Didn't see that coming


Peter Tork has died

Peter Tork, the bass and keyboard player with the Monkees, has died at the age of 77. His tragic passing was confirmed in a Facebook post on the morning of February 21. The post read in part, “It is with beyond-heavy and broken hearts that we share the devastating news that our friend, mentor, teacher, and amazing soul, Peter Tork, has passed from this world.” The post goes on to say that Tork’s Facebook page will remain open, as it is run by the musician’s friends and family. The poignant post concludes with the lines, “Please know that Peter was extremely appreciative of you, his Torkees, and one of his deepest joys was to be out in front of you, playing his music, and seeing you enjoy what he had to share. We send blessings and thoughts of comfort to you all, with much gratitude.”

The Monkees was a group that was formed in the wake of the Beatles hit movie “A Hard Days Night.” The band was formed by Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider for the purposes of a T.V. show that aired on NBC between 1966 and 1968. The idea was to create an American version of the Beatles. The band originally called it quits in 1971 but reformed in 1986 and 2012 for reunion tours. Original member Davy Jones passed away in February 2012 after a heart attack.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Tork Underwent Surgery & Radiation Therapy After His 2009 Cancer Diagnosis
Tork’s cause of death has not been made public. In 2009, he was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma, cancer that affects the tongue. When announcing his diagnosis, Tork said in a post on his website that the prognosis was good and that after surgery, he underwent radiation therapy. Tork said the surgery, “I am extraordinarily grateful, amazed and humbled by the encouragement, affection and support I’ve received so far.”

2. At the Time of His Death, Tork Had Been Sober for More Than 30 Years
 Peter Tork Monkees dead
Tork told the Hollywood Reporter in 2013 that he had been clean and sober for more than 30 years. Though speaking about his past, Tork discussed his penchant for acid saying, “I liked my acid; I enjoyed it. I have not taken a mind-altering substance for 30-odd years. I was a partier back then, and I’m a clean liver now. It suits me just as much now as it did back then. All of us are more sedate. We are more appreciative of the joys of company and chatting and laughter, and not drinking and screaming and yelling. We all are calmer. It’s not a good or bad thing. It’s who we are now versus then.”

3. Tork Was the Monkees’ ‘Version of Ringo’
Tork’s death was first reported by the Washington Post, their tribute to him refers to Tork as “the group’s Ringo, its lovably goofy supporting player.” The Monkees were a manufactured boyband in the 1960s that were modeled on the Beatles.

4. Tork Was Married 4 Times During His Life
Tork was married four times during his life. In 1960, he married a woman named Jody Babb, that marriage last for one year. From there, Tork married Reine Stewart, in 1973, that marriage lasted until 1974. Shortly after the end of that marriage, Tork married Barbara Iannoli, his longest marriage, that lasted between 1975 and 1987. In 2013, Tork married Pam Tork, with whom he remained married to until the end of his life. In 1997, Tork had a daughter, Erica marie, with a woman named Tammy Sestak.

5. Tork Said the Only Music He Listened to In His Later Years Was Chicago Blues
In 2016, Tork told the Hartford Courant that the only music he was listening to was, “Original blues. Chicago blues. That’s about it. I was listening to some of my own shows the other day.” During the same interview Tork said that “Aretha never made a bad record as far as I know.” Tork also said that some Beatles songs “still stands up. Some doesn’t.”

How awful....I hadn't ever heard of this

A little more than 2 years after the Boeing 707 was introduced for commercial air travel, on 15 February 1961, a 707 jet that took off from New York City crashed while trying to make a landing in Brussels, Belgium, killing all 72 people on board, including the entire US Figure Skating Team who were traveling to the World Figure Skating Championship. Coaches, skating officials, and family members were also killed in the crash (a farmer working in the field near the airport was killed by flying debris).

16-year-old Laurence Owen, who had won the US Figure Skating Championship at the end of January, had appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated 2 days before the crash. Her older sister Maribel (who also received gold at the US Figure Skating Championship) and mother (9-time US champion) were all on board the flight.
The World Championships were canceled, and the disaster prompted U.S. Figure Skating executives instated a policy that no team traveling to international competition would ever be allowed to fly together again.

The U.S. had won the men’s gold medal at every Olympics since 1948 (when Dick Button became the first American man to do so), while U.S. women had earned gold in the 1956 and 1960 Olympics. After the crash, an American woman would not win Olympic gold until Peggy Fleming in 1968, and the US Men’s team would not win gold until Scott Hamilton in 1984.

Vulcan Nerve Pinch

When a script instructed Leonard Nimoy’s character, Spock, to punch someone, Nimoy felt punching was too undignified for a Vulcan and invented a way for Vulcans to render their opponents unconscious by pinching them. From that moment on, the Vulcan Nerve Pinch was born.

Image result for Vulcan Nerve Pinch

My best shot


'I took the last ever shot of the Beatles – and they were miserable!'
The Fab Four’s farewell, the Rolling Stones’ airlift out of Altamont, the Who’s infamous toilet stop … the great rock photographer Ethan Russell relives his legendary moments

‘George Harrison was miserable from frame one to frame 500,” says Ethan Russell. “He was so over it. I don’t think he did anything but scowl for three hours.” The photographer is recalling the day he unknowingly took the last ever shot of the Beatles together. It was 22 August 1969, and they were all at John Lennon’s countryside estate near Ascot.
“Paul was trying to hold it together,” he adds. “He had his arms crossed like, ‘Come on, lads!’ But the concept of the Beatles just didn’t sync with who they were any more. I could have asked them to smile, but it would have been totally fake and I’m glad I didn’t. This marriage had come to an end – and boy does it show.”
  ‘She had been sent a doll with pins stuck in its torso’ … Yoko Ono and John Lennon with their cat. Photograph: © Yoko Ono. All rights reserved. Used with permission
The fact that this hugely significant photograph isn’t even one of Russell’s best speaks volumes about his career. Over a prolific 10-year period that culminated in 1978, Russell shot the world’s biggest rock stars, usually at their most candid. He had a ringside seat at what’s often seen as rock’s golden era. Russell wasn’t just friends with Lennon and Yoko Ono, he knew their cat as well. And when pandemonium gripped 1969’s Altamont free concert, where a fan was killed as the Rolling Stones played, Russell was airlifted out with the band.
Born in Mount Kisco, upstate New York, in 1945, Russell fell in love with rock’n’roll after seeing Elvis Presley do the snake hips on TV. But it was the 1966 thriller Blow-Up, about a photographer who swaggers around swinging London photographing models, that really turned his head. “I asked my dad to borrow money to buy a camera and got a plane to London with just the clothes on my back. I didn’t have a plan. I knew I loved all of the British bands, but photographing them seemed impossible.”
Russell immediately felt at home in the city, which was a far cry from the turmoil gripping America as the Vietnam war intensified. Still, he felt slightly underwhelmed. “I couldn’t find a scene,” he says. “In San Francisco, where I had been a student, everyone was smoking dope, and music was driving people’s lives. But London was a bit drab. One was like an Eden, the other this monstrous urban metropolis. London had its charms, but you had to know the right people.”
Convinced that a career as a rock photographer was no longer possible, Russell started taking pictures at a children’s hospital. Then one day, he noticed something from the top of a double-decker bus. “I’m going to pick up my car after a service – and I see John Lennon’s psychedelic Rolls Royce whizz past. I was jumping up and down like a little kid.”
It was a sign of things to come. A journalist called Jonathan Cott, who was a friend of his flatmate, needed a photographer for an interview – and Russell got the nod. The interview turned out to be with Mick Jagger, for a feature in Rolling Stone magazine. That’s quite a first gig. “Then Jon called me again,” says Russell, “and asked if I wanted to come and photograph John Lennon. The rest, as they say, is history.”
Actually, it almost wasn’t. “I remember thinking my photos of John were no good,” says Russell. “So I called him up and said they were shit. He said, ‘Come on by.’ And I took them again. There were no barriers between us: he was so human, so warm, present and giving. He was John fucking Lennon! How could John Lennon be being so nice to me?”
The two hit it off: the fact they both had long hair, spectacles and a penchant for spliffs only strengthened their bond. The trust they shared is evident in a beautiful shot Russell took of John and Yoko in their garden, with a black cat playing on the Beatle’s shoulder. It wasn’t long after their first meeting, yet Lennon already felt comfortable enough to ask Russell to take some spontaneous pictures of him and his girlfriend, who was causing a lot of controversy.
 Down-to-earth star … Jimi Hendrix and Mick Taylor of the Stones backstage at Madison Square Garden in 1969. Photograph: © Ethan Russell/All rights reserved
“I drove down to the house and no one was there,” he says. “The front door was open so I just walked in. Yoko came down first, in this black cape, and said she wanted to show me something. She had got this brown parcel in the post and inside it was a doll with long black hair. It was dusted with charcoal and had pins viciously stabbed into its torso. There was a note that said, ‘Leave John alone!’”
He pauses, clearly moved. “Look, they had the greatest love story of the 20th century. At a time of enormous sexism and racism, they managed to block it all out and create their own universe. That’s what I wanted to show with my photographs. It was just the three of us and the cat – that’s as intimate as it gets.”
Russell had become “John’s guy” and in 1969 was brought in to capture the Let It Be sessions, alongside a film crew. It was a tumultuous time: the Beatles had split by the time the album came out. “The atmosphere was very tense,” says Russell. “Years later, I bumped into Ringo, but he didn’t recognise me. He said it was because he was stoned out of his mind throughout Let It Be. I don’t blame him as those were difficult times.”
Russell was one of the lucky few who got to cram on to the roof above the Apple studio on Savile Row for the Beatles’ last public performance. Russell’s wide shot from behind has lost none of its power half a century on. “I had to climb up a wall and almost fell to my death. I like that picture as there was nobody bigger in the world, yet they really were quite small in the context of the city of London. The photo shows they were mere mortals after all.”
Russell was no longer struggling for work. In fact, he was hired for the Rolling Stones’ now legendary Let It Bleed tour, which culminated in Altamont. “It was like being in Vietnam,” says Russell. “We were airlifted out and it was traumatic for everybody. Our lives really were in
Russell prefers to remember the good times. Backstage at a sold-out Stones show at Madison Square Garden, he remembers seeing Jimi Hendrix jamming with then Stones guitarist Mick Taylor. Although he felt intimidated by Hendrix, Russell’s photograph captures a more down-to-earth side of the star.
Later that night, Russell also bumped into Janis Joplin. He had shot the singer a few months earlier, running on stage during a performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London. It’s a striking shot, with Joplin looking right down the barrel of his camera. “She was phenomenal,” says Russell. “Her voice was a force of nature. How I got on stage, I have no idea. But I ran on and took that. When I look at it now, I see her thinking, ‘Who the fuck is that?’”
And now their paths had crossed again at Madison Square Garden. “I would usually leave the venue with the Stones in their limo, but it was completely full. This other black limo pulled up and a woman with a husky voice said she could give me a ride back to the hotel. I got in and I was on the back seat with Janis. She was drunk and coming on to me. I didn’t really like it as I was way too uptight back then. I was so nervous, I got her to drop me off at the nearest hotel and ran for a cab.” Not long after their encounter, Joplin died of a heroin overdose. “It was sad. She just couldn’t beat her demons.”
Russell, who lives in Marin County, California, thinks two of his greatest photos are also the cheekiest. One shows Keith Richards in front of an anti-drugs poster at a US airport. In 1969, says Russell, things weren’t druggy at all. But by 1972, when the shot was taken, everything had changed. “The Stones were taking dangerous quantities. I thought getting Keith to stand there was hilarious. It was ironic. People ask if I ever was tempted to take drugs with them, but I never worked high or drunk. All the people who wanted to be just like Keith ended up dead.”
The other cheeky shot was taken for the Who’s landmark 1971 album Who’s Next. Pete Townshend, the band’s guitarist, was driving the band home from a gig through the rain at 100mph. “I was terrified by Peter’s driving,” says Russell, who suddenly noticed a monolith as they were passing Easington colliery in County Durham and sensed it might make the perfect shot. “Only Peter actually pissed against it,” he says. “The rest was just cans I filled with water and poured down its sides. We thought it would be fun to show the band taking a loo break. The sky was put in later to give the photo this other-worldly quality. Without it, it would just be a boring grey English sky.”
Russell pretty much gave up on photography towards the end of the 70s, depressed and disillusioned after hearing music referred to as “product” by a studio executive while working on a shoot with the singer Linda Ronstadt. “The minute that’s the mindset,” he says, “they want product photography – and something dies. I knew I had to leave, so I shifted my attention to video and film-making. I rarely take photographs any more.”
Now 73, Russell is happy to look back, though, comfortable with the idea of being defined by this work. “You see photos from that era,” he says, “and it’s just people getting their picture taken. I never wanted it to be posey. I just wanted to record what was in front of me. I guess I want people to say, ‘Ethan Russell was someone who captured the truth’ – and almost fell off a roof doing it!”

Ethan Russell’s CV
 ‘Something died – I knew I had to leave’ … Ethan Russell.
Born: New York, 1945.
Training: Self-taught.
Influences: “Henri Cartier-Bresson had beautiful framing. If I can do one thing well, it’s finding the right frame.”
High point: “The 1969 tour with the Stones. But I also made a 44-page photobook to go with the Who’s Quadrophenia album. I got to create this whole world based on Peter’s songwriting. It felt exhilarating.”
Low point: “When music became show business in the mid-70s and there was more of a barrier between photographer and artist.”

Top tip: “Only shoot stuff you believe truly matters – and make sure you own it. There’s no point taking photos of BeyoncĂ© if you don’t own the rights.”