. 1904 ~ Ray Bolger (Raymond Wallace Bulcao), Dancer, actor in The Wizard of Oz
. 1910 ~ Galina Ulanova, Russian-born ballerina with the Bolshoi Ballet from 1944 to 1962
. 1917 ~ Jerry Wexler, Record producer, Atlantic Records
. 1925 ~ Max Roach, Jazz musician/drummer, composer: Freedom Now Suite; educator: taught at Lennox, MA School of Jazz and Yale; Professor of Music at University of Massachusetts, Amherst Note: This is my Alma Mater, and Michael’s as well.
. 1927 ~ Gisele MacKenzie (LaFleche), Singer
. 1927 ~ Johnnie Ray, Singer
. 1935 ~ Sherrill Milnes, American baritone
. 1943 ~ Jim Croce, Singer, songwriter
. 1944 ~ Frank Sinatra, Jr., Singer, bandleader
. 1945 ~ Ronny Light, Songwriter, Nashville studio musician
. 1945 ~ Rod Stewart, British rock singer
. 1945 ~ Erskine Hawkins waxed a classic for Victor Records. The tune, with the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra, was titled Tippin’ In.
. 1946 ~ Bob Lang, Bass with Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders
. 1947 ~ “Finian’s Rainbow” opened on the Great White Way in New York City. The musical played for 725 performances. Years later, Petula Clark would star and sing in the movie version.
. 1948 ~ Donald Fagen, Keyboard with Steely Dan
. 1948 ~ Cyril Neville, Percussion, singer with The Neville Brothers
. 1949 ~ The Radio Corporation of America, sometimes known as RCA, announced a new 7-inch, 45 rpm phonograph record. Soon, the 45, the record with the big hole in the middle, would change the pop music business. RCA even manufactured a record player that played only 45s – with a fat spindle that made “stacking wax” real simple and automatic.
. 1953 ~ Theo Mackeben, German pianist/composer (Golden Cage), died at the age of 56
. 1953 ~ Pat Benatar, Grammy award-winning singer
. 1956 ~ Elvis Presley recorded his first tunes as an RCA Victor artist. Recording in Nashville, Elvis sang Heartbreak Hotel, I Was the One, I’m Counting On You, I Got a Woman and Money Honey. Heartbreak Hotel was #1 by April 11, 1956 and stayed there for eight weeks. It was #1 on the pop and rhythm and blues charts and number five on the country music list.
. 1960 ~ Marty Robbins’ hit tune, El Paso, held the record for the longest #1 song to that time. The song ran 5 minutes and 19 seconds, giving many radio station Program Directors fits; because the average record length at that time was around 2 minutes, and formats didn’t allow for records much longer than that, (e.g., 2-minute record, 3 minutes for commercials, 60 seconds for promo, 2-minute record, etc.). DJs got used to the longer length quickly, however, realizing it gave them time, before the record ended, to actually think of something to say next.
. 1969 ~ Elvis Presley’s single, Don’t Cry Daddy, entered the Top 10 on the pop charts this day. If you listened to this song carefully, you’d hear a vocal duet with country artist Ronnie Milsap.
. 1976 ~ Howlin’ Wolf passed away. Chester Arthur Burnett, known as Howlin’ Wolf, was an African-American Chicago blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player, from Mississippi. With a booming voice and looming physical presence, he is one of the best-known Chicago blues artists.
. 1984 ~ Cyndi Lauper became the first female recording artist since Bobbie Gentry in 1967 to be nominated for five Grammy Awards: Album of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Pop Vocal Performance (Female), Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
. 1986 ~ The uncut version of Jerome Kern’s musical, “Showboat”, opened at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. It marked the first time in almost 60 years that the four-hour version of the classic production had played before a mostly awake audience.
. 2000 ~ Gospel singer Willie Neal “The Country Boy” Johnson died of a stroke at the age of 65. Johnson was a longtime member of the Gospel Keynotes, which produced more than 20 albums, including Ain’t No Stopping Us Now, and signature song That’s My Son. Ain’t No Stopping Us Now received a Grammy nomination in 1981. The group signed with Malaco Records in 1985 and changed its name to Willie Neal Johnson and the New Keynotes. The group received a Stellar Award for Lord Take Us Through, The Country Boy Goes Homeand a Stellar nomination for The Country Boy Goes Home II. Johnson’s group was inducted into The American Gospel Quartet Hall of Fame in Birmingham, Ala., and The Gospel Music Hall of Fame in Detroit in 1999.
. 2002 ~ Moe Foner, a labor official who brought art, theater and music to the largest health care workers union in New York City, died at the age of 86. As an executive secretary for New York’s Health and Human Service Union, Foner worked as a lobbyist, strategist and slogan writer for the city’s hospital workers for several decades. Foner was also the founder of Bread and Roses, a cultural program which organized art exhibitions and performances for union members, often during workers’ lunch hours. Under his direction, Bread and Roses recruited performers from folksingers Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie to the ventriloquist Shari Lewis. He hired rising stars like Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee and Sidney Poitier to put on annual shows about civil rights for hospital workers. Foner also installed the only art gallery at a union headquarters. Born in Brooklyn, Foner graduated from Brooklyn College in 1936 and was employed by several other unions, including the now-defunct Department Store Local 1250, before going to work for the health care workers union.
. 2016 ~ David Bowie died after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer. Bowie was an English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, arranger, painter, and actor.