Christmas Countdown: Angels We Have Heard On High
• 1596 ~ Nicola Amati, Italian violin maker, teacher of Guarneri and Stradivari
• 1729 ~ Padre Antonio Francisco Javier Jose Soler, Spanish composer whose works span the late Baroque and early Classical music eras. He is best known for his keyboard sonatas, an important contribution to the harpsichord, fortepiano and organ repertoire.
• 1876 ~ Hermann Goetz died. He was a German composer.
• 1883 ~ Anton Webern, Austrian composer and conductor
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• 1907 ~ Connie (Connee) Boswell, Singer Connie or Connee (a spelling she preferred later in life), who also played several musical instruments, arranged vocals for herself and her two sisters. Although she was stricken with polio and worked from her wheelchair, she never let this get in the way of being part of her jazz-singing trio. The Boswell Sisters’ talent was quickly recognized and by the time Connee was 24 years old, the sisters were doing vaudeville, radio, playing New York’s Paramount Theatre, recording with the Dorsey Brothers: You Oughta Be in Pictures; making films and appearing on the U.S.A.’s first public TV broadcast. One thing led to another and Connie went solo, entertaining World War II troops, making films, appearing on Broadway and recording with big names like Woody Herman’s; even a duet classic with Bing Crosby: Basin Street Blues. Her musical influence spanned many generations and music styles. If you’d have asked Ella Fitzgerald, she would have told you, “They just don’t make ’em like Connee Boswell anymore.”
• 1911 ~ Nino Rota, composer (Torquemada)
• 1923 ~ Maria Callas (Calogeropoulous), American soprano
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• 1925 ~ The first jazz concerto for piano and orchestra was presented at Carnegie Hall in NYC. Commissioned by Walter Damrosch, American composer George Gershwin presented Concerto In F, and was also the featured soloist playing a flugelhorn in a slow, bluesy style as one of his numbers.
• 1927 ~ Phyllis Curtin, Singer: soprano with the New York City Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Vienna Staatsoper, La Scala, Teatro Colon; coordinator of Voice Dept and Opera at Yale School of Music, Dean Emerita of Boston Univ School for the Arts
• 1927 ~ Ferlin Husky (aka: Simon Crum, Terry Preston), Singer
• 1930 ~ Andy (Howard Andrew) Williams, American Emmy Award-winning entertainer, singer
• 1931 ~ Jaye P. (Mary Margaret) Morgan, Singer, performer
• 1941 ~ Johann Christian Sinding, Norwegian composer
• 1944 ~ Frank Sinatra was in the Columbia Records studio recording Old Man River.
• 1948 ~ Ozzy (John) Osbourne, Songwriter, singer
• 1949 ~ Mickey Thomas, Singer with Jefferson Starship
• 1953 ~ Kismet opened on Broadway in New York. The show ran for 583 performances.
• 1955 ~ Elvis Presley’s first release on RCA Victor Records was announced. No, it wasn’t Hound Dog or Heartbreak Hotel. The first two sides were actually purchased from Sam Phillips of Sun Records: Mystery Train and I Forgot to Remember to Forget. Elvis was described by his new record company as “The most talked about personality in recorded music in the last 10 years.”
• 1960 ~ Camelot opened at the Majestic Theatre in New York City. Richard Burton and Julie Andrews played the leading roles in the musical written by Lerner and Loewe. Robert Goulet got rave reviews for his songs, If Ever I Would Leave You, Then You May Take Me to the Fair and How to Handle a Woman, among others. Camelot had a run of 873 performances. Broadway went Hollywood in the 1967 film version of Camelot. Its run was not quite as successful.
• 1968 ~ The O’Kaysions received a gold record for Girl Watcher. The song had a promotional reprise in the 1990s as a theme for Merv Griffin’s Wheel of Fortune, with the revamped lyrics, I’m a Wheel Watcher…
• 1977 ~ After 29 weeks in the #1 position on the album charts (a record, literally…), Rumours, by Fleetwood Mac, was replaced at the top spot by the album Simple Dreams, sung by Linda Ronstadt.
• 1999 ~ Handel’s Messiah Gets Modern Makeover in Ireland
• 2000 ~ Kevin Mills, a member of the Christian rock groups Newsboys and White Heart, died after a motorcycle accident in Hollywood. He was 32. Mills, of Louisville, Ky., was a singer and bass player, his family said. He also was a member of the Screen Actors Guild and appeared on TV in “An Inconvenient Woman” in 1991. White Heart started in 1982. Newsboys, an Australian band now based near Nashville, was formed four years later. Newsboys have sold nearly 3 million records and earned three Grammy nominations on the religious rock circuit.
• 2000 ~ Washington Honored Eastwood, Baryshnikov, Others
• 2002 ~ Rich Dangel, credited with creating the opening guitar chords of garage band staple Louie Louie, died of an aneurysm at his home. He was 60. Dangel was a member of the seminal Northwest rock band the Wailers, who introduced the nation to the Northwest sound – raw, unpolished and catchy. He may be best known for coming up with the power chords that opened the Wailers’ 1961 regional hit, Louie, Louie, written by rhythm-and-blues singer Richard Berry and taken to the top of the national charts by another Northwest band, the Kingsmen from Portland, Ore. Dangel co-wrote his first chart hit, “Tall Cool One” with fellow Wailer John Greek when he was still in high school. The song resulted in the group’s first album, “The Fabulous Wailers,” a cross-country tour and a 1959 appearance on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand.”