Moody Blues co-founder Ray Thomas dead at 76

Published: Sunday, January 07, 2018 @ 3:39 PM

The Moody Blues in 1978. From left, Ray Thomas, Justin Hayward, John Lodge and Graeme Edge.
Associated Press
The Moody Blues in 1978. From left, Ray Thomas, Justin Hayward, John Lodge and Graeme Edge.(Associated Press)

Ray Thomas, flutist, vocalist and a founding member of the Moody Blues, died Thursday, Rolling Stone reported Sunday. He was 76.

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Thomas' label, Esoteric Recordings/Cherry Red Records, confirmed on Facebook that Thomas died suddenly at his home in Surrey, England. No cause of death was announced, but Thomas disclosed in 2014 that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, Billboard reported.

In a statement four years ago, Thomas said “My cancer was inoperable but I have a fantastic doctor who immediately started me on a new treatment that has had 90% success rate,” The Daily Mail reported.

"We are deeply shocked by his passing and will miss his warmth, humor and kindness," the label wrote. "It was a privilege to have known and worked with him and our thoughts are with his family and his wife Lee at this sad time."

Thomas's flute solo was a key ingredient on one of the band’s biggest hits, “Nights in White Satin,” and he sang lead vocals on several songs, including “Legend of a Mind,” a tribute to LSD guru Timothy Leary.

The band is scheduled to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in April, Billboard reported.

Moody Blues bassist John Lodge tweeted Sunday that, "Ray and I have been on this magical journey through life together since we were 14. ... two young kids from Birmingham who reached for the stars...and we made it together. El Riot you will always be by my side." Thomas and Lodge played together in their band El Riot and the Rebels in the early Sixties, Rolling Stone reported. 

In 1964, Thomas and keyboardist Michael Pinder formed the Moody Blues with drummer Graeme Edge, bassist Clint Warwick and guitarist Denny Laine. That lineup would release the hit “Go Now” and the 1965 LP “The Magnificent Moodies,” which featured Thomas on lead vocals for "It Ain't Necessarily So."

It is with profound sorrow and sadness that Cherry Red Records and Esoteric Recordings regret to announce that Ray...

Posted by Esoteric Recordings on Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Moody Blues replaced Laine with Justin Hayward and Warwick with Lodge to form the band's classic lineup. Thomas played on all of the Moody Blues’ albums until his retirement in 2002.

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Daytonian of the Week: Tom Helbig, founder of Tomfoolery Outdoors

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 1:37 PM



Tom Helbig
(Tom Helbig)

As of this morning, Tom Helbig is cruising on his bicycle through reportedly, 68 degree and sunny Portland, Maine, en route to Canada, craving a Dayton craft beer and some Taqueria Mixteca. 

His East Coast cycling trip began in February in Key West, Florida and will wrap at the end of June when he returns to Dayton to resume organizing and planning Tomfoolery Outdoors adventures — the Dayton business Helbig founded in May 2014 based on the principles of his life’s mantra, “Live Active, Laugh More, Inspire All.” 

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Helbig’s childhood was spent camping near his home in the Cleveland area, boating on Lake Erie, trips to Ohio state parks and making cherished memories outdoors with his family. The Bowling Green State University grad moved to Dayton in 1998 and after nine years of dedicated work with the Special Olympics of Miami County, got heavily involved with FiveRivers MetroParks in 2007 as an outdoor program event planner.

(Tom Helbig)

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“I took my experiences between those two jobs and my own personal interests and thought I could start my own company, put my own spin on it and also allow more time for adventures,” Helbig said.

The realization that he could make his enthusiasm for adventures a lifestyle didn’t come without sacrifice. Through careful planning and living simply, Helbig has been able to run a successful outdoors events company and inspire people in Dayton to jump into adventures they thought were unrealistic — all while fitting in personal, month-long adventures throughout the year. “It’s (Tomfoolery Outdoors) a community of people who want to make the world a better place and play outside,” Helbig said. 

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“I had this epiphany that I was having conversations with friends about event ideas, T-shirt concepts, maybe guided trips that I could offer and I thought well, I’m doing a lot of talking ... and I decided I wanted to take those campfire discussions and turn them into action,” Helbig said.

Get to know Tom Helbig, our Daytonian of the Week:

(Tom Helbig)

How do you make this lifestyle possible? 

“All my adventures are human powered. I find free places to camp, people host me in their homes, I partner with certain organizations along the way. It’s just being creative, living simply, not caring about glamorous material things and using the income I do bring in from Tomfoolery Outdoors events.”

Do you think Dayton has a big taste for adventure?

“When I moved to the Dayton area in 1998, at that time, being honest, I was not excited about moving. Then things started to change. I got involved with the outdoor amenities that were available, a guy took me fly fishing, then I started spending time on our rivers paddling and fishing, exploring the bike trails. I just really started to become part of the community, and I was loving it. 

Loving it to the point now where, even though I’m off on some of these longer adventures, I’m one of the biggest advocates for what Dayton has to offer. I’m really proud to say when I’m on my adventures, that I’m from Dayton, Ohio.”

Do you think some people hesitate before setting off on an adventure?

“I actually hear that a lot and it makes me sad when I hear somebody that isn’t pursuing something that they always wanted to do ... ‘Oh I wish I could do x, y and z,’ — that’s troubling to me and when I hear those things I start to ask a lot of questions of, Well, why not?’ And you’ll hear excuse after excuse of why they haven't pursued something that would make their life that much better. I ask a lot of questions that hopefully stimulate some thought and even offer some suggestions as to how they can do it. Then, if I’m able to stay in touch with those people, I’m going to be their biggest cheerleader. I’m going to hold them accountable and try and get them to do those things they’ve always wanted to do.”

(Tom Helbig)

“Live Active, Laugh More, Inspire All.” Why is that Tomfoolery Outdoor’s mission statement?

“In my mid-30s, so right before I started Tomfoolery Outdoor’s, I was feeling really out of balance with my work and life. Just spending too many hours at work behind a desk, and I just felt a need for something different and better. So I thought, OK, how am I going to live the rest of my life. I boiled it down to those three principles, how I wanted to guide the rest of my life ... Over about a six-month process, that led me to founding Tom Foolery Outdoors. So that is not a marketing slogan. It’s how I live my life and I want the company to behave in our community. 

>>Your guide for where to paddle in Dayton

What are some of your favorite Dayton spots for day-trip outdoor adventures? 

“For favorite spots in the Dayton-area for a hike, you can’t beat the Twin Valley Trail over in Germantown. I love to fly fish on the Great Miami River, mountain biking at MoMBA or John Bryan State Park and paddling on any of the local rivers.”

(Tom Helbig)

What is your favorite place to eat in Dayton?

“I love going to the 2nd Street Market, Fusian, Arepas, Mudlick Tap House, Taqueria Mixteca and Trolley Stop. I am excited to be back in Dayton, I’ve been gone for three months now, and I’m looking forward to seeing friends and when I get back, I’ll be in the heart of my Tomfoolery Outdoors events season. And one of the things I’m going to focus on when I return from this journey is, I want to make sure that my lifestyle and brand is more than just long adventures. Those adventures are getting people’s attention, which is awesome and I’m very grateful for that. But within that, I want people to get the message that you can get adventure in your daily life by appreciating those things we have right here locally.”

For all the details on this season’s Tomfoolery Outdoors adventures and the charities involved with each event, visit tomfooleryoutdoors.com.

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus to receive 2018 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 12:58 PM

Getting to Know Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Julia Louis-Dreyfus has been named this year’s recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

Variety reported that the 57-year-old actress will receive the prize at at the Kennedy Center on Oct. 21.

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“Like Mark Twain, Julia has enriched American culture with her iconic, unforgettable, and outright hilarious brand of humor,” Deborah F. Rutter, the president of the Kennedy Center, said in a statement, according to The New York Times. “Over four decades, her wildly original characters and her gift for physical comedy have left us in stitches.”

“Well, this is insanely exciting,” Louis-Dreyfus tweeted Wednesday in response to the news.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Louis-Dreyfus will be the sixth woman and 21st recipient overall of the prize. She joins the likes of Richard Pryor, Whoopi Goldberg, Lily Tomlin, Lorne Michaels, Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, George Carlin, Tina Fey, Will Ferrell, Ellen DeGeneres, Carol Burnett, Jay Leno, Eddie Murphy and Bill Murray as those who have received the prize. Bill Cosby’s 2009 prize was rescinded by the Kennedy Center earlier this year after his sexual assault conviction.

“Merely to join the list of distinguished recipients of this award would be honor enough, but, as a student of both American history and literature, the fact that Mr. Twain himself will be presenting the award to me in person is particularly gratifying,” Louis-Dreyfus said in a statement.

The Oct. 21 ceremony will be in Washington, D.C.

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Clint Eastwood’s daughter Francesca Eastwood expecting first child

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 12:40 PM

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MAY 22:  Francesca Eastwood attends the 28th Annual Environmental Media Awards at Montage Beverly Hills on May 22, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Environmental Media Association)
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Environmental M
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MAY 22: Francesca Eastwood attends the 28th Annual Environmental Media Awards at Montage Beverly Hills on May 22, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Environmental Media Association)(Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Environmental M)

Francesca Eastwood, the daughter of Clint Eastwood and Frances Fisher, is pregnant with her first child.

Us Weekly reported that Eastwood, 24, made the announcement Tuesday while at the 2018 Environmental Media Association Awards in Los Angeles. Wearing a black off-the-shoulder dress, Eastwood posed with her mother on the green carpet before the event. She even posed to the side to display her baby bump.

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Inside the event, as Eastwood and Fisher presented on stage, Fisher, 66, rubbed her daughter’s belly, saying, “I’m so excited. I’m gonna be a grandma!” People reported that Eastwood told the star-studded crowd she was pregnant. 

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MAY 22: Frances Fisher (L) and Francesca Eastwood attend the 28th Annual Environmental Media Awards at Montage Beverly Hills on May 22, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Environmental Media Association)(Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Environmental M)

Glimpses of Eastwood’s baby bump were on display at Disneyland during a family trip. Eastwood’s younger sister, Morgan Eastwood, shared glimpses of Francesca Eastwood’s bump.

Francesca Eastwood has not commented on the father of the child. She was married to Jonah Hill’s brother, Jordan Feldstein, in 2013. The marriage was annulled a week later. Feldstein died in 2017 because of a blood clot that originated in his leg, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office.

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Philip Roth dead at 85: Writers, public figures remember Pulitzer Prize-winning author

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 5:34 AM

Author Philip Roth, prize-winning novelist and fearless narrator of sex, religion and mortality, has died at age 85, his literary agent said Tuesday, May 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
Richard Drew/AP
Author Philip Roth, prize-winning novelist and fearless narrator of sex, religion and mortality, has died at age 85, his literary agent said Tuesday, May 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)(Richard Drew/AP)

Philip Roth – the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "American Pastoral" and other highly acclaimed works such as "Portnoy's Complaint," "The Human Stain" and "The Plot Against America" – has died of congestive heart failure, The Associated Press reported late Tuesday. He was 85.

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Fellow writers and public figures took to Twitter to share their condolences and reflect on Roth's novels. Here's what they had to say:

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– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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