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post #671 of 676 (permalink) Old 05-16-2019, 10:38 PM
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post #672 of 676 (permalink) Old 05-18-2019, 11:04 AM
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Re: The RIP Celebrities Thread

RIP to Ashley Massaro (39), and Grumpy Cat (7)

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post #673 of 676 (permalink) Old 05-21-2019, 04:45 AM
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Wasn't sure if sporting legends are posted in this thread but RIP to a true legend of F1 Niki Lauda aged 70
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post #674 of 676 (permalink) Old 06-06-2019, 08:52 PM
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Dr. John, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, New Orleans music legend dies at 77

NEW ORLEANS — Dr. John, the pianist, singer and songwriter known worldwide as an ambassador for New Orleans music, honored with six Grammy Awards and selection to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, died Thursday. He was 77.

His family confirms he died of a heart attack.

Dr. John, whose real name was Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack, had minimized his public appearances in recent years, leading to concerns about his health. In 2017, he was honored by the New Orleans City Council and at a special birthday event, but he cancelled shows later that year at Tipitina’s and in New York. His performance at the 2017 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival would also turn out to be his last, as he was not booked at the fest for 2018 or 2019.

A six-time Grammy Award winning pianist, performer and 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Dr. John was among the best-known New Orleans musicians of his generation, though greatly influenced by music greats and so-called "piano professors" of a previous era. His music brought a New Orleans sound to the world and his colorful persona, wardrobe, “fonkified” vocabulary and stream of consciousness ramblings made him one of a kind. “I am traumaticalized,” he famously told Times-Picayune columnist Chris Rose in December 2005 after touring the city for a post-Hurricane Katrina story. It was just one of the many mangled expressions and Dr. John-isms that endeared him to fans worldwide.

A native of New Orleans' Third Ward, Dr. John performed for more than 60 years, first as a guitarist and session musician on recordings by fellow music greats Professor Longhair, Art Neville and Frankie Ford. He was also a session musician in Los Angeles, where he played piano and guitar on records by Sonny and Cher, Van Morrison, Aretha Franklin and the Rolling Stones.

Rebennack’s early music interests were nurtured by his father’s side business of repairing sound systems at the family appliance store. Young "Mac" formed his first bands at Jesuit High School, but dropped out and instead learned the music business from such greats as Earl King, Huey “Piano” Smith and James Booker. It was a wild time and a rough life, playing in strip clubs and the seedier side of town. He even had part of his finger nearly shot off in a brawl. Hooked on drugs, Rebennack was sent to a federal prison program for drug addicts in Fort Worth, Texas. When he was released in 1965, he headed west for Los Angeles.

While on the West Coast, and at the urging of producer Harold Battiste, Rebennack adopted the persona of Dr. John the Nite Tripper. Originally the stage name was supposed to go to vocalist and friend Ronnie Barron. "I never liked front men," he told New Orleans Advocate music writer Keith Spera in 2011. "I never felt any different after I became one. The idea of what front men become is kinda obnoxious." Rebennack also said he never thought his gravelly, New Orleans voice was that of a singer’s. "I said, 'Whaddya mean me? I can't sing,' " Rebennack told Spera. "And he said, 'Look, if Bob Dylan and Sonny and Cher can sing, you can sing.' I thought it would be a one-off deal and then I'd go back to producing records. It didn't happen."

His breakout album, 1968’s Gris Gris, introduced the voodoo-based character and his funky, mystical style of rock and rhythm and blues to a worldwide audience. He became a cult figure famous for performances filled with feathers, magic dust, candles and live snakes. In 2012, Rolling Stone named "Gris-Gris," which included his song “I Walk on Gilded Splinters,” one of the 500 best albums of all time, calling it a “swamp-funk classic" that blended "New Orleans R&B, voodoo chants and chemical inspiration.”

His career exploded with 1973's "In the Right Place," produced by Allen Toussaint and featuring the Meters on backup. It introduced his hits "Right Place Wrong Time" and "Such a Night." The Meters also backed him on 1974's "Desitively Bonnaroo." His versions of the New Orleans classics "Iko Iko," "Tipitina" and "Big Chief" also became favorites.

Dr. John had a heroin habit throughout the 1980s but in interviews had said he was sober since 1989. That same year he won a Grammy for "Makin' Whoopee," his collaboration with Rickie Lee Jones which won a Grammy. He won more Grammys in 1992 for "Goin' Back to New Orleans," in 1996 for "SRV Shuffle" and more awards in 2000 and 2008.

Following Hurricane Katrina, he also released a benefit album, Sippiana Hericane, which was nominated for a Grammy. He became active in coastal restoration causes and was a vocal critic of the slow hurricane recovery but said music would be key to the city's rebirth. “Music is a healing force. A vital thing,” he told Rose in 2006, shortly after the storm. “The Indian music, the church music, the Mardi Gras music, the second-line from the corner . . . our culture does not exist without the music. Music is what people have to get their head out of their head.” As for his own head, and his feelings about the government response, he told Rose he was “More balanced than those who are too optimistical or too pessimistical. I'm a realist. But I'm also pissed off in some sort of way.”

Dr. John won a Grammy in 2013 for his album, "Locked Down,” with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. His 2014 album, "Ske-Dat-De-Dat...The Spirit of Satch" paid tribute to Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong. Rebennack claimed Armstrong came to him in a dream and inspired the album. It featured performances of Armstrong songs by Rebennack and friends Bonnie Raitt, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Nicholas Payton, Terence Blanchard, James Andrews and Ledisi. In December, Dr. John and fellow New Orleans music star Cyril Neville were among the Louie Award recipients at the Armstrong House Museum in New York.

In 2013, he and Toussaint were awarded honorary doctorates by Tulane University, and performed at a memorable commencement ceremony which also featured an appearance by the Dalai Lama. In 2014, he performed at the French Quarter Festival for the first time since 1987. He also performed locally at the Voodoo Music Experience in recent years.

A 2016 tribute album and concert, “The Musical Mojo of Dr. John” featured a who’s who of music greats performing some of Dr. John’s best known songs, including Bruce Springsteen, Widespread Panic, Mavis Staples and John Fogerty.

Dr. John’s distinctive voice, one of the most recognizable in all of music, was featured over the years on everything from the theme song to the PBS children’s show "Curious George" to the Disney film "The Princess and the Frog" and the well-known jingle for Popeye’s (“Love that Chicken”). He was even the inspiration for the Muppets character Dr. Teeth. He is also featured on the soundtrack for the 2016 remake of Disney’s animated film "The Jungle Book."

Funeral arrangements are incomplete.
The man was just iconic. That voice. RIP Dr. John

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post #675 of 676 (permalink) Old 06-06-2019, 10:00 PM
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Re: The RIP Celebrities Thread

Originally Posted by 2 Ton 21 View Post
The man was just iconic. That voice. RIP Dr. John

Saw Dr. John perform in San Francisco on October 27, 2007.

Tremendous voice.

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post #676 of 676 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 04:30 AM
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Re: The RIP Celebrities Thread

“Romeo and Juliet” director Franco Zeffirelli dies at 96

FILE - Franco Zeffirelli, seen in New York, in this Oct. 31, 1974 file photo. Italian film director Franzo Zeffirelli has died in Rome at the age of 96. Zefffirelli's son Luciano said his father died at home on Saturday at noon. (AP Photo/Jerry Mosey, File)

ROME (AP) — Italian director Franco Zeffirelli, who delighted audiences around the world with his romantic vision and extravagant productions, most famously captured in his cinematic “Romeo and Juliet” and the miniseries “Jesus of Nazareth,” died Saturday at 96.

While Zeffirelli was most popularly known for his films, his name was also inextricably linked to the theater and opera. He produced classics for the world’s most famous opera houses, from Milan’s venerable La Scala to the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and plays for London and Italian stages.

Zeffirelli’s son Luciano said his father died at home in Rome.

“He had suffered for a while, but he left in a peaceful way,” he said.

Zeffirelli made it his mission to make culture accessible to the masses, often seeking inspiration in Shakespeare and other literary greats for his films, and producing operas aimed at TV audiences. Claiming no favorites, Zeffirelli once likened himself to a sultan with a harem of three: film, theater and opera.

“I am not a film director. I am a director who uses different instruments to express his dreams and his stories — to make people dream,” Zeffirelli told The Associated Press in a 2006 interview.

From his out-of-wedlock birth on the outskirts of Florence on Feb. 12, 1923, Zeffirelli rose to be one of Italy’s most prolific directors, working with such opera greats as Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Maria Callas, as well as Hollywood stars including Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Mel Gibson, Cher and Judi Dench.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he was “profoundly moved by the death of Zeffirelli, who was an Italian ambassador of cinema, art and beauty.”

Throughout his career, Zeffirelli took risks — and his audacity paid off at the box office. His screen success in America was a rarity among Italian filmmakers.

He was one of the few Italian directors close to the Vatican, and the church turned to Zeffirelli’s theatrical touch for live telecasts of the 1978 papal installation and the 1983 Holy Year opening ceremonies in St. Peter’s Basilica. Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi also tapped him to direct a few high-profile events.

But Zeffirelli was best known outside Italy for his colorful, softly-focused romantic films. His 1968 “Romeo and Juliet” brought Shakespeare’s famous story to a new and appreciative generation, and his 1973 “Brother Sun, Sister Moon,” told the life of St. Francis in parables.

“Romeo and Juliet” set box-office records in the United States, though it was made with two unknown actors, Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey. The film, which cost $1.5 million, grossed $52 million and became one of the most successful Shakespearian movies ever.

A year earlier, he directed Taylor and Burton in Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew,” leaving his distinctive mark on world cinema.

In the 1970s, Zeffirelli’s focus shifted from the romantic to the spiritual. His 1977 made-for-television “Life of Jesus” became an instant classic with its portrayal of a Christ who seemed authentic and relevant. Shown around the world, the film earned more than $300 million.

Where Zeffirelli worked, controversy was never far away. In 1978, he threatened to leave Italy for good because of harsh attacks against him and his art by Italian leftists, who saw Zeffirelli as an exponent of Hollywood.

On the other hand, piqued by American criticism of his 1981 movie “Endless Love,” starring Brooke Shields, Zeffirelli said he might never make another film in the U.S. The movie, as he predicted, was a box office success.

In his 2006 autobiography, Zeffirelli recounted how his mother attended her husband’s funeral pregnant with another man’s child. Unable to give the baby either her name or his father’s, she tried to name him Zeffiretti, after an aria in Mozart’s “Idomeneo.” But a typographical error made it Zeffirelli, making him “the only person in the world with Zeffirelli as a name, thanks to my mother’s folly.”

His mother died of tuberculosis when he was 6, and Zeffirelli went to live with his father’s cousin, whom he affectionately called Zia (Aunt) Lide.

Living in Zia Lide’s house and getting weekly visits from his father, Zeffirelli developed the passions that would shape his life. The first was for opera, after seeing Wagner’s “Walkuere” at age 8 or 9 in Florence. The second was a love of English culture and literature, after his father started him on thrice-weekly English lessons.

His experiences with the British expatriate community under fascism, and their staunch disbelief that they would be victimized by Benito Mussolini’s regime, were at the heart of the semi-autobiographical 1991 film “Tea with Mussolini.”

He remained ever an Anglophile, and was particularly proud when Britain gave him an honorary knighthood in 2004.

As a youth, Zeffirelli served with the partisans during World War II. He later acted as an interpreter for British troops. Then the lifelong bachelor turned to acting at 20 when he joined an experimental troupe in Florence.

Zeffirelli reportedly said in his autobiography that he considered himself a homosexual instead of using the term gay, a word he detested.

After a short-lived acting career, Zeffirelli worked with Luchino Visconti’s theatrical company in Rome, where he showed a flair for dramatic staging techniques in “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Troilus and Cressida.” He later served as assistant director under Italian film masters Michelangelo Antonioni and Vittorio De Sica.

In 1950, he began a long and fruitful association with lyric theater, working as a director, set designer and costumist, and bringing new life to works by his personal favorites: Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti and Verdi. Over the next decade, he staged dozens of operas, romantic melodramas and contemporary works in Italian and other European theaters, eventually earning a reputation as one of the world’s best directors of musical theater.

Both La Scala and New York’s Metropolitan Opera later hosted Zeffirelli’s classic staging of “La Boheme,” which was shown on American television in 1982.

His first film effort in 1958, a comedy he wrote called “Camping,” had limited success.

Zeffirelli returned to prose theater in 1961 with an innovative interpretation of “Romeo and Juliet” at London’s Old Vic. British critics termed it “revolutionary,” and the director used it as the basis of frequent later productions and the 1968 film.

When Zeffirelli decided to do “La Traviata” on film, he had already worked his stage version of the opera into a classic, performed at La Scala with soprano Maria Callas. He had been planning the film since 1950, he said.

“In the last 30 years, I’ve done everything a lyric theater artist can do,” Zeffirelli wrote as the film was released in 1983. “This work is the one that crowns all my hopes and gratifies all my ambitions.”

The film, with Teresa Stratas and Placido Domingo in the lead roles, found near-unanimous critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic and received Oscar nominations for costuming, scenography and artistic direction.

Zeffirelli worked on a new staging of La Traviata as his last project, which will open the 2019 Opera Festival on June 21 at the Verona Arena.

“We’ll pay him a final tribute with one of his most loved operas,” said artistic director Cecilia Gasdia. “He’ll be with us.”

Zeffirelli often turned his talents toward his native city. In 1983, he wrote a historical portrait of Florence during the 15th and 16th centuries. During the disastrous 1966 Florence floods, Zeffirelli produced a well-received documentary on the damage done to the city and its art.

“I feel more like a Florentine than an Italian,” Zeffirelli once said. “A citizen of a Florence that was once the capital of Western civilization.”

Accused by some of heavy-handedness in his staging techniques, Zeffirelli fought frequent verbal battles with others in Italian theater.

“Zeffirelli doesn’t realize that an empty stage can be more dramatic than a stage full of junk,” Carmelo Bene, an avant-garde Italian director and actor, once said.

It was a criticism that some reserved for his lavish production of “Aida” to open La Scala’s 2006-7 season — his first return to the Milan opera house in a dozen years and the fifth “Aida” of his career. The production was a popular success, but may be remembered more for the turbulent exit of the lead tenor, Roberto Alagna, after being booed.

“I’m 83 and I’ve really been working like mad since I was a kid. I’ve done everything, but I never really feel that I have said everything I have to say,” Zeffirelli told The Associated Press shortly before the opening of “Aida.”

Zeffirelli had trouble with his balance after contracting an infection during hip surgery in 1999, but didn’t let that slow him down.

“I always have to cling on this or that to walk ... but the mind is absolutely intact,” he said in the AP interview.


Giada Zampano contributed from Rome.


This story corrects that the film “Romeo and Juliet” was made in 1968, not 1978, and that Zeffiretti is from Mozart’s “Idomeneo,” not from his “Cosi fan tutte.”
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