. 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”.
. 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.
. 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
. 1885 ~ Jerome Kern, American songwriter and composer of musical comedies He was known as the father of the American musical, composing Show Boat, Ol’ Man River, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Lovely to Look At, The Way You Look Tonight and The Last Time I Saw Paris
. 1895 ~ Harry Ruby (Rubinstein), Musician and composer
. 1901 ~ Giuseppe Verdi, Italian composer, died at the age of 77. He was an Italian operatic composer, the leading figure of Italian music in the nineteenth century and made important contributions to the development of opera.
More information about Verdi
. 1905 ~ John Schaum, Pianist, composer and music educator. Schaum began his career as a piano teacher in the late 1920s. In 1933 he founded the Schaum Piano School in Milwaukee. About the same time he began to compose piano music for teaching purposes. He also founded the first company to produce award stickers specifically for music students. Always on the lookout for better materials for his students, Schaum eventually decided to create his own books, beginning in 1941 with Piano Fun for Boys and Girls, which he later revised as the first in a series of nine piano method books that became the Schaum Piano Course, completed in 1945. These books are still widely used today.
. 1918 ~ Skitch Henderson, Conductor of the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, bandleader, musical director of NBC-TV’s The Tonight Show with Steve Allen and Johnny Carson
. 1948 ~ Mikhail Baryshnikov, Bolshoi ballet dancer, defected to the U.S.
. 1961 ~ Leontyne Price made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. She sang in the role of Leonora in “Il Trovatore”. Price was only the seventh black singer to make a debut at the Met. Marian Anderson was the first (1955).
. 1968 ~ The Bee Gees played their first American concert, as a group. They earned $50,000 to entertain at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. This is identical to what The Beatles were paid to perform at the Hollywood Bowl a few years earlier.
. 1968 ~ Otis Redding’s (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay was released on this day, seven weeks after the singer’s death. It became #1 on March 16, 1968 and remained at the top spot for a month. Redding began his recording career in 1960 with Johnny Jenkins and The Pinetoppers (on Confederate Records). He sang a duet with Carla Thomas and had 11 chart hits. Redding of Dawson, GA was killed in a plane crash at Lake Monona near Madison, WI. Four members of the Bar-Kays were also killed in the crash. The Dock of the Bay, his only number one song, was recorded just three days before his death.
. 1973 ~ Mr and Mrs O got married 🙂
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. 1982 ~ “Joseph & the Amazing Dreamcoat” opened at the Royale NYC for 747 performances
. 1984 ~ Michael Jackson’s hair caught on fire during the filming of a Pepsi commercial in Los Angeles. Pyrotechnics did not operate on cue, injuring the singer. Jackson was hospitalized for a few days and fans from around the world sent messages of concern.
. 2000 ~ Friedrich Gulda, Austrian pianist died at the age of 69.
. 2014 ~ Pete Seeger, American folk singer and activist, helped create the modern American folk music movement, died at 94
. 1941 ~ Artie Shaw and his orchestra recorded Moonglow on Victor Records. In the band were such sidemen as Johnny Guarnieri, Jack Jenney, Billy Butterfield and Ray Conniff on trombone.
. 1943 ~ Duke Ellington and the band played for a black-tie crowd at Carnegie Hall in New York City. It was the first of what was to become an annual series of concerts featuring the Duke.
. 1948 ~ Anita Pointer, Singer with The Pointer Sisters
. 1950 ~ Bill Cunningham, Bass, piano with The Box Tops
. 1950 ~ Patrick Simmons, Singer, guitarist with The Doobie Brothers
. 1974 ~ Mike Oldfield’sTubular Bells opened the credits of the movie, “The Exorcist”, based on the book by William Peter Blatty. The song received a gold record this day.
. 1977 ~ Carole King’s landmark album, “Tapestry”, became the longest-running album to hit the charts, as it reached its 302nd week on the album lists.
. 1978 ~ Vic Ames killed in car crash
. 1981 ~ Samuel Barber, American composer (School for Scandal), died of cancer at the age of 70
. 2002 ~ Alfred Glasser, a former director of education for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, died of cancer. He was 70. Glasser held the education post for 30 years before his retirement in 1996. Since 1997, Glasser served as chairman of the board and commentator for Chicago’s concert opera company, da Corneto Opera. For the past decade, he served on the board of Alliance Francaise of Chicago, a French cultural group. Glasser also founded the Lyric Opera Lecture Corps, a community service project.
. 2003 ~ Nell Carter, actress-singer, died at the age of 54. She was best known for her role as the housekeeper in the TV sitcom “Gimme a Break!”. Carter, who was born September 13, 1948, in Birmingham, Alabama, first rose to stardom on the New York stage. After a series of roles on- and off-Broadway — and a short-lived part in the soap opera “Ryan’s Hope” — in 1977 she starred in the show “Ain’t Misbehavin’!”, a revue of the works of composer Fats Waller. She was rewarded for her performance with an Obie Award, and later with a Tony Award when the show moved to Broadway. Several years later, she earned an Emmy for her performance on a television presentation of the musical. Despite her Broadway success, Carter would have preferred to sing opera. “When I was growing up, it was not something you aspired to,” she said in 1988. “I was a weirdo to want to be in show business. Most kids wanted to be teachers or nurses.” “Gimme a Break!” ran from 1981 to 1987. Carter was nominated for two Emmys for her role as housekeeper Nell Harper, who helped run the household of police chief Carl Kanisky, played by Dolph Sweet. She also garnered two Golden Globe nominations for the role.
. 2003 ~ For Sale: One of London’s most famous music venues, which in its heyday in the 1960s played host to The Who, David Bowie and the Rolling Stones, is for sale, its administrators said. The Marquee Club, which in the 1970s was the epicenter of the punk explosion, ran into financial difficulties after its high-profile relaunch last fall, said a spokeswoman for administrator BDO Stoy Hayward. “We’re looking for someone in the music business who can capitalize on the Marquee brand and keep running it as a live venue,” she said. The price tag is at least $200 million. The club opened in London’s Soho district in 1958 and was so cramped and sweaty that, according to legend, Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats blacked out on stage. In 1988, it moved to a new location in nearby Charing Cross, but within eight years it had closed down. A high-profile relaunch at a new venue in Islington, north London September 2002 was headlined by the controversial electro-rockers Primal Scream, but according to the club’s administrators, huge start-up costs quickly led to its downfall.
. 2017 ~ Bobby Freeman, American singer (Do You Want to Dance), died at the age of 76
. 2018 ~ Hugh Masekela, South African trumpeter, anti-apartheid activist (I Am Not Afraid), described as the “father of South African jazz,” died at the age of 78
. 1626 ~ John Dowland, English composer (In Darkness We Dwell), died at the age of 62
. 1899 ~ Alexander Tcherepnin, pianist and composer
. 1903 ~ First performance of “The Wizard of Oz” as a Broadway musical
. 1917 ~ Billy Maxted, Pianist, songwriter, arranger and bandleader
. 1927 ~ The first opera to be broadcast over a national radio network was presented in Chicago, IL. Listeners heard selections from “Faust” by Charles Gounod.
. 1932 ~ Annunzio Paolo Mantovani gave a memorable concert at Queen’s Hall in England to ‘glowing notices’. This was the beginning of the musician’s successful recording career that provided beautiful music to radio stations for nearly five decades. Better known as just Mantovani, his music still entertains us with hits like Red Sails in the Sunset, Serenade in the Night, Song from Moulin Rouge and Charmaine.
. 1939 ~ Wolfman Jack (Robert Smith), Disc jockey, icon of ’60s radio, broadcasting from XERF, then XERB in Mexico and heard throughout a major part of the U.S.; TV announcer: The Midnight Special; actor: American Graffiti; author: Have Mercy! Confessions of the Original Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal
. 1942 ~ Mac (Scott) Davis, Singer, actor, host of The Mac Davis Show, songwriter, ACM Entertainer of the Year in 1975
. 1942 ~ Nostalgia buffs will want to grab the greatest hits CD of Count Basie (on Verve) and crank up One O’Clock Jump. Just one of the many signature tunes by Bill Basie; the tune was originally recorded on Okeh Records this day.
. 1948 ~ Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, Italian composer and teacher
. 1950 ~ Billy Ocean, Grammy Award-winning R&B Male Vocal in 1984
. 1957 ~ Singer Patsy Cline appeared on Arthur Godfrey’s nighttime TV show. She sang the classic, Walking After Midnight, which quickly launched her career.
. 1959 ~ The Kingston Trio (Bob Shane, Nick Reynolds and Dave Guard) received a gold record for Tom Dooley. The Kingston Trio recorded many hits, including Greenback Dollar, M.T.A., Reverend Mr. Black, TijuanaJail, and the war protest song, Where Have All the Flowers Gone?.
. 1966 ~ George Harrison of The Beatles married Patricia (Patty) Anne Boyd in Surrey, England. The two met on the set of the movie, “A Hard Day’sNight”.
. 1970 ~ ABC-TV presented “The Johnny Cash Show” in prime time. Previously, the show had been a summer replacement. The regular season series was a big boost for country music. Johnny wore black in the all-color show, however, like he still does today.
. 1978 ~ The soundtrack of “Saturday Night Fever” reached #1 on the album charts — a position it held for the next six months.
. 1987 ~ Thirty years after its release, Jackie Wilson’s single, Reet Petite (written by Motown founder Berry Gordy), ended a month at the top of England’s music charts. Three years earlier, on this same date, Jackie Wilson died after being in a coma (following a heart attack) for eight and a half years.
. 2002 ~ Peggy Lee, the singer-composer whose smoky voice in such songs as Is That All There Is? and Fever made her a jazz and pop legend, died of a heart attack. She was 81. Lee battled injury and ill health, including heart trouble, throughout a spectacular career that brought her a Grammy, an Oscar nomination and sold- out houses worldwide. In more than 50 years in show business, which began during a troubled childhood and endured through four broken marriages, Lee recorded hit songs with the Benny Goodman band, wrote songs for a Disney movie and starred on Broadway in a short-lived autobiographical show, Peg. A string of hits, notably Why Don’t You Do Right?, made her a star. Then she fell in love with Goodman’s guitarist, Dave Barbour, and withdrew from the music world to be his wife and raise their daughter, Nicki. She returned to singing when the marriage fell apart. Lee’s other notable recordings included Why Don’t You Do Right?I’m a Woman,Lover,Pass Me By,Where or When,The Way You Look Tonight,I’m Gonna Go Fishin‘ and Big Spender. The hit Is That All There Is? won her a Grammy for best contemporary female vocal performance in 1969. She collaborated with Sonny Burke on the songs for Disney’s The Lady and the Tramp, and was the voice for the wayward canine who sang He’s a Tramp (But I Love Him).
. 1830 ~ Hans von Bulow, German pianist and conductor
More information about von Bulow
. 1906 ~ Arthur Rubinstein made his debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The concert received only a few favorable reviews.
. 1912 ~ Jose Ferrer (Cintron), Academy Award-winning actor, Rosemary Clooney’s husband
. 1922 ~ Abbey Simon, American pianist
. 1924 ~ Ron Moody, Actor, singer in Oliver Twist
. 1925 ~ Russian composer, Igor Stravinsky, appeared in his first American concert, as he conducted the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in a program of his own compositions.
. 1935 ~ Elvis Presley, American rock-and-roll singer and guitarist. He had 90 top-20 hits.
. 1937 ~ Shirley Bassey, Singer
. 1940 ~ Anthony Gourdine, Singer with Little Anthony and The Imperials
. 1940 ~ Vincent Lopez and his orchestra recorded the third version of Lopez’ theme song titled Nola. This version, recorded in Hollywood on Bluebird Records, is recognized as his best rendition of the classic song.
. 1946 ~ Robbie Krieger, Guitarist with The Doors
. 1947 ~ David Bowie, British rock singer and actor
. 1947 ~ Terry Sylvester, Musician with the groups Swinging Blue Jeans and the Hollies
. 1952 ~ Vladimir Feltsman, Pianist
. 1961 ~ Robert Goulet made his national TV debut this night on “The Ed SullivanShow” on CBS.
. 1965 ~ The TV dance show, “Hullabaloo”, debuted on NBC~TV. The show, a weekly trip into the world of rock and roll, featured plenty of mini-skirted go~go girls; which didn’t hurt ratings any. ABC countered with “Shindig”, a similar show, similar concept, similar everything.
. 1966 ~ The Beatles LP, “Rubber Soul”, began a 6-week reign at the top of the album chart. This was the seventh Beatles LP to reach the #1 position since February, 1964. “Rubber Soul” stayed on the charts for 56 weeks. The other #1 albums for the Fab Four to that date were: “Meet The Beatles“, “The Beatles Second Album”, “A Hard Day’s Night”,“Beatles ’65”, “Beatles VI” and “Help!”.
. 1973 ~ Carly Simon received a gold record for the single, You’re So Vain.
. 1997 ~ George Handy died. Handy was a jazz music arranger, composer and pianist whose musical beginnings were fostered under the tutelage of pianist Aaron Copland.
. 1998 ~ Sir Michael Tippett, British Composer and librettist, died
More information about Tippett
. 2000 ~ Pianist Jeffrey Biegel appeared on Good Morning America. He discussed his performance of the New York Premiere with Maestro Vakhtang Jordania and the American Symphony Orchestra and performed selections from the manuscript edition of Rhapsody in Blue, with more than 50 bars restored that hadn’t been heard in New York since the famous 1924 premiere concert at Aeolian Hall.
The concert that evening was at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall. The Rhapsody was the feature piece in an evening of premieres by American composers and Russian orchestral masterpieces. Works on the program included Variations on The Wayfaring Stranger (New York Premiere) by James Cohn; Peanuts Gallery for Piano and Orchestra by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich; the Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin; Islamey by Balakirev (World Premiere-transcription for piano and orchestra by Jeffrey Biegel), and Mussorgsky’sPictures at an Exhibition.
1814 ~ Adolphe Sax, Belgian instrumentalist, inventor of the saxophone and saxotromba
More information about Sax
1854 ~ John Phillip Sousa, American bandmaster and composer; “The March King”
Read quotes by and about Sousa
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1860 ~ Ignace Jan Paderewski, Composer, pianist, Polish patriot, First Premier of Poland (1919), brought white Zinfandel wine grapes to U.S. for the first time
More information about Ignace Jan Paderewski
1893 ~ Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Russian composer of the late-Romantic period (1812 Overture, Swan Lake), died at the age of 53
.1916 ~ Ray Conniff, American conductor, arranger and composer of popular music, trombonist
.1932 ~ Stonewall Jackson, Singer
.1936 ~ This was the day that big band icon Woody Herman played in his first recording session. He recorded Wintertime Dreams on Decca disc #1056.
.1937 ~ Eugene Pitt, Singer
.1938 ~ P.J. Proby (James Smith), Singer
.1940 ~ Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians recorded one of their lesser-known songs for Decca. It was The Moon Fell in the River.
.1941 ~ Doug Sahm, Singer, founded Sir Douglas Quintet
.1943 ~ Mike Clifford, Singer
.1947 ~ George Young, Guitarist with The Easybeats
.1948 ~ Glenn Frey, Songwriter, singer with The Eagles
1965 ~ Edgard Varèse, French-born composer, died at the age of 81
.2001 ~ John Denman, a clarinetist who was most recently artistic adviser to the Tucson Symphony Orchestra’s pops division, died from complications of esophageal cancer. He was 68. Denman, a native of London, was a principal clarinetist for the orchestra for more than 20 years. Denman also played principal clarinet with the London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He taught music at Trinity College in England before coming to teach at the University of Arizona. He joined the Tucson Symphony Orchestra in the late 1970s. In 1984, Denman left the University of Arizona after failing to receive tenure. For the rest of his life, he focused on his performing career. He also designed a small clarinet, the Kinder-Klari, to make practicing easier for young hands. Denman performed and recorded with jazz icon Buddy DeFranco and was a member of several jazz bands.
.2002 ~ Maria Johansson, an organist who became a local legend for singing religious songs and hymns in one of Stockholm’s main squares every day for nearly three decades, died at the age of 84. The daughter of a preacher, Johansson often served homemade sandwiches to the poor during breaks in her daily performance. At one point, she went to work at a bakery to help pay for the sandwiches, her husband said.
.2016 ~ Zoltan Kocsis, Hungarian pianist and conductor, died at the age of 64
• 1939 ~ Philip Balsley, Singer with The Statler Brothers
• 1941 ~ Les Brown and His Band of Renown paid tribute to baseball’s “Yankee Clipper”, Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees, with the recording of Joltin’ JoeDiMaggio on Okeh Records. From that time on, DiMaggio adopted the nickname, Joltin’ Joe.
• 1949 ~ Keith Carradine, Actor and composer, whose recording of I’m Easy reached No. 17 on the U.S. charts in 1976.
• 1950 ~ Andy Fairweather-Low, Musician, guitar, singer with Amen Corner
• 1958 ~ Harry (Harry Lillis III) Crosby, Singer and actor, son of Bing Crosby and Kathryn Grant
• 1958 ~ Chris Foreman, Musician, guitar with Madness
• 1960 ~ Tell Laura I Love Her, by Ray Peterson, wasn’t a big hit in Great Britain. Decca Records in England said the song was “too tasteless and vulgar for the English sensibility.” They destroyed 25,000 of the platters this day.
• 1961 ~ The Edge (David Evans), Musician, guitar with U2
• 1974 ~ Roberta Flack received a gold record for the single, Feel Like Makin’ Love. Flack, born in Asheville, NC and raised in Arlington, VA, was awarded a music scholarship to Howard University in Washington, DC at the age of 15. One of her classmates became a singing partner on several hit songs. Donny Hathaway joined Flack on You’ve Got a Friend, Where is the Love and The Closer I Get to You. She had 10 hits on the pop charts in the 1970s and 1980s.
• 1975 ~ Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderly passed away
• 1997 ~ Duncan Swift, jazz pianist, died at the age of 74
• 2017 ~ Glen Campbell died at the age of 81. He was an American singer, songwriter, musician, television host, and actor.
• 1926 ~ The first demonstration of the Vitaphone system, that combined picture and sound for movies, was held at the Warner Theatre in New York City. John Barrymore and Mary Astor starred in the demonstration film for the new moving picture projector.
• 1935 ~ Hank Cochran, Pop Singer and songwriter
• 1937 ~ Garth Hudson, Musician, keyboard with The Band
• 1937 ~ Benny Goodman and his quartet recorded Smiles for Victor Records. Playing with Goodman’s clarinet on the famous song were Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson and Gene Krupa.
• 1941 ~ Doris Kenner-Jackson (Coley), Singer with The Shirelles
• 1943 ~ Kathy Lennon, Singer with The Lennon Sisters
• 1951 ~ Andrew Gold, Singer, son of composer Ernest Gold
• 1991 ~ Jeri Southern passed away
• 1997 – Nigeria’s musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, who popularized the Afro-music beat globally, died of AIDS aged 58.
• 2000 ~ Helen Quinn, who for more than 30 years presided over the Metropolitan Opera patrons who lined up to buy standing-room tickets, died at the age of 76. Often called the Queen of Standees by those who allowed her to take charge of the ticket queue, Quinn was herself a veteran of standing-room lines at the Met, and attended five or six performances a week, almost always as a standee. In 1966, on her own initiative, she imposed a system on the standee process that the throng of regulars was apparently happy to abide by, and to which the Met gave tacit approval.
• 2001 ~ Ron Townson, the portly centerpiece singer for the Grammy-winning pop group The 5th Dimension, died of renal failure after a four-year battle with kidney disease. He was 68. Other members of the reconstituted group – known for such 1960s hits as Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In, Wedding Bell Blues and Stoned Soul Picnic – performed at the Capitol Fourth music and fireworks show on July 4 in Washington, D.C. Declining health had forced Townson to retire from The 5th Dimension in 1997, bringing to an end a career that saw him tour with such music legends as Nat King’ Cole and Dorothy Dandridge, appear in operas and direct choirs. He helped front The 5th Dimension when the group’s smooth mixture of pop, jazz, gospel, and rhythm and blues won it four Grammys in 1968 for the Jimmy Webb song Up Up and Away. Other hits included One Less Bell to Answer and Sweet Blindness. As various members left The 5th Dimension in the 1970s to pursue solo projects, Townson formed the group Ron Townson and Wild Honey. Later, he reunited with McLemore and LaRue in a new version of The 5th Dimension that included Phyllis Battle and Greg Walker. He also appeared on television and in films, including the 1992 movie The Mambo Kings.
• 2002 ~ Freidann Parker, co-founder of the Colorado Ballet, died at the age of 77. Colorado Ballet co-founder Lillian Covillo met Parker in the late 1940s in a dance class taught by Martha Wilcox. The two began the Covillo-Parker School of Dance, and then a fledgling ballet company. After an ambitious double bill in 1961, they created Colorado Concert Ballet, which presented Denver’s first Nutcracker the following season. Every performance sold out. By 1978, the board of directors more than doubled its budget to $100,000, and Colorado Ballet was born. Today its budget has grown to $7 million with a roster of 40 dancers. Parker’s first dance lessons were with Iris Potter. She later trained with modern-dance pioneer Hanya Holm.
• 2020 ~ Leon Fleisher, American pianist and conductor, died at the age of 92. He was one of the most renowned pianists and pedagogues in the world. Music correspondent Elijah Ho has called him “one of the most refined and transcendent musicians the United States has ever produced”.
In 1964, Fleisher lost the use of his right hand, due to a condition that was eventually diagnosed as focal dystonia. Fleisher commenced performing and recording the left-handed repertoire while searching for a cure for his condition. In addition, he undertook conducting during this time, serving at one time as Music Director of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra in Maryland. In the 1990s, Fleisher was able to ameliorate his focal dystonia symptoms after experimental botox injections to the point where he could play with both hands again.
• 1941 ~ Martha Reeves, American Rhythm and Blues singer with Martha and the Vandellas
• 1964 ~ The 4 Seasons reached the top spot on the record charts with Rag Doll, the group’s fourth hit to climb to the #1 position. The song stayed on top for two weeks. Other #1 hits by Frankie Valli and company include, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk Like a Man, and December 1963 (Oh, What a Night).
• 1968 ~ Hugh Masekela struck gold with the breezy, latin-soul instrumental Grazing in the Grass, while Gary Puckett and The Union Gap received a similar honor for the hit, Lady Willpower. Masekela, a trumpeter since age 14, saw Grazing in the Grass go to number one for two weeks (July 20/27). Grazing was his only entry on the pop music charts. The Union Gap scored three more million-sellers in the late 1960s: Woman, Woman, Young Girl and Over You. The Union Gap was formed in 1967 and named after the town of Union Gap, Washington.
• 1983 ~ Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel took to the road to begin a 19-city tour beginning in Akron, OH. It was the first tour by the popular singing duo since their success in the 1960s.
• 2001 ~ Mimi Farina, sister of folk singer Joan Baez and founder of an organization that brought free live music performances to the sick and imprisoned, died of complications related to cancer. She was 56. She founded Bread & Roses in 1974. The organization produced 500 shows annually for audiences in senior centers, psychiatric, rehabilitation and correctional facilities as well as centers for abused and neglected children. Long part of the San Francisco Bay area’s folk music elite as a singer herself, Farina drew many fellow musical luminaries to take part in performances. Her sister, Jackson Browne, Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt and Peter, Paul and Mary all volunteered their services to make Bread & Roses and long-running success. Farina was the youngest of three daughters and was raised a Quaker alongside siblings Joan Baez and Pauline Bryan. She learned the guitar with her sister Joan during the folk music revival of the late 1950s and frequently played the folk scene around Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass.
• 2002 ~ Seymour Solomon, co-founder of Vanguard Records, a label that dominated American folk music with stars such as Joan Baez, died. He was 80. Solomon founded Vanguard in 1950 with his brother, Maynard. The label recorded famed artists like Odetta, Baez and Buffy Sainte-Marie. It also signed such jazz and blues legends as Mississippi John Hurt and Buddy Guy and maintained a strong classical list. From its earliest days, the Solomons took risks, signing performers like the Weavers and Paul Robeson who had been blacklisted during the McCarthy era. Starting in 1959, Vanguard recorded the Newport Folk Festival, and later recorded the Newport Jazz festival as well. Solomon and his brother sold Vanguard in 1985 to the Welk Record Group, and three years later opened Omega Classics. He later bought back Vanguard’s old classical catalog and reissued it on compact disc. Solomon had studied violin at the Juilliard School and played in the Air Corps Orchestra during World War II. After the war, he studied musicology and worked as a critic and commentator for music magazines and radio stations.