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Archive for July, 2010

Johnny Cash Biography

Posted On July 20th, 2010 By Celebrity Biographies

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash is often referred to as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. He was an American singer, actor, songwriter and author. Although he is majorly remembered for his contribution in country music, his tunes have also spanned across different genres such as rock and roll. He is specifically recognized for his profound, characteristic deep baritone voice coupled with a humble demeanor. His concerts typically start with his introduction line ‘Hi this is Johnny Cash’ and then usually proceed with ‘Folsom Prison Blues’.

Early Life

Johnny Cash was born on February 26th, 1932 in Kingsland, Arkansas. He belonged to a royal descent from Scotland, however he discovered this only after searching for his ancestry. In his younger days, he believed that he was majorly Irish and partly belongs to Native America. Even after learning about his ancestry, he still remained compassionate towards Native Americans and this was clearly portrayed in his songs from the album called ‘Bitter Tears’.

Johnny Cash was given the name J.R. Cash since his parents could not agree on a single name. At the time when he enlisted for US Air Force, he had to change his name since the military would not accept initials for a name. Hence, he took a name John R. Cash. When he signed the Sun records in 1955, he adopted ‘Johnny’ as his stage name.

Johnny was one of the seven children to parents Ray and Carrie Cash. Tommy Cash, his younger brother, also became one of the successful country artists. He started singing songs while working with his family in cotton farms at the age of 5. His family experienced a lot of personal and economic struggles during the ‘Great Depression’, which was reflected in a majority of his songs. His early memories of music were dominated by radio and gospel music. His mother as well his childhood friend introduced him to writing songs and playing guitar. He used to sing at the local radio station in childhood and years later, he released an album of gospel songs as a tribute called ‘My Mother’s Hymn book’. Cash was highly influenced by the traditional Irish songs.

Later on, Cash was enlisted in the US Air Force and was posted in Landsberg, Germany as a code intercept operator, where he developed his first band called ‘The Landsburg Barbarians’. He then returned to Texas after being respectfully released as a sergeant.

Marriages

During his Air Force training in San Antonio, Johnny met Vivian Liberto at a skating rink when she was only 17. The couple dated for three weeks before Cash left for Germany and stayed in touch thereafter. After being discharged, they got married on 7th August, 1954. They had four daughters out of this marriage. However with increasing drug and alcohol abuse, constant alliance with other women, extreme closeness with June Carter and several other affairs urged Liberto to file for a divorce in the year 1966.
Jonny Cash finally proposed June Carter, a fellow country singer he met 12 years ago, in a live performance. They got married on 1st March 1968 and they had one child out of the marriage. The couple worked together and produced some of the biggest hits of all times ‘Ring of Fire. They won two Grammys for their duets, during their professional relationship of 35 years.

Career

After getting married to Liberto, the couple moved to Tennessee. He visited the Sun records studio with the hope of getting a music contract. However when he met the producer Sam Phillips, he was told that his gospel songs were unmarketable. With a lot of improvements, he finally impressed the producer with songs like ‘Cry, Cry, Cry’ and ‘Hey Porter’, which were released by Sun studios in 1955.

His next record called ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ made it to the top 5 country songs whereas his other record called ‘I Walk the Line’ topped the country charts and was entered the top 20 of the pop charts. After the success of ‘Home of the Blues’ in 1957, he recorded an album with Sun. Although he was recording best-selling songs, he felt constrained with a small label. Thereafter he signed an attractive deal with Columbia Records and recorded one of his biggest hits called ‘Don’t take your guns’. During the 1960’s, he toured with the Carter Family. In the year 1961, he acted in a film called ‘5 Minutes to Live’ which was later released as ‘Door-to-Door Maniac’.

Last Years and Death

Johnny Cash was diagnosed with Shy-Drager Syndrome, a neurodegenerative disease, in the year 1997. Later on, he was diagnosed of autonomic neuropathy, often linked with diabetes. Due to this illness, he was forced to shorten his touring. In 1998, he has to be hospitalized due to severe pneumonia that damaged his lungs to a great extent. His last two American albums called ‘The Solitary Man’ and ‘The Man Comes Around’ released in 2002 contained his response to the diseases in the form of songs.

His 73-years old wife June Carter died on 15th May 2003 and had asked him to continue recording. Cash performed a few shows thereafter. On 5th July 2003, he gave his last public performance as a tribute to his wife. Four months after the death of his wife June Carter, his health worsened due to diabetes and was hospitalized at a hospital in Nashville. He died at 2am on 12th September 2003. Cash was buried in Hendersonville Memory gardens, next to his wife. One of his final works called ‘A Hundred Highways’ produced by Rick Rubin was released after his death on 4th July 2006. The album was an instant hit and got the first position on the charts. On 26th February 2010, Rick Rubin along with the Cash Family released another posthumous record called ‘Aint No Grave’ to mark the 78th birthday of Johnny Cash.


Nelson Mandela Biography

Posted On July 10th, 2010 By Celebrity Biographies

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is one of the most popular names in the world. He served as the South African president from 1994 to 1999. Before his act as a president, he led the armed wing of ANC (African National Congress) called the Umkhonto We Sizwe. Being arrested in 1962, he spent 27 years in prison (most of them on Robben Island), serving charges of sabotage. After his release on February 11, 1990, Nelson Mandela involved himself into negotiations, finally leading to multi-racial democracy in the year 1994. He is also referred to as ‘Madiba’ in South Africa, which is an honorary title given to him by the other elderly members of his claim. During the span of four decades, he received more than 250 awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

Early Life

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born on 18th July, 1918. He was born in a small village called Mvezo, located in the province of Umtata. Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, Mandela’s father was the chief of this town and as soon as he protested against the colonial authorities, the chief was deprived of his rights and the family was forced to migrate to Qunu.

Nelson Mandela’s father had four wives with a total of thirteen children, nine girls and four boys. Nelson was a child of his father’s third wife called Nosekeni Fanny. His middle name ‘Rolihlahla’ meant ‘pulling a branch of a tree’, but in this context it meant ‘troublemaker’. Mandela became the first and the only member of the family to attend school and his teacher ‘Miss Mdingane’ gave him his English name ‘Nelson’. At the age of 9, Mandela lost his father due to tuberculosis. Thereafter, regent Jongintaba took care of him as a guardian.

Nelson attended the Wesleyan Mission School, which was located next to the regent’s palace. According to the Thembu custom, he attended the Clarkebury Boarding School at the age of 16. Instead of the usual three years, Mandela completed his Junior Certificate in two years. At the age of 19, he was highly interested in running and boxing at school. He later enrolled himself at the Fort Hare University for a Bachelor of Arts program. During this course, he met his lifelong friend Oliver Tambo. By the end of first year in college, he was actively involved with the Student’s Representative Council. After consistent boycott against the university policies, he was asked to leave the university and he could return only if he agreed to accept the conditions of the university. During his term at the prison, he took an external program in Bachelor of Laws from the University of London.

On his return from the Fort Hare University, the regent arranged his marriage and in protest to the arrangement, he relocated to Johannesburg. As soon as he reached Johannesburg, he was employed as a guard at the local mine. He then worked at the Witkin, Sidelsky and Edelman law firm in Johannesburg.

Political Career

Nelson Mandela actively involved himself into politics after the Afrikaner-dominated party won the elections in 1948. He fought for the anti-apartheid causes and led the Defiance campaign of ANC in 1952 as well as the Congress of People in 1955. During these years, Nelson Mandela along with his lawyer Oliver Tambo started a law firm that provided free counsel to loads of blacks who lacked lawyer representation. Nelson Mandela was greatly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s approach towards truth and non-violence. He also attended the 100th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi at a conference in New Delhi in the year 2007.

Mandela became the leader of the ANC wing in the year 1961. He became the coordinator for the sabotage campaigns against government and military targets. He also made plans for a guerrilla war in case if the sabotage failed. ANC members as well as Mandela were barred an entry from United States until July 2008. They required a special waiver from the Secretary of State in US since they were designated as terrorists due to their apartheid regime.

On June 12, 1964, Mandela was sentenced to imprisonment for life. He was imprisoned at the Robben Island, where he spent 18 years out of his total 27 years in prison. While in prison, he gained a lot of reputation as an important leader in South Africa. The prisoners were separated by race and the blacks received the fewest privileges. He was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison in March 1982. President Botha offered freedom to Nelson Mandela in February 1985 on the condition that he and his party members must give up armed struggle.

Marriage and Family

Nelson Mandela has been married three times and he has fathered a total of six children. He has 20 grand-children and an increasing number of great grand kids. All of his children were educated in the United World College. He was first married to Evelyn Ntoko Mase and their marriage lasted for 13 years, before they decided to break up in 1957. His second marriage was to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who happened to the first black worker in Johannesburg. The marriage ended due to separation in 1992. Thereafter, he remarried to Graça Machel née Simbine on his 80th birthday. Mandela still stays at Qunu with his royal nephew.

Nelson Mandela was elected as the oldest president of South Africa and he resumed work at the age of 75 in the year 1994. He refused to stand for the second term and took retirement in 1999. He was then succeeded by Thabo Mbeki.


Genghis Khan Biography

Posted On July 1st, 2010 By Celebrity Biographies

Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan

In about less than a century, Genghis Khan and his followers built the largest kingdom in the world. This empire was later exceeded by the British in the late 19th century. Through brute force, spiritual mission and cunning diplomacy, Genghis Khan united the irreconcilable Mongols and then began his journey to the east and west of Asia, conquering major regions of Asia. By 1280 AD, the Mongol empire stretched from the Yellow Sea in China to the Mediterranean Sea, covering a total of 12 million miles.

Early Life

Genghis Khan was originally called ‘Temüjin’ and was born in 1162. Due to the lack of modern-day records, there is very little information on the early life of Genghis Khan. He was born in a Mongol Tribe near Kherlen and Onon River, besides the Burkhan Khaldun Mountain, located in the contemporary Mongolia. According to the history of Mongols, it is believed that young Temüjin had a blood clot grasped in his hand, which is considered as a traditional sign that he was born to become a leader. The name suggests that he may perhaps have descended from a blacksmith family. His father’s name was ‘Yesükhei’ and his mother’s name was ‘Hoelun’. His father was a chieftain of the ‘Borjigin’ clan and therefore Genghis belonged to a noble background. Since he belonged to a higher social status, it made it easier for him to solicit help from the other Mongol tribes and consolidate them.

There are no accurate portraits of this Mongol leader; however the legendary ancestors suggest that he was tall, red-haired, green-eyed and long-bearded. At the age of nine, Temüjin was taken to another tribe by his father, so as to find him a wife. While returning, Yesugei (Temüjin’s father) was killed by the Tatars. Young Temüjin and his family were abandoned by his father’s followers. They were forced to live in difficult conditions where they survived by fishing and hunting. For the next few years, the family lived in poverty. During one of the hunting excursions, at the age of 13, Temüjin eliminated his half-brother called Bekhter over a fight. After this incident, Temüjin was considered as the head of the family. His mother gave him several important lessons about the existing political conditions in Mongolia and the need for alliance.

Personal Life & Children

As arranged by his deceased father, at the age of 16, Temüjin married a young woman called ‘Borte’ of the ‘Olkut’ hun tribe. This led to an alliance between the two tribes and Borte had four sons out of this marriage. Ghenghis Khan is known to have many more children from his other wives, but none of them were included in his succession. There are no existing records of any daughters. His religion is widely considered to be Tengriism or Shamanism that is usually followed by the nomad tribes of Asia. He was known to be religiously tolerant and took moral or philosophical lessons from other religions as well. During his conquer; he often consulted Muslim merchants, Christian monasteries as well as a Taoist monk called Qui Chuji.

Rise to Power

Temüjin started attracting followers who appreciated him during battles. He became a follower of a Christian tribe chieftain called Toghril in Central Mongolia. Along with Toghril and a young chief called Jamuka, Temüjin was able to rescue his wife. Soon after his wedding, his wife Borte was kidnapped by the Merkits, a prominent tribe in Russia (this tribe is existent until today). Quite a few Mongol princes considered Temüjin as their ruler and then presented him with the title ‘Cheengiz Khan’ (Genghis Khan) which meant ‘the sole ruler of the ocean’. Toghril and Genghis Khan helped North China in their batter against Tatars and emerged successful.

Soon relations between Toghril and Genghis Khan became worse, which led to the open war between them. After being defeated in their first battle, Genghis Khan took abode in some remote areas of northeast Mongolia. 1n, 1203, he fought another battle with Toghril and defeated him. Thereafter, Toghril was killed by the Naimans and his tribe was united with the Mongols. Genghis Khan started his journey in West Mongolia, along with his associates, defeated his enemies including Jamuka, the Naimans and the Merkits in 1204. All the tribes were merged together and Genghis Khan was proclaimed as the supreme ruler.

Invasion of China & Afghanistan

Along with invading and conquering, Genghis Khan did more than that. He established some rules for his empire as well as introduced a written language for his people. He set up a basic postal service, so as to communicate with the different parts of his empire. Above all, he was a great military leader. In the year 1211, the Mongols assaulted China and invaded the north region of the ‘Great Wall’.

Thereafter, he started his hunt for Sultan Muhammad of Khiva. The Sultan possessed major parts of Central Asia, along with Afghanistan and major portions of Persia. It was a matter of time before the two empires clashed against each other. The Sultan fled across Persia and was killed near the Caspian Sea. By 1220, he expanded his empire across the west by defeating the Sultan of Afghanistan. After concluding his campaign in the west, he returned back to Mongolia. Around 1226, Genghis Khan resumed war against the Tibetan tribe called Tanguts. He died on 25th August 1227, in the Liupan Mountains of Kansu, while the war was still in progress.

Death

Genghis Khan wanted to be buried without any markings, following the traditions of his tribe. After his death, his body was returned to his birthplace in Mongolia. Many suspect that he is buried close to the Onon River. The Genghis Khan Mausoleum was created years after his death and is not his burial site. If we were to believe the folklore, it is said that the river was diverted on his grave so that it becomes impossible to locate his burial site. Some stories also suggest that his grave was stamped by several horses and numerous trees were planted over it. According to the Mongol tradition, the youngest son would inherit the father’s property and hence his army was divided accordingly.


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