Louis Allen Rawls (December 1, 1933 – January 6, 2006) was a Chicago-born American soul music, jazz, and blues singer. Known for his smooth vocal style, Frank Sinatra once said that Rawls had "the classiest singing and silkiest chops in the singing game." Rawls released more than 70 albums, sold more than 40 million records, appeared as an actor in motion pictures and on television, and voiced-over many cartoons. He had been called "The Funkiest Man Alive".
Death of Lou Rawls Rawls died on January 6, 2006 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles from complications of the cancers. Lou Rawls was 74 years old at the time of his death.
Lou Rawls is well known for:
Phrase "Yeahhhh, buddy!"
Songs "Lady Love", "You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine", "Love Is a Hurtin’ Thing"
Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor III (December 1, 1940 – December 10, 2005) was an American comedian, actor, and writer.
Pryor was a storyteller known for unflinching examinations of racism and customs in modern life, and was well-known for his frequent use of colorful language, vulgarities, and racial epithets such as "nigger", "honky," "cracker," and "motherfucker." He reached a broad audience with his trenchant observations, although public opinion of his act was often divided. He is commonly regarded as the most important stand up comedian of his time: Jerry Seinfeld called Pryor "The Picasso of our profession"; Whoopi Goldberg cited him as her biggest influence, stating "The major influence was Richard – I want to say those things he’s saying." Bob Newhart has called Pryor "the seminal comedian of the last 50 years."
Death of Richard Pryor Ricahrd Pryor died of cardiac arrest in Encino, California. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital at 7:58 a.m. PST. Richard Pryor was 65 years old at the time of his death.He was brought to the hospital after his wife’s attempts to resuscitate him failed. His wife Jennifer was quoted as saying, "At the end, there was a smile on his face."
His body of work includes such concert movies and recordings as Richard Pryor: Live and Smokin’ (1971), That Nigger’s Crazy (1974), …Is It Something I Said? (1975), Bicentennial Nigger (1976), Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979), Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip (1982) and Richard Pryor: Here and Now. He also starred in numerous films as an actor, usually in comedies such as Silver Streak, but occasionally in dramatic roles, such as Paul Schrader’s film Blue Collar and epic roles like Gus Gorman from Superman III (1983). He also collaborated on many projects with actor Gene Wilder. He won an Emmy Award in 1973, and five Grammy Awards in 1974, 1975, 1976, 1981, and 1982. In 1974, he also won two American Academy of Humor awards and the Writers Guild of America Award. In 2004, Pryor was voted the greatest stand-up act of all time by Comedy Central.
Early life and career Born on December 1, 1940 in Peoria, Illinois, Pryor grew up in his grandmother’s brothel, where his mother, Gertrude L. Thomas, practiced prostitution. His father, LeRoy "Buck" Pryor (a.k.a. Buck Carter) was a former bartender, boxer, and World War II veteran who worked as his wife’s pimp. After his mother deserted him when he was 10, he was raised primarily by his grandmother, Marie Carter. As a small child, Pryor was molested by a neighbor and a priest.
He was expelled from school at age 14, and began working various odd jobs. His first professional performance was playing drums at a night club. From 1958 to 1960, Pryor served in the U.S. Army but spent virtually that entire stint in an army prison. According to a 1999 profile about Pryor in The New Yorker, Pryor was incarcerated for an incident that occurred while stationed in Germany. Annoyed that a white soldier was a bit too amused at the racially charged sections of Douglas Sirk’s movie Imitation of Life, Pryor and some other black soldiers beat and stabbed the white soldier (not fatally). According to Live on Sunset Boulevard, when he was nineteen he worked at a Mafia owned nightclub as the MC. Upon hearing that they would not pay a stripper, he attempted to hold up the owners with a cap pistol. They apparently thought he was amusing, though Richard Pryor may have made this story up.
In 1963, Pryor moved to New York City and began performing regularly in clubs alongside performers such as Bob Dylan and Woody Allen. On one of his first nights he opened for singer and pianist Nina Simone at the Village Gate. Simone recalls Pryor’s bout of performance anxiety:
“ He shook like he had malaria, he was so nervous. I couldn’t bear to watch him shiver, so I put my arms around him there in the dark and rocked him like a baby until he calmed down. The next night was the same, and the next, and I rocked him each time.”
Inspired by Bill Cosby, Pryor began as a middlebrow comic far less controversial than what was to come. Soon, he began appearing regularly on television variety shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show. His popularity led him to become a rather successful comic in Las Vegas. The first five tracks on the 2005 compilation CD Evolution/Revolution: The Early Years (1966-1974), recorded in 1966 and 1967, capture Pryor in this era.
In September 1967, Pryor had what he called in his autobiography Pryor Convictions an "epiphany" when he walked onto the stage at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas (with Dean Martin in the audience), looked at the sold-out crowd, said over the microphone "What the fuck am I doing here!?", and walked off the stage. Afterward, Pryor began working at least mild profanity into his act, including the word "nigger". His first comedy recording, the eponymous 1968 debut release on the Dove/Reprise label, captures this particular period, tracking the evolution of Pryor’s routine. It was around this time that his parents died-his mother in 1967 and his father in 1968. Richard got his familiar nickname at this point of time which is ba-loot.
What he thought was his first child was a girl named Renee. Years later however, he found out that this was not his child. In 1960, he married Patricia Price and they had one child together, Richard Jr. (his first child and first son) They divorced in 1961. In 1967, his second child and first daughter, Elizabeth Ann, was born to his girlfriend Maxine Anderson. Later that year, he married Shelly Bonus. In 1969, his third child and second daughter Rain Pryor was born. Pryor and Bonus divorced later that year.
Mainstream success In 1969, Pryor moved to Berkeley, California, where he immersed himself in the counterculture and rubbed elbows with the likes of Huey P. Newton and Ishmael Reed. He signed with the comedy-centric independent record label Laff Records in 1970 and recorded his second album in 1971, Craps (After Hours). In 1972, the relatively unknown comedian appeared in his first film, a documentary entitled Wattstax, where he riffed on the tragic-comic absurdities of race relations in Watts and the nation. Not long afterward, Pryor sought a deal with a larger label, and after some time, signed with Stax Records. His third, breakthrough album, That Nigger’s Crazy, was released in 1974 and, Laff, who claimed ownership of Pryor’s recording rights, almost succeeded in getting an injunction to prevent the album from being sold. Negotiations led to Pryor’s release from his Laff contract. In return for this concession, Laff was enabled to release previously unissued material, recorded between 1968 and 1973, at will.
During the legal battle, Stax briefly closed its doors. It was at this time that Pryor returned to Reprise/Warner Bros. Records, which re-released That Nigger’s Crazy immediately after …Is It Something I Said?, his first album with his new label. With every successful album Pryor recorded for Warner Bros. (or later, his concert films and his 1980 freebasing accident), Laff would quickly publish an album of older material to capitalize on Pryor’s growing fame — a practice the label would continue until 1983.
In the 1970s, he wrote for such television shows as Sanford and Son, The Flip Wilson Show and a Lily Tomlin special, for which he shared an Emmy Award. Pryor also made an attempt to break into mainstream television during this period. In 1974, he was arrested for income tax evasion and served 10 days in jail. He was a guest host on the first season of Saturday Night Live,Richard took long time girlfriend -actress talk show host Kathrine McKee with him to New York,(sister of Lonette McKee) she made a brief guest appearance with Richard on SNL, and his "racist word association" skit with Chevy Chase is frequently cited by TV critics as one of the funniest and most daring skits in SNL history (this sketch was replayed on the Season 31 episode hosted by Alec Baldwin, which first aired on the day Pryor died). The Richard Pryor Show premiered on NBC in 1977 but after only four shows, the series was cancelled. Television was not ready for the show’s controversial subject matter, and Pryor was not ready to alter the content of his material to meet the demands of network censors. During the short-lived series, he portrayed the first African-American President of the United States and in another skit, used costumes and visual distortion to appear nude.
In 1977, he married actress Deborah McGuire and they divorced in 1978. He soon began dating Jennifer Lee and they married in 1981. They divorced the following year.
Very successful and towards the height of his success, Pryor visited Africa in 1979. Upon returning to the United States, Pryor swore he would never use the word "nigger" in his stand-up comedy routine again. (His favorite epithet, "motherfucker", remains a term of endearment on his official website.)
In 1983, Pryor signed a five-year contract with Columbia Pictures for $40,000,000. Pryor appeared in several popular films, including Lady Sings the Blues; The Mack; Uptown Saturday Night; Silver Streak; Which Way Is Up?; Car Wash; Superman III (which earned Pryor $4,000,000); Brewster’s Millions; Stir Crazy; Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling; Moving; and See No Evil, Hear No Evil. He also took part in The Toy, one of Jackie Gleason’s last projects. Though he made four films with Gene Wilder, the two comic actors were never as close as many thought according to Wilder’s autobiography.
Pryor also co-wrote Blazing Saddles directed by Mel Brooks and starring Gene Wilder. Pryor was to play the lead role of Bart, but the film’s production studio would not insure him, and Mel Brooks chose Cleavon Little instead. Before his infamous 1980 freebasing accident, Pryor was about to start filming Mel Brooks’ History of the World, Part I, but was replaced at the last minute by Gregory Hines. Pryor was also originally considered for the role of Billy Ray Valentine on Trading Places (1983), before Eddie Murphy ultimately won the part.
Despite a reputation for profanity, Pryor briefly hosted a children’s show on CBS in 1984 called Pryor’s Place. Like Sesame Street, Pryor’s Place featured a cast of puppets, hanging out and having fun in a surprisingly friendly inner city environment along with several children and characters portrayed by Pryor himself. However, Pryor’s Place frequently dealt with more sobering issues than Sesame Street. It was cancelled shortly after its debut, despite the efforts of famed puppeteers Sid and Marty Krofft and a theme song by Ray Parker Jr. of Ghostbusters fame to ensure its success.
Pryor co-hosted the Academy Awards twice, and was also nominated for an Emmy for a guest role on the television series, Chicago Hope.
The freebasing incident and its aftermath On June 9, 1980, Pryor set himself on fire while freebasing cocaine. He ran down Parthenia Street from his Northridge, California home until subdued by police, with burns having covered over 50 percent of his body. Pryor spent six weeks in recovery at the Grossman Burn Center at Sherman Oaks Hospital. Pryor made this part of his heralded "final" stand up show Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip (1982). After joking that the incident was actually caused when he dunked a cookie into a glass containing two different types of milk, he gave a poignant yet funny account of his accident and recovery, then poked fun at people who told jokes about it by waving a lit match and saying "What’s this? It’s Richard Pryor running down the street." Interviewed in 2005, his wife Jennifer Lee Pryor said that Pryor poured high-proof rum over his body and torched himself in a drug psychosis.His daughter, Rain Pryor also stated this in an interview in People Magazine. In a TV interview with Barbara Walters during his recovery, Pryor said that he tried to commit suicide. He claimed that his managers and lawyers created the "accident" lie in the belief that it would be less damning than a suicide attempt. Regardless of the incident’s origins, Pryor continued his tradition of mining comedy out of the most intensely personal events. One of his jokes about this subject was
“ When you’re on fire and running down the street, people will get out of your way. ”
Fellow comedian George Carlin made reference to this incident during his Carnegie Hall performance in 1983:
“ An update on the comedian health sweepstakes. I currently lead Richard Pryor in heart attacks 2 to 1. But Richard still leads me 1 to nothing in burning yourself up. See, it happened like this. First Richard had a heart attack. Then I had a heart attack. Then Richard burned himself up. And I said, ‘Fuck that. I’m having another heart attack!’ ”
He did not stay away from stand-up comedy very long though — in 1983 he filmed and released a new concert film and accompanying album, Here And Now, which he directed himself. He then wrote and directed a fictionalized account of his life, Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling. Interestingly, Jo Jo Dancer depicted a suicide attempt by the main character in which he douses himself in rum and ignites himself.
In 1984, his fourth child and second son, Steven, was born to his girlfriend Flynn Belaine. Pryor married Belaine in October 1986. They divorced in July 1987. Before their divorce was final, Belaine conceived Kelsey Pryor. Meanwhile, another of Richard’s girlfriends, Geraldine Mason gave birth to Franklin Mason in April 1987 (his fifth child and third son). Six months later (October 1987), Belaine gave birth to Kelsey Pryor (Richard’s sixth child and third daughter).
Fight with multiple sclerosis In 1991, Pryor announced that he had been suffering from multiple sclerosis since 1986. In response to giving up drugs after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, he said:
“ God gave me this M.S. shit to save my life. ”
In 1992, he gave some final live performances, excerpts of which appear on the …And It’s Deep Too! box set. He continued to make occasional film appearances, pairing with Gene Wilder one last time in the unsuccessful 1991 comedy, Another You (in which his physical deterioration was noted by many critics). His final film appearance was a small role in the David Lynch film Lost Highway in 1997; by then, Pryor was wheelchair bound. His Final episodic Television appearance was on an episode of The Norm Show (AKA "Norm") in 2000, where he had a small role as one of Norm’s clients. Afterwards, he was frequently a featured story on Entertainment Tonight until his death.
Marriages Richard Pryor was married seven times to five different women:
Patricia Price (1961 – 1967) (divorced) 1 child Richard Pryor Jr. Shelly Bonus (1967 – 1969) (divorced) 1 child Rain Pryor Deborah McGuire (22 September 1977 – 1979) (divorced) Jennifer Lee (August 1981 – October 1982) (divorced) Flynn Belaine (October 1986 – July 1987) (divorced) 1 child Flynn Belaine (1 April 1990 – July 1991) (divorced) 1 child Jennifer Lee (June 2001 – 10 December 2005) (his death) Each of his marriages was characterised by accusations of domestic violence and spousal abuse except for his relationship with Belaine (with whom there were no allegations of physical abuse); most of the allegations of abuse were connected to Pryor’s drug use. The exception to this rule was Patricia Price who was married to Pryor before his rise to stardom. Deborah McGuire accused him of shooting her car with a .357 Magnum , but later dropped the charges (even though this was mentioned during one of Pryor’s standup routines, Live in Concert). Lee accused him of beating and attempting to strangle her during their first marriage, and did not share his home after they remarried. During his relationship with actress Pam Grier, Pryor proposed to actress Deborah McGuire (1977).
He had seven children: Renee, Richard Jr, Elizabeth, Rain, Steven, Franklin and Kelsey.
Later life In 1998, Pryor became the first performer to win the inaugural Mark Twain Prize for American Humor from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. According to Former Kennedy Center President Lawrence J. Wilker,
“ Richard Pryor was selected as the first recipient of the new Mark Twain Prize because as a stand-up comic, writer, and actor, he struck a chord, and a nerve, with America, forcing it to look at large social questions of race and the more tragicomic aspects of the human condition. Though uncompromising in his wit, Pryor, like Twain, projects a generosity of spirit that unites us. They were both trenchant social critics who spoke the truth, however outrageous. ”
In 2000, Rhino Records remastered all of Pryor’s Reprise and Warner Bros. albums for inclusion in the box set …And It’s Deep Too! The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings (1968-1992).
In 2001, he remarried Jennifer Lee, who also had become his manager.
In 2002, Pryor and his wife/manager Jennifer Lee Pryor, won the legal rights to all of the Laff material; almost 40 hours of reel-to-reel analog tape. After going through the tapes and getting Richard’s blessing, Jennifer Lee Pryor gave Rhino Records access to the Laff tapes in 2004. These tapes, including the entire Craps album, form the basis of the double-CD release Evolution/Revolution: The Early Years (1966-1974).
In 2003, a television documentary, Richard Pryor: I Ain’t Dead Yet, , came out. It consisted of archival footage of Pryor’s performances and testimonials from fellow comedians such as Dave Chappelle, Wanda Sykes and Denis Leary of the influence Pryor had on comedy.
In 2004, Pryor was voted #1 on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time. In a 2005 British poll to find The Comedian’s Comedian, Pryor was voted the 10th greatest comedy act ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.
His final performance was at the Circle Star Theater in San Carlos, California.
In his later years, Richard Pryor became a wheelchair user due to multiple sclerosis (M.S., which he said stood for "More Shit"). In late-2004, his sister claimed that Pryor lost his voice. However, on January 9, 2005, Pryor’s wife, Jennifer Lee, rebutted this statement in a post on Pryor’s official website, citing Richard as saying: "Sick of hearing this shit about me not talking… not true… good days, bad days… but I still am a talkin’ motherfucker!"
Pryor was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. The animal rights organization PETA gives out an award in Pryor’s name to people who have done outstanding work to alleviate animal suffering. Mr. Pryor was active in animal rights and was deeply concerned about the plight of elephants in circuses and zoos.
Death On December 10, 2005, Pryor died of cardiac arrest in Encino, California. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital at 7:58 a.m. PST. He died just 9 days after his 65th birthday. He was brought to the hospital after his wife’s attempts to resuscitate him failed. His wife Jennifer was quoted as saying, "At the end, there was a smile on his face."
Discography Richard Pryor (Dove/Reprise, 1968) Craps (After Hours) (Laff Records, 1971, reissued 1993 by Loose Cannon/Island) That Nigger’s Crazy, (Partee/Stax, 1974, reissued 1975 by Reprise) …Is It Something I Said?, (Reprise, 1975, reissued 1991 on CD by Warner Archives) L.A. Jail, (Tiger Lily, 1976) Bicentennial Nigger, (Reprise, 1976) Are You Serious???, (Laff, 1977) Who Me? I’m Not Him, (Laff, 1977) Black Ben The Blacksmith, (Laff, 1978) The title track was first issued as "Prison Play" on Richard Pryor, in spite of Warner Bros.’ ownership of that particular master recording. The Wizard Of Comedy, (Laff, 1978) Wanted: Live in Concert (2-LP set), (Warner Bros. Records, 1978) Outrageous, (Laff, 1979) Insane, (Laff, 1980) Holy Smoke!, (Laff, 1980) Rev. Du Rite, (Laff, 1981) Live On The Sunset Strip (Warner Bros. Records, 1982) Richard Pryor Live! (picture disc), (Phoenix/Audiofidelity, 1982) Supernigger, (Laff. 1983) Here And Now, (Warner Bros. Records, 1983)
Filmography The Busy Body (1967) Uncle Tom’s Fairy Tales (1968) (unfinished) Wild in the Streets (1968) Black Brigade (1970) The Phynx (1970) Richard Pryor: Live and Smokin’ (filmed in 1971, released in 1985) (documentary) You’ve Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or You’ll Lose That Beat (1971) Dynamite Chicken (1972) Lady Sings the Blues (1972) The Mack (1973) Wattstax (1973) (documentary) Hit! (1973) Some Call It Loving (1973) Blazing Saddles (1974) (co-writer) Uptown Saturday Night (1974) The Lion Roars Again (1975) (short subject) Adios Amigo (1976) Car Wash (1976) The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (1976) Silver Streak (1976) Which Way Is Up? (1977) Greased Lightning (1977) Blue Collar (1978) The Wiz (1978) California Suite (1978) Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979) (documentary) The Muppet Movie (1979) (cameo) Wholly Moses (1980) In God We Tru$t (1980) Stir Crazy (1980) Bustin’ Loose (1981) Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip (1982) (documentary) Some Kind of Hero (1982) The Toy (1982) Superman III (1983) Richard Pryor: Here and Now (1983) (documentary) Brewster’s Millions (1985) Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling (1986) (also director and co-writer) Critical Condition (1987) Moving (1988) See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989) Harlem Nights (1989) The Three Muscatels (1991) Another You (1991) A Century of Cinema (1994) (documentary) Mad Dog Time (1996) Lost Highway (1997) Bitter Jester (2003) (documentary) I Ain’t Dead Yet, #*%$@!! (2003) Richard Pryor: The Funniest Man Dead Or Alive (2005, BET Special)
Jean Parker (August 11, 1915 – November 30, 2005) was an American movie actress.
Born as Lois Mae Green in Deer Lodge, Montana, she appeared in 70 movies from 1932 through 1966. She was discovered by Ida Koverman, secretary to MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer, after she saw a poster featuring Parker portraying Father Time. She attended Pasadena schools and graduated from John Muir High School. Her original aspirations were in the fine arts and illustration.
Death of Jean Parker
Jean Parker spent her final years in the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, where she died of a stroke on November 30, 2005.
Jean parker was 90 years old at the time of his death.
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Jean Parker’s biography continues on next page
Jean Parker in She Married A Cop (1939)
Jean Parker biography continues
She had a successful career at MGM, RKO and Columbia including important roles such as the tragic Beth in the original Little Women, among many other film appearances including Frank Capra’s Lady for A Day and Gabriel Over the White House; Sequoia; The Ghost Goes West, opposite Robert Donat; and Rasputin and the Empress, with fellow players, the Barrymore siblings (John, Ethel, and Lionel) in the only movie they all made together. In 1939, she starred opposite Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in RKO’s The Flying Deuces.
Parker stayed active in film throughout the 1940s, playing opposite Lon Chaney in "Dead Man’s Eyes" "Detective Kitty O’ Day", and a variety of other films. Parker managed her own airport and flying service with then-husband Doug Dawson in Palm Springs, California until shortly after the start of World War II. During World War II, she toured many of the veteran hospitals throughout the U.S. and performed on radio. In the 1950s, Parker co-starred opposite Edward G. Robinson in Black Tuesday; had a small but effective role in Gunfighter which starred Gregory Peck and appeared with Randolph Scott and Angela Lansbury in the western Lawless Street (1955). Her last film appearance was Apache Uprising (1966), directed by A. C. Lyles.
Parker also appeared on Broadway. In 1949 she replaced Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday on Broadway and enjoyed a successful run in this classic. Parker also appeared on Broadway opposite Bert Lahr in the play Burlesque, did summer stock in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, was on tour in the play Candlelight and Loco, and performed on stage in other professional productions.
She married Robert Lowery (who played Batman in 1949) in 1950. Two years later she gave birth to a son, Robert Lowery Hanks, an executive with the city of Los Angeles, California. Later in life, she continued a successful stint on the West Coast theatre circuit and worked as an acting coach.
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Eduardo "Eddie" Gory Guerrero Llanes (October 9, 1967 – November 13, 2005) was an American professional wrestler born into a Mexican wrestling family. He wrestled in Mexico and Japan and in every major professional wrestling promotion in the United States. He wrestled in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
Death of Eddy Guerrero
On November 13, 2005, Guerrero was found unconscious in his hotel room (The Marriott City Center) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by his nephew, Chavo. Chavo attempted CPR, but Eddie was pronounced dead when paramedics arrived on the scene. He was survived by his widow Vickie Guerrero and their two daughters, Shaul and Sherilyn. He also is survived by a daughter, Kaylie, from a previous relationship.
An autopsy revealed that Guerrero died as a result of acute heart failure, caused by undiagnosed arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Although Guerrero had not taken alcohol or illicit drugs for nearly four years, his past excesses contributed to his heart failure.
Guerrero’s wife Vickie claimed that he had been lethargic and unwell in the week preceding his death, but had attributed it to the stress of continuously traveling and performing. She added that the doctors had told her that Guerrero’s blood vessels had shriveled and weakened as a result of an undiagnosed heart disease, and that he had simply dropped into a deep sleep.
On the November 30 edition of WWE Byte This!, Chavo said that Guerrero had been working hard and was at peak physical fitness as a result, doing cardiovascular and weight training exercises every day. There had been no symptoms or cause for concern. Chavo noted that, while many people abuse drugs for over ten years with no ill effects, Guerrero had suffered heart complications that were not detected in time to prevent his death, even though he had ceased his drug abuse some four years earlier.
Peter Charles Archibald Ewart Jennings, CM (July 29, 1938 – August 7, 2005) was a Canadian-American journalist and news anchor. He was the sole anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight from 1983 until his death in 2005 of complications from lung cancer. A high-school dropout, he transformed himself into one of American television’s most prominent journalists.
Death of Peter Jennings Peter Jennings died of lung cancer. Peter Jennings was 67 years old at the time of his death.
Jennings started his career early, hosting a Canadian radio show at the age of nine. In 1965, ABC News tapped him to anchor its flagship evening news program. His inexperience marred his first short stint in the anchor chair, and Jennings became a foreign correspondent in 1968, honing his reporting skills in the Middle East.
He returned as one of World News Tonight’s three anchors in 1978, and was promoted to the role of sole anchor in 1983. Jennings formed part of the "Big Three" news anchors who dominated American evening news in the 1980s and 1990s. Having always been fascinated with the United States, Jennings became a naturalized United States citizen in 2003. His death, which closely followed the retirements of Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, marked the end of the "Big Three" era.
President Clinton to Peter Jennings "Don’t go there Peter!"
Gene Francis Alan Pitney (February 17, 1940 – April 5, 2006) was an American singer-songwriter. He was also an accomplished guitarist, pianist, drummer and skilled sound engineer. In 2002, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Death of Gene Pitney Pitney died on April 5, 2006 at the age of 66. He was found dead by his tour manager in the Hilton Hotel in Cardiff in the middle of a UK tour. His final show at Worthing’s Pavilion Theatre was deemed a huge success, with a standing ovation, ending the show with his 1961 hit "Town Without Pity". An autopsy confirmed the singer died of natural causes. Pitney was laid to rest on April 13, 2006 at Somers Center Cemetery in Somers, Connecticut.
Career Through the mid-1960s, he enjoyed considerable success as a recording artist on both sides of the Atlantic. As a performer, he charted 16 Top 40 hit singles in the U.S., four of which reached the Top Ten. In the UK, the figures were even more impressive: 22 top 40 hits, and 11 Top Tens. As a songwriter, he also penned the big early 1960s hits "He’s A Rebel" by The Crystals, and "Hello Mary Lou" by Rick Nelson.
John William "Johnny" Carson (October 23, 1925 – January 23, 2005) was an American actor, comedian and writer best known for his iconic status as the host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson for 30 years.
Johnny Carson died of Emphysema. Johnny Carson was 79 years old at the time of his death
At 6:50 AM PST on January 23, 2005, Carson died at Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, of respiratory arrest arising from emphysema. Following Carson’s death his body was cremated, and the ashes were given to his wife. In accordance with his family’s wishes, no public memorial service was held. There were countless tributes paid to Carson upon his death, including a statement by President George W. Bush, all recognizing the deep and enduring affection held for him.
Tributes published after his death confirmed that he had been a chain-smoker. While The Tonight Show was broadcast live, he would frequently smoke cigarettes on the air; it was reported that Carson had said "these things are killing me" as far back as the 1970s.
Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004) known by his stage name Ray Charles, was a pioneering American pianist and soul musician who shaped the sound of rhythm and blues. He brought a soulful sound to country music, pop standards, and a rendition of "America the Beautiful" that Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes called the "definitive version of the song, an American anthem — a classic, just as the man who sang it."
Frank Sinatra called him "the only true genius in the business." And in 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Ray Charles #10 on their list of The Immortals: 100 Greatest Artists of All Time
Ray Charles Robinson was born in Albany, Georgia to Bailey Robinson, a railroad repair man, mechanic and handyman, and Aretha Williams, who stacked boards in a sawmill; the two were never married. The family moved to Greenville, Florida, when Ray was an infant. Bailey had two more families, leaving Aretha to raise the family. When Charles was five, he witnessed his younger brother drown in his mother’s large portable laundry tub.
When he was six, Charles began to go blind, becoming totally blind by the age of seven. Charles never knew exactly why he lost his sight, though there are sources which suggest Ray’s blindness was due to glaucoma. He attended school at the St. Augustine School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine, Florida. He also learned how to write music and play various musical instruments. While he was there, his mother died. His father died two years later.
After he left school, Charles began working as a musician in several bands that played in various styles, including jazz and, in Tampa “with a hillbilly band called The Florida Playboys."
Charles moved to Seattle in 1947 or 1948. He soon started recording, first for the label Swingtime Records, achieving his first hit with "Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand" in 1951, then signed with Ahmet Ertegün at Atlantic Records a year later. When he entered show business, his name was shortened to Ray Charles to avoid confusion with boxer Sugar Ray Robinson
Almost immediately after signing with Atlantic, Charles scored his first hit singles with the label with the rap-like "It Should Have Been Me" and the Ertegun-composed "Mess Around", both making the charts in 1953. But it was Charles’ "I Got a Woman" (composed with band mate Renald Richard) that brought the musician to national prominence. The song reached the top of Billboard’s R&B singles chart in 1955 and from there until 1959, Charles would have a series of R&B chart-toppers including "This Little Girl of Mine", "Lonely Avenue", "Mary Ann", "Drown in My Own Tears" and "The Night Time (Is the Right Time)". During this time of transition, he recruited a young girl group from New York named the Cookies as his background singing group, changing their name to the Raelettes in the process. In 1959, Charles crossed over to top 40 radio with the release of his impromptu blues number, "What’d I Say", which was initially conceived while Charles was in concert. The song would reach number 1 on the R&B list and would become Charles’ first top ten single on the pop charts, peaking at number 6. Charles would also record one of his finest albums, The Genius of Ray Charles, before leaving Atlantic for a more lucrative deal with ABC in 1959. Hit songs such as "Georgia On My Mind", "Hit the Road Jack" and "Unchain My Heart" helped him transition to pop success and his landmark 1962 album, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, helped to bring country into the mainstream.
In 1965, Charles was arrested for possession of heroin, a drug to which he had been addicted for nearly 20 years . It was his third arrest for the offense, but he avoided prison time after kicking the habit in a clinic in Los Angeles. He spent a year on parole in 1966.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Charles’ releases were hit-or-miss, with some big hits and critically acclaimed work, and some music that was dismissed as unoriginal and staid. His version of "Georgia On My Mind", was proclaimed the state song of Georgia on April 24, 1979, with Charles performing it on the floor of the state legislature. He also had success with his unique version of "America the Beautiful." In November 1977 Charles appeared as the host of NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
In the late 1980s a number of events increased Charles’ recognition among young audiences. He made a cameo appearance in the popular 1980 film The Blues Brothers. In 1985, "The Right Time" was featured in the episode "Happy Anniversary" of The Cosby Show on NBC. The cast members used the song to perform a wildly popular lip-synch that helped the show secure its wide audience.. Charles’ new connection with audiences helped secure an advertising spot for Diet Pepsi. In a Pepsi Cola commercial of the early 1990s, Charles popularized the catchphrase "You Got the Right One, Baby!"
In 1989, Charles recorded a cover version of the Japanese band Southern All Stars’ song "Itoshi no Ellie" as "Ellie My Love" for a Suntory TV advertisement, reaching #3 on Japan’s Oricon chart. Eventually, it sold more than 400,000 copies, and became that year’s best-selling single performed by a Western artist for the Japanese music market.
In the late ’80s and early ’90s, Charles made appearances on The Super Dave Osbourne Show, where he performed and appeared in a few vignettes where he was somehow driving a car, often as Super Dave’s chauffeur. At the height of his newfound fame in the early nineties, Charles did guest vocals for quite a few projects. He also appeared (with Chaka Khan) on long time friend Quincy Jones’ hit "I’ll Be Good To You" in 1990, from Jones’ album Back on the Block.
Following Jim Henson’s death in 1990, Ray Charles appeared in the one-hour CBS tribute, The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson. He gave a short speech about the deceased, stating that Henson "took a simple song and a piece of felt and turned it into a moment of great power". Charles was referring to the song It’s Not Easy Being Green, which Charles later performed with the rest of the Muppet cast in a tribute to Henson’s legacy.
During the sixth season of Designing Women, Ray Charles vocally performed "Georgia On My Mind", rather than the song being rendered by other musicians without lyrics as in the previous five seasons.
Gladys Knight performed Charles’ "Georgia On My Mind" during the Opening Ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia.
In 2000, Charles made a special guest appearance on Blues Clues Big Musical Movie as a fictional character named G-Clef. The Temptations also made a guest appearance as his companions. Charles recorded "There It Is" during and after filming with Steve Burns and Traci Paige Johnson. After recording, Charles commented "This has been the most fun I ever had since I met President Reagan in ’84."
In 2002 Charles headlined during the Blues Passions Cognac festival in southern France. At one point in the performance a young fan rose to his feet and began to sing an a cappella version of Charles’ early song, "Mess Around"; Charles responded by performing the song.
In 2002 he took part – with other musician – in a peace concert in Rome, which was the first event to take place inside the city’s ancient Colosseum since 404 A.D. The event was organized in partnership with the Glocal Forum and the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation.
In June, 2003, Ray Charles presented one of his greatest admirers, Van Morrison, with his award upon being inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the two sang Morrison’s song from the Moondance album, "Crazy Love". This performance is captured on Morrison’s 2007 album, The Best of Van Morrison Volume 3.
In 2003 Charles performed "Georgia On My Mind" and "America the Beautiful" at a televised annual electronic media journalist banquet held in Washington, D.C., at what may have been his final performance in public. Ray Charles’ final public appearance came on April 30, 2004, at the dedication of his music studio as a historic landmark in the city of Los Angeles
He died on June 10, 2004 of "liver disease", at his home in Beverly Hills, California, surrounded by family and friends. His death was not due to liver cancer as was erroneously reported on certain websites He was interred in the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California.
His final album, Genius Loves Company, released two months after his death, consists of duets with various admirers and contemporaries: B.B. King, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, James Taylor, Gladys Knight, Michael McDonald, Natalie Cole, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Diana Krall, Norah Jones, and Johnny Mathis. The album won eight Grammy Awards, including five for Ray Charles for Best Pop Vocal Album, Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for "Here We Go Again" with Norah Jones, and Best Gospel Performance for "Heaven Help Us All" with Gladys Knight; he also received nods for his duets with Elton John and B.B. King.
The album included a version of Harold Arlen’s "Over the Rainbow", sung as a duet by Charles and Johnny Mathis; that recording was later played at his memorial service.
Two more posthumous albums, Genius & Friends (2005) and Ray Sings, Basie Swings (2006), were released. Genius & Friends consisted of duets recorded from 1997-2005 with artists were personally chosen by Ray Charles. Ray Sings, Basie Swings consists of archived vocals of Ray Charles from a live 1973 performance added to Count Basie’s music. Charles’ vocals recorded from the concert mixing board were added to a new accompaniment by the Count Basie Orchestra (among others). Gregg Field, who had performed as a drummer with both Charles and Basie, produced this album.
Controversies and criticisms
Despite his support of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s and his support for the American Civil Rights Movement, Charles courted controversy when he toured South Africa in 1981, during an international boycott of the country because of its apartheid policy.
Charles was married twice and fathered twelve children by seven different women. He was married for the first time to Eileen Williams on July 31, 1951. This marriage produced no children and ended in divorce in 1952. Three children are from his second marriage to Della Beatrice Howard Robinson, one of his original Raelettes, whom he married on April 5, 1955. They divorced in 1977. His long term girlfriend and partner at the time of his death was Norma Pinella.
His children were:
Charles Wayne Hendricks (son of Marge Hendricks – one of the Raelettes)
Evelyn Robinson (daughter of Louise Mitchell)
Raenee Robinson (daughter of Mae Mosely Lyles)
Sheila Robinson (daughter of Sandra Jean Betts)
Vincent Kotchounian (son of Arlette Kotchounian – worked with him as photographer on Would You Believe album)
David Robinson (son of Della Robinson)
Ray Charles Robinson, Jr. (son of Della Robinson)
Reverend Robert Robinson (son of Della Robinson. The only child allowed to attend his funeral)
Alexandria Bertrand (daughter of Chantelle Bertrand)
Ryan Corey Robinson den Bok (son of Mary Anne den Bok)
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