History Podcasts

Jimmy Sharp

Jimmy Sharp

James (Jimmy) Sharp was born in Jordonstone, Scotland on 11th October 1880. He played for Dundee in the Scottish League and in 1903 won his first international cap for Scotland against Wales. Sharp, who was captain, led the team to a 1-1 draw.

In 1904 Sharp was transferred to Fulham in the Southern League. The following season he joined Woolwich Arsenal. In the 1905-06 season he missed only three league games. The club had a good FA Cup run that season beating Watford (3-0), Sunderland (5-0), Manchester United (3-2) before losing to Newcastle United 2-0 in the semi-final with Jimmy Howie and Colin Veitch getting the goals.

In the 1906-07 season Arsenal finished in 7th place in the league. Once again they had a good cup run beating Bristol City (2-1), Bristol Rovers (1-0) and Barnsley (2-1) before losing to Sheffield Wednesday 3-1 in the semi-final.

During this period Arsenal had a very impressive forward line that included Bert Freeman, Charlie Satterthwaite, Tim Coleman, Bobby Templeton and Billy Garbutt. The defence was also very good with players such as Percy Sands, Jimmy Ashcroft, Andy Ducat and Roderick McEachrane.

However, Arsenal encountered serious financial problems at this time and in April 1908 was forced to sell Sharp to Glasgow Rangers for £400. He only stayed nine months before Fulham purchased him for a £1,000.

Jimmy Sharp won his last international cap for Scotland against Wales on 1st May 1909. Scotland won the game 3-2.

Sharp played 97 games for Fulham before moving to Chelsea in 1912. His professional career was brought to an end by the outbreak of the First World War. He had played 61 games for Chelsea.

Jimmy Sharp died in 1949.


Jimmy Sharp - History



That book, available from Amazon, features chapter titles such as "The English Colonial Period," "The Revolutionary War Upheaval in British West Florida," and "The Battle of Lake Pontchartrain."

A reviewer on Amazon said this about the book:

This is a thoroughly and meticulously researched and well-written work, deserving to be on the shelf of anyone with either a general interest in Louisiana, and more particularly, the "north shore" of Lake Pontchartrain, or with specific scholarly interests in the land grants from British, Spanish and territorial American administrations.

The book richly describes French influences of the urban center of New Orleans and those prosperous enough to envision having a retreat from the epidemics of yellow and scarlet fevers, as well as cholera and other illnesses which afflicted the urban environment. Over time the area became accessible as a playground and respite for those of more moderate means.

Researcher Donald J. Sharp's interest in the "Tchefuncte Corridor" brings to life the varied families, black, white and mixed, who populated, defended and developed the area. Author Anita R. Campeau uses for her work platform a particular case record, Court Case No. 225, which, with some serendipity, Sharp was able to uncover, through the assistance and diligence and passion of Bertha Perreand Neff, late archivist of the St. Tammany Parish Clerk of Court, and the two strong-willed women who contested age-old titles to inherited and purchased property.

This contribution of Sharp and Campeau to the literature stands as rich testimony to the importance and untiring efforts of archivists, particularly the clerks of court throughout Louisiana, and in this case, gives appropriate commendation to Clerk of Court Malise Prieto and archivist Robin Leckbee Perkins.

The book is organized somewhat as a series of fully footnoted vignettes of personal histories of the families in the area, and in its approach, brings to mind a similarly formatted scholarly work, "Interim Appointment, W.C.C. Claiborne Letter Book, 1804-1805, edited by Jared William Bradley," Interim Appointment: W. C. C. Claiborne Letter Book, 1804-1805 (The Louisiana Purchase Collection) with its rich biographies and narratives of the interwoven lives, conflicts and contexts of Louisiana's transitional elite who guided the polity from Spanish and French colonial regimes, through U.S. territorial status and eventual statehood.

At 359 pages, including bibliography and source material, the book deserves a second look by anyone interested in the complex history of Spanish land claims in what was then "West Florida," or with an interest specifically in the early history of what once was a 'bedroom' community of New Orleans but now stands on its own footing as an economic center in its own right.


Articles with Anita R. Campeau

"Colonial History and Genealogy: Scioneaux and Allied Families,"Page 201, New Orleans Genesis Magazine , Genealogical Research Society of New Orleans, Volume XLIV, Number 175 July 2005.



"Land Grants To The French: North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain,"Page 191, New Orleans Genesis Magazine , Genealogical Research Society of New Orleans, Volume XLIV, Number 183 July 2008.


"From Lacombe, Louisiana, To Lacombe, Alberta," Page 79, New Orleans Genesis Magazine , Genealogical Research Society of New Orleans, Volume XLIV, Number 182, April 2008.

"British and Spanish Land Grants: From Bayou Castin to the Tchefuncte,"" Page 101, New Orleans Genesis Magazine , Genealogical Research Society of New Orleans, Volume XLVII, Number 186, April 2009.


Contents

The Cavalcade of Sports officially began on radio in 1942 as the Gillette Company grouped various existing sports sponsorships under one banner. [2] The sponsorships had begun three years earlier, according to an article on the Gillette Company in Vol. 68 of the International Directory of Company Histories. In 1939, Gillette president Joseph Spang purchased the sponsorship rights to the World Series on behalf of Gillette for $100,000. A special promotion of Gillette razors and blueblades sold four times better than company estimates, resulting in the company seeking out additional sponsorships for sporting events.

The Gillette stable of radio sports programs spanned several different networks (including the NBC Red Network, CBS Radio Network and the Mutual Broadcasting System) and grew to include not only ongoing sponsorship deals with Major League Baseball for the World Series and All-Star Game, but the annual Kentucky Derby horse race and the Cotton Bowl Classic and Orange Bowl in college football. In his book about Gillette's history Cutting Edge, author Gordon McKibben wrote, "most males in the 1940s and 1950s did not have to be told that the Cavalcade of Sports meant Gillette was sponsoring another ball game or horse race".

The diversified field of sporting events continued onto television, reportedly including at least two golfing tournaments as well as college football's Blue–Gray Classic and (beginning in 1958) the Rose Bowl game. As late as 1988, the Cavalcade of Sports banner was used in connection with Gillette's sponsorship of the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs. Internationally, the Gillette World Sports program continues the concept to the present day in many international regions from Ireland to Africa to Asia.

With all of this, however, the Cavalcade of Sports was best known for its Friday night boxing broadcasts that aired on NBC from 1946 to 1960, and then, after NBC decided against featuring boxing due to sensitivity over criminal allegations in the sport, for several more years on ABC.

As Cavalcade of Sports Edit

Its earlier iteration, Cavalcade of Sports, likewise a boxing show, ran on NBC's New York City station WNBT (channel 4, now WNBC) intermittently beginning in 1943 and was picked up by the NBC television network three years later. The twice-weekly 1946 shows began on Monday, November 8 at 9:00 p.m. and Friday, November 12 at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Both were open-ended programs – as the station signed off the air after the last bout ended (in the early days of television, most stations did not have late-night local newscasts).

St. Nicholas Arena in New York City was the site of the earliest bouts and continued to host the Monday night fights until that program's cancellation in May 1949.

As Gillette Cavalcade of Sports Edit

The Friday night program, broadcast from Madison Square Garden lasted until June 24, 1960, a 14-year period which is, by far, the longest continuous run of any boxing program in television history. The Gillette sponsorship began at the start of the first full television programming season, 1948-49. On September 4, the program was retitled The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports, a name that remained until the end of its run. Every great boxer of the time – including among others Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson, Archie Moore, Rocky Graziano, Willie Pep – appeared on one or more of its broadcasts.

In the early years of television, there was a saturation of boxing programs, as many as six prime-time network programs in one week, not even counting the myriad local shows. With so much boxing airing simultaneously, all weight divisions had a chance at stardom, not just heavyweight contenders.

Commentators Edit

Bob Haymes (using the stage name Bob Stanton) was the program's original announcer he was joined by Ray Forrest in 1948. Jimmy Powers took over the role in 1949 and remained NBC's main boxing announcer until the network ceased carrying prime time boxing matches in 1960.

Theme music Edit

The show's theme music was the "Look Sharp/Be Sharp March" by Mahlon Merrick, an upbeat tune that was recorded, published (and sheet music printed) sometime between 1953 and 1956. It received quite a bit of airplay on U.S. radio programs, and was used in the repertoire of many high school and college bands of the period. There is a 1954 rendition of the song by the Boston Pops under Arthur Fiedler on YouTube.

The "March" was used in the 1980 film Raging Bull during a scene in which the Robert De Niro character Jake LaMotta unveils his new nightclub. Coleco's Head-to-Head Boxing handheld video game, released in 1981, played the most identifiable eight-note part of the tune when turned on and the first three notes of that at the start of each round. The music is also used in the Punch-Out!! series of video games published by Nintendo, and the 1993 Argentine film Gatica, el mono.

Recognition Edit

Awards and nominations Edit

The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports won an Emmy Award for Best Sports Program in 1955. It also received an Emmy nomination for Best Sports or News Program in 1954. [3]

Nielsen ratings Edit

According to Nielsen, the program finished at #6 for the 1950-51 season it slide to #19 in 1951-52 and then to #24 in 1952-53 before rebounding somewhat to #18 in 1953-54. No other boxing series has ever ranked in the Nielsen top 10 in its season ratings. [4]

In the late 1940s, when the Cavalcade was aired through NBC Red Network extended their Spanish programming activities to Latin American countries, where it was known as the Cabalgata Deportiva Gillette. Its schedule included the MLB Game of the Week aired on Saturday afternoons, the MLB All-Star Game in the midseason and the fall World Series. [5] On there, shared duties Spanish-language broadcasters such as Pancho Pepe Cróquer, Buck Canel, and Felo Ramírez. During the opening presentation, Canel habitually introduced Cróquer as La Voz Deportiva de América.

In addition, the Cavalcade broadcast the bouts of every great fighter of the time, including Rocky Marciano, Archie Moore, Willie Pep, Sugar Ray Robinson, Sandy Saddler and Jersey Joe Walcott, [6] whose fights were accurately and succinctly described by Cróquer on its Friday nights broadcasts from Madison Square Garden. He is particularly remembered for his emotional description on the second of four matches held between Pep and Saddler, which was aired in February 1949. [7]

The imitatively-titled, but otherwise unrelated, series Cavalcade of Sport aired on ITV in the United Kingdom in 1956, early in the British commercial network's life. [8]


10 Most Ruthless Mobsters In Bensonhurst History

Marlon Brando as The Godfather in the 1972 film. (Courtesy of Allstar/Cinetext/Paramount)

Bensonhurst natives of a certain age can remember the days when the Mafia ruled the streets. Some of the most ruthless, revered gangsters in New York City’s history resided and conducted business in the neighborhood. Back then, social clubs dotted Bath Avenue — just south of 86th Street’s bustling shopping district — and wise guys were everywhere.

By the 1980s, then-United States Attorney Rudolph Giuliani started cracking down on organized crime, and the names of New York’s “Five Families” — Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese, and Colombo — were splashed across newspaper headlines as feds rounded them up.

While many of Bensonhurst’s mobsters are now dead or in jail, there are still whispers of the old social order. The Cosa Nostra has been fingered for having a role in everything from a ticket-fixing scandal at the NYPD’s 62nd Precinct in 2000, to a brawl over the pizza sauce at L&B Spumoni Gardens last year.

We’ve rounded up 10 of the neighborhood’s most notorious mobsters, including an alleged cop killer expected to get out of prison in five years, a drug trafficker who recruited Mob Wives reality star Angela “Big Ang” Raiola, and an FBI informant responsible for a cold-blooded Christmas murder on Bay 11th Street.

(Mugshot)

1.Tommy Pitera
Crime Family: Bonanno
Status: Life in prison

Pitera began his life as a quiet child who was bullied in school, but would turn out to be one of the most ruthless serial killers in history.

A life-long Bruce Lee enthusiast, the David A. Boody I.S. 228 grad began practicing martial arts, winning competitions, and studying karate in Tokyo under Hiroshi Masumi.

After returning to Brooklyn, he was recruited by the mob. The Bonnano family hit man was particularly ruthless and clinical in his killing technique, often torturing and dismembering his victims. Sometimes he’d collect victims’ jewelry or belongings as souvenirs, a practice typical of serial killers rather than mobsters. Police believe he is responsible for at least 60 murders.

Sentenced in 1992 for six murders and his role in a massive drug operation, Pitera narrowly avoided the death penalty and is currently serving a life sentence at a federal penitentiary.

Fun Fact: Pitera had a high-pitched falsetto voice that one biographer compared to Michael Jackson’s.

Anthony Spero in 1970. (Mugshot)

2. Anthony “Old Man” Spero
Crime Family: Bonanno
Status: Dead

A self proclaimed “bird lover,” Spero’s hobby was to race pigeons from a Bensonhurst rooftop, where he’d also hold his meetings. Meanwhile, his loyal henchmen, called the Bath Avenue crew, would congregate at a social club on the street below. Federal prosecutors suspected Spero of using the birds as a discreet way to deliver messages to his men.

A long-time Bonnano family boss, Spero made much of his money by selling stolen fireworks. Every July 4th, Spero would set up the most spectacular fireworks display on Bath Avenue, and create a feast that could easily feed “all of Bensonhurst.”

Spero was indicted on racketeering and murder charges in 1994, and in 2002, he was sentenced to life in prison for loansharking and his role in three more deaths, including that of Vincent Bickelman, a burglar who had robbed the mobster’s daughter and Paul Gulino, a Bath Avenue crew member assigned by Spero to kill Bickelman, but instead accepted an assignment to kill Spero. Spero died in jail at age 79 in 2008.

(Mugshot)

3. Carmine “The Snake” Persico
Family: Columbo
Status: Life in prison

The 1993 third Columbo civil war raged between loyalists of this charismatic mob boss, and a rebellious Colombo faction aligned with Vittorio “Little Vic” Orena.

Persico was involved in bookmaking, loansharking, burglaries, and hijackings. He was arrested more than a dozen times but managed to avoid jail time. Persico soon started working with Joe Gallo and his brothers Albert and Lawrence, though he turned on them and tried to murder Larry Gallo. His betrayal earned him the name “The Snake.” He is rumored to be behind the In 1957 murder of crime boss Albert Anastasia, the former leader of Murder Inc.

In 1986, Persico was convicted of racketeering and sentenced to 39 years in prison in the Colombo Trial. He was also sentenced to 100 years in prison as part of the Commission Trial. The sentencing judge complimented Persico, who represented himself in the Commission Trial, calling him “one of the most intelligent people I have ever seen in my life.”

He’s been serving out his 139-year federal prison sentence since 1987.

4. Salvatore “Sally Dogs” Lombardi
Family: Genovese
Status: Dead

The internet appears to have been scrubbed of much information related to the late Salvatore “Sally Dogs” Lombardi, uncle of Mob Wife and self-described “lover of wise guys” Angela “Big Ang” Raiola. We couldn’t even find a mugshot of Lombardi, so this video of Big Ang explaining the appeal of wise guys will have to do.

We do know that over the course of his life, Lombardi was a big-time heroine, cocaine, and quaalude trafficker — at one point ensnaring his reality star niece in one of his drug-running schemes. He got caught twice, once in 1979 for selling quaaludes, and again in 1992 following an elaborate sting operation, when he was convicted on heroin trafficking charges. He died in jail in 2008.

(Mugshot)

5. Greg Scarpa
Family: Columbo
Status: Dead

A snazzy dresser who carried $5,000 with him at all times, Scarpa was involved in illegal gambling, drug trafficking, loansharking, extortion, hijacking, counterfeit credit cards, stock and bond theft, and murder, earning him the moniker “The Grim Reaper.”

When he was arrested in 1962 for armed robbery, Scarpa became an undercover informant for the FBI to avoid prosecution. He worked with the agency for 30 years, famously helping them track down the bodies of three missing Mississippi civil rights workers.

Scarpa stayed active in the mob and committed many murders as a registered informant, and each time authorities would let him off the hook. In one of his most cold-blooded killings, during the Orena-Persico war, he shot Vincent Fusaro — a man he suspected of loyalty to the wrong side — in the head as he stood on a ladder to hang Christmas decorations on the door of his Bay 11th Street home.

Scarpa contracted HIV from a blood transfusion after an ulcer surgery in 1986, but kept his illness under wraps, telling people he had cancer. He wound up suing the hospital and settled for $300,000 in cash payments to his family. Soon after, Scarpa was indicted on federal racketeering charges involving three murders. He died in prison from AIDS-related complications in 1994.

(Mugshot)

6. Carlo Gambino
Family: Gambino
Status: Dead

The Sicilian-born “boss of all Cosa Nostra bosses” and head of the Gambino crime family is believed to be the inspiration behind the book The Godfather, by Mario Puzo, which was eventually adapted for the legendary film trilogy of the same name, directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

He immigrated to America in 1921 as a ship stowaway, and after marrying his cousin Catherine Castellano, Gambino settled into a relatively modest Ocean Parkway row house.

When Anastasia was murdered in 1957, Gambino took helm of the Anastasia crew — which was involved in gambling, loansharking, hijacking, narcotics trafficking, and labor racketeering — and the Gambino crime family was born. Toward the end of his life, Gambino was under constant surveillance from the FBI, and would only communicate through coded language and gestures.

After 50 years of criminal activity, the feds finally nabbed Gambino in 1970 for a car hijacking scheme. He was to also ordered to be deported, but the trial and deportation were postponed due to his recurring heart attacks. In 1976, he died at home, in bed, at age 74.

(Mugshot)

7. Sammy “The Bull” Gravano
Family: Columbo & Gambino
Status: Serving 20 years in prison

Legend has it that Gravano got his start in crime by stealing two cupcakes each day from a corner store in Bensonhurst on his way to school. By age 13, he had joined a neighborhood gang called the Rampers. When a few made men outside a cafe witnessed him beat up a group of bike thieves, forcing them to return the bicycle, he was nicknamed “The Bull” for his unrelenting punches.

Though he started out as a Columbo soldier, Gravano eventually moved over to the Gambinos. Gravano played a key role in planning the execution of Gambino boss Paul Castellano, along with John Gotti, Angelo Ruggiero, Frank DeCicco, and Joseph Armone. After that, he was made an underboss for the Gambinos.

He soon became the highest ranking member of the Cosa Nostra become an informant, helping the FBI bring down the likes of Mafia kingpin John Gotti. His snitching is said to have prompted many other Mafiosi to become informants.

Gravano wrote a book about his life called Underboss, and is the father of Mob Wives reality star Karen Gravano, who in 2012 published a book called Mob Daughter about her experiences growing up around her dad and his group of thugs — which pissed off the families of Gravano’s victims.

Thought he is believed to be responsible for countless murders, including a police officer in 1980, none of the charges have stuck. Finally, he was convicted on drug charges in 2002 and is expected to be released March 8, 2019.

(Mugshot)

8. Joe Columbo
Family: Columbo
Status: Dead

While most mob bosses tried to lay low and avoid media attention, the highly charismatic Joe Columbo courted it. When federal agencies started investigating the dealings of the Mafia, the New Utrecht High School drop-out brazenly accused them of scapegoating Italian Americans and founded the Italian-American Civil Rights League, which denied the Mafia existed, and branded anyone who claimed otherwise an anti-Italian racist.

Columbo’s movement became hugely popular, and 150,000 people flooded Manhattan’s Columbus Circle on June 29, 1970, at the League’s first public rally. Frank Sinatra was among many celebrities who appeared in a benefit for the League held at Madison Square Garden later that year.

Columbo initially tried to shut down the filming of The Godfather, but finally allowed the project to move forward as long as the filmmakers abided by his guidelines.

At one of the League’s largest rallies, Columbo was shot by a man posing as as journalist. After wallowing in a vegetative state for seven years, Columbo died in 1978.

(Mugshot)

9. Joe Waverly Cacace
Family: Columbo
Status: Serving 20 years in prison

Though this mobster is allegedly behind the murders of a cop and prosecutor, he may actually see freedom in his lifetime.

In 1987, Cacace was ordered by imprisoned Colombo boss Carmine Persico to kill federal prosecutor William Aronwald for being “disrespectful” to the Cosa Nostra. Though prosecutors were generally off-limits to the mob, Cacace arranged for brothers Vincent and Eddie Carnini to murder Aronwald, giving the hit men a piece of paper scrawled with the man’s last name. However, the hit men accidentally took out Aronwald’s father, George Aronwald, an administrative law judge who shared his son’s office. Furious over the mistake, Cacace ordered the Carnini brothers killed, and as an extra precaution, had the hit men who killed the Carnini brothers, mowed down at the Carnini funural.

Despite the debacle, Cacace won over a loyal following and his reign over the Columbo crime family lasted nearly two decades.

In 2004, Cacace pleaded guilty to the four murders, in addition to extortion and illegal gambling, and was sentenced to 20 years. Then in 2008, he was charged with ordering the 1997 murder of NYPD officer Ralph Dols, who had offended the mob boss by marrying his ex-wife. In 2013, a jury acquitted Cacace for Dols’ murder. Cacace is currently imprisoned at a federal correctional facility in Tucson, Arizona. He is expected to be released on June 23, 2020.

(NYPD mugshot)

10. William “Wild Bill” Cutolo
Family: Columbo
Status: Dead

Cutolo dabbled in labor racketeering, gaining control District Council 37, which oversees 56 unions in New York City, and Teamsters Union local 861 — forcing the unions to hand out jobs to members of his crew.

Interestingly, he lead something of a double life and was well-known for his charity work, hosting fundraisers and sitting on the boards of various Leukemia research organizations. Each year, Cutolo sponsored holiday parties and dressed up as Santa Claus for the National Children’s Leukemia Association, while his son handed out gifts to sick children. This alliance was controversial, and investigators looked into a possible connection between Cutolo’s union misdealing and his relationship with the medical charities.

In 1999, Cutolo got swept up in a bloody Orena-Persico war for control of the Colombo family after he attempted to assassinate Victor Orena. After two years of bloodshed, Orena and Persico factions tried to make peace, but things eventually things deteriorated, ending in the disappearance of Cutolo in 1999.

Nearly 10 years after the mobster vanished, Cutolo’s remains were found — minus a finger — in a mob grave on Long Island. He had been shot in the head.


Sharp and Pointed

(Yesterday we published the funk style history from The Drummer’s Bible. Today, we’re publishing the corresponding style history from The Bassist’s Bible: How to Play Every Bass Style from Afro-Cuban to Zydeco, by Tim Boomer. The information in both books is accurate, but they cover different aspects of the style.)

Like Jazz, Be Bop, and Rock n’ Roll, Funk acquired its name from a slang expression with sexual connotations. In musical terms, it originally meant anything that was off the traditional path or something that was “funky,” especially in the sense of being syncopated. Some of the earliest forms of Funk began in the city that gave birth to Jazz, New Orleans. Along with New Orleans native Fats Domino, one of the most influential musicians to contribute to the genre is piano player Henry Roeland “Roy” Byrd, popularly known as “Professor Longhair.” His style combines the sounds of early Rock n’ Roll and Blues with Afro-Cuban-influenced New Orleans Second Line.

In the 1950s, another primary precursor of Funk arose—Soul Music. It combined elements of Rock n’ Roll and Rhythm & Blues, with Ray Charles being among the first prominent Soul performers.

Near the end of the decade, another artist appeared who would become the driving force of Soul/Funk music for over 40 years: James Brown, “The Godfather of Soul.” Brown created driving dance music which combined advanced musicianship with the syncopated and displaced rhythms which have come to characterize Funk. (This refers to “displacing” one of the snare drum strokes on beats 2 and 4 to the “and” of one of those beats.) Brown’s prominent bass players include Bernard Odum, William “Bootsy” Collins, Fred Thomas, and Ray Brundridge.

In 1960 in Detroit, Motown Records, founded and run by Berry Gordy, composer of “Money,” helped create what is now called “the Motown sound.” Prominent bassists who recorded on the Motown label included James Jamerson and Bob Babbitt. They and other session musicians, informally known as the Funk Brothers, played on hundreds of recordings by different artists, without credit and with scanty financial compensation. Jamison, Babbitt and other Motown session musicians performed on more number one hits than the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, and Elvis combined, yet they benefited little from their string of hits.

The other prominent Soul label at the time was Stax, whose recordings often featured bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn. By the mid-1960s, through the influence of James Brown, Stax, and Motown Records, the Soul style had become firmly established. Straight time, syncopated rhythms, conspicuous bass lines (utilizing offbeat eighth and/or sixteenth notes, often made prominent through staccato playing), displaced snare drum notes, percussive horn arrangements, and reliance on the blues scale all emerged as defining sounds of Funk—characteristics that remain to this day.
As the sixties came to a close, several bands latched on to the infectious energy of Funk, with Sly and the Family Stone taking it into the pop mainstream. In addition to Sly Stone’s song writing, the group relied on bass lines devised by one of the most important musicians of the Funk style, Larry Graham. Graham almost single handedly changed the way electric bass guitar was played, as his slap and pop technique propelled the bass to the front of Funk ensembles.

By the early 1970s, Funk had become popular around the globe. Along with Graham and Sly and the Family Stone, Dr. John, the Meters, and later the Neville Brothers (with the latter three bands featuring bassist George Porter, Jr.) helped mature the sounds of Funk as it became ever more popular. During the rest of the decade, Funk continued to blossom through the success of artists/groups such as War, Tower of Power, Curtis Mayfield, George Clinton and Funkadelic, Earth, Wind and Fire, The Commodores, The Ohio Players, Stevie Wonder, Barry White, The Brothers Johnson, and The Average White Band.

By the 1980s, Funk’s popularity had begun to diminish, even though the grooves of the Funk rhythm section had made their way into pop music through artists such as Prince, Michael Jackson, and Kool and the Gang. Even Rock bands of the past three decades have relied on Funk concepts, Dave Matthews, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Primus being prominent examples. Hip Hop and modern R&B have also borrowed heavily from the rhythms and grooves of traditional Funk. Today, the sounds and ideas of Funk pervade all popular music to such an extent that it has become an essential style for the working bassist.

New Orleans Funk

New Orleans Funk bass playing stresses rhythmic accuracy. Although the bassist’s notes are sparse, the painstaking accuracy of the notes’ placement creates an infectious and conspicuous bottom. The pioneers in this style include bassists Billy Diamond, Frank Fields, and later Will Harvey, Jr. The current most prominent New Orleans Funk bassist is George Porter, Jr., who is the bassist for the Neville Brothers and The Meters, and who has appeared on recordings with Dr. John, Jimmy Buffet, David Byrne, Robbie Robertson, and Paul McCartney. Other notable musicians in this genre include Professor Longhair and Dr. John.

The most common rhythm found in New Orleans Funk bass lines is the “Legba beat.” (Legba is a spirit in Haitian/Creole culture.) It consists of beat 1, the “and” of beat 2, and beat 4. The Legba beat is identical to the Cuban Tumbao rhythm, except that the “one” is played in Legba, while it is held over from the fourth beat of the previous measure in Tumbao. However this primary rhythm is not strictly maintained. While it appears as the main groove in songs such as “Brother John,” “Fire on the Bayou,” and “Hey Pocky A-Way,” permutations appear in such classics as “Big Chief” and “Meet the Boys on the Battlefront.”

Motown / Stax

Motown, a sub-genre of Funk and Soul music, is associated with Motown Records, (founded by Berry Gordy in 1960 in Detroit). It was the first label owned by an African-American, and featured artists who crossed over to the pop charts. Artists such as Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Jr. Walker and the All Stars, and many more all played and recorded with one bassist: James Jamerson.

As a core member of a group of studio musicians informally called The Funk Brothers, and playing on reportedly 95 percent of Motown recordings between 1962 and 1968, Jamerson was one of the most influential bassists in modern music. His playing expanded the role of the bassist in dance music from playing repetitive patterns to playing melodic, syncopated, and improvisational lines. Jamerson influenced countless bassists not only by the licks he played, but also in the imaginative ways he modified his licks as a song progressed, changing just a few notes or the phrasing to keep the groove interesting yet solid and infectious. (The history of the Funk Brothers is detailed in a 1989 book by Allan Slutsky, Standing in the Shadows of Motown, which was turned into a documentary film in 2002.) After Jamerson left Motown, Bob Babbitt succeeded him in the Funk Brothers. Babbitt’s playing tended more toward regular syncopated patterns than Jamerson’s. (Motown Example 1 on p. 120 is similar to Babbitt’s lines, while Example 2 on page 121 is similar to Jamerson’s.)

Motown’s main competitors, Stax, Volt, and Atco records, and their distributor Atlantic Records, produced hits from 1959 through 1968 using their own studio house band, Booker T and the MG’s, with bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn. Dunn’s lines were somewhat similar to Babbitt’s, with perhaps a bit less syncopation than Babbitt employed.
Artists in the Stax roster included Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Issac Hayes, Albert King, Wilson Pickett, King Curtis, and The Staple Singers. Overall sonically and rhythmically similar to the bass lines in Motown, the bass lines in the Atlantic recordings were derived from R&B.

Since Stax and Motown bass lines are quite similar, they are both included in this section. The primary distinction is that Stax lines are more repetitive than those in Motown, and are built predominantly from the Blues Scale, whereas Motown lines include non-Blues Scale notes and wander further afield harmonically.

“The Godfather of Soul,” James Brown, for all intents and purposes was Funk for most of the 1960s. He was largely responsible for both the name Funk and its popularity in that decade. (Some attribute the name to drummer Earl Palmer.) Although Brown was already developing his unique style in the late 1950s, while moving away from straight R&B, it wasn’t until 1963 that the first arguably Funk hit album landed on the charts: “James Brown Live at the Apollo.”

The hallmarks of Brown’s new style were use of Blues and R&B progressions, extensive syncopation, especially “displaced” drum beats which strayed from the snare drum’s traditional backbeats on “2” and “4,” and extensive use of horns in a percussive manner (“horn punches”). All of this lent itself to the descriptive term, “funky.”
Early Funk basically covers the period between its origination by James Brown in the late 1950s and early 1960s and his stylistic shift away from progression-oriented songs and into one-and-two-chord vamp-oriented songs (Later Funk) in the late 1960s. “Cold Sweat” (1967) and “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” (1968), are landmarks in Brown’s shift in styles.

Later Funk came in on James Brown’s coattails in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In that period, as rhythm became an even more important component of Funk, songs often used only one chord. Eliminating chord changes enabled Funk musicians to use more syncopation, often in the familiar two-part pattern. In this period, syncopation expanded from eighth-note syncopation to sixteenth-note syncopation. In addition, the tempo was often slower than in Early Funk.

All of these factors contributed to bass lines emerging as the “hooks” of songs. Tunes such as “People Say” by the Meters, “Chameleon,” (written by bassist Paul Jackson, Bennie Maupin, Harvey Mason and Herbie Hancock), and “Cold Sweat” by James Brown, emphasize offbeat eighth and sixteenth notes. Generally, the faster the song, the more the bass groove relied on eighth notes, while the slower the song, the more the bass groove relied on sixteenth notes.

Though not technically an established style, the term “Funk Rock” describes music that can be classified as Rock, but that incorporates elements from Funk, such as syncopated rhythms and percussive horn lines. Bands and artists such as Earth, Wind and Fire, the Commodores, Michael Jackson, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Sly and the Family Stone fall into both the Funk and Rock genres. As opposed to those in the other Funk styles, Funk Rock bass lines usually have fewer syncopated notes and place more emphasis on the beat. What distinguishes Funk Rock from Rock is that is still maintains a certain amount of syncopation characteristic of Funk music.


Military Career

Notable Military Awards:
Distinguished Service Medal
Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters
Army Commendation Medal
Presidential Unit Citation
Presidential Medal of Freedom
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
European, African, Middle-Eastern Campaign Medal with six Bronze Service Stars
World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Silver Hourglass Device
1939-45 Croix de Guerre with Palm (From France)

General Stewart also earned his Command Rated Pilot Wings and “Mach 2” Pin

Total Military Service: 27 years, 2 months, 9 days


Sharp and Pointed

(Excerpted from The Bassist’s Bible: How to Play Every Bass Style from Afro-Cuban to Zydeco (2nd ed.), by Tim Boomer. This material originally appeared in slightly different and shorter form in The Drummer’s Bible (2nd ed.), by Mick Berry and Jason Gianni. All chapters in both books begin with brief histories of the styles covered.)

Caribbean music is the result of the fusion of many different musical cultures, including South American, Cuban, African, North American, and even European. In keeping with Island Music’s upbeat, danceable nature, most Caribbean music is rather simple rhythmically and does not usually stray outside of 4/4.

This post continues the history section from the Caribbean chapter and explores Ska, and Reggae.

The role of the bassist in all of these styles is supportive—there is always a strong groove that reflects the music’s upbeat mood. As well as providing a solid foundation, some Reggae bass lines can be melodic, duplicating the guitar or vocal lines in Reggae.

During World War II, American service men stationed in Jamaica brought big band Jazz/Swing to the island. Local big bands such as Eric Dean’s Orchestra (with Ernest Ranglin, guitar) soon became popular. When R&B displaced Swing in the 1950s in the U.S., with Rock and Roll following, Jamaican music adapted. Radio broadcasts from New Orleans introduced the music of Fats Domino, Lloyd Price, and other New Orleans singer/songwriters to Jamaica.

New Orleans Second Line (see Jazz chapter), along with early Rock n’ Roll, Jazz, and R&B blended with Mento, a type of Jamaican folk music. The result was a new Jamaican sound, which came to be known as Ska.

At the time, “sound-systems” (dances with DJs spinning records) were the primary source of music in Jamaica, principally because a single DJ or “toastmaster” was cheaper than a band of musicians, and more reliable. People who couldn’t afford radios came to rely on DJ-hosted dances as their only access to new music. The constant need of the sound-systems for new tunes created a huge opportunity for Jamaican musicians—initially big band Jazz players—to make records

Jamaican guitarist Ernest Ranglin says that musicians created the word Ska “to talk about the skat! skat! skat! scratchin’ guitar that goes behind.” Prince Buster (Cecil Campbell), a Jamaican producer, is credited with having his guitarist Jah Jerry (Skatalites) emphasize the “afterbeat,” thus laying the foundation of Ska. Another way that a guitarist might refer to this is “backwards comping,” in which the guitar strongly and equally accents all offbeats (the “ands” of beats) in comping patterns. This pattern is largely what gives Ska its characteristic sound.

Initially Ska was optimistic and enthusiastic, reflecting the achievement of self-governance in Jamaica in 1962. This upbeat mood was reflected in the bass lines of the time: a free walking style at relatively fast tempos. As the culture became darker, the sound reflected the change in mood. The tempo slowed and Ska morphed into Rock Steady (which later became Reggae).

The first successful Ska musicians were Jimmy Cliff, The Maytals, The Wailers, Cecil Bustamente Campbell (Prince Buster), Kentrick Patrick (Lord Creator), and the Skatalites. The core musicians of the Skatalites played on the majority of the recording sessions for these bands, although they were not credited.

As Jamaicans emigrated to the UK, Ska clubs appeared in the cities in England in which they settled (Blackburn, Lancashire, and Margate), and the second wave of Ska, or two-tone Ska, was born. Second wave bands, such as The English Beat, The Specials, Selecter, Bad Manners, Madness, The Police, and Men At Work, brought Ska international popularity in the late 1970s and the 1980s. Currently third wave bands such as No Doubt, 311, The Mighty Mighty Boss Tones, and Sublime have continued the Ska tradition.

The noticeable differences between Ska and Reggae are Ska’s characteristic guitar comping pattern, its “straight” feel, its use of a “four on the floor” bass drum pattern (in contrast to Reggae’s “one drop” [on beat 3] pattern). Early Ska featured laid back walking grooves. Modern Ska has a more driving feel. In it, the bass stresses the downbeat to offset the guitar’s upbeats, which are more pronounced than in early (Jamaican) Ska. Ska also features greater use of horns than Reggae. Harmonically, Ska songs tend to be on the simple side, revolving around the I, IV, and V, and use a lot of seventh chords, but rarely anything more complicated.

The origin of the word Reggae is unclear. Some claim that the word stems from “Regga,” which refers to a group of natives from the Lake Tanganyika region in Africa. Bob Marley claimed it was a Spanish term for “The King’s Music” (in Spanish, “la música del rey”), which is unlikely enough that one suspects that Marley was pulling someone’s leg—although it is barely possible that the word “Reggae” is a corruption of the word “rey” (king). Toots Hibbert of the Maytals says he came up with it, too. Yet another, more likely, explanation is that of Jamaican studio musician Hux Brown: “It’s a description of the beat itself. It’s just a fun, joke kinda word that means ragged rhythm and the body feelin’. If it’s got a greater meanin’, it doesn’t matter.”

Reggae incorporates Rhythm & Blues, New Orleans Second Line “in the crack” (between swing and straight) feels, African rhythms, Jamaican folk traditions, and Rastafarian culture (a religion developed in Jamaica which deifies former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie). Although its roots extend back to the 1950s, the genre’s success is partially due to the breakthrough of Calypso and Ska in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Reggae gained popularity in the 1960s through musicians such as Alton Ellis, Delroy Wilson, Toots and the Maytalls, Jimmy Cliff, and, most importantly, Bob Marley and the Wailers. Even though he died in 1981, Bob Marley still stands as the leading voice of Reggae. The influence of Reggae extends into popular music through Johnny Nash, Stevie Wonder, The Clash, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, and Paul Simon (“Mother and Child Reunion,” which is considered by many as the first attempt at Reggae by a white musician). Contemporary artists include Ziggy Marley (son of Bob Marley), Third World, The Mighty Diamonds, Burning Spear, Sly and Robbie, and the still-active Jimmy Cliff. Many older Reggae bassists, with careers dating from the early days of Caribbean music, are still recording and touring today. As well, The Easy Star All Stars from New York City have been recording covers of famous albums in Reggae style, such as “Dub Side of the Moon” and “Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band,” covering the classics by Pink Floyd and The Beatles respectively.

Bass lines transitioned from the double-time of Ska to Reggae’s precursor Rock Steady in 1966. One story, possibly apocryphal, involves an Alton Ellis studio session. When the bassist didn’t show up for the session (“Get Ready — Rock Steady”), Alton had the keyboardist (Jackie Mittoo, founding member of the Skatalites) play the bass line on piano with his left hand while he played the keyboard part with his right hand. As Mittoo couldn’t play both parts simultaneously at the fast Ska tempo, they slowed the tune down. The result was so unusual that when the bassist recorded his part, Alton insisted that the bassist play it the same way as the pianist. This resulted in a syncopated, repetitive line that no longer had the quarter-note walking feel of Ska. The bass style moved from continuous, steady movement to cluster-like patterns, with more space between phrases.

Understanding Reggae bass requires understanding the “One Drop” drum groove. Reggae drumming resembles that of the New Orleans Second Line, in which the feel of the music falls “in the crack.” This requires playing between a swung and a straight feel.
Bass lines, of course, should also be played “in the crack.” The distinguishing features of a Reggae beat are the simultaneous rim click and bass drum kick played as one note on beat 3 of each measure (hence the name “One Drop”) and the “in the crack” hi-hat pattern, plus the slow to very slow tempos that contrast sharply with Ska’s fast tempos.

Harmonically, Reggae songs are often even simpler than Ska songs. They usually revolve the I, IV and V chords, and chords are usually simple triads.


The Johnsons: "Britain's No 1 crime family"?

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Alan "Jimmy" Johnson walks into a Cheltenham café wearing a smart, black, well-cut suit, and sporting neatly clipped hair. He apologises profusely for his lateness and insists he buy me a coffee. Moving confidently towards the counter, he exchanges pleasantries with the young man behind the counter. The young man quietly tells Jimmy that the coffee shop is now closed for the day – but Jimmy can be charming, and he quickly changes his mind.

After sitting down, Jimmy's face darkens. He becomes noticeably more nervous. His eyes dart around the room and when he speaks he covers his mouth, as though afraid of being watched. He drinks his coffee swiftly and ignores a family group walking past, the members of which seem to recognise him. It's quite a switch in mood, but Jimmy is a complex character. He is the head of a notorious traveller community, and his reputation among the local population precedes him.

The 56-year-old has been in and out of prison throughout his life, and the police place him under frequent surveillance. He was released most recently last August, after serving nearly two years for his involvement in ram-raids on post offices using a JCB. He claims his probation officer reports on his whereabouts directly to the Home Secretary, but it is the actions of the rest of his family that have sealed his reputation.

Last February, his younger brother Ricky, 55, and nephews Richard "Chad" Johnson, 34, Danny O'Loughlin, 33, Albi Johnson, 26, and Michael Nicholls, 30, were jailed for between eight and 11 years each. They were convicted of a series of spectacular burglaries that targeted some of Britain's grandest stately homes between 2003 and 2006.

At its most audacious, the gang made off with antiques, jewellery, porcelain, crystal and china worth £30m in a single raid on Ramsbury Manor, Wiltshire, the home of the property tycoon Harry Hyams – the man who developed Centre Point in London – and the house where Oliver Cromwell planned the subjugation of Ireland. It was the highest-value burglary ever recorded in Britain. Over three years, their total haul is estimated to have been £80m. It is little wonder that the group struck fear into the hearts of homeowners for miles around their base, a caravan site at Cleeve Prior, near Evesham, Worcestershire.

The BBC documentary, Catching Britain's Biggest Thieves, tells the story of how the Johnsons were imprisoned. Jimmy Johnson has agreed to meet me today because he fears his family will not be represented fairly. While criminal (by their own admission), the Johnson clan claim their situation is more complex than the label as "Britain's No 1 crime family" suggests.

And, while Jimmy is a self-confessed "gangster" who accepts his family's troubled past, he disputes the honesty of the criminal justice system that has imprisoned his relatives.

"There are gangster families who have never gone through what we've been through," Jimmy says. "They have these big cases against them and they never get the severity of the sentences we have had. If the perpetrators of these crimes had been robbing council houses, what would have happened? A slap on the wrist. But because they went for who they did, these people [the victims] managed to dictate the whole situation. During the trial, we have had no equality of arms. 'Oh, it's the Johnsons,' people said. Members of our family have grafted to keep out of trouble but they're not getting the chance to. We're being targeted by a group of people who run the country. It's irrelevant as to innocence or guilt. What's relevant is whether my family had fair trial. And the answer to that is no."

Jimmy is well built, despite his age – the result of a power-lifting hobby. You can see tattoos creeping out from the sleeves of his suit. He speaks in a fast and furious jabber, with a thick West Country accent, and peppers his speech with a curious slang. "Blame" becomes "dairy" the process of earning a fast buck is referred to as "dukkering". His moods seem to veer quickly from happy and roguish one minute – flirting with passing women, offering to buy them flowers, cracking jokes – to agitation and anger the next.

We touch on his desire to paint a reliable picture of his world. He claims the travelling community does not see itself as "English", but divided from the rest of the nation on racial grounds. He discusses his childhood. "It was hard growing up in my community," he says. "We were like slaves. We worked in a field. And once we had finished working in one place, we had to move on. The rich, the people who owned the land, would tell us to leave. We had to work morning to dark just to survive. When I went to a children's home in South Wales, it was full of paedophiles and child molesters. They were the people who started telling lies about me. They made up things about me to cover their own misdoings. I ran away a few times. That formed the basis of every report done on me afterwards."

The Johnson family's presence in Cheltenham stretches back to 1952, when 16-year-old Muriel Slender, Jimmy's mother, married his father, the travelling Irishman Albert Johnson. The pair had eight children – Jimmy, the oldest, and his younger siblings Ricky, Lee, Danny, Martin, Tracy, Jane and Julie.

"My mum had to struggle through it," Jimmy says. "Same as any woman with eight kids. Times were hard. Maybe that's part and parcel of why some of us became thieves. That's certainly why I did. Because we were poor. I can remember the first time I committed a crime. It was when I was a kid. My mother and I were working the fields and these people used to bring the money to a shed for the families and that's where they would collect their money. And I watched it a couple of times and then I decided to take the money."

Albert died from cancer in 1972. Jimmy took up the reins as head of the family and made a name for himself with the police for offences that included serial squatting and a charge of attempted murder in 1989. In March 1990, he staged a rooftop protest at Horfield Prison, Bristol, and he reportedly staged a tree-top protest after he was charged with stealing caravans in 2000.

The criminal records of Jimmy's family do not do them any favours. At the time of his sentencing last February, Ricky had 22 convictions for 57 offences, going back to 1965. His most audacious crime was the founding of Christian Construction in 1995, a charity he said "would take young criminals off the streets and teach them a trade". In 1997, he was sentenced to three years in prison when it transpired that he was using the charity as a front to con pensioners, pretending he was conducting essential building work and giving the money to charity. Instead, he pocketed it. "Ricky may have conned a few old women because that's about his level, which I find disgusting personally," Jimmy says. "Me and my brother used to fall out the whole time over things like this. He was off his head. He had a complete breakdown and he became a religious crank."

When the trial for the stately-home robberies took place last January, both Chad Johnson and Danny O'Loughlin, whose father is married to Jimmy's sister Jane, were already serving time. Chad was in the middle of a three-and-a-half-year sentence, after marrying an heiress in 2002, convincing her to sign over her flat to him, and leaving her bankrupt in the process. Danny was serving seven and a half years for stealing precious metals. Ricky's son Albi (Chad's brother) had 10 previous convictions, for offences including theft and burglary. Michael Nicholls, the partner of Ricky's daughter Faye, had 17 convictions for deception, theft, burglary and dangerous driving. "I'm not saying they weren't in trouble," Jimmy says. "But they have been used as scapegoats on this."

Perhaps most famously, the stately-home robberies included the theft of snuffboxes worth £5m in June 2003 from Waddesdon Manor, a National Trust property and home of the Rothschild family, near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. In October 2005, the Formula One tycoon Paddy McNally's home at Warneford Place in Sevenhampton, near Swindon, was also targeted – silverware, porcelain and clocks worth £750,000 were stolen. Then there was the burglary at the Hyams' mansion, in November 2005.

The gang's methods of gaining access were not tremendously intricate. Anne Gascoigne, a 75-year-old widow, was sleeping when the double doors of her manor house exploded inwards. A 4x4 with a fence-post fixed to the roofrack to form a crude but effective battering ram had been used to, in effect, ram-raid her home. On that occasion, the thieves made off with antiques, jewellery and porcelain worth £50,000.

Upper-class or not, does Johnson ever feel sympathy for his victims? "When I was a little boy, we were struggling picking potatoes. When they finished with us. I saw my mother dragged by her hair and having a miscarriage, and my father being beaten," he says. "We have got hatred towards them, don't get me wrong. But we have been treated like that all our lives."

But Jimmy does seem to feel something for the objects targeted by the gang – the antiques, artefacts and artworks. "I like 'em," he says. "I started to read books and go to museums and auctions. But I didn't scope out stately homes." Jimmy was in prison for the post office robberies during much of the crime spree for which his relatives were arrested.

In 2004, Jimmy invited a BBC film crew to Cleeve Prior in a bid to document how his family lived. The result was the documentary Country Strife: Summer With the Johnsons, broadcast the following year. Needless to say, Jimmy was not happy with the results. In it, Ricky Johnson is seen to say: "I would like to make it clear to the people out there, to police and the rich people like Lord Rothschild – if I feel the need. when I have got to rob a stately home, I will do so. I feel I have got the fucking right to rob the lords out there. I feel I have got the right to rob the lords, sirs, and the ladies."

When the BBC approached Jimmy again about tonight's documentary, he says the family refused to speak – instead, the film has to rely on archive footage of existing interviews. "We didn't co-operate with the BBC because they twist everything," he says. "My brother Ricky is illiterate. He has no academic skills. If you look at what he said on the television, he said they think we're 'pesticides', he was trying to say they think we're 'parasites'. They took what he said out of context. He came across as saying, 'If I have to rob the rich, I will.' What he was trying to say was, 'If I would have to feed my family, then I would steal.' That was what he was trying to say. He hasn't robbed anyone rich in his life. For one, he hasn't got the bottle."

At this point, Jimmy's mother, Muriel, 74, arrives in the café to join us. After some arguments with Jimmy, she eventually speaks. "The young ones are not my generation," she says. "I don't know what they are doing. I can't in my heart say they didn't do these crimes because their whereabouts I don't always know. But Ricky is older. He could never do it. I don't think I can put my hand on my heart and say they're [all] innocent. But Ricky is innocent. His crime has been overcharging for construction work in the past."

In October 2005, the police forces of Gloucestershire, Thames Valley, Warwickshire and West Mercia pooled resources to investigate the thefts. Wiltshire joined five months later. There was a series of arrests, and in June 2006, Jimmy says, the family home was raided at Cleeve Prior. "We had two to three hundred armed police bearing down on our family, our children. I had a gun rammed in my mouth." He criticises the press, too. "Before any of us were questioned, we were named in all the newspapers. How could this possibly take place without anybody talking to us? If the prosecution and the police and the judges are allowed to get away with this type of treatment, then people should worry about who is going to be the next target."

Jimmy believes the police obtained some information from a young man who had spent some time living with his family. "He came to me to apologise about that," Jimmy says. "He is addicted to heroin. It was not me who corrupted him – it was the system. I was looking after him for a short time. He never committed one crime when he was with me."

The family, in fact, had two trials for the stately-home robberies. The first began in January 2007 but lasted only a few days. According to local newspaper reports, the trial was stopped after the judge ruled that some of the prosecution's evidence could not be used. The second trial started in January, and sentencing took place the following month.

"Travellers have always been persecuted since God knows how long," Jimmy says. "I think this whole trial with my family proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that the upper classes can manipulate the judicial system. They can control it and they can do what they want. For instance, the amount of police power that was put into Lord Rothschild's burglary – it was like the Crown Jewels had been stolen. All in all, it sort of created a personal vendetta against us."

Jimmy is working towards recovering the Waddesdon snuffboxes, which have never been found. Jimmy says he knows where they are. "All the dirty gutless people that put the 'dairy' [blame] on other people – don't think I've forgotten about those boxes, because I'm coming for them."

As we leave, Jimmy points to people he claims are shop security guards and undercover policemen. He says they are required to report his presence to the authorities whenever they see him around town.

I wonder if there will be any more to our encounter today. On a previous occasion (I have met him twice before this particular rendezvous in the café), he offered me a lift back to the local train station in Cheltenham. When I accepted, he took me to a new, and impressive, BMW. As we pulled away, he told me he wanted to show me something several miles down the road. Despite my protestations that I would be late for my train, there was no arguing. This was Jimmy at his most persuasive I could sense a certain enjoyment that he had the power in this situation. He took me to a caravan site, where he rattled off incomprehensible stories about wrongdoings against travellers. It was hard to say whether the stories were reliable, or indeed whether he was accusing the police or local residents.

I enjoyed our meeting for the most part, although not when things were out of my control. He laid down what sounded like a challenge, a way to allow me to see for myself the attitude society has towards travellers: he would, he said, allow me to live as one of his family, to pose as a traveller myself. I was happy when I eventually saw the railway station and the way home. The experience had been uncomfortable.

But today, outside the café, he goes his way and I go mine. There is time for one last thought. "Let's say, hypothetically, you're in a bank, and you see a man wearing a stripy jumper and he is waiting behind a man with a suitcase and when they both leave the guy in the jumper rushes out and pounces on the other guy. What do you think is happening?" he asks. "You think he's robbing him. Well let me tell you that again, and put in some details that I left out before. In fact, the guy with the suitcase is standing outside and there is some breeze block falling from the roof that is going to crush him. The guy with the stripy jumper saves his life. It's all about context. Until you get the whole truth, no one is going to get a fair decision. And if I'm wrong, give 'em life."

Spetchley Park, Worcester: A library window in this Palladian mansion was smashed in November 2005, but the thieves left empty-handed.

Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury: Snuff boxes worth £5m were stolen in June 2003 from the Rothschild family home near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire.

Ramsbury Manor, Wiltshire: Property tycoon Harry Hyams's mansion was raided in February 2006. Antiques worth tens of millions of pounds were taken in Britain's most costly domestic burglary. PA

'Catching Britain's Biggest Thieves' is on BBC1 tonight at 10.45pm


New photos illustrate the large shows of force in disputed skies

Posted On September 28, 2018 20:10:32

The US military put on a show of force in China’s backyard on Sept. 26, 2018, as a US B-52H Stratofortress heavy long-range bomber linked up with Japanese Air Self-Defense Force fighter jets in the contested East China Sea.

US bombers have been increasingly active in both the East and South China Sea recently following a pattern of behavior set in August 2018, when the US sent B-52 bombers through the disputed seas four times in total.

These flights come at a time of increased tension between Washington and Beijing over both economic and military matters.

A B-52H Stratofortress bomber and two JASDF F-15 fighter jets.

The flight through the East China Sea was flown in support of Indo-Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence, Pacific Air Forces said in a statement on Sept. 27, 2018.

Source: Pacific Air Forces

A B-52H Stratofortress bomber and two JASDF F-15 fighter jets.

A B-52H Stratofortress bomber and two JASDF F-15 fighter jets.

A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bomber takes off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, for a routine training mission in the vicinity of the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, Sept. 23, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Quail)

B-52 bombers flew through the South China Sea once on Sept.23, 2018, and again on Sept. 25, 2018, showing off America’s capabilities over tense tides. Beijing warned the US against “provocative” military behavior in response.

B-52H Stratofortress bomber taking off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Quail)

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis says that these flights are only an issue because China made these seas global hot spots. “If it was 20 years ago and had they not militarized those features there it would have been just another bomber on its way to Diego Garcia or wherever,” he explained on Sept. 26, 2018.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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Siphon Pots

The earliest siphon pot (or vacuum brewer) dates back to the early 19th century. The initial patent dates from the 1830s in Berlin, but the first commercially available siphon pot was designed by Marie Fanny Amelne Massot, and it hit the market in the 1840s. By 1910, the pot made its way to America and was patented by two Massachusetts sisters, Bridges and Sutton. Their pyrex brewer was known as the “Silex.”

The siphon pot has a unique design that resembles an hourglass. It has two glass domes, and the heat source from the bottom dome causes pressure to build and forces water through the siphon so that it can mix with the ground coffee. After the grinds are filtered out, the coffee is ready.

Some people still use the siphon pot today, although usually just at artisan coffee shops or homes of true coffee aficionados. The invention of the siphon pots paved the way for other pots that use similar brewing methods, such as the Italian Moka pot (left), which was invented in 1933.

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