Monday, July 06, 2009

Mae West: July 6th

To those who share a MAE WEST mindset, memories tied to the sixth of July will be overshadowed by the passing of two men she admired, gifted black musicians who died of heart attacks on that day.
• • Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Louis Armstrong [4 August 1901 — 6 July 1971] was a versatile and innovative singer and jazz trumpeter nicknamed Satchmo. At the age of 69, Louis Armstrong died shortly after a heart attack in New York City.
• • It was during the Prohibition Era, at Owney Madden's Cotton Club in Harlem that Mae West first encountered this talented musician, then in his twenties.
• • Since the New Orleans native impressed Mae, she asked him to participate in "Every Day's a Holiday" [1937].
• • The movie's musical numbers include "Jubilee" (written by Stanley Adams and Hoagy Carmichael and sung by Louis Armstrong). Seen very briefly as a street cleaner, Louis Armstrong introduces the song "Jubilee" while parading down the street along with other street sweepers during an election rally.
• • Currently, the house where Louis Armstrong lived for close to 28 years (declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977) is a museum. The Louis Armstrong House Museum — — at 34-56 107th Street (between 34th and 37th Avenues) in Corona, Queens, New York — — presents concerts and educational programs, operates as a historic house museum, and makes its archival materials and memorabilia available to the public for research. The museum is operated by the City University of New York's Queens College, following the dictates of Lucille Armstrong's will.
• • Born in Washington, DC, Van McCoy [6 January 1940 — 6 July 1979] was an accomplished musician, music producer as well as an arranger, orchestra conductor, and lyricist. He is best known for his massive 1975 international hit "The Hustle" — — a tune still played on dance floors and radio today nearly 30 years after his death. He has around 700 song copyrights to his credit. At the age of 39, Van McCoy was in Englewood, New Jersey when he was forever silenced by a fatal heart attack.
• • Better known for doing The Shimmy than hustling on the dance floor, Mae West, who starred and wrote the screenplay for "Sextette," had asked Van McCoy to write the theme song, and to make a cameo appearance in her motion picture.
• • "Sextette" was released on 3 March 1978.
• • Two mournful coincidences, two broken hearts on July 6th.

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