Stan Lee

By: Greg Rowland

His vision glued together the most complex mythological narrative ever.

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Maurice White

By: Greg Rowland

Led by MAURICE WHITE (born 1941), Earth, Wind & Fire were by far the most commercial cousins of the cosmic-jazz entity known as Sun Ra, lacking Funkadelic’s edge or Pharaoh Sanders’ experimentalism. Don’t be distracted […]

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Little Richard

By: Greg Rowland

LITTLE RICHARD (born 1932) arrived to pulverise our senses in the same pitiless manner that he attacked the upper register of the piano. He called himself the “Architect of Rock’n’Roll,” which is far more respectable […]

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Steve Ditko

By: Greg Rowland

Spider-Man and Dr. Strange co-creator STEVE DITKO (born 1927) is the third member of the triumvirate of genius that originally conceived the Marvel Universe. Yet while Stan Lee and Jack Kirby reflected aspects of the […]

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Jimmy Finlayson

By: Greg Rowland

All hail the Mighty Fin! For was it not JIMMY FINLAYSON (1887-1953), third banana in 33 Laurel and Hardy films, who offered us emancipation through his unique enactment of The Double Take & Fade Away? […]

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Louis Armstrong

By: Greg Rowland

Miles Davis once said that the history of jazz could be summed up by two names: Charlie Parker and LOUIS ARMSTRONG (1901-71). I’d go further, and claim that the ABC of 20th century pop culture […]

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James Whale

By: Greg Rowland

JAMES WHALE (1889-1957) was born in England’s industrial Black Country. Here’s a typical gag from those parts: An old left-wing activist is on his death bed. He announces that he’s joined the Conservative Party. His […]

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Stan Laurel

By: Greg Rowland

While it’s conventional to call Oliver Hardy a “straight man,” it would be more accurate to think of the character created by British comic actor STAN LAUREL (1890- 1965) as the duo’s “curved man.” Though […]

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Miles Davis

By: Greg Rowland

MILES DAVIS (1926-91) was the son of a dentist, but visited a primal Oedipal rebellion upon the smug bourgeois sadism of his father’s profession. A dentist, as you know, uses your mouth to cause you […]

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Fats Waller

By: Greg Rowland

FATS WALLER (1904-43) lives in some impossible space between Paganini, St. Augustine, and James Brown. Tracks like “Handful of Keys” show Fats challenging Art Tatum in sublime stride-piano ostentation. But Waller was also fearlessly upfront […]

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Phil Silvers

By: Greg Rowland

Both PHIL SILVERS (1911-1985) and his best-known character, Sergeant Bilko, were driven by a manic energy that sought to control, disrupt, and ultimately collapse all forces of linear, mathematical, or hierarchical order — reflecting the […]

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