Monday, 24 July 2017

The Girl in the Song-Marianne Faithfull

Many know that Marianne Faithfull was the inspiration behind several Rolling Stone songs, but did you  know she was also the inspiration for the song 'Carrie Anne' by The Hollies?

Graham Nash revealed that he had been inspired by Marianne but was 'too shy' to mention her name. At the time Marianne had had a brief relationship with fellow Hollie, Allan Clarke but she revealed in her autobiography that Nash was her favourite in the band.
Here are The Hollies performing the song on the 'Smothers Brothers':

Friday, 21 July 2017

Marianne Faithfull

“Between the ages of seventeen and nineteen I shed any number of old lives and grew new ones overnight without any of them seeming quite real to me; I discarded them as cavalierly as a child who moves from one game to another. Pursued in earnest, any one of these might have led to a reasonably happy life. But then again, I wasn’t interested in happiness. I was looking for the Holy Grail.”

With her beautiful voice, aristocratic heritage and wistful style, Marianne was one of the most popular female singers during the 1960s but her tumultuous personal life often overshadowed her talent. For Marianne the 1960s were times of both success and tragedy.

Marianne was born in 1946 in England, on her mother's side she was related to Austrian Royalty. Her childhood was marred by bouts of tuberculosis which also cut into her schooling. By 1964 at the age of eighteen Marianne was performing regularly in folk clubs. At a launch party for The Rolling Stones she met their manager Andrew Loog Oldham and he signed her to a recording deal. Her first major hit was with the Jagger Richards penned, 'As Tears Go By'. Her version peaked at No 9. in the UK charts. The following year Marianne married artist John Dunbar and gave birth to their son Nicholas. She also released her first two albums, Come My Way (UK only) and Marianne Faithfull. Her personal life though was proving tumultuous, as John descended further into the world of drugs, Marianne became unhappy with her life. In 1966 she left John to be with Mick Jagger the lead singer of The Rolling Stones. Between the years 1965-1967 Marianne released three more albums, Go Away from My World, North Country Maid and Love in a Mist. She remained one of the most popular female singers of the era and had great success abroad as well as in Britain. Unfortunately Marianne's association with The Rolling Stones overshadowed her talent and success as a singer. In 1967 she and the other Stones were involved in a drug bust at Keith Richards home. Marianne was found naked, wrapped in a fur rug and following the event her image was tainted by the press and she became addicted to cocaine. The following year she tragically miscarried a baby girl.
Marianne left Mick in 1970, lost custody of her son and battled addiction, anorexia and homelessness. Still she released two albums during this period including the much lauded, Broken English. Marianne successfully reinvented herself as a singer/songwriter in the 1980s and has since recorded over fifteen albums. As well as her singing career Marianne has appeared in several films, including the 1968 film, Girl on a Motorcycle, in which she starred alongside Alain Delon. Marianne continues to tour and record to this day.

Despite the 1960s liberalism and sexual revolution Marianne suffered the judgement of many for her reckless behaviour. She once lamented that the drug bust turned the boys into heroes but she was labelled a 'villain' and a 'bad mother'. It was an image she suffered with for many years, constantly having to prove herself as she was doubted by many who believed her to be nothing more than 'Mick Jagger's Girlfriend'. She was often erroneously labelled as a 'groupie' but her career has been both long and successful.

Marianne was also a fashion icon during the decade, with her mini skirts, bohemian dresses and long blonde hair. She was one of the more popular folk singers of the day and her youthful image helped audiences to accept many of the traditional folk songs she sang. She was also successful in bridging the gap between folk and pop.

Marianne was a young woman when she was thrown into the heady world of Swinging London. When the 1960s came to an end she was only 23 but had many tragic and euphoric experiences behind her. Marianne should not only be defined by her relationships with the Stones but should be celebrated for her wonderful contributions to the world of music and her strength throughout an often difficult life.

“All these half-truths strung together created a very misleading image. That press release…projected an eerie fusion of haughty aristocrat and folky bohemian child-woman. It was a tantalizing ready-made-fantasy. Unfortunately, it wasn’t me”

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Vashti Bunyan

"I wanted my songs to be heard-I didn't want to be a little disappearing person! Which is what I became, but it wasn't what I wanted to do"

With her ethereal voice, and gentle, story like lyrics Vashti Bunyan was largely unknown during the 1960s. It has been in more recent years that her music has seen a resurgence in popularity.

Vashti was born in England, 1945. In the early 1960s she briefly studied art at Oxford University, but was expelled for lack of attendance. She was inspired by the music of Bob Dylan and embarked on a music career. She wrote her own songs and was 'discovered' by The Rolling Stone's manager, Andrew Loog Oldham. Her first single, released in 1965, was penned by Jagger and Richards, 'Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind'. Vashti however didn't want to become the next Marianne Faithfull, and was determined to use her own material, rather than have others write it for her. Her next single was her own, the beautiful, 'Train Song' but it failed to make much of an impact. Instead Vashti decided to travel to the Hebridean Islands with her boyfriend, Robert Lewis, in a gypsy caravan. Their idea was to join a music commune being formed by fellow songwriter, Donovan. Though this never materialised they lived in the Hebrides with their two children in a tiny cottage. It was during this journey that Vashti began writing songs for her album, Just Another Diamond Day. Released in 1970, the album told the story of Vashti's journey through Britain, unfortunately however it failed to make an impact, and a discouraged Vashti gave music away in order to raise her children. 
Vashti disappeared from public view, however during this time her album became a cult classic and in the early 2000s was selling for astronomical fees on ebay. Encouraged by this new interest in her work Vashti has since released two new albums, Lookaftering and Heartleap, and a compilation album of her  previously unreleased sixties work. 

Vashti's songs are the hidden gems of 1960s music, they are beautiful and lyrical, she transports her listener to the wilds of Scotland, with her trusty companions, Bess the horse, and her dogs. Vashti has now become known as the godmother of 'Freak Folk' for her more experimental use of voice and instruments. 

As a young woman in the male dominated sixties world of music Vashti knew what she wanted and was determined to have her words at the forefront, she wanted to make her mark on the music industry using her own songwriting talents. She also experienced a different side of 1960s life travelling throughout Britain. She and Robert were often met with suspicion for being travellers, but they also met many kind people, it was a freer way of existence and influenced Vashti profoundly. 

"I came back to London with a certainty that there were momentous changes ahead. Though I could not articulate my thoughts. For myself I had big ideas of recording my own songs, dreams of freedom and fame-and absolutely no money"

Friday, 14 July 2017

Musical Muses-Kathy Chitty

I stand alone without beliefs
The only truth I know is you

In 1965 the first solo album of a little known folk singer, Paul Simon, appeared. Titled The Paul Simon Songbook the album cover featured Simon and a young woman, she was his girlfriend, Kathy Chitty.

Kathleen Mary Chitty met Paul in 1964 when he was living in England, touring folk clubs around the country. She was living in Brentwood, Essex, selling tickets at the door of the local folk club. It was love at first sight and they later moved to London. Kathy inspired some of Paul's most beautiful songs including, 'Kathy's Song', 'Homeward Bound' and 'America'. She is also mentioned in a verse of his song, 'The Late Great Johnny Ace'. Whilst in England Paul's song 'The Sound of Silence' became a worldwide hit and he returned to America to regroup with his singing partner, Art Garfunkel. Kathy was a shy girl and was reluctant to take part in the fame that awaited him, they broke up and didn't see each other for many years. They reconnected in the 1980s and have remained in contact, many believe Kathy was Paul's true love, and the beautiful lyrics of the songs he wrote for her certainly reflect this.

And as I watch the drops of rain
Weave their weary paths and die
I know that I am like the rain
There but for the grace of you go I


Wednesday, 12 July 2017

The Girl in the Song-Jackie Kennedy

Not many know that Jacqueline Kennedy inspired a very catchy song in 1961, 'The Jackie Look'.
Recorded by Kris Jensen, the song is largely about Jackie's style and hairdo and the numerous copycats she inspired.

Have a listen!

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Audrey Hepburn

“I am an introvert…I love being by myself, love being outdoors, love taking long walks with my dogs and looking at the trees, the flowers, the sky”

Widely considered the most beautiful woman in the world Audrey Hepburn was the epitome of elegance and style. The 1960s cemented her as a talented actress and fashion icon, her classic style at its most famous in the 1961 film, Breakfast at Tiffany's. 

Audrey Kathleen Ruston-Hepburn was born in Belgium in 1929. Her early life was tumultuous, her parents separated when she was six years old and she spent her formative years under Nazi rule in Arnhem, Holland. Following the end of the War Audrey and her mother moved to England where Audrey pursued a career in ballet. Told she was too tall to ever make it professionally Audrey began acting instead. She won an Oscar for her first starring role, Roman Holiday, and the 1950s were filled with classic roles including, Sabrina, Funny Face, and The Nuns Story. The 1960s began with great personal happiness for Audrey with the birth of her son, Sean. It also gave her her most popular and famous role that of Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's, for which she was nominated for an academy award. During the 1960s Audrey took on a greater variety of roles including that of teacher, flower seller, and a blind woman in films such as The Children's Hour, Charade, How to Steal a Million, Two for the Road and Wait Until Dark. Two for the Road proved to be one of her most challenging and rewarding roles. In it she played Joanna Wallace over a period of twelve years, the film was innovative for it's use of flashbacks and was risqué for a storyline that included adultry. She also starred in the classic musical My Fair Lady. Throughout the 1960s Audrey was considered a style icon, her fashion changing from the classic Jackie O to the mod looks she sported in Two for the Road. 
With the end of the 1960s Audrey took a break from acting and devoted her life to caring for her two sons Sean and Luca and living with her second husband in Rome. Audrey took on few film roles during the 70s and 80s, but the remainder of her life was devoted to helping underprivileged children for UNICEF. Audrey was a passionate humanitarian and remained beloved throughout the world until her death in 1993.

Audrey remains one of the most popular actresses from the classic era. She was voted as the third greatest actress of all time by the American Film Institute. She is as renowned for her film roles as for her innate sense of style and her beautiful clothes designed by her good friend, fashion designer Hubert Givenchy. Her 1960s style remains an influence on fashion houses to this day.

Audrey's style during the 1960s encompassed little black dresses, ballet flats, classic coats, skirt suits and large sunglasses. She presented a new alternative for women during the 1950s when a full, hourglass figure was considered to be the ultimate in feminine beauty. Audrey paved the way for the boyish shaped models to come including, Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy.

Audrey's dedication to her work and her compassion towards others saw her become a favourite throughout the world. The indelible image of Audrey during this decade is of her walking past Tiffany's in New York with a coffee cup and pastry. But Audrey's beauty was not just on the outside, she was a kind and loving woman who's greatest role was as a mother and a humanitarian. She was a woman of poise who wore many hats throughout her lifetime and it is for all these reasons and more that we continue to love and admire her.

“I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person”

Friday, 7 July 2017

Jacqueline Kennedy

“I am a woman above everything else”

Jackie Kennedy Onassis is a name synonymous with style, class and the 1960s. She was the quintessential style icon for the early part of the decade and was elevated to the role of 'America's Queen' following the tragic assassination of her husband, President JFK.

Jackie was born, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier in 1929. Though she had a privileged background her early childhood was marred by the divorce of her parents, John and Janet. Jackie threw herself into a world of books and horses, both of which remained lifelong passions. She was good at school and spent a year at the Sorbonne in Paris. She graduated from George Washington University with a degree in French Literature. Following her graduation she became a reporter/photographer for a local newspaper. During this time she met rising senator, John F. Kennedy. They were married in 1953 and Jackie gave birth to a daughter, Caroline, in 1957. In 1960 JFK announced he would be running for the presidency. The young couple were both popular on the campaign trail, with Jackie garnering much media coverage over her outfits. The following year JFK was inaugurated as the President of the United States. With their two young children, Caroline and John Jr. the Kennedy's moved into the White House. Jackie soon became known for her impeccable style which centred around shift dresses, boxy suits and pillbox hats. Her hairstyle become known as 'the Jackie' and was zealously copied by women everywhere. In the White House Jackie spent her time resorting the famous building, which had largely fallen to rack and ruin, and became a champion of the arts. She also proved invaluable on Presidential trips, charming locals, particularly in France as she was a fluent French speaker. Jackie also undertook trips by herself, most famously to India in 1962. It was on a trip to Texas in 1963 that JFK was shot by an assassin as he and Jackie drove through the streets in a motorcade. A devastated Jackie became the nations figurehead in the aftermath, her courage and poise much admired at the state funeral.
Jackie eventually remarried, Greek Shipping Magnate, Aristotle Onassis and following his death became a successful editor at both Viking Press and Doubleday. She passed away from cancer in 1992.

To this day Jackie remains a much loved, influential figure. She is widely regarded as the most popular American First Lady and has inspired numerous, books, films and songs. She is perhaps best known for her enduring style legacy, reflecting the classic era of 60s fashion. Whilst incredibly elegant Jackie also added a sense of youth and fun to her outfits, showing that just because you were married to the President, didn't mean you had to be dowdy before your time.

Perhaps less well known is her work restoring the White House. Jackie was instrumental in making the building a place of pride for all Americans, and spent tireless hours hunting down antique furniture owned by previous Presidents. She had a great love of history and wanted others to appreciate the history of their own country. In later life Jackie championed the cause of many New York buildings set for removal, including Grand Central Station.

The enduring image of Jackie is a grief stricken widow in a pink suit and hat. She was determined that her husband should be remembered properly by the world and she largely organised his funeral by herself. In the years following she continued to safe guard his legacy and helped create the legend of 'Camelot'. In the 1960s Jackie was a young, passionate and intelligent woman who endured unspeakable hardships all whilst under the spotlight of the world.

“What is sad for women of my generation is that they weren’t supposed to work if they had families. What were they to do when the children were grown-watch raindrops coming down the windowpane?”