Ace”, a song partly about Johnny Ace, an American R&B singer, and partly about slain Beatle John Lennon. A successful U.S. solo tour featured Simon and his guitar, with a recording of the rhythm track and horns for “Late in the Evening”. In January 1985, Simon lent his talent to USA for Africa and performed on the relief fundraising single “We Are the World”.

1986–1992

As he commented years later, after the disappointing commercial performance of Hearts and Bones, Simon felt he had lost his inspiration to a point of no return, and that his commercial fortunes were unlikely to change. While driving his car in late 1984 in this state of frustration, Simon listened to a cassette of the Boyoyo Boys’ instrumental Gumboots: Accordion Jive Volume II which had been lent to him by Heidi Berg, a singer-songwriter he was working with at the time. Lorne Michaels had introduced Simon to Berg when Berg was working as the bandleader for Michael’s The New Show. Interested by the unusual sound, he wrote lyrics to the number, which he sang over a re-recording of the song. It was the first composition of a new musical project that became the Grammy-award-winning album Graceland, a mixture of musical styles including pop, a cappella, isicathamiya, rock, zydeco and mbaqanga.

Simon travelled to South Africa to embark on further recording the album. Sessions with African musicians took place in Johannesburg in February 1985. Overdubbing and additional recording was done in April 1986, in New York. The sessions featured many South African musicians and groups, particularly Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Simon also collaborated with several American artists, singing a duet with Linda Ronstadt in “Under African Skies”, and playing with Los Lobos in “All Around the World or The Myth of Fingerprints”. Simon was briefly listed on the U.N. Boycott list but was removed after he indicated that he had not violated the cultural boycott.[33][34]

Warner Bros. Records had serious doubts about releasing such an eclectic album to the mainstream,[citation needed] but did so in August 1986. Graceland was praised by critics and the public, and became Simon’s most successful solo album. Slowly climbing the worldwide charts, it reached No. 1 in many countries, including the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—and peaked at No. 3 in the U.S. It was the second-best-selling album of 1987 in the US, selling five million copies and eventually reaching 5x Platinum certification. Another seven million copies sold internationally, making it his best-selling album. The lead single was “You Can Call Me Al”, utilising a synthesizer riff, a whistle solo, and an unusual bass run, in which the second half was a reversed recording of the first half. “You Can Call Me Al” was accompanied by a humorous video featuring actor Chevy Chase (who lip synced all of Simon’s lyrics while Simon sits next to him, silently playing various instruments), which was shown on MTV. The single reached UK Top 5 and the U.S. Top 25. Further singles, including the lead track, “The Boy in the Bubble” and “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes”, were not commercial hits but became radio standards and were highly praised.

At age 45, Simon found himself back at the forefront of popular music. He received the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1987 and also Grammy Award for Record of the Year for the title track one year later. He also embarked on the very successful Graceland Tour, which was documented on music video. Simon found himself embracing new sounds, which some critics viewed negatively—however, Simon reportedly felt it was a natural artistic experiment, considering that world music was already present on much of his early work, including such Simon & Garfunkel hits as “El Condor Pasa” and his early solo recording “Mother and Child Reunion”, which was recorded in Kingston, Jamaica. One way or another, Warner Bros. Records (who by this time controlled and reissued all his previous Columbia albums) re-established Simon as one of their most successful artists. In an attempt to capitalize on his renewed success, WB Records released the album Negotiations and Love Songs in November 1988, a mixture of popular hits and personal favorites that covered Simon’s entire career and became an enduring seller in his catalog.

After Graceland, Simon decided to extend his roots with the Brazilian music-flavored The Rhythm of the Saints. Sessions for the album began in December 1989, and took place in Rio de Janeiro and New York, featuring guitarist J. J. Cale and many Brazilian and African musicians. The tone of the album was more introspective and relatively low-key compared to the mostly upbeat numbers of Graceland. Released in October 1990, the album received excellent critical reviews and achieved very respectable sales, peaking at No. 4 in the U.S. and No. 1 in the UK. The lead single, “The Obvious Child”, featuring the Grupo Cultural Olodum, became his last Top 20 hit in the UK and appeared near the bottom of the Billboard Hot 100. Although not as successful as Graceland, The Rhythm of the Saints was received as a competent successor and consistent complement on Simon’s attempts to explore (and popularize) world music, and also received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year.

Simon’s ex-wife Carrie Fisher said in her autobiography Wishful Drinking that the song “She Moves On” is about her. It’s one of several she claimed, followed by the line, “If you can get Paul Simon to write a song about you, do it. Because he is so brilliant at it.”

The success of both albums allowed Simon to stage another New York concert. On August 15, 1991, almost a decade after his concert with Garfunkel, Simon staged a second concert in Central Park with African and South American bands. The success of the concert surpassed all expectations, and reportedly over 750,000 people attended—one of the largest concert audiences in history. He later remembered the concert as “…the most memorable moment in my career.” The success of the show led to both a live album and an Emmy-winning TV special. In the middle, Simon embarked on the successful Born at the Right Time Tour, and promoted the album with further singles, including “Proof”—accompanied with a humorous video that again featured Chevy Chase, and added Steve Martin. On March 4, 1992, he appeared on his own episode of MTV Unplugged, offering renditions of many of his most famous compositions. Broadcast in June, the show was a success, though it did not receive an album release.

1993–1998

After Unplugged, Simon’s place in the forefront of popular music dropped notably. A Simon & Garfunkel reunion took place in September 1993, and in another attempt to capitalize on the occasion, Columbia released Paul Simon 1964/1993 in September, a three-disc compilation that received a reduced version on the two-disc album The Paul Simon Anthology one month later. In 1995 he made news for appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show, where he performed the song “Ten Years”, which he composed specially for the tenth anniversary of the show. Also that year, he was featured on the Annie Lennox version of his 1973 song “Something So Right”, which appeared briefly on the UK Top 50 once it was released as a single in November.

Since the early stages of the nineties, Simon was fully involved on The Capeman, a musical that finally opened on January 29, 1998. Simon worked enthusiastically on the project for many years and described it as “a New York Puerto Rican story based on events that happened in 1959—events that I remembered.” The musical tells the story of real-life Puerto Rican youth Salvador Agron, who wore a cape while committing two murders in 1959 New York, and went on to become a writer in prison. Featuring Marc Anthony as the young Agron and Rubén Blades as the older Agron, the play received terrible reviews and very poor box office receipts from the very beginning, and closed on March 28 after just 68 performances—a failure that reportedly cost Simon 11 million dollars.

Simon recorded an album of songs from the show, which was released in November 1997. It was received with very mixed reviews, though many critics praised the combination of doo-wop, rockabilly and Caribbean music that the album reflected. In commercial terms, Songs from The Capeman was a failure—it found Simon missing the Top 40 of the Billboard charts for the first time in his career. The cast album was never released on CD but eventually became available online.

1999–2007

After the disaster of The Capeman, Simon’s career was again in an unexpected crisis. However, entering the new millennium, he maintained a respectable reputation, offering critically acclaimed new material and receiving commercial attention. In 1999, Simon embarked on a North American tour with Bob Dylan, where each alternated as headline act with a “middle” section where they performed together, starting on the first of June and ending September 18. The collaboration was generally well-received, with just one critic, Seth Rogovoy from the Berkshire Eagle, questioning the collaboration.

In an attempt to return successfully to the music market, Simon wrote and recorded a new album very quickly, with You’re the One arriving in October 2000. The album consisted mostly of folk-pop writing combined with foreign musical sounds, particularly grooves from North Africa. While not reaching the commercial heights of previous albums, it managed at least to reach both the British and American Top 20. It received favorable reviews and received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year. He toured extensively for the album, and one performance in Paris was released to home video.

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, Simon sang “Bridge Over Troubled Water” on America: A Tribute to Heroes, a multi-network broadcast to benefit the September 11 Telethon Fund and performed “The Boxer” at the opening of the first episode of Saturday Night Live after September 11. In 2002, he wrote and recorded “Father and Daughter”, the theme song for the animated family film The Wild Thornberrys Movie. The track was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song. In 2003, he participated on another Simon & Garfunkel reunion. One year later, Simon’s studio albums were re-released both individually and together in a limited-edition nine-CD boxed set, Paul Simon: The Studio Recordings 1972–2000.

At the time, Simon was already working on a new album with Brian Eno called Surprise, which was released in May 2006. Most of the album was inspired by the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Iraq invasion, and the war that followed. In personal terms, Simon was also inspired by the fact of having turned 60 in 2001, which he humorously referred to on “Old” from You’re the One.

Surprise was a commercial hit, reaching No. 14 in the Billboard 200 and No. 4 in the UK. Most critics also praised the album, and many of them called it a “comeback”. Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic wrote that “Simon doesn’t achieve his comeback by reconnecting with the sound and spirit of his classic work; he has achieved it by being as restless and ambitious as he was at his popular and creative peak, which makes Surprise all the more remarkable.” The album was supported with the successful Surprise Tour from May–November 2006.

In March 2004, Walter Yetnikoff published a book called Howling at the Moon, in which he criticized Simon personally and for his tenuous business partnership with Columbia Records in the past.

In 2007 Simon was the inaugural recipient of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, awarded by the Library of Congress, and later performed as part of a gala of his work.

2008–2013

After living in Montauk, New York, for many years, Simon relocated to New Canaan, Connecticut.

Simon is one of a small number of performers who are named as the copyright owner on their recordings (most records have the recording company as the named owner of the recording). This noteworthy development was spearheaded by the Bee Gees after their successful $200 million lawsuit against RSO Records, which remains the largest successful lawsuit against a record company by an artist or group. All of Simon’s solo recordings, including those originally issued by Columbia Records, are currently distributed by Sony Records’ Legacy Recordings unit. His albums were issued by Warner Music Group until mid-2010. In mid-2010, Simon moved his catalog of solo work from Warner Bros. Records to Sony/Columbia Records where Simon and Garfunkel’s catalog is. Simon’s back catalog of solo recordings would be marketed by Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings unit.

In February 2009, Simon performed back-to-back shows in New York City at the Beacon Theatre, which had recently been renovated. Simon was reunited with Art Garfunkel at the first show as well as with the cast of The Capeman; also playing in the band was Graceland bassist Bakithi Kumalo. In May 2009, Simon toured with Garfunkel in Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. In October 2009, they appeared together at the 25th Anniversary of The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The pair performed four of their most popular songs: “The Sound of Silence”, “The Boxer”, “Cecilia”, and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

Simon’s album So Beautiful or So What was released on the Concord Music Group label on April 12, 2011. The album received high marks from the artist, “It’s the best work I’ve done in 20 years.” It was reported that Simon attempted to have Bob Dylan guest on the album.

On November 10, 2010, Simon released a new song called “Getting Ready for Christmas Day”. It premiered on National Public Radio, and was included on the album So Beautiful or So What. The song samples a 1941 sermon by the Rev. J.M. Gates, also entitled “Getting Ready for Christmas Day”. Simon performed the song live on The Colbert Report on December 16, 2010. The first video featured J.M. Gates’ giving the sermon and his church in 2010 with its display board showing many of Simon’s lyrics; the second video illustrates the song with cartoon images.

In the premiere show of the final season of The Oprah Winfrey Show on September 10, 2010, Simon surprised Oprah and the audience with a song dedicated to Oprah and her show lasting 25 years (an update of a song he did for her show’s 10th anniversary).

Rounding off his 2011 World Tour, which included the United States, the U.K., the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany, Simon appeared at Ramat Gan Stadium in Israel in July 2011, making his first concert appearance in Israel since 1983. On September 11, 2011, Paul Simon performed “The Sound of Silence” at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, site of the World Trade Center, on the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

On February 26, 2012, Simon paid tribute to fellow musicians Chuck Berry and Leonard Cohen who were the recipients of the first annual PEN Awards for songwriting excellence at the JFK Presidential Library in Boston, Massachusetts.[50] In 1986, Simon was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music, where he has served on the Board of Trustees.

On June 5, 2012, Simon released a 25th anniversary box set of Graceland, which included a remastered edition of the original album, the 2012 documentary film Under African Skies, the original 1987 “African Concert” from Zimbabwe, an audio narrative “The Story of ‘Graceland’” as told by Paul Simon, and other interviews and paraphernalia. He played a few concerts in Europe with the original musicians to commemorate the anniversary.

On December 19, 2012, Simon performed at the funeral of Victoria Leigh Soto, a teacher killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

On June 14, 2013, at Sting’s Back to Bass Tour, Simon performed his song “The Boxer” and Sting’s “Fields of Gold” with Sting.

In September 2013, Simon delivered the Richard Ellmann Lecture in Modern Literature at Emory University.

2014–present

In February 2014, Simon embarked on a joint concert tour titled On Stage Together with English musician Sting, playing 21 concerts in North America. The tour continued in early 2015, with ten shows in Australia and New Zealand,  and 23 concerts in Europe,  ending on April 18, 2015.

On August 4, 2015, Simon performed “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard”, “Homeward Bound”, and “Late in the Evening” alongside Billy Joel at the final concert of Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, New York. On September 11, 2015, Simon appeared during the premiere week of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Simon, who performed “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” with Colbert for his surprise appearance, had been promoted prior to the show as “Simon and Garfunkel tribute band Troubled Waters.” Simon’s additional performance of “An American Tune” was posted as a bonus on the show’s YouTube channel.

Simon also wrote and performed the theme song for the comedian Louis C.K.’s show Horace and Pete, which debuted January 30, 2016. The song, which can be heard during the show’s opening, intermission, and closing credits, is sparse, featuring only Simon’s voice and an acoustic guitar. Simon made a cameo appearance onscreen in the tenth and final episode of the series.

On June 3, 2016 Simon released his thirteenth solo studio album, Stranger to Stranger via Concord Records. He began writing new material shortly after releasing his twelfth studio album, So Beautiful or So What, in April 2011. Simon collaborated with the Italian electronic dance music artist Clap! Clap! on three songs—”The Werewolf”, “Street Angel”, and “Wristband”. Simon was introduced to him by his son, Adrian, who was a fan of his work. The two met up in July 2011 when Simon was touring behind So Beautiful or So What in Milan, Italy. He and Clap! Clap! worked together via email over the course of making the album. Simon also worked with longtime friend Roy Halee, who is listed as co-producer on the album. “I always liked working with him more than anyone else,” Simon noted. Following the release of the album, Simon noted that “showbiz doesn’t hold any interest for me” and discussed future retirement, stating: “I am going to see what happens if I let go”.

On July 25, 2016, he performed “Bridge over Troubled Water” at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. On May 24, 2017, he debuted a new version of “Questions for the Angels” with jazz guitarist Bill Frisell on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

On February 5, 2018, Simon announced his retirement from touring in a letter to fans, citing time away from family and the death of longtime guitarist Vincent Nguini as key factors, but he did not rule out performing live altogether.  At the same time, it was announced that he would embark on his farewell concert tour on May 16 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada at Rogers Arena. Homeward Bound – The Farewell Tour encompassed shows across North America, the United Kingdom and Europe, and Simon played his final concert in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, New York on September 22, 2018.

On September 7, 2018, Simon released his fourteenth album, In the Blue Light, consisting of re-recordings of select lesser-known songs from his catalog, often altering their original arrangements, harmonic structures, and lyrics.

Simon announced his return to the live stage to close San Francisco’s Outside Lands festival on Sunday, August 11, 2019 with an appearance at the Golden Gate Park event and planned to donate his net proceeds to local environmental non-profit organization(s).

Songwriting

In an in-depth interview reprinted in American Songwriter, Simon discusses the craft of songwriting with music journalist Tom Moon. In the interview, Simon explains the basic themes in his songwriting: love, family, and social commentary; as well as the overarching messages of religion, spirituality, and God in his lyrics. Simon goes on in the interview to explain the process of how he goes about writing songs, “The music always precedes the words. The words often come from the sound of the music and eventually evolve into coherent thoughts. Or incoherent thoughts. Rhythm plays a crucial part in the lyric-making as well. It’s like a puzzle to find the right words to express what the music is saying.”

Projects

Music for Broadway

In the late 1990s, Simon wrote and produced a Broadway musical called The Capeman, which lost $11 million during its 1998 run. In April 2008, the Brooklyn Academy of Music celebrated Paul Simon’s works, and dedicated a week to Songs From the Capeman with a good portion of the show’s songs performed by a cast of singers and the Spanish Harlem Orchestra. Simon himself appeared during the BAM shows, performing “Trailways Bus” and “Late in the Evening”. In August 2010, The Capeman was staged for three nights in the Delacorte Theatre in New York’s Central Park. The production was directed by Diane Paulus and produced in conjunction with the Public Theater.

Film and television

Simon has also dabbled in acting. He played music producer Tony Lacey, a supporting character, in the 1977 Woody Allen feature film Annie Hall. He wrote and starred in 1980’s One Trick Pony as Jonah Levin, a journeyman rock and roller. Simon also wrote all the songs in the film. Paul Simon also appeared on The Muppet Show (the only episode to use only the songs of one songwriter, Simon). In 1990, he played the character of—appropriately enough—Simple Simon on the Disney Channel TV movie, Mother Goose Rock ‘n’ Rhyme.

In 1978, Simon made a cameo appearance in the movie, The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash.

He has been the subject of two films by Jeremy Marre, the first on Graceland, the second on The Capeman.

On November 18, 2008, Simon was a guest on The Colbert Report promoting his book Lyrics 1964–2008. After an interview with Stephen Colbert, Simon performed “American Tune”.

Simon performed a Stevie Wonder song at the White House in 2009 at an event honoring Wonder’s musical career and contributions.

In May 2009, The Library of Congress: Paul Simon and Friends Live Concert was released on DVD, via Shout! Factory. The PBS concert was recorded in 2007.

Simon appeared at the Glastonbury Festival 2011 in England.

Saturday Night Live

Simon has appeared on Saturday Night Live (SNL), either as host or musical guest, 14 times. On one appearance in the late 1980s, he worked with the politician who shared his name, Illinois Senator Paul Simon.[ Simon’s most recent SNL appearance on a Saturday night was on the October 13, 2018 episode hosted by Seth Myers. Prior to that, he appeared in the March 9, 2013 episode hosted by Justin Timberlake as a member of the Five-Timers Club. In one SNL skit from 1986 (when he was promoting Graceland), Simon plays himself, waiting in line with a friend to get into a movie. He amazes his friend by remembering intricate details about prior meetings with passers-by, but draws a complete blank when approached by Art Garfunkel, despite the latter’s numerous memory prompts. Simon appeared alongside George Harrison as musical guest on the Thanksgiving Day episode of SNL (November 20, 1976). The two performed “Here Comes the Sun” and “Homeward Bound” together, while Simon performed “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” solo earlier in the show. On that episode, Simon opened the show performing “Still Crazy After All These Years” in a turkey outfit, since Thanksgiving was the following week. About halfway through the song, Simon tells the band to stop playing because of his embarrassment. After giving a frustrated speech to the audience, he leaves the stage, backed by applause. Lorne Michaels greets him positively backstage, but Simon is still upset, yelling at him because of the humiliating turkey outfit. This is one of SNL’s most played sketches. Simon closed the 40th anniversary SNL show on February 15, 2015, with a performance of “Still Crazy After All These Years”, sans turkey outfit. Simon also played a snippet of “I’ve Just Seen a Face” with Sir Paul McCartney during the special’s introductory sequence. Simon was the musical guest on the October 13, 2018 episode, with host Seth Meyers (in addition they showed much of the Thanksgiving episode from 1976 described above as the Prime Time special from 10-11pm). It was also his 77th birthday.

On September 29, 2001, Simon made a special appearance on the first SNL to air after the September 11, 2001 attacks. On that show, he performed “The Boxer” to the audience and the NYC firefighters and police officers. He is also a friend of former SNL star Chevy Chase, who appeared in his video for “You Can Call Me Al” lip synching the song while Simon looks disgruntled and mimes backing vocals and the playing of various instruments beside him. Chase would also appear in Simon’s 1991 video for the song “Proof” alongside Steve Martin. He is a close friend of SNL producer Lorne Michaels, who produced the 1977 TV show The Paul Simon Special, as well as the Simon and Garfunkel concert in Central Park four years later. Simon and Lorne Michaels were the subjects of a 2006 episode of the Sundance Channel documentary series, Iconoclasts.

Awards and honors

Simon has won 12 Grammy Awards (one of them a Lifetime Achievement Award) and five Album of the Year Grammy nominations, the most recent for You’re the One in 2001. He is one of only six artists to have won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year more than once as the main credited artist. In 1998 he was entered in the Grammy Hall of Fame for the Simon & Garfunkel album Bridge over Troubled Water. He received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song for the song “Father and Daughter” in 2002. He is also a two-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; as a solo artist in 2001, and in 1990 as half of Simon & Garfunkel.

 

Lyrics


Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

Lyricist Jerome Leiber (April 25, 1933 – August 22, 2011)  and composer Michael Stoller  (born March 13, 1933) were American songwriting and record producing partners. They found success as the writers of such crossover hit songs as “Hound Dog” (1952) and “Kansas City” (1952). Later in the 1950s, particularly through their work with The Coasters, they created a string of ground-breaking hits—including “Young Blood” (1957), “Searchin’” (1957), and “Yakety Yak” (1958)—that used the humorous vernacular of teenagers sung in a style that was openly theatrical rather than personal.  They were the first to surround black music with elaborate production values, enhancing its emotional power with the Drifters in “There Goes My Baby” (1958), which influenced Phil Spector, who studied their productions while playing guitar on their sessions.

Leiber and Stoller wrote hits for Elvis Presley, including “Love Me” (1956), “Jailhouse Rock” (1957), “Loving You”, “Don’t”, and “King Creole”.  They also collaborated with other writers on such songs as “On Broadway”, written with Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil; “Stand By Me”, written with Ben E. King; “Young Blood”, written with Doc Pomus; and “Spanish Harlem”, co-written by Leiber and Phil Spector. They were sometimes credited under the pseudonym Elmo Glick. In 1964, they launched Red Bird Records with George Goldner and, focusing on the “girl group” sound, released some of the greatest classics of the Brill Building period.

In all, Leiber and Stoller wrote or co-wrote over 70 chart hits. They were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

Biography

1950s

Both born to Jewish families, Leiber came from Baltimore, Maryland, and Stoller from Long Island, New York, but they met in Los Angeles, California in 1950, where Stoller was a freshman at Los Angeles City College while Leiber was a senior at Fairfax High. Stoller had graduated from Belmont High School. After school, Stoller played piano and Leiber worked in Norty’s, a record store on Fairfax Avenue, and when they met, they found they shared a love of blues and rhythm and blues. In 1950, Jimmy Witherspoon recorded and performed their first commercial song, “Real Ugly Woman”. Stoller’s name at birth was Michael Stoller, but he later changed it legally to “Mike”.[citation needed]

Their first hit composition was “Hard Times”, recorded by Charles Brown, which was a rhythm and blues hit in 1952. “Kansas City”, first recorded in 1952 (as “K. C. Loving”) by rhythm & blues singer Little Willie Littlefield, became a No. 1 pop hit in 1959 for Wilbert Harrison. In 1952, the partners wrote “Hound Dog” for blues singer Big Mama Thornton,  which became a hit for her in 1953. The 1956 Elvis Presley rock version, which was a takeoff of the adaptation that Presley picked up from Freddie Bell’s lounge act in Las Vegas, was an even bigger hit. Presley’s showstopping mock-burlesque version of “Hound Dog”, playfully bumping and grinding on the Milton Berle Show, created such public excitement that on The Steve Allen Show they slowed down his act, with an amused Presley in a tuxedo and blue suede shoes singing his hit to a basset hound. Allen pronounced Presley “a good sport”, and the Leiber-Stoller song would be forever linked to Presley.

Leiber and Stoller’s later songs often had lyrics more appropriate for pop music, and their combination of rhythm and blues with pop lyrics revolutionized pop, rock and roll, and punk rock.

They formed Spark Records in 1953 with their mentor, Lester Sill. Their songs from this period include “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” and “Riot in Cell Block #9”, both recorded by The Robins.

The label was later bought by Atlantic Records, which hired Leiber and Stoller in an innovative deal that allowed them to produce for other labels. This, in effect, made them the first independent record producers. At Atlantic, they revitalized the careers of The Drifters and wrote a number of hits for The Coasters, a spin-off of the Robins. Their songs from this period include “Charlie Brown”, “Searchin’”, “Yakety Yak”, “Stand By Me” (written with Ben E. King), and “On Broadway” (written with Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil). For the Coasters alone, they wrote twenty-four songs that appeared in the US charts.

In 1955, Leiber and Stoller produced a recording of their song “Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots” with a white vocal group, the Cheers.  Soon after, the song was recorded by Édith Piaf in a French translation titled, “L’Homme à la Moto”. The European royalties from another Cheers record, “Bazoom (I Need Your Lovin’)”, funded a 1956 trip to Europe for Stoller and his first wife, Meryl, on which they met Piaf. Their return to New York was aboard the ill-fated SS Andrea Doria, which was rammed and sunk by the Swedish liner MS Stockholm. The Stollers had to finish the journey to New York aboard another ship, the Cape Ann. After their rescue, Leiber greeted Stoller at the dock with the news that “Hound Dog” had become a hit for Elvis Presley. Stoller’s reply was, “Elvis who?” They would go on to write more hits for Presley, including the title songs for three of his movies—Loving You, Jailhouse Rock, and King Creole—as well as the rock and roll Christmas song, “Santa Claus Is Back in Town”, for Presley’s first Christmas album. In March 1958 both men appeared on the tv show What’s my Line as Rock and Roll Composers of Hounddog, Jailhouse Rock and Don’t.

Post-1950s

In the beginning of the 1960s, they started Daisy Records and recorded Bob Moore and The Temps (w/Roy Buchanan) on their label.

In the early 1960s, Phil Spector served an apprenticeship of sorts with Leiber and Stoller in New York City, developing his record producer’s craft while observing and playing guitar on their sessions, including the guitar solo on The Drifters’ “On Broadway”.

After leaving the employ of Atlantic Records—where they produced, and often wrote, many classic recordings by The Drifters with Ben E. King—Leiber and Stoller produced a series of records for United Artists Records, including hits by Jay and the Americans (“She Cried”), The Exciters (“Tell Him”), and The Clovers (“Love Potion #9”, also written by Leiber and Stoller).

In the 1960s, Leiber and Stoller founded and briefly owned Red Bird Records, which issued The Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack” and The Dixie Cups’ “Chapel of Love”.

After selling Red Bird, they continued working as independent producers and songwriters. Their best known song from this period is “Is That All There Is?” recorded by Peggy Lee in 1969; it earned her a Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Grammy. Earlier in the decade, they had had a hit with Lee with “I’m a Woman” (1962).

Their last major hit production was “Stuck in the Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel, taken from the band’s 1972 eponymous debut album, which the duo produced. In 1975, they recorded Mirrors, an album of art songs with Peggy Lee. A remixed and expanded version of the album was released in 2005 as Peggy Lee Sings Leiber and Stoller. Also in 1975, they produced the Procol Harum album Procol’s Ninth, which included the UK Top 20 single “Pandora’s Box” and a version of Leiber and Stoller’s “I Keep Forgettin’”.

In the late 1970s, A&M Records recruited Leiber and Stoller to write and produce an album for Elkie Brooks; Two Days Away (1977) proved a success in the UK and most of Europe. Their composition “Pearl’s a Singer” (written with Ralph Dino & John Sembello) became a hit for Brooks, and remains her signature tune. In 1978, mezzo-soprano Joan Morris and her pianist-composer husband William Bolcom recorded an album, Other Songs by Leiber and Stoller, featuring a number of the songwriters’ more unusual (and satiric) works, including “Let’s Bring Back World War I”, written specifically for (and dedicated to) Bolcom and Morris; and “Humphrey Bogart”, a tongue-in-cheek song about obsession with the actor In 1979, Leiber and Stoller produced another album for Brooks: Live and Learn.

In 1982, Steely Dan member Donald Fagen recorded their song “Ruby Baby” on his album The Nightfly. That same year, former Doobie Brothers member Michael McDonald released “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)”, inspired by Leiber and Stoller’s “I Keep Forgettin’” for which they were eventually given a 50% songwriting credit.

2000s

In 2009, Simon & Schuster published Hound Dog: The Leiber and Stoller Autobiography, written by Leiber and Stoller with David Ritz. As of 2007, their songs are managed by Sony/ATV Music Publishing.

With collaborator Artie Butler, Stoller wrote the music to the musical The People in the Picture, with book and lyrics by Iris Rainer Dart. Stoller and Butler’s music received a 2011 Drama Desk Award nomination.

On August 22, 2011, Leiber died in Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, aged 78, from cardio-pulmonary failure. He was survived by his sons Jed, Oliver, and Jake.

Stoller wrote both music and lyrics to the song “Charlotte”, recorded by Steve Tyrell and released in advance of the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC.

Awards and honors

Leiber and Stoller won Grammy awards for “Is That All There Is?” in 1969, and for the cast album of Smokey Joe’s Cafe, a 1995 Broadway musical revue based on their work. Smokey Joe’s Cafe was also nominated for seven Tony awards, and became the longest-running musical revue in Broadway history.

Other awards include:

Legacy

In the 1950s the rhythm and blues of the black entertainment world, up to then restricted to black clubs, was increasing its audience-share in areas previously reserved for traditional pop music, and the phenomenon now known as “crossover” became apparent.

Leiber and Stoller affected the course of modern popular music in 1957, when they wrote and produced the crossover double-sided hit by The Coasters, “Young Blood”/”Searchin’”. They released “Yakety Yak”, which was a mainstream hit, as was the follow-up, “Charlie Brown”. This was followed by “Along Came Jones”, “Poison Ivy”, “Shoppin’ for Clothes”, and “Little Egypt (Ying-Yang)”.

They produced and co-wrote “There Goes My Baby”, a hit for The Drifters in 1959, which introduced the use of strings for saxophone-like riffs, tympani for the Brazilian baion rhythm they incorporated, and lavish production values into the established black R&B sound, laying the groundwork for the soul music that would follow.

Lyrics


Robert Plant

Key: Any

Genre: Jazz

Harp Type: Diatonic

Skill: Any

Robert Anthony Plant CBE (born 20 August 1948) is an English singer, songwriter and musician, best known as the lead singer and lyricist of the rock band Led Zeppelin.

Plant enjoyed great success with Led Zeppelin from the late 1960s to the end of the 1970s. He developed a compelling image as the charismatic rock-and-roll front man, similar to contemporaries such as Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, Roger Daltrey of the Who, Jim Morrison of the Doors, and Freddie Mercury of Queen. With his mane of long blond hair and powerful, bare-chested appearance, Plant helped to create the “god of rock and roll” or “rock god” archetype. Although Led Zeppelin dissolved in 1980, Plant occasionally collaborated with Jimmy Page on various projects in later years, including forming a short-lived all-star group with Page and Jeff Beck in 1984, called the Honeydrippers. They released an album called The Honeydrippers: Volume One, and the band had a No. 3 hit with a remake of Phil Phillips’ tune “Sea of Love”, plus a follow-up hit with a cover of Roy Brown’s “Rockin’ at Midnight”.

A powerful and wide vocal range (particularly evident in his high-registered vocals) has given Plant a successful singing career spanning over 50 years. In 2008, Rolling Stone editors ranked him number 15 on their list of the 100 best singers of all time. In 2011, Rolling Stone readers ranked Plant the greatest of all lead singers. In 2006, Hit Parader magazine named Plant the “Greatest Metal Vocalist of All Time”. In 2009, Plant was voted “the greatest voice in rock” in a poll conducted by Planet Rock.

Biography

Early life and musical beginnings

Robert Anthony Plant was born on 20 August 1948, in the Black Country town of West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England, to Robert C. Plant, a qualified civil engineer who worked in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, and Annie Celia Plant (née Cain).  He grew up in Halesowen, Worcestershire. Plant gained an interest in singing and rock and roll music at an early age; in an interview with Andrew Denton on the Denton talk show in 1994, Plant stated his desire, as a ten-year-old, to be like Elvis Presley:

When I was a kid I used to hide behind the curtains at home at Christmas and I used to try and be Elvis. There was a certain ambience between the curtains and the French windows, there was a certain sound there for a ten-year-old. That was all the ambience I got at ten years old … And I always wanted to be … a bit similar to that

He left King Edward VI Grammar School for Boys in Stourbridge in his mid-teens and developed a strong passion for the blues, mainly through his admiration for Willie Dixon, Robert Johnson and early renditions of songs in this genre.

I suppose I was quite interested in my stamp collection and Romano-British history. I was a little grammar school boy and I could hear this kind of calling through the airwaves.

He abandoned training as a chartered accountant after only two weeks to attend college in an effort to gain more GCE passes and to become part of the English Midlands blues scene. “I left home at 16”, he said, “and I started my real education musically, moving from group to group, furthering my knowledge of the blues and of other music which had weight and was worth listening to”.

Plant’s early blues influences included Johnson, Bukka White, Skip James, Jerry Miller, and Sleepy John Estes. Plant had various jobs while pursuing his music career, one of which was working for the major British construction company Wimpey in Birmingham in 1967 laying tarmac on roads. He also worked at Woolworth’s in Halesowen town for a short period of time. He cut three obscure singles on CBS Records and sang with a variety of bands, including the Crawling King Snakes, which brought him into contact with drummer John Bonham. They both went on to play in the Band of Joy, merging blues with newer psychedelic trends.

Led Zeppelin (1968–1980)

Early years

In 1968, guitarist Jimmy Page was in search of a lead singer for his new band and met Plant after being turned down by his first choice, Terry Reid, who referred him to a show at a teacher training college in Birmingham (where Plant was singing in a band named Hobbstweedle). In front of Page, Plant sang Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love”, leading Page to end his search.  As recalled by Plant and Page:

Plant: I was appearing at this college when Peter and Jimmy turned up and asked me if I’d like to join the Yardbirds. I knew the Yardbirds had done a lot of work in America – which to me meant audiences who would want to know what I might have to offer – so naturally I was very interested.

Page: When I auditioned him and heard him sing, I immediately thought there must be something wrong with him personality-wise or that he had to be impossible to work with, because I just could not understand why, after he told me he’d been singing for a few years already, he hadn’t become a big name yet. So I had him down to my place for a little while, just to sort of check him out, and we got along great. No problems.

With a shared passion for music, Plant and Page immediately developed a strong relationship, and began their writing collaboration with reworkings of earlier blues songs.
Initially dubbed the “New Yardbirds” in 1968, the band soon came to be known as Led Zeppelin. The band’s eponymous debut album hit the charts in 1969 and is widely credited as a catalyst for the heavy metal genre. Plant has commented that it is unfair for people to think of Zeppelin as heavy metal, as almost a third of their music was acoustic. [full citation needed]

In 1975, Plant and his wife Maureen (now divorced) were seriously injured in a car crash in Rhodes, Greece. This significantly affected the production of Led Zeppelin’s seventh album Presence for a few months while he recovered, and forced the band to cancel the remaining tour dates for the year.

In July 1977, his son Karac died at the age of five while Plant was engaged on Led Zeppelin’s concert tour of the United States. It was a devastating loss for the family. Plant retreated to his home in the Midlands, and for months afterward questioned his future. Karac’s death later inspired him to write several songs in tribute: “All My Love” featured on Led Zeppelin’s final studio album, 1979’s In Through the Out Door, while “Blue Train” featured on Page and Plant’s second and final (studio) album, 1998’s Walking into Clarksdale.

Lyrics

Plant did not begin writing song lyrics with Led Zeppelin until the making of Led Zeppelin II, in 1969. According to Jimmy Page:

The most important thing about Led Zeppelin II is that up to that point I’d contributed lyrics. Robert hadn’t written before, and it took a lot of ribbing to get him into writing, which was funny. And then, on the second LP, he wrote the words of Thank You. He said, “I’d like to have a crack at this and write it for my wife.”

Plant’s lyrics with Led Zeppelin were often mystical, philosophical and spiritual, alluding to events in classical and Norse mythology, such as “Immigrant Song”, which refers to Valhalla and Viking conquests. However, the song “No Quarter” is often misunderstood to refer to the god Thor; the song actually refers to Mount Thor (which is named after the god). Another example is “The Rain Song”.

Plant was also influenced by J. R. R. Tolkien, whose book series inspired lyrics in some early Led Zeppelin songs. Most notably, “The Battle of Evermore”, “Misty Mountain Hop”, “No Quarter”, “Ramble On” and “Over the Hills and Far Away” contain verses referencing Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Conversely, Plant sometimes used more straightforward blues-based lyrics dealing primarily with sexual innuendo, as in “The Lemon Song”, “Trampled Under Foot”, and “Black Dog”.

 

Welsh mythology also forms a basis of Plant’s interest in mystical lyrics. He grew up close to the Welsh border and would often take summer trips to Snowdonia. Plant bought a Welsh sheep farm in 1973, and began taking Welsh lessons and looking into the mythology of the land (such as Black Book of Carmarthen, Book of Taliesin, etc.) Plant’s first son, Karac, was named after the Welsh warrior Caratacus. The song “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” is named after the 18th-century Welsh cottage Bron-Yr-Aur, owned by a friend of his father; it later inspired the song “Bron-Yr-Aur”. The songs “Misty Mountain Hop”, “That’s the Way”, and early dabblings in what would become “Stairway to Heaven” were written in Wales and lyrically reflect Plant’s mystical view of the land. Critic Steve Turner suggests that Plant’s early and continued experiences in Wales served as the foundation for his broader interest in the mythologies he revisits in his lyrics (including those myth systems of Tolkien and the Norse).

Page’s passion for diverse musical experiences influenced Plant to explore Africa, specifically Marrakesh in Morocco where he encountered Umm Kulthum:

I was intrigued by the scales, initially, and obviously the vocal work. The way she sang, the way she could hold a note, you could feel the tension, you could tell that everybody, the whole orchestra, would hold a note until she wanted to change.

Both he and Jimmy Page revisited these influences during their reunion album No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded in 1994.[28] During his solo career Plant tapped into these influences many times, most notably on the 2002 album Dreamland.

Arguably one of Plant’s most significant achievements with Led Zeppelin was his contribution to the track “Stairway to Heaven”, an epic rock ballad featured on Led Zeppelin IV that drew influence from folk, blues, Celtic traditional music and hard rock among other genres. Most of the lyrics of the song were written spontaneously by Plant in 1970 at Headley Grange. While never released as a single, the song has topped polls as the greatest song of all time.

Plant is also recognised for his lyrical improvisation in Led Zeppelin’s live performances, often singing verses previously unheard on studio recordings. One of the most famous Led Zeppelin musical devices involves Plant’s vocal mimicking of bandmate Jimmy Page’s guitar effects. This can be heard in the songs “How Many More Times”, “Dazed and Confused”, “The Lemon Song”, “You Shook Me”, “Nobody’s Fault but Mine” and “Sick Again”.

He is also known for his light-hearted, humorous and unusual on-stage banter. Plant often discusses the origin and background of the songs during his shows, and sometimes provides social comment as well. He frequently talks about American blues musicians as his inspiration, mentioning artists like Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, Blind Willie Johnson and Willie Dixon at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony and the 2007 Ahmet Ertegün Tribute Concert with Led Zeppelin.

Stage persona

Plant enjoyed great success with Led Zeppelin throughout the 1970s and developed a compelling image as the charismatic rock-and-roll front man, similar to his contemporaries the Who’s singer Roger Daltrey, Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, Freddie Mercury of Queen, and Jim Morrison of the Doors. With his mane of long blond hair and powerful, bare-chested appearance, Plant helped to create the “god of rock and roll” or “rock god” archetype. On stage, Plant was particularly active in live performances, often dancing, jumping, skipping, snapping his fingers, clapping, making emphatic gestures to emphasise a lyric or cymbal crash, throwing back his head, or placing his hands on his hips. As the 1970s progressed he, along with the other members of Led Zeppelin, became increasingly flamboyant on-stage, and wore more elaborate, colourful clothing and jewellery.

According to Classic Rock magazine, “once he had a couple of US tours under his belt, ‘Percy’ Plant swiftly developed a staggering degree of bravado and swagger that irrefutably enhanced Led Zeppelin’s rapidly burgeoning appeal.” In 1994, during his “Unledded” tour with Jimmy Page, Plant himself reflected tongue-in-cheek upon his Led Zeppelin showmanship:

I can’t take my whole persona as a singer back then very seriously. It’s not some great work of beauty and love to be a rock-and-roll singer. So I got a few moves from Elvis and one or two from Sonny Boy Williamson II and Howlin’ Wolf and threw them all together.

One of the oddest awards he received was the Rock Scene magazine “Chest O Rama”. Readers of the magazine had to decide who had the best chest in rock, and Plant was the winner. When they contacted him about it, he replied: “I’m really greatly honoured although it’s hard for me to be eloquent on the subject of my chest.”

Solo career (1982–present)

Early career and success (1982–1993)

After Led Zeppelin disbanded in December 1980 (following the death of drummer John Bonham), Plant briefly considered abandoning music to pursue a career as a teacher in the Rudolf Steiner education system, going so far as to be accepted for teacher training. He nevertheless embarked on a successful solo career, helped by encouragement from Genesis drummer Phil Collins, who would go on to play with him.[34] Plant’s solo career began with the album Pictures at Eleven in 1982, followed by 1983’s The Principle of Moments. Popular tracks from this period include “Big Log” (a Top 20 hit in 1983), “In the Mood” (1983), “Little by Little” (from 1985’s Shaken ‘n’ Stirred), “Far Post” (the B-side of “Burning Down One Side”, appearing on the soundtrack of the 1985 movie White Nights starring Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov, and popularised by airplay on album-oriented rock stations), “Tall Cool One” (a No. 25 hit from 1988’s Now and Zen) and later “I Believe” (from 1993’s Fate of Nations). This last track, like Led Zeppelin’s “All My Love”, was written for and dedicated to his late son, Karac. Whilst Plant avoided performing Led Zeppelin songs through much of this period (although he would occasionally improvise his unique Zeppelin screams into his set), his tours in 1983 (with Phil Collins on drums) and in 1985 were very successful, often performing to sold-out arena-sized venues. In 1986 Plant performed at the Birmingham Heart Beat Charity Concert with other famous Midlands musicians.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s Plant co-wrote three solo albums with keyboardist/songwriter Phil Johnstone. These were: Now and Zen in 1988, Manic Nirvana in 1990, and the 1993 Fate of Nations (which features Moya Brennan of Clannad and former Cutting Crew guitarist Kevin Scott MacMichael). Songs from this third album, plus a smattering of Led Zeppelin classics, made up the set-list for Plant’s acclaimed sunset performance on the Main Stage at Glastonbury Festival, in 1993.[35] It was Johnstone who talked Plant into playing Led Zeppelin songs in his live shows, something Plant had always previously resisted, not wanting to be forever known as “the former Led Zeppelin vocalist”.[citation needed]

Although Led Zeppelin split in 1980, Plant occasionally collaborated with Jimmy Page on various projects through this period, including forming a short-lived all-star group with Page and Jeff Beck in 1984, called the Honeydrippers. They released an album called The Honeydrippers: Volume One, and the band had a No. 3 hit with a remake of the Phil Phillips’ tune “Sea of Love”, plus a follow-up hit with a cover of Roy Brown’s “Rockin’ at Midnight”. The pair again worked together in the studio on the 1988 Page solo effort Outrider, and in the same year Page contributed to Plant’s album Now and Zen. Also, on 15 May 1988 Plant appeared with Page as a member of Led Zeppelin, at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary concert (where he also performed in his own right as a solo artist). Plant’s live collaborations with other well-known musicians continued when he took to the stage with Queen at Wembley Stadium, for 1992’s “The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert” for AIDS Awareness; where he sang Queen’s “Innuendo” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, and Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” and “Thank You”.

Page and Plant (1994–1998)

Page and Plant became a full-fledged performing act from 1994 through 1998, releasing the No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded album in 1994 and following with an enormously successful tour in 1995, including a return to the Glastonbury limelight. Fourteen years of speculation from their fans and occasional sniping between the two former members ended when they reconvened their former musical partnership to produce No Quarter. Having long resisted offers from MTV to reform to do an Unplugged show, they finally accepted as part of a deal that also allowed them to visit Morocco to record new material. The album combines the results of both of these projects. The Led Zeppelin material features new arrangements and new instrumentation, including strings, Egyptian musicians and the vocals of British-Asian star Najma Akhtar.

Page and Plant recorded their only post-Zeppelin album of original material on the 1998 album Walking into Clarksdale, an effort that was unsuccessful commercially, leading Plant to return to his solo career. A song from this album, “Please Read the Letter”, was re-recorded by Plant with Alison Krauss, and was featured on their 2007 album which won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

Priory of Brion (1999–2000)

Starting in mid-1999, Plant performed until the end of 2000 at several small venues with his folk-rock band, named Priory of Brion. This band consisted of the original Band of Joy guitarist Kevyn Gammond alongside Andy Edwards (drums) Paul Timothy (keyboards) and Paul Wetton (bass). The Priory of Brion played around one hundred concerts across Europe at various small clubs and festivals. The band performed cover versions of songs that had influenced Robert in his formative years. Many of these cover versions would crop up later on his ‘Dreamland’ album.

In 1999, Plant contributed to the tribute album for Moby Grape co-founder Skip Spence, who was terminally ill. The album, More Oar: A Tribute to the Skip Spence Album (Birdman, 1999), with the album title referring to Spence’s only solo album, Oar (Columbia, 1969), contained Plant’s version of Spence’s “Little Hands”. Plant had been an admirer of Spence and Moby Grape since the release of Moby Grape’s eponymous 1967 debut album.

In 2001, Plant appeared on Afro Celt Sound System’s album Volume 3: Further in Time. The song “Life Begin Again” features a duet with Welsh folksinger Julie Murphy, emphasising Plant’s recurring interest in Welsh culture (Murphy would also tour in support of Plant).

Strange Sensation (2001–2007)

In 2002, with his then newly formed band Strange Sensation, Plant released a widely acclaimed collection of mostly blues and folk remakes, Dreamland. Contrasting with this lush collection of often relatively obscure remakes, the second album with Strange Sensation, Mighty ReArranger (2005), contains new, original songs. Both have received some of the most favourable reviews of Plant’s solo career and four Grammy nominations, two in 2003 and two in 2006.

As a former member of Led Zeppelin, along with Page and John Paul Jones, Plant received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005 and the Polar Music Prize in 2006.

From 2001 to 2007, Plant actively toured the US and Europe with Strange Sensation. His sets typically included recent, but not only, solo material and plenty of Led Zeppelin favourites, often with new and expanded arrangements. A DVD titled Soundstage: Robert Plant and Strange Sensation, featuring his Soundstage performance (filmed at the Soundstage studios in Chicago on 16 September 2005), was released in October 2006.

With Strange Sensation’s Justin Adams he appeared at the 2003 Festival au Desert held in Essakane in the North of Mali,  captured in a French-language documentary film entitled Le Festival au Désert (2004).

On 23 June 2006, Plant was the headliner (backed by Ian Hunter’s band) at the Benefit For Arthur Lee concert at New York’s Beacon Theatre, a show which raised money for Lee’s medical expenses from his bout with leukaemia. Plant and band performed thirteen songs – five by Arthur Lee & Love, five Led Zeppelin songs and three others, including a duet with Ian Hunter. At the show, Plant told the audience of his great admiration for Arthur Lee dating back to the mid-’60s. Lee died of his illness six weeks after the concert.

An expansive box set of his solo work, Nine Lives, was released in November 2006, which expanded all of his albums with various b-sides, demos, and live cuts. It was accompanied by a DVD. All his solo works were re-released with these extra tracks individually.

In 2007, Plant contributed two tracks to the Fats Domino tribute album Goin’ Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino, “It Keeps Rainin’” with the Lil’ Band o’ Gold and “Valley of Tears” with the Soweto Gospel Choir.

Alison Krauss (2007–2008)

From 2007 to 2008, Plant recorded and performed with bluegrass star Alison Krauss. A duet album, Raising Sand, was released on 23 October 2007 on Rounder Records. The album, recorded in Nashville and Los Angeles and produced by T-Bone Burnett, includes performances of lesser-known material from R&B, blues, folk and country songwriters including Mel Tillis, Townes Van Zandt, Gene Clark, Tom Waits, Doc Watson, Little Milton and the Everly Brothers. The song “Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)” from Raising Sand won a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals in 2008. Raising Sand also won Album of the Year at the 51st Grammy Awards. The album has been successful critically and commercially, and was certified platinum on 4 March 2008.

Plant and Krauss began an extended tour of the US and Europe in April 2008, playing music from Raising Sand and other American roots music as well as reworked Led Zeppelin tunes. The album was nominated for the Mercury Prize in July 2008. Also in 2008, Plant performed with bluegrass musicians at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. He appeared as a surprise guest during Fairport Convention’s set at the 2008 Cropredy Festival, performing Led Zeppelin’s “The Battle of Evermore” with Kristina Donahue as a tribute to Sandy Denny.

On 8 February 2009, Plant and Krauss won Grammy Awards for Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Pop Collaboration with Vocals, Country Collaboration with Vocals, and Contemporary Folk/Americana Album.

Band of Joy (2010–2011)

In July 2010, Robert Plant embarked on a twelve-date summer tour in the United States with a new group called Band of Joy (reprising the name of his first band in the 1960s). The group includes singer Patty Griffin, singer-guitarist Buddy Miller, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Darrell Scott, bassist-vocalist Byron House, and drummer-percussionist-vocalist Marco Giovino.

After a one-off show in the United States on 12 September 2010 at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City, another eleven-date autumn tour in Europe was announced to last from October to November 2010. North America tour dates were announced 16 November 2010, with the first show being 18 January 2011 in Asheville, North Carolina.

A new studio album called Band of Joy was released on 13 September 2010 on the Rounder Records label. The album was nominated for Best Americana Album in the 2011 Grammy Awards, and Plant’s performance of “Silver Rider” on the album (a cover from the Low album The Great Destroyer) was nominated for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance.

The band played their final scheduled show together at the Big Chill Festival at Eastnor Castle Deer Park in Herefordshire on 7 August 2011. The show ended with Plant bidding his bandmates “a fond farewell”.

On 30 September 2011, Plant and Band of Joy played in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, as part of the 11th Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival.

Sensational Space Shifters (2012–present)

It was first reported that Robert Plant’s new band, the Sensational Space Shifters, would be debuting at 2012’s WOMAD festival in Wiltshire, England. An intimate warm up gig was then announced in Gloucester on 8 May 2012 to a crowd of 400. Although it was initially reported that there were 10 members of the band, along with Plant the band consists of former Strange Sensation members, Cast guitarist Liam “Skin” Tyson, Justin Adams, Billy Fuller and John Baggott along with Dave Smith and Juldeh Camara. Patty Griffin was the special guest on the first few shows prior to her new album release and subsequent tour.

On 13 July 2012, the band released a download live album called Sensational Space Shifters (Live in London July ’12). This album featured a mix of Strange Sensation and Led Zeppelin reinterpretations as well as covers and a spot by Patty Griffin. In addition to Womad and the Gloucester show, the Sensational Space Shifters were scheduled for the free Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival’s 25th anniversary in Clarksdale, Mississippi on 10–12 August 2012.

On 23 June 2014, Robert Plant announced 8 September 2014 release of Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar, his tenth solo album and the first studio one with his band the Sensational Space Shifters. On 28 June 2014, Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters played at the 2014 Glastonbury Extravaganza. The band featured West African musician Juldeh Camara, guitarists Skin Tyson and Justin Adams, drummer Dave Smith, Massive Attack keyboardist John Baggott, and bassist Billy Fuller. On 7 August 2014, Plant announced an autumn 2014 7-date North American tour from 25 September (in Port Chester, NY) to 7 October 2014 (in Los Angeles, CA).

To celebrate Record Store Day 2015 (Saturday 18 April), Plant released a special 10-inch live EP titled More Roar, which collects three performances from his recent world tour to support his last solo album. Available at participating outlets on 18 April, the release was limited to 10,000 copies and includes live versions of “Turn It Up” and “Arbaden” on side A, with a medley of “Poor Howard” and “Whole Lotta Love” on side B. During a concert at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City on 19 September 2015, Plant hinted at plans for a new album with the Sensational Space Shifters, stating, “We’ll go make another record and then we’ll come see you guys even more.”

On 19 September 2016, Robert Plant confirmed that he would join in October 2016 artists such as Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, The Milk Carton Kids for select dates on the Lampedusa Concerts for Refugees tour. This tour across 11 North American cities (6–21 October 2016) was intending to raise awareness of the unprecedented worldwide refugee crisis and funds to support educational programs for refugees around the world. The concerts were intimate evenings of acoustic performances. About his participation in the shows, Plant stated that “as with all the other members of this tour, [he would] be performing two or three songs a night and no more.”

On 18 August 2017, Plant announced the release on 13 October 2017 of his new solo album Carry Fire.  In 2018, Plant received the AMA Lifetime Achievement Award at the UK Americana Honors & Awards. Plant headlined the Sunday night of Iceland’s Secret Solstice Festival in Reykjavík on 23 June 2019.

In 2019, Plant formed a low key acoustic band called Saving Grace and performed support slots for Fairport Convention and Seth Lakeman  In March 2020, Saving Grace announced a US tour.

In 2020, a live album featuring the performances from the ‘One World: Together At Home’ event has been released. A collection of 79 songs from the eight-hour, at-home concert has been put together, with proceeds from streaming will go directly to support the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organisation.

Led Zeppelin-related projects and reunion rumours

Plant performed with living members of Led Zeppelin both on 13 July 1985 for Live Aid (with Phil Collins and Tony Thompson on drums) and on 15 May 1988 for Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary. At the 1988 reunion, Jason Bonham, the son of Led Zeppelin’s late drummer John Bonham, played drums. Both sets featured only a few songs, performed with minimal rehearsal. Plant was unhappy with both performances, saying that “it was like sleeping with your ex-wife but not making love.” At the 1990 Silver Clef Award Winners Concert at Knebworth, Plant was joined by Jimmy Page. Some of their set was released on the subsequent live album and video. In 1995, Led Zeppelin were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Plant performed at the induction show with Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Jason Bonham, Neil Young, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, performing spirited versions of “Bring It On Home”, “Honeybee” and “When the Levee Breaks”.

After years of reunion rumours, Led Zeppelin performed a full two-hour set on 10 December 2007 at the Ahmet Ertegün Tribute Concert, with Jason again filling in on drums. Despite enormous public demand, Plant declined a $200 million offer to tour with Led Zeppelin after the 2007 show. In interviews following the 2007 show, Plant left the door open to possible future performances with Led Zeppelin, saying that he enjoyed the reunion and felt that the show was strong musically. Although Page and Jones have expressed the strong desire to tour as Led Zeppelin, Plant has consistently opposed a full tour and has responded negatively to questions about another reunion. In a January 2008 interview, he stated that he does not want to “tour like a bunch of bored old men following the Rolling Stones around.” In a statement on his web site in late 2008, Plant stated, “I will not be touring with Led Zeppelin or anyone else for the next two years. Anyone buying Led Zeppelin tickets will be buying bogus tickets.”

In February 2013, Plant hinted that he was open to a Led Zeppelin reunion in 2014, stating that he was not the reason for Led Zeppelin’s dormancy for the Capricorns (Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones) “are quite contained in their own worlds and leave it to [him]”, adding that he was “not the bad guy” and that he had “got nothing to do in 2014”.

In a spring 2014 interview with the BBC about the then forthcoming reissue of Led Zeppelin’s first three albums, Page said he was sure fans would be keen on another reunion show, but Plant later replied that “the chances of it happening [were] zero”. Page then told The New York Times that he was “fed up” with Plant’s refusal to play, stating: “I was told last year that Plant said he is doing nothing in 2014, and what do the other two guys think? Well, he knows what the other guys think. Everyone would love to play more concerts for the band. He’s just playing games, and I’m fed up with it, to be honest with you. I don’t sing, so I can’t do much about it”, adding: “I definitely want to play live. Because, you know, I’ve still got a twinkle in my eye. I can still play. So, yeah, I’ll just get myself into musical shape, just concentrating on the guitar.”

On 30 July 2014, NME revealed that Plant was “slightly disappointed and baffled” by Page in an ongoing Led Zeppelin dispute during which Page declared he was “fed up” with Plant delaying Led Zeppelin reunion plans. Instead, Plant offered Led Zeppelin’s guitarist to write acoustically with him as he is interested in working with Page again but only in an unplugged way.  Page responded:

He would have no intention whatsoever of doing it … I’ve had enough of all this stuff, to be honest: ‘Robert says this, Robert says that.’ … The only reality of it is that we did one concert. No matter how you dress it up, look at the situation. That’s it.

Personal life

Plant married Maureen Wilson on 9 November 1968. The couple had three children: daughter Carmen Jane (1968), (who later married Charlie Jones, Plant’s bass player for solo tours); and sons Karac Pendragon (1972–1977), and Logan Romero (1979).[citation needed] The couple divorced in August 1983.

In 1977, during Led Zeppelin’s US tour, his five-year-old son Karac died of a stomach illness. The song “All My Love”, co-written with John Paul Jones, is a tribute to him.

Plant is interested in Welsh history. He donated money to the creation of a bronze statue of the Welsh prince Owain Glyndŵr at Pennal Church, near Machynlleth, in Wales, unveiled in September 2004. He is also believed to have contributed funds to a slate carving of Glyndŵr’s coat of arms at the Celtica museum in Machynlleth. Plant is part of a Glyndŵr network, and attends meetings about him in Wales.

In the New Year Honours List 2009, Plant was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire “for services to music” and on 10 July 2009 invested by the Prince of Wales.

On 14 August 2009, football club Wolverhampton Wanderers announced that Plant was to become the club’s third Vice-President. Plant officially received the honour before kick-off at the club’s first match of the season against West Ham United. Plant was five years old when he first visited Molineux Stadium. He recalled in an interview with his local paper, the Express & Star, in August 2010: “I was five when my dad took me down for the first time and Billy Wright waved at me. Honest, he did. And that was it – I was hooked from that moment.”

In late 2010, BBC Two aired a documentary titled Robert Plant: By Myself. It features Robert Plant discussing his journey with Led Zeppelin and various projects since.

In a July 2012 interview with the Independent newspaper, Plant stated he “eloped and ran off to Texas” with Band of Joy co-vocalist, American singer Patty Griffin. Plant’s UK-based manager told E! News later that Plant was apparently being cheeky when he used the word “eloped” to describe his home life, for “Robert has not married Patty Griffin,” instead “He was just referring to the fact that he’s been residing in Texas” with her. According to a July 2012 Ultimate Classic Rock article, Plant and Griffin had been dating for over a year, spending half of their time together in Austin, Texas. On 23 August 2014, The Independent indicated Plant had broken up with Patty Griffin: “”Patty and I tried a sort of zig-zag across the Atlantic,” Plant told the publication, “but she didn’t share my penchant for cider and she used to marvel at the Black Country character I became after four pints of Thatchers. My feelings are very much ones of sadness and regret.”  [check quotation syntax]

In early 2013, Plant contributed to a community buyout scheme to save the Bath music venue, the Bell Inn.

He currently[when?] resides at Shatterford, near Bewdley in the Wyre Forest District of Worcestershire.

In 2020, Plant donated towards frontline medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic. The money went to the Gofundme page of a small clothing manufacturer in Kidderminster, England, that makes scrubs for local hospitals.

Legacy

Plant has influenced the style of many of his contemporaries, including Geddy Lee, Ann Wilson, Sammy Hagar, and later rock vocalists such as Jeff Buckley and Jack White who imitated his performing style. Freddie Mercury of Queen, and Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses were influenced by Plant. Encyclopædia Britannica notes that “Exaggerating the vocal style and expressive palette of blues singers such as Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters, Plant created the sound that has defined much hard rock and heavy metal singing: a high range, an abundance of distortion, loud volume and emotional excess”. Plant received the Knebworth Silver Clef Award in 1990.

In 2006, hard rock/heavy metal magazine Hit Parader named Plant as No. 1 on its list of the 100 Greatest Metal Vocalists of All Time, a list that included Rob Halford of Judas Priest (No. 2), Steven Tyler (No. 3), Freddie Mercury (No. 6), Geddy Lee (No. 13) and Paul Stanley (No. 18), all of whom were influenced by Plant. In 2008, Rolling Stone named Plant the 15th-greatest singer of all time on their list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. In 2009, he was voted the “greatest voice in rock” in a poll conducted by Planet Rock He was included in the Q magazine’s 2009 list of “Artists of the Century” and was ranked at number 8 in their list of “100 Greatest Singers” in 2007. In 2009, Plant also won the Outstanding Contribution to Music prize at the Q Awards. He was placed at No. 3 on SPIN’s list of “The 50 Greatest Rock Frontmen of All Time”.

On 20 September 2010, National Public Radio (NPR) named Plant as one of the “50 Great Voices” in the world.

Lyrics