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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

March 15, 1962

Welcome to another edition of the Tuesday Timeline.  It's the fifteenth of March, and I have to say that I was definitely bombarded with a lot of choice for subjects to discuss!  Let's just say that March 15 was a busy day in pop culture history!

I did settle on a topic that could answer the question "where are they now?" for one entertainer - and no, I'm not talking about Richard Simmons either.  But, it could also answer the question "who are they now?"

Confused?  You won't be as you read on.  First of all, let's see what took place in history on this date, starting with a rather significant event...

44 B.C. - Julius Caesar is stabbed to death on the Ides of March

1493 - After his first visit to the Americas, Christopher Columbus returns to Spain

1672 - Charles II issues the Royal Declaration of Indulgence in Britain

1783 - George Washington makes an impassioned plea to his officers to not support the Newburgh Conspiracy - the plea works, and a planned coup d'etat does not take place

1820 - Maine is admitted as the twenty-third state to join the United States

1875 - Archbishop of New York John McCloskey becomes the first cardinal in the United States

1877 - The first official cricket test match is played in Melbourne, Australia

1906 - Rolls-Royce Limited is incorporated

1913 - Soap actor Macdonald Carey (d. 1994) is born in Sioux City, Iowa

1919 - Actor Lawrence Tierney (d. 2002) is born in Brooklyn, New York

1935 - Percy Shaw founds Reflecting Roadstuds Limited - a company specializing in the manufacturing of cat's eyes

1956 - The Broadway musical "My Fair Lady" debuts at the Mark Hellinger Theatre

1975 - Businessman Aristotle Onassis dies at the age of 69

1985 - The first Internet domain name is registered -

1986 - Thirty-three people perish following the collapse of Singapore's Hotel New World

1990 - Mikhail Gorbachev is elected President of the Soviet Union

1998 - Pediatrician and author Dr. Benjamin Spock dies at the age of 94

2011 - The Syrian Civil War commences

2015 - Toto bass player Mike Porcaro dies at the age of 59

Wow...hard to believe that the conflicts in Syria began five years ago today and they're still nowhere near resolving it.  Certainly makes one think.

Celebrating a birthday this March 15 are the following famous faces; Jeanne Mockford, D.J. Fontana, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Judd Hirsch, Jimmy Swaggart, Margo Howard, Mike Love, David Cronenberg, Sly Stone, Howard E. Scott, Heather Graham Pozzessere, Dee Snider, Park Overall, David Silverman, Harold Baines, Terry Cummings, Craig Ludwig, Bret Michaels, Rockwell, Chris Bruno, Mark McGrath, Kim Raver, Penny Lancaster, Mark Hoppus,, Eva Longoria, Katherine Brooks, Joe Hahn, Young Buck, Jordan Hastings, Emily Tyndall, Sean Biggerstaff, Tom Chilton, Kellan Lutz, Jai Courtney, Adrianne Leon, Alexander Sims, Siobhan Magnus, and Ellie Leach.  Happy birthday to you all!

And now comes the year that we're flashing back in time to...

Yes, today we're looking back on March 15, 1962.  And, as it so happens, this also happens to be a celebrity birthdate.  But, just who is turning 54 years old today?

Seriously, who?  After all, this guy has actually changed his name, and has released music under both names.

Now, I'm guessing that the name Sananda Francesco Maitreya probably will have you wondering who I'm talking about.  For all you know, I've either described a South American delicacy, a race car driver from Europe, or Kimmy Gibbler's ex-husband on "Fuller House" (whose name is actually Fernando). 

That just happens to be the name that our mystery subject has gone by since he legally changed it fifteen years ago.  But prior to that, he went by a totally different name.  A name that many who were born after 1987 probably won't recognize.  You see, that was the year that he released his debut album and scored his one and only #1 hit on the Billboard charts.  Here.  Let me play it for you now.  It's quite catchy in a late 1980s Roland synthesizer and Linn drum machine kind of way.

ARTIST:  Terence Trent D'Arby
SONG:  Wishing Well
ALBUM:  Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D'Arby
DATE RELEASED:  October 1987*

(The * denotes that this was the UK release date.  In reality, this song didn't reach the top of the charts until May 1988 - almost one year after the release of this album.)

If you haven't guessed by now, the subject of today's blog is R&B singer Terence Trent D'Arby, who burst onto the scene in the late 1980s with a brand new style and sound that had everyone dancing all over the place.  And certainly, "Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D'Arby" was a successful album - it even netted D'Arby a Grammy Award in 1988 for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. 

So how did he go from Grammy Award winning artist Terence Trent D'Arby to Sananda Maitreya?  Well, let's start at the beginning.

He was born Terence Trent Howard in Manhattan, New York, and changed his name to Darby when his mother remarried.  He added the apostrophe himself to give the name a little extra flavour (so, I guess if you want to get technical, he changed his name three times).  Interestingly enough, he didn't start out wanting to be a singer.  In his early years, he trained as a boxer.  When he was eighteen years old, he won the Florida Golden Gloves lightweight championship and was given the opportunity to attend boxing school in the United States Army.

(And, you truly learn something new every day because I had no idea that boxing school even existed!)

At any rate, D'Arby turned down the offer to attend college.  Though that college life only lasted a year before he decided to join the United States Army after all.  His tenure though was short.  He was dishonorably discharged in 1983 for absence without leave.  By then, D'Arby had decided that he wanted to pursue a career in music.  After all, his mother was a gospel singer, and the musical talent did run in the family.  In 1984, he released an album with a band known as Touch, and by 1986, he was playing in a band known as The Bojangles.  But it wouldn't be until July 1987 that he would branch out as a solo artist and release his debut album.

Certainly his first album was a hit in North America.  "Wishing Well", as I revealed earlier became a #1 hit.  But it was even more successful in the UK, where D'Arby had several hits from the album chart which included "Dance Little Sister", "If You Let Me Stay", and this song - which I have to admit is one of my all-time favourite songs from the 1980s. could play "Sign Your Name" on a continuous loop, and I'd still be happy with it.

But while D'Arby was promoting the album, something happened along the way.  He started to develop self-confidence to the point where he was starting to sound as if he were up himself.  Would you believe that he even said that his debut album was the most important album ever released since The Beatles released "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"? 

Whoa, now.  I don't deny that Terence Trent D'Arby had talent, but to seriously say that his album was the best album ever released in a 20 year time period?!?  That's a little more than ballsy.

In fact, D'Arby's statement is kind of reminiscent to some of the ridiculousness posted by a certain person who has lost his ever yeezy mind as of late.  The only difference is that I think we've become so desensitized to his attention seeking ways that in the case of the latter we just laugh it off.

Not so for the pre-Twitter world of Terence Trent D'Arby.  His comments were more or less vilified by the music press at that time, and when it came time for D'Arby to release his second album in 1989 - fans were no longer interested in what he had to say.  The album bombed, and some may say that it was the moment in which D'Arby decided he didn't want to be Terence Trent D'Arby any longer.

During the 1990s, he released two more lacklustre albums - 1993's "Symphony or Damn" and 1995's "Vibrator", and in the late 1990s he temporarily became the lead singer of the Australian rock band INXS following Michael Hutchence's suicide in November 1997.  He also appeared as Jackie Wilson in the 1999 CBS miniseries "Shake, Rattle and Roll: An American Love Story".

But by the time the 1990s ended, Terence Trent D'Arby had decided that he was done being Terence Trent D'Arby.  Following a dream that he had back in 1995, he had declared that Terence Trent D'Arby was dead, and that he would be reborn as Sananda Francesco Maitreya.  And in October 2001, he had his name legally changed to Sananda Maitreya.

Now, of course, he continued to record music under his new name - since 2001 he has released seven albums.  Of course, none of them quite matched the success that he had when he was Terence Trent D'Arby.  However, I think that he's quite all right with that.  No longer does he feel pressured to compete with other people.  Instead he can record at his leisure for himself.

Regardless of what name he goes by these days, you can't deny that he made a mark on the music industry - and you don't need a coin to toss in a wishing well to cement that.

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