Elvis Was Serious About His Karate

elvis-karate-web

Elvis Presley was serious about his Karate.  In 1958 while in Germany, Elvis developed a interest in the sport of Karate.  He was trained in the Shotokan style of Karate which has a reliance on stability, long stances, and a specif reliance on having strong legs.  Elvis followed this style as he progressed through the various belt, finally obtaining his respected Black Belt  on July 21, 1960.  Up until that point he had trained with several Master including Juergen Seydel, Tetsugio Murakami, Ed Parker (who was the father of American Kempo), and Hank Slomanski, who was the Master who tested Elvis for his black Belt.

From the records that are available, while Elvis was stationed in Germany, during the early 60′s he was able to take his leave in Paris, and do his intense training.    From his initial training Elvis continued to hone his skills.  In the early 70′s he trained with Master Kan Rhee, while he lived in Memphis.  As was tradition Elvis took on the name Mr. Panther.  But he decided to rework his name into Mr. Tiger because of the panther association with the militant Black Panther Party of the time.

In 1973 Elvis honed his skills enough to become a 7th Degree Black belt.  With this prestigious award Elvis also took on the role of an instructor.  Teaching several students at the Pasaryu Karate Association.  One of the things that is remarkable about Elvis is that he trained like a regular student.  He took the physical punishment and rigorous conditioning that is needed for this sport. He trained just like the common people not relying on his fame and status for special treatment.  Although it has been said that some of his students and fellow trainees were sometimes star stuck by his presence.

As he was famous for doing Elvis gave his Karate Master a Cadillac.  He gave him a white custom-deluxe Cadillac Eldorado, after using it for several months as his personal car.

Elvis did perform in a movie featuring Karate called the New Gladiators.  This movie remained unfinished and was never released to the public in the theaters. One of the things that a true fan would know is if you watch some of his live performances he would incorporate some of his Karate stances into his routine.  He blended his Karate style movement, with his musical performance style. Also most of his performance outfits were modeled after a traditional karate gi, which from what has been said were actually pretty comfortable.

Elvis did take his Karate seriously.  He was pretty active in the sport from the late 50′s til his death.

 

 

Glen Campbell: Sittin’ on the Porch in Arizona

glen-campbell-web    One of my favorite Country artists is the legendary Glen Campbell.  From what I know he is still living in sunny Arizona.  For the past few years he has been dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia that some people age into, causing challenges with memory, though processes, and behaviors. The effect on Mr. Campbell was apparent in his 2011 “Farewell Tour”, when he would often forget the words to songs that he had written, and sung for over half a century. According to a Rolling Stone article I recently read Mr. Campbell  is still creating music.  His previous album , released in 2011, was called Ghost on the Canvas.  It was his 61st studio album.  Many though it was his last piece of work.  But apparently it was not.

My enjoyment of Glen’s music was centered on my early youth when he came out with hits like:

  • “Galveston”, from the Galveston album published in 1969
  • “Gentle On My Mind”, from the Gentle On My Mind Album published in 1967
  • “Wichita Lineman”, from Wichita Lineman published in 1968
  • “By The Time I Get to Phoenix”, from By The Time I get to Phoenix published in 1967
  • “Rhinestone Cowboy”, from Rhinestone Cowboy published in 1975

Not only did I enjoy listening to his music, I also enjoyed singing his tunes in the shower.  Yes, I’m a bit of a shower soloist. I think the song I sing best is “Wichita Lineman”, and I think I sound pretty good, even if I say so myself.

Glen Travis Campbell was born on April 22, 1936 in Delight, AR.  Currently he is married to Kimberly Wollen, they were married back in 1982.  He has 8 kids, one of which used to be a flight attendant for the now merged carrier America West Airlines.   Mr. Campbell not only made his mark as a singer, he also has a few movie credits to his name.  He played in 7 movies, one of which was one of my absolute favorite John Wayne movies, True Grit.  His musical accomplishments stretch the gamut.  He has received award from The Academy of Country Music, American Music Awards, Country Music Association awards to name a few.  He was also inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Glen Campbell was one of the first true crossover country music stars.  His latest album Haunting may be his last, we can only hope not.  He currently resides in the Biltmore Estates in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Where he is probably sitten’ on the porch, enjoying the Valley of The Sun’s wonderful fall weather, and still making music.

 

 

 

 

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton “Can’t Make Old Friends”

can't make old friends kenny rogers and dolly parton

Three days ago, Warner Bros released Kenny Rogers’ much awaited album “You Can’t Make Old Friends” creating a fair amount of hype in country music circles. It’s a great production and the album is well received with good reviews thus far, a response which befits a living country (and pop) music legend, such as Kenny Rogers, of course. Kenny’s prolific career has delighted fans for the better part of 60 years, seldom missing the mark for entertainment value, but an added bonus to the album is found in the title track You Can’t Make Old Friends, a duet featuring another country & pop music supernova, Dolly Parton. It’s a collaboration that is long overdue since it’s been 30 years since the two country legends last made chart topping history together, back in the 80′s.

Do Supernovas Need A Gimmick?

There’s definitely a lot to be excited about and news of the album’s release on the 8 October 2013 was enough to draw the faithful crowds and ensure decent sales for the the country music veterans. Add Kenny’s country music Midas touch and his tireless work ethic to the delicious promise of the long-awaited collaboration with Dolly, and one would assume that would pretty much have “sealed the deal” as far as publicity goes. Seems however that there are a few folk out there who were a little less convinced about that, choosing instead to to tap in on that old rumor of romance between the two to incite public interest and draw attention.

There should be no doubt as to how super-awesome I think Kenny and Dolly are but let it be known that yes, I am quite peeved about having an old, almost-a-scandal-but-not-quite rumor dragged out as a curtain raiser for the doubting Thonas’ who have as little faith in country music as they have in securing their ratings or drawing the attention of their online viewership.

Rubik Cubes, Country Music & Toads

As an 80’s kid, Kenny and Dolly were pretty much the reason country music existed by my snot-nosed reasoning. I have vague recollections of clumsily knocking my way around a bull-headed Rubik cube which just wouldn’t give, while absentmindedly wondering what the heck was so special about islands in a stream to anyone beside those darn toads that came out in our backyard at dusk and tried to croak the behinds off from low flying ducks, in the hope of getting wind of a nearby stream!

Back then I didn’t even know that it was country music Dolly was singing, but I knew for sure I liked her cheekiness as much as I loved hearing her voice. As for Kenny, he pretty much had me hooked the first time I heard The Gambler.

“I’m not offended by dumb blonde jokes because I know that I’m not dumb. I also know I’m not blonde.” Dolly Parton at her cheekiest best.

Islands In The Stream – Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton (1983)

The Greatest Country Duet of All Time

Kenny and Dolly first got together in 1983 (seen in the clip above) when they covered the Bee Gees hit Islands In The Stream The chemistry between the two set the lyrics ablaze and the duet topped both country and pop charts that year, marking the start of an evergreen friendship which would be the source of endless speculation for many years to come. The chemistry would also result in Islands In The Stream being voted The Greatest Country Duet of All Time, in 2005.

Even when I finally realized that there was more to country music than Jolene, The Gambler and Islands in the Stream, the new found wit did little to dim the heat that Kenny Rogers  or Dolly Parton emitted individually – as country stars, each in their own right – or as a duo with a sensation-inciting type of chemistry that, consummated, would admittedly have made a blockbusting big screen love story. Not the case though according to both stars’ unwavering denials of any sort of romance between them, both sticking to their guns that what they shared was nothing more than a great bosom friendship.

Of course, by the paparazzi’s devious reckoning  however, no duo could make sparks fly on a stage without setting fireworks off between the sheets. These rumors have survived the years on a media cyclic life-support systems mostly due to the media dated notion that even a false hint of sex sells better than good old fashioned country (and despite Bollywood consistently smacking that notion down to ground, bhangra musical after bhangra musical.) The rumors seem to be seasonally recycled by lazy anchors and conditioned reporters who strategically resuscitate them as they really have no clue as to how much we love country music for what it is – no bells, no whistles and often with just a yellow ribbon flying from our hair.

Huff-Puff-Pass?!

I reckon it’s a smack in the face of Kenny and Dolly’s star stature especially in light of their collective and individual contributions to the country music (and pop) genres. Far as I’m concerned, it’s just tacky playing on those rumors again especially if there really is no change to the story which both Dolly and Kenny have stuck to vehemently for the last 30 years. With  all due respect, since the very start of that story  (somewhere in the 80′s) between Dolly’s tirelessly expanding bosom, Kenny’s leonine charisma with the ladies and halting late life virility plus both stars’ inherent Nip-Tuck affinities, these two  names need very little by way of gimmick and sensationalism to create publicity around any new venture they are engaged in. What I say in fact is that none of these antics measure up to the magnitude of their talent. This is Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton! Living Country Music Legends, by all accounts – who hasn’t heard them sing?! Do we really have to be bamboozled into watching an interview with the promise of a possible “tell-all”? I. Don’t. Think. So.

Gossip surrounding their relationship did its bit to keep them front of mind back then and fuel record sales despite both Kenny and Dolly categorically denying any romantic involvement, admittedly. Did they work it to their sweet advantage? For sure. And, it was a recipe that worked well for them but really, it’s so last century now when some talk show host opens that can, it just starts to be annoying. Then to see headlines announcing the album’s release competing with headline’s about those stale old rumors – well, doesn’t that just steal some dignity from the album?

Can’t Make Old Friends” is a sweet song, thoughtfully composed and loaded with personal sentiment that’s just tailored made for the two old buddies. There’s a whole lot of good old fashioned, country sentiment, warmth and affection but what about that Rogers-Parton heat of yesteryear? Well, I have to admit that, no sir, in all honesty the heat has died down to a comforting warmth which is more reminiscent of a cozy hot-water bottle which warms the feet in heart of winter, than spikes the passion that shoots from fiery lovers’ blaze. And, at 75 (Kenny) and 67 (Dolly), we should all be okay with that, methinks?

As a fan, I’m more than a little peeved that the interview with Marc Lamont of the The Huff Live, made headlines purely for the mention of those stale rumors about an affair between the two (which never was) while, I felt that interview had so much more warmth and genuine friendship to show when Kenny discusses Dolly’s silly faxing quirk. To once more have the “Rogers-Parton” non-Affair dangled before my nose in the hope of titillating and sensationalizing a stale, dead-beat  rumor only to have it denied, YET AGAIN, is dull and surely The Huffington Post could have done better than that? Going the “non-Affair” route was lazy and lacking in creativity and I fail to be impressed by that recent interview with Marc Lamont Hill from Huffington Post, or the sensationalized, rather misleading headlines which followed.

Much Ado About Nothing

Cheap trick if you ask me. Had Kenny actually brought some new information to light, it may have been a different story but he didn’t, and paparazzi get over it, it just ain’t gonna happen! ? So what the heck is all the fuss about?  Why pry  that empty tin of worms open (AGAIN) – whoever had that bright idea should be reminded that these two artists are contemporaries of legends such Elvis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Michael Jackson to name but a few and did a good job of making their mark on country music and taking it into homes and hearts of people around the world without an ounce of sleaze or tacky, stale and dated gimmicks. There was so much more to the interview that may have been worth working with but…. I deviate so lets leave it at that, for now. All I say is: Huff-Puff-Pass on the post and go straight to the music!

And speaking of which, as far as the album goes, it’s a pretty decent production. The duet  is also quite a sweet offering, worth listening to but we all know that it probably won’t be the history-making type of chart-topping track that Islands In The Stream was.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

 You Can’t Make Old Friends, Kenny Rogers ft. Dolly Parton (October 2013)

 

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Elvis Presley – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Hound Dog!

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The Gambler ― Kenny Rogers, 1978

kenny rogers the gambler

Lyrical Trinity

For me, Kenny Rogers and The Gambler are synonymous with the country music genre,  and I suspect that this may be true for anyone who has ever listened to country, and knows what it is.

To some degree, I suspect that many of us make this association because of a brief, magical moment in country music history, that created a lyrical trinity between the Country Music, Kenny Rogers and The Gambler; which carried all “Born in USA” products right around the world. It took The Gambler, Kenny Rogers and Country Music around the world and straight into the ears and hearts of any hearing person.

The Gambler, is the title track from Kenny Rogers’ sixth  album, The Gambler,  released by United Recording Artists in 1978.  Originally performed by Don Shiltz, the songwriter who wrote it, but The Gambler went on to become Kenny Rogers’ signature song, creating the platform which would establish Rogers firmly amongst the top artists of the 1970′s and 1980′s  and secure it a  Grammy for 1978 Song of the Year.

“…a brief, magical moment in country music history… created a lyrical trinity between the Country Music, Kenny Rogers and The Gambler,”

Lyrics

The Gambler by Kenny Rogers (1978)

  On a warm summer’s eve
On a train bound for nowhere
I met up with the gambler
We were both too tired to sleep
So we took turns a-starin’
Out the window at the darkness
The boredom overtook us, and he began to speak

He said, “Son, I’ve made my life
Out of readin’ people’s faces
Knowin’ what the cards were
By the way they held their eyes
So if you don’t mind my sayin’
I can see you’re out of aces
For a taste of your whiskey
I’ll give you some advice”

So I handed him my bottle
And he drank down my last swallow
Then he bummed a cigarette
And asked me for a light
And the night got deathly quiet
And his faced lost all expression
He said, “If you’re gonna play the game, boy
You gotta learn to play it right

You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em
Know when to fold ‘em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done

Now every gambler knows the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away
And knowin’ what to keep
‘Cause every hand’s a winner
And every hand’s a loser
And the best that you can hope for
Is to die in your sleep”

So when he finished speakin’
He turned back for the window
Crushed out his cigarette
And faded off to sleep then somewhere in the darkness
The gambler he broke even,
but in his final words
I found an ace that I could keep

You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em
Know when to fold ‘em
Know when to walk away
know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done

You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em
(When to hold ‘em)
Know when to fold ‘em
(When to fold ‘em)
Know when to walk away
know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done

You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em
Know when to fold ‘em
Know when to walk away
know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done

 

 

Leann Rimes-New CD

Leann Rimes recently (2013) dropped a new album that has fans wondering what took her so long. The all original material from the country star has fans anxiously waiting to see if she’ll come out with more. Over the last several years the singers private life has been very public and followed by the media and press. When writing her newest material she hoped to bring the focus back on her singing and less on her personal life, however she uses the experiences to write her music. Rimes brings country music back to its roots with a truly country sounding album, filled with background voices and fiddles. The songs she wrote speaks of theleann-rimes-spitfire_article_story_main pain that has transpired both hers and that she caused. From affairs and divorce to being the other woman. Women were harder on her than men, because as the other woman she is the thing they fear the most but in her newest music her acknowledgment of what she had done wrong and apologetic tone captured their hearts and brought a more forgiving attitude forward from the audience. Locked in the recording studio far away from the eyes of the public Rimes finally tells her side of the story through her music. She tells her tale through vocals and lets the world see her point of view.

 

 

George Jones-One of the Originals

410px-George_JonesAfter George Jones has done it all. From award winning, breath taking, tear snatching songs to arrests, drug abuse, alcoholism, abuse ad more. Mostly known for his music and the ability to make men smile and women melt, Jones has a history that’s far from pretty or spotless. He makes people feel human though. Just because hes famous doesn’t mean he didn’t have his fair share of bumps and scrapes along the way. Jones was married at a young ago, twice if fact before he turned 24 years old. His first marriage lasted only a year and his second 14 years. Jones then married fellow music star Tammy Wynette in 1969.

After lengthy battles with infections and respiratory problems, several hospital stays, and countless health issues Jones gave up the ghost in April 2013. His memorial service was full of tears of sorrow and laughter at his old antics that were talked about. Jones made many accomplishments in his life, both personal and professional.  In 1956 he was announced most promising vocalist, in 1992 he was entered into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and a Kennedy Honoree in 2008. He also got a Lifetime Achievement award in 2012. George Glenn Jones battled alcoholism and drug addictions through out his life. His personal life and professional life sometimes got mixes up one affecting. He canceled several concerts through out his career due to intoxication and overdoses which resulted in law suits and lost gigs. The song “The Blues Man” was written about his ups and downs, trials and tribulations that he faced during his career. This song shows the true feelings behind the mask.

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“Time Takes it’s Toll” on Randy Travis’ Heart

Randy Travis Live.(Image sourc: abcnews.go.com.)Latest reports of country legend Randy Travis’ condition are still cause for grave concern as he is still in a critical condition.

Randy was hospitalized on Sunday (7 July), suffering from Viral Cardiomyopathy, a heart disease which results in a life-threatening inflammation of the heart muscle. Cardiomyopathy is a heart disease which can be fatal in some cases. It is  infection of the heart (muscle), with an inflammatory permeation of the tissues resulting in life-threatening damage to the heart. Unlike a heart attack however, there is no blockage of coronary arteries. The word from his representative is that:

Contrary to reports, Randy Travis has not undergone heart surgery… Travis … underwent placement of an IMPELLA peripheral left ventricular assist device for stabilization prior to transferring hospitals.

“They say that time takes it’s toll on a body”

The lyrics from his hit “Forever And Ever Amen” ring ironic now as all the heartbreaks and high-living seem to be taking their toll on Travis’ heart. Randy is no stranger to scandal but the last few years have been particularly tumultuous for the 54-year old country singer.

Randy Travis found himself under frequent media exposure since 2010 when we first heard of the break-up of his 19 year marriage to Libby Hatcher. Coined as the “break-up of one of the most successful marriages in show biz”, news of the split garnered a fair amount of public sympathy for Libby, who managed Randy’s country music career for almost 30 years.

Randy-Travis-Butt-Naked-DWI-Mugshot

Last year was particularly tumultuous for Randy Travis and started off with him being arrested in February and charged with public intoxication.

In April, news of his estranged wife management company’s motion to sue Randy hit the news and by August it was clear that Randy Travis was bending dangerously under the pressure. He was again arrested after being found naked and intoxicated, on the side of the road, by Grayston County state troopers. Two weeks later, he was again cited for assault.

130050 Randy-Travis-Modest-Beginnings-Childhood

Troubled Teens 

Randy Travis comes from modest beginnings but the North Carolina county singer is no stranger to scandal. Travis’  troubled teens were colored by country music, an unfortunate affinity for drugs and booze – and peppered with a some serious “run-ins” with the law. By the time he turned 18, he had faced charges for assault, breaking and entering as well as a few misdemeanor charges – in fact, the reckless Randy was on the verge of a prison sentence when country music threw him a life-line.

It was a blessing in plain sight when Elizabeth Hatcher, the manager of a club he performed at, recognized his potential and took him under her wing.She applied for legal guardianship of the young Randy Travis. Under Hatcher’s guidance and direction for the next few years, (and with a fair amount of hard work) – in 1981, Travis was signed by Warner Bros Records and released his debut single “On The Other Hand,” which, unfortunately performed poorly, only making it to number 67 in the country music charts.

Randy Travis finally struck gold in 1986 with the release of the single “1982,” which immediately blasted its way straight to No.1. The country hit held its position for 8 weeks, selling 5 million copies and finally paving the way to Randy Travis’ first Grammy, for the album “Always And Forever” released in 1987. The album also secured him a Country Music Association’s Male vocalist of the Year Award for him that year.

Prognosis for Randy’s Condition

Although Viral Cardiomyopathy may prove fatal in some cases, there are treatments options with efficacy in remedying the situation. Treatments which doctors may consider for Randy include clinical treatments like digoxin and diuretics, bed rest, corticosteroids or possibly a pacemaker; but until the old cowboy’s condition stabilizes, it is still touch and go for the “Forever And Ever, Amen” star.

Did you know Dolly Parton was this passionate about reading?

If you were to ask me who my favorite country music star of all time was, I would have a pretty tough time answering you. With so many greats like Garth Brooks and Willie Nelson, it is almost impossible to narrow it down to just one country music entertainer. However, one of my favorites has always been Dolly Parton. She has led the way for so many of todays stars and has even starred in some really good movies.

One thing I didn’t know about Dolly Parton until this morning was how passionate she was about books and reading. This story showed up on YouTube this morning, so I thought I would share it with you.

Please comment below letting us know what your favorite Dolly Parton song of all time is.

“Mars Attacks” Musician Slim Whitman Dies at age 90

Slim Whitman

Yesterday, on 6/19/13, beloved country music singer and song writer Ottis Dewey “Slim” Whitman, Jr. passed away at the age of 90 due to heart failure.  Slim was best known for his yodeling country style love songs like “Secret Love” and “Indian Love Call”.

mars_attacks

Because I wasn’t alive in the 50′s to enjoy his music, he is best known to me as the singer who wrote the song used in the 1996 movie “Mars Attacks” that caused the aliens heads to explode.   If you haven’t yet seen this film, I highly recommend it!

Throughout the years, Slim Whitman was able to sell over 120 million records, and his music has brought joy to millions of people around the world. You will be missed Mr. Whitman.

I found a great YouTube video highlighting some of his career.  If you have anything you would like to add about Slim or his music, please comment below.