by Robert Wilkinson
Today is the birthday of two musical giants!
Harry Belafonte (March 1, 1927) is one of the best known singers, songwriters, and actors in American history, along with being a passionate social activist. Once known as “the King of Calypso” in the 1950s, he had 50+ year careers in film and music while also being a major civil, human, and political rights activist, humanitarian, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Godfather of Live Aid, and outspoken critic of retrograde politics.
I found some great videos from various points in his career that should make you feel happy, and perhaps even feel like dancing!
Here’s a great clip of Harry in a live performance of his first single, "Matilda."
A truly great live 1997 performance of his signature hit, "Day-O (the Banana Boat song)"/a>From the same concert, Harry live performing “Island in the Sun” and “Kwela”
From 1957, a live performance on the Nat King Cole show with Harry and Nat doing a duet “Mama Look A Boo Boo.” From the 1960s on the Danny Kaye show, Harry and Danny doing a duet of Mama Look A Boo Boo”
From 1966, Harry and Danny Kaye doing a live performance of “Hava Nagila”
From later in his career, a live performance of “Try to Remember”
We’ll close this brief tribute to Harry with a fantastic live performance of his internationally known mega-hit, “Jamaica Farewell” - check it out!!
We now move to the other birthday boy, the amazing Roger Daltry (1 March 1944), front man for the Who. As I wrote for Peter Townshend’s birthday celebration,
I saw the Who 6 times between 1967 and 1976. They were a unique pyrotechnical sonic spectacle, and were the first to pioneer the destruction of their instruments as a work of performance art. Even though it started by mistake, it became a standard of their act, and was the influence imitated by Jimi, the Yardbirds in the movie "Blow Up," and a hundred acts since then.
At the forefront of it all was Peter Townshend, thrashing at his guitar, making windmill moves that hit on the strings until his fingers were bloody. As Pete leapt with both feet in the air, Roger Daltrey was slinging the mic in circles that grew ever wider until the mic went straight up to the ceiling only for him to jerk it down at the exact moment he needed to sing, yell, or scream some memorable line into it.
Keith Moon had the biggest drum kit I'd ever seen, and played every one of those drums and every cymbal including both base drums going simultaneously frenetic and pounding out rhythms and counter rhythms no other drummer had ever done, or has ever done since. He played a thousand beats a minute in every form imaginable, and destroyed his kit after every performance I ever saw. I also gather he blew up more hotel toilets than any person in history, but that's a story of "Moon the Loon."
Through it all John Entwhistle stood stiff and tall, expressionless, pounding out bass lines that with the drums created the most frenetic rhythm section imaginable. All of this was held together by the songs, sonic and powerful and soaring and deep and driving and ringing the hall until the audience just stood there in awe.
The Who at their peak are generally considered one of the best rock bands in history, right up there with the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin. They played both the Monterrey Pop Festival AND Woodstock!
Here are a few amazing video performances of this singular force of nature that electrified the world of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, so enjoy this blonde “Ox” whose voice gave us such lines as “meet the new boss, same as the old boss,” and “won’t get fooled again.” Besides his music, his performance as Tommy in the movie of the same name was at times chilling, moving, and jaw-dropping, as were his performances in the Who performance tour rockumentary film "The Kids Are Alright." Either or both of these movies are worth a new look!
First, some tame stuff from early in their career. Here's a promotional video done in 1964 for their first smash hit, "I Can't Explain." (Sorry for the ad up front).
Here’s an early gem from 1965, a video of the Who lip-synching to the awesome studio version of “Substitute” John's "lead bass" pumps big time!
A rare (and very twisted!) gem! I found the original studio version of a song John wrote for the B side of "Substitute," "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."
This one's a lost gem! From an uncompleted movie in 1964, back when the Who were known as the High Numbers, here's "The High Numbers performing "Ooh Poo Pah Doo" and "I Gotta Dance To Keep From Crying."
Here's The Who on the last "Shindig!" show in 1965 doing a medley of "I Can't Explain," "Daddy Rolling Stone," and "My Generation."
From the Happy Jack album, stills set to the studio cut of Entwistle's "Doctor, Doctor."
Some live performances! From the Beat Club, 1967, "I'm A Boy,"
Another of my favorite tunes from that era! Here are the Who live at the Marquee Club in 1967 doing “So Sad ‘Bout Us.”
Here's The Who live in Helsinki 1967 doing "Substitute" and "My Generation."
From the same era in 1968, the Who in a music video of them lip-synching to the studio version of “I Can See For Miles”
A great live performance of the controversial masterpiece, "Pictures of Lily."
Here's an exciting (and loud!) version of the John Entwistle song opening the great Live At Leeds concert album. If you're so inclined, turn it up! "Heaven and Hell."
From their live performance at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 with John Entwistle in a skeleton outfit leading the Who in opening the set with "Heaven and Hell." You'll note that he's the only one standing still with an imperturbable look on his face in the midst of the swirling chaos!
Here’s as much of the entire 1969 set at the Isle of Wight as I could find. It's b/w, but it's still the Who!
From a few years later, here's John Entwistle performing a song he wrote for the "Happy Jack" album. Live on the King Biscuit Flour Hour in 1975. set to stills, "Whiskey Man."
I was in Houston Texas November 1975 for this show! It was the first show of their 1975 US tour, and I and my friends had been waiting for that night for a long time! Yes, they really did achieve a “maximum r & b sound” on stage that rivaled or surpassed what they did in the studio when they weren’t maxing out their amps!
I found as many clips from that show as I could, and put them in order of the set list. For your enjoyment, a live concert by the Who of
From the same 1975 tour, this time in Cleveland, the Who doing John's composition "Boris the Spider."
Here they are live in Essen in 1981 doing “You Better You Bet”
Here’s the official music video from 1981 of the Who doing ">"You Better,You Bet."
For the closer today, from Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, 17th December 1982, the Who doing "Boris the Spider."
And for the encore, here's a live performance by the Who at Radio City Music Hall in 1989 set to stills of the haunted John Entwistle composition from "Tommy," "Cousin Kevin."
So here’s a big birthday shout-out to two major league talents whose voices still resonate today! May you both have many more years and many more songs.
© Copyright 2013 Robert Wilkinson