Rod McKuen 1933 - 2015

Rodney Marvin "Rod" McKuen (April 29, 1933 – January 29, 2015) was an American poet, songwriter, composer, and singer. He was one of the best-selling poets in the United States during the late 1960s. Throughout his career, McKuen produced a wide range of recordings, which included popular music, spoken word poetry, film soundtracks, and classical music. He earned two Oscar nominations and one Pulitzer nomination for his serious music compositions. McKuen's translations and adaptations of the songs of Jacques Brel were instrumental in bringing the Belgian songwriter to prominence in the English-speaking world. His poetry deals with themes of love, the natural world, and spirituality, and his thirty books of poetry have sold millions of copies. McKuen had recently been hospitalized and died Thursday, January 29, 2015, at a Beverly Hills rehabilitation center of respiratory arrest after suffering from pneumonia.

VIDEO: Rod McKuen ~ IF YOU GO AWAY ~ song by Jacques Brel. English lyrics by Rod McKuen. McKuen and Jacques Brel collaborated on many songs that became hits. For this reason the two formed a close friendship. McKuen says: "When news of jacques death came I stayed locked in my bedroom and drank for a week."


Ward Swingle, musician who made Bach swing, dies at 87

Ward Lamar Swingle (September 21, 1927 – January 19, 2015) was an American vocalist and jazz musician who founded The Swingle Singers in France in 1962. Swingle then moved to France in 1951 on a Fulbright scholarship, where he studied piano with Walter Gieseking and also worked as a rehearsal pianist for Les Ballets de Paris. In 1959, he was a founding member of Les Double Six of Paris, which specialised in scat singing of jazz standards. Swingle subsequently applied the scat singing idea to the works of Johann Sebastian Bach. This concept was the foundation for The Swingle Singers, which became fully established by 1962. The Swingle Singers released their albums Jazz Sebastian Bach and Bach's Greatest Hits in 1963. Their early recordings won five Grammy Awards.


VIDEO: BACH & friends - A two-hour Documentary with Joshua Bell, Bobby McFerrin, Béla Fleck, Philip Glass, Chris Thile, Hilary Hahn, Edgar Meyer, Simone Dinnerstein, Emerson String Quartet, Manuel Barrueco, Swingle Singers, Glenn Gould...

Elena Obraztsova, diva of the Bolshoi Opera, Is Dead at 75

WIKIPEDIA...|...NYTimes Obit

Elena Vasiliyevna Obraztsova (Russian: Елена Васильевна Образцова; 7 July 1939 – 12 January 2015) was a Russian mezzo-soprano, widely recognised as one of the greatest opera singers of all time, thanks to her outstanding stage presence and vocal abilities.

VIDEO: From Bizet 's Carmen Act 1. Vienna State Opera. Carlos Kleiber conductor. December 9, 1978

Ervin Drake, Composer of Pop Songs, Dies at 95

Ervin Maurice Druckman (April 3, 1919 – January 15, 2015), better known as Ervin Drake, was an American songwriter whose works include such American Songbook standards...
Frank Sinatra’s “It Was a Very Good Year,” Billie Holiday’s “Good Morning Heartache” and the inspirational “I Believe,” sung by Frankie Laine.Mr. Drake wrote the words and music for the wistful “It Was a Very Good Year” in 1961 for Bob Shane of the Kingston Trio. Mr. Sinatra heard it on his car radio driving to Palm Springs, Calif., and his recording of it on a comeback album in 1966 hit the Top 10.His other songs include “Across the Wide Missouri,” “A Room Without Windows,” “Castle Rock” and “Father of the Girls.” Among the other stars who recorded his lyrics were the Andrews Sisters, Tony Bennett, Duke Ellington, Barbra Streisand and Sarah Vaughan. The Sinatra version has remained a staple on radio and sometimes on television. NYTimes Obit...|...WIKIPEDIA

VIDEO: Ervin Drake, the composer of 'It Was A Very Good Year' tells the story of how Sinatra came to record this song.