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Library of Congress/William P. Gottlieb (Public Domain)

Happy Birthday, Django Reinhardt

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Library of Congress/William P. Gottlieb (Public Domain)

Django Reinhardt is my favorite jazz guitarist. He invented "hot jazz," and with Stéphane Grappelli made an indelible mark on jazz music worldwide. What's most impressive is that Django played his solos with only two fingers on his left hand, as the others were partially paralyzed after being burned at age 18. The other two fingers were used for chords, but those melodic solos? Yep, just two fingers, people.

Django was born on January 23, 1910, and died aged only 43. On what would have been his 103rd birthday, here's a documentary on his life: Swing Guitar: the Genius of Django Reinhardt. It contains rare film of Django playing, and puts his life and jazz contributions into perspective.

Part One

His early years, and some rare footage of him playing.

Part Two

Here comes Grappelli!

Part Three

A long discussion of Django's impulsivity, gambling, and general unreliability -- plus plenty of performance film.

Part Four

The war ends, the jazz begins anew.

Part Five

Django's last days.

The Documentary on DVD

Amazon has the documentary, used, on DVD. Looks to be out of print: Swing Guitar: The Genius of Django Reinhardt.

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Getty Images
Happy Birthday, Alex Trebek!
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Today, everyone's favorite game show host turns 76 years old. Let's celebrate!

ON SESAME STREET

In 2006, Trebek played “Special of the Day” with Telly.

ON CARD SHARKS

In 1980, the tables were turned, and Trebek found himself the contestant on this episode of Card Sharks. The “tell me about yourself” portion of the program doesn’t go so smoothly, but he’s pretty good at the game itself.

THROWING PEOPLE IN THE POOL

In this sketch for the 40th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, Trebek throws a waiter in a pool. The takeaway is clear: Don’t phrase things in the form of a question when you’re talking to the Jeopardy! host.

TREBEK ON NASA

And how the agency’s work with other companies helps all of us, not just astronauts.

HOSTING WHEEL OF FORTUNE

Happy April Fool's Day 1997! (Pat Sajak hosted Jeopardy that night.)

ALEX, AUTOTUNED

MC TREBEK IN THE HIZZOUSE

That was the actual name of the category.

AND JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT COULDN'T GET ANY WEIRDER...

Behold “Sexiest Potpourri Ever.”

LAST BUT NOT LEAST...

You didn’t think we’d leave without posting one of these, did you?

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Covers of "Me and Bobby McGee"
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On this day in 1970, Janis Joplin died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27. The singer-songwriter was known as "The Queen of Psychedelic Soul." Here, we remember Joplin with covers of her only number-one hit, "Me and Bobby McGee." Joplin's version of the song, originally written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster, topped the charts after her death, making the song the second posthumous number-one single in U.S. chart history.

Johnny Cash

Pink

Willie Nelson

Dolly Parton

James Last

Jerry Lee Lewis

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