John Lawrence Hammond

John Lawrence Hammond

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John Lawrence Hammond, the son of a vicar, was born in 1872. Educated at Bradford Grammar School and Oxford University, he edited the Speaker journal between 1899 and 1906. After the First World War Hammond worked for the Manchester Guardian.

With his wife, Lucy Barbara Bradby (1873-1961), Hammond wrote three history books that looked at the impact of the industrial revolution on the working class: The Village Labourer (1911), The Town Labourer (1917) and The Skilled Labourer (1919). Other books included Lord Shaftesbury (1923), The Age of the Chartists (1930), C. P. Scott (1934) and Gladstone and the Irish Nation (1934).

John Lawrence Hammond died in 1949.

History of Hammond Castle

Hammond Castle is a Medieval-style castle located in the fishing village of Gloucester. The castle was built between 1926 and 1929 by an eccentric American inventor named John Hays Hammond Jr.

Hammond, who was a protege of Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison, is known as the “Father of Radio Control” because of his groundbreaking work with radio waves. Born in 1888 in San Francisco, Hammond was also the son of the wealthy mining engineer, John Hays Hammond Sr.

Hammond Castle, Gloucester, Mass

Hammond built the castle, which resides on the edge of a cliff overlooking Gloucester harbor, to house his large collection of Roman, Medieval and Renaissance artifacts as well as his laboratory.

One of his prized possessions still on display in the castle is a human skull rumored to be from one of Christopher Columbus’ crew members.

Skull believed to belong to one of Columbus’ crew members, Hammond Castle, circa 2007. Photo Credit: Rebecca Brooks

Although Hammond used the castle to house his artifacts from around the world, he treated the castle as more of a home than a museum, according to a 1988 article in the New York Times:

“Mr. Hammond considered his castle primarily a home to be lived in. His cats scratched the collection of Spanish leather dining room chairs, the salt air has damaged his late Gothic tapestries, and the dankness of the stone castle has taken a toll on his collection of sheet music. ‘It was a living museum,’ Mr. Pettibone [the museum curator] said. ‘He lived here. He sat on the furniture.”’

Although the exterior of the castle is built from granite mined from the nearby hillsides, known as Cape Ann granite, the windows, doorways and much of the interior of the structure are actual pieces of European castles, churches and buildings Hammond bought and shipped to the United States.

The castle includes a drawbridge, several towers, a great hall, a library, laboratory and an inner and outer courtyard.

Hammond also added some unique features to the structure such as an indoor pool that can be drained with a flip of a switch and filled with sea water, rooms with hidden doors, secret passageways, a library with a whispering ceiling and an inner courtyard that was once outfitted with special overhead pipes and wiring to simulate rain or twinkling stars, according to an article in the Schenectady Gazette:

“In the move to the patio, Hammond wanted his guests to feel as if they were leaving a church and entering a medieval village square. The doors to the Great Hall are those of a church the walls of the patio are made from the facades of 13th century French tradesman dwellings. These buildings surround the garden and the pool. The pool, 8 1/2 feet deep, was made to look as though it were only two feet deep by using a special dye developed by Hammond. Guests, thinking the pool to be shallow, would gasp in horror as he dove from the second-floor balcony. There is also a rainmaking system, used to water the plants with a mist or downpour, in this room, where Hammond also kept most of his tombstone collection.”

Inner Courtyard and swimming pool, Hammond Castle, Gloucester, Mass. Photo Credit: Rebecca Brooks

According to the book, Massachusetts: A Guide to Unique Place, the patio courtyard facades actually date back to the 14th century and the church facade displays Roman artifacts:

“The walls surrounding the courtyard and pool are made of half-timbered shop facades from a fourteenth-century French village: a bakeshop,wine merchant, and butcher, complete with symbols for the illiterate. A church front holds Hammond’s collection of Roman tombstones set into the wall. There’s also a Renaissance dining room, along with Gothic and early American bedrooms.”

Another feature of the castle is Hammond’s large pipe organ that his friend, famed organist Virgil Fox, used to play during visits. Fox held many recording sessions at the castle in the 40s and 50s.

Hammond collected these artifacts and pieces of buildings while traveling around the world and decided to preserve and recreate them because he felt that walking through historic buildings was the best way to appreciate history, according to an unpublished letter he wrote in 1929 that is now located on the Hammond Castle website:

“For the last three years I motored many miles through Europe. After traveling all day, I would arrive at my destination to see a church, a cathedral, a town hall, a scrap of Roman wall or viaduct, a colosseum or an ancient theatre. It was always a piece of architecture that suddenly dissipated the obscurity of time and brought the living presence back of all ages. It is in the stones and wood that the personal record of man comes down to us. We call it atmosphere, this indescribable something that still haunts old monuments. You can read history, you can visit a hundred museums containing their handiwork, but nothing can reincarnate their spirit except to walk through rooms in which they have lived and through the scenes that were the background of their lives. It is a marvelous thing, this expression of human ideals in walls and windows.”

Hammond not only lived at the castle but also worked there and from the grounds of the castle he would test out his radio-controlled boats in Gloucester harbor, terrorizing the local fishermen who thought the unmanned boats were ghost ships.

Hammond also conducted many experiments at the castle, including telepathic experiments with a well-known psychic at the time, Eileen Garrett.

From 1951-1952, Hammond and Garrett worked together on a project about ESP, which was funded by the Parapsychology Foundation.

During the experiments, Hammond reportedly placed Garrett inside a Faraday cage, a cage designed to keep out electromagnetic waves, in the middle of the Great Hall of his castle in an attempt to determine whether ESP used electromagnetic frequencies as a carrier wave, according to the book Color Healing: Chromotherapy:

“Science was represented by a team of top-drawer electronics physicists, headed up by John Hays Hammond. Parapsychology’s representative was Eileen J. Garrett, president of the foundation. The scientists undertook to devise assemblies of electro-magnetic instruments under conditions that would rule out any possibility of ether-waved telepathic or emotionally-conveyed contact between Mrs. Garrett, as the clairvoyant, and the science team. She was placed in a series of three Faraday cages, one inside the other…A scientist was stationed inside the cages with her. A tape recorder was placed in the inner cage, another was set up outside. A quarter mile away, a random switch to turn on and off an electrical current was placed in a hidden location.”

At the conclusion of the experiments, Hammond determined that since Garrett could still communicate with the science team telepathically while still in the cage, via a series of ESP tests, it proved that ESP was not transmitted on electromagnetic frequencies.

It is also rumored that Hammond, who had a fascination with the occult, held many seances at the castle and filled his library with books about the occult.

Great Hall, Hammond Castle, Gloucester, Mass. Photo Credit: Rebecca Brooks

Some sources also state that Nikola Tesla, who was a close friend of Hammond’s after they met when Hammond was attending the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University, reportedly lived at the castle when he began experiencing financial difficulties.

This appears to be just a rumor though, since the two scientists had a falling out before the castle was even built.

Hammond’s father, who was Tesla’s benefactor while he was the U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James in England, was the person who introduced his son and Tesla.

The meeting reportedly changed the young Hammond’s life and inspired him to follow in Tesla’s footsteps.

Although Tesla may have never visited the castle, Hammond and his wife did entertain many other celebrities at the castle, such as John D. Rockefeller, Cole Porter and Ethel and Lionel Barrymore, who staged readings of Shakespeare in the castle’s Great Hall.

Hammond was a renowned animal lover with a number of pet Siamese cats. According to an article in the Gloucester Times, whenever one of his beloved cats passed away, he would place the cat in a jar of formaldehyde and drive around Gloucester in a one-car funeral procession:

“‘He drove some people on Cape Ann crazy when he would hold his own funeral processions for his cats,’ he [Hammond biographer John Dandola] said. ‘The cat in a formaldehyde jar would be driven with the headlights on at a funeral pace all around Cape Ann, tying up traffic.'”

When Hammond died in 1965, he left the castle to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.

In 1970, a few scenes of the hit show Bewitched were filmed at Hammond Castle, and at the Fisherman Statue on Stacy Boulevard, for the episode titled “Darrin on a pedestal,” in which magically Darrin switches places with the famous statue.

In 1975, the Archdiocese of Boston decided to sell Hammond Castle, due to the enormous maintenance costs of the building, and organist Virgil Fox bought it for the price of $68,000.

Fox held annual concerts at the castle to pay for the maintenance of the building but eventually sold it when the concerts failed to generate enough money.

Several live-in caretakers of the property have claimed that the building is haunted, possibly by Hammond and his wife Irene, who died in 1959.

Hammond was buried in a steel casket in a mausoleum on the property, along with three of his Siamese cats still preserved in jars, but his body was removed in 2008 and reburied in the outdoor courtyard of the castle after several vandals broke into the mausoleum and stole the cats.

After his body was moved, the section of land where the mausoleum was located was then sold to raise money for the castle’s maintenance costs.

The castle is now a museum that is open to the public from spring until autumn. The museum also hosts annual Halloween events as well as private weddings and functions.

The castle receives thousands of visitors a year and has been featured on television shows such as Syfy’s Ghost Hunters and Travel Channel’s Castle Secrets & Legends.

If you want to learn about more castles in the area, check out the following article on castles in Massachusetts.

HAMMOND Genealogy

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In the 1870’s San Francisco became too crowded for John Wesley Hammond. The Homestead Act allowed John Wesley Hammond to claim unused government land.

The best land in the Napa Valley was gone with seemingly only less desirable outlying land available. John found available land on Atlas Peak, above the fog, with rich, red soil and lots of sun.

Atlas Peak is now recognized as a premier appellation. First to homesteading a 40 acre parcel, then moving up to the present ranch site of 240 acres. John planted grapes, fig trees and olive trees with trees of both species remaining in production today.

Today the ranch is filled with hundreds of olive trees that fill the hillsides. On the east side of the ranch we have arbequina varietal and on the west side of the ranch there is the Italian varietal Pendolino, Leccino, Frantoio, Maurino and Coratina. We have the old Mission olive trees that were planted in the 1800’s.

Over a century and five generations later, the ranch is as busy as ever. Today our crops pay homage to their European roots. With an elevation of nearly 2,000 feet, hot summers and cold winters- the conditions are perfect to cultivate Tuscan and Spanish blends of olive oil.

John Wesley Hammond Story

John Wesley Hammond became well known for his figs, grapes and olives and supported himself living year round on the ranch with his horse “Babe”. John disappeared from the ranch in 1933 when he was in his 80’s.

Leaving his gun behind the door, a half a plate of eggs, and a half a cup of coffee on the table, he was discovered missing by his son George W. Hammond and grandson George E Hammond. No trace of John Wesley has ever been found.

Support the Napa Valley region with your purchase of premium local olive oil!

Early History of Hammond Family

The land of Mattapoisett, being part of the original Plymouth County, has a deep and rich history rooted further back than the first Thanksgiving. Some explorers’ records of the area date back to the early 1600s, with many European settlements speckling the landscape throughout that century.

One of those settlements belonged to the Hammond family, a lineage that runs complete with the history of the town.

“The Hammonds are one of the oldest families of the original Plymouth Colony,” said Seth Mendell of the Mattapoisett Historical Society. “When they came down, they settled down along the Mattapoisett Neck area of town.”

But the history of the Hammonds does not begin in Mattapoisett. According to genealogical records compiled in Burke’s Landed Gentry, Vol. I, “The family of Hammond is of considerable antiquity in England, and it probably may have derived its origin from a branch of the Norman House of St. Amand.” The first known instance of the family could date back to the days of William the Conqueror in 1066, when the name may have been “Hamon” or “Hamond.”

It wasn’t until almost 700 years later that the Hammonds would establish themselves as one of the first families of Mattapoisett.

The first definite historical reference to Mattapoisett dates back to 1640-1641. Governor Bradford had surrendered the majority of the land of Plymouth Colony to free men who were looking to establish European settlements in the area. Mattapoisett was divided into 16 parcels of land, three of which were immediately purchased and settled by the Dexters, the Barlows and the Hammonds.

“I think the Hammonds were actually the first to purchase their land near the river,” said Mendell.

Branches of the Hammond family had been established in the New World dating as far back as 1607 in areas near Virginia and Maryland. In 1632, William Hammond arrived in Boston and settled in Watertown. Two years later, the rest of his family immigrated to America.

That same year, another part of the family settled in Massachusetts, consisting of Elizabeth Penn Hammond, widow to William of London (who never set foot in the New World), and her children Benjamin, Elizabeth, Martha and Rachel. While nothing is known about her three daughters, Benjamin would eventually beget the specific branch of the family that ultimately settled Mattapoisett.

Benjamin Hammond chose to settle in Sandwich, where he met and married his wife, Mary Vincent, in 1650. They would go on to have several children, among them: Samuel, John, and Benjamin, Jr.

In 1680, Benjamin’s sons Samuel and John relocated from Sandwich to Rochester, which encompassed the present-day town of the same name, as well as sections of Mattapoisett and Marion.

It was at that time the Hammond family purchased their parcel of land in what was known to the Native Americans as “Mattapoisett,” a word that was said to mean “a place of resting.”

The Hammonds did anything but rest once they established their homestead. Samuel would go on to become a founder of the First Church of Rochester, located in what is now Marion.

In the process, he settled four of his own sons in the area: Seth, Josiah, Barnabas and Jedediah. The land was once owned by Hugh Cole of Swansey, who purchased it directly from “King Philip,” or “Metacomet,” as he was known to his Native American brethren.

Samuel’s brother, John, eventually became a public official, acting as representative to the Province Court.

“The Hammonds really got the ball rolling in town as far as getting things established,” said Mendell.

Benjamin Hammond, Jr. was appointed official special surveyor for the town of Dartmouth in 1723 and was responsible for over half of the 500 drawings of the lands of Rochester, compiled into a single volume that is still available at the Plymouth County Courthouse. It is this Hammond and his family who are the namesakes of Hammondtown area of Mattapoisett.

In the 20th century, though, the Hammonds have played quieter roles in their communities and have spread to all corners of the country.

“My grandfather came over [from England] around the early 1900s,” said Bill Hammond of Lakeville. “He was a glassblower out in Sandwich most of his life.”

“We have relatives in Boston, out in Ohio, and California, I think,” said Cape resident Carol Hammond. “We even have a chef in the family who lives on Nantucket.”

In the grand scheme, members of the Hammond clan dot historical records of all sorts. From sea captains to farmers, town clerks to Revolutionary War figures, the Hammonds have played vital roles in the formation of Mattapoisett as a settlement and were pivotal in the creation of its history.

The History of Electric Dog of Hammond and Miessner

Electric Dog, the ancestor of all photo-tropic self-directing robots, was designed in 1912 by two young American experts in radio-controlled devices: John Hays Hammond Jr. (1888-1965) and Benjamin Franklin Miessner (1890&ndash1976). In fact Hammond initiated and funded the development, while Miessner refined the design and built the device, and later borrowed it from Hammond and popularized it (in several articles between 1915 and 1919, and in the book Radiodynamics: The Wireless Control of Torpedoes and Other Mechanisms, Miessner, 1916, see an excerpt from the book, presenting Electric Dog). The Electric Dog itself was not patented, but certainly the technology was in terms of light guided missiles/torpedoes.

The Electric Dog, presented in Washington Post, 2 May 1915

Let’s see the presentation of the Electric Dog in an article from 1915 (Fort Wayne Sentinel, 27 Feb 1915):

Selenium is Magic Eye Which Sees Hundreds of Miles Controls Torpedoes and Crewless Airships

Young Scientist Predicts Marvelous Results from Experiments With Selenium&mdash Points to "Electric Dog" as Example of Its Possibilities.

Lafayette, Ind., Feb. 27.&mdashAfter seeing young Benjamin Franklin Miessner’s "electric dog"&mdasha small glass-eyed box on three wheels&mdashactually pursue his master about the room after hearing Miessner predict that in time men in San Francisco will be able to witness a prize fight in Australia after seeing a flattened bullet with which Miessner nearly killed himself while perfecting a magic "thief catcher" after hearing him say that right now he could guide an absolutely unmanned Zeppelin from a boat in the English channel on a raid over coast towns and after&mdash
Well, naturally, after all this voyage into the land of miracles, one is too thrilled and dazed to know how to begin writing a story in a conservative, unenthusiastic way.
Yet this story must be told, for it concerns some extraordinary experiments with the element, selenium, which are taking place right under our noses in America today, and about which, in spite of their vast significance, only a few scientists know anything at all as yet.
Let’s begin at the beginning, with Selenium.
"It’s one of the elements,” Miessner explained. "It comes in bluish-gray slicks which look like sealing wax and it costs about $3 an ounce.
"Selenium has the peculiar property of changing its electrical resistance when influenced by light. That’s the simple secret of all the weird things that scientists are doing with it."
Miessner is only twenty-five year’s old now, a graduate of the Huntingburg (Ind.) high school, and of Uncle Sam’s navy. After serving three years in the radio-telegraphic department of the navy, he worked for two years with John Hays Hammond, Jr., at the interesting job of steering deserted ships all over Gloucester harbor from a wireless station on shore.
Now Miessner is studying for a degree at Purdue university&mdashand incidentally telling his learned professors a few things about radio-telegraphy and electrical engineering which they never heard before.
To illustrate his experiments, Miessner called his electric dog. From an electric flash he threw a bright light in the dog’s goggly eyes, and the strange object at once ambled obediently out toward his master. Wherever Miessner went, about the room with that light, he dog patiently followed, as inexoribly compelled as the moth by the flame.
"The electric dog has two cells of selenium, one behind each of those glass eyes," explained Miessner. "When I throw the light upon him, if it falls upon either eye it reduces the electrical resistance of the selenium, as I explained before and and an electrical current is allowed to pass through, starting the motor which turns the dog’s wheels. He begins to advance. But if the light comes from the right, say, it hits only the right eye, because of the projecting screen between the eyes, then the current passes through that, eye, only and not through the other. An arrangement of batteries and electro-magnets then pulls the little rear wheel to the right and that turns the dog straight towards light, whereupon it shines in the other eye also, and the current passing through this eye charges an electro-magnet which pulls the little wheel, or rudder straight again. So you understand whenever the dog sees a light, he simply has to go.
"Now, we can make our electric dog over into a ‘dog of war.’ By simply readjusting the mechanism, the two selenium, eyes can be made to pursue a dark object amid light surroundings.
Supposing a torpedo fitted with such apparatus were launched from shore on a bright day toward an attacking fleet.
The battleships would stand up as the only dark objects against the bright sky and the torpedo would head straight for them with infallible and inescapable precision. "A change in the mechanism makes it possible to drive your electric dog, or torpedo, or Zeppelin, away from "you by prodding it behind with a search&ndashlight, instead of pulling it toward you."
Miessner threw over a switch on his electric dog, and then when he flashed the light on the bulging eyes, the dog promptly, almost fearfully, backed away.
The marvelous see-at-a-distance projects of which Miessner talks, are based also on the ligut sensitivity of selenium, the "magic eye." The apparatus consists roughly of a great "compound eye," composed of some ten thousand selenium cells, each cell connected with a similarly situated glowlamp on the receiving apparatus. The selenium cells are unequally illuminated "by the light which falls on them from the objects within their range of vision, thus allowing currents of varying strength to pass through, they will light their respective glow-lamps in exact reproduction of the light and shadow of the objects before them.
"By a somewhat similar apparatus photographs have actually been transmitted by wire from Monti-Carlo to Paris, and published in the papers." Miessner commented.
The selenium thief-catcher invented by Miessner consists of a selenium cell with guns, bells, a camera and flash light. As soon as the light of the burglar’s dark lantern hits the selenium eye the whole array of noise makers goes off in one grand hubub. The thing’s practical, because Miessner tried it out before a meeting of the Electric club in Chicago, recently, and nearly frightened the club out of its wits, besides taking a very good photograph of himself.

The Electric Dog, presented in Scientific American, 14 June, 1919, written by Benjamin Franklin Miessner

John Hammond

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John Hammond, in full John Henry Hammond, Jr., (born December 15, 1910, New York, New York, U.S.—died July 10, 1987, New York), American record producer, promoter, talent scout, and music critic who discovered and promoted several major figures of popular music, from Count Basie and Billie Holiday in the 1930s to Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen during the rock era. A tireless crusader for racial integration in the music business, he is regarded as the most important nonmusician in the history of jazz.

Born into a wealthy New York family, Hammond studied piano and violin as a child and later attended Yale University as a music major. From the age of 10 or 11, he often sneaked away from home or school to visit Harlem, listening to street music, buying records of Black artists, or wandering around. He was enormously moved by blues singer Bessie Smith’s performance at the Alhambra Theater in 1927 this event was a catalyst in Hammond’s lifelong dedication to music promotion, especially the music of Black artists. He dropped out of Yale and took a job as a correspondent for Melody Maker magazine. In his first successful venture as a record producer, in 1931 he personally funded the recordings of pianist Garland Wilson.

In 1933 Hammond produced a series of recordings with Fletcher Henderson, Benny Carter, and Benny Goodman. In the same year, Hammond produced Bessie Smith’s final recording session and Billie Holiday’s first. Hammond continued to produce Holiday’s sessions through 1937, most of them featuring pianist Teddy Wilson, another Hammond discovery. A lifelong crusader for integration in the music business (and an officer in the NAACP), Hammond was instrumental in persuading Benny Goodman to accept Wilson and percussionist Lionel Hampton into his small groups and to hire Fletcher Henderson as his main arranger. In 1936 Hammond heard the Count Basie orchestra on a radio broadcast and subsequently helped bring the band to national prominence. Two years later Hammond organized the first of two historic “Spirituals to Swing” concerts, which chronicled the history of Black jazz and blues, at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. Hammond’s last major discovery of the 1930s was pioneering electric guitarist Charlie Christian, who became a member of Goodman’s small groups in 1939.

Hammond worked for several record labels during his career, most importantly with Columbia Records, with which he was associated for many years, on and off. He served in the military in World War II. After the war he showed little interest in the bebop movement. During the 1950s he produced a highly regarded series of recordings with several swing-era veterans, he was affiliated with the Newport Jazz Festival (begun in 1954), and he wrote articles for newspapers and magazines.

Hammond’s enthusiasm returned as he discovered rock and other related music, and he promoted the careers of several great musicians—including Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Leonard Cohen, and Bruce Springsteen—during the 1960s and early ’70s. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. His autobiography (with Irving Townsend), John Hammond on Record, was published in 1977.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Patricia Bauer, Assistant Editor.

John Hammond

June 26, 2008: Selected Joe Alexander (1st round, 8th pick) and Luc Mbah a Moute (2nd round, 37th pick) in the 2008 NBA Draft.

July 16, 2008: Signed Tyronn Lue as a free agent.

July 17, 2008: Signed Malik Allen as a free agent.

September 9, 2008: Signed Francisco Elson as a free agent.

February 5, 2009: Traded Tyronn Lue to the Orlando Magic for Keith Bogans and cash.

February 9, 2009: Signed Eddie Gill to the first of two 10-day contracts.

June 23, 2009: Traded Fabricio Oberto to the Detroit Pistons for Amir Johnson.

June 25, 2009: Selected Brandon Jennings (1st round, 10th pick) and Jodie Meeks (2nd round, 41st pick) in the 2009 NBA Draft.

July 31, 2009: Signed Hakim Warrick as a free agent.

July 31, 2009: Traded Malik Allen to the Denver Nuggets for Walter Sharpe, Sonny Weems and cash.

August 18, 2009: Traded Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems to the Toronto Raptors for Carlos Delfino and Roko Ukić.

January 19, 2010: Signed Jerry Stackhouse to a contract for the rest of the season.

February 18, 2010: Traded Francisco Elson and Jodie Meeks to the Philadelphia 76ers for Primož Brezec, Royal Ivey and a 2010 2nd round draft pick (Darington Hobson was later selected).

February 18, 2010: Traded Joe Alexander, Hakim Warrick and a 2010 1st round draft pick (Kevin Séraphin was later selected) to the Chicago Bulls for John Salmons, a 2010 1st round draft pick (Larry Sanders was later selected), a 2011 2nd round draft pick (Isaiah Thomas was later selected) and a 2012 2nd round draft pick (Robert Sacre was later selected).

June 22, 2010: Traded Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric to the Golden State Warriors for Corey Maggette and a 2010 2nd round draft pick (Jerome Jordan was later selected).

June 23, 2010: Traded a 2012 2nd round draft pick (Robert Sacre was later selected) to the New Jersey Nets for Chris Douglas-Roberts.

June 24, 2010: Selected Larry Sanders (1st round, 15th pick), Darington Hobson (2nd round, 37th pick) and Jerome Jordan (2nd round, 44th pick) in the 2010 NBA Draft.

June 24, 2010: Sold player rights to Jerome Jordan to the New York Knicks.

July 8, 2010: Signed Drew Gooden as a free agent.

July 19, 2010: Signed Keyon Dooling as a free agent.

July 21, 2010: Traded Darnell Jackson and a 2011 2nd round draft pick (Isaiah Thomas was later selected) to the Sacramento Kings for Jon Brockman.

August 19, 2010: Signed Earl Boykins as a free agent.

September 29, 2010: Signed Brian Skinner as a free agent.

December 2, 2010: Signed Brian Skinner as a free agent.

January 25, 2011: Signed Garrett Temple to the first of two 10-day contracts.

March 1, 2011: Signed Earl Barron to a 10-day contract.

June 23, 2011: Selected Jimmer Fredette (1st round, 10th pick) and Jon Leuer (2nd round, 40th pick) in the 2011 NBA Draft.

December 9, 2011: Traded Keyon Dooling and a 2013 2nd round draft pick to the Boston Celtics for Albert Miralles. Boston did not receive the 2nd round draft pick from Milwaukee because it was top 44 protected.

December 10, 2011: Signed Mike Dunleavy as a free agent.

June 27, 2012: Traded Jon Brockman, Jon Leuer, Shaun Livingston and a 2012 1st round draft pick (Jeremy Lamb was later selected) to the Houston Rockets for Samuel Dalembert, cash, a 2012 1st round draft pick (John Henson was later selected) and a 2014 2nd round draft pick (Nemanja Dangubić was later selected).

June 28, 2012: Selected John Henson (1st round, 14th pick) and Doron Lamb (2nd round, 42nd pick) in the 2012 NBA Draft.

August 9, 2012: Signed Joel Przybilla as a free agent.

September 25, 2012: Signed Marquis Daniels as a free agent.

October 1, 2012: Signed Eddie Gill as a free agent.

October 1, 2012: Signed Orien Greene as a free agent.

October 1, 2012: Signed Alando Tucker as a free agent.

May 31, 2013: Hired Larry Drew as Head Coach.

June 27, 2013: Selected Giannis Antetokounmpo (1st round, 15th pick) and Ricky Ledo (2nd round, 43rd pick) in the 2013 NBA Draft.

June 27, 2013: Traded Ricky Ledo and a 2014 2nd round draft pick (Nemanja Dangubić was later selected) to the Philadelphia 76ers for Nate Wolters.

July 10, 2013: As part of a 3-team trade, the Milwaukee Bucks traded J.J. Redick to the Los Angeles Clippers the Los Angeles Clippers traded a 2016 2nd round draft pick (Marcus Paige was later selected) to the Milwaukee Bucks the Los Angeles Clippers traded Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler to the Phoenix Suns the Phoenix Suns traded Jared Dudley to the Los Angeles Clippers and the Phoenix Suns traded a 2014 2nd round draft pick (Lamar Patterson was later selected) to the Milwaukee Bucks.

July 11, 2013: As part of a 3-team trade, the Milwaukee Bucks traded Szymon Szewczyk to the Oklahoma City Thunder the Minnesota Timberwolves traded Luke Ridnour and a 2014 2nd round draft pick (Johnny O'Bryant was later selected) to the Milwaukee Bucks the Oklahoma City Thunder traded cash to the Milwaukee Bucks and the Oklahoma City Thunder traded Kevin Martin and cash to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

July 12, 2013: Traded Luc Mbah a Moute and a 2019 2nd round draft pick (Vanja Marinkovic was later selected) to the Sacramento Kings for a 2016 2nd round draft pick (Malcolm Brogdon was later selected) and a 2019 2nd round draft pick (Admiral Schofield was later selected). (2019 2nd-round pick is MIL's option right-to-swap) (2019 2nd-round pick is MIL's option right-to-swap)

July 13, 2013: Signed O.J. Mayo as a free agent.

July 17, 2013: Signed Carlos Delfino as a free agent.

July 17, 2013: Signed Zaza Pachulia as a free agent.

July 26, 2013: Signed Miroslav Raduljica.

July 30, 2013: Signed Gary Neal as a free agent.

July 30, 2013: Signed Giannis Antetokounmpo to a multi-year contract.

July 31, 2013: Signed Nate Wolters.

August 29, 2013: Traded Viacheslav Kravtsov and Ish Smith to the Phoenix Suns for Caron Butler.

February 20, 2014: Traded Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour to the Charlotte Bobcats for Jeff Adrien and Ramon Sessions.

March 4, 2014: Signed Tony Mitchell to a 10-day contract.

March 14, 2014: Signed Chris Wright to a 10-day contract.

March 26, 2014: Signed D.J. Stephens to a 10-day contract.

April 14, 2014: Signed Chris Wright as a free agent.

June 26, 2014: Selected Jabari Parker (1st round, 2nd pick), Damien Inglis (2nd round, 31st pick), Johnny O'Bryant (2nd round, 36th pick) and Lamar Patterson (2nd round, 48th pick) in the 2014 NBA Draft.

June 27, 2014: Traded Lamar Patterson to the Atlanta Hawks for a 2015 2nd round draft pick (Pat Connaughton was later selected).

June 30, 2014: Fired Larry Drew as Head Coach.

June 30, 2014: Traded a 2015 2nd round draft pick (Pat Connaughton was later selected) and a 2019 2nd round draft pick (Admiral Schofield was later selected) to the Brooklyn Nets for Jason Kidd.

July 8, 2014: Signed Jabari Parker to a multi-year contract.

July 30, 2014: Signed Johnny O'Bryant to a multi-year contract.

July 31, 2014: Signed Jerryd Bayless.

August 26, 2014: Traded Carlos Delfino, Miroslav Raduljica and a 2016 2nd round draft pick (Marcus Paige was later selected) to the Los Angeles Clippers for Jared Dudley and a 2017 1st round draft pick (OG Anunoby was later selected). (Milwaukee's acquired 2017 1st-round pick is protected.)

August 26, 2014: Signed Damien Inglis to a multi-year contract.

September 27, 2014: Signed Elijah Millsap.

September 27, 2014: Signed Michael Eric.

January 9, 2015: Signed Kenyon Martin to a 10-day contract.

January 27, 2015: Signed Jorge Gutiérrez to a 10-day contract.

January 29, 2015: Signed Kenyon Martin to a contract for the rest of the season.

February 19, 2015: As part of a 3-team trade, the Milwaukee Bucks traded Brandon Knight and Kendall Marshall to the Phoenix Suns the Philadelphia 76ers traded Michael Carter-Williams to the Milwaukee Bucks the Phoenix Suns traded Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee to the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns traded a 2018 1st round draft pick (Mikal Bridges was later selected) to the Philadelphia 76ers.

March 6, 2015: Signed Chris Johnson to a 10-day contract.

April 7, 2015: Signed Jorge Gutiérrez to a multi-year contract.

June 25, 2015: Selected Rashad Vaughn (1st round, 17th pick) and Norman Powell (2nd round, 46th pick) in the 2015 NBA Draft.

June 25, 2015: Traded Norman Powell and a 2017 1st round draft pick (OG Anunoby was later selected) to the Toronto Raptors for Greivis Vásquez.

July 9, 2015: Signed Khris Middleton to a multi-year contract.

July 9, 2015: Signed Greg Monroe to a multi-year contract.

July 9, 2015: Traded Jared Dudley to the Washington Wizards for a 2020 2nd round draft pick (Elijah Hughes was later selected). (Top-55 protections removed as part of trade on 12/7/18.)

July 9, 2015: Traded Zaza Pachulia to the Dallas Mavericks for a 2018 2nd round draft pick. (Pick was protected and did not convey.)

July 17, 2015: Signed Rashad Vaughn to a multi-year contract.

July 29, 2015: Signed Chris Copeland.

August 17, 2015: Signed Marcus Landry.

September 14, 2015: Signed Jon Horford.

September 14, 2015: Signed Josh Powell.

September 14, 2015: Signed Charlie Westbrook.

February 21, 2016: Signed Steve Novak.

March 16, 2016: Signed Jared Cunningham to a 10-day contract.

June 23, 2016: Selected Thon Maker (1st round, 10th pick), Malcolm Brogdon (2nd round, 36th pick) and Patrick McCaw (2nd round, 38th pick) in the 2016 NBA Draft.

June 23, 2016: Traded Patrick McCaw to the Golden State Warriors for $2.4M cash.

July 7, 2016: Traded Albert Miralles and $200K to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Matthew Dellavedova. Cleveland create $4.8M trade exception with this deal

July 8, 2016: Signed Mirza Teletović to a multi-year contract.

July 29, 2016: Signed Malcolm Brogdon to a multi-year contract.

July 30, 2016: Signed Thon Maker to a multi-year contract.

August 2, 2016: Signed Miles Plumlee to a multi-year contract.

August 22, 2016: Signed Jason Terry.

August 29, 2016: Signed Steve Novak.

September 6, 2016: Signed Orlando Johnson.

September 8, 2016: Signed J.J. O'Brien.

September 12, 2016: Signed Xavier Henry.

September 20, 2016: Signed Giannis Antetokounmpo to a multi-year contract.

September 22, 2016: Traded Tyler Ennis to the Houston Rockets for Michael Beasley.

September 22, 2016: Signed Jaleel Roberts.

September 23, 2016: Signed Jabari Brown.

October 17, 2016: Traded Michael Carter-Williams to the Chicago Bulls for Tony Snell.

February 2, 2017: Traded Miles Plumlee and cash considerations to the Charlotte Hornets for Spencer Hawes and Roy Hibbert.

February 23, 2017: Traded Roy Hibbert to the Denver Nuggets for a 2019 2nd round draft pick (Jordan Bone was later selected).

February 25, 2017: Signed Axel Toupane to a 10-day contract.

March 4, 2017: Signed Terrence Jones to a contract for the rest of the season.

April 2, 2017: Signed Gary Payton II to a multi-year contract.

John Lawrence Hammond - History

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“Strange Fruit” 1939

Billie Holiday, jazz singer, circa 1930s.

Billie Holiday by 1939 was a known singer in the New York jazz scene who had done brief stints as a big band vocalist with Count Basie in 1937 and Artie Shaw in 1938.

With Shaw’s band, she became one of the first black women to work with a white orchestra. She also had a number of popular songs by then, dating to 1933 and one of her first recordings, “Riffin the Scotch,” which she recorded with Benny Goodman.

In fact, between 1934 and 1939, Billie Holiday had more than 30 singles that were later considered to be in the Top 20 of that era. Yet, despite her output and popular songs, she was not then a mainstream star not a household word. But “Strange Fruit” was about to change that. However, the song was clearly a departure from her earlier work, as it had a very discomforting message. Still, “Strange Fruit” was the song that became something of dividing line in Holiday’s career, making her popular, and some say, changing her style as well. More on Holiday and her career in a moment. First, some background on the song.

“Strange Fruit” was first written as a poem by a Jewish high-school teacher from the Bronx, New York named Abel Meeropol, who also used the name Lewis Allan. Meeropol wrote his poem — about the 1930 lynching of two black men in Marion, Indiana – after seeing Lawrence Beitler’s photograph of the lynching. He first published his poem in the January 1937 edition of The New York Teacher, a union magazine. He later set the poem “Strange Fruit” to music and his song gained some success as a protest song in the New York area, performed at one point by black vocalist Laura Duncan at Madison Square Garden.

August 7, 1930 photo of Thomas Shipp & Abram Smith, lynched in Marion, Indiana, for allegedly murdering a white factory worker and raping his female companion.

Barney Josephson had either heard of “Strange Fruit” from friends, or was given a copy by Meeropol himself. In any case, he was quite taken with the song’s imagery and gave it to Billie Holiday, who was then performing at his club, hired at the suggestion of John Hammond.

Holiday at first, was somewhat troubled by the song and put off by its theme, and told Josephson she wasn’t sure she wanted to sing it and would think it over. But she soon agreed to perform the song at Café Society the main room there held about 220 people. She performed the song for the first time in January 1939. She continued using the song in her nightclub routine, although she was somewhat fearful of retaliation given the song’s charged content in those times.

Josephson, meanwhile, recognized the impact of the song and insisted that Holiday close all her shows with it. In her performance, just as the song was about to begin, waiters would stop serving, the club lights would go down, and a single spotlight would focus on Holiday as she began. During the musical introduction, Holiday would stand with her eyes closed – and as some saw it, as if she were evoking a prayer. With the final note of the song, all lights in the club would go dark, and when they came back on, Holiday would be gone from the stage. According to reports from band members, after performing the song Holiday would sometimes break down emotionally. “Strange Fruit,” in any case, became a regular part of Billie Holiday’s live performances, and the song’s reputation, at least initially, grew from her nightclub act. However, making a vinyl recording of the song for a larger public audience was another matter.

“Strange Fruit”

Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swingin’ in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin’ from the poplar trees

Pastoral scene of the gallant South
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolia, sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh

Here is the fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the tree to drop.
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Holiday had approached her own record label, Columbia, about recording the song. Columbia refused, fearing a backlash from Southern record retailers and negative reaction from affiliates in Columbia’s co-owned CBS radio network.

She then turned to a friend, Milt Gabler, as Gabler’s record label, Commodore, produced alternative jazz. Gabler worked out an arrangement in 1939 with another label, Vocalion Records, to record and distribute “Strange Fruit.”

Holiday recorded the song in Commodore’s studios at two sessions – one in April 1939 and again later, in 1944. She would also record it at a later date for the Verve record label. “Strange Fruit” became controversial, and over the years, Holiday’s biggest selling record. But not at first. In fact, the song was banned on many radio stations. (And beyond that, federal drug agents would come after her and order her to quit singing “Strange Fruit.” More on this at “Targeting Billie” sidebar later below.)

Although the Commodore release of “Strange Fruit” did not get extensive radio play, the record sold well, which Gabler attributed in part to the record’s other song on the flip side, “Fine and Mellow,” which was a jukebox hit. But “Strange Fruit” also rose on the charts, according to one source, peaking at No. 16 on July 22, 1939. The song also helped put Billie Holiday in the national spotlight. “‘Strange Fruit’ was to Billie what ‘Of Human Bondage’ was to Bette Davis or ‘The Petrified Forest’ to Humphrey Bogart,” wrote Michael Brooks in 1991 liner notes to a Billie Holiday collection. “It brought her national recognition, fame and a very modest fortune. It also attracted celebrity hunters of the worst sort, plus the type of men who were interested in nothing but a free ride…” But some critics, Brooks among them, also believed that “Strange Fruit” changed Holiday’s style, and led her to take on other concerns of the oppressed with her music. “She began to live the part and see herself as the living symbol of injustice and oppression,” wrote Brooks. This change in Holiday’ style, lamented by some, was a gradual process in which she began to interpret her songs rather than just naturally sing them. Yet for many fans and critics, it was her musical interpretation and her singular vocal style in marking those interpretations, that made Holiday’s work so distinctive and impressionable.

David Margolick, who published a book about Holiday and the song in April 2000, explains that “Strange Fruit” has defied easy musical categorization over the years, and consequently, has not received thoughtful study by social historians and other analysts. “It’s too artsy to be folk music, too explicitly political and polemical to be jazz,” he explains. But his book – Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday, Cafe Society, And An Early Cry For Civil Rights – provides an in-depth look at the song, its artist, and the times. “Surely,” he says, “no song in American history has ever been guaranteed to silence an audience or to generate such discomfort.” In 2002, the Library of Congress added the song to the National Recording Registry. “Strange Fruit” is also included on the “Songs of the Century” list, an education project of the Recording Industry Association of America, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Scholastic, Inc. — a project that aims to “promote a better understanding of America’s musical and cultural heritage” in American schools.

Billie Holiday shown on an image used for an album collection of her greatest hits. Click for album CD.

Billie Holiday

Nicknamed “Lady Day” by her friend and musical partner, saxophonist Lester Young, Billie Holiday became an influential force in jazz and popular music from the mid-1930s through the 1950s. She had a novel way of phrasing and manipulating a song’s lyrics when she performed – a unique vocal style and tempo that was inspired by the jazz music itself. Holiday became known for that style, and was admired worldwide for her deeply personal, intimate approach to her music. Critic John Bush wrote that she “changed the art of American pop vocals forever.”

Holiday co-wrote a share of her songs, and several of them became jazz standards, such as “God Bless the Child”, “Don’t Explain,” “Fine and Mellow,” and “Lady Sings the Blues.” She also became famous for singing jazz standards including “Easy Living,” “Summertime,” and “Good Morning Heartache.”

Through her travail, however, music had offered her some refuge, as she had listened to the music of Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong. In 1929, with an urge to try it for herself, she teamed up with a neighbor, tenor sax player named Kenneth Hollan, and began performing at clubs in New York city. In 1931, she began using the name “Billie Holiday,” taken from a combination of the name her favorite actress, Billie Dove, and her father, Clarence Holiday, who had played with Fletcher Henderson’s band as a guitarist. By the end of 1932, at the age of 17, she began working at a club called Covan’s (also known by some as Monette’s) on West 132nd Street, where she was heard by Benny Goodman, John Hammond, and others. The first official recognition of her talents seems to have come from Hammond who heard her at Covan’s and wrote in the April 1933 issue of Melody Maker that she was “a real find,” calling her “incredibly beautiful and sings as well as anybody I ever heard.” Billie Holiday made her recording debut with Benny Goodman in late 1933, producing two songs: “Your Mother’s Son-In-Law” and “Riffin’ the Scotch.” The latter reached No. 6 on the pop charts in late 1933 and early 1934.

Billie Holiday in a Wm. T. Gottlieb photo with her famous and beloved dog, “Mister,” New York, Feb 1947. Click for photos.

In 1935 she appeared in Duke Ellington’s film short Symphony in Black, which featured his extended piece ‘A Rhapsody of Negro Life’. It won an Academy Award as the best musical short subject and also helped introduced Holiday to a broader audience, as she played a woman being abused by her lover and sang “The Saddest Tale.” In 1933-34, Holiday was signed to Brunswick Records by John Hammond to record current pop tunes with Teddy Wilson, converting them to the new “swing” style for the growing jukebox trade. It was 1937 when she joined Count Basie’s band, then on tour. This was also when Lester Young – who played tenor saxophone and became one of Holiday’s closest friends – gave her the nickname “Lady Day.” In return, she called him “Prez,” which meant he was pretty special in her book, too. The two produced some near-perfect musical collaborations, according to critics – heard on songs like “This Year’s Kisses” and “Mean To Me.”

Screen shot from 1972 Billie Holiday film (w/Diana Ross) depicting life on the road in the 1930s w/ band, which for a black woman among mostly men, had its share of racial & privacy indignities. Click for DVD.

Even with Shaw’s orchestra, some backers and promoters objected to Holiday for racial reasons, and others for her unique vocal style. At the time, some listeners were not ready for the interpretive liberties she took with old standards.

In New York in 1938, Artie Shaw’s band was playing at the upscale Lincoln Hotel, with nationwide broadcasts over the RCA radio network. However, some of the sponsors had complained about Billie “ruining the tune,” and so, she was limited to one or two songs during the hour show.

In addition to this, the owner of the Lincoln Hotel objected to Billie sitting at the bar or mixing with customers, and was also told she could only use the tradesmens’ entrance and the freight elevator. Although Shaw and his bandmates were outraged over Billie’s treatment, and objected to the owner, Billie had to comply. In any case, she ended up leaving Shaw’s orchestra. By then her music was becoming recognized nationally.

In September 1938, Holiday’s single “I’m Gonna Lock My Heart” ranked 6th among most-played songs that month. Her record label, Vocalion, listed the single as its fourth best-seller in that same period, with others later ranking it as the No. 2 most popular song of that time. But by the late 1930s, Billie Holiday was out her own, and that’s when she began freelancing and performing at the Café Society nightclub. In addition to debuting “Strange Fruit” there, she also debuted “God Bless the Child” there, a song which she also co-wrote that became a hit and sold more than million copies.

In September 1943, Life magazine offered that Holiday “has the most distinct style of any popular vocalist and is imitated by other vocalists.” As noted by writers, music historians, and biographers such as Bud Kliment and Arnold Shaw, Holiday’s success in the early 1940s was partly due to her becoming a torch singer, as many people identified with her songs about loneliness and lost love, especially given the separations of World War II then affecting millions.

“Billie’s tortured style, the sense of hurt and longing,” observed historian Arnold Shaw, “may have been a perfect expression of what servicemen and their loved ones were feeling.”

In 1944, Holiday garnered her first jazz critics’ poll victory – Esquire magazine’s “Gold Award” for best female vocalist. In 1945 she produced, among others, the No.5 R&B hit “Lover Man.” However, when her mother died in October 1945, Holiday’s use of alcohol and drugs escalated. Because of her narcotics conviction, Holiday’s New York “cabaret card” – a license to perform in nightclubs – was revoked. Still, she remained a major star in the jazz world, and also appeared in a minor role as a maid, along with her idol, Louis Armstrong, in the 1947 film, New Orleans. But also that year, Holiday was arrested and convicted for narcotics possession, sentenced to one year in a federal rehabilitation prison. In 1948, just ten days after serving her term and leaving prison, she performed to a packed house at Carnegie Hall on March 27th. She sang about 30 songs during that appearance. But beyond such high profile concerts, Holiday’s life as a working singer was severely restricted. Because of her narcotics conviction, Holiday’s New York “cabaret card” – a license to perform in nightclubs – was revoked. One New York club, however, The Ebony Club, allowed her to perform, as the club’s owner, John Levy, would became her boyfriend and manager by the end of the 1940s. Levy, however, was among those men in Holiday’s life who took advantage of her. Around this time as well, she was arrested on narcotics charges, but later acquitted.

1956 Billie Holiday autobiography with NY Post writer William Dufty, published by Doubleday. Click for book.

In 1957, Billie Holiday performed at the Sugar Hill nightclub in Newark, New Jersey and the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island. And despite trouble she had been experiencing with her voice, she managed to give an impressive performance on the 1957 CBS television broadcast, The Sound of Jazz. This one-hour TV show, which aired on December 8, 1957, was one of the first major programs featuring jazz on American television. It brought together an all-star cast of 32 leading jazz musicians including: Count Basie, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Jo Jones and Coleman Hawkins, Henry “Red” Allen, Vic Dickenson, Roy Eldridge, Pee Wee Russell, and younger musicians such as Gerry Mulligan, Thelonious Monk, and Jimmy Giuffre. But one of the high points of the show was the performance of “Fine and Mellow,” reuniting Billie Holiday and her old friend Lester Young, who played the first solo. Music critic and writer Nat Hentoff, who was also involved with the telecast, recalled that when Young rose to play his part:

“… he played the purest blues I have ever heard, and [he and Holiday] were looking at each other, their eyes were sort of interlocked, and she was sort of nodding and half–smiling. It was as if they were both remembering what had been… And in the control room we were all crying…”

The Billie Holiday album “Lady in Satin” was originally recorded in 1958, and reissued in 1997. Click for CD.

“…I would say that the most emotional moment was her listening to the playback of “I’m a Fool to Want You.” There were tears in her eyes… After we finished the album I went into the control room and listened to all the takes. I must admit I was unhappy with her performance, but I was just listening musically instead of emotionally. It wasn’t until I heard the final mix a few weeks later that I realized how great her performance really was.”

On March 15, 1959, Billie’s old friend, Lester Young, died in New York at the age of 49. Young’s passing was taken very hard by Holiday, then believing her own time was limited. She gave her final performance in New York City on May 25, 1959. Not long after, Holiday was admitted to the hospital for heart and liver problems. She was addicted to heroin at that point was very weak from her illnesses. On July 17, 1959, Holiday died from alcohol- and drug-related complications. She was 44 years old. Her bank account at the time recorded a few dollars at best, though royalties due her at that year’s end totaled some $100,000.

“Targeting Billie”
U.S. Bureau of Narcotics

1930. Harry Anslinger, when he became Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Narcotics.

Anslinger served as the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics – a post he filled after first serving as a federal prohibition enforcer. Once prohibition ended he then became the nation’s first drug czar in 1930, remaining in that position for 32 years, from the Hoover Administration through the Kennedy years, until 1962.

A rabid anti-marijuana and anti-drug crusader, and also a racist who sought to convict high profile jazz musicians, Anslinger would develop a particular vendetta against Billie Holiday. Sometime in the 1940s, it appears, Anslinger had warned Holiday she should stop performing her song, “Strange Fruit.” Holiday refused, which moved Anslinger to come after her all the more, assigning undercover agents to befriend her, plant drugs on her person or at her residence, recruit informers to betray her, and finally prosecute her for drug possession.

A 2015 book by Johann Hari, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, includes profiles of Anslinger and his campaign against Holiday. Anslinger reportedly made numerous racist observations about African Americans and that black jazz musicians were especially dangerous. He charged that jazz, in particular, was “Satanic” music, created under the influence of marijuana. In his book, Hari would write:

…Jazz was the opposite of everything Harry Anslinger believed in. It is improvised, and relaxed, and free-form. It follows its own rhythm. Worst of all, it is a mongrel music made up of European, Caribbean and African echoes, all mating on American shores. To Anslinger, this was musical anarchy, and evidence of a recurrence of the primitive impulses that lurk in black people, waiting to emerge…

2021 film, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” includes story of government surveillance of Billie Holiday. Click for Amazon.

In 1959, Holiday checked herself into a New York City hospital, then suffering from heart and lung problems and cirrhosis of the liver due to decades of drug and alcohol abuse. She feared she would never come out of the hospital alive, believing the government was out to get her, as Anslinger was still following her. It is believed Anslinger had his men go to the hospital and arrest her for drug possession. There she was handcuffed to her bed where agents took mugshots, removed flowers and gifts from visitors, and stationed two cops at the door. Although Holiday had been showing signs of recovery in the hospital, as doctors began methadone treatments, Anslinger’s men forbid doctors to give her further treatment. She died within days.

Kudos & Legacy

Years after her death, Billie Holiday received numerous awards and other cultural recognition. In 1972, Diana Ross, former lead singer of the 1960s’ Motown group The Supremes, played the role of Billie Holiday in the film Lady Sings the Blues, which sparked renewed interest in Holiday’s music.

A number of Billie Holiday songs have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, including: “God Bless The Child” (1976), “Strange Fruit” (1978), “Lover Man” (1989), “Lady In Satin” (2000), and “Embraceable You” (2005). She has also received Grammys in the Best Historical Album category: Billie Holiday – Giants of Jazz (1980), Billie Holiday – The Complete Decca Recordings (1992), The Complete Billie Holiday (1994), and Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday (2002).

Billie Holiday has also been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and in September 1994, the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp in her honor in the “Jazz & Blues Singers” series. Numerous fellow musicians have covered her songs, with some offering special tributes. In 1988, the Irish rock group U2 released a Billie Holiday tribute song titled “Angel of Harlem.”

In 2000, with Diana Ross as her presenter, Billie Holiday was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

But it was Billie Holiday’s interpretation and performances of “Strange Fruit” that helped bring public attention to the racial injustice of that time and earlier, leaving powerful instruction still.

See also at this website, “Civil Rights Topics, 1930s-2010s,” for additional stories in that category, and also, “Noteworthy Ladies,” a topics page with additional story choices on famous women in various fields. More stories on music history may be found at the “Annals of Music” category page.

Thanks for visiting – and if you like what you find here, please make a donation to help support the research, writing and continued publication of this website. Thank you. – Jack Doyle

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this Website

Date Posted: 7 March 2011
Last Update: 11 February 2021
Comments to: [email protected]

Article Citation:
Jack Doyle, “Strange Fruit, 1939,”, March 7, 2011.

Sources, Links & Additional Information

Billie Holiday loved dogs, shown here and above with her favorite boxer, “Mister,” as photographed in New York, 1946 and 1947, by William. P. Gottlieb, who worked for Down Beat jazz magazine. Click for photo print.

1956 Billie Holiday album, “Lady Sing The Blues,” released at time of autobiography. Click for remastered CD.

Cover of 2009 CD – “Billie Holiday: The Ben Webster/ Harry Edison Sessions,” Lonehill Jazz, Spain. Click for CD.

Billie Holiday, undated.

“Billie Holiday Hailed in Solo Jazz Concert,” New York Times, February 17, 1946.

“Billie Holiday Revue Singer Opening at the Mansfield Tonight in Jazz Feature,” New York Times, April 27, 1948.

“Holiday’s Revue Laden With Stars Singer’s 14 Numbers Highlight of Jazz Program Given at the Mansfield Theater,” New York Times, April 28, 1948, Section, Amusements, p. 33.

“Singer Freed on Opium Charge” (B. Holiday freed on opium charge, San Francisco…), New York Times, June 5, 1949.

“Song Story Told by Billie Holiday Excerpts of Autobiography Read at Carnegie Hall Give Meaning to Recital…,” New York Times, November 12, 1956.

Bret Primack, “Billie Holiday: Assessing Lady Day’s Art and Impact,” As published by: JazzTimes includes short, first-person reminiscences on Billie by jazz artists and others.

Billie Holiday and William Dufty, Lady Sings the Blues, New York: Doubleday, 1957.

John S. Wilson, “Billie Holiday — Jazz Singer, Pure and Simple,” New York Times, July 6, 1958.

Chris Albertson, Interview with Billie Holiday, WHAT-FM, Radio, Philadelphia, PA, 1958.

WNET’s American Masters series, “The Long Night of Lady Day,” 1986.

Michael Brooks, Billie Holiday Biogra- phical Notes, Booklet with CD Box Set: Billie Holiday – The Legacy, Columbia Jazz Master-pieces, 1991.

Steven Lasker, Billie Holiday Recording Notes, Booklet with CD Box Set: Billie Holiday – The Complete Original American Decca Recordings, MCA Records, April 1991.

Stuart Nicholson, Billie Holiday, Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1995.

Donald Clarke, Billie Holiday: Wishing on The Moon, New York: Da Capo Press, 2000.

David Margolick, Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday, Cafe Society, And An Early Cry For Civil Rights Philadelphia & New York: Running Press, April 2000, 160 pp.

Radio Diaries, “Strange Fruit: Anniversary Of A Lynching,” National Public Radio, August 6, 2010.

Jesse Hamlin, “Billie Holiday’s Bio, ‘Lady Sings the Blues,’ May Be Full of Lies, But it Gets at Jazz Great’s Core,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 18, 2006.

“Birthday Spotlight for April 7th: Billie Holiday – A Billie Holiday Tribute…By Confetta for Everyone. ”Crooners & Songbirds, April 6, 2009.

Billie Holiday Discography, The Original LP Discography,

Hettie Jones, section on Billie Holiday from, Big Star Fallin’ Mama: Five Woman in Black Music, New York: Viking Press,

Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns, Jazz: A History of America’s Music, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.

Nat Shapiro, Nat Hentoff (eds), Hear Me Talkin’ to Ya: The Story of Jazz as Told by the Men Who Made It, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1966, 429 pp.

John Chilton, Billie’s Blues: The Billie Holiday Story, 1933-1959, New York: Da Capo Press, 1989.

Robert O’Meally, Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday, New York: Da Capo Press, 1991.

Julia Blackburn, With Billie: A New Look at the Unforgettable Lady Day, New York: Vintage Books, 2006.

Peter Daniels, “Strange Fruit: The Story of a Song,”, February 8, 2002.

“Harry Anslinger,”

John C. McWilliams, The Protectors: Harry J. Anslinger and the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 1930-1962, University of Delaware Press, 1990.

Watch the video: The Synthesis of Synthesis- The Hammond Novachord (June 2022).


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