Jelly Roll Morton, born Ferdinand Joseph La Menthe in 1885, was one of the most influential composers of the jazz era, bridging an important gap between ragtime, blues, and jazz. In a sense, he was the first great jazz composer.
His career began in New Orleans, where he began to experiment with a unique blend of blues, ragtime, Creole, and Spanish music in bordellos as a piano player. Along with being a musician, he also worked as a gambler, pool shark, vaudeville comedian, and was known for his flamboyant personality and diamond front tooth.
Morton became successful when he started making what would be some of the first jazz recordings in 1923 with “the New Orleans Rhythm Kings”. Whether he played on the West Coast, New Orleans, or in Chicago, his recordings were always very popular. He joined the group “the Red Hot Peppers” in 1924 and made several classic albums with the Victor label.
Nothing but success came to him until 1930, when “Hot Jazz” began to die out, and big bands began to take over. Morton died in 1941, claiming that a voodoo spell was the cause of his demise.
• 1902 ~ The Gibson Mandolin guitar company was formed. Gibson’s first electric guitar the ES-150 was produced in 1936, and in 1946 Gibson introduced the P-90 single coil pickup, which was eventually used on the first Les Paul model made in 1952.
• 1906 ~ Paul Creston, American composer and organist
• 1908 ~ Johnny Green, Songwriter of Coquette, Body and Soul, I’m Yours, (You Came Along From) Out of Nowhere, I Cover the Waterfront, Easy Come, Easy Go; won five Oscars for work on MGM films: “Easter Parade”, “West Side Story”, “Oliver”, “An American in Paris”, “Bye Bye Birdie”, “High Society”, “Raintree County”, “The Great Caruso”, “Summer Stock” and “Brigadoon”
• 1914 ~ Ivory Joe Hunter, Singer, pianist, songwriter
• 1920 ~ Thelonious (Sphere) Monk, American jazz pianist and composer
• 1928 ~ You’re the Cream in My Coffee … comes from “Hold Everything”, which opened on Broadway this day and ran for 413 performances.
• 1937 ~ The Mutual Broadcasting System debuted Thirty Minutes in Hollywood. 48 sponsors shared the cost of the program that aired in 72 cities nationwide. It was the first Mutual co-op radio show. George Jessel and Norma Talmadge starred. Music was provided by the Tommy Tucker Orchestra.
• 1940 ~ Moonlight and Roses, by Lanny Ross, was recorded on the Victor label.
• 1942 ~ The anniversary of the first production of Verdi’s opera Aida by an all African-American cast
• 1946 ~ Ben Vereen, American dancer and singer of popular music, Tony Award-winning actor, TV host of You Write the Songs
• 1953 ~ Midge (James) Ure, Singer, songwriter
• 1955 ~ David Lee Roth, Singer with Van Halen
• 1958 ~ Tanya Tucker, Singer
• 1961 ~ Martin Kemp, Bass with Spandau Ballet, brother of musician Gary Kemp
• 1970 ~ Neil Diamond reached the #1 spot on the pop music charts for the first time with Cracklin’ Rosie. In 1972, Diamond would reach a similar pinnacle with Song Sung Blue.
• 1979 ~ Not just Rumours, but fact, that Fleetwood Mac got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
• 1985 ~ Yul Brynner passed away
• 2001 ~ Patricia Anne McKinnon, whose singing career began on Canadian television’s “Singalong Jubilee”, died of lymphatic cancer. She was 53. McKinnon was born in Shilo, Manitoba. Beginning her singing career at the age of 13, McKinnon sang for the Halifax-produced “Singalong Jubilee,” a show on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. She also starred in television programs, including “Juliette,” “Show of the Week,” and “A Go Go ’66.” For more than 28 years McKinnon fought Hodgkins disease, which put her career on hold at times.
• 2003 ~ Eugene Istomin, one of the first great classical pianists born in America, died after battling liver cancer. He was 77. At 17, Istomin won both the prestigious Leventritt and Philadelphia Youth Orchestra awards. In 1943, he made sensational debuts in the same week with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy and the New York Philharmonic under Artur Rodzinski, playing Johannes Brahms’Second Piano Concerto. At 25, he began a long association with cellist Pablo Casals. A year and a half after Casals’ death in 1973, Istomin married his widow, Marta, now president of the Manhattan School of Music. In a career that carried him throughout the world, Istomin gave more than 4,000 concerts with leading conductors – including Bruno Walter, Fritz Reiner, George Szell, Leopold Stokowski and Leonard Bernstein.
• 2010 ~ Dame Joan Sutherland, Australian operatic soprano died at the age of 83