Saturday, January 14, 2023

The Late Great Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck, the guitar god known for his work with The Yardbirds and his solo work, died on January 10 2023 at the age of 78. The cause was bacterial meningitis.

Jeff Beck was born on June 24 1944 in Wallington, Surrey, England. He was drawn to music from an early age and sang in a church choir when he was 10. He was 15 years old when he built his first guitar and then taught himself to play the instrument. He was influenced by such guitarists as Les Paul, Gene Vincent's guitarist Cliff Gallup, B.B. King, and Steve Cropper.

Jeff Beck attended the Wimbledon College of Art. Afterwards he was employed in a variety of jobs. In 1963 he formed The Nightshift. The band recorded one single, a cover of T-Bone Walker's "Stormy Monday, on the Piccadilly label. For a short time he was the lead guitarist for the Croydon band The Rumbles and later the Chiswick band The Tridents. He played as a session player on The Fitz and Startz's 1964 single "I'm Not Running Away."

It was in March 1965 that The Yardbirds recruited Jeff Beck as their lead guitarist to replace Eric Clapton. It was while Jeff Beck that The Yardbirds produced many of their hits, including "Heart Full of Soul," Evil Hearted You," "I'm a Man," and "Shape of Things." It was in June 1966 that Jimmy Page temporarily took over as The Yardbirds' bassist following Paul Samwell-Smith's departure. He was bassist only until Chris Dreja could master the instrument. Once that happened, Jimmy Page became lead guitarist in tandem with Jeff Beck. Eventually Mr. Beck would be fired due to his often explosive temper and his perfectionism, as well as his tendency not to show up for concerts at times.

Following his departure from The Yardbirds, Jeff Beck recorded singles for Mike Most in 1967. It was also in 1967 that he formed The Jeff Beck Group with vocalist Rod Stewart and rhythm guitarist Ronnie Wood. While the line-up would change from time to time, The Jeff Beck Group ultimately recorded four albums: Truth in 1968, Beck-Ola in 1969, Rough and Ready in 1971, and Jeff Beck Group in 1972. While it had been recorded in 1966 before The Jeff Beck Group formed, Jeff Beck's instrumental "Beck's Bolero" was included on the album Truth and became one of his most lasting successes.

After the dissolution of The Jeff Beck Group, Jeff Beck formed Beck, Bogert & Appice with  bassist Tim Bogert, and drummer Carmine Appice. They released one album in 1973 before breaking up. Afterwards Jeff Beck would release twelve solo albums. He would also collaborate with other musicians, including Jeff Lieber on the 1992 album Frankie's House, the 1993 album Crazy Legs with The Big Town Playboys, and the 2022 album 18 with Johnny Depp. He also played on numerous songs with various artists, including "Trudi" on Donovan's album Barabajagal, Stevie Wonder's song  "Lookin' for Another Pure Love" on his album Talking Book,. Stanley Clarke's song "Rock 'n Roll Jelly" on the album Modern Man, and so on.

I don't think anyone can argue that Jeff Beck wasn't one of the greatest guitarists of all time. His level of technical skill was greater than most of the guitarists of his time. Furthermore, he was versatile, able to play the blues, rock, jazz, classical, and yet other genres. It was not unusual for him to blend various types of music together. What is more, Jeff Beck was an innovator. It was while he was with The Yardbirds that he introduced audio feedback and distortion on the guitar to rock music. Much of his work, particularly the Jeff Beck Group album Truth, would have a lasting impact on heavy metal. Rock music would certainly sound different without Jeff Beck.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Godspeed Carole Cook

Carole Cook, who appeared in the movies The Incredible Mr. Limpet and Grandview U.S.A. and made many guest appearances on television, died yesterday, January 11 2023, at the age of 98.

Carole Cook was born Mildred Frances Cook in Abilene, Texas on January 14 1914. She took an interest in acting after seeing her first stage production at age four. She graduated from Baylor University in 1945, where she studied Greek drama. She worked in regional theatre, and then went to New York. She made her Broadway debut in a revival of Threepenny Opera in 1954.

It was while she was in Warren, Ohio, appearing in a production of Kismet, when she got a call from Lucille Ball, who had read a review of her in Annie Get Your Gun. Miss Ball asked her to come to California to audition for the Desilu Workshop, Desilu's training program for young actors. She signed with Desilu and made her television debut in 1959 in the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse episode "The Desilu Revue," which highlighted many of Desilu's young performers (among them future TCM host Robert Osborne). In 1960 she appeared in two episodes of U.S. Marshal, a syndicated Western television series produced by Desilu. It was Lucille Ball who convinced her to use "Carole" as a stage name, after Carole Lombard whom Miss Ball admired.

In the Sixties Carole Cook made several appearances on The Lucy Show, playing the recurring role of Lucy's friend Thelma Green, as well as other roles. She also guest starred on Lucille Ball's show Here' Lucy. In the Sixties Carole Cook guest starred on such shows as Dobie Gillis, The New Phil Silvers Show, Kentucky Jones, Vacation Playhouse, Daniel Boone, My World and Welcome to It, and That Girl. She appeared in the movies Palm Springs Weekend (1963) and The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964). She appeared on such variety shows and game shows as The Bob Newhart Show (not to be confused with the later sitcom of the same name), The Hollywood Palace, Password, The Joey Bishop Show, and Dean Martin Presents the Golddiggers. She played Dolly Levi in a stage production of Hello, Dolly that toured Australia in 1965. She was only the second actress to play Dolly, after Carol Channing.

In the Seventies Carole Cook made more guest appearances on Here's Lucy. She had the recurring roles of Carole Crenshaw on McMillan & Wife, Flora on Chico and the Man, and Marie Stella on Kojak. She guest starred on the shows Sarge, Griff, Maude, Baretta, Ellery Queen, Emergency!, Bronk, Starsky and Hutch, and Charlie's Angels. She appeared in the movie American Gigolo (1980). She appeared on Broadway in Romantic Comedy.

In the Eighties Carole Cook appeared in the movies Summer Lovers (1982), Sixteen Candles (1984), and Grandview, U.S.A. (1984). She had recurring roles on the TV shows Dynasty and Cagney & Lacey. She guest starred on the TV shows Darkroom; Laverne & Shirley; Strike Force; Capitol; Trapper John, M.D.; Knight Rider; Hart to Hart; CBS Children's Mystery Theatre; The Love Boat; Quincy, M.E.; The A-Team; Magnum, P.I.; Murder, She Wrote; and A Family for Joe. She appeared on Broadway in 42nd Street.

In the Nineties Miss Cook appeared in the movies Fast Money (1996) and Lost & Found (1999). She guest starred on the show Strip Mall. In the Naughts she guest starred on the show Grey's Anatomy. She was the voice of Pearl Gesner in the animated film Home on the Range (2004). In the Teens Carole Cook had the recurring role of Pearl on the TV show Break a Hip. She guest starred on the show Major Crimes. She appeared in the movies A Very Sordid Wedding (2017) and Waiting in the Wings: Still Waiting (2018).

Carole Cook was an amazing actress. She had a particular gift for musical comedy, possessing a good voice and impeccable comic timing. She always enriched anything she was in, from playing flirty hotelier Naomi Yates in Palm Springs Weekend to the title character's nagging wife in The Incredible Mr. Limpet. She was a delight on television as well, whether it was in a recurring role like Thelma on The Lucy Show or a guest appearance like Laverne & Shirley. Carole Cook was truly a great talent.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Earl Boen Passes On

Earl Boen, who appeared in three of the Terminator movies as well as such TV shows as It's a Living and Who's the Boss?, died on January 5 2023 at the age of 81. He had Stage 4 lung cancer.

Earl Boen was born on August 8 1941. He made his television debut in a production of Cyrano de Bergerac on Great Performances in 1974. In the Seventies he guest starred on the shows The Streets of San Francisco, What's Happening!!, Kojak; Rafferty; Hawaii Five-O; Wonder Woman; Police Woman; Richie Brockelman, Private Eye; Eight is Enough; Lou Grant; The Paper Chase; The Wonderful World of Disney; Barnaby Jones; The Jeffersons; Buck Rogers in the 25th Century; A Man Called Sloane; and Angie. He made his film debut in 1977 in the movie Mr. Billion. He appeared in the films The Fifth Floor (1978), The Main Event (1979), Battle Beyond the Stars (1980), and Nine to Five (1980).

In the Eighties Earl Boen had recurring roles on the television shows It's a Living and The Law and Harry McGraw. He had recurring roles on the shows Who's the Boss?, Mama's Family, and L.A. Law. He guest starred on the shows The Dukes of Hazzard; M*A*S*H; Barney Miller; The Powers of Matthew Star; Galivan; Too Close for Comfort; Voyagers!; Madam's Place; Three's Company; Fantasy Island; It Takes Two; Just Our Luck; Benson; Amanda's; St. Elsewhere; Night Court; Family Ties; Street Hawk; Otherworld; Me and Mom; Newhart; Remington Steele; Growing Pains; Silver Spoons; 1st & Ten; Punky Brewster; What's Happening Now!; Hill Street Blues; Knot's Landing; Dynasty; Gung Ho; Isabel's Honeymoon Hotel; ALF; Scarecrow and Mrs. King; Thirtysomething; Mr. President; Crime Story; The Oldest Rookie; The New Gidget; Hotel; Dallas; The Bold and the Beautiful; Webster; Star Trek: The Next Generation; Murder, She Wrote; Baywatch; Life Goes On; 227; Tales from the Crypt; Sydney; Matlock,; and WIOU. He provided voices for the television cartoons A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, The Further Adventures of Superted, Fantastic Max, and Paddington Bear. He appeared in the movies Soggy Bottom U.S.A. (1981), Airplane: The Sequel (1983), To Be or Not To Be (1983), The Terminator (1984), Movers & Shakers (1985), Touch and Go (1986), Stewardess School (1986), Walk Like a Man (1987), 18 Again! (1988), Alien Nation (1988), My Stepmother is an Alien (1988), Chrome Hearts (1989), and Marked for Death (1990).

In the Nineties Earl Boen had recurring roles on the shows Get a Life; Santa Barbara; L.A. Law, and California Dreams. He guest starred on the shows Seinfeld, The Wonder Years, Amen, The New WKRP in Cincinnati, Family Matters, Herman's Head, The Golden Girls, Rhythm & Blues, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Golden Palace, Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. On Our Own, Blue Skies, Empty Nest, The 5 Mrs. Buchanans, Living Single, Deadly Games, Ellen., Silk Stalkings, Sparks, Working, The Good News, and Boy Meets World. He provided voices for the animated television series The Pirates of Dark Water, The Addams Family, Bonkers, Skeleton Warriors, Batman: The Animated Series; Animaniacs; What-a-Mess, The Mask, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, Bruno the Kid, Pinky and the Brain, Spider-Man, The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, ZorroThe Fantastic Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor; and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. He appeared in the movies Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994), Sioux City (1994), The Dentist (1996), The Prince (1996), The Odd Couple II (1998), and Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000). He provided one of the voices for the movie Gordy (1994).

In the Naughts Earl Boen was a voice on the animated TV shows The Zeta Project, Dexter's Laboratory, Johnny Bravo, Justice League, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and Grim & Evil. He guest starred on the shows The West Wing, Family Law, State of Grace, and The Practice. He appeared in the movies Now You Know (2002) and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003).

He voiced several video games for much of his career.

Earl Boen was an extremely prolific, quite simply because he was so very good. On The Law & Harry McGraw he played Sgt. Howard Sternhagen, a police detective who sometimes helped Harry on his cases. On Mama's Family he played Reverend Meechum, the henpecked pastor of Mama's church. In the Terminator  he played Dr. Silberman, a criminal psychologist whose mediocrity is only made by his fanaticism. Throughout his career Earl Boen delivered a number of great performances.