"The legend lives on from the Chippawa on down of the big lake they call Gitche Gume." So begins the song by Gordon Lightfoot describing the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, a freighter contracted to be built in 1957 by the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When the ship first set sail in 1958, it was named Edumnd Fitzgerald, who was at the time the Chairman of the Board of Northwestern Mutual and whose father and been a seaman. Over 700 feet long and 75 feet wide, the ship was among the largest ever to sail the Great Lakes.
The ship sank on November 10, 1975 during a storm. In 1994 a diving expedition found the wreckage and photographed it. Among the many photos was one that showed a body, which suggested to experts that the boat may have had structural issues and was not, as originally thought, caused by human failure. In fact, after the expedition Lightfoot altered the line "At 7PM a main hatchway caved in" to remove the suggestion of human error. The song was the second biggest hit of Lightfoot's career, hitting #2 in the USA and #1 in his native Canada one year after the ship sank.
Here is a great on line tribute, including some of the underwater footage of the wreckage. Give it a look:
Oscar-winning producer filmmaker Dino De Laurentiis, whose name was synonymous with big budgets in the 1970s and 80s, died today in Los Angeles. He was 91.
Mesmerized by the films he saw as a boy, De Laurentiis left home at age 17 to attend film school. He gained on the job experience by working on several features, both in front of the camera as an extra as well as behind it. He produced his first feature ("L'amore canta") at age 21 then served in the Italian Army during World War II. After his discharge he returned to the business with a vengeance, producing more than a dozen films in five years. He joined forces with producer Carlo Ponti and the duo produced some of the greatest films Italy had to offer. In 1956 and 1957 the two men were awarded the Best Foreign Film Academy Award for producing the films "La Strada" and "Nights of Cabiria," both directed by Federico Fellini.
After the two men parted ways De Laurentiis founded his own massive studio, called Dinocitta'. However, bad films and a worse economy led to him selling it to the Italian government. In the late 1950s he began producing films that appealed internationally, including such epics as "War and Peace," "Barabbas" and "The Bible: In the Beginning." Starting in 1968 he began producing a string of popular films, including "Barbarella," "The Valachi Papers," "Serpico," "Crazy Joe," "Death Wish" and the highly controversial "Mandingo," In 1976 he produced the first remake of "King Kong," a film highly promoted with a poster featuring the great ape straddling the towers of the World Trade Center. "Kong" was the first in a line of big budget movies and was soon followed by the "Jaws" inspired "Orca." Other big budget films that failed to find an audience include "Hurricane," "Flash Gordon," "Dune" and "Tai-Pan." However, not all of De Laurentiis' projects bombed. He also produced critically acclaimed films like "King of the Gypsies," "Ragtime," " The Dead Zone" and "Manhunter," which featured the first on-screen appearance of Hannibal Lecter. Following the success of "Silence of the Lambs," which De Laurentiis did not produce, the producer bought Thomas Harris' follow up novel, "Hannibal," and brought it to the screen. He then produced a remake of "Manhunter," entitled "Red Dragon," which was the original name of the novel the film was based on. He also produced a "prequel" entitled "Hannibal Rising."
In 1984 he created the DEG (De Laurentiis Entertainment Group) Studio facility in Wilmington, North Carolina. Among the films produced there: "Year of the Dragon," "Maximum Overdrive" and "Blue Velvet." The studio folded in 1987. In 2001 De Laurentiis received the Irving G. Thalberg award during that year's Academy Award ceremonies.
There was a great episode of "Saturday Night Live" that aired when "King Kong" opened featuring Dan Aykroyd as talk show host Tom Snyder and the late John Belushi as De Laurentiis. Asked to explain his motives for making "Kong," De Laurentiis replies, " I want to tell you something.. when the Jaws die, nobody cry.. when my Kong die, everybody cry. Everybody love my Kong.. kids, women, intellectuals, all love my Kong." When later asked to explain an argument between himself and producer Jon Peters, whose "A Star Is Born" beat "Kong" at the box office, "Dino" replies "Maybe so...you're monkey can sing!"
Rumors - Fleetwood Mac
Superman the Movie - Original Soundtrack - Music composed and conducted by John Williams
In 1975 the definitive line up of Fleetwood Mac was born. Gone were Bob Welch, Peter Green, Danny Kirwan, and Jeremy Spencer. In were Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, who joined Mick Fleetwood and Christine and John McVie. The group released the self titled album "Fleetwood Mac," which sold four million copies, powered by the hit single "Rhiannon." The band toured extensively for the next year. When the tour ended the band found themselves in disarray. The McVie's divorced after eight years together. Buckingham and Nicks, who had a very intense on again/off again relationship, also went their own ways. In February 1976 the band gathered in the studio to record their follow up album. The title was suggested by John McVie, who felt that most of the songs being recorded were "journals and diaries" being written about each other with music. In December 1976 the bands label announced the new album and in January 1977 released "Go Your Own Way" as the first single. The response to the song earned "Rumors" an unheard of advance order of 800,000 copies, the most in the history of Warner Brothers records at the time.
Released in February 1977, the album debuted at #3, quickly rising to the top of the charts, where it spent a total of 31 weeks. The album included such hits as "Go Your Own Way," "Dreams," "Don't Stop," "You Make Loving Fun" (all of these reached the top ten) and "The Chain," as well as Mac staples "Second Hand News" and "Goldust Woman." The album would go on to win a Grammy as Album of the Year and as of 2009 had sold 40 million copies worldwide.
Here are one of those "journal and diary" entries, composed by Buckingham, written for Nicks: "Go Your Own Way." Check out Buckinghams' finger work...a very underrated guitarist.
Of all of the composers whose soundtracks I enjoy, none of them compare critically, or commercially, to John Williams. "Jaws," "Star Wars," "Raiders of the Lost Ark"...the list of great film scores is almost immeasurable. What I appreciate the most is Williams' ability to capture a film instantly in it's main title. One of his greatest achievements is his music for "Superman the Movie," like "Star Wars" a rare double album release. Give a listen to the main title theme and tell me you don't envision the Man of Steel flying overhead (I personally think it's funny that Christopher Reeve didn't receive top billing until "Superman III"):
Here is another of my favorite clips, done by a guy who writes words to theme songs. He's done them for "Jaws," "Raiders," "Batman" and others. Funny stuff:
Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. See ya!
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