Christmas Music: I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day
• 1660 ~ André Campra, French composer
• 1667 ~ Michel Pignolet De Monteclair, French composer
• 1861 ~ Lillian Russell (Helen Louise Leonard), Singer, actress, burlesque
• 1879 ~ Sir Herbert Hamilton Harty, Irish composer, conductor, pianist and organist
• 1915 ~ Eddie Heywood, Jr., Pianist, composer
• 1927 ~ Duke Ellington’s big band opened the famed Cotton Club in Harlem. It was the first appearance of the Duke’s new and larger group. He played the club until 1932.
For part 2:
• 1934 ~ Ethel Merman recorded I Get a Kick Out of You, from Cole Porter’s musical, Anything Goes. She was backed by the Johnny Green Orchestra. The tune was recorded for Brunswick Records.
• 1934 ~ Wink (Winston Conrad) Martindale, TV host, singer
• 1938 ~ Yvonne Minton, Australian mezzo-soprano
• 1940 ~ John Cale, Bass, keyboard, viola, singer with The Velvet Underground
• 1942 ~ Bob Mosley, Bass with Moby Grape
• 1942 ~ Chris Hillman, Guitar, bass, mandolin with The Byrds
• 1944 ~ Dennis Wilson, American rock-and-roll singer and drummer
• 1948 ~ Southside Johnny (Lyon), Singer with Southside Johnny and The Asbury Dukes
• 1965 ~ Composer, lyricist, and singer, Jacques Brel made his American debut in concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Brel composed Jackie, You’re Not Alone, If You Go Away and more.
• 1972 ~ Billy Paul from Philadelphia received a gold record for his smash hit, Meand Mrs. Jones.
• 1976 ~ Baron (Edward) Benjamin Britten (of Aldeburgh) died in Aldeburgh. He was a British composer, conductor, and pianist.
More information about Britten
• 2002 ~ Emmy-nominated pianist George Gaffney, who accompanied such musicians as Peggy Lee, Engelbert Humperdink and Sarah Vaughan, died. He was 62. Born in New York City, Gaffney began studying the piano at age 10 but switched to the trombone. After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1958 to 1961, Gaffney returned to New York, where he played piano and began arranging and accompanying singers. Gaffney moved to the Chicago area in the mid-1960s and was musical director of the Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, Wis., where he first met Vaughan. Gaffney came to California in the early 1970s and found work as a studio musician and accompanist. He worked on a number of television programs, including the TV series “Moonlighting,” and was nominated for an Emmy. From 1980 to 1990, he was Vaughan’s accompanist and musical director. He moved to Las Vegas in 1994 and worked as Humperdink’s musical director. In recent years, he also orchestrated tunes for Rita Moreno.
• 2002 ~ Mary Hansen, guitarist and vocalist with the ’90s alternative band Stereolab died. She was 36. Hansen, from Maryborough in Queensland, Australia, died in a cycling accident in London, The Independent newspaper reported Friday. Details of the accident were not available. Band spokesman Mick Houghton was quoted by The Independent as saying a truck might have backed into her, “but I really don’t know much more than that.” Hansen joined the band in 1992, two years after it was formed by Tim Gane, formerly of the band McCarthy, and his girlfriend Laetitia Sadier. Among hundreds of messages posted on the band Web site, one from a fan who identified himself as Louis called Hansen “the soul” of the band. Hansen, who played several instruments, first appeared on 1992’s LoFi single and all subsequent releases, including 1994’s Mars Audiac Quintet and 1996’s Emperor Tomato Ketchup. Stereolab had been working on a new album, expected to be released next year.
• 2003 ~ Barry Morell, a tenor who played leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera and internationally for more than two decades, died of esophageal cancer. He was 75. Morell began his career as a baritone, until he sought the guidance of former Metropolitan Opera baritone Giuseppe Danise, who told him he should be a tenor. He was best known for performing the operas of Puccini. He made his debut as Pinkerton in “Madame Butterfly” in 1955 with the New York City Center Opera Company. In 1958, he made his Met debut in the same role. He appeared in Berlin, Barcelona, Vienna and other opera houses in Europe, South America and across the United States. Among his more than 20 roles during 257 performances at the Met were Rodolfo in “La Boheme,” Enzo in “La Gioconda” and the title roles of “Don Carlo”and “Faust”.