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Old English munuc "monk" (used also of women), from Proto-Germanic *muniko- (cf. Old Frisian munek , Middle Dutch monic , Old High German munih , Ger. Mönch ), an early borrowing from Vulgar Latin *monicus (source of French moine , Spanish monje , Italian monaco ), from Late Latin monachus "monk," originally "religious hermit," from Ecclesiastical Greek monakhos "monk," noun use of a classical Greek adjective meaning "solitary," from monos "alone" (see mono- ). For substitution of -o- for -u- , see come . In England, before the Reformation, the term was not applied to the members of the mendicant orders, who were always called friars. From the 16th c. to the 19th c., however, it was usual to speak of the friars as a class of monks. In recent times the distinction between the terms has been carefully observed by well-informed writers. In French and Ger. the equivalent of monk is applied equally to 'monks' and 'friars.' [OED]

     American born, Mike began playing harmonica in 1967 at age 14. Mike’s father, Dick Richards –member local 802 AFM in NYC, was a busy, working Jazz bassist and vocalist from 1940s to 1970s. Despite all that, Mike first found the harmonica and gravitated to the sounds of Chicago Blues music, Rhythm & Blues and even the Folk Blues that was surging from the depths of New York’s Greenwich Village night clubs at that time.

After buying out Monk's contract for just over $100, Riverside convinced Monk to record an entire album of Ellington tunes. Monk Plays Ellington was followed by another album of standards by other composers, The Unique Thelonious Monk . Both albums were well received by critics, although they sold only moderately, and ironically it was his third Riverside LP Brilliant Corners , almost completely original material, which became both a commercial and critical success.

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