None of the companies that have collected royalties on the “Happy Birthday” song for the past 80 years held a valid copyright claim to one of the most popular songs in history, a federal judge in Los Angeles ruled on Tuesday.
In a stunning reversal of decades of copyright claims, the judge ruled that Warner/Chappell never had the right to charge for the use of the “Happy Birthday To You” song. Warner had been enforcing a copyright since 1988, when it bought Birch Tree Group, the successor to Clayton F. Summy Co., which claimed the original disputed copyright.
Judge George H. King ruled that a copyright filed by the Summy Co. in 1935 granted only the rights to specific piano arrangements of the music, not the actual song.
• 1927 ~ Alfredo Kraus, Spanish tenor
• 1936 ~ Jim (James Maury) Henson, Creator of vocalist, Kermit the Frog There’s a fictional neighborhood where some of the residents are named Kermit, Big Bird, Bert & Ernie, Miss Piggy, and Oscar the Grouch. It’s called Sesame Street. The creator of the lifelike characters, Jim Henson, was born on this day. The puppeteer first named his puppets, Muppets, in 1954 when he was working as a producer of the Washington, D.C. TV show, Sam and Friends. Henson moved his Muppets to network TV in 1969. Children of all ages were able to enjoy the Muppets’ antics on the educational, yet entertaining Sesame Street. The Muppets then got their own show, The Muppet Show; which generated The Muppet Movie and other films, like The Muppets Take Manhattan and The Great Muppet Caper. And Jim Henson got the awards: 18 Emmys, 17 Grammys, 4 Peabody Awards and 5 Ace Awards (National Cable Television Association). The premier muppeteer, and voice of Kermit the Frog, died suddenly in May of 1990. Jim Henson lives on through his Muppets.
• 1942 ~ Gerry Marsden, Singer with Gerry & The Pacemakers
• 1942 ~ Glenn Miller ended his CBS radio broadcasts for Chesterfield Cigarettes. It was time for Miller to go to war. The show had aired three times a week for three years.
• 1955 ~ Millions of Americans tuned in to watch Judy Garland make her TV debut on the Ford Star Jubilee. The CBS show received the highest television ratings to that time.
• 1968 ~ The Vogues received a gold record for Turn Around Look at Me on the Reprise label.
• 2002 ~ Tim Rose, a raw-voiced folk-rocker who recorded memorable versions of Hey Joe and Morning Dew, died shortly after surgery for bowel cancer. He was 62. Rose started his music career in his home town of Washington, D.C., in a duo billed as Michael & Timothy. Rose then worked with Cass Elliot, a future member of the Mamas and the Papas, in a group called The Triumvirate. When James Hendricks – who later married Elliot – joined the group, it was renamed The Big Three. Rose signed a recording contract with Columbia in 1966, and his album, “Tim Rose,” debuted a year later. In 1968, Rose toured in Britain with a band including John Bonham, the drummer for Led Zeppelin. Rose’s musical career stalled in the 1980s. In 1996, he returned to live performing in London with a show that featured reminiscences of his career’s ups and downs.