Country music icon Merle Haggard has died …
It is with incredible sadness to announce that country music icon Merle Haggard has passed away at the age of 79. Wow, this one hits close to home. I grew up on listening to the likes of Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, Sr. as my parents played the 8-track tapes over and over. Yes Millennials, 8-track tapes, Google it. There were just so many songs to like from country great Merle Haggard, The Tennessean has provided 15 songs that defined a legendary career. Rest in Peace Merle.
Okie From Muskogee
Merle Haggard, one of the most successful singers in the history of country music, a contrarian populist whose songs about his scuffling early life and his time in prison made him the closest thing that the genre had to a real-life outlaw hero, died at his ranch in Northern California on Wednesday, his 79th birthday.
His death was confirmed by his agent, Lance Roberts. Mr. Haggard had recently canceled several concerts, saying he had double pneumonia.
Few country artists have been as popular and widely admired as Mr. Haggard, a ruggedly handsome performer who strode onto a stage, guitar in hand, as a poet of the common man. Thirty-eight of his singles, including “Workin’ Man Blues” and the 1973 recession-era lament “If We Make It Through December,” reached No. 1 on the Billboard country chart from 1966 to 1987. He released 71 Top 10 country hits in all, 34 in a row from 1967 to 1977. Seven of his singles crossed over to the pop charts.
More from The NY Times:
Merle Ronald Haggard was born on April 6, 1937, in Oildale, Calif. His first years were spent in the abandoned boxcar that his father, James, a railroad carpenter, had converted into a home for his family. James Haggard died of a stroke in 1946, after which Mr. Haggard’s mother, the former Flossie Mae Harp, a strict and pious member of the ultraconservative Church of Christ, took a bookkeeping job to provide for her three children.
Sing Me Back Home
From Billboard Magazine – Merle Haggard on Death: ‘Sometimes I Fear It and Other Times It Calls to Me Like a Forgotten Dream’ (Exclusive):
Merle wanted to be seen the way he was.
“Wrote a tune not long called ‘I Am What I Am,’” he said, “that sums me up pretty damn good. Song says, “I believe Jesus is God and a pig is just ham…I’m a seeker, I’m a sinner, and I am what I am.”
Seated in an easy chair in the living room of his modest home, he discussed a recent operation that removed a cancer from his lung, the cancer that ultimately returned and took his life on April 6 at age 79.
“All this near-death stuff has me thinking that it’s time to reconcile all the many Merles. There’s Merle the daddy’s boy, the son of a railroad man. Then there’s the juvenile delinquent Merle who tore up more than one reform school, the Merle who spent a decade of hard time in prison, the Merle who had the guts to stand up in those Bakersfield barrooms imitating his idol Lefty Frizzell, the Merle who finally found his own voice and muddled his way through show business. And most devilishly complicated of all, the Merle of four marriages.”
Darkness fell. Merle grew quiet. He slipped in a DVD of his favorite preacher, Dr. Gene Scott, who spoke of eternal life. When the sermon ended, I asked Merle whether he feared death.
“Sometimes I fear it,” he said, “and other times it calls to me like a forgotten dream or an old song. I’m not saying I welcome it, but I recognize it as part of a holy process. Born of nature, return to nature. Maybe that’s the name of my last song.
Nancy Reagan, Former First Lady Has Passed Away at 94 … Nancy & Ronald Reagan Toegther Again for Eternity
NANCY REAGAN REUNITED WITH THE LOVE OF HER LIFE … NANCY REAGAN HAS PASSED AWAY.
Nancy Reagan, the former first lady and the wife of the late President Ronald Reagan, died Sunday at the age of 94 at her home in Los Angeles. According to her spokeswoman, Joanne Drake of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Nancy Reagan died at her home of congestive heart failure. Nancy Reagan will be buried at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, next to her husband, Ronald Wilson Reagan, who died on June 5, 2004. So many of us know her for her “Just Say No” anti-drugs policy in the 1980′s and her undying support and love for President Ronald Reagan. Nancy will now be reunited for eternity with the love of her life, together again, forever. God Bless and Rest in Peace.
Nancy Davis Reagan, wife of the late President Ronald Reagan, died Sunday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 94.
The former first lady will perhaps be best remembered for her loyalty to her husband. She became fiercely protective of him after a 1981 assassination attempt, and later stood by him as Alzheimer’s disease overtook him in his last years.
In a 1998 Vanity Fair article, she vocalized this loyalty: “When I say my life began with Ronnie, well, it’s true. It did,” she said.
During her White House years, she sponsored a major drug prevention crusade aimed at children and young adults. She toured the U.S. and other nations as part of her “Just Say No” campaign, traveling almost 250,000 miles.
“With the passing of Nancy Reagan, we say a final goodbye to the days of Ronald Reagan,” wrote 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Facebook. “With charm, grace, and a passion for America, this couple reminded us of the greatness and the endurance of the American experiment. … God and Ronnie have finally welcomed a choice soul home.”
Former first lady Barbara Bush, whose husband George H.W. Bush succeeded Ronald Reagan as president, also expressed her condolences.
“Nancy Reagan was totally devoted to President Reagan, and we take comfort that they will be reunited once more. George and I send our prayers and condolences to her family,” she said in a statement.
Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, also were moved by Reagan’s death.
“Mrs. Reagan was fiercely loyal to her beloved husband, and that devotion was matched only by her devotion to our country,” Bush said in a statement.
He observed that her influence on the White House was “complete and lasting.”
Born Anne Frances Robbins on July 6, 1921, in New York City, Nancy Davis was the daughter of Edith Luckett, an actress, and Kenneth Robbins, a car dealer who abandoned the family soon after her birth. Miss Luckett resumed her stage career when her daughter was 2 and sent the child to live with relatives in Bethesda, Md. In 1929, Mrs. Luckett married a Chicago neurosurgeon, Loyal Davis, who adopted Nancy and gave her the family name.
Almost overnight, Nancy Davis’s difficult childhood became stable and privileged. Throughout the rest of her life, she described Dr. Davis as her real father.
Nancy Davis graduated from the elite Girls’ Latin School in Chicago and then from Smith College in 1943. Slender, with photogenic beauty and large, luminous eyes, she considered an acting career. After doing summer stock in New England, she landed a part in the Broadway musical “Lute Song,” with Mary Martin and Yul Brynner. With the help of a friend, the actor Spencer Tracy, her mother then arranged a screen test given by the director George Cukor, of MGM.
Talk about undying love and to death do us part … Nancy Reagan’s toughest battle: The ‘long, long goodbye’ to the man she loved.
REST IN PEACE GEORGE KENNEDY …
One of my favorite supporting actors of all times has died, George Kennedy has passed away at the age of 91. As reported, George Kennedy was born in New York City and he first appeared onstage at the age of two. But would later spend 16 years in the U.S. Army, ultimately working for Armed Forces Radio. Most remember Kennedy for his role with Paul Newman in the movie favorite, “Cool Hand Luke” and the 1970′s films “Airport” and “Earthquake.” Of course those films were classics, but I liked him as well in other movies such as “Delta Force,” “The Dirty Dozen,” and the TV series “The Blue Knight.”
George Kennedy winning Best Supporting Actor For Cool Hand Luke
George Kennedy, who won a supporting actor Oscar for his role alongside Paul Newman in the beloved film “Cool Hand Luke,” and was also a fixture of 1970s disaster movies including the “Airport” franchise and “Earthquake,” died Sunday in Boise, Idaho. He was 91. His grandson Cory Schenkel reported the death on his Facebook page.
While Kennedy largely played gruff, blue-collar characters in dramas and genre films, he allowed a comedic side to emerge in the deadpan “The Naked Gun” movies.
Kennedy appeared in all four of the “Airport” movies of the 1970s as Joe Patroni, the reluctant, cigar-chomping but highly effective chief mechanic who could be counted upon when the chips were down and supreme expertise was required. He also turned in a powerful performance in 1975’s “Earthquake” as the hearty, sentimental police sergeant Slade, who helps where he can in the wake of the devastating temblor.
Kennedy toiled in the TV trenches for much of the 1960s, especially guesting on Westerns — and occasionally appearing in supporting roles in high-profile films such as “In Harm’s Way,” “The Sons of Katie Elder,” “The Flight of the Phoenix” and “The Dirty Dozen.”
New York Times Obit – George Kennedy, Versatile Actor Who Won an Oscar for ‘Cool Hand Luke,’ Dies at 91.
George Kennedy, who played tough guys, oafs, G.I.’s and a bonanza of cowboys as one of Hollywood’s most versatile and durable character actors, and who won an Oscar as the best supporting actor of 1967 for his performance in the Paul Newman film “Cool Hand Luke,” died on Sunday in Boise, Idaho. He was 91.
No critic ever spoke of a George Kennedy oeuvre. Many of his films were hokey, with absurd plots and over-the-top acting. And, with the exception of his Academy Award performance and his work in about a dozen other films, he was most often a peripheral player, a sidekick of the star or the straight man with setup lines for the comedian.
But from the early 1960s on, hardly a year went by without a Kennedy picture — often there were four or five a year — and he was memorable as the heavy in “Charade” (1963), with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant; as Maj. Max Armbruster on a World War II mission in “The Dirty Dozen” (1967); as a regular in the “Airport” pictures, and later as Leslie Nielsen’s dumbstruck captain in the “Naked Gun” comedies.
He was perhaps best known for his role in “Cool Hand Luke”: Dragline, a chain-gang prisoner whose brutality and compassion as the gang leader not only revealed Mr. Kennedy’s rarely seen range as an actor, but also deftly illuminated the character of his tormented fellow convict, played by Mr. Newman.
George Harris Kennedy Jr. was born in New York City on Feb. 18, 1925, the son of George and Helen Kennedy. His father, a musician and bandleader, died when he was 4, and he was raised by his mother, a ballet dancer. His parents put him on the stage at 2, and he later worked in radio. But his entertainment career got off to a late start.
A military career seemed more likely. After graduating from W. C. Mepham High School in Bellmore, N.Y., he joined the Army, fought in the infantry in Europe in World War II and spent 16 years in the service.
SADLY, ANOTHER MUSIC GIANT HAS PASSED AWAY …
Maurice White, singer and co-founder of the legendary band Earth, Wind and Fire has died at age 74. White died in Los Angeles, CA after battling Parkinson’s disease since 1992. The band had so many great hits, including “Shining Star,” “September,” “Boogie Wonderland,” “Got To Get You into My Life,” and “After the Love has Gone.” Sadly Maurice White has passed; however, the sounds of Earth, Wind and Fire will live on forever. Easily EW&F are one of my top 50 bands of all-time. Maurice White, Rest in Peace.
Earth, Wind and Fire vocalist and co-founder Maurice White died in his sleep in Los Angeles on Wednesday evening. A rep for the band confirmed his passing to Rolling Stone. He was 74.
The singer had been battling Parkinson’s disease since 1992, according to TMZ. His health had reportedly deteriorated in recent months. Because of the disease, he had not toured with the pioneering soul and R&B group since 1994. He nevertheless remained active on the business side of the group.
“My brother, hero and best friend Maurice White passed away peacefully last night in his sleep,” White’s brother and bandmate Verdine wrote in a statement. “While the world has lost another great musician and legend, our family asks that our privacy is respected as we start what will be a very difficult and life changing transition in our lives. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes.”
“The light is he, shining on you and me,” the band added on Twitter.
White, who formed the group with Verdine in 1969, helped innovate a lush, eclectic style with Earth, Wind and Fire that drew inspiration from funk, jazz, R&B and Latin music – as well as Sly Stone and James Brown – for a unique sound that set the tone for soul music in the Seventies. The springy, elastic soul-pop of “Shining Star,” which White co-wrote, earned them their first Number One, and paved the way for hits like the joyful “Sing a Song,” the percussive and brassy “September,” their swinging cover of the Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life” and the robotic disco of “Let’s Groove.” Rolling Stone included the group’s sweetly smooth 1975 single, “That’s the Way of the World,” on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
White — who died Thursday (Feb. 4) at age 74 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease — formed the band in 1969, after a tenure as the drummer in the Ramsey Lewis Trio and a short run with his own band, the Salty Peppers. White was EWF’s visionary and conceptualizer, its chief songwriter and producer, as well as the focal point of one of the tightest, hottest-stepping frontlines in pop music.
Over time, White nurtured his younger brother, bassist Verdine White, and singer Philip Bailey as EWF leaders as well, taking over day-to-day operations when he trimmed back his role. But White remained a presence and guiding light in EWF’s world, and back in mid-January — when EWF’s Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award honor was announced — Verdine White and Philip Bailey reflected on his vision and legacy to Billboard:
THIS TIME IT IS SADLY TRUE, ABE VIGODA HAS DIED …
Abe Vigoda, the actor most known for his role as Tessio in The God Father, The God Father II and detective Phil Fish in the 1970s TV series “Barney Miller,” has passed away at the age of 94 in New Jersey. According to accounts, Vigoda died Tuesday morning in hospice care his sleep in Woodland Park, New Jersey of old age. His career spanned 7 decades with his most prominent roles of that on Barny Miller, Fish and The God Father movies. He was one of my favorites.
I know what many are saying, but I thought he was already dead. Well so did People Magazine three decades ago In 1982, People Magazine erroneously declared Vigoda dead. Oops. However, the incident made him a cult figure and Vigoda and others were able to keeping all in good humor. Okay People magazine, you can now accurately report his passing.
Rest in Peace Abe Vigoda
Abe Vigoda – Barny Miller
Character actor Abe Vigoda, whose leathery, sad-eyed face made him ideal for playing the over-the-hill detective Phil Fish in the 1970s TV series “Barney Miller” and the doomed Mafia soldier in “The Godfather,” died Tuesday at age 94.
Vigoda’s daughter, Carol Vigoda Fuchs, told The Associated Press that Vigoda died Tuesday morning in his sleep at Fuchs’ home in Woodland Park, New Jersey. The cause of death was old age. “This man was never sick,” Fuchs said.
His death brought to an end years of questions on whether he was still alive — sparked by a false report of his death more than three decades ago. Though Vigoda took it in stride, the question of whether he was dead or alive became something of a running joke: There was even a website devoted to answering the much-Googled question, “Is Abe Vigoda dead?” (On Tuesday, it had been updated with “Yes,” with the date of his death.)
Vigoda worked in relative obscurity as a supporting actor in the New York theater and in television until Francis Ford Coppola cast him in the 1972 Oscar-winning “The Godfather.”
Vigoda played Sal Tessio, an old friend of Vito Corleone’s (Marlon Brando) who hopes to take over the family after Vito’s death by killing his son Michael Corleone (Al Pacino). But Michael anticipates that Sal’s suggestion for a “peace summit” among crime families is a setup and the escorts Sal thought were taking him to the meeting turn out to be his executioners.
New York Times: Abe Vigoda, of ‘Godfather’ and ‘Barney Miller,’ Dies at 94.
Abraham Charles Vigoda was born in New York City on Feb. 24, 1921, to Samuel Vigoda, a tailor, and the former Lena Moses, immigrants from Russia. Abe, one of three brothers, began acting as a teenager and turned professional in 1947, performing almost entirely onstage for the next 20 or more years.
In 1960, he starred in an Off Broadway production of the Strindberg drama “The Dance of Death,” and he appeared frequently at the New York Shakespeare Festival in the early ’60s, as John of Gaunt in “Richard II” and King Alonzo in “The Tempest,” among other roles.
In 1963, he had the lead in an Off Broadway production of Shaw’s “Mrs. Warren’s Profession.” Five years later, he was on Broadway in Peter Weiss’s “Marat/Sade.”
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Vigoda is survived by three grandchildren and a great-grandson, The Associated Press reported. His second wife, Beatrice Schy, died in 1992.