Happy Boxing Day! Boxing Day is a holiday traditionally celebrated the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts, known as a “Christmas box”, from their masters, employers or customers, in the United Kingdom,The Bahamas, Barbados, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, Bermuda, New Zealand, Kenya, South Africa, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and other former British colonies. Today, Boxing Day is a public holiday usually falling on 26 December.
1678 ~ Johann Georg Pisendel
• 1762 ~ Franz Wilhelm Tausch
• 1931 ~ George Gershwin’s musical, Of Thee I Sing, opened at the Music Box Theatre in New York City. The show became the first American musical to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize.
• 1935 ~ Abdul ‘Duke’ Fakir, Singer with The Four Tops
• 1939 ~ W.C. Handy of Memphis, TN one of the legendary blues composers of all time, recorded the classic St. Louis Blues. W.C. and his band recorded in New York for Varsity Records. Handy was one of the first to use the flat third and seventh notes in his compositions, known in the music world as ‘blue’ notes. The music awards for blues artists’ are called the W.C. Handy National Blues Awards.
• 1940 ~ Phil Spector, ‘Tycoon of Teen’, record company executive, the originator of Wall of Sound, sang with The Teddy Bears, songwriter
• 1942 ~ Adriana Maliponte, Italian soprano
• 1952 ~ André-Michel Schub, French-born American pianist
• 1963 ~ Capitol Records rushed to release its first single by the Fab Four, otherwise known as The Beatles. I Want to Hold Your Hand, backed with I Saw Her Standing There, reached #1 on February 1, 1964. The flood of music by John, Paul, George and Ringo had started the British Invasion; changing contemporary music forever.
• 1964 ~ More Beatles news: The Fab Four got their sixth #1 hit song since February 1, as I Feel Fine became the top tune this day. The first five #1 hits by The Beatles were: I Want to Hold Your Hand, She Loves You, Can’t Buy Me Love, Love Me Do and A Hard Day’s Night.
• 1967 ~ A sad day for jazz fans, as the Dave Brubeck Quartet formally disbanded after sax man Paul Desmond left the group. Desmond was a fixture with the quartet for 16 years and can be heard on all the immortal Brubeck standards, including Take Five.
• 1999 ~ Curtis Mayfield passed away
• 2001 ~ Edward Downes, a professor best known as host of the “Texaco Opera Quiz” heard during live Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts, died at the age of 90. Opera experts answered questions from listeners in the opera quiz, held during opera intermissions from 1958 to 1996. Known for his wit and mellow baritone voice, Downes put his panelists at ease and offered teasing hints to the answers when experts were stumped. Born in Boston, Downes began attending operas at a young age with his father, Olin Downes, who later became chief music critic at The New York Times. Edward Downes, who never completed an undergraduate degree, received a Ph.D. in musicology from Harvard University at the age of 47. He later taught at Wellesley College, the Longy School of Music, the University of Minnesota and Queens College.
• 2017 ~ Bonnie Hearne, singer, piano player and half of a celebrated musical couple that entertained New Mexico audiences with their folk and country music for decades, died at the age of 71.