. 1787 ~ Franz Gruber, composer of Silent Night. The song was first performed on Christmas Eve 1818 at St Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf, a village in present-day Austria. A young priest, Father Joseph Mohr, had come to Oberndorf the year before. He had written the lyrics of the song “Stille Nacht” in 1816.
The melody was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber, schoolmaster and organist in the nearby village of Arnsdorf. Before Christmas Eve, Mohr brought the words to Gruber and asked him to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment for the Christmas Eve mass. It is unknown what inspired Mohr to write the lyrics, or what prompted him to create a new carol.
1896 ~ Virgil Thomson, American composer, conductor and music critic
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. 1924 ~ Paul Desmond, was an American jazz alto saxophonist and composer, best known for the work he did in the Dave Brubeck Quartet and for composing that group’s greatest hit, “Take Five”.
. 1925 ~ Derroll Adams, Country singer, played with Jack Elliott
. 1931 ~ Nat Adderley, Musician, cornet, mellophone, French horn, trumpet, brother of Cannonball Adderley
. 1941 ~ Percy Sledge, Singer
. 1949 ~ Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, by Johnnie Marks, appeared on the music charts and became THE musical hit of the Christmas season. Although Gene Autry’s rendition is the most popular, 80 different versions of the song have been recorded, with nearly 20,000,000 copies sold.
. 1955 ~ Following a summer at the top of the American pop charts, Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and His Comets became the #1 song in Great Britain.
.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.
• 1874 ~ Reynaldo Hahn, Venezuelan-born French composer, conductor and music critic
• 1902 ~ Solomon Cutner, Classical pianist. A virtuoso performer, he played Tchaikovsky’s First Concerto at the age of 10. His career was stopped after a stroke in 1965.
• 1902 ~ Zino (Rene) Francescatti, French concert violinist; passed away in 1991
• 1910 ~ A.J. Fisher of Chicago, IL received a patent for an invention that moms, grandmas and single guys certainly came to appreciate: the electric washing machine. Previous to Mr. Fisher’s invention, washing machines were cranked by hand (not easily done) – or you used a washboard (also sometimes used as a musical instrument).
• 1919 ~ Ruggiero Leoncavallo, Italian composer and librettist, died. He is famous for the single opera “Pagliacci” but never repeated the success with his other works.
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• 1932 ~ Helen Morgan joined the Victor Young orchestra to record Bill, a popular tune from Broadway’s Showboat.
• 1934 ~ Merle Kilgore, Songwriter Hall of Famer
• 1939 ~ Billy Henderson, Singer with Spinners
• 1955 ~ Benjamin Orr (Orzechowski), Musician, bass guitar, singer with The Cars
• 1963 ~ The TV program Ready, Set, Go! premiered on the BBC in London, England. The show gave exposure to such music luminaries as Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones.
• 1964 ~ Joan Baez and Bob Dylan shared the stage for the first time when the singers performed in a concert in Forest Hills, NY.
• 1969 ~ Hot Fun in The Summertime, by Sly and the Family Stone, and Easy to Be Hard, from the Broadway production Hair, were released on this day. Hot Fun made it to number two on the music charts and Easy to Be Hard climbed to number four.
• 1975 ~ Dmitri Shostakovitch, Russian composer, died. He wrote 15 symphonies as well as operas, ballets and film and theater scores.
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• 1995 ~ Jerry Garcia passed away
• 2003 ~ Chester Ludgin, a baritone in the New York City Opera for more than 30 years, died at the age of 78.
Ludgin sang a host of lead baritone parts, but was most recognizable in operas including “The Ballad of Baby Doe,” “The Devil and Daniel Webster” and “Susannah.” He debuted at the City Opera in 1957 in Johann Strauss II’s “Fledermaus.”
He also portrayed the part of Sam for Leonard Bernstein’s “A Quiet Place” at the Houston Grand Opera in 1983. He also sang for the San Francisco Opera and other North American companies.
His last appearance at City Opera was in 1991, but he remained on the stage, singing in musical comedies. His most recent lead was in “The Most Happy Fella.”
• 2003 ~ Gregory Hines, American actor and dancer, died of liver cancer at the age of 57
• 1751 ~ Maria Anna Mozart, Austrian pianist and Wolfgang’s sister, born in Salzburg, Austria
• 1899 ~ Gerald Moore, British pianist and accompanist
• 1909 ~ Adolph Baller, Pianist
• 1926 ~ Martin Bookspan, American music critic, administrator and broadcaster
• 1929 ~ Christine McGuire, Singer with The McGuire Sisters
• 1936 ~ Buddy (George) Guy, Blues guitar, singer, on BBC TV
• 1941 ~ Buddy Guy, Blues Musician
• 1941 ~ Paul Anka, Canadian singer and songwriter of popular music. He composed Johnny’s Theme (Tonight Show Theme) and had 33 hits over 3 decades, including “Diana” and “Puppy Love”.
• 1942 ~ Frank Sinatra recorded the last of 90 recordings with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra on Victor Records. His last side was There are Such Things, which became number one in January of 1943. Sinatra moved on as a solo singing sensation.
• 1942 ~ Stagedoor Canteen was first heard on CBS radio. The show was broadcast live from New York City and 500 servicemen were entertained each week by celebrities who freely donated their time for the war (WWII) effort.
• 1945 ~ David Sanborn, Grammy Award-winning musician, saxophone, flute, composer of the TV movie score to Finnegan Begin Again
• 1947 ~ Marc Bolan (Feld), Singer with T. Rex
• 1956 ~ Singer Brenda Lee recorded her first hit for Decca Records. Jambalaya and Bigelow 6-500 started a new career for the petite 11-year-old from Lithonia, GA (near Atlanta). Brenda Mae Tarpley (Brenda Lee) had been singing professionally since age six. She recorded 29 hit songs in the 1960s and became a successful country singer in 1971. Brenda Lee had a pair of number one tunes with I’m Sorry and I Want to be Wanted. She recorded a dozen hits that made it to the top 10.
• 1958 ~ Kate Bush, Singer
• 2002 ~ Leonard Litman, who ran two top Pittsburgh entertainment venues in the 1940s and ’50s that attracted stars such as Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis and Bill Haley’s Comets, died of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 88. Litman owned Lenny Litman’s Copa, a nightclub that flourished in the city’s downtown from 1948 to 1959. Earlier, he ran the influential Mercur’s Music Bar. After the Copa closed in 1959, Litman continued to promote concerts and made a brief foray into sports in the 1960s when he and his brothers invested in an American Basketball League team. Litman worked as the Pittsburgh correspondent for Billboard Magazine from 1948 to 1960 and as a correspondent for Variety for decades.
• 2003 ~ Sam Phillips, American record producer and founder of Sun Records and Sun Studios, died at the age of 80
• 2016 ~ Gloria DeHaven, American musical actress (Step Lively), died at the age of 91
• 1856 ~ Robert Schumann passed away. Schumann was a German composer and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist.
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• 1887 ~ Sigmund Romberg, Hungarian-born American operetta composer, founding member of ASCAP. He was famous for his operettas “Desert Song”, “Maytime” and “Student Prince”
• 1916 ~ Charlie Christian, American guitarist and blues singer
• 1917 ~ Homer (Henry D. Haynes), Comedy singer, duo: Homer and Jethro
• 1925 ~ Mikis Theodorakis, Composer
• 1930 ~ Paul Taylor, Dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company, New York City Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Emmy Award-winning choreographer, Kennedy Center Honors in 1992 “…for enhancing the lives of people around the world and enriching the culture of our nation.”
• 1933 ~ Randy Sparks, Folk singer, songwriter with the New Christy Minstrels
• 1935 ~ Peter Schreier, German tenor
• 1946 ~ Neal Doughty, Keyboards with REO Speedwagon
• 1953 ~ Geddy Lee, Bass, singer with Rush
• 1965 ~ The Queen of England attended the premiere of the motion picture, Help!, starring The Beatles. The command performance was held at the London Pavilion. The film later earned first prize at the Rio De Janeiro Film Festival in Brazil. The Beatles later said the film was shot in a “haze of marijuana”. According to Starr’s interviews in The Beatles Anthology, during the Austrian Alps film shooting, he and McCartney ran off over the hill from the “curling” scene set to smoke a joint.
• 1966 ~ Martina McBride, Country singer
• 1970 ~ Sir John Barbirolli died. He was the British conductor of the Halle Orchestra, and was a famous interpreter of English music, Mahler and Italian opera.
. 1934 ~ Shirley Boone (Foley), Singer, married to singer Pat Boone since 1953
. 1934 ~ Shirley MacLaine, Entertainer, Academy Award-winning actress, sister of actor Warren Beatty
. 1934 ~ Laurens Hammond, in Chicago, IL, announced the news that would be favored by many churches across the United States. The news was the development of the pipeless organ — and a granting of a U.S. patent for same.
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. 1936 ~ Benny Goodman and his trio recorded China Boy for Victor Records. Gene Krupa, Teddy Wilson and Goodman recorded the session in Chicago.
. 1937 ~ Joe Henderson, Musician, composer. He played live in sextet at San Francisco’s Keystone Korner and also played with Blood Sweat and Tears
. 1942 ~ John Williams, Guitarist
. 1942 ~ Barbra Streisand, American actress and singer of popular music, Grammy Award-winning Best Female Pop Vocalist (1963-1965, 1977, 1986), Best Songwriter in 1977, Academy Award-winning Best Actress, Oscar for Best Song (Evergreen in 1976)
Read a news item about Barbra Streisand
. 1943 ~ Richard Sterban, Musician: bass, singer with The Oak Ridge Boys
. 1945 ~ Doug Clifford, Drummer with Creedence Clearwater Revival
. 1954 ~ Billboard magazine, the music industry trade publication, headlined a change to come about in the music biz. The headline read, “Teenagers Demand Music with a Beat — Spur Rhythm and Blues” … a sign of times to come. Within a year, R&B music by both black and white artists became popular.
. 1959 ~ Your Hit Parade ended after a nine-year run on television and many more years on radio. The show debuted in 1935. On the final show, these were the top five songs on Your Hit Parade:
1 Come Softly to Me
2 Pink Shoelaces
3 Never Be Anyone Else but You
4 It’s Just a Matter of Time
5 I Need Your Love Tonight
. 1965 ~ Game of Love, by Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders, made it to the top spot on the Billboard music chart. Game of Love stayed for a short visit of one week, before Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermits took over the top spot with Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter.
. 1968 ~ Climaxing his birthday celebration, the Who’s drummer, Keith Moon, accidentally drove a Lincoln Continental into a hotel swimming pool in Flint, Mich.
. 1969 ~ The singing family, The Cowsills, received a gold record for their hit single, Hair, from the Broadway show of the same name.
. 2000 ~ Singer and pianist George Paoa, whose smooth voice and mellow style introduced generations of tourists to Hawaiian music, died. He was 65. For more than 40 years, Paoa entertained vacationers at isle hotels with a repertoire of old Hawaiian standards, light jazz and hapa-haole music, a tourist favorite with its blend of English lyrics and Hawaiian melodies. Paoa played with the jazz recording star Martin Denny in the 1960s and two of his children sang on his 1994 album, “Walking in the Sand.”
. 2001 ~ Jazz singer Al Hibbler, who was known for his rich baritone and exaggerated phrasing, died at the age of 85. Hibbler is best remembered as one of Duke Ellington’s most colorful vocalists. Hibbler went solo in the 1950s and enjoyed his biggest hit, Unchained Melody. Another of his hit songs was After the Lights Go Down Low. The Mississippi native, who was blind from birth, joined Ellington’s band in 1943 and became popular for singing tunes with the band that included Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me and I’m Just a Lucky So and So. Hibbler’s penchant for distorted vocal effects were described by Ellington as “tonal pantomime.” Hibbler started his professional singing career in the 1930s, after vocal studies at the Conservatory for the Blind in Little Rock, Ark. After winning amateur concerts in Memphis, Tenn., he led a group in Texas and toured with Kansas City bandleader Jay McShann in 1942. Hibbler went on to record with Ellington’s son, Mercer Ellington, Billy Taylor, Count Basie, Gerald Wilson and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. He sang When the Saints Go Marching In at Louis Armstrong’s funeral.
. 2016 ~ Billy Paul [Paul Williams], American singer (Me & Mrs Jones), died at the age of 81
. 1699 ~ Johann Adolph Hasse, German composer, singer and teacher of music. Immensely popular in his time, Hasse was best known for his prolific operatic output, though he also composed a considerable quantity of sacred music.
. 1784 ~ François-Joseph Fetis, Belgian musicologist, composer, teacher, and influential music critic.
. 1851 ~ The Playel piano factory in Paris was destroyed by fire. Playel was the favorite of Chopin in the 19th century, and it was identified with French composers known as the impressionist musicians of the early 20th century — like Ravel and Debussy.
Pleyel was founded in 1807 by Ignaz Pleyel, a composer and music publisher who studied with Franz Joseph Haydn.
. 1867 ~ Arturo Toscanini, Italian conductor and musical director. Famed for his temper in rehearsals, he was director of La Scala and the Metropolitan opera houses. He also conducted the NBC symphony orchestra. With a career spanned 68 years, he was a cellist at age 19
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. 1881 ~ Béla Bartók, Hungarian composer and pianist, born. His knowledge of western musical techniques allied to the inspiration he derived from Hungarian peasant songs enabled him to become a unique musical force.
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. 1903 ~ Grammy winner Frankie Carle (Carlone), Pianist and bandleader
. 1913 ~ The Palace Theatre opened its doors in New York City. Ed Wynn was first on the vaudeville bill. Some 20 years later, Wynn would be named as radio’s top entertainer. He later became popular on television, as well.
. 1918 ~ Claude Debussy, French composer, died. His music, described as “musical Impressionism”, explored original avenues of expression.
. 1931 ~ Hal Kemp and his orchestra recorded Whistles, with Skinnay Ennis, for Brunswick Records. Both Kemp and Ennis sang in the Dorsey Brothers Concert Orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Eugene Ormandy (later, conductor of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra). The pair were part of the orchestra vocal quartet that also featured Nye Mayhew and Saxey Dowell in 1928.
. 1934 ~ Johnny Burnette, ‘The Master’, singer, brother of singer Dorsey Burnette
. 1938 ~ Hoyt Axton, Singer, musician and songwriter. Axton’s mother, Mae Boren Axton, wrote Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel
. 1940 ~ Anita Bryant, Singer
. 1942 ~ Aretha Franklin, American soul singer, known as the “Queen of Soul” and “Lady Soul”, she won 15 Grammy Awards and was the first woman inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1987)
. 1947 ~ Elton John (Reginald Kenneth Dwight), Entertainer
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. 1948 ~ Kelly Garrett, Actress, singer
. 1949 ~ Neil Jones, Musician with Amen Corner
. 1951 ~ Maizie Williams, Singer with Boney M
. 1961 ~ “Gypsy” closed at the Broadway Theater in New York City after 702 performances
. 1966 ~ Jeff Healey, Guitarist, singer, songwriter with the Jeff Healey Band, CBC radio show: My Kind of Jazz
. 1971 ~ Tom Jones went gold with his single, She’s a Lady.
. 1972 ~ The group, America, rode to the top of the pop music charts with their LP, America, and the single (included on the LP), A Horse with No Name. A Horse With No Name would be the group’s only gold record.
. 1991 ~ Eileen Joyce, pianist, died at the age of 78
. 1910 ~ Samuel Barber, Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer
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. 1925 ~ Billy Ford, Singer with Billy & Lillie
. 1927 ~ John Beckwith, Canadian composer and music critic
. 1930 ~ Thomas Schippers, American conductor
. 1930 ~ Ornette Coleman, American jazz saxophonist and composer (Downbeat Musician of Year 1966), born in Fort Worth, Texas
. 1932 ~ Keely Smith (Dorothy Keely), Singer, was married to Louis Prima
. 1942 ~ Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra recorded Well, Git It! for Victor Records. Ziggy Elman was featured on the session which was recorded in Hollywood. Sy Oliver arranged the Dorsey classic.
.1950 ~ Howard Gordon Shelley OBE, British pianist and conductor
. 1974 ~ Many new musical faces were on the scene, including Terry Jacks, who was starting week two of a three-week stay at the top of the pop charts with his uplifting ditty, Seasons in the Sun. Other newcomers: Jefferson Starship, Billy Joel, Kiss, Olivia Newton-John, Kool & the Gang and The Steve Miller Band.
. 1985 ~ The most requested movie in history, “Gone With The Wind”, went on sale in video stores across the U.S. for the first time. The tape cost buyers $89.95. The film, starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, cost $4.5 million to produce and has earned over $400 million, making it one of the biggest money-makers in motion picture history. “GWTW” is now the cornerstone of the massive MGM film library owned by Ted Turner.
. 1986 ~ Bill Cosby broke Liberace’s long-standing record and earned the biggest box-office gross in the 54-year history of Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
. 1993 ~ Bob Crosby, swing-era bandleader, passed away
. 2001 ~ Richard Stone, whose musical compositions for such popular cartoon shows as “Animaniacs” and “Freakazoid” won him more than a half-dozen Emmys, died Friday at the age of 47. Stone grew up watching Warner Bros. “Looney Tunes” cartoons in the 1950s and ’60s before going on to study cello and music composition in college. He not only emulated the style of Carl Stalling, who composed hundreds of musical scores for classic Warner Bros. cartoons in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, but also incorporated elements of jazz, Broadway, country and rock music into his work. Stone also carved out his own style on modern-day shows, winning seven Emmys since 1994 for such cartoons as “Animaniacs,” “Freakazoid” and “Histeria!” He also worked on the cartoons “Pinky & the Brain,” “Taz-Mania,” “Road Rovers” and “The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries” and scored several movies, including the cult classics “Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat” and “Pumpkinhead.”
. 2016 ~ George Martin, British record producer (The Beatles), died at the age of 90
. 1834 ~ Albert Heinrich Zabel, harpist and composer
. 1857 ~ Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts
. 1923 ~ Frederick A. Julliard set up a million-dollar fund to establish a music school. Today, Juilliard is one of the world’s leading music and dance schools.
. 1927 ~ David Ahlstrom, American composer
. 1931 ~ Maurice Chevalier recorded Walkin’ My Baby Back Home for Victor Records in New York City. The same tune was recorded 21 years later by Nat ‘King’ Cole and Johnny Ray. It became a major hit for both artists.
. 1945 ~ Oliver (Swofford), Singer
. 1956 ~ Elvis Presley entered the music charts for the first time. Heartbreak Hotel began its climb to the number one spot on the pop listing, reaching the top on April 11, 1956. It stayed at the top for eight weeks.
. 1958 ~ Roy Hamilton’s record, Don’t Let Go, became #13 in its first week on the record charts. The song was the first stereo record to make the pop music charts. 1958 was the year for several stereo recordings, including Hang Up My Rock and Roll Shoes by Chuck Willis, Yakety Yak by the Coasters, Born Too Late by The Poni-Tails, It’s All in the Game by Tommy Edwards and What Am I Living For by Chuck Willis.
. 1965 ~ Filming began for The Beatles’ second movie, “HELP!”, in the Bahamas.
. 1976 ~ Florence Ballard passed away. She was an American vocalist, one of the founding members of the popular Motown vocal group the Supremes. Ballard sang on sixteen top forty singles with the group, including ten number-one hits.
. 1985 ~ Efrem A Zimbalist, Russian/US composer/violinist, died at the age of 95
. 2001 ~ Ray Hendricks, a singer of the Big Band era who performed with Benny Goodman and Betty Grable, died at the age of 88. His career took him to Hollywood and across the country with stars including Goodman, Grable, Hoagy Carmichael, Ben Bernie, Ray Noble and Sid Lippman. His earliest performances were on Spokane radio station KFPY. He soon set out for California with Bob Crosby, brother of Bing Crosby. After serving as a flying instructor in the Air Force during World War II, he returned to Spokane and formed his own orchestra. He continued playing local venues for several decades but said he regretted not pushing his career after the war.
. 1948 ~ Ted Mack came to television as “The Original Amateur Hour” debuted on the DuMont network. The program continued on different networks for a 22-year run on the tube. Teresa Brewer and Pat Boone got their start on this program.
. 1953 ~ Brett Hudson, Singer, comedian with Hudson Brothers
. 1958 ~ Leonard Bernstein began presenting his television series What does music mean? The series ran for 53 programs.
. 1968 ~ Singer Eartha Kitt made headlines, as she got into a now-famous confrontation with Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson, wife of the President of the United States, at a White House luncheon to discuss urban crime. Ms. Kitt told Lady Bird (the First Lady) that American youth were rebelling against the war in Vietnam, linking the crime rate with the war escalation. She had a lot to say and it definitely was not “C’est Si Bon”.
. 1986 ~ Dionne Warwick’s single for AID’s research, That’s What Friends are For, became her second #1 song on the music charts. Although Dionne had many hits in the 1960s, singing Burt Bacharach tunes like I Say a Little Prayer and Do You Know the Way to San Jose.
. 2017 ~ Roberta Peters, American operatic soprano (NY Met), died at the age of 86