On January 18, 1958 Leonard Bernstein began presenting his television series What does music mean? The series ran for 53 programs. Some of the episodes can be found below:
Part 1 What is Classical Music?
Plot: Bernstein conducts Handel’s Water Music and cites it as an indisputable example of classical music. “Exact” is the word that best defines classical music, Bernstein says and he demonstrates with musical illustrations from Bach’s Fourth Brandenburg Concerto, Mozart’s Concerto No. 21 in C Major and The Marriage of Figaro, and Haydn’s Symphony No. 102.
The decline of classical music at the end of the eighteenth century is tied to Beethoven’s innovations and the Romantic movement, and Bernstein conducts Beethoven’s Egmont Overture.
Part 2 What is Melody?
Plot: Bernstein discusses the different forms melody can take, including tune, theme, motive, melodic line and musical phrase. He illustrates by conducting the orchestra in excerpts from Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Hindemith, and Brahms.
Part 3 What is a Mode?
Plot: Bernstein discusses scales, intervals, and tones, and analyzes several pieces, including Debussy’s Fêtes, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, and music from the Kinks and the Beatles, to illustrate different modes.
An excerpt from Bernstein’s ballet Fancy Free is also performed.
. 1891 ~ French Composer Leo Delibes died at the age of 54
. 1905 ~ Ernesto Halffter, Spanish composer and conductor
. 1908 ~ Ethel Merman (Zimmerman), American singer of popular music, Tony Award-winning actress (musical), Musical Theater Hall of Fame. She is most famous for Call Me Madam in 1951, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, There’s No Business Like Show Business and Alexander’s Ragtime Band
. 1929 ~ Marilyn Horne, American mezzo-soprano
. 1929 ~ G.T. (Granville) Hogan, Jazz drummer who played with Elmo Hope, Earl Bostic
. 1934 ~ Bob Bogle (Robert Lenard Bogle), Guitarist, bass with The Ventures
. 1938 ~ Béla Bartók and his wife, Ditta performed their first public concert featuring his Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion
. 1938 ~ Benny Goodman and his band, plus a quartet, brought the sound of jazz to Carnegie Hall in New York City. When asked how long an intermission he wanted, he quipped, “I don’t know. How much does Toscanini get?”
. 1942 ~ Bill Francis, Keyboard, singer with Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show
. 1942 ~ Kay Kyser and the band recorded A Zoot Suit for Columbia Records. The tune is about the problems associated with wearing this garish, exaggerated ‘hep’ fashion.
. 1946 ~ Katia Ricciarelli, Italian soprano
. 1946 ~ Ronnie Milsap, Grammy Award-winning singer in 1976, CMA Male Vocalist of the Year (1974, 1976, 1977), CMA Entertainer of the Year (1977), blind since birth, he learned to play several instruments by age 12
. 1957 ~ The Cavern Club opened for business in Liverpool, England. The rock club was just a hangout for commoners. Then, things changed — big time. It all started in the early 1960s when four kids from the neighborhood popped in to jam. They, of course, turned out to be The Beatles.
. 1962 ~ Paul Webb, Bass with Talk Talk
. 1964 ~ “Hello Dolly!” opened at the St. James Theatre in New York City. Carol Channing starred in the role of Mrs. Dolly Levi. The musical was an adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s play, “The Matchmaker”. The show, with an unforgettable title song, was hailed by critics as the “…possible hit of the season.” It was possible, all right. “Hello Dolly!” played for 2,844 performances. And, it returned to Broadway in the 1990s, again starring Carol Channing.
. 1972 ~ David Seville died on this day in Beverly Hills, CA. Born Ross Bagdasarian, the musician was the force, and artist, behind the Alvin and the Chipmunks novelty songs of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.
. 1973 ~ Clara Ward passed away. Ward was an American gospel artist who achieved great artistic and commercial success in the 1940s and 1950s.
. 1975 ~ “Mandy” is Barry Manilow’s first #1 pop hit
. 1976 ~ The album, “Frampton Comes Alive”, was released by Herb Alpert’s A&M Records. The double LP soon reached the top spot of the album charts and stayed perched there for 17 weeks. It sold 19 million copies in its first year.
. 1980 ~ Lin Manuel Miranda, American actor, composer, lyricist (Hamilton)
. 1984 ~ Michael Jackson received eight awards at the 11th annual American Music Awards this night.
. 2001 ~ Eleanor Lawrence, a flutist who played often in chamber music performances and with several orchestras in New York City, died of brain cancer at the age of 64. She is credited with transforming a simple newsletter into an important source for flutists. Lawrence studied the flute at the New England Conservatory with the principal flutist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, James Pappoutsakis. She later studied with flutists from the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera orchestra. She joined the American Symphony Orchestra and the Brooklyn Philharmonic after moving to New York in the 1960s. She played periodically with the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera. Besides performing, Lawrence taught at the Manhattan School of Music. She served three times as the president of the New York Flute Club. She edited The National Flute Association Newsletter, now The Flutist Quarterly, from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, expanding it from a brief information sheet to a publication with regular interviews.
. 1803 ~ Henri Herz, Austrian pianist and composer
. 1838 ~ Max Bruch, German Composer
More information about Bruch
. 1850 ~ Franz Xaver Scharwenka, Polish composer
More information about Scharwenka
. 1852 ~ Louis Braille died. He was a French educator and inventor of a system of reading and writing for use by the blind or visually impaired. His system remains virtually unchanged to this day and is known worldwide simply as braille.
. 1856 ~ Giuseppe Martucci, Italian composer, conductor, pianist and teacher influential in reviving Italian interest in non-operatic music.
. 1863 ~ First performance of Johannes Brahms‘ Piano Sonata No. 3 in f, in Vienna.
. 1878 ~ Carl Sandburg, Author, poet, folk balladeer
. 1916 ~ Philip Bezanson, American composer and educator
. 1924 ~ Earl Scruggs, American country music singer, banjo player and songwriter, born. He was with the Grand Ole Opry.
. 1929 ~ Wilbert Harrison, Singer
. 1934 ~ Bobby Lord, Country singer
. 1937 ~ Nino Tempo, Sax musician, singer with April Stevens
. 1937 ~ Doris Troy, Singer
. 1938 ~ Trummy Young played trombone and sang with the Jimmy Lunceford Orchestra in New York City as Margie became Decca record number 1617.
. 1946 ~ Roger Keith, Lead guitarist, Pink Floyd
. 1946 ~ Syd (Roger) Barrett, Guitarist, singer with Pink Floyd
. 1959 ~ Kathy Sledge, Singer with Sister Sledge
. 1964 ~ Premier of “Hello Dolly”
. 1966 ~ Duke Ellington’s concert of sacred music, recorded at 5th Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City, was broadcast on CBS-TV.
. 1975 ~ The Broadway premiere of “The Wiz” opened, receiving enthusiastic reviews. The show, a black version of “The Wizard of Oz”, ran for 1,672 shows at the Majestic Theatre. Moviegoers, however, gave a thumbs down to the later cinema version of the musical that starred Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. One memorable song from the show is Ease on Down the Road.
. 1993 ~ The great jazz trumpeter, Dizzy Gillespie died of cancer at age 75. He has been credited with being a co-founder (with Charlie Parker) of ‘bebop’ music and wrote many jazz numbers (Salt Peanuts, Night in Tunisia). Gillespie also created the ‘afro-cuban’ sound in jazz music. A few of the disciples who preached Dizzy’s gospel of bebop were Thelonious Monk, Earl ‘Bud’ Powell, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis.
Victor Borge was born in 1909 in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was an entertainer and pianist – a deliciously funny performer. He studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Music, Copenhagen, and in Vienna and Berlin.
He made his debut as a pianist in 1926, and as a revue actor in 1933. From 1940 until his death in 2000 he worked in the USA for radio, television, and theatre, and has performed with leading symphony orchestras on worldwide tours since 1956.
He was best known for his comedy sketches combining music and narrative. He used his classical training to skew serious music and performers.
From his obituary:
Pianist Victor Borge, died in his sleep Dec 23, 2000 at his Greenwich, Connecticut home, was known as the unmelancholy Dane of international show business. He would have turned 92 on Jan. 3, 2001.
“The cause of death was heart failure,” his daughter, Sanna Feirstein, told Reuters.
“He had just returned from a wonderfully successful trip to Copenhagen … and it was really heartwarming to see the love he experienced in his home country,” she said.
Borge was one of five performers selected for the Kennedy Center Honors in 1999.
“He went to sleep, and they went to wake him up this morning, and he was gone,” said his agent, Bernard Gurtman.
“He had so much on the table, and to the day he died he was creative, and practicing piano several hours a day,” Gurtman told Reuters. “He was just a great inspiration.”
Funeral services will be private, his daughter said.
Borge made a career of falling off piano stools, missing the keys with his hands and getting tangled up in the sheet music.
One of his inspirations was a pianist who played the first notes of the GriegA Minor Concerto and then fell on the keys dead.
He said that the only time he got nervous on stage was when he had to play seriously and adds that if it had not been for Adolf Hitler he probably would never have pursued a career as a concert-hall comedian.
Until he was forced to flee Denmark in 1940 he was a stage and screen idol in his native country.
But as a Jew who had lampooned Hitler, Borge — his real name was Boerge Rosenbaum — was in danger and fled first to Sweden and then to the United States, where he arrived penniless and unknown and by a fluke got booked on the Bing Crosby radio show. He was an instant success.
He became an American citizen in 1948, but thought of himself as Danish. It was obvious from the numerous affectionate tributes and standing ovations at his 80th birthday concert in Copenhagen in 1989 that Danes felt the same way.
In the concert at Copenhagen’s Tivoli gardens, Borge played variations on the theme of “Happy Birthday to You” in the styles of Mozart, Brahms, Wagner and Beethoven — all executed with such wit that the orchestra was convulsed with laughter that a woman performing a piccolo solo was unable to draw breath to play.
“Playing music and making jokes are as natural to me as breathing,” Borge told Reuters in an interview after that concert.
“That’s why I’ve never thought of retiring because I do it all the time whether on the stage or off. I found that in a precarious situation, a smile is the shortest distance between people. When one needs to reach out for sympathy or a link with people, what better way is there?
“If I have to play something straight, without deviation in any respect, I still get very nervous. It’s the fact that you want to do your best, but you are not at your best because you are nervous and knowing that makes you even more nervous.”
His varied career included acting, composing for films and plays and writing but he was best known for his comic sketches based on musical quirks and oddities.
His routines were unpredictable, often improvised on stage as his quick wit responded to an unplanned event — a noise, a latecomer in the audience — or fixed on an unlikely prop — a fly, a shaky piano stool.
Borge was born in Denmark on January 3, 1909, son of a violinist in the Danish Royal Orchestra.
His parents encouraged him to become a concert pianist, arranging his first public recital when he was 10. In 1927 he made his official debut at the Tivoli Gardens.
Borge’s mischievous sense of humor was manifest from an early age. Asked as a child to play for his parent’s friends he would announce “a piece by the 85-year-old Mozart” and improvise something himself.
When his mother was dying in Denmark during the occupation, Borge visited her, disguised as a sailor.
“Churchill and I were the only ones who saw what was happening,” he said in later years. “He saved Europe and I saved myself.”
From 1953 to 1956, he appeared in New York in his own production “Comedy in Music,” a prelude to world tours that often took him to his native Scandinavia.
On radio and television, Borge developed the comedy techniques of the bungling pianist that won him worldwide fame.
Many of his skits were based on real-life events. One of his classics evolved from seeing a pianist playing a Tchaikovsky concerto fall off his seat.
Borge’s dog joined the show after it wandered on stage while he was at the keyboard — an entrance nobody would believe had been unplanned.
One incident could not be repeated. A large fly flew on to Borge’s nose while he was playing. “How did you get that fly to come on at the right time?” people asked. “Well, we train them,” Borge explained.
Borge’s book, “My Favorite Intervals”, published in 1974, detailed little-known facts of the private lives of composers describing Wagner’s pink underwear and the time Borodin left home in full military regalia but forgot his trousers.
In 1975, Borge was honored in recognition of the 35th anniversary of his arrival in the United States and his work as unofficial goodwill ambassador from Denmark to the United States. He celebrated his 75th birthday in 1984 with a series of concerts at Carnegie Hall and in Copenhagen.
Borge received a host of honors from all four Scandinavian countries for his contributions to music, humor and worthy causes.
Borge, who had lived in Greenwich since 1964, is survived by five children, nine grandchildren, and one great grandchild. His wife of many years, Sanna, died earlier that year.
• 1895 ~ Vincent Lopez, Bandleader, played at NYC’s Astor Hotel, some of the greats started with him: Artie Shaw, Buddy Morrow, Buddy Clark
1904 ~ Dmitri Kabalevsky, Russian composer, pianist and conductor
More information about Kabalevsky
• 1910 ~ Paul Frederic Bowles, American composer and novelist
• 1914 ~ Bert Parks (Jacobson), Radio/TV host of Miss America Pageant, Break the Bank, Stop the Music
• 1919 ~ Sir David Willcocks, British organist, conductor and educator
• 1928 ~ Bo Diddley (Otha Ellas Bates McDaniel), Singer
• 1931 ~ Skeeter Davis (Mary Frances Penick), Singer
• 1936 ~ The famous feud between Jack Benny and Fred Allen was ignited. After a 10- year-old performer finished a violin solo on The Fred Allen Show, Mr. Allen said, “A certain alleged violinist should hide his head in shame for his poor fiddle playing.” It didn’t take long for Mr. Benny to respond. The humorous feud lasted for years on both comedian’s radio shows.
• 1937 ~ John Hartford, Grammy Award-winning songwriter, banjo, fiddle, guitar on Glen Campbell’s Good Time Comedy Hour
• 1939 ~ Del Shannon (Charles Westover), Singer, songwriter, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
• 1942 ~ Michael Nesmith, Guitarist with The Monkees, formed The First National Band, movie producer of the first Grammy-winning video
• 1945 ~ Davy Jones (David Thomas Jones), Singer with The Monkees, actor
• 1947 ~ Jeff Lynne, Singer, guitar with The Electric Light Orchestra, songwriter
• 1948 ~ Alfred Drake and Patricia Morrison starred in Kiss Me Kate which opened at the New Century Theatre in New York City. Cole Porter composed the music for the classic play that was adapted from Shakespeare’s comedy, The Taming ofthe Shrew. The show ran for 1,077 performances on the Great White Way.
• 1942 ~ Frank Sinatra opened at New York’s Paramount Theatre for what was scheduled to be a 4-week engagement (his shows turned out to be so popular that he was booked for an additional 4 weeks). An estimated 400 policemen were called out to help curb the excitement. It is said that some of the teenage girls were hired to scream, but many more screamed for free. Sinatra was dubbed ‘The Sultan of Swoon’, ‘The Voice that Thrills Millions’, and just ‘The Voice’. Whatever he was, it was at this Paramount Theatre engagement that modern pop hysteria was born.
• 1954 ~ Pearl Bailey opened on Broadway in the play, House of Flowers, about two madams with rival bordellos. Diahann Carroll was also cast in the play, written by Truman Capote. Harold Arlen provided the musical score.
• 1969 ~ Peter, Paul and Mary received a gold record for the single, Leaving On aJet Plane. The song had hit #1 on December 20.
• 1970 ~ Paul McCartney sued the other three Beatles to dissolve the partnership and gain control of his interest. The suit touched off a bitter feud between McCartney and the others, especially his co-writer on many of the Beatles compositions, John Lennon. The partnership officially came to end in 1974.
• 1976 ~ The Smothers Brothers, Tom and Dick, played their last show at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas and retired as a team from show business. Each continued as a solo artist. They reunited years later for another stab at TV (on NBC) plus concert appearances that proved very successful.
• 2000 ~ Bohdan Warchal, a violinist and conductor who was one of Slovakia’s most popular musicians, of an unspecified illness at the age of 70. A violinist in the Slovak Philharmonic, Warchal, who died on Saturday, won acclaim as the founder and conductor of the Slovak Chamber Orchestra, which has given concerts all over the world ever since it was established in 1960. Warchal was awarded a medal by President Rudolf Schuster for his lifetime work last year.
• 2003 ~ Hong Kong’s Canto-pop diva and actress Anita Mui died. She was 40 years old. Mui began her career after winning a singing contest in Hong Kong in 1982. She rose to stardom with her song Homecoming in 1984. Canto-pop refers to hits sung in Cantonese, the dialect of Chinese that is widely spoken in Hong Kong and in many overseas Chinese communities. Mui also turned to acting and won Taiwan’s Golden Horse film award for best actress in 1987 for her role as a tormented ghost in the movie “Rouge.”
2004 ~ Artie Shaw (Arthur Arschawsky), American jazz clarinetist, bandleader, composer and arranger died
More information about Shaw
• 1726 ~ The first performance of J. S. Bach‘s Sacred Cantata No. 55 Ich armer Mensch, ich Sündenknecht on the 22nd Sunday following Trinity. Was part of Bach’s third annual Sacred Cantata cycle in Leipzig 1725-27
• 1848 ~ Frederic Chopin played his final piano concert at a Polish benefit ball at Guildhall in London.
• 1850 ~ Giuseppe Verdi‘s opera Stifellio was first performed at the Teatro Grande in Trieste despite difficulties with the censors which resulted in cuts and changes.
• 1877 ~ The first production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera, The Sorcerer, was presented, in London.
• 1888~ The first production of Tchaikovsky‘s Fifth Symphony in St. Petersburg.
• 1891 ~ Poland’s premier and premier ivory tickler, Ignace Jan Paderewski, made his American debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City. In later years, Paderewski, who suffered from arthritis, settled in Paso Robles, CA. The hot mineral baths located there eased his pain. He played only Steinway grand pianos custom-built to his specifications. In fact, five were made just for his use.
• 1925 ~ Sir Charles Mackerras, Australian conductor
• 1930 ~ David Amram, American composer and French-horn player
• 1938 ~ Gordon Lightfoot, Canadian folk singer, songwriter and guitarist
• 1938 ~ Orchestra leader Kay Kyser, speaking to an audience at the College of the City of New York (CCNY) told of the “inner workings and artistic features of swing music.” It marked the first of a series of lectures on swing music presented by Kyser, who went on to present The Kollege of Musical Knowledge on radio.
• 1941 ~ Gene Clark, Singer, guitar with The Byrds
• 1942 ~ Bob Gaudio, Singer with The Royal Teens; The Four Seasons
• 1946 ~ Martin Barre, Guitarist with Jethro Tull
• 1950 ~ Roberta Peters filled in for the lead in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, making her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. She would become one of the Met’s most famous stars.
• 1962 ~ The 4 Seasons, with Frankie Valli as lead singer, began a five-week run at the top of the tunedex with Big Girls Don’t Cry.
• 1967 ~ Ronald DeVoe, Singer with New Edition
• 1970 ~ Elton John recorded an album live, on what was WABC-FM in New York City. It marked the first time that a concert was aired live and recorded for release as aired. The LP was titled, 11/17/70.
• 1981 ~ Bob Eberly died
• 2001 ~ Jerry Jerome, a tenor sax player who was a featured soloist with the bands of Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman, died of leukemia. He was 89. One of the big names in the Big Band era, Jerome was a featured soloist with the Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Red Norvo and Artie Shaw orchestras. He then became a successful musical director and conductor on radio and television. Jerome also established a music business, scoring and arranging commercial jingles. Three years ago, Arbors Records released Jerome’s “Something Old, Something New.” The sequel recording, “Something Borrowed, Something Blue,” will be released in December. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Jerome started playing the sax while in high school. He attended the University of Alabama and went on the medical school, playing gigs at jazz clubs to earn tuition money. He joined Goodman’s orchestra at the height of its popularity in 1938. When Goodman broke up his band in 1940, Jerome joined Shaw. While with Shaw, he appeared in the film “Second Chorus,” with Fred Astaire and Burgess Meredith.
• 2003 ~ Arthur Conley, a 1960s soul singer and protege of Otis Redding’s, died at his home in the town of Ruurlo, in the eastern Netherlands. He was 57. Conley was born in Atlanta and started his recording career in 1959 as leader of the group Arthur and the Corvets. He was best known for his 1967 hit, Sweet Soul Music, which he co-wrote with Redding based on a number by Sam Cooke. Conley had several minor hits in the following two years. He moved to Europe in the early 1970s after several tours of the continent, deciding that he was “fed up with the pressure” in the United States, said Giesen. In the Netherlands, Conley appeared on television and radio, and ran an independent record label. In the last five years he was an adviser to The Original Sixties R&B and Soul Show, which sought to reproduce the sound and look of the heyday of soul.
• 2018 ~ Cyril Pahinui, a nationally recognized Hawaiian guitarist and singer who preserved and extended the tradition of slack-key guitar, died at the age of 68
• 1569 ~ Paul Sartorius, German organist and composer
• 1615 ~ Guillaume Dumanoir, II, French violinist and composer who composed dance music enjoyed by Louis XIV
• 1667 ~ Nathaniel Schnittelbach, composer, died at the age of 34
• 1715 ~ Girolamo Abos, composer of Italian opera and church music.
• 1720 ~ Carlo Antonio Campioni, Italian composer.
• 1757 ~ Daniel Read, American composer of the First New England School, and one of the primary figures in early American classical music.
• 1775 ~ Karl Marian Paradeiser, German composer, died at the age of 28.
• 1780 ~ Robert Archibald Smith, English composer.
• 1829 ~ Anton G Rubinstein, Russian pianist/conductor/composer
• 1840 ~ Frederick Scotson Clark, composer.
• 1848 ~ Frédéric Chopin played his final piano concert at a Polish benefit ball at Guildhall in London.
• 1850 ~ Giuseppe Verdi‘s opera Stifellio was first performed at the Teatro Grande in Trieste despite difficulties with the censors which resulted in cuts and changes.
• 1852 ~ Minnie Hauk, American soprano
• 1854 ~ First Performance of Anton Rubinstein‘s Ocean Symphony in Leipzig.
• 1860 ~ Edmund Scheucker, Viennese harpist.
• 1861 ~ Vaclav Suk, Czech-born Russian composer and violinist.
• 1861 ~ First Performance of Johannes Brahms‘ Piano Quintet No. 1 in g, Op. 25, at a rehearsal in Hamburg, with pianist Clara Schumann.
• 1862 ~ The work noted above received its official premiere with members of the Hellmesberger Quartet; Brahms at the piano, in Vienna.
• 1870 ~ Alfred Hill, Australian composer
• 1873 ~ David Karl Björling, Swedish tenor
• 1873 ~ W.C. Handy, American blues composer and bandleader
More information about Handy
• 1889 ~ George S. (Simon) Kaufman, Playwright: The Cocoanuts, A Night at the Opera, with Moss Hart, The Man Who Came to Dinner, You Can’t Take It with You
• 1893 ~ George Alexander Osborne, Irish pianist and composer (La Pluie de perles), died of natural causes at the age of 87
• 1894 ~ Debut of opera star Enrico Caruso in Mario Morelli’s L’Amico Francesco at Naples Teatro Nuovo.
• 1895 ~ Paul Hindemith, German-born American composer and conductor
Read quotes by and about Hindemith
More information about Hindemith
• 1896 ~ Lawrence Mervil Tibbett, American baritone
• 1905 ~ Eddie (Albert) Condon, Guitarist, bandleader, promoter of Dixieland Jazz
• 1908 ~ Conductor Arturo Toscanini made his debut in the United States this day. He appeared at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, conducting Aida.
• 1931 ~ Bob Gibson, Singer, songwriter, leader of folk music movement in late ’50s, duo of Gibson and (Bob) Camp
• 1932 ~ The Palace in New York City closed its doors. It was the most famous vaudeville theater in America. Later, it became a movie house with live performances preceding the flicks; most notably: the team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in their heyday.
• 1935 ~ The Rodgers and Hart musical, Jumbo, opened in New York City for a run of 233 performances.
• 1937 ~ Bob Crosby and his orchestra recorded South Rampart Street Parade on Decca Records.
• 1945 ~ Martine Van Hammel, Ballet, American Ballet Theatre
• 1955 ~ ‘Tennessee’ Ernie Ford drove to the top spot on the record charts on this day. Sixteen Tons, where he owed his “soul to the company store…”, became the fastest-selling record in history, jumping to #1 in just 3 weeks. The tune, on Capitol Records, stayed at #1 for eight weeks.
• 1964 ~ Albert Hay Malotte, composer, died at the age of 69
• 1964 ~ Diana Krall, Canadian Jazz pianist and singer
• 1970 ~ Anne Murray received a gold record for Snowbird. She was the first Canadian recording artist to receive a gold record.
• 2000 ~ Russ Conway, a British pianist known as the “Prince Charming of Pop” who sold
More than 30 million records in the 1950s and ’60s, died at age 75. He had 17 consecutive hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and won a silver disc when his record Roulette topped 250,000 sales – a total rapidly equaled by three other hits, Sidesaddle, China Tea and Snow Coach. Conway’s formal piano education consisted of one lesson at age 4. He left school at 14 and got work in a lawyer’s office. But he was sent to juvenile detention for three years for taking money he found in a package. In a detention center, he found a piano to play. While doing a stint as a pianist in a club, he was discovered by choreographer Irving Davies. He went on to provide piano accompaniment to a string of singers. Soon he was composing the songs that made him famous and won him the nicknames “Prince Charming of Pop” and the “Sheik of the Keyboard.”
• 2001 ~ Blue guitarist and singer Isaac Scott, a major figure in the city’s music scene for more than a quarter century, died of complications from diabetes. He was 56. A stream of musicians paid their respects to Scott, said his ex-wife, Eloise DePoe. He was found in his apartment Nov. 4 and never regained consciousness. Scott recorded several albums, including “The Isaac Scott Band,” “Big Time Blues Man” and “High Class Woman.” He also appeared on the compilation albums “Live at the San Francisco Jazz Festival” and “Live at the Roadhouse.” Primarily a “cover artist,” Scott did not write his own songs, which hindered national recognition. But he received several local honors, including the Washington Blues Society’s Hall of Fame (1991) and lifetime-achievement (2000) awards. He also performed at last year’s opening of the Experience Music Project. Scott taught himself piano and guitar, and started out playing gospel music, once touring the West Coast with the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi. In 1974, he turned his attention to blues, with a sound flavored by his love of Seattle-born guitar legend Jimi Hendrix. Like Albert Collins, an early influence, Scott played electric guitar with his thumb instead of a pick, which contributed to his distinctive sound. He also was known for his stamina, often playing two- and three-hour sets.
• 2001 ~ Tommy Flanagan, a jazz pianist who worked with such artists as Ella Fitzgerald, died of an arterial aneurysm. He was 71. Flanagan, part of his own classic jazz trio, accompanied Fitzgerald for 20 years, also acting as her musical director. He also worked for Tony Bennett. He became a celebrated figure in jazz with such trio albums as “Jazz Poet” (1989) and “Let’s” (1993). Flanagan’s trio included bassists George Mraz and Peter Washington, and drummers Kenny Washington, Lewis Nash and Albert Heath. Flanagan won the distinguished Danish Jazzpar Prize in 1993. Born in Detroit, Flanagan was the youngest of six children. He recorded “Sunset and the Mockingbird: The Birthday Concert,” live at the Vanguard in 1998. He was to appear at Iridium this holiday season.
1881 ~ Johannes Brahms gave the first performance of his Piano Concerto No.2 in Budapest.
.1899 ~ “Mezz” Mezzrow, American jazz clarinetist and saxophonist
.1929 ~ Piero Cappuccili, Italian baritone
.1930 ~ Ivan Moravec, Czech pianist
.1938 ~ 24-year-old Mary Martin made her Broadway stage debut in the musical comedy “Leave It to Me”. She brought down the house as she sang My HeartBelongs to Daddy. And the critics raved about New York’s bright new star. The following year brought Martin a top-ten hit with the same song. Martin suddenly found herself singing duets with Bing Crosby; starring on “Broadway in One Touch of Venus” in 1943; “Lute Song” in 1946; touring in “Annie Get Your Gun”; and then taking on what would become her immortal role, that of Nellie in “South Pacific”. South Pacific was one of Broadway’s biggest hits and the cast album was one of the first of its kind, also a big seller. Then came Mary’s stage and TV performances as Peter Pan. This would become her signature role, a memorable moment as the petite actress flew through the air with Tinkerbell and fought the dangerous Captain Hook. Broadway called to Mary Martin again in 1959 for “The Sound of Music” and once more in 1966 for “I Do, I Do”. Back in 1951, Mary Martin recorded a duet with a young man who was also destined for instant and long-term stardom. The song they sang together was Get Out Those Old Records. The twenty-year-old was her son, Larry Hagman, who later played J.R. Ewing. This is one man that Mary Martin didn’t want to wash out of her hair!
.1955 ~ Harry Belafonte recorded Jamaica Farewell and Come Back Liza for RCA Victor. The two tunes completed the Calypso album which led to Belafonte’s nickname, ‘Calypso King’.
.1967 ~ The first issue of Rolling Stone was published. John Lennon was on the cover. The magazine said it was not simply a music magazine but was also about “…the things and attitudes that music embraces.”
.1969 ~ Simon and Garfunkel recorded what would become their signature tune, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ with a future member of Bread, Larry Knechtel on piano. Art wanted Paul to sing the song, but Paul insisted that Art’s voice was better suited for it. It was a decision that Paul would later say he regretted. The song won five awards at the 13th Annual Grammy Awards in 1971, including Grammy Award for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
.1974 ~ Bachman Turner Overdrive went to No.1 on the US singles chart with ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet’. Randy Bachman stuttered through the lyrics of the demo recording as a private joke about his brother Gary, who had a speech impediment. The record company liked that take better than the non-stammering version and released it.
.2003 ~ Saxophonist Buddy Arnold, who performed with such jazz greats as Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich and Tommy Dorsey and co-founded a program to help musicians suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, died at the age of age 77. Born Arnold Buddy Grishaver, he began playing the saxophone at age 9. And by the time he was 16, he was touring as a professional sideman and performing at the Apollo Theater in Harlem with bandleader George Auld. After serving in the Army during World War II, Arnold joined the band of super-drummer Buddy Rich on a West Coast tour. Arnold earned his first recording credits in 1949 on the Mercury Records release of Gene Williams and the Junior Thornhill Band, and he toured with clarinetist Buddy DeFranco’s orchestra in 1951. But he soon descended into a decades-long struggle with drug addiction. Although he landed a recording contract with ABC Paramount in 1956 following an 18-month hospitalization, he was sentenced to prison in 1958 on an attempted burglary conviction. Pardoned two years later, he played with the Dorsey Band and toured with Stan Kenton. He later settled in Los Angeles and recorded four albums for Capitol Records. Arnold took a job in a drug treatment program after his early release from prison and went on to establish the Musician’s Assistance Program with his wife, Carole Fields, in 1992. The organization, dedicated to helping needy musicians obtain treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, has served more than 1,500 individuals during the past decade.
.1876 ~ Johannes Brahms’ 1st Symphony in c minor, Op. 68 premiered in Karlsruhe, Grand Duchy of Baden
.1922 ~ Paul Rovsing Olsen, Danish composer, ethnomusicologist and music critic
.1922 ~ Anthony Vazzana, American composer
.1938 ~ Harry Elston, Musician with Friends of Distinction
.1938 ~ You’re a Sweet Little Headache, from the movie “Paris Honeymoon”, was recorded by Bing Crosby on Decca.
.1940 ~ Delbert McClinton, Songwriter, singer
.1947 ~ Mike Smith, Musician, saxophone
.1954 ~ Florence Henderson, who was all of 20 years old, joined with Ezio Pinza and Walter Slezak in “Fanny”. The show lit up Broadway 888 times.
.1962 ~ Bob Dylan gave his first major concert outside of Greenwich Village. The Carnegie Hall solo appearance was not well attended.
.1963 ~ The Beatles played a Royal Command Performance as part of an evening of entertainment for Queen Elizabeth at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London. David Frost was the emcee.
.1984 ~ The Artist Formerly Known as Prince kicked off his fall tour in Detroit. He broke the record for sold-out performances at the 20,000-seat Joe Louis Arena. The previous record-holder was The Artist Still Known as Neil Diamond, in 1983.
.2000 ~ Vernel Fournier, who was a drummer for premier jazz acts such as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, passed away after suffering an aneurysm. He was 72. Fournier, a New Orleans native, took lessons from a Bourbon Street drummer and as a teen played in New Orleans. He performed with jazz singers including Nancy Wilson and Billy Eckstine. He moved from New York City, where he lived for more than 30 years, to Madison County in 1998.
• 1912 ~ Minnie Pearl (Sarah Ophelia Colley), Grand Ole Opry singer, CMA Hall of Fame, comedienne
• 1924 ~ Billy Barty, Comedian on The Spike Jones Show
• 1926 ~ Jimmy Heath, Musician, reeds with the Heath Brothers, bandleader
• 1927 ~ Barbara Cook, Tony Award-winning actress, singer in “The Music Man” in 1957, “Flahooley”, “Oklahoma”, “Carousel”, “Plain and Fancy”, “Candide”, “The Gay Life”, “She Loves Me”, “Any Wednesday”, “Funny Girl”, “The Gershwin Years”
• 1937 ~ Jeanne (Gloria) Black, Singer
• 1940 ~ “Cabin in the Sky” opened for the first of 256 shows. Taking a Chance on Love is the one big hit that came from the musical.
• 1941 ~ Helen Reddy, Singer
• 1943 ~ Benny Carter and his orchestra recorded Poinciana on the Capitol label. The real title, incidentally, is Poinciana (Song of the Tree).
• 1944 ~ Jon Anderson, Singer, solo and duo called Jon and Vangelis
• 1944 ~ Taffy Danoff (Nivert), Singer with Starland Vocal Band
• 1948 ~ Glenn Tipton, Guitarist with Judas Priest
• 1951 ~ Ransom Wilson, American flutist and conductor
• 1956 ~ Mathias Jabs, Guitarist with Scorpions
• 1964 ~ “And now, rrrrright here on this stage….” The Rolling Stones were introduced to American audiences on The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS-TV.
• 1969 ~ Canada’s The Guess Who got a gold record for the single, Laughing.
1971 ~ Midori (Goto), Japanese violinist
More information on Midori
• 1974 ~ The single, Skin Tight, by The Ohio Players, went gold on this day.
• 1984 ~ John Cougar Mellencamp reached the two-million-dollar sales mark with his album, “Uh-Huh”.
• 1984 ~ Country group Alabama went to the three-million-dollar mark with two albums this day with Feels So Right and Mountain Music.
• 2000 ~ Don Brooks, a studio musician who played the harmonica with Harry Belafonte, Ringo Starr, the Bee Gees and Yoko Ono’s band, died of leukemia at the age of 53. Brooks, who was raised in Texas, first picked up the harmonica after hearing an album by bluesman Sonny Terry. He played in Dallas coffee shops in the 1960s and moved to New York in 1967, joining a Greenwich Village folk scene that included David Bromberg and John Hammond Jr. In 1973, he joined singer Waylon Jennings’s band and helped create the sound known as outlaw country music. Brooks recorded with Belafonte, Starr, Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper, Carly Simon, Diana Ross and Bette Midler, among others. He also played with groups such as the Bee Gees, the Talking Heads and Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band. He was a musician on Broadway in “Big River” (1985) and “The Gospel at Colonus” (1988), and he worked on the soundtrack for the television documentary “The Civil War.”