Hooray for Captain Spalding

We’re all getting older every day. These folks have aged by one whole year as of September 5, 2007:

Loudon Wainwright III is 61. Wainwright’s only hit single was “Dead Skunk” in 1973; after that, he was cast in three third-season episodes of M*A*S*H as Captain Calvin Spalding. M*A*S*H was never more like the Robert Altman film on which it’s based than in those sequences where Spalding’s songs comment on the action. Wainwright’s father was a columnist and editor at Life magazine; his son Rufus is a singer and songwriter.

Buddy Miles is also 61. Miles is best known for playing drums with Jimi Hendrix in the short-lived Band of Gypsys, although they’d known each other for a while, having backed Wilson Pickett earlier in the 1960s.

Freddie Mercury would be 61, had he not died in 1991. A little Queen goes a long way with me, but there’s no denying that Mercury was one of rock’s greatest showmen, like Little Richard on steroids.

Al Stewart is 62. Year of the Cat and Time Passages are two of my favorite albums of the 1970s, with those great literate lyrics set to lovely tunes.

Raquel Welch is 67. What women like Carmen Electra and Pamela Anderson have represented to adolescent boys everywhere in recent years, Raquel Welch represented first. She did not appear to have had the taste for rock stars that Carmen and Pam have, though: According to her Wikipedia entry, Welch once “attempted” to date Alice Cooper, but he “attempted to avoid her since he was dating a dancer that would become his wife.”

John Stewart is 68. Came out of nowhere, or so we thought back then, to score one of 1979’s most memorable singles, “Gold.” Only later did we learn that he’d been in the Kingston Trio and had written “Daydream Believer” (which surprised me, because I thought Neil Diamond had written it).

Bob Newhart is 78. Billboard chart guru Joel Whitburn ranks his debut album, The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart, as the seventh most popular album of the 1960s, just behind Sgt. Pepper. I have my parents’ copies of his first two albums and have committed most of the routines to memory, and I finally got the chance to see him perform live last fall.

Composer John Cage would be 95, had he not died in 1992. He’s best known for 4’33”, a piece originally performed on piano that consisted of four minutes and 33 seconds of silence. Frank Zappa once covered it; it influenced John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s experimental album Life With the Lions. Hear it here. Really.

More Recommended Listening/Reading: The title track from the forthcoming album by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, 100 Days and 100 Nights, is up at Ickmusic; be sure to check out what Jeff at AM, Then FM found in the microfilm at his newspaper not long ago; get another perspective on Springsteen’s new single “Radio Nowhere” from Danny Alexander at Living In Stereo.

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