Writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks, who died on Sunday, August 30, 2015 at age 82, spent his life wondering on the myriad connections among biology, thought, emotion and perception.
For those of us who obsess over the how and why of music, Sacks’ work on sound and its effects on the brain – and vice versa – was particularly illuminating. His book on the subject, “Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain,” remains essential reading for those who want to understand the mechanics of music.
Through bountiful research and mesmerizing case studies, Sacks addressed topics including music and amnesia, music therapy, musical prodigies and those who suffer from debilitating aural hallucinations.
• 1741 ~ George Frederick Handel completed his The Messiah. It took the composer just 23 days to complete the timeless musical treasure which is still very popular during the Christmas holiday season.
• 1814 ~ Francis Scott Key, an attorney in Washington, DC, was aboard a warship that was bombarding Fort McHenry (an outpost protecting the city of Baltimore, MD). Key wrote some famous words to express his feelings. Those words became The Star-Spangled Banner, which officially became the U.S. national anthem by an act of Congress in 1931.
The poem, originally titled “The Defence of Fort M’Henry,” was written after Key witnessed the Maryland fort being bombarded by the British during the War of 1812. Key was inspired by the sight of a lone U.S. flag still flying over Fort McHenry at daybreak, as reflected in the now-famous words of the “Star-Spangled Banner”: “And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”
• 1888 ~ Michael Haydn (1737) Austrian composer
1760 ~ Luigi Cherubini, Italian composer
More information about Cherubini
• 1910 ~ Lehman Engel, American composer, conductor and writer
• 1927 ~ Gene Austin waxed one of the first million sellers. He recorded his composition, My Blue Heaven, for Victor Records.
• 1941 ~ Priscilla Mitchell, Singer
• 1946 ~ Pete Agnew, Bass, singer with Nazareth
• 1947 ~ Jon ‘Bowzer’ Bauman, Singer with Sha Na Na
• 1950 ~ Paul Kossoff, Guitarist with Free
• 1954 ~ Barry Cowsill, Singer with The Cowsills
• 1959 ~ Morten Harket, Singer with a-ha
• 1964 ~ Mary Howe, American composer and pianist (Sand), died at the age of 82
• 1973 ~ Donny Osmond received a gold record for his hit single, The Twelfth of Never. The song, released in March of 1973, was one of five which turned gold for the young Osmond. His other solo successes were Sweet & Innocent, Go Away Little Girl, Hey Girl and Puppy Love.
• 1985 ~ The first MTV Video Music Awards were presented at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The Cars won Best Video honors for You Might Think and Michael Jackson won Best Overall Performance and Choreography for his Thriller video.
• 2002 ~ Jazz saxophonist and bandleader Paul Williams, whose 1949 Rhythm and Blues hit, The Huckle-Buck, was covered by Frank Sinatra, died, at the age of 87. Williams scored one of the first big hits of the R&B era in 1949 with The Huckle-Buck, based on Charlie Parker’s “Now’s the Time.” It was the biggest-selling record in the Savoy label’s 60-year history, topping the R&B charts for 14 weeks, and spawned vocal versions by Sinatra and others. The Huckle-Buck was one of three Top 10 and five Top 20 R&B hits Williams scored for Savoy in 1948 and 1949. Other Top 10 hits were 35-30 in 1948 and Walkin’ Around in 1949. Williams was later part of Atlantic Records’ house band in the ’60s and directed the Lloyd Price and James Brown orchestras until 1964. After leaving the music business temporarily, he opened a booking agency in New York in 1968. Born July 13, 1915, in Birmingham, Alabama, Williams played with Clarence Dorsey in 1946, and then made his recording debut with King Porter in 1947 for Paradise before forming his own band later that year. Saxophonists Noble “Thin Man” Watts and Wild Bill Moore, trumpeter Phil Guilbeau, and vocalists Danny Cobb, Jimmy Brown, Joan Shaw, and Connie Allen were among Williams’ band members.
• 2009 ~ Patrick Swayze, American actor, dancer, and songwriter (Dirty Dancing), died at the age of 57