Archive for April 1st, 2011

Hard To Believe Who Is Turning 70

- April 1st, 2011

I guess 70 really is the new 60.

Maybe even the new 50 (nah, that´s too much of a stretch — at least for now). 

What brings on this bout of age-ist navel-gazing is the sudden realization just how many amazing music people are all turning 70 this year. 

It seems like about half of the people who made the 1960s (and later)  such an incredible musical period were all born within a few months of each other in 1941.

(By the way, there won´t be any photos with this post — it would take away the surprise factor.)

In any given year, roughly the same number of people pop into the world who end up being famous or infamous for one reason or another. Some years produce a few more, some a few less, but it´s usually within a fairly predictable range.

 But 1941 was a freakish, out-of-this-world year — at least as far musical talent was concerned.

 In terms of non-musical celebrities, 1941 was well above average but still within the outer bounds of a normal birth year. 

Born in 1941 and turning 70 this year are people like:

 Bush VP Dick Cheney (cripes, I thought he was at least 80, maybe 85) and U.S. political activist Jesse Jackson; North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il and South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak; actresses  Julie Christie and Faye Dunaway (I really don´t believe it); ´60s hotties Ann-Margaret and Senta Berger (who, after her Hollywood success, returned to Germany where she is enjoying a long and rewarding career in theatre, film and TV which is probably the envy of actresses who stayed in Hollywood only be ignored and even belittled in their mature years); 

Actors Nick Nolte, David Warner, Stacy Keach, Robert Forster, Bruno Ganz, Jurgen Prochnow, Eric Braeden and Beau Bridges (Jeff´s older brother); writers Paul Theroux, Anne Rice and Norah Ephron; former Blue Jays manager Bobby Cox and NFL coach Bill Parcells; film directors Denys Arcand, Bernardo Bertolucci, Stephen Frears, Wolfgang Petersen and (again) Norah Ephron;

 Canadian comic actor and SCTVer Joe Flaherty; evolutionary biologist and champion atheist Richard Dawkins; Rich & Famous Lifestylist Robin Leach; Robert Kraft, owner of the NFL New England Patriots; NHL Rangers great Rod Gilbert; former Disney child star Tommy Kirk; even Toronto´s own (temporary) public housing czar Case Ootes.

I can  accept a few singers like Placido Domingo, Paul Anka and Cesaria Evora  all turning 70 at the same time. (They seem like they should be 70 by now anyway.)

But the scale — in terms of both numbers and talent — of singers, musicians and songwriters turning 70 this year is (to my mind, anyway) staggering.

 I really wonder if there´s been another year like it. (And the U.S. and British birth rates were normal that year — even less than in the later war years and post-war Baby Boom – so it´s not just a proportionate bulge.)

For starters, consider just these three 70-this-year icons, all still rolling:

Bod Dylan (May 24, 1941)

Paul Simon (Oct. 13, 1941)

Art Garfunkel (Nov. 5, 1941)

(If you want to throw in Dylan´s equivalent of Simon´s Garfunkel, Joan Baez already turned 70 on Jan. 9.)

And they´re just the tip of the iceberg.

Because there are so many, I am not going to list everyone´s birthdays. We´ll just go through the 1941 births month by month.

And don´t forget, these are just some — not all — of the musical greats (and goods and pretty goods) born in 1941 and turning 70 this year:

JANUARY

Joan Baez, We Shall Overcome, Diamonds and Rust

Richie Havens, opened Woodstock

Aaron Neville, Tell It Like It Is, The Neville Brothers

Neil Diamond, Solitary Man, Sweet Caroline, Cherry Cherry, Cracklin´Rosie, Song Sung Blue, a million more — count ´em, a million I tells ya. For a while he held the record for highest celebrity divorce settlement. Madonna knocked him out of that No. 1 spot a few years later.

Placido Domingo, tenor

FEBRUARY

Sergio Mendes, Brazil ´66, The Look Of Love

Tom Rush, No Regrets

Brian Holland, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Motown Sound

Irma Thomas, Soul Queen of New Orleans

Joanie Sommers, Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb

Buffy Sainte-Marie,  Order of Canada, Universal Soldier, Until It´s Time For You To Go, Up Where We Belong (co-writer)

MARCH

Paul Kantner, Jefferson Airplane

Mike Love, Beach Boys

Alf Clausen, conductor/composer for The Simpsons (the show that taught my kids about the ´60s)

Charo, Cuchi Cuchi flamenco provocateure. Charo claims she was actually born in 1951 but falsified Spanish birth records when she married 66-year-old bandleader Xavier Cugat back when she was (she says) 15.

APRIL

David LaFlamme, It´s A Beautiful Day violinist

Roberto Carlos, Brazil´s King of Latin Music

Zamfir, confirmed  pan flautist

MAY

Eric Burdon, The Animals, House Of The Rising Sun, We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, Don´t Bring Me Down, Don´t Let Me Be Misunderstood, Bring It On Home To Me, Cee Cee Rider, Sky Pilot, Monterey

Joe Brown, Top UK Vocal Personality of 1962 (The Beatles were, of course, Top Vocal Group that year and the next and the next …Brown won the Personality contest again for ´63 but John Lennon knocked him off ´for ´64.)

Ronald Isley, The Isley Brothers

Bob Dylan, Voice of a Generation, Poet Laureate of Rock ´n´Roll, Pulitzer Prize recipient, enigma, genius, antagonist, world´s hippest senior citizen. His Never Ending Tour (a tag Dylan dislikes) heads to Australia and New Zealand this month

JUNE

Charlie Watts, oldest of the Rolling Stones (Mick and Keith turn 70 in 2013)

Chick Corea, jazz piano great, Scientologist

Reg Presley, The Troggs, Wild Thing, Love Is All Around, crop-circle afficianado

Lamont Dozier, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Motown Sound

JULY

Martha Reeves, The Vandellas, Jimmy Mack, Dancing In The Street, Detroit city councilwoman

Lonnie Mack, blues-rock guitarist (not related to Jimmy Mack)

Vicki Carr, He´s A Rebel (The Crystals´Phil Spector-produced version was a cover of Vicki´s original)

George Clinton, Parliament, Funkadelic, P-Funk, official Urban Icon

Paul Anka, Order of Canada, Diana, Lonely Boy, My Way, co-king of Vegas (with Wayne Newton), co-writer of This Is It (with Michael Jackson), second wife (30 years his junior, divorced 2010) starred on TV show Swedish Hollywood Wives (in Sweden it´s called Svenska Hollywoodfruar).

AUGUST

Beverley Lee, one quarter of The Shirelles, Another quarter, Doris Coley, was born a day earlier but died in 2000. Lee currently holds trademark rights for The Shirelles.

David Crosby, The Byrds, Crosby, Stills & Nash, CSNY, Joni Mitchell´s main man (for quite a while) and biological father of Melissa Etheridge´s two children with former partner Julie Cypher.

Cesaria Evora, the Barefoot Diva from Cape Verde

SEPTEMBER

David Clayton-Thomas, The Shays, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Spinning Wheel, illegal alien in U.S. at height of BS&T´s fame, apparently now living in Toronto again.

OCTOBER

Chubby Checker, on never-ending Twist cycle. The stage name was supposed to be a play on Fats Domino.

Paul Simon, Listen to the Sounds of … Silence, Bridge Over Troubled Waters,  Mrs. Robinson, Graceland and dozens more classic Simon songs. His new album So Beautiful Or So What is released this month, supported by the tour that brings him to Toronto May 6.  Keep on rolling, Paul. Just like Dylan.

Jim Seals, Seals & Croft

Steve Cropper, Booker T and the M.G.s, original Blues Brothers

Helen Reddy, I Am Woman, Delta Dawn

Curtis Lee,  Pretty Little Angel Eyes

Otis Williams, baritone for The Temptations, only original member of the group still performing in The Temptations

NOVEMBER

Art Garfunkel, the Tom in Tom & Jerry, the Garfunkel in Simon & Garfunkel, the high in high & not-so-high, the singer not the songwriter, nice guy, lucky to have a boyhood friend named Paul Simon.

Duck Dunn, like lifelong pal Steve Cropper, a mainstay of Booker T & the M.G.s and the original Blues Brothers.

Pete Best, The Beatles´original drummer (Aug. 12, 1960-Aug. 16, 1962), replaced by Ringo Starr after George Martin had already signed the Beatles to their EMI contract and only months before the first album launched Beatlemania.

DECEMBER

Maurice White, Earth Wind & Fire founder

Mike Pinder, Moody Blues, psychedelic mellotron

Ray Thomas, also Moody Blues, confirmed flautist

I haven´t even mentioned the lesser lights turning 70 this year from groups like Gerry & The Pacemakers, The Temptations, The 5th Dimension, The Pips, The Searchers, The Shadows, The Tremeloes.

And then there are the ones who would have turned 70 this year if they had lived:

Richie Valens, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Gene Pitney, Denny Doherty and Cass Elliott, Tim Hardin, Harry Nilsson, Desmond Dekker, Long John Baldry, David Ruffin, Tom Fogerty, Doug Sahm, Danny Rapp, Captain Beefheart (who just died in December) and I guess you might consider Monty Python´s Graham Chapman an honourary rocker.

So, a lot. The next decade or two will probably have some more “look who´s turning 70″ bulges, but this one´s the biggie for me. (Gawd, I just don´t want to see Elton John and Madonna at 70.)

I guess I just can´t believe Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel are turning 70 this year. Thank God they´re still making music. Keep those rocking chairs rocking.

Yikes! I just looked ahead to 1942 births. Here are the first five names I came across of famous folk turning 70 next year: Barbra Stresiand, Brian Wilson, Brian Jones (well, woulda/coulda/shoulda), Bob Hoskins, Billy Connolly. And there´s more: Aretha Franklin, Carole King, Paul McCartney, Lou Reed, Muhammed Ali, Stephen Hawking, Harrison Ford and on and on. I guess this trend is just going to keep rolling for a while.