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Marvin Gaye – I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Marvin Gaye – I Heard It Through The Grapevine

On-screen: Marvin Gaye “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” – is the Black Power Domino. Black Panther militancy arose out of frustration at Black America’s unrewarding dialogue with The White Establishment. For young Blacks, the message “heard through the grapevine” was that Black America had to rely upon and defend itself in the aftermath of Watts. In creating the Black Panther Party, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale affirmed the right to use violence for self-protection against systemic police brutality. “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” shows the transition to “black is beautiful” activism: from young Black men hanging out on inner-city street corners, to young Blacks listening to Malcolm X. And from images of Huey Newton, Bobby Seale and Angela Davis to footage of Panthers parading in military formation, promoting Black Pride in community service programs, taking part in self-defense patrols, and giving the Black Power salute to the mainstream press at Black Panther rallies. Counterintelligence efforts of the FBI and police were directed to undermine the growing unity among the Black Panthers and other minority power movements. Ultimately, this period left nearly 30 Black Panthers dead, and many of its members fleeing the country. The Establishment had won a Pyrrhic victory.

This is a clip from the DOMINOES Movie that features music by the Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Crosby Stills Nash Young ( CSNY ), Grateful Dead, Santana, B. B. King, Marvin Gaye, Janis Joplin, Van Morrison, Canned Heat, Richie Havens and more. DOMINOES is about the electric, turbulent decade of rock, revolution, and the Vietnam War and focuses on a succession of thirteen evolutionary tableaus, conveying the directors view that one thing leads to another, as in the domino effect where one change or event causes a similar one, which then causes an additional one, and so on in a linear sequence. DOMINOES creation began in 1976, long before the appearance of rock videos. Its composition marked a radical departure in documentary filmmaking, that continued to separate it from other sixties films and videos. Completed in 1989, its release was delayed until summer of 2009, when it acquired dynamic distribution.

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Janis Joplin – Summertime

Janis Joplin – Summertime

On-screen: Janis Joplin “Summertime”.  The irony of Janis Joplin’s SUMMERTIME is apparent with the lyric “the living is easy” set against a half-burned placard welcoming the Democratic National Convention to Mayor Richard Daley’s Chicago in August of 1968.  Unwelcome were anti-establishment groups like The National Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam (MOBE), SDS, the Black Panthers, and the Yippies who assembled a week-long counter-convention.

Widespread violence ensued as protestors were met by a massive force of American troops, National Guard, and Chicago police who, together, were armed with billy-clubs, machine guns, and grenade launchers!  Janis Joplin’s SUMMERTIME segment news footage of the riots shows widespread police brutality that led to hundreds of injuries and arrests among protesters.  Janis Joplin sings, “…no, no, no, don’t you cry!”  A commission on the turmoil called the1968 Democratic National Convention: Mayor Daley’s “police riot.”

Federal courtrooms extended the guerrilla theater in Janis Joplin’s SUMMERTIME as the “Chicago Eight” – including Black Panther leader Bobby Seale (appearing bound and gagged) and Yippie leaders Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin – were tried for conspiracy to incite the violence that took place at the Democratic National Convention.

The soulful promise of Janis Joplin’s SUMMERTIME’s “you’re gonna rise up … singing” was realized in draft-resistance and anti-war protests in American cities like New York and in capitals around the world. Among the most sobering of 1960s protest images was the self-immolation of the South Vietnamese monk, Thich Quang Duc.

Soundtrack NotesJanis Joplin, with Big Brother and The Holding Company, released the original version, presented in DOMINOES, of SUMMERTIME on CHEAP THRILLS (CBS Records) in 1968. Other versions of SUMMERTIME are available on several Janis Joplin anthologies or releases.  In 1998, Columbia (Europe) released the Janis Joplin Anthology CD.  In 1999, Sony released a Janis Joplin “Greatest Hits” CD with many remastered tracks including SUMMERTIME.  And, in 2005 Sony released the 5-CD box set “Box of Pearls: The Janis Joplin Collection“.

Context: The counterculture knew that little else in American life would receive as much TV coverage as the 1968 Democratic National Convention. For one thing, it promised to be controversial, because unlike the Republicans, the Democrats were divided over the Vietnam War issue. Although Hubert Humphrey had the nomination in his pocket, the “end the Vietnam War” wing of the party was determined to have its say and the mood of the nation was expectant. In the months before the Democratic Convention, the Yippies, SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), and various other groups from the anti-war movement sent out a massive call to come to Chicago to attend a “counter-convention” – a guerilla spectacle that would protest the sham nomination inside the convention center and the repressive politics of the Establishment in general. As tens of thousands of youth who answered the call arrived in Chicago, they discovered 12,000 police and 6,000 national guardsmen waiting for them.

That was the situation when, at midnight on August 28, 1968, the city exploded into several days of violence that took the form of running battles between counter-culture demonstrators and Chicago cops outside the convention center, and violent pandemonium between Richard Daley’s security men and the middle-aged politicians inside the center. When the last cloud of tear gas vanished and the confetti was swept away, Mayor Daley claimed that he had defeated the minions of the younger generation. But the counter-convention proved – before 30 million TV viewers – what it had set out to prove:  that, if provoked, the system managed by the older generation was as brutal as that of the Soviet Union.

The Chicago melee may have provided the most televised and most violent battle, but earlier in the spring of 1968, the war between the generations transcended class lines and cultural boundaries, uniting the younger generation in hundreds of smaller pitched battles in the streets and on campuses all over the world. From New York City to Paris, from Mexico City to Manila, one issue stood out among the several issues that galvanized their actions – the Vietnam War.

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Santana – Incident At Neshabur

Santana – Incident At Neshabur

On-screen:  Santana – INCIDENT AT NESHABUR.  Santana’s tropical sound and the unrelenting Santana signature guitar sound early in INCIDENT AT NESHABUR seems to portend the desperation of America’s Southesast Asian “domino theory” DRIVEN foreign policy as it was violently played out in tropical South

Vietnam.  Santana’s rapid drumbeat captures the martial rhythm of the U.S. draft machine that moved GI’s through training and onto the ground in Vietnam.

Santana‘s guitar riffs, midway through INCIDENT AT NESHABUR, and Santana’s intensity at that point, suggest a swarm of angry helicopters and rockets that instantaneously blast ground positions into enormous fireballs. The urgency of American troops in combat, hand to hand, or via flame-throwers and artillery, is matched to that of enduring emblems of the Vietnam War: street executions of Vietnamese and the nine-year old Vietnamese girl, Kim Phuc, fleeing naked in the aftermath of a napalm attack. With its intensity unabated, Santana’s guitar shifts to a pained tone as we see cargo-net lifts of Vietnamese and Vietcong dead. Relief from Santana‘s instrumental frenzy arrives in the form of incredible aerial ballets over Vietnam by American planes spraying Agent Orange, and dropping propaganda leaflets and bombs.

The last melancholy notes play over a sweeping pan of Arlington National Cemetery and perfectly orchestrates the INCIDENT AT NESHABUR’s finale.

Soundtrack Notes:    The DOMINOES version of INCIDENT AT NESHABUR, is the original – released in 1970 on ABRAXAS by Columbia Records. INCIDENT AT NESHABUR reappeared when Santana re-released ABRAXAS in CD form on Columbia/Legacy in 1998. Santana’s live performance of INCIDENT AT NESHABUR in Japan was released as an import on LOTUS in 1975 (CBS Records).

Context:    In May, 1954, the French were defeated in Vietnam at Dien Bien Phu by the predominantly communist Vietminh. On July 21, 1954 at the Geneva Conference, a peace treaty was signed that called for general elections to be held in Vietnam in July, 1956 under the supervision of an international control commission. The elections were never held. Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, backed a rigged referendum in Saigon that put Ngo Dinh Diem, a friend of the Eisenhower administration, in power. Instantly, Diem postponed the elections and began imprisoning all political opposition. Back in the U.S., Eisenhower summed up his position: “I have never talked or corresponded with a person knowledgeable in Indo-Chinese affairs who did not agree that had elections been held in [1956]…possibly 80 percent of the [Vietnamese] people would have voted for the communist Ho Chi Minh.” He raised the specter of the so-called “domino theory,” and concluded that, if the elections had not been prevented, “our ability to get certain things we need from the riches of the Indo-Chinese territory and from Southeast Asia” would cease, because a Vietnam free to choose its own fate would cause all the other Southeast Asian states to fall like DOMINOES. By the time John Kennedy took office in 1961, there were 150,000 political prisoners in Saigon jails. Ho Chi Minh appealed repeatedly to the signers of the Geneva Conference for general elections to be held, but the European signatories turned their backs – giving the U.S. military the green light it had been waiting for. The draft was activated, and a million draftees were told it was time to stand up for freedom and democracy!

The late folksinger, Phil Ochs summed up the position of his generation: “It’s always the old who lead us to war, it’s always the young who fall.” And fall they did. Only the privileged, the lucky, and those who discovered the Big Lie in time escaped the draft. Like a macabre Pied Piper, the selective service led young Americans – mostly poor, disproportionately Black, the majority not old enough to vote or drink beer – away from their homes in the inner cities and along the back roads of America. In sixteen weeks, they would step off planes eight thousand miles away to face a hell they had never dreamed of in a country they had never heard of. The wounded would be scarred for life, the dead wrapped in plastic before the lush green wall of the jungle, like bags of leaves on suburban sidewalks.

After 15 years of horror, 14 million “relocated” peasants, and 40 million deforested acres, it ended with a lone U.S. helicopter departing a Saigon rooftop under a fusillade of smoke bombs. For the first time in their lives, the Vietnamese had control – for better or worse – of their own destiny. Seven million tons of bombs had fallen, 1.9 million people (including 58,022 Americans) had fallen, but the DOMINOES never fell.

In their collective amnesia, politicians are calling the Vietnam war a “noble cause,” the military chiefs are calling it a war they could have won (if only they were permitted another 7 million tons of bombs and another 58,022 soldiers’ lives), but for thousands of American and Vietnamese veterans and their families the nightmare will never be forgotten and the Big Lie will never be forgiven.

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Grateful Dead – Dark Star

Grateful Dead – Dark Star

On-screen: The Grateful Dead’s Dark Star opens with a meandering, upbeat tone on footage of huge crowds of peaceful anti-war protestors taken at venues throughout Washington, DC.  Early footage in Dark Star shows the DC police in force everywhere in the face of large throngs of peace marchers. Much of the American social spectrum is in evidence at peace demonstrations with signs proclaiming “Business Executives Move for Vietnam Peace” and “Gays for Peace” mingled among hippies and Vietnam War veterans at the White House, along the Potomac River, on the National Mall, and at the Reflecting Pool.

Progression of The Grateful Dead’s DARK STAR into greater discord sets a darker tone as a fitting backdrop to the candlelight anti-war marching of former POW’s and wheelchair-borne Vietnam Veterans Against the War. The Vietnam Vets’ angry repudiation of the Vietnam War by littering the home of American presidents with their medals marks a turning point in DARK STAR. Conflict between anti-war demonstrators and battalions of police on foot or in horse-mounted cavalry formation produce the many inevitable arrests.

The Grateful Dead’s diffuse ending of DARK STAR against an armory full of tired plastic-handcuffed hippie protestors sets the stage for a complete change of sentiment in the following segment at Woodstock: “I’m goin’ up the country…tired of the way I’ve been dogged around!

Soundtrack Notes: The Grateful Dead first released DARK STAR as a single in 1968 by Warner Brothers, and soon after it became their signature song. This version of DARK STAR was included on The Grateful Dead’s LIVE/DEAD, released in 1969 on Warner Brothers Records. Many other performances of DARK STAR are available among The Grateful Dead’s live recordings.

Context: Many times between the years 1965 and 1974, the armies of the anti-war movement occupied the nations capital, but none had so profound an effect on the course of the war than the 1971 protest march of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Decorated combat soldiers – some on crutches, others in wheelchairs – flung their medals and their purple hearts onto the White House lawn, in perhaps the most dramatic indictment of war ever filmed.

Years later, the president of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Robert O. Miller, had this to say: “Because I lost the use of three-quarters of my body, I would want there to be a reason for the war to have been fought…[but] what happened to me and what happened to my friends was for nothing.”

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Neil Young – 4 Dead in Ohio

Neil Young – 4 Dead in Ohio

On-screen: OHIO was the anti-war protest anthem to end the DOMINOES decade and the portrait series.CSNY recorded OHIO just after the Ohio National Guard killed four students in anti-war demonstrations at Kent State University provoked by President Nixon’s announcement of the US and South Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia on April 30, 1970. The escalation of hostilities in Southeast Asia and the killings at Kent State left the young Vietnam War generation feeling suckered and with the need “to get down to it… should have been done long ago.” It helped to mark the beginning of the end for Richard Nixon.

The spiraling intensity of Neil Young’s chant, “… four dead in OHIO” paces the turmoil within the Nixon-Agnew administration as tax fraud and Watergate scandals forced them to resign despite ending American involvement in Vietnam. OHIO is most dramatic, however, as Neil Young’s raucous guitar underscores evacuation of the last Americans from Vietnam as Saigon fell to the advancing North Vietnamese Army.

Soundtrack Notes:  Neil Young’s OHIO was released in 1971 on CSNY’s 4 WAY STREET on Atlantic Records. The DOMINOES recording of Neil Young’s song comes from the soundtrack to JOURNEY THROUGH THE PAST (Atlantic, 1972).  CSNY re-released OHIO on SO FAR in 1974 (Atlantic Records).

Context: At Southern University and Jackson State College, more students were shot dead. And at Attica State Prison in upstate New York, 55 rebel inmates were shot at point-blank range with twelve gauge shotguns. The establishment had drawn the line. But in the spring of 1972, even more campuses were seized by students – and were seized more violently – than in any of the previous four years, perhaps proving that the younger generation was less afraid of the older generation, than the older generation was of it.

Shortly after his reelection, Nixon reneged on his campaign promise to sign the agreements that would lead to the end of the Vietnam War. But the Watergate scandal – where Nixon’s campaign committee broke into and stole files from the Democratic Party Headquarters – would eventually force him to the conference table. Several months later – on the twenty-first anniversary of the Battle of Diem Bien Phu, and exactly one year later than Ho Chi Minh had predicted – Saigon fell. The end of the war also marked the end of the decade.

[Excerpt from Wikipedia]

Neil Percival Young (born November 12, 1945) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician and film director.

Neil Young’s work is characterized by deeply personal lyrics, distinctive guitar work, and signature falsetto singing voice.  Although he accompanies himself on several different instruments—including piano and harmonica, his clawhammer acoustic guitar style and often idiosyncratic electric guitar soloing are the linchpins of a sometimes ragged, sometimes polished sound. Although Neil Young has experimented widely with differing music styles, including swing, jazz, rockabilly, blues, and electronic music throughout a varied career, his best known work usually falls into either of two distinct styles: folk-esque acoustic rock (“Heart of Gold”, “Harvest Moon” and “Old Man”) and electric-charged hard rock (like “Cinnamon Girl”, “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)”). In recent years, Neil Young has adopted elements from newer styles like industrial, alternative country and grunge. Young’s profound influence on the latter caused some to dub him “the Godfather of Grunge”.

Neil Young has directed (or co-directed) a number of films using the pseudonym Bernard Shakey, including Journey Through the Past (1973), Rust Never Sleeps (1979), Human Highway (1982), Greendale (2003), and CSNY Déjà Vu (2008). He is currently working on a documentary about electric car technology, tentatively titled Linc/Volt. The project involves a 1959 Lincoln Continental converted to hybrid technology, which Young plans to drive to Washington, DC as an example to lawmakers there.

Neil Young is also an outspoken advocate for environmental issues and small farmers, having co-founded in 1985 the benefit concert Farm Aid, and in 1986 helped found The Bridge School, and its annual supporting Bridge School Benefit concerts, together with his wife Pegi (in this, Young’s involvement stems at least partially from the fact that both of his sons have cerebral palsy and his daughter, like Young himself, has epilepsy).

Although Young sings as frequently about U.S. themes and subjects as he does about his native country, he retains Canadian citizenship, which he has never wanted to relinquish.

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On-screen: OHIO was the anti-war protest anthem to end the DOMINOES decade and the portrait series.CSNY recorded OHIO just after the Ohio National Guard killed four students in anti-war demonstrations at Kent State University provoked by President Nixon’s announcement of the US and South Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia on April 30, 1970. The escalation of hostilities in Southeast Asia and the killings at Kent State left the young Vietnam War generation feeling suckered and with the need “to get down to it… should have been done long ago.” It helped to mark the beginning of the end for Richard Nixon.

The spiraling intensity of Neil Young’s chant, “… four dead in OHIO” paces the turmoil within the Nixon-Agnew administration as tax fraud and Watergate scandals forced them to resign despite ending American involvement in Vietnam. OHIO is most dramatic, however, as Neil Young’s raucous guitar underscores evacuation of the last Americans from Vietnam as Saigon fell to the advancing North Vietnamese Army. Soundtrack Notes:  Neil Young’s OHIO was released in 1971 on CSNY’s 4 WAY STREET on Atlantic Records. The DOMINOES recording of Neil Young’s song comes from the soundtrack to JOURNEY THROUGH THE PAST (Atlantic, 1972).  CSNY re-released OHIO on SO FAR in 1974 (Atlantic Records). Context: At Southern University and Jackson State College, more students were shot dead. And at Attica State Prison in upstate New York, 55 rebel inmates were shot at point-blank range with twelve gauge shotguns. The establishment had drawn the line. But in the spring of 1972, even more campuses were seized by students – and were seized more violently – than in any of the previous four years, perhaps proving that the younger generation was less afraid of the older generation, than the older generation was of it. Shortly after his reelection, Nixon reneged on his campaign promise to sign the agreements that would lead to the end of the Vietnam War. But the Watergate scandal – where Nixon’s campaign committee broke into and stole files from the Democratic Party Headquarters – would eventually force him to the conference table. Several months later – on the twenty-first anniversary of the Battle of Diem Bien Phu, and exactly one year later than Ho Chi Minh had predicted – Saigon fell. The end of the war also marked the end of the decade. [Excerpt from Wikipedia] Neil Percival Young (born November 12, 1945) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician and film director. Neil Young’s work is characterized by deeply personal lyrics, distinctive guitar work, and signature falsetto singing voice.  Although he accompanies himself on several different instruments—including piano and harmonica, his clawhammer acoustic guitar style and often idiosyncratic electric guitar soloing are the linchpins of a sometimes ragged, sometimes polished sound. Although Neil Young has experimented widely with differing music styles, including swing, jazz, rockabilly, blues, and electronic music throughout a varied career, his best known work usually falls into either of two distinct styles: folk-esque acoustic rock (“Heart of Gold”, “Harvest Moon” and “Old Man”) and electric-charged hard rock (like “Cinnamon Girl”, “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)”). In recent years, Neil Young has adopted elements from newer styles like industrial, alternative country and grunge. Young’s profound influence on the latter caused some to dub him “the Godfather of Grunge”. Neil Young has directed (or co-directed) a number of films using the pseudonym Bernard Shakey, including Journey Through the Past (1973), Rust Never Sleeps (1979), Human Highway (1982), Greendale (2003), and CSNY Déjà Vu (2008). He is currently working on a documentary about electric car technology, tentatively titled Linc/Volt. The project involves a 1959 Lincoln Continental converted to hybrid technology, which Young plans to drive to Washington, DC as an example to lawmakers there. Neil Young is also an outspoken advocate for environmental issues and small farmers, having co-founded in 1985 the benefit concert Farm Aid, and in 1986 helped found The Bridge School, and its annual supporting Bridge School Benefit concerts, together with his wife Pegi (in this, Young’s involvement stems at least partially from the fact that both of his sons have cerebral palsy and his daughter, like Young himself, has epilepsy). Although Young sings as frequently about U.S. themes and subjects as he does about his native country, he retains Canadian citizenship, which he has never wanted to relinquish.
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Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter

Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter

On-screenRolling Stones GIMME SHELTER warned of a “storm…threatening” to widen the cultural gap between the Rolling Stones‘ generation of the 1960s and their parents. In the Rolling Stones GIMME SHELTER, DOMINOES contrasts the image of suburban conformity to the “do your own thing” lifestyle exemplified by the long hair, “far-out” fringed clothing and floppy hats of the hippies, and the psychedelic culture of the rock and roll, go-go club street scene. The sexual revolution was emboldened by legalization of the birth-control pill and DOMINOES demonstrates this phenomenon through a montage of lifestyles that popularized mini-skirts, hot pants, and monokinis and the commercialized, liberated sex of strip clubs. “It’s just a kiss away…”

The cultural changes portrayed in the Rolling Stones GIMME SHELTER include a glimpse of the Rolling Stones transformation from Beatles-haircut teen idols to the hardened rock and rollers epitomized by Mick Jagger in the closing shots.

Soundtrack Notes: The Rolling Stones GIMME SHELTER was first released in 1969 on Let It Bleed (ABKCO Records) although the version featured in DOMINOES comes from the Rolling Stones 1964-1971 Hot Rocks LP (ABKCO Records, 1972). In 1971, the live performance of the Rolling Stones song was released on the Decca Records album of the same name.

Context: During the same year that Watts was razed, a new wave of rock swept across America. It was not like the Beatles or the Beach Boys but sprang from Black roots, and contained elements of rage and rebellion. As it rolled into the tidy homes of middle-class America, it aroused feelings of defiance in millions of “baby boom” teens. The sun had finally set on 1950s complacency. In Boston, New York, and Los Angeles, the sheer number of kids pouring into the streets looking for action on Saturday nights closed sections of these cities to traffic. This 1960s generation began to create an almost insurmountable chasm between itself and the older generation, where the generations before it had created trifling gaps. In so doing, it gained both a consciousness of its power, and the identity of a truly different generation, with a unique style and culture of its own.

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Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – Find The Cost Of Freedom

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – Find The Cost Of Freedom

On-screen:  Crosby Stills Nash Young “Find The Cost Of Freedom”.  FIND THE COST OF FREEDOM sets stark images of the Vietnam War’s impact at home to  Crosby Stills Nash Young’s haunting lament.   Student unrest against the US invasion of Cambodia shut down hundreds of campuses in 1970 which set the stage for Crosby Stills Nash Young’s FIND THE COST OF FREEDOM. The communication between National Guardsmen and students tossing tear gas canisters back and forth still endure as the tragic symbols of campus rebellions. Crosby Stills Nash Young’s harmonizing suggests a funeral dirge as scenes captured in FIND THE COST OF FREEDOM portray the young faces of student idealists paying with their lives for exercising their right of dissent.

Soundtrack notesCrosby Stills Nash Young first released FIND THE COST OF FREEDOM on Atlantic Records’ 4 WAY STREET in 1971. The DOMINOES recording of FIND THE COST OF FREEDOM comes from the soundtrack to Crosby Stills Nash Young’s JOURNEY THROUGH THE PAST (Atlantic, 1972).  FIND THE COST OF FREEDOM was re-released by Crosby Stills Nash Young in 1974 on the compilation SO FAR (Atlantic Records).  Crosby Stills Nash Young also released FIND THE COST OF FREEDOM on the back side of the OHIO single (Atlantic Records, 1971).  In 2008, Crosby Stills Nash Young released an MP3 version of FIND THE COST OF FREEDOM through Reprise Records for the U.S. and WEA International for the world outside the U.S.

Context: In the nine months immediately following Woodstock, the mood in the nation turned from hate/fascination with the younger generation to one of fear. Woodstock clearly demonstrated that the 1960s generation had closed ranks and was united in its opposition to any threat to its self-fulfillment and to the Vietnam War. On May 4, 1970, fear pulled the trigger, and the sixties generation would discover the price for freedom. President Nixon had timed his invasion of Cambodia to coincide with exam week, believing that college students would be too involved with their grades to protest. He underestimated their esprit de corps, and soon discovered that there was more to the campus rebellion than just spring sunshine and hormones. Across America, university after university was forced by its student body to postpone or cancel finals. At Kent State University – a middle-class state college in America’s heartland – the National Guard panicked in response to rock throwing at an otherwise routine campus demonstration, and opened fire on the crowd. Dozens of students, many not even involved in the protest, were wounded. Four lay dead.

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B. B. King – The Thrill is Gone

B. B. King – The Thrill is Gone

On-screen:  The THE THRILL IS GONE sets the stage for Los Angeles’ inner-city Watts burning to the plaintive blues of King’s guitar, Lucille.  Network news footage captured Los Angeles police apprehending some of the four thousand African-Americans arrested through six hot nights in the summer of 1965 and others of the thirty-four Blacks who lay dead among the torched and overturned cars of Watts. An act of LA police brutality after a motorist was stopped on suspicion of intoxication sparked the violent reaction against the white Los Angeles police department and white-owned storefronts. Skeletons of the burned out buildings of Watts serve as  dramatic images of the McCone Commission’s findings: that the Watts riots were symptoms of deeper issues for Blacks in America. In THE THRILL IS GONE, King intones, “…but you’ll be sorry someday.

Soundtrack Notes: B.B. King released THE THRILL IS GONE on the Bluesway album Completely Well in 1969. THE THRILL IS GONE appeared as a single in 1970, and he was awarded a Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for THE THRILL IS GONE.

Context: The red skies over Watts-lit from a thousand fires-signaled the arrival of a new hour. The mass rage that erupted in the backwater slum of Los Angeles sent a clear message that, for the Black underclass: the thrill was gone. White mannequins lay smashed to smithereens in the rubble, as a different King – B.B. King – boasted “I’m free now baby, I’m free from your spell.” Black America woke up on August 5, 1965, looked around at the squalor into which it had been seduced, and burned it to the ground.

Excerpt from Wikipedia Page

King has been married twice, to Martha Lee Denton, 1946 to 1952, and to Sue Carol Hall, 1958 to 1966. Both marriages ended because of the heavy demands made on the marriage by King’s 250 performances a year. It is reported that he has fathered 15 children. He has lived with Type II diabetes for over twenty years and is a high-profile spokesman in the fight against the disease, appearing in advertisements for diabetes-management products.

His favorite singer is Frank Sinatra. In his autobiography King speaks about how he was, and is, a “Sinatra nut” and how he went to bed every night listening to Sinatra’s classic album In the Wee Small Hours. King has credited Sinatra for opening doors to black entertainers who were not given the chance to play in “white dominated” venues; Sinatra got King into the main clubs in Las Vegas during the 1960s.

Each year during the first week in June, a B.B. King Homecoming Festival is held in Indianola, Mississippi. However, he does not attend the festival.

Over a period of 52 years, King has played in excess of 15,000 performances. He has made guest appearances on numerous popular television shows, including The Cosby Show, The Young and the Restless, General Hospital, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Sesame Street, Married With Children and Sanford and Son.

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