music

#music

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The image of composer, Eubie Blake (1887-1983). Credit: Unknown author (Public domain)
The image of composer, Eubie Blake (1887-1983). Credit: Unknown author (Public domain)
Eubie Blake, a son of former slaves, was once asked why he played so many compositions in complicated sharp or flat keys. "Down South where I come from," Eubie replied, "you don't go round hittin' too many white keys." [Blake's first gig? Playing piano in a brothel.]
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Borge with Kennedy Center Honors in 1999. Flickr photo by John Mathew Smith & celebrity-photos.com (<a href=https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/>CC BY-SA 2.0</a>)
Borge with Kennedy Center Honors in 1999. Flickr photo by John Mathew Smith & celebrity-photos.com (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Pianist Victor Borge was once asked why the ivory keys on his piano were so yellow. Borge insisted that the piano was not very old and offered a simple explanation: "The elephant," he said, "smoked too much."
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Fat Elvis Shots from the Vegas strip. Flickr photo by Doctor Popular (<a href=https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/>CC BY-SA 2.0</a>)
Fat Elvis Shots from the Vegas strip. Flickr photo by Doctor Popular (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Elvis, whose weight ballooned toward the end of his life, found himself in a difficult situation during a sold-out concert one night. Before briefly leaving the stage, he explained the problem to the audience: He had split the seat of his jumpsuit and needed to find a replacement before the show could go on. Elvis turned the fiasco into part of his act, changing his pants backstage while he sang "Memories." [Elvis also made light of his weight during his "Aloha from Hawaii" concert in 1973, when he ad libbed "Suspicious Minds," singing, "I hope this suit don't rip up baby!"]
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Hide performing with X Japan in 1997 (Wikipedia photo)
Hide performing with X Japan in 1997 (Wikipedia photo)
The application of new technology to the production of music occasionally has unintended consequesnces, as Japanese musician Hide once discovered: "When you play wireless you have a little receiver that you have to place somewhere [Hide usually attached it to his guitar strap]... Anyway, sometimes he had the radio frequency of a taxi company on that receiver. So while playing you would sometimes hear things like: 'Car 7, go to the corner at Shibuya and pick up an old lady waiting in front of building'..."
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An instructor coaches a Zumba class in a fitness center (U.S. Army photo)
An instructor coaches a Zumba class in a fitness center (U.S. Army photo)
"It was a serendipitous slip," Knight Ridder's Christina Hoag reported in 2003. "When Alberto Perez forgot the music tape for an aerobics class that he was giving in his native Colombia six years ago, he had to improvise with the salsa and cumbia cassettes in his bag, rejiggering the moves to match the rhythms. Much to his surprise, it was an instant hit... And 'Zumba,' the catchy moniker that he later bestowed on his Latin-dance and music-inspired aerobics routines, is... a fitness sensation in the United States."
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Nederlands: "Top Management Forum" in Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam. Gastspreker professor John Kenneth Galbraith. Credit: Dijk, Hans van / Anefo (<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0">CC BY-SA 3.0</a>)

Nederlands: "Top Management Forum" in Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam. Gastspreker professor John Kenneth Galbraith. Credit: Dijk, Hans van / Anefo ...(more)

The economist John Kenneth Galbraith was once given a keychain featuring a gold-plated music box. One day some time later, he visited a restroom in a Swedish hotel. "As he stood at the urinal beside a blond, sad-looking Swede," Clifton Fadiman recalls in The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes, "Galbraith played with his car keys, which were now attached to the new key ring, and accidentally set off the music box. As the first notes of [Johann Strauss's] Tales from the Vienna Woods struck up, Galbraith's neighbor glanced down at the apparent source of the music and fled from the room. "Galbraith hurried after the Swede in order to explain but was brought up short by his wife, who, having just witnessed ...
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A cropped still from the video
A cropped still from the video
One day during the production of the video for "Down In It" (somewhere near Chicago) the apparently lifeless body of Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor was shot from a number of different angles. Then, to get a dramatic overhead shot, the video crew attached a camera to a helium balloon and let it rise high into the air. Unfortunately, the balloon got away, drifted off, and later landed in a farmer's field. Some time later, Reznor found himself at the center of a high-profile FBI investigation. The agency, it seemed, had received raw footage from a farmer... of what appeared to be a bone fide snuff film.
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A publicity photo of the American rock band The Velvet Underground circa 1966, around the time that they were recording their debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico. The band members are positioned around a Vox-brand amplifier. Clockwise from top left: Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison, John Cale, Maureen Tucker, and Nico. Credit: Verve Records (Public domain)

A publicity photo of the American rock band The Velvet Underground circa 1966, around the time that they were recording ...(more)

Why was Velvet Underground drummer Maureen Tucker originally included in the band? According to Lou Reed, the band needed an amp and she had one. [Fun fact: According to the liner notes for The Velvet Underground and Nico, Lou Reed was playing an "ostrich guitar."]
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Wembley Stadium, Wembley
Bicycle Race by Queen
Bicycle Race by Queen
For the video for Queen's "Bicycle Race" (from News of the World) in 1977, Freddie Mercury and his bandmates enlisted two hundred naked women to race around Wembley Stadium on bicycles, completely naked. The publicity stunt was not an unmitigated success.  First, the label insisted on airbrushing a bikini on the album cover. And secondly? The company from which the bicycles had been rented refused to take them back unless all of their seats were replaced.