April Fool’s Day
. 1866 ~ Ferruccio Busoni, Italian pianist and composer
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1873 ~ Sergei Rachmaninoff, Russian-born American composer and pianist
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. 1895 ~ Alberta Hunter, American blues singer
. 1909 ~ Eddie Duchin, Bandleader
. 1917 ~ Scott Joplin, U.S. jazz musician famous for his ragtime pieces notably The Entertainer, died.
. 1932 ~ Jane Powell, Singer
. 1932 ~ Debbie Reynolds, Entertainer
. 1984 ~ Marvin (Pentz) Gaye, Jr. passed away.
. 1985 ~ The long-awaited album, We Are the World, was finally released. Eight rock stars donated previously unreleased material for the LP. Three-million copies of the award-winning single of the same name had already been sold. The song, We Are the World, was number five, and moving up, on the Billboard magazine pop single’s chart this day.
. 1991 ~ Martha Graham passed away. She was an American modern dancer and choreographer.
. 2001 ~ Eva Heinitz, who fled Nazi Germany in the prime of her career as a cello performer and was one of the first professional viola da gamba players in modern times, died at the age of 94. Heinitz, a native of Berlin, soared to prominence as a brilliant, temperamental soloist with the greatest orchestras of Europe in her 20s. Initially instructed on the cello, Heinitz taught herself to play the smaller instrument and performed the Bach Passions under the direction of Wilhelm Furtwangler and Otto Klemperer, who called her the world’s best viola da gamba player. Heinitz, who once described herself as “51 percent” Jewish, fled Germany in 1933. She lived in Paris and London, moved to New York in 1939 and was hired by Fritz Reiner as a section cellist with the Pittsburgh Symphony. She came to Seattle in 1948 and was hired as faculty cellist at the University of Washington. During her 28-year tenure, she became one of the founders of the early-music revival, which brought a renewed interest in music and instruments of the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1991, her international colleagues gathered in Indiana and accorded her the title “Grande Dame du Violoncelle” – great lady of the cello.
. 2001 ~ Trinh Cong Son, Vietnam’s most beloved singer-songwriter who opposed the Vietnam War and sought postwar reconciliation, died after a long battle with diabetes at the age of 62. Dubbed the “Bob Dylan of Vietnam” by American folk singer Joan Baez for his anti-war songs, his music is still widely performed in Vietnam and in overseas Vietnamese communities. Son, who was persecuted by the South Vietnamese government in the late 1960s and early ’70s, wrote more than 600 songs. His pacifist songs about the futility of war were banned at the time, but bootleg copies circulated throughout South Vietnam and overseas. When the war ended, most of Son’s family fled overseas but he stayed. He was equally unpopular with the new Communist government for his songs about reconciliation and spent 10 years in forced labor “re-education camps.” But by the late ’80s, he regained popularity, and his songs are still performed by some of Vietnam’s biggest pop artists.
. 2001 ~ Theodore M. “Ted” McCarty, a key figure in the development of the electric guitar and former president of Gibson Guitar Co., died at the age of 91. In his 18 years as president at Gibson, McCarty transformed the Kalamazoo, Mich.-based maker of acoustic musical instruments into the purveyor of guitars to the stars. The solid-body electric guitar was considered something of a gimmick when McCarty left the Wurlitzer Co. to join Gibson in 1948. He had a degree in commercial engineering and had been an engineering designer for the military during World War II. Despite not being musically inclined, McCarty saw possibilities in the electric guitar. At Gibson, he helped bring to life the Les Paul series, named for the blues guitarist who endorsed it, the Explorer series, widely used by both rock and country guitarists, and the radical Flying V. McCarty later bought the Bigsby Co., which manufactures vibratos for guitars. He sold the company and retired in 1999.
. 2015 ~ Cynthia Lennon, the late John Lennon’s wife from 1962-1968, has died at age 75.