It happened this week

This is the week that was in matters musical…

1933, at New York City’s Academy of Music, Bell engineers demonstrate the realism of stereo before an audience of 300 guests who had come to listen the Philadelphia Orchestra … facing a darkened stage, the audience listens to Wagner’s Gotterdammerung … when the lights come up, the stage is empty and an engineer explains the orchestra was performing in the soundproof basement with the performance piped to loudspeakers onstage …

1940, the number one hit this day is “In The Mood” by the Glenn Miller Orchestra …

1954, Bill Haley & His Comets first recording session for Decca is held at the Pythian Temple studio in New York City and results in the track “(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock” … the track, which melds hillbilly and R&B ingredients will own the top spot on the Billboard chart for eight weeks and be considered by many to mark the beginning of rock ‘n’ roll …

1956, while performing before an all-white audience at the Birmingham, Alabama, Municipal Auditorium, Nat “King” Cole is attacked by a group of racists who knock him off his piano bench and beat him … a shaken Cole returns to the stage a few minutes later to a five-minute standing ovation … however he does not complete the set … later that night he performs for an all-black audience … C.L. Fender is granted patent # 2,741,146 by the U.S. Patent Office for a “Tremolo Device For Stringed Instruments” more popularly known as the Fender Stratocaster vibrato tailpiece or whammy bar … later to become known as Soul Brother Number One, Mr. Dynamite himself, and the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, James Brown charts for the first time with “Please, Please, Please” …

1961, Bob Dylan makes his professional New York City singing debut in Greenwich Village at Gerde’s Folk City, opening for John Lee Hooker … he performs “House of the Rising Sun” and “Song to Woody” … Joan Baez joins him for the second number …

1963, The Drifters cut a topical Lieber-Stoller song titled “Only in America” with lyrics obliquely referring to race issues it’s deemed a hot potato … the black group’s vocals are edited off the track and replaced with those of Jay & the Americans, a white group … thought to be lost, the Drifters’ version turns up as a bonus track on a Jay & The Americans CD in 1983 …

1964, The Beatles occupy a record-breaking 14 spots on the U.S. charts ranging from #1 down to #81 … “Can’t Buy Me Love” (1), “Twist and Shout” (2), “She Loves You” (4), “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (7), “Please Please Me” (9), “Do You Want to Know a Secret” (14), “I Saw Her Standing There” (38), “You Can’t Do That” (48), “All My Loving” (50), “From Me to You” (52), “Thank You Girl” (61), “There’s a Place” (74), “Roll Over Beethoven” (78) and “Love Me Do” (81) …

… a struggling young act called The Detours auditions for England’s Fontana Records … they go on to release some tracks with the label under the moniker The High Numbers, but it isn’t until they become known as The Who that they will make a serious impression on the rock world …

1966, Jan Berry, half of the duo Jan & Dean notable for their many car-related hit songs, wipes out his Corvette and suffers major head injuries that lead to paralysis and a long hard road to recovery …

1967, Paul McCartney records munching noises for Brian Wilson’s “Vegetables” from the not-soon-to-be-released Smile album …

1968, Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention perform at the National Academy of Arts and Sciences Dinner in New York … Zappa makes some cutting remarks, terming the event, “a load of pompous hokum …All year long you people have manufactured this crap, now for one night you’re gonna have to listen to it!” … recalling the event later, Zappa says, “We played the ugliest shit we could … that’s what they expected us to play” …

1970, Paul McCartney uses the release of his first solo album McCartney as the occasion to announce that he’s leaving The Beatles …

1973, Neil Young’s Journey Through The Past premières at the U.S. Film Festival in Dallas …the film is an autobiographical documentary, consisting mainly of footage and images captured throughout his career … Young sketchily describes it as “a collection of thoughts. Every scene meant something to me—although with some of them I can’t say what” …

1976, Patti Smith’s whips out her poetic license for a first single, a version of garage rock classic “Gloria” … she transforms the song into more of a loft interpretation that starts slowly like a poetry reading set to music and eventually builds to a satisfying, rocking climax …

1994, In Utero, Nirvana’s third full-length studio album, is certified double-platinum …

1997, A&M Records issues a press release stating that Soundgarden has chosen to “disband to pursue other interests” … the president of A&M, Al Cafaro, gives the band this send off: “Throughout the flash, hype and turmoil, as this scene conquered the musical world, Soundgarden handled themselves with intelligence, integrity and nobility. They were able to present their music and their world view with passion and honesty.” … ’nuff said

1999, Yoko Ono and Capitol Records sue Frederic Seaman, a former Lennon assistant, claiming that he stole personal and sentimental items of Lennon’s with plans to exploit them after the Beatle’s death … after a year in the grave, the body of Tammy Wynette is exhumed and autopsied as the result of $50 million wrongful death civil suit brought against the country singer’s doctor by her daughters … the medical examiner says she died of natural causes and the case is settled out of court …

2000, George Lucas’ Lucasfilm Ltd. sues Dr. Dre for a sound claiming the artist used its trademarked “THX Deep Note” sound on his Dr. Dre 2001 album without permission … Star magazine reports that Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ dying wish was that his 57 children, the result of many liaisons, meet one another…the bluesman had claimed before his death that at the height of his career he had engaged in sex on average 14 times a day …

2005, The musical Lennon, based on the Beatle’s life, debuts in San Francisco to mixed reviews and anaemic ticket sales …a planned run in Boston is cancelled so that the storyline can be revised … according to writer director Don Scardino, “I was a little surprised to learn that a lot of people are not familiar with John’s life story” … Mariah Carey stages a major comeback with the release of her new album The Emancipation of Mimi … it debuts at number one, goes six times platinum in less than a year, and becomes the most successful album of 2005 …

2006, former assistant to producer Phil Spector, Michelle Blaine, sues her former boss for $5 million contending that he badgered her to marry him so that she could not be forced to testify at his pending trial for the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson … Spector will win a judgement in 2007 against Blaine for embezzlement of $900,000 from his pension fund … The Rolling Stones play China for the first time performing for 8,000 ecstatic fans in Shanghai … with ticket prices topping out around $400, many attendees are foreign nationals—the tariff is too steep for most Chinese for whom that would represent several month’s income … conspicuously absent from the Stones’ set list are “Rough Justice,” “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” “Brown Sugar,” “Honky Tonk Woman,” and Beast of Burden”—all deemed too indecent for Chinese ears by government authorities … about those forbidden songs, Mick Jagger says, “I am pleased that the Ministry of Culture is protecting the morals of expatriate bankers and their girlfriends” …

2007, the Tennessee home of late country icon Johnny Cash burns down as renovations were under way for its new owner, Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees … Gibb had planned to preserve the house in honour of Cash’s memory …

2008, Bob Dylan is awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his “profound impact on popular music and American culture” … it took nearly a half century of recording and 33 album releases before Van Morrison can savour landing in the Billboard album top ten chart with his newest disc, Keep it Simple, a brew of blues, R&B, and Celtic soul … Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello hits the road with friends including Slash, Perry Farrell, and Maynard James Keenan of Tool on a seven-date Justice Tour raising money for local charities … commenting on the thrust of the shows, he says, “Politics are going to be discussed, but this is not a college lecture. They are freedom parties, where we’re not going to only fight the power but rock the f**k out” …

2009, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Phil Spector is convicted of second-degree murder in the 2003 shooting death of girlfriend Lana Clarkson … a mistrial was declared in Spector’s first trial in September 2007 … in closing arguments at the retrial, prosecutor Truc Do called Spector “a very dangerous man” who “has a history of playing Russian roulette with women—six women. Lana just happened to be the sixth” … Spector is sentenced 19 years to life … he is currently serving his sentence at the same California prison Charles Manson is being held …

…and that was the week that was.

Arrivals:

April 8: Carmen McRae (1922), Jimmy Witherspoon (1923), Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel (1929), Steve Howe (1947), Izzy Stradlin of Guns N’ Roses (1962), Julian Lennon (1963), Biz Markie born Marcel Hall (1964), Children of Bodom guitarist Alexi “Wildchild” Laiho (1979)

April 9: guitarist-songster Mance Lipscomb (1895), “Twist and Shout” songwriter Phil Medley (1916), Carl Perkins (1932), Rockin’ Sidney (1938), Grand Funk progenitor Terry Knight (1943), drummer Gene Parsons (1944), Chico Ryan of Sha-Na-Na (1948), producer Alex Sadkin (1949), Kevin Martin of Candlebox (1969)

April 10: novelty singer Sheb Wooley (1921), Nate Nelson of The Platters (1932), Glen Campbell (1936), Righteous Brother Bobby Hatfield (1940), Bunny “Wailer” Livingston of Bob Marley and the Wailers (1947), Ernest “Snuffy” Stewart, keyboardist with KC and The Sunshine Band (1950), Dave Peverett of Foghat (1950), funk guitarist Eddie Hazel (1950), Steve Gustafson of 10,000 Maniacs (1957), Brian Setzer (1959), Babyface (1959), Afrika Bambaataa (1960), R&B soul artist Kenny Lattimore (1970), Mike Mushok of Staind (1970), Mandy Moore (1984)

April 11: “Louie Louie” composer Richard Berry (1935), Mark Stein of Vanilla Fudge (1947), Chris Difford of Squeeze (1954), ska singer Neville Staples of The Specials (1956), Stuart Adamson of Big Country (1958), Douglas Hopkins of the Gin Blossoms (1961), Nigel Pulsford of Bush (1963), R&B singer Lisa Stansfield (1966), Dylan Keefe of Marcy Playground (1970), R&B singer-songwriter Joss Stone (1987)

April 12: slide guitarist Hound Dog Taylor (1915), singer, multi-instrumentalist, and orchestra leader Billy Vaughn (1919), Tiny Tim, born Herbert Khaury (1930), Herbie Hancock (1940), John Kay of Steppenwolf (1944), David Cassidy (1950), Alexander Briley of The Village People (1951), guitarist Pat Travers (1954), country singer Vince Gill (1957), Will Sergeant of Echo and the Bunnymen (1958), Art Alexakis of Everclear (1962), Amy Ray of Indigo Girls (1964), Marc Ford of The Black Crowes (1966), Nick Hexum of 311 (1970)

April 13: violinist Olga Rudge (1895), Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane (1944), Lowell George of Little Feat (1945), R&B artist Al Green (1946), Roy Loney of the Flamin’ Groovies (1946), Jim Pons of the Turtles and The Mothers of Invention (1946), R&B singer Peabo Bryson (1951), Max Weinberg of the E Street Band (1951), Jimmy Destri of Blondie (1954), Louis Johnson of The Brothers Johnson (1955), Wayne Lewis of Atlantic Starr (1957), Tony James of Generation X (1958), Hillel Slovak, The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ original guitarist (1962), Aaron Lewis of Staind (1972), Latin pop musician Lou Bega (1975)

April 14: Willie Harris, guitarist with The Clovers (1925), rockabilly Buddy Knox (1933), Loretta Lynn (1935), Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore (1944), Joey Pesce of ‘Til Tuesday (1962), UFO guitarist Vinnie Moore (1964), Carl Hunter of The Farm (1965)

Departures:

April 8: David “Pop” Winans, gospel music patriarch, father of BeBe and CeCe (2009), DJ and “Heartbreak Hotel” writer Mae Axton (1997), Laura Nyro (1997), drummer Billy Gayles (1993)

April 9: Randy Cain, founding member of The Delfonics (2009), cellist Tom Cora (1998), Buzzcocks and Joy Division producer Martin Hannett (1991), Dave Prater of Sam & Dave (1988), singer-songwriter Brook Benton (1988), folksinger Phil Ochs (1976)

April 10: rapper Proof (born Deshaun Holton) of D12 (2006), singer Little Eva, born Eva Narcissus Boyd of the mega hit “The Loco-motion” (2003), Leon Peels, lead singer of The Blue Jays (1999), black radio pioneer Eddie O’Jay (1998), “Philadelphia sound” songwriter Linda Creed (1986), Stu Sutcliffe, original bassist with The Beatles (1962), R&B performer-songwriter Chuck Willis (1958)

April 11: June Pointer of The Pointer Sisters (2006), steel guitarist Jerry Byrd (2005), guitarist-oudist Sandy Bull (2001), pop singer Lillian Briggs (1998), Samie “Sticks” Evans, session drummer with Ray Charles and James Brown (1994)

April 12: Texas R&B singer-guitarist Peppermint Harris (1999), country music artist Boxcar Willie a.k.a. Lecil Travis Martin (1999), Herbert Mills of the Mills Brothers (1989), singer-entertainer Josephine Baker (1975)

April 13: Chuck Berry pianist Johnnie Johnson (2005), writer-producer Ritchie Cordell (2004), Todd Storz, instigator of the Top 40 radio format (1964)

April 14: crooner and bandleader Don Ho (2007), actor and crooner Anthony Newley (1999), folk singer Burl Ives (1995), R&B singer Thurston Harris (1990), Pete Farndon of The Pretenders (1983)

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