The American Fotoplayer is a type of photoplayer developed by the American Fotoplayer Company between the years of 1912 and 1925. The Fotoplayer is a type of player piano specifically developed to provide music and sound effects for silent movies.
The appeal of the Fotoplayer to theatre owners was the fact that it took no musical skill to operate. The Fotoplayer would play the piano and pipe organ mechanically using an electric motor, an air pump, and piano rolls while the user of the Fotoplayer would follow the onscreen action while pulling cords, pushing buttons, and pressing pedals to produce relatable sounds to what was occurring onscreen. These actions could create sounds such as a steamboat whistle, a bird chirp, wind, thunder, a telephone bell, as well as many others. On Fotoplayers specifically, most effects were created using leather cords with wooden handles on the ends which the effects were directly connected to. For example, the steamboat whistle sound effect was created using a household bellows with a whistle at the end. Pulling the cord compressed the bellows, delivering a gust of air into the whistle. Creating a drum roll on the other hand was a bit more complicated. A clockwork device was needed to time the strikes of the drum which required constant winding.
• 1741 ~ George Frederick Handel completed his The Messiah. It took the composer just 23 days to complete the timeless musical treasure which is still very popular during the Christmas holiday season.
• 1888 ~ Michael Haydn (1737) Austrian composer
1760 ~ Luigi Cherubini, Italian composer
More information about Cherubini
• 1814 ~ Frances Scott Key, an attorney in Washington, DC, was aboard a warship that was bombarding Fort McHenry (an outpost protecting the city of Baltimore, MD). Key wrote some famous words to express his feelings. Those words became The Star-Spangled Banner, which officially became the U.S. national anthem by an act of Congress in 1931.
• 1910 ~ Lehman Engel, American composer, conductor and writer
• 1927 ~ Gene Austin waxed one of the first million sellers. He recorded his composition, My Blue Heaven, for Victor Records.
• 1941 ~ Priscilla Mitchell, Singer
• 1946 ~ Pete Agnew, Bass, singer with Nazareth
• 1947 ~ Jon ‘Bowzer’ Bauman, Singer with Sha Na Na
• 1950 ~ Paul Kossoff, Guitarist with Free
• 1954 ~ Barry Cowsill, Singer with The Cowsills
• 1959 ~ Morten Harket, Singer with a-ha
• 1973 ~ Donny Osmond received a gold record for his hit single, The Twelfth of Never. The song, released in March of 1973, was one of five which turned gold for the young Osmond. His other solo successes were Sweet & Innocent, Go Away Little Girl, Hey Girl and Puppy Love.
• 1985 ~ The first MTV Video Music Awards were presented at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The Cars won Best Video honors for You Might Think and MichaelJackson won Best Overall Performance and Choreography for his Thriller video.
• 2002 ~ Jazz saxophonist and band leader Paul Williams, whose 1949 Rhythm and Blues hit, The Huckle-Buck, was covered by Frank Sinatra, died, at the age of 87. Williams scored one of the first big hits of the R&B era in 1949 with The Huckle- Buck, based on Charlie Parker’s “Now’s the Time.” It was the biggest-selling record in the Savoy label’s 60-year history, topping the R&B charts for 14 weeks, and spawned vocal versions by Sinatra and others. The Huckle-Buck was one of three Top 10 and five Top 20 R&B hits Williams scored for Savoy in 1948 and 1949. Other Top 10 hits were 35-30 in 1948 and Walkin’ Around in 1949. Williams was later part of Atlantic Records’ house band in the ’60s and directed the Lloyd Price and James Brown orchestras until 1964. After leaving the music business temporarily, he opened a booking agency in New York in 1968. Born July 13, 1915, in Birmingham, Alabama, Williams played with Clarence Dorsey in 1946, and then made his recording debut with King Porter in 1947 for Paradise before forming his own band later that year. Saxophonists Noble “Thin Man” Watts and Wild Bill Moore, trumpeter Phil Guilbeau, and vocalists Danny Cobb, Jimmy Brown, Joan Shaw, and Connie Allen were among Williams’ band members.