May 5 ~ This Day in Music History

cinco-de-mayo

Cinco de Mayo

• 1891 ~ New York City was the site of the dedication of a building called the Music Hall. It was quite a celebration. A festival was held for five days, featuring guest conductor Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky. The structure is not called the Music Hall anymore. It’s called Carnegie Hall, named in honor of Andrew Carnegie.

• 1900 ~ The Billboard, a magazine for the music and entertainment industries, began weekly publication after six years as a monthly. The name was later shortened to Billboard.

• 1910 ~ Giulietta Simionato, Italian contralto

• 1927 ~ Charles Rosen, American pianist, musicologist, and writer

• 1934 ~ Ace Cannon, Saxophonist

• 1935 ~ The radio program, Rhythm at Eight, made its debut. The star of the show was 24-year-old Ethel Merman. Though Merman would become a legend years later, she didn’t fare so well on radio. Her show was taken off the air after 13 weeks and Miss Merman returned to her first love, Broadway. Tammy Wynette (1942) (Pugh) Grammy Award-winning country singer and songwriter

• 1948 ~ Bill Ward, Musician, drummer

• 1955 ~ The musical, Damn Yankees, opened in New York City for a successful run of 1,019 performances. The show at the 42nd Street Theatre mixed both baseball and ballet. It is an adaptation of the book, The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant. Gwen Verdon starred in the role of Lola. Whatever Lola wants Lola gets including the Tony for Best Actress in a musical for her performance.

• 1973 ~ 56,800 fans paid $309,000 to see Led Zeppelin at Tampa Stadium. This was the largest, paid crowd ever assembled in the U.S. to see a single musical act. The concert topped The Beatles 55,000-person audience at Shea Stadium in New York ($301,000) on August 15, 1965.

• 2000 ~ Hugh N. Pruett, the wardrobe director for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, died at 68. Pruett worked with countless international opera singers, directors and designers on 329 productions in his more than 40 years with the Lyric Opera.

• 2002 ~ Veteran movie director George Sidney, famed for such musicals as “Anchors Aweigh,” “Kiss Me Kate” and “Annie Get Your Gun,” died at his Las Vegas home. Born into a show business family, the Long Island, New York, native shot 28 features in 27 years, and worked with such stars as Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Tony Curtis, Lana Turner, Dick Van Dyke, Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret. He once defined a star as “someone who attracts your attention even when he or she isn’t doing anything.” After making his mark in short films, Sidney moved to features in 1941 with “Thousands Cheer,” a hit musical starring Kathryn Grayson and Gene Kelly. “Anchors Aweigh” (1945), which starred Sinatra and Gene Kelly as sailors on liberty, received five Oscar nominations including best picture. In 1950, Sidney took over the troubled production of “Annie Get Your Gun,” which was a major success — as was his 1951 remake of “Show Boat” and his 1953 film version of Cole Porter’s musical “Kiss Me Kate.” In 1963, he directed Presley and Ann-Margret in “Viva Las Vegas,” considered one of the better entries in the rock legend’s woeful Hollywood career. Sidney’s last film was the 1968 British musical “Half a Sixpence,” starring Tommy Steele. Sidney served two stints as president of the Directors Guild of America, and helped animators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera set up what would become a cartoon powerhouse.

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