Posts Tagged ‘Richard III’

June 26th

So it’s the 26th June today. Is that a special day for you? Do you remember it for any reason?: perhaps someone’s birthday; perhaps an anniversary; perhaps special for some other reason like starting a job or moving house or whatever.

I thought I’d look at the day and see if anything of interest happened back in history. It’ll just be a random selection of things which I think were important at the time they happened but which we’re probably not aware of having happened on this day, 26th June.

Here goes then:

1284 – After not having been paid for ridding the town of rats, The Pied Piper of Hamelin allegedly led 130 children out of the town; they disappeared and were never seen again. Interestingly a singer by the name of Crispian St. Peters had a UK hit with a song called The Pied Piper at the end of March 1966; it stayed in the charts for 13 weeks and peaked at number 5; it topped the charts in Canada in July that year. (It was a follow-up to You Were On My Mind earlier that year which got to no.2.) Also I reckon you probably don’t know that Bob Marley’s wife Rita covered the song in 1966. I think it’s a bit strange that there is a pop song about a guy who convinces over 100 kids to follow him and they’re never seen again! Hmmm.. not what you’d immediately think of as a subject for a very happy jolly song-a-long tune.

Here’s the Crispian St. Peters link. Note the pipe seems to have been, not very cleverly, replaced by a laundry basket! Now what’s all that about?

If you fancy a read of Robert Browning’s poem about the Pied Piper then here’s the link. For some reason he gives the year as 1376 but the official Hameln town website goes with 1284. It may take you a few minutes to get through as there are 303 lines but they’re fairly short and I wonder how many of you have ever read the whole thing:

Or if you want to listen to someone else read it and imbue it with a bit of emotion then try these 2 Youtube vids (Parts 1 & 2) which have some nice watercour pics to go along with the sound.

Part 1 –

Part 2 –

1483 Richard Duke of Gloucester began his reign as Richard III. There is a lot on our TVs at the moment about the Tudor period and particularly the various claims to the English throne during the 15th century. It’s believed that Richard got rid of those who stood in his way to the throne of England. His brother Edward IV died through ill health and his other brother George, Duke of Clarence was tried for treason against Edward IV and executed in the Tower of London. That left only the two sons of Edward IV (and Elizabeth Woodville) who had a right to the throne before Richard. He had them imprisoned in the Tower and soon after no more was seen of them: they are often referred to as ‘The Princes in the Tower’. Rumours abound on their fate but the consensus seems to be that Richard III had them killed so that he could become the next in line. The murder of 3 of his family members then enabled him to become King of England; and after all that scheming & plotting his reign lasted just two years. Despite outnumbering Henry’s (future Henry VII) forces by 3:1 Richard was killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22nd August 1485; Henry’s victory brought to a close the medieval period and ushered in 118 years of the Tudor Dynasty (1485-1603).

1824William Thompson (Lord Kelvin) was born. You remember he invented the Kelvin scale of temperature measurement. Centigrade goes from 00 – 1000; for the same range, Fahrenheit goes from 320 – 2120; Kelvin is not a scale in the same way as 0C or 0F but has the absolute zero temp as minus 2730C.

1827William Crompton, inventor of the spinning mule died aged 74. While still only young when his father died he had to work to support the family. He was taught to spin yarn on what was called a “spinning jenny”. Whilst working with this he had an idea of how to improve it and used his spare time and money in developing it.

1843 Britain declared Hong Kong a crown colony. It was of course given back to the Chinese in 1997.

1846 The Corn Laws were passed in Britain. Their purpose was to protect British cereal farmers from the cheap imports in the period 1815-46. However they didn’t work because by keeping the price up (and therefore the profits of the landowners) the average working man could not afford to buy enough to survive. Workers demonstrated demanding higher wages; there were strikes and riots. Eventually the government gave in and in 1846 the law was repealed.

1898Wilhelm Emil Messerschmitt was born. As you see by his name he is the designer of the aircraft named after him. More Messerschmitts were built than any other fighter aircraft in history and they played a key role in WW2.

1906 The first Grand Prix motor race took place at Le Mans. It was run on closed roads outside the city. The original circuit was just over 64 miles (103kms) round. They had to do 6 laps on each of two consecutive days so the total distance was 769 miles (1238kms). The winner was the Hungarian driver, Ferenc Szisz. Today’s circuit is approx ⅛ of the original at just over 13kms (almost 8.5 miles). The distance covered, over the 24 hours, has gradually increased from the 3,000 kms of the early 1930s to the current record (achieved in 2010) of 5,410 kms (3,360 miles). To give you an idea, it’s like driving overland from London to beyond Baghdad (Iraq) or almost as far as Tehran (Iran) or beyond Nouakchott, the capital of Mauretania on the west coast of Africa and almost to Saint Louis just across the border in Senegal or believe it or not to Moscow and back IN A DAY! WOW!!

1926 – Queen Elizabeth II was born. Her current reign, as of today, has lasted 61 years 157 days. In terms of living monarchs, only Rama IX (of Thailand) has reigned longer (just over 67 years). In terms of British monarchs she is also second: Queen Victoria is a couple of years ahead at 63 years 216 days.

1945 – In San Francisco the United Nations Charter was signed by 50 countries. In its preamble one of the stated aims of the organisation was, “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind…”. What a great pity this hasn’t happened. We may have avoided a Third World War but there are plenty of little ones going on all over our world today and thousands are still dying as a result of them.

1959 – The Queen and President Dwight Eisenhower opened the 2,300 mile St Lawrence Seaway linking the Atlantic Ocean with Duluth, Minnesota on the SW shore of Lake Superior. It had cost $470 million to build and 6,500 people had had to be resettled as their villages were to be flooded. In addition to homes and farms, 17 churches and 18 cemeteries (involving over 2,000 bodies) had to be relocated.

1963 – John F. Kennedy made a speech in West Berlin expressing solidarity with the West Germans there. His famous phrase Ich bin ein Berliner is known across the world and whilst not meant literally as obviously he was American it meant he wanted those in the western section of the city to know that he was of a similar mind and against the Russian governed eastern section. The Berlin Wall was begun in 1961 and, after much political change, was eventually demolished in 1989; reunification of West and East Germany took place in October 1990.

1975 – Sonny & Cher’s divorce became final. Although they seemed to have been around for a long time it might surprise you to know that their chart successes as a duo were concentrated into just a couple of years: 3 singles in 1965, 5 in 1966, 1 in 1967, 1 in 1972. There were only two chart albums: 1 in 1965 & 1 in 1966.

1984George Horace Gallup was born. He was the inventor of what is called the Gallup Poll which is a statistical method of doing a survey which can then be used to project what public opinion may be on a certain subject. I can remember many years ago that each time a survey was mentioned in a news broadcast on some national issue it was quoted as the result of a Gallup Poll. It seemed that the media endorsed the results almost as proof! I never knew it was named after an actual bloke at the time.

1986 – Richard Branson left New York on his powerboat Virgin Atlantic Challenger to try and break the record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. The holder of the title is said to have The Blue Riband. He did it by arriving 2 hours faster than the previous record holder the SS United States. However he cannot claim the Blue Riband officially because that award is for vessels in service (his was not) and they are not allowed to stop for fuel (which his team did). Nevertheless it was the fastest time to cross from America to England.

2000The international Human Genome Project and a U.S. company, Celera Genomics announced the completion of a working draft of the human genetic blueprint (the Book of Life).

Five voices

It’s Wednesday and time for Rambler5319 to entertain us again…

Remember LLM’s piece on “Songs that remind me of stuff”. I have those as well but I also have artists that stand out in my musical memories. They stand out because they have endured, not necessarily in terms of long life as 2 died in their early thirties, but because I still love and listen to them today.
In 1999 Yes produced an album called The Ladder and track 11 was called “Nine Voices”. I’ve decided to do five of my favourite female voices. I won’t do the biographies, there’s enough on the internet if you want to look them up but a few facts will be included. They are voices, each unique in its own way, which remind me of particular things. Any musical choice will inevitably be personal and bound to divide opinion so I don’t say these are the best five voices in the world EVER. I simply say that these voices had a great effect on me. They have touched and continue to touch my heart today. They are not in order like a top of the charts list; they are more chronological in that this is the order in which they came into my life. Ok so here we go:


Probably an artist few of you will know but one who was a big part of my growing up musical history. I heard a track on the radio and bought the first album. Then I got each new one as it came out. She sang backing vocals for a number of more well-known artists (Donovan, Ringo Starr, Dusty Springfield who also sang on Lesley’s singles, Walker Brothers). If you check out the track listing for Jesus Christ Superstar on Amazon you will see her as one of a number of singers on many of the tracks. She is credited on Pink Floyd’s (1973) Dark Side Of The Moon and here is a pic of the inside of the album cover with her name in the “Backing Vocals” section (with Lesley incorrectly spelt with an ‘ie’ ending rather than the ‘ey’ which she herself used):


She appears on Elton John’s 3rd album (1970) Tumbleweed Connection. She plays acoustic guitar in a duet with him on her self-penned song, Love Song (Side 2, Track 2). It’s the only non Bernie Taupin/Elton song on the album. She appeared with him in 1974 at The Royal Festival Hall to perform it. According to the Guardian newspaper, it was covered by more than 150 artists (including Olivia Newton-John, David Bowie and Barry White)! It’s worth checking out the lyrics to Love Song. (Also on YouTube.) Elton played piano on Lesley’s first album Sing Children Sing in 1971. Unfortunately she made only the 5 albums you can see in the picture but her voice was very special for me. She died fairly recently, on the Isle of Mull, (her home since 1996), in March 2010 aged 66. The Guardian, in its obituary, said this:
“Her songs had an astonishing emotional depth and her voice a rare combination of warmth and clarity, bringing an intimacy to the experience of listening to her records. For those who discovered her music in the early 1970s, she stood out from all the other pop and rock of the era.” (March 23, 2010).


Interesting the group was called “Carpenters”: there is no “The” in the official name. Karen was initially a drummer in the duo with her brother Richard on piano. She was quite happy to play the drums and sing whilst doing it. She didn’t want to be “out front” but folks wanted more of her – her voice: a contralto voice that spanned 3 octaves. She was forced to reconsider. Eventually she played the drums less and less. I’ve got just the one album of Greatest Hits but what a voice. She was noted for her low range and Richard would adapt songs (& covers) to fit it. Just listen to the way she can hold the notes she sings. Out of the 5 here hers has to be the purest voice and who can fail to be moved by some of those famous songs: Yesterday Once More, Hurting Each Other, Close to You and the ubiquitous We’ve Only Just Begun played at so many weddings around the world. Died a month short of her 33rd birthday from anorexia. Very sad.

I suppose she is remembered, by most people, for her single Big Yellow Taxi (1970) and the rather silly laugh at the end of the song. However, over the last 44 years, she has produced many albums. My collection, of just some of them, is in the pic below:

Hers is a voice that has sung in many different styles with a uniqueness that no-one has come close to imitating. Some of Kate Bush’s songs do give a feel of her style. Joni has ploughed her own furrow not allowing people to be able to pigeon-hole her and constantly changing. Once again a voice I heard and bought one album and then began to add to as the years went by. A very unusual voice and variety of singing styles and unusual cadences make her one of my top five voices.

Lead singer of Fairport Convention for a short time and produced solo work as well. She formed the group Fotheringay (1970) and released one album (Fotheringay). Fotheringay Castle was where Richard III was born (1452) & where Mary Queen of Scots was tried and executed (1587). Sandy was given the accolade “Britain’s finest female singer/songwriter” by three publications at the time. She was voted “Britain’s No.1 Singer” for two consecutive years in the music paper Melody Maker’s readers’ poll.

Amongst others, wrote the song Who Knows Where The Time Goes? (Have a listen on YouTube). And I suppose we all echo that as we look back. Time does pass incredibly quickly. Sadly for Sandy and her fans she died aged just 31 in 1978. One newspaper obituary referred to her as having been: “Equipped with an incredible voice and an immense songwriting talent….” For me, a great voice which stirs up the emotions.


A founding member (in 1969) and and lead singer of Steeleye Span. Who can forget those words: “All around my hat I will wear the green willow……..And if anyone should ask me the reason why I’m wearing it, It’s all for my true love who’s far, far away…”. It’s about a young man whose fiancée has been sentenced to 7 years transportation to Australia. He mourns his loss by wearing a green willow sprig in his hat. Excellent voice range, and a number of projects jointly with the Carnival Band have produced albums of folk versions of many of the old hymns, demonstrate how good it is. Still going strong today.
There are of course many more (Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, Kate Bush, Eva Cassidy, Dido, for example) I could have included but the list would never finish. You will have your own favourites and maybe mine might seem a bit old or not of interest but they’re mine and I love them! All I’d say is have a listen before you discard them. If JM & MP have survived for 40 years or more in a very fickle business they must have something special about them; likewise those whose lives were cut short but are still remembered & played today. Go on, give them a listen.