March 15 in the 20th Century

70 years old today…

American musician, songwriter, film score composer, and record producer, Ryland Peter “Ry” Cooder. A multi-instrumentalist, best known for his slide guitar work, his interest in roots music from the United States has led to collaborations with traditional musicians from many countries.

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Cooder’s solo work has been eclectic, encompassing many genres. He has collaborated with many musicians, notably including Captain Beefheart, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Randy Newman, The Chieftains, and The Doobie Brothers.

Cooder was ranked eighth on Rolling Stone magazine’s 2003 list of “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” (David Fricke’s Picks). A 2010 ranking by Gibson placed him at number 32.

55 years old today…

Sananda Francesco Maitreya (born Terence Trent Howard in Manhattan, New York, United States), better known by his former stage name Terence Trent D’Arby, is an American singer and songwriter who came to fame with his debut studio album, Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby, released in July 1987, which included the singles “Wishing Well” and “Sign Your Name“.

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He adopted a new name, Sananda Maitreya, which he has said relates to a series of dreams he had in 1995. He legally changed his name six years later, explaining, “Terence Trent D’Arby was dead… he watched his suffering as he died a noble death. After intense pain I meditated for a new spirit, a new will, a new identity.”

45 years ago…

…in cinema: Slaughterhouse-Five was released in US cinemas this day in 1972 and is an anti-war/sci fi film based on Kurt Vonnegut’s novel of the same name about a writer who tells a story in random order of how he was a soldier in World War II and was abducted by aliens. The screenplay is by Stephen Geller and the film was directed by George Roy Hill. It stars Michael Sacks, Ron Leibman, and Valerie Perrine, and features Eugene Roche, Sharon Gans, Holly Near, and Perry King. The scenes set in Dresden were filmed in Prague. The other scenes were filmed in Minnesota.

Vonnegut wrote about the film soon after its release, in his preface to Between Time and Timbuktu: “I love George Roy Hill and Universal Pictures, who made a flawless translation of my novel Slaughterhouse-Five to the silver screen … I drool and cackle every time I watch that film, because it is so harmonious with what I felt when I wrote the book.”

5 years ago in…

…Doctor Who: Okay, it’s not strictly 20th Century but this day in 2012 saw the publishing of the novelisation of the lost Fourth Doctor story Shada (1980).  Due to strike action at the BBC, filming was never completed.  In 1992, existing footage was released on video with linking narration by Tom Baker.  From a script written by Douglas Adams, Gareth Roberts, author of a number of new and missing Doctor Who adventures, wrote a magnificent novel that all Who fans should read.

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