DANNY SIMS, PRODUCER WHO SIGNED BOB MARLEY
By ROB KENNER
Published: October 30, 2012
- Few people outside of the Caribbean knew who Bob Marley was when Danny Sims heard him perform in 1968. But Mr. Sims knew Marley was something special right away.
“What I heard,” he recalled years later, “was the next Bob Dylan.”
Mr. Sims, a music producer, publisher and promoter, promptly signed Marley to his first international publishing and recording contracts, setting him on the road to becoming the first reggae superstar.
Mr. Sims died of colon cancer on Oct. 3 in Los Angeles, his daughter, Anansa Sims-Patterson, said. He was 75.
His death was not widely reported at the time. “He was always a very private person,” said the filmmaker Rudy Langlais, who had recently been working on a documentary film about Mr. Sims.
Danny Drew Sims was born on Nov. 9, 1936, in Hattiesburg, Miss., and moved with his family to Memphis and later Chicago. After service in the Army, where he played football on a team that traveled throughout Europe, he moved to New York and opened a supper club, Sapphire’s, near Times Square, which he liked to claim was “the first black-owned club south of 110th Street.”
It was there that he met a teenage singer named Johnny Nash. Mr. Sims went on to become Mr. Nash’s manager, and the two of them founded a record label, JoDa, later renamed JAD, whose roster would include Gloria Gaynor, Betty Wright and Lloyd Price. (Mr. Nash had a No. 1 hit in 1972 with “I Can See Clearly Now.”)
In 1967 Mr. Sims and Mr. Nash traveled to Jamaica, where Mr. Nash recorded a number of hit records at Federal Studios. The next year Mr. Nash attended a Rastafarian ceremony and was impressed by a young singer named Bob Marley. After hearing Marley sing, Mr. Sims signed him to a publishing deal and also signed his vocal trio, the Wailers, to JAD Records.
“He is one of the people most responsible for Bob Marley’s success who has gotten the least amount of notice for it,” said the reggae historian Roger Steffens, who worked with Mr. Sims to compile “The Complete Bob Marley and the Wailers 1967-1972,” a 15-CD reissue series.
Mr. Sims hired Marley and his band mate Peter Tosh to write songs for Mr. Nash, but was unsuccessful in establishing them as performers in the United States. “Reggae was not accepted as a commercial form at the time,” said David Simmons, Mr. Sims’s longtime business partner. “The world wasn’t ready for it.”
In 1972, Mr. Sims sold Marley’s contract to Chris Blackwell of Island Records, who made him an international star. Mr. Sims retained an interest in Marley’s publishing, and near the end of his life worked as his manager.
In September 1980 Marley opened for the Commodores at Madison Square Garden, a booking Mr. Sims had helped arrange. The day after the concert, Marley collapsed while jogging in Central Park. Mr. Sims and another friend carried him to the hospital, where he was found to have terminal cancer. He died less than a year later.
Mr. Simmons said that had Marley lived, his stardom might have grown even bigger than it did. “There was a big record deal in discussion, with a $10 million advance,” he said, “but Bob couldn’t take it up because he was too ill.”
Although Marley respected Mr. Sims, their relationship was at times contentious. “I discouraged Bob from doing the revolutionary stuff,” Mr. Sims once told The Village Voice. “I’m a commercial guy. I want to sell songs to 13-year-old girls, not to guys throwing spears.” In 1987 Mr. Sims unsuccessfully sued the Marley estate for $6 million, claiming that Marley had tried to avoid paying him royalties by publishing songs pseudonymously.
Mr. Sims’s marriage to the model and actress Beverly Johnson ended in divorce. In addition to his daughter he is survived by his sons, Jelani and Stacey; his brother, Eddie; and a granddaughter.
GAE AULENTI, MUSEE D’ORSAY ARCHITECT
The main hall of the Musée d’Orsay, which was converted from a train station by Gae Aulenti.
Published: November 1, 2012
- Gae Aulenti, a provocative Italian architect and designer who most notably converted a Paris train station into the Musée d’Orsay, died on Wednesday at her home in Milan. She was 84.
Her death, after a long illness, was announced by her family in the Italian press. In a statement, Giorgio Napolitano, the president of Italy, referred to her as a “leading figure of contemporary architecture” with an “extraordinary ability” to combine cultural and historic values with the urban environment.
Ms. Aulenti was one of the few Italian women to rise to prominence in architecture and design in the postwar years. Her work includes villas for the rich, showrooms for Fiat, shops for Olivetti, pens and watches for Louis Vuitton, and a coffee table on wheels that is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Ms. Aulenti was best known for her work on interiors, particularly those of museums. She designed museum renovations in Venice, Barcelona, Istanbul and San Francisco.
In 1981 she was chosen to turn the 1900 Beaux Arts Gare d’Orsay train station, a spectacular landmark originally designed by Victor Laloux, into the Musée d’Orsay, a museum of mainly French art from 1848 to 1915.
As part of the redesign she created a grand central aisle in a cavernous space that once contained train tracks under a dramatic barrel-vaulted glass ceiling. Original support beams were highlighted, and new industrial materials like wire mesh were used. Walls were redone in rough stone.
The renovated building was opened in December 1986, and critical reaction was mixed. Holland Cotter of The New York Times called it “fabulously eccentric.” But Liberation, an Italian newspaper favored by the cognoscenti, said the museum had been “likened to a funeral hall, to a tomb, to a mausoleum, to an Egyptian burial monument, to a necropolis.”
Ms. Aulenti noted that almost immediately 20,000 people were standing in line each day waiting to get in. “As a culture, the French are opposed to change,” she said in an interview with The Times in 1987. “They are also not very progressive in their thinking about architecture, so that when new buildings are designed, they are usually opposed to them.”
Her champions saw the Paris museum as a giant step for someone whose influence had been as an industrial designer and as a leader of a young generation of Italian theorists who had questioned the tenets of modernist architecture. In 1999, Herbert Muschamp, then the architecture critic for The Times, called her “the most important female architect since the beginning of time.”
Less effusively, the architect Philip Johnson said, “Anyone who makes as strong a statement as Gae did is going to run into a buzz saw.”
Gaetana Aulenti (Gae, as she was known, is pronounced “guy”) was born on Dec. 4, 1927 in the town of Palazzolo dello Stella, near Trieste. She told The Times that she studied architecture in defiance of her parents’ hope that she would become “a nice society girl.” In 1954, she was one of two women in a class of 20 to graduate from the Milan Polytechnic School of Architecture. She soon joined the staff of Casabella, a design magazine, and joined with her peers in rejecting the architecture of masters like Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius. They called themselves the “Neo Liberty” movement.
“More than anything, we were trying to recognize our own identity,” she said.
She taught architecture at universities in Milan and Venice and started doing interior design projects. She went on to become a celebrated furniture designer, some of her work borrowing from Pop Art. Lighting was another specialty, which she drew on in designing sets for opera houses throughout Europe. She planned six stores for the fashion designer Adrienne Vittadini, including one on Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles. (She even designed the mannequins.)
Her work on the Musée d’Orsay led to commissions to create a space for the National Museum of Modern Art at the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris; the restoration of the Palazzo Grassi as an art museum in Venice; the conversion of an old Italian embassy in Berlin into an Academy of Science; and the restoration of an exhibition hall in Barcelona as a museum of Catalan art.
In San Francisco, she converted the city’s old Main Library into a museum of Asian art. As it neared completion in 2001, she lamented that her interior museum work drew less attention than the ballyhooed new museums being built, like Frank Gehry’s titanium-walled one for the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain. “The drama can’t be seen outside,” she told The San Francisco Chronicle.
Ms. Aulenti was divorced twice. She is survived by her daughter, Giovanna, and a granddaughter.
In her work in Paris, Ms. Aulenti said, she got her way with tough French construction crews by making them think of her as their mother “whom they must please.” She dressed conservatively, not out of indifference to fashion, she said, but defiance.
“I don’t like to dress alla moda,” she told Women’s Wear Daily in 1971, using the Italian term for in fashion. “The moment it’s loudly announced that red is fashion, I stop wearing red. I want to dress in green.”
ARTHUR JENSEN, WHO SET OFF DEBATE ON I.Q.
By MARGALIT FOX
Published: November 1, 2012
- Arthur R. Jensen, an educational psychologist who ignited an international firestorm with a 1969 article suggesting that the gap in intelligence-test scores between black and white students might be rooted in genetic differences between the races, died on Oct. 22 at his home in Kelseyville, Calif. He was 89.
U.C. Berkeley, Graduate School of Education
Arthur Jensen in about 1980.