February 18 ~ This Day in Music History

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. 1655 ~ Pietro Giovanni Guarneri, Italian violin maker
More information on Guarneri

. 1735 ~ The first opera performed in America, known as either “Flora” or “Hob in the Well”, was presented in Charleston, SC.

. 1850 ~ Sir George Henschel, German-born British conductor, composer and baritone

. 1927 ~ Singer Jessica Dragonette starred on radio’s “Cities Service Concerts” (sponsored by the oil company of the same name) and literally, “sang her way into radio immortality.” She also sang on the “Palmolive Beauty Box Theatre” in the 1930s. In 1940 she starred on Pet Milk’s “Saturday Nite Serenade”. Her many fans referred to her as the “first great voice of the air.”

. 1933 ~ Yoko Ono, Japanese-born American rock singer, songwriter and artist Widow of John Lennon
More information on Ono

. 1938 ~ One of the most famous and popular motion pictures of all time lit up the silver screen, as The Big Broadcast of 1938 was released to movie houses. The film featured Bob Hope and his version of what would be his theme song, Thanks for the Memory. The song received an Oscar for Best Song. Dorothy Lamour and W.C. Fields also had starring roles in the film.

. 1941 ~ Herman Santiago, Singer with Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers

. 1942 ~ The Mills Brothers waxed one of their three greatest hits. Paper Doll became Decca record #18318. In addition to Paper Doll, the other two classics by the Mills Brothers are: You Always Hurt The One You Love in 1944 and Glow Worm in 1952.

. 1964 ~ “Any Wednesday” opened at the Music Box Theatre in New York City. The play established Gene Hackman as an actor. Don Porter and Sandy Dennis also starred in the show.

. 2001 ~ Legendary singer and songwriter Charles Trenet, whose fanciful ballads and poetic love songs captured the hearts of the French for more than six decades, died of a stroke at the age of 87. Trenet, who wrote nearly 1,000 songs and gained world renown with the romantic ballad La Mer (The Sea), was decorated in 1998 by President Jacques Chirac as a Commander of the Legion of Honor – France’s highest civilian honor. La Mer was recorded in 1946 and remade by American Bobby Darin as Beyond the Sea in 1960. Known as Le Fou Chantant (The Singing Fool), Trenet was known for his flashing smile, tilted-back hat and buttonhole carnation. Trenet spent several years in the United States after World War II, appearing in Broadway cabarets. He returned to France in 1951 and resumed a career that included five novels and lead roles in a dozen films.

. 2003 ~ Jonathan Eberhart, 60, an award-winning aerospace writer who also was a folk singer and a founder in 1964 of the Folklore Society of Greater Washington, died. By day, Mr. Eberhart was space sciences editor of the weekly newsmagazine Science News, covering space sciences and the development of the U.S. aerospace program. He worked there for more than 30 years before he retired in 1991. For three decades, he also was a fixture of the Washington folk music scene, performing and recording on his own and with the group Boarding Party. He helped folk singer Pete Seeger sail the sloop Clearwater on its maiden voyage and sang at performances along the route and on the record of sea chanteys made by the crew. He wrote songs — including “Lament for a Red Planet,” inspired by his coverage of NASA’s Mars explorer mission for Science News — and collected rare folk music and instruments from around the world. Among Mr. Eberhart’s own records were “Life’s Trolley Ride” on the Folk-Legacy label. He helped stage the Folklore Society’s popular free summer festivals, which drew thousands of music lovers to Glen Echo Park and other venues. The gatherings started out as concerts at the Washington Ethical Society. They quickly grew into two-day, five-stage celebrations co-sponsored by the National Park Service. Hundreds of singers, dancers, musicians, storytellers and craftspeople came, along with thousands of visitors over a weekend. Mr. Eberhart was born in Evanston, Ill., and raised in Hastings-On-Hudson, N.Y. He attended Harvard University, working during the summer at Science News, and then joining the staff as a writer in 1964. Mr. Eberhart’s contributions to the local music scene included a radio program on international folk music for WGTB. His search for international talent reached to more than 30 countries as well as Washington’s own international communities. “It’s easy to find a good banjo player,” he said in an interview in The Washington Post, “but how do you find an Eritrean krar lyre player?” One of his investigative techniques was to ask cabdrivers speaking accented English where they were born and whether they knew someone who could play native instruments. The result would be festival or folklore society acts from Afghanistan or Iceland or Vietnam. Mr. Eberhart also wrote articles about music for publications that included Sing Out and liner notes for numerous recordings, notably the Nonesuch Explorer international series world music.

. 2003 ~ Faith Marian Forrest, 83, a pianist who performed in recitals in Washington and elsewhere in the country and taught at her Kensington home, died of cancer. Mrs. Forrest was a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., and a graduate of Brooklyn College. She did graduate work in music at Columbia University. After moving to Washington in 1941, she was a secretary for the War Department. From 1942 to 1946, she worked for the music department of the Library of Congress. Until the mid-1960s, she gave recitals, sometimes with her husband, clarinetist Sidney Forrest, at concert locations that included the Phillips Gallery as well as in Baltimore, New York and the Midwest. She taught piano during the summer for several decades at the Interlochen Arts Camps in Michigan and taught privately at home until last year.

. 2003 ~ Johnny Paycheck, the carousing country music singer best remembered for his blue-collar anthem Take This Job and Shove It died. His 1977 hit about a factory worker bent on revenge against his boss still resonates with listeners and continues to get radio play, especially on Friday afternoons. Paycheck had nearly three-dozen hits, beginning with the hard-driving 1965 song A-11. He earned two Grammy nominations during his career, the first in 1971 for the single She’s All I Got and the second in 1978 for Take This Job and Shove It. He had a powerful, expressive voice, distinctive inflection and a knack for delivering solid country emotion. Born Donald Eugene Lytle in Greenfield, Ohio, he picked up a guitar at age 6, and was performing and traveling on his own by age 15. He launched his career as a sideman to such stars as George Jones and Faron Young. He adopted the name Paycheck from a boxer.

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