None of the companies that have collected royalties on the “Happy Birthday” song for the past 80 years held a valid copyright claim to one of the most popular songs in history, a federal judge in Los Angeles ruled on Tuesday.
In a stunning reversal of decades of copyright claims, the judge ruled that Warner/Chappell never had the right to charge for the use of the “Happy Birthday To You” song. Warner had been enforcing a copyright since 1988, when it bought Birch Tree Group, the successor to Clayton F. Summy Co., which claimed the original disputed copyright.
Judge George H. King ruled that a copyright filed by the Summy Co. in 1935 granted only the rights to specific piano arrangements of the music, not the actual song.
• 1924 ~ Bud Powell, American jazz pianist and composer
• 1930 ~ Igor Kipnis, American harpsichordist 1933 ~ NBC radio debuted Waltz Time, featuring the orchestra of Abe Lymon. The program continued on the network until 1948.
• 1938 ~ Clarinet virtuoso Artie Shaw recorded the song that would become his theme song. Nightmare was waxed on the Bluebird Jazz label. 1938 ~ Thanks for the Memory was heard for the first time on The Bob Hope Show on the NBC Red radio network. Who was the bandleader? If you said Les Brown, you’d be … wrong. It was Skinnay Ennis accompanying Hope at the time.
• 1941 ~ Don Nix, Baritone sax with The Mar-Keys, Booker T and the M.G.’s, composer
• 1942 ~ Just after leaving CBS radio, Glenn Miller led his civilian band for the last time at the Central Theatre in beautiful Passaic, NJ. Miller had volunteered for wartime duty.
• 1943 ~ Randy Bachman, Guitarist, singer with Bachman-Turner Overdrive
• 1945 ~ Misha Dichter, American pianist, married to Cipa Dichter
• 1951 ~ Meat Loaf (Marvin Lee Aday), Singer, actor
• 1953 ~ Greg Ham, Saxophone, flute, keyboards with Men at Work
• 1954 ~ The Tonight show debuted on NBC-TV. Steve Allen hosted the late-night program which began as a local New York show on WNBT-TV in June 1953. Tonight became a launching pad for Steve and hundreds of guests, including Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. Skitch Henderson and orchestra provided the music. Ernie Kovacs was the host from 1956 until 1957.
• 1962 ~ Detroit secretary Martha Reeves cut a side with a group called The Vandellas and the result was I’ll Have to Let Him Go. Soon thereafter, the hits of Martha and The Vandellas just kept on comin’.
• 1962 ~ After a concert that featured folk music at Carnegie Hall, The New York Times gave a glowing review in a story about “Bob Dylan: A Distinctive Folk Song Stylist.”
• 1970 ~ “Round and round and round it goes and where it stops, nobody knows.” Ted Mack said, “Good night from Geritol” for the last time. After 22 years on television, the curtain closed on The Original Amateur Hour on CBS. The show had been on ABC, NBC, CBS and originated on the Dumont Television Network.