Christmas Countdown: It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
• 1731 ~ Frantisek Xaver Dusek, Czech composer and one of the most important harpsichordists and pianists of his time.
1865 ~ Jean (Johan) Julius Christian Sibelius, Finnish composer
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• 1882 ~ Manuel Maria Ponce, composer
• 1890 ~ Bohuslav Martinu, composer
• 1924 ~ Franz Xaver Scharwenka, German pianist/composer (Mataswintha), died at the age of 74
• 1925 ~ Jimmy Smith, Grammy Award-winning musician, modern jazz organist
• 1925 ~ Sammy Davis, Jr., American singer of popular music
1939 ~ James Galway, Irish flutist
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• 1939 ~ Jerry Butler, Singer with The Impressions
• 1941 ~ Ray Eberle and The Modernaires teamed with the Glenn Miller Orchestra to record Moonlight Cocktail on Bluebird Records. By April, 1942, the song was a solid hit.
• 1942 ~ Bobby Elliott, Drummer with The Hollies
• 1943 ~ Jim (James Douglas) Morrison ‘The Lizard King’, Singer in the rock group The Doors
• 1946 ~ John Rubinstein, Tony Award-winning actor, composer
• 1947 ~ Gregg Allman, Keyboards, guitar, singer with Allman Brothers Band
• 1957 ~ Phil Collen, Guitarist with Def Leppard
• 1961 ~ Surfin’, The Beach Boys first record, was released on Candix Records. It became a local hit in Los Angeles but only made it to #75 nationally. The surfin’ music craze didn’t take hold across America for another year. By the time Surfin’ Safari entered the Top 40 (September, 1962), though, The Beach Boys were ridin’ a wave of popularity that continues today.
• 1963 ~ Florence Henderson and Jose Ferrer co-starred in The Girl Who Came to Supper on Broadway. The production, however, only lasted for 112 shows.
• 1963 ~ Frank Sinatra, Jr. was kidnapped in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. He was set free four days later. It was discovered that Sinatra, Jr. cooperated with his abductors in their plot. Dad was not proud, nor pleased. Frank, Jr. went on to conduct the big band for Frank, Sr. and all was well.
• 1966 ~ Sinead O’Connor, Singer
• 1980 ~ John Lennon was shot and killed on this day as he stood outside of his New York City apartment house, the Dakota. A deranged, obsessed ‘fan’ asked Lennon to autograph an album, then shot him as Lennon started to comply. The man was quickly apprehended by others gathered at the scene. A several-days vigil by hundreds of mourning fans is remembered as candles flickered and the song Give Peace a Chance was heard, a continuing tribute to the musician and songwriter of a generation. John Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono, together with New York’s officials, set up a permanent memorial to her husband: a section of Central Park, opposite the Dakota, named Strawberry Fields.
• 1982 ~ Marty Robbins passed away
• 2003 ~ Lewis Allen, producer of the Broadway hit “Annie” and winner of three Tony Awards, died of pancreatic cancer, his wife said. He was 81. “Annie” opened in 1977 and ran for six years. Allen won a Tony for it and for two plays he produced: Herb Gardner’s “I’m Not Rappaport” in 1986 and Terrence McNally’s “Master Class” in 1996. Allen also produced several films, including Shirley Clarke’s “The Connection” (1961), Francois Truffaut’s “Fahrenheit 451” (1966) and both the 1963 and 1990 versions of “Lord of the Flies.” He was an early supporter of “Annie,” which started life at a regional theater in Connecticut. Although that production received lukewarm reviews, Allen got producer-director Mike Nichols to join him in backing the Broadway version, which spawned the 1982 film version that Allen did not produce. Allen was born in Berryville, Va., graduated from the University of Virginia and served with the American Field Service during World War II. His wife, Jay Presson Allen, wrote the screenplays for “Cabaret” (1972) and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Marnie”(1964).
• 2003 ~ Cuban pianist Ruben Gonzalez, who found new fame in the mid-1990s playing with Compay Segundo’s Buena Vista Social Club band, died. He was 84. Gonzalez’s keyboard gymnastics provided the heartbeat of the Buena Vista Social Club’s string of traditional Cuban “son” music albums beginning in 1997. The smallish man with grizzled hair and beard gained worldwide attention as the pianist on the opening album of the series, the Grammy-winning “Buena Vista Social Club.”