Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Saying Farewell to a Legend and a Friend

The entire Time Life team was greatly saddened today to learn about the sudden passing of Soul Train creator and entertainment legend, Don Cornelius.

As a company, we've had the privilege of collaborating with Don Cornelius to bring The Best of Soul Train to DVD for the first time. But, for our employees, the relationship was much more than business. Don was a friend, mentor, and role model.

Michael Mitchell, our Vice President of Marketing and long-time friend of Don Cornelius, had this to share about the creator of TV’s most iconic music programming:
“Don made it cool and hip to be black in America when he and the biggest names in the entertainment business came into your living room.

Each week, kids and parents alike gathered around televisions to see the latest fashions, dance moves and performances by their favorite artists on Soul Train.

I have known and admired Don Cornelius for over 20 years, from my early days working for Michael Jackson, on to Motown and now here at Time Life where we had the pleasure of working with him and Soul Train Holdings to put Soul Train out on DVD for the very first time.

Every black entertainment executive, music executive and on-air personality owes a debt of gratitude to Don for his groundbreaking success. He paved the way.”

From all of us at Time Life, "Love, Peace and Soul, dear friend." We will miss you.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gifts From The Heart

In 1974, Dolly Parton released what was to become one of her signature songs. “The Coat of Many Colors” told a sweet, heart-tugging tale from her childhood. Like so many in today’s economy, Dolly’s family was faced with hard times and economic challenges. Her resourceful mother sewed a coat for her daughter from colorful rags, so she would stay warm in the cold Tennessee winter.

While her mother stitched the coat together, she told young Dolly the biblical story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. Dolly was so excited to wear her new coat to school, but the other children at school scoffed at the garment.

The original coat can be seen at the
Chasing Rainbows in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. 
And oh I couldn't understand it, for I felt I was rich
And I told them of the love my momma sewed in every stitch
And I told 'em all the story momma told me while she sewed
And how my coat of many colors was worth more than all their clothes

Dolly kept that coat, and it now hangs in the Chasing Rainbows Museum. It’s a symbol of a mother’s love and a daughter’s courage. As we celebrate this holiday season, let us remember Dolly and her coat. The best gifts come from the heart, create warm memories, and bring us close to the ones we love!

One is only poor, only if they choose to be
Now I know we had no money, but I was rich as I could be
In my coat of many colors my momma made for me

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's Beginning To Sound A Lot Like Christmas...

America's "Singing Cowboy" was as well-known for his
Christmas songs as he was for his country hits.

Nothing gets you in the mood for the holidays quite like a good ol’ fashioned Christmas song. Holiday tunes are as essential to the celebration as brightly-lit evergreens and long lines at the post office. Some songs are absolutely woven into the tradition of the holiday. Every school child knows “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” And, you won’t be able to find a mall or shopping center that doesn’t having “Here Comes Santa Claus” blaring over its speakers.

These songs seem like they’ve been around forever - like they are as old as the holiday itself! But, many of our most beloved tunes came about during the 1940s and ‘50s - and some of them almost didn’t!

Gene Autry wrote “Here Comes Santa Claus” after hearing children shout the phrase while riding his horse in a Christmas parade. During the first recording, one of the studio executives sipped his cocktail a little too close to the microphone. The sound of his chinking ice cubes inspired the team to include jingling bells in their next take. The song became an instant hit!

After “Here Comes Santa Claus” took the country by storm, dozens of songwriters sent Gene Autry their Christmas songs, hoping he would record them. Autry reviewed hundreds of submissions. One song which he initially cast aside was “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”  His wife, however, loved the song. Because Gene was a good husband, he recorded the tune. It was one of the best decisions he (or his wife, rather) ever made! “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” became his all-time biggest seller. 

Autry wasn’t the only performer to find success with Christmas songs. Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” album has never been out of print since being released in 1949.

Mel Torme and Bob Wells wrote the “Christmas Song” (“Chestnuts Roasting On an Open Fire”) on a hot summer day while trying to stay cool. For forty minutes, they wrote about “Jack Frost nipping” and “folks dressed up as Eskimos.” Despite their attempts to cool off, the song was hot! It’s now a holiday classic.

The film The Lemon Drop Kid might have passed quickly into forgotten history if it had not been for its signature song, “Silver Bells.” This song was almost dropped from the movie when the original lyrics “Tinkle Bells” brought to mind children’s bathroom slang. The writers eventually came back to the song, and with a simple word change, another classic was born!

These songs and many others hold a special place in all our hearts and in our holiday tradition. So, go ahead - crank up the music and sing along! After all, it's only Christmas-time once a year.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Micky Dolenz Shares His Holiday Memories

Baking cookies with grandma…. Sledding with the kids…. Finding that perfect gift for your sweetheart… We all have favorite holiday memories that make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

We recently asked Monkee Micky Dolenz about his favorite Christmas memories. He was happy to share!

What would you do if you met your favorite Monkee in the mall? 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Time Life's Thanksgiving Playlist

Time to give the gobbler his due.
The radio is already playing Christmas carols, and the turkey has yet to be carved! Does anyone else feel like our national day of thanks has been a bit overshadowed in recent years?

It’s time to reclaim Thanksgiving - starting with the music! Turn off that Christmas radio station, at least for the next few days. We’ve got some songs that are sure to put you in the mood for gratitude and second helpings of cranberry sauce!

“What a Wonderful World” Louis Armstrong
Can anyone listen to this song without being moved?

“Thank You” Sly and the Family Stone
Perhaps not the most sentimental, but it is sure to bring the funk!

“Be Thankful” Natalie Cole
In these hard economic times, this optimistic message is extra-meaningful. 

“We Are Family” Sister Sledge
A good thing to remember when your house is invaded by in-laws and everyone has an opinion on the best way to prepare the sweet potatoes.

“Thank You” Dido
Dido’s beautiful voice is as smooth as pumpkin pie.

“Thank You” Alanis Morissette
A little depressing, but the chorus is right.

"Thanks for the Memory" Bob Hope and Shirley Ross
And, here's to making new memories too...

Alice’s Restaurant” Arlo Guthrie
Eat anything you want - that’s the Thanksgiving spirit!

“Surfin’ Bird” The Trashmen
"Bird is the word," and turkey is that bird.

“Country Pie” Bob Dylan
Blueberry, apple, cherry, pumpkin and plum. Call me for dinner, honey, I'll be there.”

“Savory Truffle” The Beatles
Yes, the Fab Four can appreciate a good feast too!

Turkey Lurkey Time” from Promises, Promises
A song about turkeys…and Christmas? It represents the conundrum society faces as these two holidays overlap. “Turkey Lurkey” is deep and fraught with inner meaning (really).

Thanks to all our Facebook Fans for contributing! Happy Thanksgiving.

Exclusive Interviews with Debby Boone and Peter Marshall

Here at Time Life, we are fortunate enough to get to work with some of the biggest names in the music and entertainment business!  Recently, on the set of our upcoming “Music of Your Life” infomercial, we had the chance to chat with Debby Boone and Peter Marshall. Two stars at once, we were giddy with excitement!  

Our intrepid producers kept the cameras rolling so we could share some of their incredible anecdotes. Enjoy!

Isn't Debby a class act? We love her stories about
the legendary Rosemary Clooney!

Peter's stories about Velvet Frog, Mel Torme, and 
other famed crooners are fantastic!

Music of Your Life - Coming Soon!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Beatles with Tony Sheridan: First Recordings

Everyone has to get their start somewhere. Before the Beatles became a worldwide phenomenon, before Ringo Starr joined their number - they played the German nightclub circuit with drummer Pete Best. It was there they were discovered and signed by music executive Bert Kaempfert of the Polydor label.

Under this label, the Beatles produced a series of recordings with Tony Sheridan - billed as Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers. Their recording, “My Bonnie” reached number 32 on the Musikmarkt chart.

Now, for the first time in North America, Time Life has made all of these historic recordings available! The Beatles with Tony Sheridan: First Recordings includes every recording made while the Beatles were on the Polydor label in 1961 and 1962. And, the collection comes with an incredible collector’s booklet, filled with rare artwork, copies of the signed contracts, and even hand-written autobiographies - written on Kaempfert’s kitchen table after the group signed the deal.

We’re adding this one to our Christmas lists! Learn more here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Man Behind The Monkee

The average person has never heard of Moog Synthesizers. But, they revolutionized the music industry in the late ’60s. Moog Music pioneered the production of commercial synthesizers, which led to a whole new sound in music.

Monkee member Micky Dolenz was one of the first musicians to purchase a Moog and experiment with the new technology. He bought the third one ever sold!

Time Life is excited to be collaborating with Micky on an upcoming infomercial about the incredible music of the ’60s (Coming 2012, stay tuned!). During the filming of this new show, he sat down and chatted with our producers about some of his favorite memories – including his excitement at owning one of the first synthesizer!

Enjoy this exclusive interview below for a unique chance to get to know more about the man behind the Monkee.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Unboolievable Last-Minute Costumes

Are you still looking for the perfect Halloween costume? The music experts at Time Life are here to help! When in doubt, we at Time Life always turn to music for inspiration. It never fails, even for last-minute Halloween costumes.

Dolly's always
all dolled-up!
For simple and easy,
try a Garth Brooks costume.
All you need is a cowboy hat and a guitar to transform yourself into Garth Brooks. This costume also works for Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, George Strait and any other singing cowboy. Yee Haw!

For the cowgirls out there, trying “dolling” up as Dolly Parton. Big hair, red lipstick, and a white outfit are the three key-ingredients to this costume. If you have time, adding rhinestones can complete the look! 

All you need is a little hair gel,
and a cool pose, of course.
Fab 4 - Fab Hair!
For fans of the teen idols, it’s really all in the hair. It almost doesn’t matter what you wear if you are sporting one of these iconic hair styles (wigs work too). Everyone recognizes the Beatle mop-tops and Elvis’s high-sculpted ‘do.

Get your friends together
for a perfect group costume!
If you are up for more of a challenge, try mimicking the face paint of your favorite KISS band member. You can even find step-by-step instructions for imitating the patterns online. Take this costume to the next level with fake blood capsules, though you might want to save that addition until after the smallest trick-or-treaters have gone to bed. Make sure to buy face paint that washes of easily, or you may regret your wild night as Starchild the next morning!

It's always Halloween for
Paul Revere and the Raiders.
MJ's glove
is iconic.
For those of you willing to spend some considerable time behind a sewing machine, there are much more elaborate costumes. And, who knows, maybe you'll be able to work that Michael Jackson rhinestone glove or Paul Revere jacket into your regular wardrobe one day. Styles recycle, right? 

So, have you decided on the perfect costume yet? Take a stroll through your music collection. The personalities and celebrities are endless. With some tinted sunglasses, you are an instant Elton John! Long straight hair and a flowing dress, you’ll be a Cher doppelganger. Have fun!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Halloween Playlist

Throw out that “Creepy Sound Effects” CD! There are much better ways to set the mood for Halloween. Rock out to some songs that never go out of style! Here are our favorite musical treats to celebrate the spookiest night of the year.

What are your favorites? Do you have any to add to our list?

“Monster Mash” – Bobby “Boris” Pickett and The Crypt-Kickers (1962)
This yearly favorite has been on the top Billboard charts three times since it was released. It was originally banned by the BBC for being “too morbid,” but reached number three on their charts when it was eventually released in the United Kingdom eleven years later.

Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs
were always dressed for Halloween!
“Thriller” – Michael Jackson (1982)
Fortunately, the BBC overcame their reservations about dancing monsters in time for Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video. The original lyrics for this song were pitched as, "Starlight! Starlight sun..." It was re-written as, “Thriller, thriller night…” when “Thriller” was chosen as the title for the album.

“Wooly Bully” – Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs (1965)
This crazy tune was Billboard’s number one record of the year. The title “Wooly Bully” was actually the name of Sam’s cat.

“Li’l Red Riding Hood” – Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs (1966)
Following the success of “Wooly Bully,” Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs released another eccentric classic. Evidently, Miss Hood was a popular gal. The Big Bopper has a similarly themed song, “Little Red Riding Hood,” released in 1958.

“Purple People Eater” – Sheb Wooley (1958)
The child of a friend once asked Sheb Wooley, "What has one eye, one horn, flies and eats people?” The punch line: “A one-eyed, one-horned, flying people eater!” Sheb Wooley composed this song within the hour, and the rest is rock n’ roll history.

Screamin' Jay Hawkins played the part
when performing "I Put A Spell On You."
“That Old Black Magic” – Ella Fitzgerald (1961)
This song was originally written in 1942 with Judy Garland in mind. In addition to Judy Garland, this popular tune has been recorded by Ella Fitzgerald, Glen Miller, Margaret Whiting, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Johnny Mercer, Marilyn Monroe, Jerry Lewis, Bobby Rydell and more!

“I Put A Spell On You” – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (1956)
This spooky song was originally intended to be a blues ballad and love song. During the recording session, Jay Hawkins and his band had a little too much fun and a little too much to drink. Their accidental odd-ball recording became an instant underground hit, launching Jay Hawkins’ singing career.

“Witch Doctor” – David Seville (1958)
Ross Bagdasarian Sr. released this song under the name David Seville. The voice of the witch doctor is actually his own, sped up to double speed. He also used this technique to create the beloved animated series Alvin and the Chipmunks.

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