Thursday, February 28, 2008
Jessica Ann Simpson (born July 10, 1980) is an American pop singer who rose to fame during the late 1990s. She has starred with her husband Nick Lachey (pronounced la-SHAY) in the MTV reality show Newlyweds, released her own line of beauty products called Dessert, and has also started a career as an actress.
Early life and career
Simpson was born in Abilene, Texas and raised in Richardson, a suburb of Dallas. She is the daughter of Joe (a Baptist youth minister) and Tina Simpson and has a younger sister, Ashlee, who launched her own music career in mid-2004. Jessica started singing at the age of twelve as a part of her Baptist church choir. At the same age, she made an unsuccessful application for The New Mickey Mouse Club, which starred fellow singers Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, among other future stars.
Jessica attended J.J. Pearce High School in Richardson, Texas. Simpson was discovered singing at a church camp by a head of a small contemporary Christian record label and recorded an album over the next three years, but the label went out of business before the album could be released. She dropped out her senior year in order to tour and promote her demo album, which was funded by her grandmother, Joyce (thus the reason for the name Rejoyce: The Christmas Album); she later earned her GED. During this time, she toured with the Christian Youth Conference circuit performing with Kirk Franklin, God's Property and CeCe Winans. She and her father sold copies of the album after her performances.
Tommy Mottola of Columbia Records obtained a copy of the album and, thinking she had potential as a pop singer, signed her as such. Jessica eliminated the Christian influences from her appearance and music.
On November 23, 1999, Simpson released her debut pop album Sweet Kisses, reaching a peak of #25 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and also making the top 40 of the UK charts. The album proved to be a success, selling 2 million copies in the U.S.. Her first single, the platinum-selling "I Wanna Love You Forever", reached the top 5 of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and the top 10 in Canada and the UK in late 1999. Her second single, a duet with then-boyfriend, now-husband Nick Lachey of 98 Degrees, "Where You Are", was a modest radio hit. The last single off the album, the John Mellencamp-sampled "I Think I'm in Love With You", was a top 40 hit in the U.S. and a top 20 hit in Canada and the UK. In 2000, Simpson won two Teen Choice Awards for Choice Breakout Artist and Love Song of the Year ("Where You Are" featuring Nick Lachey).
Simpson's sophomore effort Irresistible, released on June 5, 2001, reached the top 10 of the Billboard 200 and top 20 of the Canadian album charts. Despite this improvement, the album's sales were less than satisfactory; to date, it has only managed to be certified gold in the U.S. for selling over 500,000 copies. The title track, which was featured as the lead single, went top 20 in the U.S., Canada and the UK, as well as top 40 in Australia and Switzerland. A follow-up single entitled "A Little Bit" was also released, but failed to achieve much success apart from going top 20 in Portugal. Compared to her competition in pop princesses and ex-Mouseketeers Aguilera and Spears, Simpson seemed to be lagging behind in terms of chart success and sales.
Between her second and third albums, Simpson released a collection of remixes entitled This Is The Remix on July 2, 2002. However, the collection failed to even chart on the Billboard 200, suffering from lack of promotion.
On October 26, 2002, Simpson wed Nick Lachey.
During the Summer of 2003, Simpson and husband Lachey's reality show Newlyweds began airing on MTV. Though Simpson was moderately famous before the series began, the show is considered responsible for transforming her into a true star.
Throughout the run of three seasons, she often appeared as a stereotype of a dumb blonde, notably when she asked whether the Chicken of the Sea tuna she was eating was chicken or fish, and when she thought that buffalo wings were made from actual buffalo. Her apparent stupidity made the show a huge hit, making the average rating for each episode about 1.4 million viewers. When introduced to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, Simpson responded: "You've done a nice job decorating the White House".
Banking on the success of her new popularity, she appeared on a variety show with Lachey on the ABC called the Nick and Jessica Variety Hour on April 11, 2004. A pilot for a sitcom on ABC was also planned, but was rejected by network executives in May 2004. During the Summer of 2004, Simpson won three Teen Choice Awards for Choice Female Fashion Icon, Choice Hottie Female and Choice Female Reality/Variety TV Star, further proving that Newlyweds had greatly strengthened her overall popularity. In 2005, the series won a People's Choice Award for Favorite Reality Show. A couple of months later, the show finally wrapped.
Coinciding with Newlyweds, her third album, In This Skin, was released on August 19, 2003. On a whole, the record featured a much more mature sound compared to her earlier releases. Though the album initially was not a huge success, it got its chance to rebound on the charts when a special collector's edition was released on March 2, 2004. This helped Skin to reach a peak of #2 on the Billboard 200 and the top 40 of the UK charts, due largely in part to the success of Newlyweds. The album eventually proved to be her most successful, selling 3 million copies in the U.S. and allowing her teetering music career a second chance. The lead single off the album was a cover of Diane Warren's "Sweetest Sin"; the song was not very successful, however, and caused a backlash in sales of Skin early on. The follow-up single, the gold-selling "With You", enjoyed much more success, and became her biggest hit since "I Wanna Love You Forever". The song went top 10 in the UK and top 20 in the U.S. and Australia, as well as on world adult charts. The third single, a cover of Berlin's "Take My Breath Away", also went top 20 in the U.S.. A cover version of Robbie Williams' "Angels" was released as the fourth and final single.
After the success of Newlyweds, many doors opened for Simpson to branch out in her career. One way was by creating her own line of beauty products called Dessert. The show's success also gave Simpson the opportunity to release an album of Christmas songs; the end product, Rejoyce: The Christmas Album, appeared on November 23, 2004. For a collection of holiday covers, the album proved successful; it reached the top 20 of the Billboard 200 and was certified gold in 2005. It includes a duet with her sister Ashlee on the song "Little Drummer Boy". Jessica and Ashlee also performed the song together on Nick & Jessica's Family Christmas, which aired on the ABC on December 1, 2004.
More recently, Simpson has made her way into the world of acting; her film debut as Daisy Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard hit theaters in August 2005. The film debuted at number one at the box office, grossing more than thirty million dollars. The movie has grossed over forty million dollars so far. One of the tracks off the soundtrack for the movie, "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'", is sung by none other than Simpson and was used as a single to promote the film. The song debuted at #33 on the Hot 100; the biggest debut of Simpson's career. The single became a huge seller regarding digital downloads through programs such as iTunes, which in turn aided it in becoming a chart success; after only two weeks on the chart, it peaked at #14, but dropped quickly. The video for the song earned itself quite a bit of media attention for being particularly more raunchy than any of Simpson's previous videos, as it included her in a revealing ensemble and ended with her washing a car in a bikini. This could be accounted to the fact that she is playing the role of Daisy Duke in the video, but she has still been criticized by a number of Christian groups, and her use of sexuality to sell has led her to be compared to Willa Ford and Christina Aguilera. The single charted well overseas also, reaching #4 in the UK and #7 in Australia.
Simpson's next album, titled And The Band Played On, will be released in November 2005. It has been described as having "a little bit of everything in it", and it will sound like "Billie Holiday, Patsy Cline, Stevie Nicks — it's all over the place. But then there's songs for us girls to dance to in the club", according to Simpson. Information has it that the lead single off the album will be "Fired Up", a song written by Simpson and Scott Storch, whom described the song as Jessica's "Dirrty." As of late July 2005 there were rumors that a song was produced by none other than Lil' Jon for her album which would signify her transition from ballads to more danceable pop, which she is not as known for. For the first time, Simpson has participated for much of the process of the creation of the album; she has registered a number of songs earlier this year on ASCAP.com and is also the executive producer of the album.
Upcoming projects for Simpson include a role in the film Room Service, as well as a clothing line called "Princy" set to be released by the end of 2005.
Jay-Z (a.k.a. Jigga, Hova, or Young Hov'; born Shawn Carter on December 4, 1969 in Brooklyn, New York) is a rap/hip hop performer and record label executive; one of the most popular and successful rappers of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Besides pursuing his own career, Jay-Z was one of the founders of Roc-a-Fella Records, a successful hip-hop label which also launched the careers of Beanie Sigel, Kanye West, Memphis Bleek, Young Gunz, Freeway, and others. Known for his metaphoric lines, freestyling abilities, crafty wordplay, and blending of street and popular hip hop, Jay-Z became one of the most respected rappers in the music industry before announcing his retirement from recording in 2004. Jay-Z was later appointed the new president and CEO of Def Jam Recordings. As of 2005, he is estimated to be worth $320 million, and is dating R&B singer Beyoncé Knowles.
Originally from the Marcy Projects in the Bed-Stuy section of Brooklyn, Carter's father abandoned the family when he was a young child and he was consequently raised by his mother Gloria. As a young man, he claims to have been caught up in selling crack cocaine on the streets of New York. He was known as "Jazzy" in his neighborhood, a nickname he soon shortened to "Jay-Z" while in pursuit of a career in music. The name Jay-Z is also a homage to his musical partner Jaz-O (AKA The Jaz) as well as to the J-Z subway lines that go from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Jay-Z can be heard on several of The Jaz's early recordings including The Originators and Hawaiian Sophie.
He briefly attended high school in Trenton, New Jersey. He dropped out, but is still remembered there for his rhyming. It was said that his involvement in dealing drugs ended after he was shot at six times (he was not hit) in a dispute with another dealer, after which he became more serious about music as a profession. After several unsuccessful attempts to launch a career--first with Jaz-O, and then as part of a group called Original Flavor--Jay-Z co-founded Roc-a-Fella Records with partners Damon Dash and Kareem “Biggs” Burke. His debut album Reasonable Doubt was released in 1996 to considerable acclaim within the hip hop community, and included four charting singles: "Ain't No Nigga" (with Foxy Brown), "Can't Knock the Hustle" (with Mary J. Blige), "Dead Presidents" and "Feelin' It."
In 1997, Jay-Z's follow-up, In My Lifetime, Vol. 1, peaked at #3 on the Billboard album charts, and helped establish his career and mainstream success. In spite of the success, Jay-Z's image was tarnished by what his core audience perceived as pandering to mainstream audiences with a more pop-friendly sound. The next year, Jay-Z released Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life, continuing this evolution towards a pop-oriented market. Hard Knock Life debuted at #1 on the Billboard Charts and stayed there for five weeks on its way to selling over 5 million records. It included several huge singles, including "Can I Get A..." (featuring Ja Rule and Roc-a-Fella artist Amil), "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)," "Nigga What, Nigga Who (Originators '99)" (featuring Jaz-O and Amil), "It's Alright" and "Money Ain't a Thang" (with Jermaine Dupri).
In 1999, Jay-Z released Vol. 3: Life and Times of S. Carter (debuted #1), which was another big hit in spite of continued criticism for his pop-oriented sound, and a large roster of collaborators that many felt crowded out Jay-Z himself. His next album, The Dynasty: Roc La Familia (debuted #1), was originally intended as a collaboration album with many guests from Roc-a-Fella's roster, including Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek and Amil, as well as Scarface, Just Blaze, R. Kelly, Kanye West, The Neptunes and Snoop Dogg.
2001's The Blueprint (debuted #1) is considered to be one of the best hip hop albums in history. Released on September 11, 2001, the album managed to debut at #1, selling more than 450,000 albums in its first week despite being upstaged by the September 11 attacks. Although it never surpassed Reasonable Doubt's status in the hip hop community, The Blueprint contained a balanced blend of soulful samples that had both street credibility and mainstream appeal, receiving recognition from both audiences. Eminem was the only guest artist on the album, appearing on the track "Renegade." The Blueprint also includes "Izzo (HOVA)," a top ten hit, and "Takeover," a song which puts on blast rivals Prodigy of Mobb Deep and Nas. The latter responded to Jay-Z with both an underground single entitled "Stillmatic" and a track, "Ether," on his 2001 LP "Stillmatic," and the pair's resulting rivalry became one of the most talked-about subjects in the hip hop community. The feud between Jay-Z and Nas escalated until 2003, when the two MCs ended their rivalry peacefully.
Two side projects followed The Blueprint: a late 2001 MTV Unplugged album called Jay Z: Unplugged (debuted #6) (featuring The Roots as Jay-Z's backing band), and a collaborative album with R. Kelly, The Best of Both Worlds (debuted #1), in 2002. Jay-Z's next solo album was 2002's The Blueprint²: The Gift & the Curse (debuted #1), a sprawling double-album which included the Top 10 single "'03 Bonnie & Clyde," a duet with his girlfriend, Beyoncé Knowles of Destiny's Child. The Blueprint²: The Gift & the Curse was later reissued in a single-disc version, The Blueprint 2.1, which retained half of the tracks from the double-album.
In 2003, Jay-Z toured with 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes and Sean Paul while finishing work on what was announced as his final album, The Black Album (debuted #1). The album featured the Top 10 singles "Change Clothes" and "Dirt Off Your Shoulder," one of a number of Jay-Z singles produced by Timbaland.
In 2004, an a capella special edition of The Black Album (which sported a red CD cover) was released with the intention of allowing others to create remixes. The most controversial of the ensuing remixes was by DJ Danger Mouse, entitled "The Grey Album." It combined the a capella version with instrumental samples of The Beatles' White Album. DJ Danger Mouse was sent a cease and desist order from EMI, The Beatles' record company, due to illegal sampling. As a result, many copies were destroyed and an original is now a rare find.
On November 25, 2003, Jay-Z held a legendary concert at Madison Square Garden, which would later be the focus of his film Fade to Black. This concert was his "retirement party." All proceeds went to charity. Other performers included The Roots, Missy Elliott, Memphis Bleek, Beanie Siegel, Freeway, Mary J. Blige, Beyonce, Twista, Ghostface Killah, Foxy Brown, and R.Kelly with special appearances by Voletta Wallace and Afeni Shakur, the mothers of Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur.
Jay-Z and R. Kelly released a follow up to their Best of Both Worlds album in October 2004 entitled Unfinished Business (debuted #1), which includes 11 previously unreleased tracks by the duo. This release was timed to coincide with the Best of Both Worlds Tour, which played half of its dates before R. Kelly was booted off the tour in November 2004 after his unpredictable and unprofessional behaviour. The tour was then changed to "Jay-Z and Friends" and completed its run with artists such as P.Diddy, Mary J. Blige, T.I., Busta Rhymes, and fellow members of the ROC accompanying Jay-Z.
On June 18, 2004, Jay-Z appeared live with the jam band Phish at KeySpan Park in Brooklyn, performing some of his hit singles with the band while the "jam-band hippie" audience sang along - a defining moment of Jay-Z's popularity.
On November 30, 2004, Jay-Z released Collision Course, a collaboration with Linkin Park. It features remixes of songs from the rock band's two studio albums, Meteora and Hybrid Theory; and also several from the rapper's albums including his latest, The Black Album. It debuted at #1 in the US Billboard Album Charts, #12 in Australia and #38 in the UK. The lead single "Numb/Encore" debuted at #14 in the UK, and remained on the charts for nearly six months.
On January 3, 2005, Jay-Z was appointed the new President and CEO of Def Jam Recordings. Damon Dash had left Roc-a-Fella Records in late 2004 to pursue other ventures; the label will be retained as a Def Jam imprint.
On July 2, 2005, Jay-Z made an appearance at Live 8 with Linkin Park performing songs from Collision Course and the song "Public Service Announcement".
Apart from being President and CEO of Def Jam Recordings, Jay-Z is also one of the owners and founders of the Roc-A-Fella empire, which includes Roc-A-Fella Records, Roc-La-Familia, Roc-A-Fella Films and Rocawear, a clothing brand established in 1999. Just recently Jay-Z bought out co-founder Damon Dash for an estimated $25 million in the Rocawear clothing line, in addition to developing his own S. Carter high-end clothing line. Roc-A-Fella also distributes "Armadale," a Scottish vodka, in the U.S. Jay-Z is a part owner of the New Jersey Nets NBA team, and is rumored to be one of the franchise owners interested in relocating the team to Brooklyn. In September 2005, he was reported in English media as considering a takeover of Arsenal F.C., an English soccer team. He also co-owns The 40/40 Club, a New York sports bar, and has a line of Reebok sneakers called The S.Carter Collection. These shoes still hold the record for fastest selling Reebok shoe in history and made him the first non-athlete to have a signature line of sneakers. In the spring of 2005, he introduced his collaboration with Swiss luxury-watch maker Audemars Piguet.
Jay-Z is at heart a true entrepreneur, like his fellow hip hop moguls Russell Simmons and Sean "Diddy" Combs, who also have business holdings such as record companies and clothing lines. He redirected the hip hop culture from hooded sweatshirts and baggy jeans to buttons ups and crisp jeans, and received the British GQ's International Man of the Year award.
While Jay-Z has found financial success through such business ventures now [worth $300 million], some of his fans feel he has drifted away from the music. In response, Jay-Z states that "Nothing is hot about a 45-year old rapper." Plus he wanted to leave at his prime stated in one of his rhymes; Jay's status appears to be at an all-time high/Perfect time to say goodbye --"Encore," 2003
For a complete list of albums and singles, see: Jay-Z discography
Top Ten US and UK Singles
The following singles reached the Top Ten on either the US or UK pop charts:
1997: "I'll Be" (Foxy Brown feat. Jay-Z) #7 US, #9 UK
1998: "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)" #15 US, #2 UK
1999: "Heartbreaker" (Mariah Carey feat. Jay-Z) #1 US, #5 UK
2000: "I Just Wanna Luv U (Give It 2 Me) (feat. Pharrell Williams) #1 US
2001: "Fiesta" (R. Kelly feat. Jay-Z) #6 US, #23 UK
2001: "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" #8 US, #21 UK
2002: "'03 Bonnie & Clyde" (feat. Beyoncé Knowles) #2 US, #2 UK
2003: "Excuse Me Miss" (feat. Pharrell Williams) #8 US, #17 UK
2003: "Crazy in Love" (Beyoncé Knowles feat. Jay-Z) #1 US, #1 UK
2003: "Beware of the Boys (Mundian to Bach Ke)" (Panjabi MC feat. Jay-Z) #33 US, #5 UK
2003: "Frontin'" (Pharrell Williams feat. Jay-Z) #5 US, #6 UK
2003: "Change Clothes" (feat. Pharrell Williams) #10 US, #32 UK
2004: "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" #5 US
1996: Reasonable Doubt #23 US (Platinum)
1997: In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 #3 US (Platinum)
1998: Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life #1 US (5x Platinum)
1999: Vol. 3: Life and Times of S. Carter #1 US (3x Platinum)
2000: The Dynasty: Roc La Familia #1 US (2x Platinum)
2001: The Blueprint #1 US (2x Platinum), #30 UK
2001: Jay Z: Unplugged (Performed Live with The Roots) #31 US (Gold)
2002: The Best of Both Worlds (with R. Kelly) #2 US (Platinum), #37 UK
2002: The Blueprint²: The Gift & the Curse (halved and reissued as The Blueprint 2.1 in 2003) #1 US (3x Platinum), #23 UK (The Blueprint 2); #17 US (The Blueprint 2.1)
2003: The Black Album #1 US (2x Platinum), #34 UK
2004: Unfinished Business (with R. Kelly) #1 US, #61 UK
2004: Collision Course (with Linkin Park) #1 US (Platinum), #15 UK
50 Cent (a.k.a. "Fiddy", "Fifty", or "Farari") born Curtis Jackson on July 6, 1975  in Queens, New York), is a popular African American rapper.
Once almost unknown outside his hometown of southside Jamaica, Queens, 50 Cent is currently one of the most well-known and commercially successful rappers of the decade. Because the success of an artist in gangsta rap often depends on street credibility and reputation, Interscope Records has sold 50 Cent as the "real deal". His mother was killed in a drug deal, he was a drug dealer himself, he has been shot nine times, and he built a large rap empire in New York City before ever signing a major record deal.
50 Cent's continued success seems guaranteed by his large underground fanbase and the street credibility he has gained by appearing on almost every major mix tape sold in New York in the past few years. The rapper, who was the first to sign to Shady Records, was scouted before knowing Eminem. He is currently signed to record label Eminem's Shady Records and Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment.
Eminem first encountered 50 Cent with MTV News reporter Sway Calloway, apparently having not heard any of his performances before seeing him in person. He then appeared on the 8 Mile soundtrack with an accompanying song and video ("Wanksta") that immediately went into heavy rotation on BET, MTV, and radio stations across the country.
Before signing to Interscope, 50 Cent was living with his grandparents. He soon became immersed in the drug trade, hustling around his native neighborhood by the name of "Boo Boo" with fellow Queens native Tony Yayo. In June of 1994, Jackson was arrested on felony drug charges. Being a second time offender, Jackson was able to plead out of significant prison time by accepting seven months in a "shock incarceration" boot camp. He would later boast about this period as his doing "seven to nine." He became a father to a son, Marquise, in 1997.
Jackson met up with Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC fame and was signed to his label JMJ. Once Jay had taught him the basics, 50 left the label in search of someone who could help him achieve his dream of rap stardom. He teamed up with the hip-hop production duo Track Masters, who had recognized his talent for incisive lyrics. 50 Cent was signed toColumbia Records in 1999.
"How to Rob", the humorous ode to robbing a slew of industry rappers, was an instant hit for New York radio. His debut album Power of the Dollar was never released, due to his shooting in 2000 that Columbia Records used as incentive to drop 50 Cent.
The support of Eminem and Dr. Dre
50 Cent is the Future was heard by a very impressed Eminem who brought the rapper to Dr. Dre's attention. They endorsed the idea of signing a deal and working with 50 Cent on an album. Eminem was quick to get onto New York's hip-hop radio circuit with the message that 50 Cent was his favorite rapper of the moment. After a meeting with Interscope and Eminem in Los Angeles, 50 Cent quickly signed a deal with Interscope.
Before starting production of his new album with Eminem and Dre, 50 quickly released another bootleg album of his raps over stolen beats entitled No Mercy, No Fear aimed at rapper Ja Rule. Although the song "Wanksta" was never meant as a radio single, under the barrage of 50 Cent albums and the buzz over Eminem's words of praise and subsequent deal with 50 Cent, "Wanksta" quickly became the most requested song on New York radio.
Capitalizing on the appropriated song's success, it was added to Eminem's hit movie soundtrack 8 Mile and had its own video release, quickly entering heavy rotation on MTV, BET, MuchMusic, and radio stations around the country.
In its first week of release, 50's major label debut Get Rich or Die Tryin sold 872,000 units. The album was certified gold in its first week and platinum the next, and it broke the record for first week sales of any major label debut in the entire Soundscan era. On April 12, 2004 Get Rich or Die Tryin was certified seven times platinum by the RIAA.
On March 3, 2005, 50 released the album "The Massacre". It was originally entitled St. Valentine's Day Massacre, but changed when the album release date was set back. He scored a hit with the album's first single "Candy Shop". The album's second single, "Just A Lil' Bit" peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
After the success of 50 Cent's Get Rich Or Die Tryin, Interscope granted 50 Cent his own label, like his mentor Eminem. In 2003, G-Unit Records officially came into being. 50 Cent appointed his manager Sha Money XL as the president. In 2003, the label signed on Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo and Young Buck as the established members of G-Unit. In 2004, The Game, R & B singer Olivia, and DJ Whoo Kid were signed to the label. Recently Spider Loc, Mobb Deep, Mase, and M.O.P. joined G-Unit Records. 50 Cent also scouting gangsta crooner Kokane, Jayo Felony and Lil' Scrappy to join the label.
After the release of Beg For Mercy from his group G-Unit, he teamed up with Reebok to release his own G-Unit Sneakers. He also invested in bottled water and his own clothing line. 50 Cent guest starred on an episode of The Simpsons entitled, "Pranksta Rap" on February 13, 2005.
A video game starring 50 Cent, called 50 Cent: Bulletproof, will be availible in 2005. It is published by VU Games. It will be available on the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox, and there is another version in production for the PlayStation Portable.
50 Cent will starring in the semi-autobiographical film called Get Rich or Die Tryin', which will be released November 9, 2005.
Eminem (born, Marshall Bruce Mathers III on October 17, 1972 in Saint Joseph, Missouri, USA), one of today's most controversial and popular rappers. He currently lives in Clinton Charter Township, Michigan in the outskirts of Detroit.
Brought to fame by rapper/producer Dr. Dre, Eminem is perhaps best known for being one of the most successful rappers in the industry. He is noted for his ability to change his own verbal pace ("flow") and style multiple times within one song without losing the beat. He is also infamous for the controversy surrounding many of his lyrics. Critics have accused him of being homophobic, misogynistic and excessively violent, though his actions (such as support for the Humanitarian response to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and Boys and Girls Club, and performing with artist Elton John) may suggest otherwise. In the song "Mosh", Eminem speaks out against the Iraq conflict, violence and President of the United States George W. Bush. Eminem also speaks out against violence amongst rappers with his remake of Toy Soldiers, and he supports the Leary Fire Fighters Foundation. Although Eminem does not consider himself a militant or political artist he did have his own Hip Hop Political Convention in response to the national political conventions held in 2004. Eminem's protégé, 50 Cent, reached superstardom in 2003.
Early life and career
Mathers was born in St. Joseph, MO (near Kansas City), a single child to a father who left his mom and him, and spent most of his childhood moving back and forth between Kansas City and Detroit where he became friends with Runyan Avenue Soldiers.
Interested in rap from a young age, Mathers began performing as early as thirteen, later gaining some popularity with a group, Soul Intent. His wife Kim gave birth to his daughter, Hailie Jade, on 25 December 1995. In 1996, he released his first independent album, named Infinite (of which he sold about 500 copies out of the back of his car), following it up with The Slim Shady EP (produced by the Bass Brothers) in 1997. He became famous in the hip-hop underground because of his distinctive, cartoonish style and the fact that he is white (a rarity in all rap, especially mainstream gangsta rap). Some people called him rap's "great white hope". With his storytelling way of expressing rap, he became known in the underground as "The White Shadow". Marital problems, however, almost derailed his career, when, after arguing with his wife, he attempted to kill himself by overdosing with pills. The suicide attempt failed, but encouraged him to rededicate himself to "The Slim Shady EP" demo.
It is said that rap artist and producer Dr. Dre found Eminem's demo on the garage floor of Jimmy Iovine, the Interscope label chief. Though this did not directly lead to a recording contract, Dr. Dre agreed to sign him when Eminem won second place vs. Otherwize at the 1997 Rap Olympics MC battle. Other sources state that an executive at the offices of Interscope handed the demo to Iovine who passed it to Dre, which resulted in a contract.
Entering the mainstream
Once he joined Interscope, Eminem released The Slim Shady LP, which went on to be one of the most popular records of 1999, going triple platinum by the end of the year. With the album's enormous popularity came controversy surrounding many of the album's lyrics. In "97 Bonnie and Clyde", Eminem describes a trip with his infant daughter, disposing of the body of his wife. Another song, "Guilty Conscience" ends with Eminem and Dr. Dre encouraging a man to murder his wife and her lover.
The Marshall Mathers LP was released in May 2000, quickly selling 2 million copies. The first single released from the album, The Real Slim Shady, was a smash -- thanks in part to the catchy rhythm and chorus line, "Won't the real Slim Shady please stand up, please stand up, please stand up?" (adapted from the catch phrase of the TV quiz show To Tell the Truth). It also created some buzz by trash-talking celebrities and spilling dubious gossip about them. In the song, Eminem claims, among other things, that Christina Aguilera gave "head" (oral sex) to Fred Durst (of Limp Bizkit) and Carson Daly (of MTV's Total Request Live). In his second single, "The Way I Am", he attempts to downplay the alleged controversial link between music such as that of Marilyn Manson and shootings such as at Columbine High School. In the third single, "Stan" (which samples Dido's "Thank You"), Eminem attempts to deal with his new-found fame, telling the story of a fan so obsessed with Eminem that the fan winds up killing himself and his pregnant girlfriend, mirroring one of the songs on The Slim Shady LP.
With the enormous popularity of Eminem's second album, the controversy surrounding Eminem grew even larger, especially when The Marshall Mathers LP was nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year. Though Mathers had always claimed that his lyrics were not meant to be taken seriously, and that he had nothing against homosexuals or women, the gay rights group GLAAD organized a boycott of the Grammys against Eminem. Mathers responded to this by singing "Stan" on-stage with bisexual singer Elton John, ending the performance by hugging John to show that he didn't have anything against homosexuals. Though it shocked a lot of people, this gesture failed to appease all of his critics.
Since Eminem's rapid ascent to fame, tell-all biographies of varying quality have been published, including Shady Bizzness by his former bodyguard Byron Williams. Eminem himself has written a book called Angry Blonde, released in 2000, where he reveals the emotions and intent behind the lyrics in the Marshall Mathers LP, and describes his passion and approach to rapping.
As one of six members of the rap group D12, Eminem appeared on the album Devil's Night, released in 2001. The album was certified multi-platinum. The album contained the single Purple Pills, renamed Purple Hills for radio play. Another song, Blow My Buzz, was on the soundtrack for the film The Wash (2001), in which Eminem had a cameo.
Eminem's third major album, The Eminem Show was released in summer 2002. It featured the single "Without Me", an apparent sequel to "The Real Slim Shady" in which he makes derogatory comments about boy bands, *NSYNC's Chris Kirkpatrick, Limp Bizkit, Moby, and Lynne Cheney, among others.
On November 19, 2003 new controversy surrounded Eminem when a cassette tape was played during a press conference held by The Source magazine. The 1988 cassette featured a younger Mathers performing a freestyle rap in which he made disparaging remarks about black women, calling them "stupid" in comparison to white women. Other racial slurs and remarks were stated to be on the tape. Mathers reportedly made the recording after breaking up with his black girlfriend. The ordeal would later end up with both Eminem and The Source arguing their views of the matter in court. Benzino is currently feuding with Eminem (see Benzino and The Source on the on-going feud with Eminem).
On December 8, 2003, the United States Secret Service admitted it was "looking into" allegations that Mathers had threatened the President of the United States after the unreleased song "We as Americans" (since included on Encore) leaked onto the Internet. The lyrics in question: Fuck money/ I don't rap for dead presidents/ I'd rather see the president dead/ It's never been said, but I set precedents.
Then, in 2004, Eminem made the video My Band with D12. The controversial song was the band's sarcastic response to the media's frequent portrayal of D-12 as Eminem's band, giving little or no credit to its other members. The video contained various parodies, including that of the Janet Jackson 'incident', and of 50 Cent's "In Da Club" video.
On October 12, 2004, a week after the release of Just Lose It, Eminem's first video and single off Encore, Michael Jackson called into the Los Angeles-based Steve Harvey radio show to report his displeasure with the video, which parodies Jackson's child-molestation accusations, his rhinoplasty, and an incident in which Jackson's hair caught on fire while he was filming a Pepsi commercial in 1984. The lyrics to Just Lose It also refer to Jackson's troubles. In the video, Eminem also parodied Pee Wee Herman, MC Hammer, and a Blonde-Ambition-touring Madonna. Harvey himself declared, "Eminem has lost his ghetto pass. We want the pass back."
Black Entertainment Television was the first channel to stop airing the video. MTV, however, announced it would continue airing the video and Just Lose It became the number-one requested video on Total Request Live for the week ending October 22. The Source magazine, through its CEO Raymond "Benzino" Scott, wanted not only the video pulled, but the song off the album, and a public apology to Jackson from Eminem .
Others dismissed Just Lose It as a tame "Weird Al" Yankovic-style knockoff . Regarding Jackson's protest, Yankovic, who parodied the Eminem song Lose Yourself on a track entitled Couch Potato on his 2003 album Poodle Hat, himself told the Chicago Sun-Times, "Last year, Eminem forced me to halt production on the video for my 'Lose Yourself' parody because he somehow thought that it would be harmful to his image or career. So the irony of this situation with Michael is not lost on me".
On October 26, 2004 a week before the U.S. presidential election, 2004, Eminem released the video for his song titled "Mosh" on the Internet. The song features a very strong anti-Bush message, with lyrics such as "fuck Bush" and "this weapon of mass destruction that we call our president". The video features Eminem gathering up an army of people presented as victims of the Bush administration and leading them to the White House. However, once the army breaks in, it is revealed that they are there to simply register to vote, and the video ends with the words "VOTE Tuesday November 2" on the screen. After Bush won the election, the video's ending was changed to Eminem and the rioters invading while Bush was giving a speech. On October 31, Eminem performed the song on Saturday Night Live, but some thought that he appeared to be lip-synching it only a week after Ashlee Simpson was caught lip-synching her performance on the program. None of the publicity helped the album however, which saw its sales stall at 4 million copies. Good for other artists, but off dramatically from his past two hits.
In summer 2005, Mathers embarked on his first U.S. concert run in three years, the Anger Management 3 Tour, featuring Lil' Jon, 50 Cent and G-Unit, D-12, Obie Trice, The Alchemist, and others. In August 2005, Eminem canceled the European leg of the tour and subsequently announced that he had entered drug rehabilitation for treatment for a "dependency on sleep medication". .
At the same time as he was entering rehab, his aunt and uncle, Jack and Betty Schmitt, sued Mathers, charging that he had reneged on a promise to build a $350,000 house for them and supply them with money for the house's upkeep. The couple claimed that Mathers had kept the house in his name, and then issued them eviction orders.
Other works and ventures
Eminem made his Hollywood acting debut with the semi-autobiographical 8 Mile, released in November 2002. He recorded several new songs for the soundtrack, including "Lose Yourself," which won Eminem an Academy Award for Best Song; it was not performed at the ceremony, reportedly because ABC wanted him to perform an edited version. He has also lent his voice to the Crank Yankers show and a web cartoon called "The Slim Shady Show", which has since been pulled offline and is instead sold on DVD.
Eminem has also been linked to "Songs of Hope" by U2 and supported the Boys and Girls Club of America and the Leary Fire Fighters Foundation with various proceeds donated to these causes. In 2004, he held a political convention of his own in New York City, in response to the National Republican Convention. In the song Mosh, Eminem expresses his support for American troops, but speaks against the Iraq war and the Bush administration. Eminem was also made an honorary priest by the Raelians Religious Movement, a cult whose beliefs are centered around aliens. In addition, he has raised AIDS and other STD awareness in a number of songs describing infected people having promiscious sex with numerous partners.
Dr. Dre's leading protégé succeeded in multi-platinum record sales. Eminem was granted his own record label. He and his manager Paul Rosenberg created Shady Records in 2000. Eminem had signed his best-selling artist, 50 Cent, to the roster. His own Detroit collective D12 and rapper Obie Trice were also signed to the label. In 2003, Eminem and Dr. Dre signed on Atlanta rapper Stat Quo to the roster. DJ Green Lantern, the former deejay for Eminem, was signed to Shady Records until a dispute with 50 Cent forced him to depart from the label, and he is no longer associated with Eminem. The Alchemist is now officially Eminem's tour deejay. In 2005, Eminem officially signed another Atlanta rapper known as Bobby Creekwater to his label.
Eminem signed a deal with Sirius satellite radio to program a rap-oriented station called Shade 45, which debuted on October 28, 2004. He also owns a clothing line called "Shady Ltd."
Eminem as a producer
Eminem is also active as a producer of rap records. Besides D12's two albums, Devil's Night and D12 World, he also produced Obie Trice's Cheers as well as 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin' and The Massacre. Furthermore, his own records increasingly contain tracks produced by himself. He recently produced 2Pac's fifth posthumous album, Loyal To The Game, with 2Pac's mother, Afeni Shakur.
Retiring Slim Shady
In 2005, some industry insiders are speculating that Eminem is considering concluding his rapping career after five years and numerous multi-platinum albums. Speculation began in early 2005 about a double disc album to be released late that year, titled The Funeral. The rapper himself has not confirmed any of these rumors, which speculate that the album would revisit the various personas Eminem has portrayed while laying each to rest.
In July 2005, the Detroit Free Press broke news of a potential final bow for Eminem as a solo performer, quoting members of his inside circle who said that he will begin to fully embrace the role of producer and label executive. The Free Press, Eminem's hometown paper, wrote that the aptly titled Encore album would now stand as his final solo album.
Deep within Eminem's inner circle there is talk that the rapper is planning on retiring after he concludes his Anger Management Tour in Detroit. The reason for his retirement is to focus on acting, spending time with his daughter and niece, and more on his increasing popularity in production. Eminem and his manager Paul Rosenburg as well as their representatives will not comment on the situation. This may not mean his retirement from rapping completely, as he may well still contribute to many of his Shady Record artists projects as well as Dr. Dre's possible Detox album.
Eminem recently announced via MTV News that he does not plan on retiring soon, though he is planning on taking a break to produce music. He is still uncertain whether another album will be released, but his career has not come to a full stop.
However, as he entered rehab in 2005 for dependency on sleep medication, many are speculating that he will use this event to lay down his mic.
At "AngerManagement" in Madison Square Garden he openly announced that he is not retiring and indicates this all just gossip. However, many still speculate that he will be retiring and the announcement at Madison Square Garden was only a ploy to distract the fans.
Edward "Eddie" Regan Murphy (born April 3, 1961, Brooklyn, New York) is an American comedian, singer and actor.
Murphy began his comedy career at the young age of 19, as a performer on NBC's Saturday Night Live television show after graduating from Roosevelt Junior-Senior High School. His characters include a parody of Buckwheat from the Little Rascals and of Fred Rogers. Former SNL writer Margaret Oberman has said Murphy and Bill Murray are the two most talented people in the history of the show. Murphy left the show midway through the 1983-1984 season, appearing in filmed sketches for the remainder of that season. Murphy later starred in many comedies including the Beverly Hills Cop series, for which he was recognised by receiving a Golden Globe nomination for best actor in a comedy for his performance in Beverly Hills Cop, as well as Trading Places, and Coming to America in subsequent years. He is a well-known voice actor and voiced Donkey in the Shrek series and the dragon, Mushu, in Disney's Mulan. Murphy also has starred in a vast number of sequels including: Beverly Hills Cop II (1987), Another 48 Hrs. (1990), Beverly Hills Cop III (1994), Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001), Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000), Shrek 2 (2004), and the upcoming Dreamgirls (2006) and Shrek 3 (2007). In many of his films, he plays multiple roles in addition to his main character. A perfect example of this is The Nutty Professor, a remake of the Jerry Lewis classic in which Murphy plays several members of the Klump family as well as Sherman Klump's arrogant alter ego, Buddy Love. Another trademark of Eddie Murphy's is his deep, infectious, albeit considerably goofy laugh. In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, he was voted amongst the top 50 comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders. Eddie Murphy's older brother, Charlie Murphy, is also an actor, best known recently for his appearances on Chappelle's Show.
Murphy's biological father died when he was quite young, and he, his brother Charlie, and step-brother Vernon Jr. were raised by his mother Lillian Murphy, a telephone-company employee, and his stepfather Vernon Lynch, a foreman at a Breyers Ice Cream plant. Murphy was a bright child, who spent a great deal of time on impressions and comedy stand-up routines rather than academics. His comic talent was evident from an early age, and by 15 he was writing and performing his own routines at youth centers and local bars, as well as at the Roosevelt High School auditorium. Eventually, he made it to a Manhattan showcase, The Comic Strip. The club's co-owners, Robert Wachs and Richard Tienken, were so impressed with Murphy's ability to make dead-on impressions of celebrities, along with his overall outlooks on life, that they agreed to manage his career. Murphy was voted "Most Popular" while attending Roosevelt Junior-Senior High School in Roosevelt, New York, due to the stand-up comedy routines he would perform in the school's auditorium, and jokes he would tell classmates during lunch. Murphy then attended Nassau Community College in Uniondale, New York, before beginning his acting career.
Stand-up comedy routines
Murphy did stand-up comedy at the same Bay Area Comedy Club as Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg (who at the time was working under her real name, Caryn Johnson). His early comedy was racy, akin to Richard Pryor, whom Murphy credits as his inspiration to enter comedy. Characterized by frequent swearing and making fun of gays, singers, and others, Murphy became, in a sense, the Pryor of the 1980s, though Pryor wrote in his biography that he always thought Murphy's comedy was a little too mean. Murphy made vicious comments about gays and AIDS during his 80's standup routines, so vicious that some years later he apologized for the remarks. At the height of his popularity, Eddie Murphy appeared in the concert films Delirious (1983) and Raw (1987). Delirious contained an infamous routine in which he depicted characters Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton from The Honeymooners, as well as other notables such as Mr. T, as homosexuals. In 1983, Murphy won a Grammy for his comedy album Comedian.
Saturday Night Live
In Autumn 1980, the then unknown 19-year-old Murphy badgered and begged talent coordinator Neil Levy to give him a shot on the show. Levy repeatedly rejected him, saying that the show already had a full cast. But Murphy continuing pleading with Levy, saying that he had several siblings banking on him getting a spot on the show. Levy finally conceded and allowed him an audition. The audition performance went so well, that Neil Levy then began advocating to new executive producer Jean Doumanian (who succeeded Lorne Michaels after the 1979-1980 season) to let Murphy on the show. Doumanian initially refused, citing that another actor, Robert Townsend, had already been selected as the cast's "token black guy," and that the show's shrunken budget could not allow for any more actors. Doumanian's mind was changed after seeing Murphy's audition for themselves, then Doumanian too began pleading with the network to allow Murphy on the show. NBC only agreed after it was determined that Townsend had not yet signed a contract, at which point Murphy was cast as a featured player. Murphy made his debut in the second episode of the 1980-1981 season, hosted by Malcolm McDowell, as an extra in a skit called "In Search Of The Negro Republican". Two weeks later, Murphy had his first speaking role as Raheem Abdul Muhummad on Weekend Update. He made such a positive impression that he was called on for more in later episodes, and was soon raised to the status full cast member. Despite Murphy's participation, the 1980-1981 season ultimately proved such a disaster that NBC fired Jean Doumanian and everybody in the cast, with the exception of Murphy and Joe Piscopo. Whereas Murphy had rarely been featured during Doumanian's tenure, he became a break-out star under Doumanian's replacement, Dick Ebersol. Murphy's soaring popularity helped restore the show's ratings. He created some of the period's best characters, including the empty-headed former child movie star Buckwheat and an irascible, life-size version of the Gumby toy character, complete with life-size star ego. Murphy could also pull off an uncanny impression of Stevie Wonder (who, sportingly, appeared in a fake ad for Polaroid cameras). SNL was mostly a two-man show from 1981–1984, with Murphy and Piscopo playing a bulk of the lead characters. All other cast members played supporting roles and were treated with very little patience by the producers.
Post SNL career
In 1982, Murphy made his big screen debut in the cop-buddy thriller 48 Hrs. alongside Nick Nolte. The movie was perhaps most notable for a scene involving Murphy (on a bet with Nolte) terrorizing a redneck bar. 48 Hrs. proved to be a smash hit when it was released in the Christmas season of 1982. Murphy and Nolte's comedic and antagonistic chemistry, alongside Murphy's believable performance as a streetwise convict aiding a bitter, aging cop, won over critics and audiences. 48 Hrs. is considered by some to be the originator of the now tried and true mismatched, police, action-adventure formula, which was followed by the likes of Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys, and Rush Hour. Nick Nolte was scheduled to host the December 11, 1982 Christmas episode of Saturday Night Live, but he became too ill to host, so Murphy took over as host. He became the only cast member to host while still a regular. Murphy opened the show with the phrase, "Live from New York, It's the Eddie Murphy Show!" The decision to have Eddie Murphy host was reported to have upset the rest of the cast. The following year, Murphy co-starred with fellow SNL alumnus Dan Aykroyd in Trading Places. The movie marked the first of Murphy's collaborations with director John Landis (who also directed Murphy in Coming to America and Beverly Hills Cop III) and proved to be an even greater box office success than 48 Hrs. In 1984, Murphy starred in the mega-hit Beverly Hills Cop. This film was arguably Eddie Murphy's first full-fledged starring vehicle, as it was originally intended to star Sylvester Stallone. Beverly Hills Cop grossed over $200 million at the box office (thus, solidifying Murphy's status as a box office player) and when adjusted for inflation, remained in the top 40 highest-grossing movies of all time as of 2005. Also in 1984, Murphy appeared in Best Defense co-starring Dudley Moore. Murphy, who was credited as a "Strategic Guest Star", was added to the film after an original version was completed but tested poorly with audiences. Best Defense was a major critical and financial disappointment, but Murphy was for the most part left unscathed since the entire weight of the movie wasn't on his shoulders. Eddie Murphy has also been rumored to be initially a part of hits such as Ghostbusters (featuring his Trading Places co-star Dan Aykroyd and fellow SNL alumnus Bill Murray). The part that was originally written with Murphy in mind ultimately went to Ernie Hudson. Murphy was also rumored to have been offered a part in 1986's Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, a role that ultimately went to 7th Heaven star Catherine Hicks. Also in 1986, Murphy starred in the supernatural comedy, The Golden Child. The Golden Child was originally intended to be a serious adventure picture starring Mel Gibson. After Gibson turned the role down, the project was offered to Murphy as it was subsequently rewritten as a partial comedy. Although The Golden Child still managed to be a hit (with memorable bits such as Murphy's "I want the knife!" routine), the movie wasn't as critically acclaimed as 48 Hrs., Trading Places, and Beverly Hills Cop. The Golden Child was perhaps a radical change of pace for Murphy considering the supernatural setting (which is ironic considering that he was offered a part in the more favorable Ghostbusters) as opposed to the more gritty and/or "street smart" settings of Murphy's previous efforts. A year later, Murphy reprised his role Axel Foley in the Tony Scott-directed Beverly Hills Cop II. Although the film wasn't as critically acclaimed as its 1984 predecessor (Beverly Hills Cop II was trashed by critics for its perceived misogyny, general mean-spirited tone, and overall ridiculous plot), it was still a box office smash, grossing over $150 million. Producers reportedly wanted to turn the Beverly Hills Cop franchise into a weekly television series. Murphy declined the TV offer, but was willing to do a film sequel instead. Eddie Murphy was one of the last movie actors to sign an exclusive contract with a studio. In this case, it was Paramount Pictures, which released all of his early films.
Murphy was also a singer, and had two hit singles, "Party All the Time" (which was produced by Rick James) and "Put Your Mouth on Me" in the 1980s. The former is better known than the other, and is incorrectly considered Murphy's only hit. Intended as dance music, the song was repetitious and resembled the adolescent-driven bubblegum music of the '60s and '70s. As a result, there was a distinct disconnect between "Party" and fans of Murphy's edgier comedic persona. In 2004, VH-1 and Blender magazine voted "Party" number seven among the "50 Worst Songs of All Time," barely behind such efforts as Vanilla Ice's "Ice, Ice, Baby" and Billy Ray Cyrus' "Achy, Breaky Heart." Murphy also recorded an album in the early 1990s, entitled "Love's Alright" in which he performed in a video of the single "Whatzupwitu", alongside Michael Jackson. In 1999, the "Whatzupwitu" video which featured Murphy and Jackson in a technicolor-like dream world was voted as one of the 25 worst music videos in the MTV era. In 1992, Murphy also appeared in Michael Jackson's "Remember the Time" video alongside fellow celebrities Magic Johnson and Iman. In 1994, he attempted to strike a deal with British A&R consultant Simon Cowell, who at the time was known for signing up Sinitta, the Power Rangers and Zig and Zag, but eventually backed down. Although uncredited, Murphy also provided vocal work on SNL castmate Joe Piscopo's hit comedy single, "The Honeymooners Rap". Piscopo impersonated Jackie Gleason on the single, while Murphy provided an imitation of Art Carney. Murphy's singing skills were put to good use in the Shrek films. In the first film, he performed a version of "I'm a Believer" in the film's final scene; in Shrek 2 he performed Ricky Martin's hit Livin' La Vida Loca along with co-star Antonio Banderas.
In the late 80's and early 90's, Murphy's fame was fading via a series of poor sequels (Another 48 Hrs. and Beverly Hills Cop III), drab comedies (Boomerang and The Distinguished Gentleman), and ego-driven vehicles (Harlem Nights and Vampire in Brooklyn) that the public avoided in droves. His directorial debut, Harlem Nights, was savaged not only by the critics, but also by several of the actors in the film. Richard Pryor had nothing good to say about the film or the star, which stunned Murphy, who had considered Pryor an idol. Murphy was also criticized tremendously by filmmaker Spike Lee for not using his show business stature to help black actors break into film. Perhaps the lowest point for Murphy was when David Spade insulted Murphy on his Hollywood Minute segment on Saturday Night Live. With an image of Murphy on screen, Spade said "Look children, a falling star... Quick, make a wish!" Although Murphy is one of the biggest movie stars ever to come out of Saturday Night Live, he has never attended any cast reunions or anniversary specials. Some believe that it has to do with Murphy feeling that SNL (the show that gave him his big break) betrayed him with Spade's comments. Others believe it has to do with Murphy having no allegiance to Lorne Michaels, since Murphy was on SNL when Dick Ebersol was the executive producer, not Michaels.
Comeback and image makeover
Murphy's career continued to slide until 1996, when he would make his comeback in family-friendly comedies (likely reflecting Murphy's new life as a responsible father), starting with The Nutty Professor. His record since then has been hit and miss, with several big flops (Holy Man, Metro, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, I Spy, and Showtime) and some hits (Mulan, Dr. Doolittle, Shrek, Daddy Day Care, and The Haunted Mansion). The biggest news is that Murphy has been tagged by Quentin Tarantino to star in his World War II epic Inglorious Bastards. Murphy's rapid fire deliveries are expected to mesh well with Tarantino's tough dialogue and the role could do wonders for his career . On May 2, 1997, Los Angeles police stopped Murphy's car and found a transvestite prostitute named Shalimar (Atisone Seiuli) in the passenger's seat. Buying and selling of sexual services is illegal in California; however, Murphy claimed that he had just been driving through and the prostitute asked him for a ride home. This incident was later lampooned by Tim Meadows on Saturday Night Live. This particular sketch, along with the aforementioned comments from David Spade, reportedly created an even greater rift between Murphy and SNL. Seiuli wrote and sold the story of his sexual encounter with Murphy to a tabloid. Afterward, he recanted, and ultimately, at the time when Murphy was tied up in big budget G-Rated movies, Seiuli was found dead, having fallen from his apartment building. Not everyone was convinced , opining that the Los Angeles Police didn't investigate the matter thoroughly . Murphy's longtime romantic relationship was with Nicole Mitchell, who he met in 1988 at an NAACP Image Awards show. They eventually lived together for a year and a half, before getting married at the Grand Ballroom of The Plaza Hotel in New York City on March 18, 1993. They had five children together, but in August 2005, Mitchell filed for divorce, citing "irreconcilable differences
Dr. Dre (born Andre Romel Young on February 18, 1965 in Los Angeles, California) is an African-American record producer, rapper, and record executive, one of the most successful and well-known producers in the field of hip hop music.
Dre is best-known as for his collaborations with West Coast hip hop artists such as Snoop Dogg, Warren G, and Tupac Shakur, and also as a former member of pioneering gangsta rap group N.W.A. He is also notable for being the co-founder of Death Row Records (with Suge Knight); and the founder of Aftermath Entertainment, a successful imprint for Interscope Records that features multi-platinum artists such as Eminem, 50 Cent, (and more recently) Busta Rhymes, Eve, Stat Quo, The Game and of course Dr. Dre himself.
Dr. Dre started his producing career as a member of the World Class Wreckin' Cru during the first half of the 1980s. In 1986, he and fellow World Class Wreckin' Cru member DJ Yella were two of the founding members of N.W.A, a highly successful and controversial group that created the prototype for much of what was termed "gangsta rap" in the 1990s. Dr. Dre enjoyed significant success in NWA. After a dispute with Eazy E, a founding member of N.W.A. and Ruthless Records, Dre left the group at the peak of its popularity in 1991 to form Death Row Records with Suge Knight.
Dr. Dre released his first solo single, "Deep Cover,"(AKA 187) in the spring of 1992. This was the introduction of and ultimately the beginning of his collaboration with rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg (later simply known as Snoop Dogg), a young man who had recorded some homemade tapes with Dre's stepbrother Warren G. Warren G played Dre some of Snoop's mixtapes and a Dre arranged a meeting with the young man, beginning a lifelong association. Snoop's voice appeared on Dre's 1992 debut album The Chronic as much as Dre's did. Thanks to the single "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang," and hits like "Let Me Ride" and "Fuck Wit Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin')", The Chronic became a multi-platinum seller, making it virtually impossible to hear mainstream hip-hop that wasn't affected in some way by Dr. Dre. Shortly after its release, the Chronic became one of the biggest-selling hip hop albums in history, and was followed shortly by a string of multi-platinum albums from Dre’s protégés, including Snoop Dogg’s debut album Doggystyle and Warren G’s G-Funk Era.
The following year, Dr. Dre produced Snoop Dogg's debut album Doggystyle, with similar subject matter and musical style. Doggystyle achieved phenomenal success, being the first debut album for an artist to debut at #1 on the Billboard charts.
In 1996, the song "California Love," a highly successful collaboration with Death Row artist Tupac Shakur, helped further establish Death Row and Dr. Dre as a major force in the music industry. By the end of the year, however, the success of Death Row had taken a reverse turn, following the death of Tupac Shakur and racketeering charges against Suge Knight. Foreseeing the label's collapse, Dr. Dre left Death Row to form his own Aftermath Entertainment label. The Dr. Dre Presents ... The Aftermath album, released at the end of the year, featured songs by the newly signed Aftermath artists, and a solo track "Been There, Done That". The track was intended as a symbolic good-bye to gangsta rap, in which Dre suggested that he is moving on to another level of music and lifestyle.
In 1997, Dr. Dre signed aspiring Detroit rapper Eminem to his label, producing his controversial album The Slim Shady LP in 1999, followed by the even more successful and controversial The Marshall Mathers LP in 2000. The latter featured slightly less involvement by Dr. Dre. By the time The Eminem Show was released in 2002, Eminem was producing the bulk of his output himself.
Dre released his second solo album, Dr. Dre 2001 (sometimes referred to by fans as "The Chronic 2001: No Seeds"), or more often simply '2001' in 1999. Once again, the album featured about as much of Dre's voice as the voices of numerous collaborators, including Devin the Dude, Hittman, Snoop Dogg, and Eminem. The album was highly successful, thus reaffirming a recurring theme featured in its lyrics, stating that Dre is still a force to be reckoned with, despite the lack of major releases in the previous few years.
The album followed a new musical direction, characterised by high-pitched piano and string melodies over a deep and rich bassline. The style was also prominent in his following production work for other artists, including hits such as "Let Me Blow Ya Mind" by Eve and Gwen Stefani (whom he would produce again on the Stefani and Eve track "Rich Girl"), "Break Ya Neck" by Busta Rhymes, and "Family Affair" by Mary J Blige.
Dr. Dre has also appeared in the movies Set It Off, The Wash and Training Day, though later stated that he does not intend to pursue a career in acting. A song of his, "Bad Intentions" (featuring Knoc-Turn'Al), was featured on the soundtrack to The Wash.
In 2003, Dr. Dre and Eminem produced the major-label debut Get Rich or Die Tryin' for Queens rapper 50 Cent, featuring the Dre-produced hit single "In Da Club."
The release of Detox, which was to be Dre's final solo album, was planned for 2004. The project was declared to be cancelled for a while, as Dre decided to put all his effort into producing the artists on his Aftermath label, including Eminem, 50 Cent, Eve, The Game, Stat Quo, and Busta Rhymes; former N.W.A member Ice Cube is currently negotiating a contract with the label. However, in November 2004, Dre and Interscope confirmed that Detox was still in the works and is currently scheduled to be released in Fall 2005. On the Eminem song "Encore", featuring Dre himself, Eminem mentions that the Eminem crew will "make" him do the album. Dre will also be producing Snoop Dogg's next album, The Blue Carpet Treatment which will be released in 2006.
Elvis Aron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977), also known as The King of Rock and Roll or The King, was an American singer and actor. Early in his career he was referred to as The Hillbilly Cat. Later, his friends referred to him as "E".
Rolling Stone magazine said "Elvis Presley is rock 'n' roll" and called his body of work "acres of perfect material." During an active recording career that lasted more than two decades, Presley set and broke many sales records with over 100 top 40 hit singles including 18 number ones.
Elvis Presley is widely credited with bringing rock and roll into mainstream culture. According to Rolling Stone magazine "it was Elvis who made rock 'n' roll the international language of pop." A PBS documentary once described Presley as "an American music giant of the 20th century who singlehandedly changed the course of music and culture in the mid-1950s." . His recordings, dance moves, attitude and clothing came to be seen as embodiments of rock and roll. Presley sang both hard driving rockabilly and rock and roll dance songs and ballads, laying a commercial foundation upon which other rock and roll musicians would build. African-American performers like Little Richard and Chuck Berry came to national prominence after Presley's acceptance among mass audiences of white teenagers. Singers like Jerry Lee Lewis, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and others immediately followed in his wake, leading John Lennon to later observe, "Before Elvis, there was nothing."
Teenagers came to Presley's concerts in unprecedented numbers. When he performed at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair in 1956 a hundred National Guardsmen surrounded the stage to control crowds of excited fans. When municipal politicians began denying permits for Presley appearances teens piled into cars and traveled elsewhere to see him perform. It seemed as if the more adults tried to stop it, the more teenagers across North America insisted on having what they wanted. When adult programmers announced they would not play Presley's music on their radio stations (some because God told them it was sexually suggestive Devil music, others saying it was southern "nigger" music) the economic power of that generation became evident when they tuned in any radio station playing Elvis records. In an industry already shifting to all-music formats in reaction to television, profit-conscious radio station owners learned hard lessons when sponsors bought advertising time on new rock and roll stations reaching enormous markets at night with clear channel signals from AM broadcasts.
During the 1950s post-WWII economic boom in the United States, many parents were able to give their teenaged children much higher weekly allowances, signalling a shift in the buying power and purchasing habits of teens. During the 1940s bobby soxers had idolized Frank Sinatra but the buyers of his records were mostly between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two. Presley triggered a juggernaut of demand for his records by near-teens and early teens aged ten, twelve, thirteen and up.
Presley's overwhelming appeal was to girls. Many boys adapted his look to attract them. Along with Elvis' ducktail haircut, the demand for black slacks and loose, open-necked shirts resulted in new lines of clothing for teenaged boys. In 1956 America, birthday and Christmas gifts were often music or even Elvis related. A girl might get a pink portable 45 rpm record player for her bedroom. Meanwhile American teenagers began buying newly available portable transistor radios  and listened to rock 'n' roll on them (helping to propel that fledgling industry from an estimated 100,000 units sold in 1955 to 5,000,000 units by the end of 1958). Teens were asserting more independence and Elvis Presley became a national symbol of their parents' consternation.
Presley's impact on the American youth consumer market was noted on the front page of The Wall Street Journal on December 31, 1956 when future Pulitzer Prize-winning business journalist Louis M. Kohlmeier wrote, "Elvis Presley today is a business," and reported on the singer's record and merchandise sales (this may have been the first time a journalist described an entertainer as a business). Half a century later, historian Ian Brailsford (University of Auckland, New Zealand) commented, "The phenomenal success of Elvis Presley in 1956 convinced many doubters of the financial opportunities existing in the youth market."
Birth & Childhood
Elvis Aaron Presley was born in a two-room house in East Tupelo, Mississippi to Vernon Elvis Presley and Gladys Love Smith Presley. He was raised both in East Tupelo (which merged with Tupelo in 1948) and later in Memphis, Tennessee, where his family moved when he was 13. Elvis had a twin brother (Jesse Garon Presley) who died at birth. In 1949 the family moved to Lauderdale Courts public housing development which was near musical and cultural influences like Beale Street, Ellis Auditorium and the Poplar Tunes record store along with the Sun Studio about a mile away.
In her book, Elvis and Gladys author Elaine Dundy wrote that those close to Elvis as a boy say he was a fan of comic book superhero Captain Marvel, Jr. and would later model his trademark hairstyle and some of his stage costumes on the comic book character.
Elvis took up the guitar at 11 and practiced in the basement laundry room at Lauderdale Courts. He played gigs in the malls and courtyards of the Courts with other musicians who lived there. After high school he worked at Precision Tool Company, then drove a truck for the Crown Electric Company.
The Sun recordings
In the summer of 1953 Presley paid $4 to record the first of two double-sided demo acetates at Sun Studios, "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin" which were popular ballads at the time. While Presley claimed to have recorded the demo as a birthday present for his mother this is sometimes disputed since Gladys Presley's birthday was in April and he recorded the acetate in July. Sun Records founder Sam Phillips and assistant Marion Keisker heard the discs and called him in June 1954 to fill in for a missing ballad singer. Although that session was not productive, Sam Phillips put Elvis together with local musicians Scotty Moore and Bill Black to see what might develop. During a rehearsal break on July 5, 1954 Elvis began singing a blues song written by Arthur Crudup called "That's All Right". Philips liked the resulting record and released it as a 78RPM single backed with Elvis' hopped-up version of Bill Monroe's bluegrass song "Blue Moon Of Kentucky." Memphis radio station WHBQ began airing it two days later, the record became a local hit and Elvis began a regular touring schedule which expanded his fame beyond Tennessee.
Presley was booked on Nashville's Grand Ole Opry but in a bitter disappointment his performance was not well received. He continued to tour the U.S. South and on October 16, 1954 he made his first appearance on Louisiana Hayride, a radio broadcast of live country music in Shreveport, Louisiana and was a hit with a large audience accustomed to mostly pure country music sounds. Following this Presley was signed to a one-year contract for a weekly performance and he was soon introduced to Colonel Tom Parker.
The influence of Colonel Tom Parker
Parker took over Presley's career by contract on August 18, 1955. The colonel established two recording companies for Presley and demanded that composers share their royalties with the singer. He wasted no time in marketing his new product to the hilt, pushing Elvis buttons and trinkets, and even lipstick and cookware. According to Marty Lacker, a member of the Memphis Mafia, Elvis had no business savvy or skills and he relied on his manager Parker for anything to do with contracts and deals. Lacker says he thought of Parker as a "hustler and scam artist" who abused Elvis's reliance on him. "If Parker ever thought Elvis was going to be around somebody who would (influence) him, Parker did his utmost to end that relationship." At Parker's urging Presley also shifted his focus from music to Hollywood. For instance, under his manager's influence Elvis was forced to take the chief part in some low-budget standard musical comedies (see "Movies" section below). With money seemingly being at the forefront of all decisions made by the Colonel, his management contract with Elvis was even renegotiated to an even 50/50 split between the two.
On August 15, 1955 Elvis Presley was signed by Hank Snow Attractions, a management company jointly owned by singer Hank Snow and Colonel Parker, who negotitated Presley's signing with RCA Records on November 21, 1955. On January 27, 1956 Elvis' sixth single and his first on RCA, "Heartbreak Hotel" / "I Was the One", was released and made the pop charts (it reached #1 in April). The next day Presley's national television debut on The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show marked the beginning of his transition into a teen idol. On June 5, 1956 Presley scandalized the audience of the The Milton Berle Show with suggestive hip movements while performing his second RCA single "Hound Dog." Television critics across the country slammed the performance for its "appalling lack of musicality," "vulgarity" and "animalism." The reaction was so severe, Presley was obliged to explain himself on a local New York City TV show (Hy Gardner Calling). Shortly thereafter he appeared on The Steve Allen Show dressed in a tuxedo, billed as "the new Elvis Presley" and singing "Hound Dog" to a basset hound, an experience Presley later said he found humiliating.
After a string of other TV appearances Presley made his first performance on the top-rated Ed Sullivan Show on September 9, earning the broadcast a record 52–60 million viewers (82.6% of the viewership that night). By the time of his second Sullivan appearance on October 28 Presley had dyed his sandy blond hair jet black. Opposition gathered against him and even more so against his gyrations on stage. The December 1956 issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine described Presley as behaving like "a sex maniac in public." On his third and final Sullivan appearance (January 6, 1957) Sullivan bowed to pressure from "moralists" and ordered that Presley be televised from the waist up to avoid showing his controversial hip movements. Meanwhile the press had taken to calling him Elvis the Pelvis, a nickname he is said to have thoroughly disliked.
"Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog" topped the pop, black and country charts in 1956 and many more hit records followed. Over the next twenty-one years (until his death in 1977) Elvis had 146 Hot 100 hits, 112 top 40 hits, 72 top 20 hits and 40 top 10 hits, an achievement that has never been matched by any solo artist.
Ironically, for all the controversy surrounding his early career, Elvis Presley's roots in religious music ran deep. In Tupelo, Mississippi Vernon and Gladys Presley were what was disparagingly referred to as poor white trash from the "wrong side of the tracks" at the east end of town. Their Depression-era home (where Elvis was born in 1935) was a two-room shack on one of several dirt tracks forming a small community off Old Saltillo Road. They belonged to a local Assembly of God Pentecostal church which played an important role in their lives. For Elvis Presley it provided an environment from which he would instinctively adopt the music, sound and accompanying body movements in his later rock and roll singing performances. The African American form of music that became known as Rhythm & Blues (which also evolved from gospel songs) was also a part of Presley's childhood world and he probably heard it on a regular basis in the black section of Tupelo known as "Shakerag" (which was between Tupelo and East Tupelo, and was demolished in the 1960s as part of an urban renewal project). The church is said to have brought the Presleys, along with the rest of its desperately poor congregation, a message of hope wrapped around "Hell, fire, and brimstone" sermons. For nearly a quarter century the Pentecostal movement was interracial and during the 1930s and 1940s many of these poor churches did not adopt the growing policy of racial segregation.
Although Vernon Presley's family was Pentecostal and his sister Nash Presley became a minister, his wife Gladys was Elvis's devoutly religious parent. Her uncle Gains Mansell was also a Pentecostal preacher in East Tupelo whose interracial church services began with revival meetings held in a tent. Pentecostal church services started, centered and ended with music and everyone was encouraged to "make a joyous noise unto the Lord." According to Presley biographer Peter Guralnick, Gladys Presley said that by the age of two her son was already trying to sing along in the church. A Pentecostal preacher would typically lead the congregation in prayer and both singing and prayer were accompanied by the waving of hands, the swaying of bodies and dancing about in the Holy Spirit. As it almost always did in those settings, "when the Spirit strikes" the body would jerk as though hit by a bolt of lightning and frequently the worshipper would fall to the floor, rolling around and praying aloud (this is why outsiders referred to church members as "Holy Rollers" and their services as a "religious frenzy"). For instrumentation, these church services used a guitar, a tambourine or two and if they could afford one, a well-worn piano and perhaps a used piano accordion. Church services lasting three hours and held several times a week were filled with music as Pentecostals gyrated their hips, shook their legs, clapped and waved their arms while belting out pounding, rhythmic songs such as Down By the Riverside, When The Saints Go Marching In and Standing On The Promises. There were also more serene songs sung with great emotion like Old Rugged Cross and Softly and Tenderly (Jesus is calling).
In 1948 the Presley family left Tupelo, moving 110 miles northwest to Memphis, Tennessee. Here too, thirteen-year-old Elvis lived in the city's slums and attended a Pentecostal church where he could not have escaped the influence of the Memphis blues.
While Elvis Presley was a teen cataclysm with millions of American girls screaming at the sight of him, his own church viewed Presley's gyrations on stage as an affront, labelling it the Devil's work and a mocking of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Presley records were condemned as wicked and Pentecostal preachers thumped their pulpits with Bibles, warning congregations to keep heathen rock and roll music out of their homes and away from their children's ears (especially the music of "that backslidden Pentecostal pup, Elvis Presley"). People who decades later would be considered part of the religious right spoke out vigorously against Presley including Cardinal Spellman. In its weekly periodical, the Roman Catholic Church added to the criticism in an article titled "Beware Elvis Presley."
In August, 1956 in Jacksonville, Florida a local Juvenile Court judge called Presley a "savage" and threatened to arrest him if he shook his body while performing at Jacksonville's Florida Theatre, justifying the restrictions by saying his music was undermining the youth of America. Throughout the performance Presley stood still as ordered but poked fun at the judge by wiggling a finger. Similar attempts to stop his "sinful gyrations" continued for more than a year and included his often noted January 6, 1957 appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show when he was seen only from the waist up.
His Hand In Mine (1960) was the title of Elvis' first gospel album. During his '68 Comeback Special Elvis said his music came from gospel. Despite his church's attitude, gospel music was a prominent part of Presley's repertoire throughout his life. From 1971 to his death in 1977 Presley employed the Stamps Quartet, a gospel group, for his backup vocals. He recorded several gospel albums, earning three Grammy Awards for his gospel music. In his later years Presley's live stage performances almost always included a rendition of "How Great Thou Art," the 19th century gospel song made famous by George Beverly Shea. More than forty-five years later (and twenty-four years after his death) the Gospel Music Association finally inducted him into their Gospel Music Hall of Fame (2001).
On December 20, 1957, Presley received his draft notice for the then compulsory 2-year service with the United States Army. On March 24, 1958, he was inducted into the Army at the Memphis Draft Board. He received no special treatment and was widely praised for not doing what many wealthy and influential people did to avoid service or to serve part time in easy domestic positions such as the Special Services where he could have sung and continued to maintain a public profile. His military service received massive media coverage with much speculation whether or not two years out of the limelight at the height of his popularity would do irreparable damage to his career. Presley sailed to Europe on the USS General George M. Randall, and served in Germany as an ordinary soldier.
Elvis Presley returned to the United States on March 2, 1960, and was honorably discharged on March 5th. While in the army, he received a black belt in Kempo and attained the rank of Sergeant.
The musical Bye Bye Birdie satirizes the events of the draft of Elvis Presley, placing fictional superstar Conrad Birdie in the position of Elvis.
Many observers (including John Lennon) later claimed that following Presley's return from military service the quality of his recorded output dropped, although others thought he was still capable of creating records equal to his best (and did so on the infrequent occasions where he was presented with "decent" material at his movie recording sessions). Presley himself became deeply dissatisfied with the direction his career would take over the ensuing seven years, notably the film contract with a demanding schedule that eliminated creative recording and giving public concerts. In 1960 the album Elvis is Back was recorded. This, like his first two albums, Elvis Presley and Elvis, are considered by many of his fans to be his best work. With this drop-off, and in the face of the social upheaval of the 1960s and the British Invasion spearheaded by The Beatles, Presley's star faded slightly before a triumphant televised performance later dubbed the Comeback Special. Aired on the NBC network on December 3, 1968, the show saw him return to his rock and roll roots. His 1969 return to live performances, first in Las Vegas and then across the country, was noted for the constant stream of sold-out shows, with many setting attendance records in the venues where he performed.
Death and burial
Elvis died at his home Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee on August 16, 1977. He was found on the floor of his bedroom's bathroom ensuite by girlfriend Ginger Alden who had been asleep in his bed. He was transported to Baptist Memorial Hospital where doctors pronounced him dead at 3.30pm. He was 42 years old.
At a press conference following his death, the medical examiners declared that he had died of a heart attack. Heart disease was very prevalent in his family, especially on his father's side. Elvis' father Vernon also died of heart failure in 1979. In an interview for the BBC television programme Hard Talk on July 31, 2000, Sam Phillips offered a slightly different explanation, based on his thirty year friendship with the Presley family. He believed that the cause of Elvis' death was due to kidney failure, saying that members of the Presley family had a genetic weakness in their kidneys. He cited similarities between the deaths of Elvis and his mother Gladys. Phillips remarked that some six to eight weeks before each of their deaths, they suddenly and inexplicably became bloated, which he attributed to a kidney problem. Gladys Presley, who was 47 years old at the time, was diagnosed to have died of a heart attack brought on by hepatitis.
Dr. Willis Madrey, who was responsible for examining Elvis's liver two years before his death, said "I had understood he was having some gastrointestinal problems his doctors were trying to evaluate" . He was referring to Elvis's obesity and enlarged colon, which progressively got worse over time and likely led to severe constipation problems. There is a wide belief that this combined with a weak heart caused his death but the autopsy records will not be in the public domain until 2027.
Presley was originally buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Memphis next to his mother. After an attempted theft of the body, his and his mother's remains were moved to Graceland.
Diana, Princess of Wales (Diana Frances Mountbatten-Windsor, née Spencer) (1 July 1961–31 August 1997) was the first wife of HRH The Prince Charles, Prince of Wales.
From her marriage in 1981 to her divorce in 1996 she was styled Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales. She was generally called Princess Diana by the media despite having no right to that particular honorific, as it is reserved for a princess by birthright rather than marriage. Though she was noted for her pioneering charity work, the Princess's philanthropic endeavours were overshadowed by a scandal-plagued marriage. Her bitter accusations of adultery, mental cruelty and emotional distress visited upon her by her husband riveted the world for much of the 1990s, spawning biographies, magazine articles and television movies.
From the time of her engagement to the Prince of Wales in 1981 until her death in a car accident in 1997, Diana was arguably the most famous woman in the world, the pre-eminent female celebrity of her generation: a fashion icon, an ideal of feminine beauty, admired and emulated for her high-profile involvement in AIDS issues and the international campaign against landmines. During her lifetime, she was often referred to as the most photographed person in the world. To her admirers, Diana, Princess of Wales was a role model — after her death, there were even calls for her to be nominated for sainthood — while her detractors saw her life as a cautionary tale of how an obsession with publicity can ultimately destroy an individual.
The Honourable Diana Frances Spencer was born as the youngest daughter of Edward Spencer, Viscount Althorp, and his first wife, Frances Spencer, Viscountess Althorp (formerly the Honourable Frances Burke Roche). Partially American in ancestry — a great-grandmother was the American heiress Frances Work — she was also a descendant of King Charles I. During her parents' acrimonious divorce over Lady Althorp's adultery with wallpaper heir Peter Shand Kydd, Diana's mother sued for custody of her children, but Lord Althorp's rank, aided by Lady Althorp's mother's testimony against her daughter during the trial, meant custody of Diana and her brother was awarded to their father. On the death of her paternal grandfather, Albert Spencer, 7th Earl Spencer, in 1975, Diana's father became the 8th Earl Spencer, and she acquired the courtesy title of The Lady Diana Spencer. A year later, Lord Spencer married Raine, Countess of Dartmouth, the only daughter of the romance novelist Barbara Cartland, after being named as the "other party" in the Earl and Countess of Dartmouth's divorce.
Diana was educated at Riddlesworth Hall in Norfolk and at West Heath School (later reorganized as the New School at West Heath) in Kent, where she was regarded as an academically below-average student, having failed all of her O-level examinations. At age 16 she briefly attended Institut Alpin Videmanette, a finishing school in Rougemont, Switzerland. Diana was a talented amateur pianist, excelled in sports and reportedly longed to be a ballerina.
Marriage and family
Diana's family, the Spencers, had been close to the British Royal Family for decades. Her maternal grandmother, the Dowager Lady Fermoy, was a longtime friend of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. The Prince of Wales briefly dated Lady Sarah Spencer, Diana's older sister, in the 1970s.
The Prince's love life had always been the subject of press speculation, and he was linked to numerous women. Nearing his mid-thirties, he was under increasing pressure to marry. In order to gain the approval of his family and their advisors, including his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten of Burma, any potential bride had to have an aristocratic background, could not have been previously married, should be Protestant and, preferably, a virgin. Diana fulfilled all of these qualifications.
Reportedly, the Prince's former girlfriend (and, eventually, his second wife) Camilla Parker Bowles helped him select the 19-year-old Lady Diana Spencer as a potential bride, who was working as an assistant at the Young England kindergarten in Pimlico. Buckingham Palace announced the engagement on 24 February 1981. Mrs. Parker Bowles had been dismissed by Lord Mountbatten of Burma as a potential spouse for the heir to throne some years before, reportedly due to her age (16 months the Prince's senior), her sexual experience, and her lack of suitably aristocratic lineage.
The wedding took place at St Paul's Cathedral in London on Wednesday 29 July 1981 before 3,500 invited guests (including Mrs. Parker Bowles and her husband, a godson of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother) and an estimated 1 billion television viewers around the world. Diana was the first Englishwoman to marry an heir-apparent to the throne since 1659, when Lady Anne Hyde married the Duke of York and Albany, the future King James II. Upon her marriage, Diana became Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales and was ranked as the most senior royal woman in the United Kingdom after the Queen and the Queen Mother.
The Prince and Princess of Wales had two children, Prince William of Wales on 21 June 1982 and Prince Henry of Wales (commonly called Prince Harry) on 15 September 1984.
After the birth of Prince William, the Princess of Wales suffered from post-natal depression. She had previously suffered from bulimia nervosa, which recurred, and she made a number of suicide attempts. In one interview, released after her death, she claimed that, while pregnant with Prince William, she threw herself down a set of stairs and was discovered by her mother-in-law (that is, Queen Elizabeth II. It has been suggested she did not, in fact, intend to end her life (or that the suicide attempts never even took place) and that she was merely making a 'cry for help'. In the same interview in which she told of the suicide attempt while pregnant with Prince William, she said her husband had accused her of crying wolf when she threatened to kill herself. It has also been suggested that she suffered from borderline personality disorder.
In the mid 1980s her marriage fell apart, an event at first suppressed, but then sensationalised, by the world media. Both the Prince and Princess of Wales spoke to the press through friends, accusing each other of blame for the marriage's demise. Charles resumed his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, whilst Diana became involved with James Hewitt and possibly later with James Gilbey, with whom she was involved in the so-called Squidgygate affair. She later confirmed (in a television interview with Martin Bashir) the affair with her riding instructor, James Hewitt. (Theoretically, such an affair constituted high treason by both parties.) Another alleged lover was a bodyguard assigned to the Princess's security detail, although the Princess adamantly denied a sexual relationship with him. After her separation from Prince Charles, Diana was involved with married art dealer Oliver Hoare and, lastly, heart surgeon Hasnat Khan.
The Prince and Princess of Wales were separated on 9 December 1992; their divorce was finalised on 28 August 1996. The Princess lost the style Her Royal Highness, and became Diana, Princess of Wales, a titular distinction befitting a divorced peeress. However, at that time, and to this day, Buckingham Palace maintains, since the Princess was the mother of the second and third in line to The Throne, she remained a member of the Royal Family.
In 2004, the American TV network NBC broadcast tapes of Diana discussing her marriage to the Prince of Wales, including her description of her suicide attempts. The tapes were in the possession of the Princess during her lifetime; however, after her death, her butler took possession, and after numerous legal wranglings, they were given to the Princess's voice coach, who had originally filmed them. These tapes have not been broadcast in the United Kingdom.
Starting in the mid-to-late 1980s, the Princess of Wales became well known for her support of charity projects, and is credited with considerable influence for her campaigns against the use of landmines and helping the victims of AIDS.
In April 1987, the Princess of Wales was the first high-profile celebrity to be photographed touching a person infected with the HIV virus. Her contribution to changing the public opinion of AIDS sufferers was summarised in December 2001 by Bill Clinton at the 'Diana, Princess of Wales Lecture on AIDS', when he said:
In 1987, when so many still believed that AIDS could be contracted through casual contact, Princess Diana sat on the sickbed of a man with AIDS and held his hand. She showed the world that people with AIDS deserved not isolation, but compassion. It helped change world opinion, helped give hope to people with AIDS, and helped save lives of people at risk.
Perhaps her most widely publicised charity appearance was her visit to Angola in January 1997, when, serving as an International Red Cross VIP volunteer, she visited landmine survivors in hospitals, toured de-mining projects run by the HALO Trust, and attended mine awareness education classes about the dangers of mines immediately surrounding homes and villages.
The pictures of Diana touring a minefield, in a ballistic helmet and flak jacket, were seen worldwide. (Mine-clearance experts had already cleared the pre-planned walk that Diana took wearing the protective equipment.) In August that year, she visited Bosnia with the Landmine Survivors Network. Her interest in landmines was focused on the injuries they create, often to children, long after the conflict has finished.
She is widely acclaimed for her influence on the signing by the governments of the UK and other nations of the Ottawa Treaty in December 1997, after her death, which created an international ban on the use of anti-personnel landmines. Introducing the Second Reading of the Landmines Bill 1998 to the British House of Commons, the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, paid tribute to Diana's work on landmines:
All Honourable Members will be aware from their postbags of the immense contribution made by Diana, Princess of Wales to bringing home to many of our constituents the human costs of landmines. The best way in which to record our appreciation of her work, and the work of NGOs that have campaigned against landmines, is to pass the Bill, and to pave the way towards a global ban on landmines.
As of January 2005, Diana's legacy on landmines remained unfulfilled. The United Nations appealed to the nations which produced and stockpiled the largest numbers of landmines (China, India, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States) to sign the Ottawa Treaty forbidding their production and use, for which Diana had campaigned. Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), said that landmines remained "a deadly attraction for children, whose innate curiosity and need for play often lure them directly into harm's way".
On 31 August 1997 Diana was involved in a car accident in the Pont de l'Alma road tunnel in Paris, along with her romantic companion Dodi Fayed, their driver Henri Paul, and Fayed's bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones.
Late in the evening of Saturday 30 August, Diana and Fayed departed the Hôtel Ritz in Place Vendome, Paris, and drove along the north bank of the Seine. Shortly after midnight on 31 August, their Mercedes-Benz S 280 entered the underpass below the Place de l'Alma, pursued in various vehicles by nine French photographers and a motorcycle courier.
At the entrance to the tunnel, their car struck a glancing blow to the right-hand wall. It swerved to the left of the two-lane carriageway and collided head-on with the thirteenth pillar supporting the roof, then spun to a stop.
As the casualties lay seriously injured in their wrecked car, the photographers continued to take pictures.
Dodi Fayed and Henri Paul were both declared dead at the scene of the crash. Trevor Rees-Jones was severely injured, but later recovered. Diana was freed, alive, from the wreckage, and after some delay due to attempts to stabilize her at the scene, she was taken by ambulance to Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, arriving there shortly after 2.00 a.m. . Despite attempts to save her, her internal injuries were too extensive. Two hours later, at 4.00 that morning, the doctors pronounced her dead. At 5.30, her death was announced at a press conference held by a hospital doctor, Jean-Pierre Chevènement (France's Interior Minister) and Sir Michael Jay (Britain's ambassador to France).
Later that morning, Chevenement, the French Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, the wife of the French President, Jacques Chirac, and the French Health Minister, Bernard Kouchner, visited the hospital room where Diana's body lay and paid their last respects. After their visits, the Anglican Archdeacon of France, Father Martin Draper, said commendatory prayers from the Book of Common Prayer.
At around 2.00 p.m. the Prince of Wales and Diana's two sisters, Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes, arrived in Paris to collect Diana's body. They left with her body 90 minutes later. .....
Initial media reports stated Diana's car had collided with the pillar at over 190 km/h (120 mph), and that the speedometer's needle had jammed at that position. It was later announced the car's actual speed on collision was about 95-110 km/h (60-70 mph), and that the speedometer had no needle as it was digital. The car was certainly travelling much faster than the legal speed limit of 50 km/h (30 mph), and faster than was prudent for the Alma underpass. In 1999 a French investigation concluded the Mercedes had come into contact with another vehicle (a white Fiat Uno) in the tunnel. The driver of that vehicle has never come forward, and the vehicle itself has not been found.
The investigators concluded that the crash was an accident brought on by an intoxicated driver attempting to elude pursuing paparazzi at high speed.
In November 2003, Christian Martinez and Fabrice Chassery, the photographers who took photos of the casualties after the crash, and Jacques Langevin, who took photos as the couple left the Ritz Hotel, were cleared of breaching French privacy laws
On 6 January 2004, an inquest into the death of Diana opened in London held by Michael Burgess, the coroner of The Queen's Household.
Although the official investigation found Diana had died as a result of an accident, there are a significant number of conspiracy theories that she was assassinated.
The French investigators' conclusion that Henri Paul was drunk was made largely on the basis of an analysis of blood samples, which were stated to contain an alcohol level that (according to Jay's September 1997 report) was three times the legal limit. This initial analysis was challenged by a British pathologist hired by the Fayeds; in response, French authorities carried out a third test, this time using the medically more conclusive fluid from the sclera (white of the eye), which confirmed the level of alcohol measured by blood and also showed Paul had been taking antidepressants.
The samples were also said to contain a level of carbon monoxide sufficiently high as to have prevented him from driving a car (or even from standing). Some maintain this strongly indicates the samples were tampered with. No official DNA test has been carried out on the samples, and Henri Paul's family has not been allowed to commission independent tests on them.
The families of Dodi Fayed and Henri Paul have not accepted the French investigators' findings. In the Scottish courts, Mohamed Al-Fayed applied for an order directing there be a public inquiry and is to appeal against the denial of his application. Fayed, for his part, stands by his belief that the Princess and his son were killed in an elaborate conspiracy launched by the SIS (MI6) on the orders of the "racist" Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. This was apparently based on the grounds that the Duke abhorred the idea of his grandsons potentially having Muslim or half-Arab siblings.
Other motivations which have been advanced for murder include suggestions Diana intended to convert to Islam, and that she was pregnant with Dodi's child. In January 2004, the former coroner of The Queen's Household, Dr. John Burton, said (in an interview with The Times) that he attended a post-mortem examination of the Princess's body at Fulham mortuary, where he personally examined her womb and found her not to be pregnant.
Later in 2004, US TV network CBS showed pictures of the crash scene showing an intact rear side and an intact centre section of the Mercedes, including one of a unbloodied Diana with no outward injuries, crouched on the rear floor of the vehicle with her back to the right passenger seat — the right rear car door is completely opened. The release of these pictures caused uproar in the UK, where it was widely felt that the privacy of the Princess was being infringed, and spurred another lawsuit by Mohammed Al-Fayed.
Rumours and conspiracies theories aside, it is clear that Diana, Dodi and Paul were not wearing seat belts when the car crashed. Rees-Jones, the only survivor, had his seat belt on. Also, the underpass at the Place de l'Alma is known as an accident black spot; it is on a stretch of high-speed road but only has limited visibility ahead in places; and there are square-shaped pillars in the central reservation which could lead to collisions.
Funeral and public reaction
Diana's death was greeted with extraordinary public grief, and her funeral at Westminster Abbey on 6 September drew an estimated 3 million mourners in London, as well as worldwide television coverage. People in India watched the funeral, even as mourning started to sweep over their country following the passing of Mother Teresa the day before.
More than one million bouquets were left at her London home, Kensington Palace, while at her family's estate of Althorp the public was asked to stop bringing flowers, as the volume of people and flowers in the surrounding roads was causing a threat to public safety.
The reaction of the Royal Family to the death of Diana caused unprecedented resentment and outcry. The Royal Family's rigid adherence to protocol was intepreted by the public as a lack of compassion: the refusal of Buckingham Palace to fly the Union Flag at half mast provoked angry headlines in newspapers. "Where is our Queen? Where is our Flag?" asked The Sun. The Queen, who returned to London from Balmoral, agreed to a television broadcast to the nation. At the urging of Downing Street, what was to be a recorded piece became a live broadcast, and the script was revised by Alastair Campbell to be more "human".
Mourners cast flowers at the funeral procession for almost the entire length of its journey. Outside Westminster Abbey crowds cheered the dozens of celebrities who filed inside, including singer Sir Elton John (who performed a re-written version of his song Candle in the Wind). The service was televised live throughout the world, and loudspeakers were placed outside so the crowds could hear the proceedings. Tradition was defied when the guests applauded the speech by Diana's brother, Lord Spencer, who bitterly attacked the press and indirectly criticised the Royal Family for their treatment of her, although Lord Spencer himself had years earlier refused Diana permission to use a cottage at Althorp as a sanctuary due to his fears about press intrusion into his family home.
Diana, Princess of Wales is buried at Althorp in Northamptonshire on an island in the middle of a lake called the Round Oval. A visitors' centre allows visitors to see an exhibition about her and walk around the lake.
During the four weeks following her funeral, the overall suicide rate in England and Wales rose by 17%, compared with the average reported for that period in the four previous years. Researchers suggest that this was caused by the "identification" effect, as the greatest increase in suicides was by people most similar to Diana: women aged 25 to 44, whose suicide rate increased by over 45%.
In the years after her death, interest in the life of Diana has remained high, especially in the United States of America. Numerous manufacturers of collectibles continue to produce Diana merchandise. Some even suggested making Diana a saint, stirring much controversy.
As a temporary memorial, the public co-opted the Flamme de Liberté (Flame of Liberty), a monument near the Alma Tunnel, and related to the French donation of the Statue of Liberty to the United States. The messages of condolence have since been removed, and its use as a Diana memorial has discontinued, though visitors visit and still leave messages at the site in her memory. The concrete wall at the edge of the tunnel is still used as an impromptu memorial for people to write their thoughts and feelings about Diana. A permanent memorial, the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain was opened in Hyde Park in London on 6 July 2004, but it has been plagued with problems and has been declared off-limits to the public at least twice for repairs.
In 1999, a little more than a year after her death, the journalist Christopher Hitchens made a vulgar, derogatory and controversial comment about her while on a cruise ship. He stated that Diana "has in common with a minefield the following: relatively easy to lay but extremely difficult, expensive, and dangerous to get rid of." When there was a backlash concerning his quip he said he thought, "it was funny."
Diana was ranked third in the (2002) Great Britons poll sponsored by the BBC and voted for by the British public.
In 2003, Marvel Comics announced it was to publish a five-part series entitled Di Another Day (a reference to the James Bond film Die Another Day) featuring a resurrected Diana, Princess of Wales as a mutant with superpowers, as part of Peter Milligan's X-Statix title. Amidst considerable (and predictable) outcry, the idea was quickly dropped. Heliograph Incorporated produced a roleplaying game, Diana: Warrior Princess by Marcus L. Rowland about a fictionalised version of the twentieth century as it might be seen a thousand years from now.
After her death, the actor Kevin Costner, who had been introduced to the Princess by her former sister-in-law, Sarah, Duchess of York claimed he had been in negotiations with the divorced Princess to co-star in a sequel to the thriller film The Bodyguard, which starred Costner and Whitney Houston. Buckingham Palace dismissed Costner's claims as unfounded.