Saturday, March 21, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker: Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stephen Ray Vaughan (1954-1990)

Stevie Ray Vaughan was born in Dallas, Texas, and dropped out of high school to pursue a music career, moving to Austin. He became very well known--even famous--regionally and finally achieved national and international acclaim with the release of his debut album Texas Flood in 1983.

Vaughan fused the styles of a wide variety of guitartists--Albert King once called Stevie Ray his "godchild." He was influenced by other blues guitarists such as Muddy Waters and Otis Rush, by rock guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, and even some jazz influence via Kenny Burrell. The style Vaughan created was all his own. He also achieved his distinctive sound by using heavier than normal guitar strings and tuning them down a half step.

During the mid-80s, after serious health problems brought on by drug and alcohol addiction, he entered rehabilitation and afterwards remained clean for the rest of his life. Whether this meant he also gave up pipe smoking, I do not know. The above picture is from the Pori International Jazz Festival in Pori, Finland in 1985, probably during the same tour that his drug problems finally caught up with him. He's smoking a Peterson.

Stevie Ray Vaughan died when the helicopter he was riding in crashed in Wisconsin, killing him and four others (the pilot and some members of Eric Clapton's crew).

In 1991 Texas Governor Ann Richards declared his birthday, October 3, as "Stevie Ray Vaughan Day." There is an annual motorcycle ride and concert in central Texas that benefits the Stevie Ray Vaughan Memorial Scholarship Fund.

There is a memorial statue to Vaughan on Town Lake in Austin, Texas.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Vintage Ad (1962): Kirsten pipes

Here's a page from a 1962 Popular Mechanics showing a small ad for a $3.59 Kirsten among several other ads. I also like the angelic Linus Van Pelt in the United Way ad.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker: Douglas Bader

Douglas Bader (1910-1982)

Sir Douglas Robert Steuart Bader was born in London. He was a pilot and a very good rugby player. In 1928 he joined the Royal Air Force. While attempting some stunt flying in 1931, he crashed his plane during some low-altitude aerobatics. As a result, both his legs were amputated, one just above and one just below the knees. He was still able to fly with artificial legs, but he was invalided out of the RAF anyway.

When war broke out in 1939, he used his connections within the RAF to be reinstated as a pilot. He became Flight Commander of a Spitfire squadron. By August 1941, he claimed 22 German planes shot down, which was the fifth highest score in the RAF. In that same month, he was shot down and taken prisoner. Although he insisted that his crash was due to a mid-air collision with a ME-109, later evidence indicated that he had indeed been shot down, perhaps to a German plane, or perhaps even to friendly fire. He was almost not able to bail out because one of his artificial legs became trapped, and he was able to escape only when its straps broke.

Although a prisoner of war, he was treated with respect because of his piloting skills. Britain was notified regarding his damaged leg, and a British bomber was allowed safe passage over the area so it could parachute-drop a new leg.

He attempted to escape many times, and proved so troublesome for the Germans that they threatened to take away his legs. Eventually he was moved to the inescapable Colditz Prison, where he remained until the end of the war.

After the war he became an avid and skilled golfer, and also became involved in politics. He supported apartheid, and his associations with some on the extreme right of British politics led many to believe he was a closet extremist and racist himself.

He was knighted in 1976 for his services to amputees and his advocacy for the disabled. He died of a heart attack in 1982 after a golf tournament.

His prosthetic legs are on display at the RAF Museum at Stafford.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Vintage Ad (1911): Prince Albert

Another Prince Albert ad featuring what I think of as The Archetypal Codger. According to the blurb on this one (click to enlarge and you might be able to make it out), just smoking Prince Albert in an old pipe will rejuvenate it and make a rank-smelling pipe fresh again. Uh-huh.

Prince Albert is another of those old, traditional American blends (a.k.a. "codger burleys") that I find no enjoyment in whatsoever. But if you like it, go for it.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker: Ted Shackelford

Ted Shackelford (b. 1946)

I don't have much to say about this week's pipe smoker. Ted Shackelford is an actor who was born in Oklahoma and grew up in Tulsa where his father was stationed in the military. He attended the University of Denver and has spent most of his career in soap operas. He has also appeared in a few other shows such as The Rockford Files, Wonder Woman, and a British series called Space Precinct. His most recent role was in The Young and the Restless.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Vintage Ad (1896): Durham Tobacco

This is probably an ad for either roll-your-own cigarette tobacco, or possibly chewing tobacco, not for pipes. But I still got a kick out of it, so I'll post it.