Births and Dispatches on Christmas Day…


We have no choice (normally) the day we die….William Shakespeare died on his 52nd birthday…There are certain days you wouldn’t wish to die on…one such being Christmas day.

Did you know the great Charlie Chaplain passed away on Christmas Day?
Joan Miro, the Spanish surrealist painter, died at his home in Majorca after a substantial life, aged 90.

Go back many years and you will find Adrian I, Italian Pope (772-95), who also enjoyed longevity dying aged 95.

In more recent times you find in 2004 – Gennady Strekalov, Russian cosmonaut left earth for the afterlife.

In 1995, Rat Pack member Dean Martin died on Christmas Day, at the age of 78.

In 2006 – the legendary James Brown, rhythm & blues, gospel, jazz, soul and funk singer dubbed The Godfather of Soul passed away following a heart attack.

Eartha Kitt, American actress and singer, (she has that instantly recognizable voice) died in 2008.

There are those equally unlucky in a way who are born on Christmas day. Christmas birthdays are so rare: according to a 2006 Harvard University study, December 25 is least common day for births (after February 29)
One such person is Shane MacGowan, lead singer of The Pogues, also a man who must lick his lips around Christmas, as he must look forward to royalties for a well-known Christmas hit, The Fairytale of New York.

One of Hollywood’s leading men during the 20th Century, Humphrey Bogart also celebrated his birthday day on December 25th every year until his demise in 1957

Annie Lennox, that singer with the fantastic voice, one time lead singer of the Eurythmics was also born on Christmas day.

A brilliant influential musician Cab Calloway, celebrated as one of the undisputed giants of jazz, scat pioneer Cabell “Cab” Calloway came to define the Harlem sound, is another born on Christmas day. Cab Calloway is noted for his barnstorming performance of Minnie the Moocher, which received a lot of attention as it was included in the much celebrated “Blue Brothers” film.

Sir Isaac Newton One of the most influential scientists of all time who formulated the laws of Gravity. Sir Isaac Newton was born on Christmas Day in 1642.  The  legend goes he was sitting under an apple tree when an apple fell and hit him on the head, thus giving him the idea for gravity…maybe the reality was different.

I happened to see Quentin Crisp give a talk in Vienna many years ago. Quentin is another born on Christmas day. His life was subject to a film, “The Naked Civil Servant” which starred John Hurt. Quentin Crisp was a kind of 60s version of Oscar Wilde.

Have you ever seen Stephen King’s Carrie, then you would know the actress Sissy Spacek. She spent her late teenage years hanging out at Andy Warhol’s infamous Factory


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Francis H Powell, author of Flight of Destiny, 22 quirky short stories…

I enjoyed these tales as they gave me a fantastic break from my daily routine and I enjoyed remembering them and day dreaming about them afterwards. They’re a little Ray Bradbury, a little Stephen King, but with Powell’s own unique twists. Very interesting read.


Killed by the Music Industry !!!


You open your door, take a few steps…waiting for you is a crowd of photographers, with cameras aimed at you, snapping away wildly, the effect of the multitude of flashes, is like strobe lights, blinding you, the noise is excruciating as well . The photographers are like hunters, tracking their prey, they have no feelings for you, they are concerned more about the photos they will be sending off to their editors and to agencies. Your security guards help to usher you to your car, as the photographers continue to circle you, hungry for more photos. Having managed to shut the door of the car, your driver manages to drive away, past the melee. This ritual is the same, day in, day out.

You arrive on stage, the crowd scream in anticipation. You have been drinking heavily, it is all you know to do to dampen your inner pain, well this as well as the cocaine, crack and heroine, you use to counter balance the demons you have been fighting , since your childhood. Rather than sing, you stagger about, the crowd become more and more agitated. The fact that you don’t burst into song, causes some whistle and hiss, previously they were showing their adulation, now they show their contempt. All those happy memories of your early gigs in front of a few hundred people are distant memories, now you have to perform in stadiums packed with fans, the gloss has worn off, you don’t want to be there…in fact you shouldn’t be there, you should be sorting out your head, trying to put some of those demons to bed. Now you are owned by other people, you have contracts to fulfil, they don’t care about you, but they love the success you are having and you are a cash cow.

Even when you are honored, at the top of your profession, something feels shallow. They want you to be clean, if you are too fucked up, you are no good for them, but at the same time they are working you like a mule.
It’s no surprise that so many talented musicians, die before they reach thirty (there is of course the 27 club, featuring Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. Amy Winehouse, also died age 27 and is subject to a controversial film. Even if you are not inspired by her music, this film makes fascinating watching, as well as being heart rendering. I wonder what was going through many people’s mind at her funeral? Had some people contributed to her downfall and death? There must have been some guilty consciences…

Like many people she had this destructive streak. If she wasn’t plying herself with drugs, it was alcohol, and her death was put down to alcohol poisoning. Why should we be sad? Every so many generations comes a singer that is exceptional, outstanding or which adjective you choose to use…Amy was one such singer. By the end her life was a circus, she had lost control.

Even in semi-conscious states Amy was put on a plane and sent out to do concerts. There is a slight “Syd and Nancy” feel about Amy and her husband Blake Fielder-Civil. In the film Blake does not across very favorably, with druggy sounding drawl. It was he, who introduced Amy to harder drugs.
Blake is Amy’s partner in this spiraling down to oblivion. Both tortured souls, both kindred spirits…
All the pain Amy has gathered in her mind also adds to her incredible creativity. There is that amazing captivating voice of hers, up with the jazz greats…but there is also the fact that she puts so much of herself into her songs.

She was incredibly volatile, when you see footage of Doors concerts you see these really long rambling solos, by the musicians, who must have wondered when Jim Morrison was going to pick up the microphone and sing. There must have been an incredible unpredictability with Amy.
Some people might live to hundred and pack a lot less than the likes of Jim Morrison or Amy Wine house. Their success ultimately played a big part in their tragic early demise. Maybe people don’t think it this way…but the music industry can kill you.

Article by Francis H Powell
Author of Flight of Destiny, 22 short stories