This is another chapter in the series of posts on Unsung Heroes – those people who have profoundly influenced my life in various ways but have been (wrongly) overlooked, forgotten or ignored by most people. In this post, I pay homage to another musician: the late, great Clifford Brown.
Academics aren’t prone to make grandiose, sweeping statements: for the most part, we think very carefully about any claim we stake in the ground. The same can’t be said of the advertising profession who often bombard us with outrageous (and often specious) claims such as “Quite possibly, the most nutritious breakfast cereal ever”. They can get away with such claims because of the ancient law of ‘puffery’, which provides a vague line in the sand between an exaggeration of the truth and a blatant misrepresentation of the truth (the former is allowed, while the latter is illegal).
This is the first in a series of blog posts on Unsung Heroes: those people who really float my boat but have been unceremoniously thrown on the scrapheap of history. Unsung Heroes casts a brighter light over their magnificence.
There are lots of lists out there of ‘the coolest/hottest/best-dressed guys on the planet’ and they normally include people like Harry Styles, Brad Pitt or Don Draper. This is not the sort of ‘cool’ I want to talk about. I’m talking about something primal, mesmerising and edgy: the dark priests of cool. And it’s not just a black vs white thing either – although Miles Davis, James Brown and Omar Little are definitely members of the fraternity, so are Marlon Brando and Jim Morrison.
These men all have something ethereal and dangerous: it’s the way they hold themselves; the things they say; the way they dance; and the roles they play. They ooze cool in everything they do. I’m not going to enter into a cuttin’ contest about who’s in the club and who’s not, I just want to put forward the case for one often-neglected candidate for the club: Billy Preston. Don’t know him? Then be prepared to kneel down and beg forgiveness!