COVENTRY Music Museum curator Pete Chambers BEM writes for the Observer.
Taz Singh passes away
It’s heartbreaking to announce that my friend Coventry musical legend Taz Singh (Johnny Zee or Stereo Nation) has passed away.
A few weeks ago we heard the 54-years-old star was is in a coma and fighting for his life in hospital, followed by the more promising news that he had been taken out of a coma.
Sadly that turned out to be false hope and he passed away last week due to liver failure.
Legend is a word so overused, but sometimes, just sometimes, the epithet is a perfect adjective to describe someone who has come from humble beginning and left his mark in a global fashion.
Taz has gone beyond the realms of just pop star or singer.
Nurtured by Dr Neville Staple (formerly The Specials and The Fun Boy Three), Taz’s ‘Hit the Deck’ album defined him as an artist and that pushed boundaries.
His mainstreaming of Asian Fusion music became the blueprint for others to follow, and his ability to know what worked with what transcended popular Asian music.
It’s easy to see why he is described as the ‘Pioneer Of Pop Fusion’.
His record sales are the envy of many other artists, when you talk of Taz, you are talking about a global artist who not only has the number one hits, but massive world sales.
Yes, he was a singer, record producer, master collaborator, Bollywood film director, but away from the dazzle of the lights, I knew Taz enough to see the real man, the charitable man, the human being. He always gave time to his fans and always the same old ‘Cov Kid’ when it comes to his friends and family. His passing leaves a heart-breaking Taz shaped hole in our musical universe.
Caludon Castle new exhibition
A treasure trove of precious medieval documents that chart the 900-year history of Caludon Castle in Coventry has been released for a first-ever public showing.
The free exhibition is now opened to the public at Coventry Archives at The Herbert.
It looks a fascinating exhibition with a superb model of the castle made by the local legend Pete Garbett.
For me though, the musical connection is the thing I look for in a story and as far Caludon Castle is concerned, it’s a special night way back in 1599 when Tudor Coventry saw the arrival of the supreme musician of the day, the legendary John Dowland.
If Shakespeare was the word on the street, then surely, Dowland was the sound that accompanied it.
He was the undisputed master lutenist of his time – his melancholic airs and songs were ‘ye downloads of the day’.
He came to Coventry to perform at Caludon Castle to entertain the Berkeley family with his concert in the Great Hall on January 24, 1599.
He was very much the star of the day. His works have been performed by Sting, Elvis Costello, Julian Bream and Jan Akkerman.
The exhibition is an ambition realised for John Clarke (my first ever editor), who grew up a goalkick away from Caludon Park.
The evocative ruins sparked a lifelong passion to promote the real story of the castle’s importance to the city’s heritage.
In 2014, he commissioned and published ‘A History of Caludon Castle’, the Lords of the Manor of Caludon, regarded as the most comprehensive account of its colourful history.