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 1 in Music History

month-february

 

 

. 1669 ~ Miquel Lopez, composer, born. He died sometime in 1723

. 1671 ~ Francesco Stradivari, Italian violin maker

. 1862 ~ The Battle Hymn of the Republic was first published in “Atlantic Monthly”. The lyric was the work of Julia Ward Howe. The Battle Hymn of the Republic is still being sung and to the tune of a song titled John Brown’s Body.

. 1869 ~ Victor Herbert, Composer, cellist and conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony. He composed operettas such as Babes in Toyland, Naughty Marietta and songs like Ah Sweet Mystery of Life (At Last I’ve Found You)

. 1877 ~ Thomas Frederick Dunhill, English composer and writer on musical subjects

. 1894 ~ James P. Johnson, American pianist and composer (Charleston), born in New Brunswick, New Jersey

. 1904 ~ Enrico Caruso recorded his first sides for Victor Records. He did ten songs in the session and was paid only $4,000.

. 1907 ~ Mozart Camargo Guarnieri, Brazilian composer

. 1934 ~ Bob Shane, Singer with The Kingston Trio

. 1937 ~ Don Everly born, Singer with his brother, Phil, in The Everly Brothers. Some of their hits were: Wake Up Little Susie, Bye Bye Love, Cathy’s Clown and All I Have To Do Is Dream

. 1937 ~ Ray Sawyer, Singer with Dr. Hook and The Medicine Show

. 1939 ~ Benny Goodman and his orchestra recorded And the Angels Sing on Victor Records. The vocalist on that number, who went on to find considerable fame at Capitol Records, was Martha Tilton.

. 1940 ~ Frank Sinatra sang Too Romantic and The Sky Fell Down in his first recording session with the Tommy Dorsey Band. The session was in Chicago, IL. Frankie replaced Jack Leonard as lead singer with the band.

. 1941 ~ “Downbeat” magazine reported this day that Glenn Miller had inked a new three-year contract with RCA Victor Records. The pact guaranteed Miller $750 a side, the fattest record contract signed to that time.

. 1949 ~ RCA Victor countered Columbia Records’ 33-1/3 long play phonograph disk with not only a smaller, 7-inch record (with a big hole in the center), but an entire phonograph playing system as well. The newfangled product, the 45- rpm, which started a revolution (especially with the new rock and roll music), soon made the 78-rpm record a blast from the past.

. 1952 ~ Rick James (James Johnson), Singer

. 1954 ~ Mike Campbell, Guitarist with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

. 1968 ~ Elvis Presley celebrated the birth of his daughter, Lisa Marie. Lisa Marie married and divorced the ‘Gloved One’, Michael Jackson, in the ’90s.

. 1971 ~ The soundtrack album from the movie, “Love Story”, starring Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw, with music by Frances Lai, was certified as a gold record on this day.

. 1995 ~ Richey Edwards, guitarist with the Manic Street Preachers, vanished leaving no clues to his whereabouts. He left The Embassy Hotel in London at 7am, leaving behind his packed suitcase. His car was found on the Severn Bridge outside Bristol, England sixteen days later. Edwards has never been found, despite constant searching, and in November 2008 he was declared officially dead.

. 2002 ~ Hildegard Knef, a smoky-voiced actress and singer who starred in Germany’s first post-World War II movie and scandalized church officials with a 1951 nude scene, died of a lung infection at a Berlin hospital. She was 76. Knef became a star for her role as a former concentration camp inmate returning home in Wolfgang Staudte’s 1946 “Murderers Are Among Us.” Knef, who sometimes went as Hildegard Neff in the United States, appeared in more than 50 films, most of them made in Europe. She reportedly turned down a Hollywood studio contract after being told she would have to change her name and say she was Austrian, not German. She scandalized Roman Catholic authorities with a brief nude scene in the 1951 German film “The Story Of A Sinner.” Her work in the United States included the role of Ninotchka in Cole Porter’s Broadway musical “Silk Stockings” in the 1950s, and a supporting role in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.” She launched a career as a singer in the 1960s and wrote a best-selling 1970 autobiography. She continued to act and sing almost until the end of her life, appearing as herself in the 2000 documentary “Marlene Dietrich: Her Own Song” and in the 1999 German comedy, “An Almost Perfect Wedding.”

. 2003 ~ Latin jazz musician Ramon “Mongo” Santamaria, a Cuban-born percussionist and bandleader known for his conga rhythms, died in Miami at age 85. He was best known for his 1963 recording of Herbie Hancock’s song Watermelon Man, which became his first Top 10 hit. In 1959, Santamaria penned Afro Blue, which quickly became a jazz standard covered by stars such as Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie. Born in Havana, Santamaria performed at Havana’s famed Tropicana Club before moving to New York City in the early 1950s, touring with the Mambo Kings and performing with Tito Puente and Cal Tjader. Santamaria recorded scores of albums in a career that spanned nearly 40 years, mixing rhythm and blues with jazz and hip-swaying conga. In 1977 he was awarded a Grammy for Best Latin Recording for his album “Amancer.” In recent years, he divided his time between Manhattan and Miami.

. 2007 ~ Gian Carlo Menotti, Italian-born composer died

. 2018 ~ Alan Stout, American composer, died at the age of 85

. 2018 ~ Dennis Edwards, who joined the Temptations in 1968 and sang on a string of the group’s hits including “I Can’t Get Next to You,” “Ball of Confusion” and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” in an initial tenure that stretched to 1977, died at the age of 74

On January 30 in Music History

today

. 1505 ~ Thomas Tallis, English composer

. 1566 ~ Alessandro Piccinini born. He was an Italian lutenist and composer who died sometime in 1638

. 1697 ~ Johann Joachim Quantz, German flutist, flute maker and composer

. 1861 ~ Charles Martin Tornow Loeffler, Alsatian-born American composer

. 1862 ~ Walter Johannes Damrosch, German conductor and composer

. 1911 ~ (David) Roy ‘Little Jazz’ Eldridge, Trumpeter and soloist with Gene Krupa’s Band, U.S. President Carter’s White House jazz party in 1978

. 1917 ~ The Original Dixieland Jazz Band recorded a classic for Columbia Records titled, The Darktown Strutters’ Ball. It was one of the first jazz compositions recorded.

. 1921 ~ Bernie Leighton, Jazz pianist

. 1928 ~ Ruth Brown, R&B and jazz singer

. 1928 ~ Harold Prince, Broadway producer and director of A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

. 1936 ~ Horst Jankowski, Pianist, most famous work was A Walk In The Black Forest

. 1938 ~ Norma Jean (Beasler), Country singer

. 1941 ~ Joe Terranova, Singer with Danny and the Juniors

. 1943 ~ Marty Balin (Buchwald), Singer with Jefferson Airplane/Starship

. 1944 ~ Lynn Harrell, American cellist

. 1947 ~ Steve Marriott, Singer, songwriter, guitarist

. 1949 ~ William King, Trumpeter, keyboard with The Commodores

. 1951 ~ Phil Collins, Singer, drummer with Genesis

. 1959 ~ Jody Watley, Singer with Shalamar

. 1963 ~ Francis Poulenc died
More information about Poulenc

. 1969 ~ The Beatles made their last public appearance. It was at a free concert at their Apple corporate headquarters in London. The group recorded Get Back and also filmed the movie “Let It Be”.

. 2004 ~ Jazz bassist Malachi Favors, who played with such bandleaders as Dizzy Gillespie and Freddy Hubbard before beginning a 35-year association with the Art Ensemble of Chicago, died. After service in the Army during the Korean War, he studied with the bassists Wilbur Ware and Israel Crosby, and worked with the pianists Andrew Hill and King Fleming. After playing with Gillespie, Hubbard, and other members of the bebop revolution, Favors joined the band of Chicago saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell and played a major part on Mitchell’s influential free-jazz album, “Sound”, in 1966. Mitchell’s band soon evolved into the Art Ensemble of Chicago, which combined traditional elements of jazz and blues, West African music, chanting, ritual, abstract sound and silence. Although founded in Chicago, the group was based in Europe until 1971. In addition to his distinctive bass sound, Favors also added vocals and such folk instruments as banjo, zither and harmonica to group’s compositions. He also recorded a solo bass album, “Natural and the Spiritual”.

. 2011 ~ John Barry, English film score composer died at the age of 77

. 2013 ~ Patty Andrews, American singer (Andrews Sisters), died at the age of 94

On January 26 in Music History

today

 

. 1795 ~ Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach, harpsichordist and composer, the fifth son of Johann Sebastian Bach, died at the age of 62

. 1905 ~ Maria von Trapp, singer

. 1908 ~ Stéphane Grappelli, French jazz violinist

. 1913 ~ Jimmy Van Heusen (Edward Chester Babcock), American songwriter and Academy Award-winning composer. He wrote Swinging on a Star in 1944, All the Way in 1957, High Hopes in 1959 and Call Me Irresponsible in 1963. He also wrote the music to over 75 songs for Frank Sinatra with lyricists Johnny Burke and Sammy CahnMy Kind of Town and Second Time Around

. 1928 ~ Eartha Kitt, American singer of popular music. See January 17 for Ms. Kitt’s real birthday.

. 1934 ~ Huey “Piano” Smith, American rhythm and blues pianist (Rockin’ Pneumonia & Boogie Woogie Flu, Having a Good Time), born in New Orleans, Louisiana

. 1934 ~ The Apollo Theatre opened in New York City as a ‘Negro vaudeville theatre’. It became the showplace for many of the great black entertainers, singers, groups and instrumentalists in the country.

. 1945 ~ Jacqueline DuPré, British cellist

. 1956 ~ Buddy Holly had his first of three 1956 recording sessions for Decca Records and producer, Owen Bradley, in Nashville. Nothing much came out of those sessions. He formed the group, The Three Tunes (changed later to The Crickets), and went on to find fame and fortune when he hooked up with producer Norman Petty in New Mexico. Holly died in a plane crash near Mason City, IA, February 3, 1959 (“the day the music died”). He was 22. Holly was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

. 1979 ~ The Gizmo guitar synthesizer was first demonstrated.

. 1988 ~ “Phantom of the Opera” opened at Majestic Theater in New York City for 4,000+ performances

. 1992 ~ Jose Ferrer, Puerto Rican actor, theater, and film director, died.

. 1995 ~ Geoffrey Penwill Parsons, piano accompanist, died at the age of 65

. 1998 ~ Shinichi Suzuki, Japanese music teacher (Suzuki Method), died at the age of 99

About Carnegie Hall

carnegie-hall

You’ve all heard it before.  How do you get to Carnegie Hall?  Practice, practice, practice.

We took the easier route with the tour December 1, 2014.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t posting much on my travel blog yet so I don’t remember everything that happened.  I do highly recommend the tour if you’re in New York City.

If you want to go, other than practicing, Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park.

carnegie-hall-map

The tour was very inexpensive, maybe $10 each.  We were taken by elevator up to the Main Hall (Isaac Stern Auditorium/Ronald O. Perelman Stage) first.  The stories that were told were fascinating!  I don’t remember most but I remember the guide telling us that after renovations audience members complained of a buzzing sound.  The floor had to be removed…

From 1995:

SOURCE OF CARNEGIE HALL COMPLAINTS DISCOVERED: CONCRETE UNDER STAGE
MARY CAMPBELL , Associated Press
Sep. 13, 1995 11:53 PM ET

NEW YORK (AP) _ For nine years, the people who run Carnegie Hall insisted there was nothing wrong with the acoustics at the famed concert hall.

Wednesday, they sang a different tune

This summer, a layer of concrete, apparently left over from a major renovation job in 1986, was discovered under the stage. The concrete was ripped out and a new floor was installed that administrators say should improve acoustics.
Since the renovation, musicians and critics have complained about the acoustics, saying the sound the hall was world famous for wasn’t the same, that the bass had become washed out and the higher instruments harsh.

Executive Director Judith Arron said Wednesday she had been assured there was no concrete under the stage since arriving at the hall in 1986.

But the tongue-in-groove maple stage floor, which usually lasts 20 years, had warped so badly after just nine years, it was difficult to push a piano across it.

The hall closed for repairs after three Frank Sinatra tribute concerts the last week in July. “As we tore the whole floor up,” Arron said, “we learned we had a lot more hard substance than we had anticipated.”

She speculated the concrete was added to reinforce the stage while scaffolding was on it during the 1986 renovation and then simply left there in workers’ haste to finish.

The concrete had been placed under two layers of plywood, on which the maple stage floor rests.

“Concrete retains moisture,” Arron said. “As the moisture collected in the concrete, it went into the plywood, which expands with moisture and pushed up the floor.”

Jim Nomikos, the hall’s director of operations, compared the removal of hundreds of pounds of concrete to “an archeological dig.”

Nomikos said the floor is now constructed the way it was from Carnegie Hall’s opening in 1891 until 1986.

“In my opinion we’re not reconstructing the floor. We just restored it,” he said. “I think what we have now is a floor that will have some resonance, as opposed to a floor that was dead.”

The project cost $180,000.

Aaron said there are no plans to sue anybody for the way the floor was laid in 1986. “We’ve been focused on doing the job right,” she said. “We think this is going to be great.”

The new floor will meet its first test Sept. 26, when the Philadelphia Orchestra plays. The hall’s official gala opening for its 105th season will be Oct. 5 by the Boston Symphony.

I remember the guide not being happy with us because I knew the answers to some of the questions she asked such as Tchaikovsky conducting at the opening.  When she mentioned that Ignacy Jan Paderewski had made his debut there,  Tom piped up that he had lived near Steinway Hall (and that Michael and I had just played there in the final concert in the old building).  She gave us the evil eye and we stopped talking so much 🙂

padereski-me

Plaque on Steinwall Hall (old building). This was just after Michael and I played there.

 

Paderewski

Plaque on Steinwall Hall (old building).

There were many, many pictures on the walls of people who had performed there.  All in all, a fantastic tour.  Take it if you’re in NYC!

1891 Andrew Carnegie’s new Music Hall opened

Andrew Carnegie’s new Music Hall opened with a five-day music festival beginning on May 5.

Guest of honor Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky conducted his Marche Solennelle on Opening Night and his Piano Concerto No. 1 several days later.

William Tuthill’s design reflects Gilded Age architectural tastes and engineering.  Since the Hall was built shortly before the advent of structural steel construction, its walls are made of fairly heavy brick and masonry, to carry the full load of the structure without the lighter support that a steel framework soon made possible. The Italian Renaissance design of the exterior reflects the eclectic architectural tastes of the period, which look to European models of earlier centuries for inspiration.  Tuthill deliberately chose to keep the styling and decorative elements simple, elegant, and functional, focusing his energies on designing an excellent acoustic environment.

I came across this interesting 1947 movie about Carnegie Hall for my Music Studio Blog and I’m posting it here, as well.

Jascha Heifetz (violinist) Tchaikovsky – “Violin Concerto in D, First Movement” – New York Philharmonic, Fritz Reiner, conductor
Harry James (trumpeter)
Vaughn Monroe (band leader)
Jan Peerce (vocalist)
Gregor Piatigorsky (cellist)
Ezio Pinza (vocalist)
Lily Pons (vocalist)
Fritz Reiner (conductor)
Artur Rodzinski (conductor)
Arthur Rubinstein (pianist)
Rise Stevens (vocalist)
Leopold Stokowski (conductor)
Bruno Walter (conductor)
Walter Damrosch (conductor)
Olin Downes (music critic)
New York Philharmonic Quintette (John Corigliano Sr., William Lincer, Nadia Reisenberg, Leonard Rose, Michael Rosenker)
New York Philharmonic

Storyline:
A mother (Marsha Hunt) wants her son (William Prince) to grow up to be a pianist good enough to play at Carnegie Hall but, when grown, the son prefers to play with Vaughan Monroe’s orchestra. But Mama’s wishes prevail and the son appears at Carnegie Hall as the composer-conductor-pianist of a modern horn concerto, with Harry James as the soloist. Frank McHugh is along as a Carnegie Hall porter and doorman, and Martha O’Driscoll is a singer who provides the love interest for Prince. Meanwhile and between while a brigade of classical music names from the 1940’s (and earlier and later) appear; the conductors Walter Damrosch, Bruno Walter, Artur Rodzinski, Fritz Reiner and Leopold Stokowski; singers Rise Stevens, Lily Pons, Jan Peerce and Ezio Pinza, plus pianist Arthur Rubinstein, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky and violinist Jascha Heifetz.

December 29 ~ in Music History

today

• 1876 ~ Pablo Casals, Spanish cellist and conductor
More information about Casals

• 1912 ~ Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Australian composer and music critic

• 1922 ~ Rose Lee Maphis, Entertainer, half of the team: Mr. and Mrs. Country Music with husband Joe, Hee Haw regular

• 1942 ~ Ray Thomas, Flute, saxophone, harmonica, singer with The Moody Blues

• 1943 ~ San Fernando Valley was recorded by Bing Crosby. He chose the tune because he felt it would be a big hit. He was right. Within a week after its release, the song became a popular favorite everywhere, including the San Fernando Valley in California.

• 1945 ~ Sheb Wooley recorded the first commercial record made in Nashville, TN. The song was recorded on the Bullet label; but it was 13 years before Wooley would finally score with a big hit (The Purple People Eater was #1 for six weeks in June and July, 1958). Wooley (whose first name is Shelby) played the part of Pete Nolan on TV’s Rawhide, recorded novelty tunes under the name, Ben Colder, and acted in High Noon, Rocky Mountain, Giant and Hoosiers.The Country Music Association honored him with the title of Comedian of the Year in 1968. If you remember the TV show Hee Haw, with Buck Owens and Roy Clark, it was Sheb Wooley who wrote the theme song.

• 1951 ~ Yvonne Elliman, Actress, singer joined Eric Clapton in his 1974 comeback tour

• 1952 ~ Gelsey Kirkland, Dancer, ballerina, author of Dancing on My Grave: An Autobiography, Shape of Love

• 1952 ~ Beryl Rubinstein, American pianist and composer, died at the age of 54

 

• 1957 ~ Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme were married. They became popular singers on the The Tonight Show with Steve Allen, and as Las Vegas showroom regulars and recording artists. They remained married until Eydie’s death in 2013.  Lawrence issued a statement: “Eydie has been my partner on stage and in my life for more than 55 years. I fell in love with her the moment I saw her and even more the first time I heard her sing. While my personal loss is unimaginable, the world has lost one of the greatest pop vocalists of all time.”

• 1961 ~ Mark Day, Guitarist with Happy Mondays

• 1963 ~ Much to the chagrin of the disc jockeys at 50,000-watt WABC in New York, the 5,000-watt blowtorch known as WMCA and its famed ‘Good Guys’ became the first New York radio station to play The Beatles’ I Want to Hold Your Hand. It didn’t take long for WABC to get revenge. It started calling itself the ‘official’ Beatles station (W-A-Beatle-C).

• 1967 ~ Orchestra leader Paul Whiteman passed away at the age of 76. Known as the King of Jazz, Whiteman had 28 #1 hits between 1920 and 1934 including Three O’Clock in the Morning, My Blue Heaven, All of Me and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.

• 1980 ~ American singer, songwriter Tim Hardin died of a heroin overdose. Hardin wrote the songs ‘If I Were A Carpenter’ (covered by Bobby Darin, Johnny Cash and June Carter, The Four Tops, Leon Russell, Small Faces, Robert Plant and Bob Seger,) and ‘Reason To Believe’, (covered by Rod Stewart). Hardin appeared at the 1969 Woodstock Festival.

• 2001 ~ Cassia Eller, one of the most irreverent singers of Brazilian rock music, died at the age of 39. Eller’s fame peaked in 2001 with the sale of about 250,000 copies of her “MTV Unplugged” album and a performance in January’s Rock in Rio festival in front of hundreds of thousands of fans, singing along with one of her hits, I just ask God for a little indecency.

• 2001 ~ Jazz pianist Ralph Sutton, a leading practitioner of the stride piano, died at the age of 79. Born in St. Charles, Mo., in 1922, Sutton made his professional debut at age  11 with his father’s band. He later signed on with trombone great Jack Teagarden, and played at several clubs along New York’s famed 52nd Street. To create his eclectic style, Sutton drew from the jazz piano, from ragtime and the blues to stride, in the style made famous by James P. Johnson, Willie “The Lion” Smith, and Fats Waller. Critics hailed Sutton as one of the best contemporary jazz pianists with a mastery of his instrument. He was a founding member of the 1968 World’s Greatest Jazz Band, which performed at Elitch Gardens in Denver.

• 2003 ~ Manny Dworman, who owned a Greenwich Village nightspot where comedians including Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Romano and Jon Stewart performed, died. He was 73. Dworman, a musician who played the oud, guitar and mandolin, owned the Comedy Cellar and the Olive Tree Cafe upstairs. The club was previously the site of Cafe Feenjon, a Middle Eastern nightclub that originally opened as a coffeehouse in 1960. Dworman performed at Cafe Feenjon with his band, the Feenjon Group, which recorded five albums, performed at Carnegie Hall and inspired the radio show “Music From Around the World.” Comedy Cellar, which opened in 1980, also hosted performances by Chris Rock and Colin Quinn. Discussions at the club inspired the Comedy Central show “Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn.” Dworman was featured in the 2002 documentary “Comedian” by Jerry Seinfeld.

• 2004 ~ Jerry Orbach, American singer and actor for the musical theater and longtime star of the “Law & Order” television series, died at 69. Orbach, a lanky actor with a deep voice and a slicked mop of black hair, first made his name on Broadway, winning a Tony for “Promises, Promises.” He was also in the original cast of “Chicago” and “42nd Street.”

 

December 28 ~ in Music History

today

• 1812 ~ Julius Rietz, German composer, conductor and cellist

• 1896 ~ Roger Sessions, American composer

• 1905 ~ Earl “Fatha” Hines, American jazz pianist and bandleader, a classic duet with Louis Armstrong was Weather Bird, songwriter

• 1911 ~ San Francisco established its own symphony orchestra as part of its comeback from a disastrous earthquake.

• 1921 ~ Johnny Otis (Veliotes), ‘Inventor of R&B’, composer, songwriter, drummer vibes with The Johnny Otis Show

• 1930 ~ Edmund Thigpen, Jazz Drummer

• 1932 ~ Dorsey Burnette, Singer, brother of singer Johnny Burnette

• 1938 ~ Charles Neville, Saxophone, flute, percussion with The Neville Brothers

• 1937 ~ Anniversary of Maurice Ravel’s death.

• 1943 ~ Bobby Comstock, Singer

• 1944 ~ The musical, On the Town, opened in New York City for a run of 462 performances. It was Leonard Bernstein’s first big Broadway success. The show’s hit song, New York, New York, continues to be successful.

• 1946 ~ Edgar Winter, American rock vocalist, saxophonist, guitarist and keyboardist

• 1946 ~ Carrie Jacobs Bond passed away.  She was an American singer, pianist, and songwriter who composed some 175 pieces of popular music from the 1890s through the early 1940s

• 1947 ~ Dick Diamonde (Dingeman Van Der Sluys), Bass with The Easybeats

• 1950 ~ Alex Chilton, Guitarist, singer

• 1952 ~ Fletcher Henderson, American musician died

• 1953 ~ Richard Clayderman, Pianist

• 1953 ~ Joe Diffie, Country Singer

• 1957 ~ At The Hop, by Danny and The Juniors, hit #1 on the music charts. It stayed at the top spot for seven weeks. The title of the tune was originally Do the Bop, but was changed at the suggestion of ‘America’s Oldest Living Teenager’ Dick Clark. Trivia: Danny and The Juniors filled in for a group that failed to appear on Clark’s American Bandstand show in Philadelphia. He called The Juniors to come into the studio immediately. They did and lip-synced At The Hop (written by Junior, Dave White and a friend, John Medora). It took off like a rocket to number one. (A few years later, Danny and The Juniors handed stardom to Chubby Checker when they failed to appear on Clark’s show.)

• 1963 ~ Paul Hindemith passed away
More information about Hindemith

• 1964 ~ Principal filming of the movie classic, Dr. Zhivago, began on location near Madrid, Spain. When completed, the film was 197 minutes long and so spectacular that it received ten Oscar nominations, winning five of the Academy Awards, including Best Original Score. Lara’s Theme was first heard in this movie.

• 1971 ~ Max Steiner, Austrian composer (Gone With the Wind), died at the age of 83

• 1990 ~ David Archuleta, American singer

• 1981 ~ WEA Records (Warner-Elektra-Atlantic) raised the price of its 45 rpm records from $1.68 to $1.98 this day. The company was the leader of the pack with other labels soon boosting their prices. Within a few years, the 45 rpm record was boosted right out of existence.

• 2001 ~ Frankie Gaye, whose combat experience during the Vietnam War was credited with influencing his older brother Marvin’s legendary Motown album “What’s Going On,” died of complications following a heart attack. He was 60. Gaye was a radio operator stationed in Vietnam in the 1960s when he wrote letters to his brother expressing his dissatisfaction with the war. His experiences influenced several songs on his brother’s 1971 album, including Save The Children, Inner City Blues and Mercy Mercy Me, according to Ralph Tee in the book “Soul Music Who’s Who.” Gaye, like his brother, had begun singing in church as a youngster. He went on to work with several Motown artists, including Mary Wells and Kim Weston and provided background vocals on many of his brother’s albums, including “What’s Going On” and 1977’s “Marvin Gaye, Live at the London Palladium.” On his own, Gaye composed the soundtrack to the 1972 film “Penitentiary 1” and toured extensively, both in the United States and England. He also released the singles Extraordinary Girl in 1989 and My Brother in 1990.

• 2016 ~ Debbie Reynolds, 84, died one day after the death of her daughter Carrie Fisher. She was an American actress, singer, businesswoman, film historian, and humanitarian.

More about Reynolds.

• 2017 ~ Rose Marie [Mazzetta], American actress, comedienne and singer, died at the age of 94

• 2018 ~ Christine McGuire, the eldest of the singing McGuire Sisters, who struck gold on the pop charts in the 1950s with “Sincerely,” “Sugartime” and other close-harmony hits that won young American hearts not quite ready for rock ′n’ roll, died at the age of 92.