President’s Day: Musical Presidents

presidents-day

 

Presidents’ Day (celebrated on the third Monday in February), was originally established in 1885 in recognition of George Washington. The holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of the 1971 Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers. Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present.

Wondering how many U.S. Presidents played musical instruments?

Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826) Third president of the United States, drafted the Declaration of Independence, and played the violin and cello.

John Quincy Adams (1767 – 1848) The sixth president of the United States formulated the Monroe Doctrine, and played the flute.

John Tyler (1790-1862) The tenth president of the United States was the first Vice President to become President by the death of his predecessor.  He played the violin.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) The sixteenth president of the United States issued the Emancipation Proclamation and played the violin.

Ulysses S. Grant (1822- 1884) The eighteenth president of the United States certainly scrapes the bottom of the list. He was tone deaf and famously commented, “I only know two tunes. One of them is Yankee Doodle and the other isn’t.”

Chester Alan Arthur (1829 – 1886) Became the 21st president of the United States following the assassination of President James A. Garfield. He played the banjo.

Franklin Roosevelt (1882-1945) The 32nd President of the United States and the fifth cousin to President Theodore Roosevelt, played the piano and sang soprano in his school choir.

Woodrow Wilson (1856 – 1924) The 28th president of the United States and creator of the League of Nations, played the violin and sang tenor in his college glee club.

Warren Harding (1865-1923) The 29th president of the United States organized the Citizen’s Cornet Band, available for both Republican and Democratic rallies. He once remarked that, “I played every instrument but the slide trombone and the E-flat cornet.”

Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) The 30th president of the United States was determined to preserve old moral and economic precepts amid American prosperity. He played the harmonica.

Harry Truman (1884 – 1972) The 33rd president of the United States who served during the conclusion of World War II, played the piano.

Richard Nixon (1913 – 1994) The 37th president of the United States, who ended American fighting in Vietnam and later resigned from office in the aftermath of the Watergate Scandal, was a classically-trained pianist and also played the accordion. He composed and played this piece, set to concerto form with “15 Democratic violinists.”  Nixon takes a dig at Harry Truman just before playing.:

Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) The 40th president of the United States implemented the Reagan Revolution, which aimed to reinvigorate the American people and reduce their reliance upon Government. He played the harmonica.

Bill Clinton (born 1946) The 42nd president of the United States and the first Democratic president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win a second term, plays the saxophone.

Barack Obama (born 1961) The 44th president of the United States and first African American president has broken into song on several recent occasions. President Obama sang Amazing Grace at the funeral for South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney:

On February 18 in Music History

presidents-day

. 1655 ~ Pietro Giovanni Guarneri, Italian violin maker
More information on Guarneri

. 1735 ~ The first opera performed in America, known as either “Flora” or “Hob in the Well”, was presented in Charleston, SC.

. 1850 ~ Sir George Henschel, German-born British conductor, composer and baritone

. 1927 ~ Singer Jessica Dragonette starred on radio’s “Cities Service Concerts” (sponsored by the oil company of the same name) and literally, “sang her way into radio immortality.” She also sang on the “Palmolive Beauty Box Theatre” in the 1930s. In 1940 she starred on Pet Milk’s “Saturday Nite Serenade”. Her many fans referred to her as the “first great voice of the air.”

. 1933 ~ Yoko Ono, Japanese-born American rock singer, songwriter and artist Widow of John Lennon
More information on Ono

. 1938 ~ One of the most famous and popular motion pictures of all time lit up the silver screen, as The Big Broadcast of 1938 was released to movie houses. The film featured Bob Hope and his version of what would be his theme song, Thanks for the Memory. The song received an Oscar for Best Song. Dorothy Lamour and W.C. Fields also had starring roles in the film.

. 1941 ~ Herman Santiago, Singer with Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers

. 1942 ~ The Mills Brothers waxed one of their three greatest hits. Paper Doll became Decca record #18318. In addition to Paper Doll, the other two classics by the Mills Brothers are: You Always Hurt The One You Love in 1944 and Glow Worm in 1952.

. 1964 ~ “Any Wednesday” opened at the Music Box Theatre in New York City. The play established Gene Hackman as an actor. Don Porter and Sandy Dennis also starred in the show.

. 1956 ~ Gustave Charpentier, French opera composer (Louise), died at the age of 95

. 1987 ~ Dmitry Borisovich Kabalevsky, composer, died at the age of 82
More about Kabalevsky

. 2001 ~ Legendary singer and songwriter Charles Trenet, whose fanciful ballads and poetic love songs captured the hearts of the French for more than six decades, died of a stroke at the age of 87. Trenet, who wrote nearly 1,000 songs and gained world renown with the romantic ballad La Mer (The Sea), was decorated in 1998 by President Jacques Chirac as a Commander of the Legion of Honor – France’s highest civilian honor. La Mer was recorded in 1946 and remade by American Bobby Darin as Beyond the Sea in 1960. Known as Le Fou Chantant (The Singing Fool), Trenet was known for his flashing smile, tilted-back hat and buttonhole carnation. Trenet spent several years in the United States after World War II, appearing in Broadway cabarets. He returned to France in 1951 and resumed a career that included five novels and lead roles in a dozen films.

. 2003 ~ Jonathan Eberhart, 60, an award-winning aerospace writer who also was a folk singer and a founder in 1964 of the Folklore Society of Greater Washington, died. By day, Mr. Eberhart was space sciences editor of the weekly newsmagazine Science News, covering space sciences and the development of the U.S. aerospace program. He worked there for more than 30 years before he retired in 1991. For three decades, he also was a fixture of the Washington folk music scene, performing and recording on his own and with the group Boarding Party. He helped folk singer Pete Seeger sail the sloop Clearwater on its maiden voyage and sang at performances along the route and on the record of sea chanteys made by the crew. He wrote songs — including “Lament for a Red Planet,” inspired by his coverage of NASA’s Mars explorer mission for Science News — and collected rare folk music and instruments from around the world. Among Mr. Eberhart’s own records were “Life’s Trolley Ride” on the Folk-Legacy label. He helped stage the Folklore Society’s popular free summer festivals, which drew thousands of music lovers to Glen Echo Park and other venues. The gatherings started out as concerts at the Washington Ethical Society. They quickly grew into two-day, five-stage celebrations co-sponsored by the National Park Service. Hundreds of singers, dancers, musicians, storytellers and craftspeople came, along with thousands of visitors over a weekend. Mr. Eberhart was born in Evanston, Ill., and raised in Hastings-On-Hudson, N.Y. He attended Harvard University, working during the summer at Science News, and then joining the staff as a writer in 1964. Mr. Eberhart’s contributions to the local music scene included a radio program on international folk music for WGTB. His search for international talent reached to more than 30 countries as well as Washington’s own international communities. “It’s easy to find a good banjo player,” he said in an interview in The Washington Post, “but how do you find an Eritrean krar lyre player?” One of his investigative techniques was to ask cabdrivers speaking accented English where they were born and whether they knew someone who could play native instruments. The result would be festival or folklore society acts from Afghanistan or Iceland or Vietnam. Mr. Eberhart also wrote articles about music for publications that included Sing Out and liner notes for numerous recordings, notably the Nonesuch Explorer international series world music.

. 2003 ~ Faith Marian Forrest, 83, a pianist who performed in recitals in Washington and elsewhere in the country and taught at her Kensington home, died of cancer. Mrs. Forrest was a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., and a graduate of Brooklyn College. She did graduate work in music at Columbia University. After moving to Washington in 1941, she was a secretary for the War Department. From 1942 to 1946, she worked for the music department of the Library of Congress. Until the mid-1960s, she gave recitals, sometimes with her husband, clarinetist Sidney Forrest, at concert locations that included the Phillips Gallery as well as in Baltimore, New York and the Midwest. She taught piano during the summer for several decades at the Interlochen Arts Camps in Michigan and taught privately at home until last year.

. 2003 ~ Johnny Paycheck, the carousing country music singer best remembered for his blue-collar anthem Take This Job and Shove It died. His 1977 hit about a factory worker bent on revenge against his boss still resonates with listeners and continues to get radio play, especially on Friday afternoons. Paycheck had nearly three-dozen hits, beginning with the hard-driving 1965 song A-11. He earned two Grammy nominations during his career, the first in 1971 for the single She’s All I Got and the second in 1978 for Take This Job and Shove It. He had a powerful, expressive voice, distinctive inflection and a knack for delivering solid country emotion. Born Donald Eugene Lytle in Greenfield, Ohio, he picked up a guitar at age 6, and was performing and traveling on his own by age 15. He launched his career as a sideman to such stars as George Jones and Faron Young. He adopted the name Paycheck from a boxer.

. 2014 ~ Maria Franziska von Trapp, Austrian-born American singer, died at the age of 99

On February 17 in Music History

today

. 1653 ~ Arcangelo Corelli, Italian violinist and composer
More information on Corelli

. 1902 ~ Marian Anderson, American contralto
Read quotes by and about Anderson
More information on Anderson

. 1904 ~ Puccini’s opera, Madama Butterfly was first performed at La Scala, world’s most famous opera house in Milan, Italy.

. 1909 ~ Marjorie Lawrence, Opera soprano: “One of the truest Wagnerian interpreters of our time, unchallenged for the stirring magnificence of her Brunnhilde and the tender simplicity of her Sieglinde, or the stately loveliness of her Elsa and the compelling malevolence of her Ortrud.”

. 1923 ~ Buddy (Boniface) DeFranco, Clarinetist, bandleader. He won all modern jazz music polls in the early 1950s

. 1933 ~ Bobby Lewis, Pianist, singer

. 1941 ~ Gene Pitney, Singer, songwriter

. 1945 ~ Zina Bethune, Dancer, choreographer, actress

. 1946 ~ Dodie Stevens (Geraldine Ann Pasquale), Singer

. 1954 ~ Doris Day’s single, Secret Love, became the #1 tune in the U.S. The song, from the motion picture, “Calamity Jane”, stayed at the top of the music charts for three weeks.

. 1962 ~ The Beach Boys started making waves with their first Southern California hit, Surfin’. Their new musical style swept the U.S. like a tidal wave when they hit nationally with Surfin’ Safari in August of this same year.

. 1962 ~ Gene Chandler hit #1 with Duke of Earl on this day. The song stayed at the top for three weeks. It hit #1 on the rhythm & blues charts, as well. Duke of Earl was Chandler’s biggest hit out of a half-dozen he recorded. His only other million seller came with Groovy Situation in 1970. Curtis Mayfield wrote several hits for Chandler, including Just Be True, What Now and Nothing Can Stop Me. Chandler’s real name is Eugene Dixon. He owned his own record label, Mr. Chand, from 1969 to 1973, though Groovy Situation was recorded in 1970 for Mercury.

. 1966 ~ Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler received a gold record from RCA Victor, for both the album and the single of The Ballad of the Green Berets. Sadler, who recorded one other single (“The “A” Team”) for the label, had served in Vietnam until injuring a leg in a Viet Cong booby trap.

. 1972 ~ Billie Joe Armstrong, Grammy Award-winning singer (1994), guitarist and songwriter with Green Day

. 1998 ~ Bob Merrill passed away.  Merrill was an American songwriter, theatrical composer, lyricist, and screenwriter.

. 2010 ~ Kathryn Grayson [Zelma Hedrick], American vocalist and actress (Anchors Aweigh, Kiss Me Kate), died of natural causes at the age of 88

. 2017 ~ Alan Aldridge, British artist, graphic designer and illustrator whose artwork was used in record covers for The Beatles and The Who, died at the age of 73

On February 16 in Music History

today

. 1709 ~ Charles Avison, English composer during the Baroque and Classical periods. He was a church organist at St John The Baptist Church in Newcastle and at St. Nicholas’s Church.

. 1878 ~ Selim Palmgren, Finnish composer, pianist, and conductor

. 1866 ~ David Mannes, American violinist and conductor; founder of the Mannes College of music

. 1896 ~ Alexander Brailowsky, Pianist

. 1901 ~ Wayne King, ‘The Waltz King’, saxophonist and bandleader

. 1907 ~ Alec Wilder, American composer, arranger and songwriter

. 1910 ~ Albert Heinrich Zabel died.  He was a German composer and virtuoso harpist.

. 1915 ~ Emil Waldteufel, [Charles Levy], French composer (Estudiantina), died

 

. 1916 ~ Bill Doggett, Musician

. 1918 ~ Patti Andrews (Patricia Marie Andrews), Lead singer with The Andrews Sisters

. 1935 ~ Sonny (Salvatore) Bono, Singer in the group Sonny and Cher. He later became mayor of Palm Springs, CA and a US Congressman

. 1938 ~ John Corigliano, American composer
More information about Corigliano

. 1939 ~ Herbie & Harold Kalin, Singers, The Kalin Twins

. 1942 ~ Shep Fields and his orchestra recorded Jersey Bounce on Bluebird Records.

. 1956 ~ James Ingram, Singer

. 1963 ~ The Beatles moved to the top of the British rock charts with Please, Please Me exactly one month after the record was released. It was the start of the Beatles domination of the British music charts, as well as the beginning of the British Invasion in America and elsewhere around the world.

. 1968 ~ Elvis Presley received a gold record for his sacred album of hymns, How< Great Thou Art. Despite his popularity in the pop music world, Elvis won only 3 Grammy Awards — one for this album, the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1970; then for He Touched Me in 1972. He did, however, receive over a dozen Grammy nominations.

. 1972 ~ Led Zeppelin made their Australian live debut when they kicked off a six-date tour at the Subiaco Oval, Perth. Police battled with over 500 fans who rammed locked gates trying to get into the concert. Over 4,000 fans stood outside the venue without tickets and local residents jammed police phone lines to complain about the noise.

. 2015 ~ Leslie Gore died.  She was an American singer. At the age of 16, in 1963, she recorded the pop hit “It’s My Party”, and followed it up with other hits including “Judy’s Turn to Cry” and “You Don’t Own Me”.

On February 15 in Music History

today

 

. 1571 ~ Michael Praetorius, German organist, composer and theorist

. 1621 ~ Michael Praetorius, German composer (In Dulce Jubilo), died on his 50th birthday
More information about Praetorius

. 1797 ~ Heinrich Engelhard Steinway, German piano manufacturer
More information about Steinway

. 1847 ~ Robert Fuchs, Austrian composer and music teacher

. 1857 ~ Mikhail Glinka, Russian composer (“Ruslan and Ludmilla”), died at the age of 53
More about Glinka

. 1905 ~ Harold Arlen, (Hyman Arluck) American composer of musicals and songs
More information about Arlen

. 1918 ~ Hank Locklin (Lawrence Hankins Locklin), Country singer

. 1932 ~ George Burns and Gracie Allen debuted as regulars on The Guy Lombardo Show on CBS radio. The couple was so popular that soon, they would have their own Burns & Allen Show. George and Gracie continued on radio for 18 years before making the switch to TV. All in all, they were big hits for three decades.

. 1941 ~ Brian Holland, Songwriter

. 1941 ~ Duke Ellington and his orchestra recorded one of big band’s all-time classics on this day. Take the “A” Train was recorded at Victor’s Hollywood studio and became the Duke’s signature song.

 

. 1944 ~ Mick Avory, Drummer with The Kinks

. 1951 ~ Melissa Manchester, Singer

. 1958 ~ Get A Job, by The Silhouettes, reached the top spot on the music Tunedex. It remained at #1 for two weeks. Talk about sudden change in American popular music! One week earlier, the number one song was Sugartime, by The McGuire Sisters, a song that definitely was not classified as rock ‘n’ roll. Get A Job was replaced by Tequila, an instrumental by a studio group known as The Champs.

. 1959 ~ Ali (Alistair) Campbell, Guitarist, lead singer with UB40

. 1964 ~ Jack Teagarden [Weldon Leo Teagarden], American trombonist and actor (Meet Band Leaders), died from bronchial pneumonia at the age of 58
More about Teagarden

. 1965 ~ This was a sad day in music, as singer Nat ‘King’ Cole died in Santa Monica, CA. The music legend was 45.

. 1986 ~ Whitney Houston reached the #1 spot on the music charts. Her single, How Will I Know, replaced a song recorded by her first cousin, Dionne Warwick (That’s What Friends Are For). Whitney is the daughter of singer Cissy Houston.

. 1992 ~ William Schuman passed away. Schuman was an American composer and arts administrator.

. 2010 ~ Adam Kaczyński, Polish pianist and composer, died at the age of 76

. 2016 ~ George Gaynes, American singer, actor and voice artist (Tootsie, Police Academy, General Hospital), died at the age of 98

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentines-Day

valentine-stomp

Thomas Wright “Fats” Waller (May 21, 1904 – December 15, 1943) was an influential American jazz pianist, organist, composer, singer, and comedic entertainer, whose innovations to the Harlem stride style laid the groundwork for modern jazz piano.  He wrote the Valentine Stomp above in 1929.

MaryOOneRose

On February 14 in Music History

valentine-heart

Happy Valentine’s Day

 

. 1602 ~ Pier Francesco Cavalli, Italian opera composer

. 1813 ~ Alexander Dargomyzhsky, Russian composer

. 1882 ~ Ignace Friedman, Polish pianist and composer

. 1894 ~ Jack Benny (Benjamin Kubelsky), The stingy, violin-playing, perennial-39- year-old comedian of radio, television and vaudeville

. 1923 ~ Cesare Siepi, Opera basso

. 1925 ~ Elliot Lawrence (Broza), Emmy Award-winning composer, conductor, arranger, musical director of Night of 100 Stars, Night of 100 Stars II,

. 1993, 1994, 1995 Kennedy Center Honors; Tony Award: musical direction: How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying

. 1931 ~ Phyllis McGuire, Singer

. 1934 ~ Florence Henderson, Singer

. 1946 ~ Gregory Hines, Dancer

. 1950 ~ Roger Fisher, Guitarist with Heart

. 1957 ~ Lionel Hampton’s only major musical work, “King David”, made its debut at New York’s Town Hall. The four-part symphony jazz suite was conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos.

. 1972 ~ “Grease” opened at the Eden Theatre in New York City. The musical later moved to the Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway where it became the longest-running musical ever with 3,388 performances. A hit movie based on the stage play starred John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John and produced the hit song, Grease, by Frankie Valli, You’re the One That I Want and Summer Nights by Travolta and Newton-John.

. 1984 ~ British rocker Elton John married Renata Blauel in Sydney, Australia on this day.

. 1998 ~ Frederick Loewe American composer of musicals, died
More information about Loewe

. 2003 ~ Jack Maher, 78, who served more than three decades as publisher of respected jazz magazine Down Beat and its parent company, Maher Publications, died. Down Beat began in 1934 to chronicle the comings and goings of touring swing bands. A previous owner forfeited the magazine to his printer, Mr. Maher’s father, John Maher. After his father died in 1968, Jack Maher put up his own money to acquire Down Beat, outbidding Playboy founder and jazz aficionado Hugh Hefner. Mr. Maher was credited with transforming Down Beat into a leading forum on jazz, with a roster of writers that included Leonard Feather, Nat Hentoff, Dan Morgenstern and Ira Gitler. He changed a number of his father’s policies, including one that had frowned on putting pictures of black musicians on Down Beat’s cover.

. 2004 ~ Joe McFarlin, whose late-night shows on WCCO radio featured big bands, swing and traditional jazz for a quarter-century, died. He was 78. McFarlin was as a nightly presence on 830 AM during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, attracting a following across the country. McFarlin retired from WCCO in 1992. Management and format changes had reduced his broadcast to about two hours on the weekends and he was forced to choose from a jazz-free play list. He served as a U.S. Navy signalman during World War II and was stationed in the Philippines and Pearl Harbor. McFarlin began his radio career in 1947 at WREX in Duluth and worked at several other stations before moving to the Twin Cities in 1961, where he worked at KRSI before joining WCCO.

. 2011 ~ George Shearing, British-American blind jazz pianist (Lullaby of Birdland), died at the age of 91