. 1889 ~ Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter, American blues guitarist, folk singer and songwriter
. 1891 ~ Mischa Elman, violinist
1894 ~ Walter Hamor Piston, American composer
More information about Piston
. 1899 ~ Alexander Tcherepnin, Composer
. 1922 ~ Ray Anthony (Antonini), Bandleader
. 1926 ~ David Tudor, American pianist and composer of experimental music
. 1935 ~ Buddy Blake (Buddy Cunningham), Recording artist: recorded for Sun Records as B.B. Cunningham and Buddy Blake; record executive: Cover Record Co., Sam Phillips’ Holiday Inn label
. 1941 ~ Ron Townson, Singer with The 5th Dimension
. 1942 ~ Harry Babbitt sang as Kay Kyser and his orchestra recorded, Who Wouldn’tLove You, on Columbia Records. The record went on to be a big hit for Kyser.
. 1947 ~ George Grantham, Drummer with Poco
. 1958 ~ The rock ‘n’ roll classic, Get a Job, by The Silhouettes, was released.
. 1958 ~ Elvis Presley got a little U.S. mail this day with greetings from Uncle Sam. The draft board in Memphis, TN ordered the King to report for duty; but allowed a 60-day deferment for him to finish the film, “King Creole”.
. 1964, The Beatles, a British rock group, released its first LP album, “Meet The Beatles“, in the US record stores. The album turned out to be a super hit and reached #1 position on music charts by early February.
. 1965 ~ John Michael Montgomery, Country singer
. 1965 ~ Alan Freed, the ‘Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll’, died in Palm Springs, CA. Freed was one of the first radio disc jockeys to program black music, or race music, as it was termed, for white audiences. In the 1950s, Freed, at WJW Radio in Cleveland, coined the phrase, “rock ‘n’ roll,” before moving to WABC in New York. He was fired by WABC for allegedly accepting payola (being paid to play records by certain artists and record companies). The 1959-1960 congressional investigation into payola made Freed the scapegoat for what was a widespread practice. Freed, not so incidentally, died nearly penniless after the scandal was exposed.
. 2002 ~ Actress, writer and musician Carrie Hamilton, daughter of actress Carol Burnett, died of cancer. She was 38. Hamilton, whose father was the late producer Joe Hamilton, appeared in the television series “Fame” and had guest roles on other shows, including “Murder She Wrote,” “Beverly Hills 90210” and “thirtysomething.” She also starred in television movies. She and her mother collaborated on a stage version of Burnett’s best-selling memoir “One More Time.” The resulting play, “Hollywood Arms,” will have its world premiere in Chicago in April, said Burnett’s publicist, Deborah Kelman. Hamilton spoke publicly in the ’80s about her struggles with addiction and her decision to go drug-free. She starred as Maureen in the first national touring version of the musical “Rent” and wrote and directed short films through the profit-sharing production company Namethkuf. She won “The Women in Film Award” at the 2001 Latino Film Festival for her short film “Lunchtime Thomas.”
. 2002 ~ John Jackson, who went from gravedigger to one of the pre-eminent blues musicians in the country, died from kidney failure. He was 77. During his long career, Jackson played for presidents and in 68 countries. Jackson earned a living as a cook, a butler, a chauffeur and a gravedigger before his music career took off. He was playing guitar for some friends at a gas station in Fairfax in 1964 when Charles L. Perdue, who teaches folklore at the University of Virginia, pulled in to get some gas. He listened as Jackson taught a song to a mailman he knew. He and Jackson became friends, and Perdue eventually helped launch Jackson’s career by introducing him to people in the music business. The seventh son of 14 children, Jackson had just three months’ education at the first-grade level. But he earned the admiration of fans from all walks of life around the world. B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt and Pete Seeger are among the performers he has played with and befriended. Among his numerous awards is the National Endowment for the Arts’ Heritage Fellowship Award, which he received in 1986.
. 1830 ~ Hans von Bulow, German pianist and conductor
More information about von Bulow
. 1906 ~ Arthur Rubinstein made his debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The concert received only a few favorable reviews.
. 1912 ~ Jose Ferrer (Cintron), Academy Award-winning actor, Rosemary Clooney’s husband
. 1922 ~ Abbey Simon, American pianist
. 1924 ~ Ron Moody, Actor, singer in Oliver Twist
. 1925 ~ Russian composer, Igor Stravinsky, appeared in his first American concert, as he conducted the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in a program of his own compositions.
. 1935 ~ Elvis Presley, American rock-and-roll singer and guitarist. He had 90 top-20 hits.
. 1937 ~ Shirley Bassey, Singer
. 1940 ~ Anthony Gourdine, Singer with Little Anthony and The Imperials
. 1940 ~ Vincent Lopez and his orchestra recorded the third version of Lopez’ theme song titled Nola. This version, recorded in Hollywood on Bluebird Records, is recognized as his best rendition of the classic song.
. 1946 ~ Robbie Krieger, Guitarist with The Doors
. 1947 ~ David Bowie, British rock singer and actor
. 1947 ~ Terry Sylvester, Musician with the groups Swinging Blue Jeans and the Hollies
. 1952 ~ Vladimir Feltsman, Pianist
. 1961 ~ Robert Goulet made his national TV debut this night on “The Ed SullivanShow” on CBS.
. 1965 ~ The TV dance show, “Hullabaloo”, debuted on NBC~TV. The show, a weekly trip into the world of rock and roll, featured plenty of mini-skirted go~go girls; which didn’t hurt ratings any. ABC countered with “Shindig”, a similar show, similar concept, similar everything.
. 1966 ~ The Beatles LP, “Rubber Soul”, began a 6-week reign at the top of the album chart. This was the seventh Beatles LP to reach the #1 position since February, 1964. “Rubber Soul” stayed on the charts for 56 weeks. The other #1 albums for the Fab Four to that date were: “Meet The Beatles“, “The Beatles Second Album”, “A Hard Day’s Night”,“Beatles ’65”, “Beatles VI” and “Help!”.
. 1973 ~ Carly Simon received a gold record for the single, You’re So Vain.
. 1997 ~ George Handy died. Handy was a jazz music arranger, composer and pianist whose musical beginnings were fostered under the tutelage of pianist Aaron Copland.
. 1998 ~ Sir Michael Tippett, British Composer and librettist, died
More information about Tippett
. 2000 ~ Pianist Jeffrey Biegel appeared on Good Morning America. He discussed his performance of the New York Premiere with Maestro Vakhtang Jordania and the American Symphony Orchestra and performed selections from the manuscript edition of Rhapsody in Blue, with more than 50 bars restored that hadn’t been heard in New York since the famous 1924 premiere concert at Aeolian Hall.
The concert that evening was at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall. The Rhapsody was the feature piece in an evening of premieres by American composers and Russian orchestral masterpieces. Works on the program included Variations on The Wayfaring Stranger (New York Premiere) by James Cohn; Peanuts Gallery for Piano and Orchestra by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich; the Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin; Islamey by Balakirev (World Premiere-transcription for piano and orchestra by Jeffrey Biegel), and Mussorgsky’sPictures at an Exhibition.
. 1880 ~ Nicolai Karlovich Medtner, Russian composer and pianist
. 1919 ~ Erica Morini, Concert violinist
. 1923 ~ Sam Phillips, Record executive with Sun Records: The [Memphis] Million Dollar Quartet: Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Charlie Rich
. 1931 ~ Alfred Brendel, American Pianist
More information about Brendel
. 1931 ~ Alvin Ailey, was an African-American choreographer and activist who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City
. 1935 ~ Phil Spitalny’s All-Girl Orchestra was featured on CBS radio this day on the program “The Hour of Charm”.
. 1938 ~ Lindsay Crosby, Actor, son of crooner Bing Crosby
. 1941 ~ Decca record #23210 was recorded. The title was Chica Chica Boom Chic by the lovely Carmen Miranda. She sang the song in the film, “That Night in Rio”.
. 1942 ~ Maurizio Pollini, Italian pianist
. 1949 ~ George ‘Funky’ Brown, Drummer with Kool and The Gang
. 1950 ~ Chris Stein, Guitarist with Blondie
. 1950 ~ Gene Autry’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” hit #1 on the Billboard Pop Charts. It sold over 8 million copies and was later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1985.
. 1955 ~ A tune used in a “Studio One” production became the #1 song on the pop music charts this day. Joan Weber’s song, Let Me Go, Lover, rode the hit parade as the most popular record in the U.S. for four weeks straight. Before being aired on television, the song had only been heard on a limited basis. In fact, the title was even different. It used to be known as Let Me Go, Devil.
. 1972 ~ John Denver received a gold record for the album, “Aerie”, this day.
. 1979 ~ Charles Mingus passed away. He was an American jazz double bassist, composer and bandleader.
. 1979 ~ John Travolta probably remembers that the soundtrack LP of “Saturday Night Fever” reached $25 million in sales.
. 1980 ~The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” becomes hip-hop’s first Top 40 hit
. 1984 ~ The group, The Police, planned a farewell concert for March 2 in Australia. After nine years together, band members decided to go their separate ways.
. 1997 ~ Burton Lane died at the age of 84. He was an American composer and lyricist. His most popular and successful works include Finian’s Rainbow and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.
. 1997 ~ Sonny Bono was killed in a skiing accident. Bono starred along with Cher in “The Sonny and Cher Show.” He also recorded hits such as “I got You Babe” (1965), and received ten gold records during his career.
. 2000 ~ Mejla Hlavsa, a Czech rock performer and friend of President Vaclav Havel, died of cancer at the age of 49. He was a bass player and singer with the band Plastic People of the Universe. Hlavsa, whose group was banned in the 1970s, was imprisoned in 1976 for unauthorized performances, deemed political protests under the former communist regime. At the time, the band had been performing at private gatherings, including parties at Havel’s summer house in Hradecek, northern Bohemia. Now the country’s president, Havel was Czechoslovakia’s best known anti-communist dissident at the time. After the collapse of the communist regime in 1989, the band resumed public performances. Hlavsa also performed at the White House in September 1998, at a dinner organized by President Clinton during an official visit by the Czech president. One of Hlavsa’s influences, Lou Reed, also performed during Havel’s visit. Reed was a founding member of the rock group Velvet Underground, which helped inspire Havel’s leadership of the “Velvet Revolution” that brought democracy to the Czech Republic. Havel had called the musicians “two legends from our two nations who both, in one way or another, are bound with the ideal of freedom.”
. 2016 ~ Pierre Boulez, classical music’s maverick, died aged 90. As well as composing, Boulez was a prolific writer and pianist and an inspiration for generations of young musicians.
National Spaghetti Day on January 4 recognizes that long, thin cylindrical pasta of Italian and Sicilian origin.
Who can forget
1710 ~ Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Italian Composer
More information about Pergolesi
. 1720 ~ Johann Friedrich Agricola, German organist and composer
. 1809 ~ Louis Braille, Inventor of the Braille system which enables the blind to read words and music. When he was only 3, Louise Braille, was permanently blinded in an accident with a leatherworking awl in his father’s saddlemaking shop in Coupvray, France. Several years later, he was admitted to a school for the blind, the Institution Nationale des Jeunes Aveugles. Later, as a teacher at the school, he worked at adapting Charles Barbier’s system of writing with points. Ironically, his method centered around using an awl-like stylus to punch marks in paper that could be felt and interpreted by the blind, allowing them to “read” with their fingertips. Braille’s work went unnoticed until after his death, in poverty, in 1852.
. 1874 ~ Josef Suk, Czech violinist and composer
More information about Suk
. 1924 ~ Alfred Grünfeld, Austrian pianist and composer, died
. 1928 ~ NBC radio debuted one of radio’s first variety shows. “The Dodge Victory Hour” starred Will Rogers, Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra and singer Al Jolson. The cost to produce this one show was $67,600.
. 1932 ~ NBC Red presented “The Carnation Contented Hour”. The show continued on network radio for 19 years as a showcase for top singers and musicians.
. 1933 ~ Ray Starling, Arranger for Stan Kenton
. 1935 ~ Bert Ambrose and his orchestra recorded the song that became the group’s theme song. It was titled Hors-d’oeuvres and was cut in London for Decca Records.
. 1935 ~ Bob Hope was first heard on network radio as part of “The Intimate Revue” with Jane Froman, James Melton and the Al Goodman Orchestra.
. 1936 ~ The first pop music chart based on national sales was published by “Billboard” magazine this day. Joe Venuti, jazz violinist, was at the top of the chart with a little ditty called Stop! Look! Listen!.
. 1937 ~ Grace Bumbry, American mezzo-soprano
More information about Bumbry
. 1942 ~ John McLaughlin, Rock guitarist
. 1944 ~ Arthur Conley, Singer
. 1950 ~ RCA Victor announced that it would manufacture long-playing (LP) records. This news came two years after Columbia Records debuted the ‘album’.
. 1954 ~ Elvis Presley strolled into the Memphis Recording Service and put $4 on the counter. He recorded Casual Love and I’ll Never Stand in Your Way, two songs that so impressed record executive Sam Phillips that he had Elvis record his first professional sides for Sun Records the following August.
. 2001 ~ Les Brown, whose Band of Renown scored a No. 1 hit with Sentimental Journey during America’s big band era of the 1930s and ’40s, died of lung cancer at the age of 88. A conductor-clarinetist whose smooth arrangements of swing melodies transcended changes in musical tastes, Brown was cited in 1996 by the Guinness Book of Records recognized him as the leader of the longest lasting musical organization in pop music history. He started his professional career in 1936, and his Band of Renown was still performing about 60 dates a year as recently as five months ago, often conducted by son Les Brown Jr. Brown formed his Band of Renown in 1936. In the 1940s heyday of swing, Brown never achieved the greatness of Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller or Benny Goodman. But the band scored two hit records – Sentimental Journey, with Doris Day as vocalist, and the instrumental I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm. Sentimental Journey, co-written with Ben Homer and Bud Green, became a theme for soldiers returning home from World War II. “The happiest times in my life were the days when I was traveling with Les and his band,” Day said. “I loved Les very much, I am going to miss his phone calls.” Brown’s career included a close association with Bob Hope. In 1950, he joined Hope for the first of 18 Christmas tours to entertain American troops at military bases around the world. Day also participated. “The world has lost a great musician,” Hope said. “I have lost my music man, my sideman, my straight man and a special friend.” As the first president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Brown helped make the Grammy Awards a televised event. He convinced Hope, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby to participate in the first telecast.
. 2004 ~ Jake Hess, a four-time Grammy winner who sang with some of the premier quartets in gospel music and influenced the career of Elvis Presley, died. He was 76. Hess, whose career spanned more than 60 years, is best known to contemporary audiences as a regular member of Bill Gaither’s Homecoming Friends, on various Christian and country music cable channels, including TBN and TNN. Hess joined The John Daniel Quartet in 1943 and reached stardom with The Statesmen Quartet. He was founder of The Imperials and sang with The Masters V. Each of these groups is enshrined in the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame, as is Hess. He is also a member of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. As a teen, Elvis Presley was a regular at Statesmen concerts. Later, Hess was a backup singer on several of Presley’s Grammy-winning albums. When Presley died in 1977, Hess sang at his funeral, as he had at the funeral of country legend Hank Williams in 1953. Peter Guralnick, author of a two-volume biography of Presley, said the rock star always wanted to emulate the voices of Hess and crooner Roy Hamilton.
. 2018 ~ Ray Thomas, English rock vocalist and flautist (Moody Blues-Legend Of A Mind), died at the age of 76
Born in 1941, Thomas founded The Moody Blues in 1964 with fellow musicians including Mike Pinder and Denny Laine.
You’ve all heard it before. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.
We took the easier route with the tour December 1, 2014. Unfortunately, I wasn’t posting much on my travel blog yet so I don’t remember everything that happened. I do highly recommend the tour if you’re in New York City.
If you want to go, other than practicing, Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park.
The tour was very inexpensive, maybe $10 each. We were taken by elevator up to the Main Hall (Isaac Stern Auditorium/Ronald O. Perelman Stage) first. The stories that were told were fascinating! I don’t remember most but I remember the guide telling us that after renovations audience members complained of a buzzing sound. The floor had to be removed…
SOURCE OF CARNEGIE HALL COMPLAINTS DISCOVERED: CONCRETE UNDER STAGE
MARY CAMPBELL , Associated Press
Sep. 13, 1995 11:53 PM ET
NEW YORK (AP) _ For nine years, the people who run Carnegie Hall insisted there was nothing wrong with the acoustics at the famed concert hall.
Wednesday, they sang a different tune
This summer, a layer of concrete, apparently left over from a major renovation job in 1986, was discovered under the stage. The concrete was ripped out and a new floor was installed that administrators say should improve acoustics.
Since the renovation, musicians and critics have complained about the acoustics, saying the sound the hall was world famous for wasn’t the same, that the bass had become washed out and the higher instruments harsh.
Executive Director Judith Arron said Wednesday she had been assured there was no concrete under the stage since arriving at the hall in 1986.
But the tongue-in-groove maple stage floor, which usually lasts 20 years, had warped so badly after just nine years, it was difficult to push a piano across it.
The hall closed for repairs after three Frank Sinatra tribute concerts the last week in July. “As we tore the whole floor up,” Arron said, “we learned we had a lot more hard substance than we had anticipated.”
She speculated the concrete was added to reinforce the stage while scaffolding was on it during the 1986 renovation and then simply left there in workers’ haste to finish.
The concrete had been placed under two layers of plywood, on which the maple stage floor rests.
“Concrete retains moisture,” Arron said. “As the moisture collected in the concrete, it went into the plywood, which expands with moisture and pushed up the floor.”
Jim Nomikos, the hall’s director of operations, compared the removal of hundreds of pounds of concrete to “an archeological dig.”
Nomikos said the floor is now constructed the way it was from Carnegie Hall’s opening in 1891 until 1986.
“In my opinion we’re not reconstructing the floor. We just restored it,” he said. “I think what we have now is a floor that will have some resonance, as opposed to a floor that was dead.”
The project cost $180,000.
Aaron said there are no plans to sue anybody for the way the floor was laid in 1986. “We’ve been focused on doing the job right,” she said. “We think this is going to be great.”
The new floor will meet its first test Sept. 26, when the Philadelphia Orchestra plays. The hall’s official gala opening for its 105th season will be Oct. 5 by the Boston Symphony.
I remember the guide not being happy with us because I knew the answers to some of the questions she asked such as Tchaikovsky conducting at the opening. When she mentioned that Ignacy Jan Paderewski had made his debut there, Tom piped up that he had lived near Steinway Hall (and that Michael and I had just played there in the final concert in the old building). She gave us the evil eye and we stopped talking so much 🙂
Plaque on Steinwall Hall (old building). This was just after Michael and I played there.
Plaque on Steinwall Hall (old building).
There were many, many pictures on the walls of people who had performed there. All in all, a fantastic tour. Take it if you’re in NYC!
1891 Andrew Carnegie’s new Music Hall opened
Andrew Carnegie’s new Music Hall opened with a five-day music festival beginning on May 5.
Guest of honor Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky conducted his Marche Solennelle on Opening Night and his Piano Concerto No. 1 several days later.
William Tuthill’s design reflects Gilded Age architectural tastes and engineering. Since the Hall was built shortly before the advent of structural steel construction, its walls are made of fairly heavy brick and masonry, to carry the full load of the structure without the lighter support that a steel framework soon made possible. The Italian Renaissance design of the exterior reflects the eclectic architectural tastes of the period, which look to European models of earlier centuries for inspiration. Tuthill deliberately chose to keep the styling and decorative elements simple, elegant, and functional, focusing his energies on designing an excellent acoustic environment.
I came across this interesting 1947 movie about Carnegie Hall for my Music Studio Blog and I’m posting it here, as well.
Jascha Heifetz (violinist) Tchaikovsky – “Violin Concerto in D, First Movement” – New York Philharmonic, Fritz Reiner, conductor
Harry James (trumpeter)
Vaughn Monroe (band leader)
Jan Peerce (vocalist)
Gregor Piatigorsky (cellist)
Ezio Pinza (vocalist)
Lily Pons (vocalist)
Fritz Reiner (conductor)
Artur Rodzinski (conductor)
Arthur Rubinstein (pianist)
Rise Stevens (vocalist)
Leopold Stokowski (conductor)
Bruno Walter (conductor)
Walter Damrosch (conductor)
Olin Downes (music critic)
New York Philharmonic Quintette (John Corigliano Sr., William Lincer, Nadia Reisenberg, Leonard Rose, Michael Rosenker)
New York Philharmonic
A mother (Marsha Hunt) wants her son (William Prince) to grow up to be a pianist good enough to play at Carnegie Hall but, when grown, the son prefers to play with Vaughan Monroe’s orchestra. But Mama’s wishes prevail and the son appears at Carnegie Hall as the composer-conductor-pianist of a modern horn concerto, with Harry James as the soloist. Frank McHugh is along as a Carnegie Hall porter and doorman, and Martha O’Driscoll is a singer who provides the love interest for Prince. Meanwhile and between while a brigade of classical music names from the 1940’s (and earlier and later) appear; the conductors Walter Damrosch, Bruno Walter, Artur Rodzinski, Fritz Reiner and Leopold Stokowski; singers Rise Stevens, Lily Pons, Jan Peerce and Ezio Pinza, plus pianist Arthur Rubinstein, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky and violinist Jascha Heifetz.
• 1652 ~ Johann Krieger, German composer and organist
• 1701 ~ Johann Joachim Agrell, Composer
More information about Agrell
• 1735 ~ Paul Revere, American patriot and music engraver
• 1764 ~ In a stunning demonstration of prodigious talent, the Royal Family at Versailles in France was treated to a brilliant recital by an eight-year-old musician. His name was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
1900 ~ Xavier Cugat (Francisco de Asís Javier Cugat Mingall de Brue y Deulofeo). Spanish violinist, composer and bandleader, married to Abbe Lane and Charo
More information about Cugat
• 1916 ~ Earl Wrightson, Actor, singer
• 1923 ~ Milt Jackson, Vibes with The Modern Jazz Quartet
• 1925 ~ Lucrezia Bori and John McCormack of the famous Metropolitan Opera in New York City made their singing debuts on radio this day. The broadcast over what was WEAF Radio (now WABC) encouraged others to sing on radio. Some of those were Hootie and the Blowfish, and Barry Manilow.
• 1928 ~ Frank Pourcel, Composer, violinist
• 1942 ~ Country Joe McDonald, Singer with Country Joe & the Fish
• 1953 ~ A sad day in country music, as the legendary Hank Williams died at the young age of 29. Undisputedly, the biggest star in the history of country music, Hank Williams’ legacy is being carried on by his son, Hank Williams, Jr.
• 1955 ~ Elvis Presley appeared at The Eagles Hall in Houston Texas. Presley went on to play over 250 shows in 1955.
• 1958 ~ Johnny Cash played his first-ever prison concert —a concert that helped set Merle Haggard, then a 20-year-old San Quentin inmate, on the path toward becoming a country music legend.
• 1962 ~ The Beatles went an audition with Decca Records and are turned down in favor of the Tremeloes.
• 1968 ~ A group known as The Blue Velvets decided to change its name this day and it’s a good thing they did. The new name soon became a national pop music favorite as Creedence Clearwater Revival climbed to stardom.
• 1972 ~ Maurice Chevalier passed away. Chevalier was a French actor, Cabaret singer and entertainer.
• 1981 ~ Hephzibah Menuhin, American-Australian concert pianist, writer, and human rights campaigner died at the age of 61. She was sister to the violinist Yehudi Menuhin and to the pianist, painter, and poet Yaltah Menuhin.
• 1984 ~ Alexis Korner passed away. Korner was a British blues musician and radio broadcaster, who has sometimes been referred to as “a founding father of British blues”.
• 2000 ~ Ray Walston, who found commercial success playing a comical devil in the play “Damn Yankees” and an extraterrestrial on the sitcom “My Favorite Martian,” of natural causes at the age of 86. Walston caught the biggest break of his career when he won a Tony in 1955 for his performance in Broadway’s “Damn Yankees.” The smash musical told the story of a frustrated baseball fan who sells his soul. His screen debut came in the 1957 movie “Kiss Them For Me” with Cary Grant, and the next year he played the devil again in the film version of “Damn Yankees.” Walston snagged the role that would stick with him for a lifetime – that of a lovable alien on the TV show “My Favorite Martian” in 1963. The show was immensely popular, but Walston felt so typecast that he tried to highlight his dramatic abilities by returning to the stage when the TV comedy went off the air in 1966. He stayed in theater for several years before re-emerging with a succession of solid supporting roles in movies and television. Nearly 30 years after the end of the lighthearted “My Favorite Martian,” Walston’s role on “Picket Fences” as acerbic Judge Henry Bone earned Walston successive Emmys in 1995-96.
• 2016 ~ Chart-topping R&B singer Natalie Cole, who followed her famous father in the music business with hits like “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) and “Unforgettable,” died at age 65.
• 2018 ~ Robert Mann, American composer and violinist (the founding Violinist of the Juilliard String Quartet), died at the age of 97
• 1894 ~ Ernest John Moeran, English composer who had strong associations with Ireland.
• 1904 ~ Nathan Milstein, Russian-born American violinist and composer
• 1908 ~ Jonah Jones (Robert Elliott Jones), Trumpeter, singer, played with Cab Calloway and threw spitball that got Dizzy Gillespie fired from a band
• 1922 ~ Rex Allen, ‘The Arizona Cowboy’, entertainer, rodeo star, singer, songwriter who published over 300 songs
• 1923 ~ Singer Eddie Cantor opened in the lead role of Kid Boots. Broadway critics called the production, “A smash musical hit!” Eddie made several of the songs from that show into smash hits also, like Alabamy Bound and If You Knew Susie. Three years later, If You Knew Susie became the title song for a movie starring Cantor.
• 1928 ~ Ross Barbour, Singer with The Four Freshmen
• 1929 ~ Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians played Auld Lang Syne as a New Year’s Eve song for the first time. Auld Lang Syne had been the band’s theme song long before 1929. However, this night was the start of a New Year’s Eve tradition as Lombardo’s famed orchestra played at the Hotel Roosevelt Grill in New York City to usher in the new year. Where did it Auld begin? Scottish poet Robert Burns said he heard an old man singing the words, and wrote them down, but Burns is considered the original author. The literal translation means “old long since”; less literal means “days gone by”. Auld Lang Syne and Happy New Year!
• 1930 ~ Odetta (Holmes Felious Gordon), American folk-blues singer, guitarist, songwriter and actress
• 1940 ~ As a result of a dispute between the radio networks and ASCAP (the American Society of Composers and Publishers), the radio industry was prevented from playing any ASCAP-licensed music. The ban lasted for ten months. An ASCAP competitor, BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated) made giant strides, expanding to include 36,000 copyrights. Many radio stations had to resort to playing public domain songs, such as marches and operas, to keep their stations on the air. Even kids songs were played over and over again until the ban was lifted. One of the most popular songs to be played was Happy Birthday to You, which was performed in many different languages just to get past the ban.
The American copyright status of “Happy Birthday to You” began to draw more attention with the passage of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act in 1998. When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Act in Eldred v. Ashcroft in 2003, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer specifically mentioned “Happy Birthday to You” in his dissenting opinion. American law professor Robert Brauneis, who extensively researched the song, concluded in 2010 that “It is almost certainly no longer under copyright.” In 2013, based in large part on Brauneis’s research, Good Morning to You Productions, a company producing a documentary about “Good Morning to All”, sued Warner/Chappell for falsely claiming copyright to the song. In September 2015, a federal judge declared that the Warner/Chappell copyright claim was invalid, ruling that the copyright registration applied only to a specific piano arrangement of the song, and not to its lyrics and melody.
In 2016, Warner/Chappell settled for US $14 million, and the court declared that “Happy Birthday to You” was in the public domain.
• 1942 ~ Andy Summers (Somers), Guitarist, singer with The Police
• 1943 ~ John Denver (Deutschendorf), American singer and songwriter of popular music
• 1947 ~ Burton Cummings, Jr., Singer with The Guess Who
• 1947 ~ Roy Rogers, ‘the King of the Cowboys’, and Dale Evans were hitched in marriage. They rode off into that sunset together for over fifty years. (Roy died July 6, 1998.)
• 1948 ~ Donna Summer (LaDonna Gaines), Grammy Award-winning singer
• 1951 ~ Tom Hamilton, Bass with Aerosmith
• 1960 ~ After playing California nightclubs as The Pendletones, Kenny and the Cadets, and Carl and the Passions, a new group emerged this day: The Beach Boys. The group’s first national hit, Surfin’ Safari, was soon to be. They recorded for local (Los Angeles) Colpix Records and at the height of their popularity, Capitol Records. The Beach Boys also recorded under the Reprise Records banner. The revitalized group still tours and Capitol continues to reissue various greatest hits packages. The Beach Boys were inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
• 1972 ~ Joe McIntyre, Singer with New Kids on the Block
• 1975 ~ Elvis Presley performed before 60,000 fans at the Silverdome in Pontiac, MI. He earned $800,000 for the concert, a world record for a single concert by a single artist.
• 1985 ~ Over 54,500 people played kazoos in downtown Rochester, New York. The assembled multitude played A Bicycle Built for Two. Any idea why? Well, they felt it was appropriate for the last day of the year and it got the crowd listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for ‘Most Kazoo-ers’.
• 1985 ~ Ricky Nelson killed in a plane crash.
• 1993 ~ Barbra Streisand performed her first paid concert in 22 years, singing to a sellout crowd at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.
• 1997 ~ Floyd Cramer, American Hall of Fame pianist (Nashville Sound), died of cancer at the age of 64
• 2000 ~ Tanaquil Le Clercq, the ballerina who dazzled the world in the 1940s and ’50s before her career was cut short by paralytic polio, died of pneumonia at the age of 71. Le Clercq contracted the disease, which left her paralyzed below the waist, in 1956. At the time, she was the fourth wife of George Balanchine and had attracted an adoring public because of her long-legged elegance. She later became a teacher at Dance Theater of Harlem, wrote two books and regularly attended dance performances. The New York City Ballet, of which Le Clercq was a charter member, paid tribute to her in 1988, when it opened its 50th-anniversary season. She acknowledged a thunderous New York State Theater ovation from her wheelchair. Le Clercq was blessed with an elongated physique that she used with refinement or humor. She epitomized the modernized look in classical dancing, which enthralled Balanchine, who once cast her as a dragonfly. As the first City Ballet ballerina trained since childhood by Balanchine, she was naturally identified with the roles he created for her in his major works, such as the ballets “Symphonie Concertante,” “Symphony in C” and “La Valse,” in which her doomed heroine danced herself to death. She was equally unforgettable in the ballets of Jerome Robbins and as the white-faced allegorical figure of Sacred Love in “Illuminations” in 1950.
• 2000 ~ José Greco, the famed flamenco dancer and choreographer who founded the José Greco Spanish Dance Company, of heart failure at the age of 82. Born in Montorio nei Frentani, Italy, of Spanish-Italian parents, he moved to Seville, Spain, at the age of 3, then was raised in Brooklyn from the age of 10. He began his career in 1937 and became known as the greatest Spanish dancer in the world. In 1941, the already famous Argentine-born dancer La Argentinita (known off the stage as Encarnacion Lopez) was preparing for an American tour when she saw Greco dance and asked him to perform as her partner and the featured male performer in her company until she died in 1945. After that, Greco danced with her sister Pilar Lopez. In 1951, Greco shared with Carol Channing the title of “New Broadway Personality of the Year.” The José Greco Dance Company, which helped integrate flamenco with mainstream ballet, toured extensively in North America, and six times worldwide, over the following two decades. In 1962, he Greco was knighted by the Spanish government. In 1971, Greco formed the Foundation for Hispanic Dance. His autobiography, “Gypsy in My Soul: The Autobiography of Jose Greco,” was published in 1977.
• 2000 ~ Eddy Shaver, a guitarist who performed with his father Billy Joe Shaver and Dwight Yoakam, died at the age of 38. Eddy Shaver grew up around music because of his father, a celebrated songwriter whose songs include I’m Just an Old Chuck of Coal (But I’m GonnaBe a Diamond Someday) and Georgia on a Fast Train. Dickie Betts of The Allman Brothers Band helped teach Eddy Shaver to play and gave him his two favorite guitars, one formerly owned by the late guitarist Duane Allman. Eddy Shaver began playing guitar with his father at 13, and gradually became Billy Joe Shaver’s musical partner and sometime co-writer. Billy Joe Shaver merged from country to a more rock-influenced sound because of his son. Albums by the band Shaver include “Tramp on Your Street,” the live “Shaver: Unshaven,” and “Electric Shaver.” A new album, “The Earth Rolls On,” was released on March 20, 2001.
• 2001 ~ Marie Hartford, a well-known businesswoman on Music Row and widow of the late songwriter and performer John Hartford, died of lung cancer. She was 67. Marie Hartford worked at Glaser Publishing, booking the studios at the Glaser Brothers’ Music Row operation, where country music’s Outlaw movement was bred. John Hartford, who wrote the standard Gentle on My Mind, died June 4 after a decade-long battle with cancer. The song was recorded more than 300 times, most prominently by Glen Campbell in 1967 but also by Dean Martin, Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin.
• 2003 ~ Renata Babak, an internationally known mezzo-soprano with the Bolshoi Opera who defected from the Soviet Union in 1973, died of pancreatic cancer. She was 69. Babak gave recitals until last year, singing in a sweet but powerful and well-controlled voice described by critics as among the best in the world. Her last opera was in 1997, when she performed in Tchaikovsky’sIolanta with Opera Camerata of Washington. Babak was an international star with 10 years’ experience at the Bolshoi when she defected while the opera company was playing at La Scala in Milan, slipping out of a hotel lobby wearing a wig and dark glasses. She immigrated to Canada and went into hiding for two years. Babak’s U.S. debut at Carnegie Hall in 1975 was met with enthusiastic reviews. She moved to New York and then to Washington in the hopes of working with George London, then general director of the Washington Opera. Babak joined the faculty of the Washington Conservatory of Music when London was disabled by a stroke.
. 2021 ~ Betty White died at the age of 99. She would have turned 100 on January 17, 2022.
• 1728 ~ Franz Xaver Pokorny, Czech Classical era composer and violinist.
• 1783 ~ Padre Antonio Francisco Javier Jose Soler
• 1871 ~ Henry Kimball Hadley, American composer and conductor
• 1890 ~ Yvonne Arnaud, French-born pianist, singer and actress
• 1898 ~ Irene (Marie) Dunne, Actress in Show Boat, Anna and the King of Siam, Alternate Delegate to the United Nations, Kennedy Center Honors Lifetime Achievement Award in 1985.
• 1909 ~ Vagn Holmboe, Danish composer and music critic
• 1920 ~ An English-born comedian named Leslie Downes became an American citizen. He had lived in the United States since 1908 and became one of the nation’s true ambassadors for show business and charity. We say, “Thanks for the memories,” to Bob Hope.
• 1928 ~ For the first time, a living actress in the United States had a theater named after her. The Ethel Barrymore Theatre opened in New York City.
• 1932 ~ Al Jolson recorded April Showers on Brunswick Records.
• 1938 ~ John Harbison, American composer and conductor
• 1944 ~ Bobby Colomby, Drummer, singer with Blood, Sweat & Tears
• 1948 ~ Little Stevie Wright, Singer with The Easybeats
• 1949 ~ Harry Belafonte had his second session with Capitol Records. Included in the session were Whispering and Farewell to Arms. With eight tunes then recorded and little enthusiasm from record buyers, Capitol decided to part company with Belafonte by not renewing the singer’s contract. He went to RCA Victor in April 1952.
• 1952 ~ Jimmy Boyd reached the #1 spot on the record charts with the Christmas song of the year, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.
• 1957 ~ Billy (Steven) Bragg, Songwriter, guitarist, singer
• 1966 ~ Chris Robinson, Singer with The Black Crowes
• 1972 ~ Jack Albertson and Sam Levine starred as two retired vaudevillians in Neil Simon’s classic comedy, The Sunshine Boys, which opened at the Broadhurst Theatre in NYC. The play had a run of 538 performances. The movie version later became a box office smash, as well.
• 1973 ~ Singer Bobby Darin passed away following open-heart surgery at the age of 37. He left a legacy of memories in rock ’n’ roll and pop tunes, as well as on television and in movies (even an Oscar nomination for his role in Captain Newman, M.D.). The story of Darin being groomed to replace Frank Sinatra at Capitol Records is absolutely true. Unfortunately, Capitol didn’t think the grooming was going so well and withheld many of Darin’s songs for many years; releasing them in a compilation CD in 1995. Good stuff to listen to: Splish Splash, Queen of the Hop, Dream Lover, Mack the Knife, Beyond the Sea, If I Werea Carpenter, etc. At the end, Darin, who had recorded for Atco, Capitol and Atlantic Records had just begun recording for Motown.
• 1980 ~ Shirley Temple Black became a grandmother. Her oldest daughter gave birth to a baby girl.
• 1982 ~ Artur Rubinstein, pianist (My Young Years), died at the age of 95
• 1999 ~ Hank Snow passed away
• 2000 ~ Roebuck “Pops” Staples, patriarch of the Staple Singers whose lyrics on “Respect Yourself” and other hits delivered a civil rights message with a danceable soul beat, passed away. “They took this really positive message music and made it contemporary and popular by putting it with electric guitars and inserting a groove,” said Sherman Wilmott, who is helping create a museum in Memphis, Tennessee, honoring the musical stars at Stax Records, the Staple Singers’ principal label. Born in Winona, Mississippi, Staples learned to sing acapella and developed his Delta blues electric guitar style. Starting out as a gospel group in 1948, the Staple Singers with son Pervis and daughters Mavis and Cleotha as singers reached an even wider audience with 1970s soul hits such as Respect Yourself,I’ll Take You There and If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me). Before achieving stardom, Staples resisted taking his family on tour and held jobs in Chicago’s stockyards and steel mills. Staples came to believe he could contribute in song to the battle for blacks’ civil rights being waged by the Rev. Martin Luther King and others, Wilmott said. “He sang and played guitar. He was extremely well- spoken and calm and intelligent,” he said. Another daughter, Yvonne, told the Tribune: “When Dr. King started preaching, Pops said ‘I think we can sing it.’ That’s what he felt,” she said. “He believed that the world could be made a better place for all of us.” At age 80, Staples won a Grammy Award as a solo artist in 1994 for his album “Father Father.” He also received a National Heritage Fellowship Award at the White House from first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. The group entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year. In a 1998 interview with the Tribune, Staples said his musical education began early. “We’d come home and didn’t have anything to do after we eat but go to bed. So we’d go out in the yard and sing.”
• 2000 ~ Rob Buck, lead guitarist for the rock band 10,000 Maniacs, died of liver failure at the age of 42, three weeks after he collapsed at his home in western New York.
2004 ~ Blues singer-guitarist Son Seals, one of the most distinctive voices to emerge in the genre during the 1970s, died at the age of 62.
More information about Son Seals
2004 ~ Italian soprano Renata Tebaldi, one of the great post-World War II opera divas who Arturo Toscanini said had the “voice of an angel,” died at the age of 82.
More information about Renata Tebaldi
• 1926 ~ Benny Goodman played a clarinet solo. This was not unusual for Benny except that it was his first time playing solo within a group recording session. Goodman was featured with Ben Pollack and His Californians on He’s the Last Word.
• 1930 ~ Peter Warlock [Philip Heseltine], British composer and music critic, died of a probable suicide at the age of 36
• 1936 ~ Tommy Steele (Hicks), Singer, actor
• 1937 ~ Art Neville, Keyboards, percussion, singer with The Neville Brothers
• 1937 ~ Nat Stuckey, Country singer, songwriter
• 1939 ~ Eddie Kendricks, Singer with The Temptations
• 1942 ~ Paul Butterfield, American blues singer and harmonica player with Paul Butterfield Blues Band
• 1943 ~ Dave Dee (Harmon), Tambourine, singer, record promoter
• 1955 ~ Carl Perkins wrote Blue Suede Shoes. Less than 48 hours later, he recorded it at the Sun Studios in Memphis. The tune became one of the first records to be popular simultaneously on rock, country and rhythm & blues charts.
• 1958 ~ Mike Mills, Bass with R.E.M
• 1961 ~ Sarah Dallin, Singer with Bananarama
• 1969 ~ Tiny Tim (Herbert Buchingham Khaury) married Miss Vickie (Victoria Budinger) on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. This is the Tiny Tim of the falsetto version of Tiptoe Through the Tulips fame. The NBC-TV program earned the second-highest, all-time audience rating; second only to Neil Armstrong’s walking on the moon. Mr. Tiny Tim and Miss Vickie had a daughter, Tulip. Then in 1977 they stopped tiptoeing together.
• 1969 ~ Chicago Transit Authority became a gold record for the group of the same name (they later changed their name to Chicago). When the album was released by Columbia Records, it marked the first time an artist’s debut LP was a double record.
• 1970 ~ The Beach Boys played to royalty at Royal Albert Hall in London. Princess Margaret was in attendance and shook the royal jewelry to such classics as Good Vibrations, I Get Around and Help Me, Rhonda.
• 1977 ~ Elvis Costello, making a rare TV appearance, agreed to perform on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
• 1978 ~ Don Ellis passed away
• 1999 ~ Rex Allen passed away
• 2004 ~ Johnnie Carl, Crystal Cathedral Orchestra conductor, took his life. Mr. Carl has been in the employment of the Crystal Cathedral for nearly 30 years and was internationally renowned as a conductor and as a composer and arranger of over 3,500 musical pieces. He was 57 years old.
• 2018 ~ Galt MacDermot, Canadian musician and composer (Hair), died at the age of 89
• 2018 ~ Raven Wilkinson, American ballerina, first African American woman to dance with a major ballet company, died at the age of 83
• 1687 ~ Francesco Xaverio Geminiani, Italian violinist, writer and composer
• 1791 ~ Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, composer, died in Vienna, Austria at the age of 35. Mozart, the precocious child prodigy, composed several pieces that are deemed central to the classical era. Though he ranked as one of the greatest musical genius, he did not live a life of affluence as none of his compositions earned him a decent commission.
• 1870 ~ Vitezslav Novak, Czech composer and pedagogue
• 1901 ~ Walt Disney, Man behind many much-loved animated musicals
• 1922 ~ Don Robertson, Nashville Songwriters Association Hall of Famer, whistler
• 1930 ~ Larry Kert, Actor, singer, dancer in the West Side Story original cast, 1957
• 1932 ~ Little Richard (Pennimann), US rock ‘n roll artist, preacher, songwriter and pianist who had a string of hits in the fifties including “Tutti Frutti,” “Long Tall Sally” and “Good Golly, Miss Molly”. He had a great stage presence which made him an idol of girls and boys alike. Rolling Stone magazine chose him as the eighth greatest artist of all time.
• 1936 ~ Chad Mitchell, Singer with Chad Mitchell trio
• 1936 ~ Bing Crosby took over as host of The Kraft Music Hall. Jimmy Dorsey (who would later be host, himself) led the Kraft Orchestra.
• 1945 ~ José Carreras, Spanish tenor with the New York Metropolitan Opera. Best known as a member of the highly successful “Three Tenors”. Plácido Domingo, José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti played in some of the largest stadiums around the world helping to make opera music popular with a wider public. They combined some of the best of opera with popular and broadway musical hits with their signature tune Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s Turandot.
• 1947 ~ Jim Messina, American rock guitarist and singer, duo of Loggins and Messina and groups: Buffalo Springfield and Poco
• 1960 ~ Les Nemes, Bass with Haircut 100
• 1960 ~ Jack Russell, Singer with Great White
• 1973 ~ Paul McCartney released Band On The Run, his fifth album since his departure from The Beatles. Two hit singles from the album – ‘Jet’ and ‘Band on the Run’ made it McCartney’s most successful album.
• 2003 ~ Avie Parton, mother of country music singer, songwriter and actress Dolly Parton, died after a long illness. She was 80. Parton was responsible for stitching the patchwork rag coat for young Dolly that the singer later recounted in the song, Coat of Many Colors. The song helped propel Dolly Parton to stardom and came to symbolize her climb from rags to riches. She also was the witness at Dolly’s secret marriage to Carl Dean in 1966 in Ringgold, Ga.
2012 ~ Dave Brubeck, American jazz pianist and composer died from heart failure at the age of 91
More information about Brubeck