• 1946 ~ Alan Gorrie, Rock Singer with the Average White Band
• 1947 ~ Bernie Leadon, Musician, guitar with The Eagles
• 1947 ~ Brian Harold May, Musician, guitarist, singer and songwriter with Queen, who had the 1975 UK No.1 single Bohemian Rhapsody, which returned to No.1 in 1991. Queen scored over 40 other UK Top 40 singles, and also scored the 1980 US No.1 single Crazy Little Thing Called Love. May had the solo 1992 UK No.5 single Too Much Love Will Kill You. May was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2005 for ‘services to the music industry and his charity work’. May earned a PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College, London, in 2007.
• 1949 ~ Singer Harry Belafonte began recording for Capitol Records on this day. The first sessions included They Didn’t Believe Me and Close Your Eyes. A short time later, Capitol said Belafonte wasn’t “commercial enough,” so he signed with RCA Victor (for a very productive and commercial career).
• 1952 ~ Allen Collins, Musician, guitar with Lynyrd Skynyrd
• 1952 ~ “Paint Your Wagon” closed at Shubert Theater New York City after 289 performances
• 1966 ~ Frank Sinatra married actress Mia Farrow this day.
• 1963 ~ Kelly Shiver, Country Singer
• 1980 ~ Billy Joel, pianist, singer-songwriter, and composer, earned his first gold record with It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me, which reached the top of the Billboard pop music chart. He would score additional million-sellers with Just the Way You Are, My Life, Uptown Girl (for girlfriend and later, wife and supermodel Christie Brinkley) and We Didn’t Start the Fire. Joel reached the top only one other time, with Tell Her About It in 1983.
• 2000 ~ H. LeBaron Taylor, a Sony executive who pioneered the mass marketing of music rooted in black culture and fostered minority development in the corporate world, died at the age of 65 of a heart attack. He was recognized by Ebony magazine as one of the top 50 black executives in corporate America. In the 1970s, Taylor was at CBS Records, leading its Black Music Marketing department, which sold music originating in black culture and styles that sprang from it, such as blues, soul, rap and hip-hop.
• 2015 ~ Van Alexander, American composer and bandleader (A-Tisket, A-Tasket), died at the age of 100
Circus marches are called “screamers” because they are traditionally so high, loud & fast!! Circus Band members are often called “windjammers” because they jam so much wind into their instruments in the process of playing these screamers. Playing the circus requires incredible endurance & skills on your instrument. The windjammers play almost none stop and much of the music is really difficult!
The greatest circus bands were about 100 years ago in the heyday of the circus. At that time the big top band could be 25 or so, plus there were often sideshow musicians as well. Cowboy bands, women’s bands and bands of Blacks were often part of the sideshows.
Contemporary circuses are much smaller all the way around, and some don’t use live musicians at all, just “canned” music (recordings). Others carry 3 musicians, a drummer, a trumpet player and a keyboard (synthesizer) player. A few, like the Big Apple Circus, still have bands. The Big Apple Circus has 8 musicians on its bandstand: a conductor/trumpet, a person who plays alto sax and clarinet, one who plays tenor sax and flute, a violin, a trombone, a bass player, a keyboard player and a drummer.
In the “old days,” being a circus musician was one of the most strenuous jobs a musician could have. In the days before musicians’ unions, the windjammer would be expected to play for the circus parade, play a pre-show free concert for the townspeople, ballyhoo around the grounds before the big top show, play the show itself (nonstop for two or three hours!), play post-show concerts on the grounds or play sideshows. Then after everyone left, they helped take down the tents or do other chores around the grounds. It was a busy day and the pay was not very good, but it was an exciting life with lots of great music, and many musicians loved it!
Entry of the Gladiators (Thunder and Blazes) was written in 1897 by, the Czechoslovakian composer, Julius Fucik (1872-1916). This march is a classic circus march & one that just about everyone will think, “Ah, circus!” when they hear it. Thunder and Blazes (as it is most frequently called) and Fucik’s Florentiner March are probably his most well-known marches.
Most circus marches follow the standard American military march form, but often abbreviated (no repeats in the second half):
Introduction (a bit longer than military marches)
First strain (repeated)
Second strain (repeated)
Trio (more mellow and the key changes)
Breakup strain (often called the dogfight in military marches)
In a circus march, the last strain is often the same as the trio, but louder, and often the trio, breakup strain and last strain are not repeated like they are in a military march (in military marches, the trio and breakup strain are often reversed & the way they repeat may vary).
The music sets the scene for the performer’s act. Different music is needed for different kinds of acts: the bareback riders galloping around the hippodrome need a lively tune, the trapeze artists want something more peaceful, and of course the clowns need music that sounds humorous (like trombone smears!).
In the early days of the circus, the band masters would take some of the European classical music and arrange it for the circus band. “The most obvious example would be the beautiful, flowing waltz music that is essential to the trapeze artists (‘flyers’ and ‘catchers’). The bandmaster and musicians must be precise in coordinating the music and the timing of the artists, requiring rehearsal with the artists and the musicians. Similarly, it may be interesting to note that the bareback riders perform in a smaller ring because of the gait of the horses. The centrifugal effect requires a ring of a certain diameter for timing. Thus, the conductor must follow the gait of the horses, whereas the aerialists depend on the tempo of the music for timing their act.”
Modern circuses also play a lot of popular tunes, jazz and other songs that people will recognize. You will likely hear fewer of the standard circus marches at a circus today.
The drummer has a particularly challenging and important role in the circus music. He/she must “play the tricks.” Usually the drummer is situated so that he can see the ring because it is his job to accent and intensify what is happening in the ring. This was true 100 years ago, and it is true today. If the act is getting tense, the drummer will get intense. If someone slides down a rope or vaults off the trampoline, there will be a cymbal crash or drum hit when the performer reaches the floor. Sometimes the cues come from the conductor or from the ringmaster, but sometimes it is the drummer who is really in charge!
Circus bands occasionally play a John Philip Sousa composition during the traditional Center Ring Concert, but his melodic marches are not the right structure for most circus acts.
Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever is never part of the regular program. It is reserved for emergency use – sometimes called the “Disaster March”. If a major problem happens — an animal gets loose, a high wind threatens the tent, or a fire breaks out — the band plays the march as a warning signal to every worker on the circus lot that something is wrong.
Charles Nelson Reilly – who grew up to be a famous actor, comedian, director and drama teacher – was attending the Ringling Bros. circus, in Hartford, on the day the big top burned to the ground. Listen as he recalled his memories of the fire.
For lesser problems, the 12th Street Rag was played to alert the clowns to come out and divert attention during the more common mishaps.
Edward F. Shevlin describes what goes on in the circus band as follows:
“Our music is usually by Karl King, Alexander, Fred Jewell, C. E. Duble and other old time circus bandmasters and musicians. Much of the music by these circus musician-composers is amenable to quick cut-offs and tempo changes as necessary to fit particular acts. Hence, Windjammers usually play two musicians to a stand so that when the conductor cuts to a new piece and tempo, one musician can quickly move the music to expose the next piece while the other continues without skipping a beat! We might quickly go from a march to a Samba or rhumba or galop; or from a waltz to an up-tempo march or galop for the “come down” when the aerialists quickly descend into the net or slide down a rope at the conclusion of their act . . .followed by that ubiquitous B-flat chord! The old circus bands would play anything from Ragtime to a Polonaise or a tone poem!”
*Information from an email from Edward F. Shevlin, a Windjammer who happened upon this page! Many thanks, Mr. Shevlin!
When the circus came to town, there was always a circus parade — the parade served to get the wagons filled with people, equipment, baggage, tents and animals to the location of the circus, but it also provided some free advertisement. The wagons were very elaborate & were intended to get people interested in the circus so they would come and see the acts. The band road on top of a bandwagon and inside the bandwagon was luggage, tents and other necessities.
Hey, have you ever heard the term, “jump on the bandwagon”? Here’s the story. In 1848, when Zachary Taylor won the Whig party nomination for president, Dan Rice, a famous clown whose attire inspired the image of Uncle Sam, invited Mr. Taylor to ride on the bandwagon that Dan Rice had. When the bandwagon arrived at the center of town, Dan Rice stopped his parade and made a very emotional speech supporting Zachary Taylor’s candidacy. Someone noted that Dan Rice was on Mr. Taylor’s bandwagon and the term stuck, so that to jump on the bandwagon means to get involved with whatever the issue is. “He jumped on the ecology bandwagon.” “She is definitely on the civil rights bandwagon.”
Below you will find some links to pictures of bandwagons.
The Columbia Bandwagon– purchased by James Bailey for the Barnum & Bailey Circus — and see this wagon hitched to FORTY horses!!! The picture including the wagon & the band is at the bottom of the page.
Most people pronounce this instrument “cal eye’ o pee”. Circus people pronounce it “cal’ ee ope” (last syllable like “rope”). What is a calliope?? It is a huge instrument made of whistles with a steam engine that blows steam through the whistles when you press the key. Most calliopes are played with a keyboard like a piano keyboard & each key controls one whistle. It is LOUD!!!! Some can be heard up to 3 – 5 miles! Don’t stand too close to one!
The calliope traditionally brought up the rear in a circus parade.
Most performing entities have some superstitions. One of the superstitions in circus bands is that you can not play Franz von Suppe’sLight Cavalry March. Quoting from Mr. Beal’s book:
“To play it on the circus lot means disaster and sudden death.”You may not believe this but most circus folks do, at least those who know the facts. Played once in Oklahoma, a train wreck followed and sixteen were killed. Played again, this time while [Merle] Evans was on tour with Miller Bros. 101 Ranch Wild West, a blowdown followed and 38 fatalities resulted. [A blow down is a wind that destroys all or part of the tents.]
“And the last time Merle played it a cornet player died immediately after the performance. That was enough for Evans. He collected the parts, tied them up in a neat bundle, and dropped them over the nearest bridge…
“From that day to this the music of Suppe’s Light Cavalry march is taboo. Even its presence in the music trunk would be considered a serious menace to the life and safety of the circus musicians.”
A second superstition about the music played is that the only time you can play Home Sweet Home is during the very last performance of the season, the very last song. Otherwise, it could mean the immediate closing of the show.
Beal, George Brinton. Through the Back Door of the Circus with George Brinton Beal. Springfield, Massachusetts: McLoughlin Bros., Inc., 1938. p. 1-20.
Some important Windjammers and composers of circus music
Sounds of the Circus — This is the site of the South Shore Circus Concert Band which is ” one of the few bands in the country dedicated to preserving authentic music from the golden age of the American Circus.” The site includes pictures, CDs to purchase and a few RealAudio files for circus music. http://world.std.com/~tsh/circus.html
Screamers – Circus marches are called screamers because they are so loud, fast & often very high!
Windjammers – Circus musicians are often called windjammers because they jam so much wind into their instruments in the process of playing these screamers.
Ballyhooing – The dictionary defines the verb “ballyhoo” as a vigorous attempt to win customers. When not playing, the musicians went around the grounds & the town shouting about the circus & trying to get people to come to see it. Ex: “Come to the circus tonight! See flying trapeze artists and the ….”
Hippodrome – The hippodrome is the track around the inside of the ring where the horses were run.
Trombone Smears – Smear refers both to a trombone technique and to a type of music. The technique (officially called a glissando) where the trombonist pulls the slide in or out without tonguing and you get a smearing sound as the notes move up or down, rather than a distinct set of individual notes. Smear also refers to a type of music that includes and features these smear techniques. These pieces are often used as clown music. Henry Fillmore wrote many trombone smears and they had an African-American minstrel sound to them.
• 1972 ~ Paul McCartney appeared on stage for the first time since 1966 as his group, Wings, opened at Chateauvillon in the south of France.
• 1977 ~ Undercover Angel, by songwriter (turned pop singer) Alan O’Day, reached the top spot on the Billboard chart. It was not the first visit to the top of the pop music world for O’Day, though the million-seller would be his last as a singer. He wrote Angie Baby, a number one hit for Helen Reddy and the #3 hit, Rock And Roll Heaven, for The Righteous Brothers.
• 1978 ~ Aladar Zoltan, Composer, died at the age of 49
• 1978 ~ “Hello, Dolly!” closed at Lunt-Fontanne Theater New York City after 152 performances
• 1981 ~ Oscar van Hemel, Composer, died at the age of 88
• 1984 ~ Randall Thompson, American composer, died at the age of 85
• 1986 ~ A new Broadway showplace opened. It was the first new theater on Broadway in 13 years. The Marquis Theatre, located at the corner of 46th Street and Broadway, seated 1,600 theatergoers.
• 1994 ~ Cornelius Boyson, Bassist, died at the age of 57
• 1994 ~ William “Sabby” Lewis, Jazz Pianist and Arranger, died at the age of 79
• 1994 ~ “Les Miserables” opened at Imperial Theatre, Tokyo
• 1949 ~ Riccadro Pick-Mangiagalli, Composer, died at the age of 66
• 1951 ~ Pleas Ned Sublette, Composer
• 1957 ~ Henry Fevrier, Composer, died at the age of 81
• 1958 ~ The first gold record album presented by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) was awarded. It went to the soundtrack LP, Oklahoma!. The honor signified that the album had reached one million dollars in sales. The first gold single issued by the RIAA was Catch a Falling Star, by Perry Como, in March of 1958. A gold single also represents sales of one million records.
• 1961 ~ Andy Fletcher, Musician with Depeche Mode
• 1961 ~ Graham Jones, Musician, guitarist with Haircut 100
• 1961 ~ Julian Bautista, Composer, died at the age of 60
• 1969 ~ Gladys Swarthout, Opera singer and actress (Ambush), died at the age of 64
• 1994 ~ Dominic Lucero, Dancer and singer, died
• 1996 ~ James Woodie Alexander, Songwriter and vocalist, died at the age of 80
• 2002 ~ Lore Noto, producer of “The Fantasticks,” the world’s longest-running musical, died after a long battle with cancer. He was 79. It was Noto, a former actor and artists’ agent, who saw the possibilities in a small one-act musical written by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt when it was first produced in 1959 at Barnard College in New York. He commissioned the authors to expand the show, which eventually opened at the tiny Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village on May 3, 1960. It ran for 17,162 performances, closing Jan. 13 after a more than 40-year run. The musical, with book and lyrics by Jones and music by Schmidt, told an affecting tale of first love. A girl and boy are secretly brought together by their fathers and an assortment of odd characters including a rakish narrator, an old actor, an Indian named Mortimer and a Mute. Over the years, scores of performers appeared in the New York production. Among the musical’s better-known alums are its original El Gallo, Jerry Orbach, and such soap-opera stars as Eileen Fulton and David Canary. F. Murray Abraham, long before his Academy Award for “Amadeus”, played the Old Actor in the ’60s. Early in the show’s run, Noto went on in the role of the boy’s father and played the part, off and on, for 17 years.
• 2018 ~ Tab Hunter [Arthur Andrew Kelm], American actor (Tab Hunter Show, Lust in the Dust) and singer (Young Love), died of complications of deep vein thrombosis at the age of 86
• 2018 ~ Oliver Knussen, British composer (Where the Wild Things Are, Chicara), died at the age of 66
• 2018 ~ Alan Johnson, American 3-time Emmy Award-winning choreographer (Springtime for Hitler, West Side Story), died at the age of 81
• 1860 ~ Gustav Mahler, Austrian composer and conductor
More information about Mahler Grammy winner
• 1911 ~ Gian Carlo Menotti, Italian composer and conductor
More information about Menotti
• 1962 ~ Mary Ford (Iris Colleen Summers), Singer with Les Paul
• 1927 ~ Doc (Carl) Severinsen, Bandleader, trumpeter, The Tonight Show Band, The Doc Severinsen Band, played with Charlie Barnet and Tommy Dorsey Orchestras, owner of a trumpet factory
• 1927 ~ Charlie Louvin (Loudermilk), Country singer, joined Grand Ole Opry in 1955
• 1940 ~ Ringo Starr, British rock drummer and singer with The Beatles
• 1944 ~ Warren Entner, Musician, guitarist and singer with The Grass Roots
• 1950 ~ David Hodo, Singer with The Village People
• 1954 ~ Cherry Boone, Singer; daughter of singer Pat Boone, sister of singer Debby Boone
• 1962 ~ Mark White, Rock Musician
• 1962 ~ Orchestra leader David Rose reached the top spot on the popular music charts. The Stripper stayed at the pinnacle of musicdom for one week. Rose’s previous musical success on the charts was in 1944 with Holiday for Strings.
• 2001 ~ Folk singer Fred Neil, who had such hits as Everybody’s Talking, and Candyman, died at the age of 64. Neil started his music career in 1955 when he moved from St. Petersburg to Memphis, Tenn. He released his first single, You Ain’t Treatin’ Me Right/Don’t Put the Blame On Me, two years later. The singer became a cult favorite in New York City’s Greenwich Village folk scene after Roy Orbison released a blues recording of Neil’s Candyman in 1960. Neil released his first solo album, Bleecker & MacDougal, in 1965. After moving back to Florida, Neil took an interest in protecting dolphins. He frequently visited Kathy, the star of the television show Flipper, and wrote a song called The Dolphins, which was released on his 1967 album Fred Neil. In 1970, Neil co-founded the Dolphin Research Project to help curb the capture and exploitation of dolphins worldwide. His last big hit came in 1969 when the film Midnight Cowboy featured singer Harry Nilsson’s version of Neil’s Everybody’s Talking.
• 2002 ~ Dorle Jarmel Soria, a writer and co-founder of the music label Angel Records, died. She was 101. Soria and her husband, Dario Soria, together founded Angel Records, which distributed some of the labels of EMI, a British company. The label released some 500 recordings, including the work of singer Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, pianist Walter Gieseking and conductor Herbert von Karajan. The company was eventually sold by EMI, and the Sorias went on to help found Gian Carlo Menotti’s Festival of Two Worlds in Italy. Before founding Angel, Soria had a career in journalism and worked for Arthur Judson, who was a concert manager for the New York Philharmonic. Soria wrote regularly for several music magazines and had a weekly column for the Carnegie Hall program in the 1960s. She also published a book about the history of the Metropolitan Opera.
• 1925 ~ Bill Haley, American rock-and-roll singer, songwriter and guitarist with Bill Haley and His Comets
• 1932 ~ Della Reese (Delloreese Patricia Early), Pop Singer
• 1937 ~ Vladimir Ashkenazy, Russian-born Icelandic pianist and conductor
More information about Ashkenazy Grammy winner
• 1937 ~ Gene Chandler (Eugene Dixon), Singer
• 1937 ~ The big band classic, Sing, Sing, Sing was recorded by Benny Goodman and his band. Sitting in on this famous Victor Records session was Gene Krupa, Ziggy Elman and Harry James.
• 1945 ~ Rik Elswit, Musician, guitarist and singer with Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show
• 1954 ~ Nanci Griffith, Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter
• 1957 ~ John Lennon and Paul McCartney met for the first time at The Woolton Church Parish Fete where The Quarry Men were appearing. As The Quarry Men were setting up for their evening performance, McCartney eager to impress Lennon picked up a guitar and played ‘Twenty Flight Rock’ (Eddie Cochran) and ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula’ (Gene Vincent). Lennon was impressed, and even more so when McCartney showed Lennon and Eric Griffiths how to tune their guitars, something they’d been paying someone else to do for them.
• 1959 ~ Jon Keeble, Musician, drummer with Spandau Balle
• 1971 ~ Louis Armstrong, Jazz musician, died. His groups, the Hot Five and Hot Seven, from 1925 to 1927, had a revolutionary impact on jazz.
• 1971 ~ Karen and Richard Carpenter hosted the summer series, Make Your Own Kind of Music, on NBC-TV.
• 1973 ~ Otto Klemperer, German conductor particularly known for his interpretations of Beethoven, died.
• 1984 ~ Michael Jackson and his brothers started their Victory Tour in Kansas City, Missouri’s Arrowhead Stadium. The tour turned out to be a victory for the Jacksons when the nationwide concert tour concluded months later.
• 1998 ~ Roy Rogers, U.S. film actor known as “the singing cowboy”, died.
• 2000 ~ Władysław Szpilman, Polish pianist and classical composer, died at the age of 88
• 2020 ~ Country Music legend Charlie Daniels, best known for his monster 1979 hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” died at the age of 83.
• 2020 ~ Ennio Morricone wrote the scores for more than 500 movies and TV series, as well as over 100 works for the concert hall. He died following complications from a fall at the age of 91.
• 1847 ~ Agnes Marie Jacobina Zimmermann, Composer
• 1852 ~ Stefano Gobatti, Composer
• 1874 ~ Gerhard von Keussler, Composer
• 1877 ~ Wanda Landowska, Harpsichordist
• 1878 ~ Joseph Holbrooke, English pianist, conductor and composer
• 1897 ~ Paul Ben-Haim, Israeli composer and student of Middle Eastern folk music
• 1918 ~ George Rochberg, American composer and music editor
• 1924 ~ Janos Starker, Hungarian-born Grammy Award-winning American cellist.
• 1934 ~ Love in Bloom, sung by Bing Crosby with Irving Aaronson’s orchestra, was recorded for Brunswick Records in Los Angeles. The song was fairly popular, but became a much bigger success when comedian Jack Benny made it a popular standard.
• 1944 ~ Robbie Robertson, Musician, composer, guitarist with The Band
• 1950 ~ Michael Monarch, Musician, guitarist with Steppenwolf
• 1951 ~ Huey Lewis (Cregg), Rock Singer
• 1954 ~ Elvis Presley recorded That’s All Right (Mama) and Blue Moon of Kentucky. It was his first session for Sam Phillips and Sun Records in Memphis, TN.
• 1965 ~ Maria Callas gave her last stage performance, singing Puccini’s opera “Tosca” at London’s Covent Garden.
• 1969 ~ The Rolling Stones gave a free concert in Hyde Park, London, in memory of Brian Jones, who had died two days before.
• 1983 ~ Placido Domingo’s performance of Puccini’s opera La Bohème had one and one-half hours of applause and 83 curtain calls at the State Opera house in Vienna, Austria.
• 2001 ~ Ernie K-Doe, a flamboyant rhythm and blues singer who had a No. 1 hit with Mother-In-Law in 1961, died Thursday. He was 65. K-Doe, born Ernest Kador Jr., was one of many New Orleans musicians, including Fats Domino, Aaron Neville and The Dixie Cups, who landed singles at or near the top of the national charts in the 1950s and ’60s. He had a handful of minor hits, such as T’aint it the Truth,Come on Home and Te-Ta-Te-Ta-Ta. But he was forever associated with his only No. 1 single. Mother-In-Law was produced by legendary New Orleans producer and songwriter Allen Toussaint, who also played piano for the recording. In 1995, K-Doe opened Ernie K-Doe’s Mother-In-Law Lounge near the French Quarter, where he performed on Sundays.
• 2003 ~ Johnny Cash made his last ever live performance when he appeared at the Carter Ranch. Before singing “Ring of Fire”, Cash read a statement about his late wife that he had written shortly before taking the stage: “The spirit of June Carter overshadows me tonight with the love she had for me and the love I have for her. We connect somewhere between here and heaven. She came down for a short visit, I guess, from heaven to visit with me tonight to give me courage and inspiration like she always has.” Cash died on Sept 12th of that same year.
• 1801 ~ Johann Nepomuk Went, Composer, died at the age of 56
• 1892 ~ Joseph Labitzky, Composer
• 1809 ~ Joseph Quesne, Composer, died at the age of 62
• 1814 ~ Janis Cimze, Composer
• 1819 ~ Louis Theodore Gouvy, Composer
• 1846 ~ Achilles Alferaki, Composer
• 1850 ~ Alfredo Kiel, Composer
• 1854 ~ Leos Janácek, Czech composer, conductor and collector of Moravian folk songs. He is best known for his operas including “Jenufa” and “The Cunning Little Vixen” as well as for his orchestral piece “Taras Bulba.”
More information about Janácek
• 1855 ~ Piotr Maszynski, Composer
• 1860 ~ William Wallace, Composer
• 1862 ~ Friedrich Ernst Koch, Composer
• 1871 ~ Vicente Arregui Garay, Composer
• 1873 ~ Josef Michal Ksawery Jan Poniatowski, Composer, died at the age of 57
• 1878 ~ George M. Cohan, American songwriter, vaudeville performer, playwright and producer
Listen to Cohan’s music
More information about Cohan
• 1879 ~ Philippe Gaubert, Composer
• 1880 ~ Carl Schuricht, Composer
• 1891 ~ Stefano Golinelli, Composer, died at the age of 72
• 1941 ~ Cab Calloway and his orchestra recorded the standard, St. James Infirmary, for Okeh Records.
• 1945 ~ Johnny Lee, Country singer
• 1945 ~ Victor Borge was first heard on NBC radio. The network gave the comedian/pianist the summer replacement slot for Fibber McGee and Molly.
More information about Borge
• 1948 ~ Paul Barrere, Musician, guitarist with Little Feat
• 1952 ~ Daniel Zamudio, Composer, died at the age of 64
• 1952 ~ Laura Branigan, Singer
• 1953 ~ Harry Belafonte was shown with actress Janet Leigh and film star Tony Curtis on the cover of Ebony magazine. It was the first time a black person and two Caucasians were seen together on a U.S. magazine cover.
• 1954 ~ “Wonderful Town” closed at Winter Garden Theater New York City after 559 performances
• 1955 ~ Neil Clark, Musician, guitarist with Lloyd Cole & The Commotions
• 1957 ~ Richard Mohaupt, German Composer (Bucolica), died at the age of 52
• 1958 ~ “Andy Williams Show” premiered on ABC (later on CBS & NBC)
• 1960 ~ Alfred Henry Ackley, Composer, died at the age of 73
• 1961 ~ Vince Clarke, Songwriter, keyboards
• 1965 ~ Clarence Loomis, Composer, died at the age of 75
• 1966 ~ Andre Gailhard, Composer, died at the age of 81
• 1966 ~ Joseph Deems Taylor, Composer, died at the age of 80
• 1969 ~ Brian Jones, guitarist (Rolling Stones), drowns to death at 25
• 1969 ~ Hermann Grabner, Composer, died at the age of 83
• 1971 ~ Jim Morrison, rock singer (Doors), died of heart failure at 27. He co-wrote some of the group’s biggest hits, including ‘Light My Fire’, ‘Love Me Two Times’, and ‘Love Her Madly.’ On the 25th anniversary of his death, an estimated 15,000 fans gathered at Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France to pay their respects.
• 1971 ~ The Newport Jazz Festival’s reputation was tarnished as gate crashers stormed the stage. The unruly mob forced the show to leave Newport, Rhode Island and move to New York City. Oh, and the artist the crowd got unruly over? Not Bob Dylan, not Miles Davis, but Dionne Warwick’s! She was singing What the World Needs Now is Love at the time of the incident.
• 1972 ~ Mississippi Fred McDowell, jazz artist, died at the age of 68
• 1973 ~ Charles Ancerl, Czech conductor (Prague/Toronto), died at the age of 63
• 1973 ~ Clint Holmes received a gold record for his hit single, Playground in My Mind.
• 1976 ~ Brian Wilson rejoined The Beach Boys, who were appearing at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, CA (before 74,000 fans). Wilson had been out of the group’s road tour schedule for 12 years.
• 1977 ~ Hugh Le Caine, Composer, died at the age of 63
• 1986 ~ Rudy Vallee, singer (Vagabond Dreams), died at the age of 84
• 1986 ~ Mikhail Baryshnikov, considered by many to be the world’s greatest ballet dancer, became a U.S. citizen in ceremonies at Ellis Island, New York Harbor.
• 1991 ~ Irina Nijinska, Russian/US dancer, died at the age of 77
• 1995 ~ Brad Lee Sexton, bass guitarist, died at the age of 47
• 2000 ~ Harold Nicholas, American dancer known as one of the world’s greatest dancers (Nicholas Brothers), died of heart failure at the age of 79. Children: don’t try this at home – never, ever dance on a piano!
• 2001 ~ Country guitar player Roy Nichols, who played in Merle Haggard’s band for 22 years and helped create the Bakersfield Sound, died after being hospitalized with kidney inflammation and a bacterial infection. He was 68. Nichols began recording with Haggard’s band The Strangers in 1963 and played with some of country music’s biggest names from the time he was 16 years old. “A lot of people may or may not know that he played for Johnny Cash on Tennessee Flat Top Box, the original version, and also on The Ballad of Ira Hayes,” Haggard told the Associated Press in a telephone interview. Haggard credits Nichols with jump-starting his own career and playing a key role in developing The Stranger’s distinctive sound.
• 2001 ~ Grand Ole Opry star Johnny Russell, whose song Act Naturally was recorded by Buck Owens and The Beatles, died of leukemia, diabetes and other ailments at the age of 61. Russell once said that it took him two years to get someone to record Act Naturally, co-written with Voni Morrison. When Owens recorded a version in 1963, it went to No. 1 on the country charts. Two years later, it was recorded by the Beatles, with Ringo Starr singing the vocal. In 1989, Starr and Owens recorded a duet of the song that was nominated for Grammy and Country Music Association awards. Russell’s own recording career took off in the 1970s. His biggest hit was the working class anthem Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer, which went to No. 4 in 1973 and was nominated for a Grammy. Russell joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry in 1985, and over the years became its regular closing act. A jolly, 275-pound man, he would joke to audiences in his opening line: “Can everybody see me all right?” Russell also wrote the No. 1 hit Let’s Fall to Pieces Together, recorded in 1984 by George Strait, and Making Plans, which was recorded by Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt on their Trio album in 1987.
• 2012 ~ Andy Griffith, American actor, comedian, television producer, Southern gospel singer, and writer (Andy Griffith Show, Matlock), died from a heart attack at the age of 86
• 2018 ~ William “Bill” Watrous, American jazz trombonist, died at the age of 79
• 2018 ~ Richard Swift, American singer and songwriter (The Black Keys), died at the age of 41
• 1953 ~ Gote Carlid, Composer, died at the age of 32
• 1956 ~ “Pipe Dream” closed at Shubert Theater New York City after 245 performances
• 1956 ~ “Shangri-La” closed at Winter Garden Theater New York City after 21 performances
• 1959 ~ Lazare Saminsky, Composer, died at the age of 76
• 1960 ~ Clarence Cameron White, Composer, died at the age of 79
• 1969 ~ Jan Evangelista Zelinka, Composer, died at the age of 76
• 1982 ~ “Lena Horne: Lady, Music” closed at Nederlander New York City after 333 performances
• 1983 ~ Bo Gentry, Songwriter and producer, died
• 1985 ~ Yul Brynner left his role as the King of Siam after 4,600 performances in The King and I at the Broadway Theatre in New York City. The show had run, on and off, for over 34 years and 191 performances.
• 1987 ~ Federico Mompou, Composer, died at the age of 94
• 1995 ~ Phyllis Hyman, Rhythm and Blues Jazz singer, died at 45
• 1996 ~ “State Fair,” closed at Music Box Theater New York City after 118 performances
• 2001 ~ Chet Atkins, whose guitar style influenced a generation of rock musicians even as he helped develop an easygoing country style to compete with it, died at the age of 77.
Atkins recorded more than 75 albums of guitar instrumentals and sold more than 75 million albums. He played on hundreds of hit records, including those of Elvis Presley (Heartbreak Hotel), Hank Williams Sr. (Your Cheatin’ Heart, Jambalaya) and The Everly Brothers (Wake Up Little Susie). As an executive with RCA Records for nearly two decades beginning in 1957, Atkins played a part in the careers of Roy Orbison, Jim Reeves, Charley Pride, Dolly Parton Jerry Reed, Waylon Jennings, Eddy Arnold and many others. “It’s impossible to capsulize his life – due to the profound impact he’s had as a wonderful human being and incredible member of our industry,” said Joe Galante, chairman of the RCA Label Group in Nashville. “His artistry and his influence as an industry leader have impacted so many. “There is no way to replace him nor what he has meant to music and our Nashville community.” Atkins helped craft the lush Nashville Sound, using string sections and lots of echo to make records that appealed to older listeners not interested in rock music. Among his notable productions are The End of the World by Skeeter Davis and He’ll Have to Go by Reeves. “I realized that what I liked, the public would like, too,” Atkins said in a 1996 interview with The Associated Press. ‘”Cause I’m kind of square.”
Chester Burton Atkins was born June 20, 1924, on a farm near Luttrell, Tenn., about 20 miles northeast of Knoxville. His elder brother Jim Atkins also played guitar, and went on to perform with Les Paul. Chet Atkins’ first professional job was as a fiddler on WNOX in Knoxville, where his boss was singer Bill Carlisle. “He was horrible,” Carlisle said at a tribute concert to Atkins in 1997. “But I heard him during a break playing guitar and decided to feature him on that.” Atkins’ unusual fingerpicking style, a pseudoclassical variation influenced by such diverse talents as Merle Travis and Django Reinhardt, got him hired and fired from jobs at radio stations all over the country. Atkins sometimes joked that early on his playing sounded “like two guitarists playing badly.” During the 1940s he toured with many acts, including Red Foley, The Carter Family and Kitty Wells. RCA executive Steve Sholes took Atkins on as a protege in the 1950s, using him as the house guitarist on recording sessions. RCA began issuing instrumental albums by Atkins in 1953. George Harrison, whose guitar work on early Beatles records is heavily influenced by Atkins, wrote the liner notes for “Chet Atkins Picks on the Beatles.” Sholes put Atkins in charge of RCA Nashville when he was promoted in 1957. There, he helped Nashville survive the challenge of rock ‘n’ roll with the Nashville Sound. The lavish sound has been criticized by purists who prefer their country music raw and unadorned. Atkins was unrepentant, saying that at the time his goal was simply “to keep my job.” “And the way you do that is you make a hit record once in a while,” he said in 1993. “And the way you do that is you give the audience something different.” Atkins quit his job as an executive in the 1970s and concentrated on playing his guitar. He’s collaborated with a wide range of artists on solo albums, including Mark Knopfler, Paul McCartney, Eric Johnson, George Benson, Susie Bogguss and Earl Klugh. At the time he became ill, Atkins had just released a CD, “The Day Finger Pickers took over the World.” He also had begun regular Monday night performances at a Nashville club. “If I know I’ve got to go do a show, I practice quite a bit, because you can’t get out there and embarrass yourself.” Atkins said in 1996. “So I thought, if I play every week I won’t be so rusty and I’ll play a lot better.”