Johnny Winter: Blues Legend

It says a lot about guitarist Johnny Winter that blues great Muddy Waters sang his praises. The first time Waters heard him play live, he was blown away by Winter’s blindingly fast thumb-picked electric slide work. “He plays eight notes to my one!” Waters reportedly exclaimed. Winter-who died at age 70 in Zurich on July 16, a few days after performing at a festival in Austria-was surprisingly humble about the virtuosity that earned him a spot on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 100 …

Eileen Ford: She Created Supermodels

The beautiful women who display designers’ new fashions on the runway and grace magazine covers are more than just celebrities – they’re brand names in their own right.  We even have a word for them: supermodels. To a great extent, we can thank Eileen Ford for making all those models so super. Ford, who died on July 9 at age 92 in Morristown, N.J.,  in 1947 cofounded – with her late husband Jerry – Ford Models, the agency that became …

Louis Zamperini: Olympic Runner, POW Was Twice a Hero

In 1936, at age 19, Louis Zamperini was one of the best middle-distance runners in the world. He was good enough to be on the U.S. team in the Berlin Olympics, where he finished eighth in the 5,000 meters and stood close enough to Adolf Hitler’s box at the stadium to get a good look at the Nazi dictator. “I was pretty naí¯ve about world politics, and I thought he looked funny, like something out of a Laurel and Hardy …

Bobby Womack: Soul Man

Even if you didn’t know Bobby Womack by name, you probably dug some of his songs that helped make other performers into stars. Womack, who died on June 27 at age 70, was one of the pioneers of the soul sound – a singer, guitarist and songwriter who helped create the fusion of gospel, R&B and jazz that moved a generation to get out and groove to the music. Womack’s own roots stretched back to the great Sam Cooke, who gave …

Chester Nez: Last of the Navajo Code-Talkers

When Chester Nez attended boarding school in the 1930s, he risked having his mouth washed out with soap if he spoke in Navajo instead of English. But fortunately for America’s fortunes during World War II, he never forgot the language of his people. Nez, who

Robert Strauss, Former Democratic Chairman, Dealmaker, Dies at 95

Robert S. Strauss, who died March 19 at age 95, was a Washington insider back when that was a compliment. The New York Times obituary called the former Democratic chairman a “kingmaker” in a bygone era when party leaders held a lot more power. “A loud, sometimes profane backslapper, he made his name in the nation’s capital as a persuasive back-room trouble-shooter, a virtuoso of hardball negotiation and gentle suasion,” BusinessWeek wrote. Strauss helped some Democrats like Jimmy Carter get …