It happened this week

This is the week that was in matters musical…

1941, jazz musician Sidney Bechet records two saxophone parts, clarinet, bass, piano, and drums on a recording of “The Sheik of Araby” … the multitrack performance is achieved in the days before audio tape … Bechet records his first instrument on a wax disc, then plays his second instrumental part while the first disc is replayed … both parts are recorded onto a second disc … each successive part required recording onto a new disc … the result is a master disc with the original instrumental track six generations down and barely audible …

1956, following Elvis’ show at the Memorial Coliseum in Corpus Christi, Texas, the venue’s manager vows that’ll be the last rock ‘n’ roll show to besmirch his stage … he is reacting to complaints from fans and parents who condemn the performance as “vulgar” … Buddy Holly’s first single, “Blue Days, Black Nights,” is released …

1959, the first Flying Vs are shipped to dealers from Gibson’s factory in Kalamazoo … initially, the radical design doesn’t fly with the guitar-buying public and retailers … however, proving Gibson is ahead of its time, the Flying V eventually becomes an icon of heavy metal …

1960, Elvis Presley boards a train this day from Memphis to Los Angeles to begin filming a movie … he is taking the train because he has developed a fear of flying … or because if it happens, he wants to be the first big star to die in a train wreck … of course that honour will be taken by Eddie Murphy in The Adventures of Pluto Nash … perhaps it’s no coincidence that Elvis is Murphy’s favourite singer …

1961, a raucous quartet of rockers makes its debut at Liverpool’s Cavern Club … it’ll be another three years before The Beatles become a household name … also on the bill are The Swinging Blue Jeans who will later score a hit with “Hippy Hippy Shake” …
1966, The Lovin’ Spoonful perform at the Marquee in London … John Lennon and George Harrison attend … while at the show George meets Eric Clapton for the second time and a lifelong friendship ensues …

1968, John Lennon and George Harrison, along with their wives, leave Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Indian ashram two weeks before their studies were due to be completed … Paul and Ringo had already split … word later leaks that the Fab Four had grown disenchanted with the spiritual advisor …

1969, Desmond Dekker & The Aces move into the #1 spot on the U.K. singles chart with “The Israelites” … it’s the first Jamaican act to enjoy that role …

1970, The New York Times reports that Catholic and Protestant youth groups have adopted The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine as a religious symbol …

1971, Carly Simon charts for the first time with “That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be” … it’s the first of 23 hits she will have …

1972, Electric Light Orchestra plays live for the first time at the Greyhound Club in Surrey, England …

1978, four days after collapsing at a friend’s house, British folk rock pioneer Sandy Denny dies at the Atkinson Morley Hospital in Wimbledon, London … her death is ruled to be the result of a traumatic mid-brain haemorrhage … Denny is considered a founder of the British folk rock movement and perhaps its most important female singer and personality … she is also noted for her duet with Robert Plant on Led Zeppelin’s fourth album in 1971, on the song “The Battle of Evermore” … she is the only guest vocalist ever to appear on a Led Zeppelin album …

1979, lighting director Billy Duffy is killed at a Kate Bush concert when he falls 20 feet through an open trap door onstage …

1980, Bob Marley and The Wailers play in Salisbury, Zimbabwe, for Independence Day festivities … the first five spots in the country chart are occupied by women for the first time ever: they are Crystal Gayle, Dottie West, Debbie Boone, Emmylou Harris, and Tammy Wynette …

1981, Gary U.S. Bonds releases “This Little Girl” … the song was written and co-produced by Bruce Springsteen who had long been a Bonds fan … it will reach number 11 and become Bonds’ first chart hit in 19 years …

… John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas receives a five-year sentence on drug charges … all but 30 days will be suspended and Phillips will embark on a lecture tour warning school kids about the dangers of drugs …

1982, in the latest in a series of wrecks, Billy Joel collides his motorcycle with a car … he is hospitalized and has surgery on a broken wrist … The Clash cancel a tour when guitarist Joe Strummer goes missing … he is eventually tracked down in Paris by a private detective, saying he “wanted a break” …

1989, Roy Orbison’s single “You Got It” enters the top ten on the pop charts … it’s his first such hit in 24 years … unfortunately he is unable to enjoy his revival having died four months earlier …

1993, Elton John’s single “A Simple Life” climbs to #30 on the pop chart … it will ultimately top out at #10 and give the British rocker the distinction of being the only artist to enjoy Top 40 hits for 24 years straight while surpassing Elvis’ 23 … police arrest David Lee Roth in New York City for buying a $10 bag of marijuana … Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann saves a young surfer from a California riptide …

1996, tickets go on sale for the KISS reunion tour … this marks the first time in 15 years that all four original members of the ’70s rock group join together in original costumes and face paint … half of Jerry Garcia’s ashes are scattered beneath San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge …

1998, Sir Paul loses Linda to cancer … a tornado roars through downtown Nashville, forcing a video shoot for country singer David Kersh to a halt as everyone runs for cover …

1999, Shania Twain is the first woman to be honoured as songwriter/artist of the year by the Nashville Songwriters Association International during the 32nd Annual Songwriter Achievement Awards in Nashville …

2001, Peter Buck runs amuck on a Seattle-to-London flight … after quaffing 14 glasses of wine, the R.E.M guitarist overturns a food cart, mistakes a stranger for his wife, smashes crockery, and tussles with crew members … in the ensuing British trial, Buck testifies that he has no memory of the events saying, “All I know is, I woke up and I am covered in cream.” …

2004, Michael Jackson is indicted by the grand jury of the county of Santa Barbara, CA, on charges of child molestation …

2005, rapper DMX, aka Earl Simmons, is arrested following an accident on a Bronx expressway that injured three people, including two police officers … giving new meaning to the words rap sheet, his non-musical activities include multiple arrests for drug possession, animal cruelty, unlicensed driving, reckless driving, and identity falsification, plus, he’s expanded his repertoire with criminal impersonation, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal mischief, menacing, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol while claiming to be a federal agent and attempting to carjack a vehicle, theft, aggravated assault, and violating parole … hip-hop star Jay-Z introduces a line of watches including a limited-edition model that will go for $70,000 a pop … the bling is the thing wherein Jay-Z will catch the wallet of the king … Reebok pulls a TV ad featuring 50 Cent after a mother, whose son was murdered, complains that the rapper’s music glamorizes gun crimes …

2006, jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk is awarded a posthumous Special Citation by The Pulitzer Prize Board for his contributions to American music … in the face of mounting financial problems, Michael Jackson agrees to sell his 50% share in the Sony/ATV publishing company that holds the rights to hundreds of Beatles songs, as well as material by Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, and others … the catalog is said to be worth $1 billion … just three months after remarrying his former wife Kim in January 2006, Eminem sues for divorce again … a 10-page notebook that 10-year-old John Lennon used to scribble poems, journal entries, and drawings is auctioned for $226,150 … among the art is an illustration of Lewis Carroll’s poem, “The Walrus and the Carpenter” that later served as inspiration for “I Am the Walrus” …

2007, singer Bryan Ferry apologizes for remarks he made in which he praised the Nazis’ iconography as “just amazing” and “really beautiful” … speaking to German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, he had described the infamous Nazi parades as “just amazing” and also revealed his studio is named “Fuhrerbunker,” after Adolf Hitler’s HQ … said the Roxy Music icon, “My dear gentlemen, the Nazis knew how to put themselves in the limelight and present themselves.”… “Leni Riefenstahl’s movies and Albert Speer’s buildings and the mass parades and the flags—just amazing. Really beautiful.” … the comments enrage Nick Viner, chief executive of London’s Jewish Community Centre, who says Ferry has left “a bad taste in the mouth.” … going on to say: “Riefenstahl was responsible for sending people to their deaths. There is a fine line between people going about their business and people colluding in truly terrible behaviour.” … free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman wins the Music Pulitzer for his Sound Grammar album, and John Coltrane is awarded a Pulitzer Special Citation “for his masterful improvisation, supreme musicianship, and iconic centrality to the history of jazz” … Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer announce that they are reforming their satiric heavy-metal act, the subject of the cult favourite mockumentary This is Spinal Tap … the band plays the Live Earth festival in London as a part of a worldwide effort to keep the global warming gravy train going full steam with captain Al Gore stuffing his pockets …

2008, after a 17-year hiatus, Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, and bassist Eric Avery, who in the past has declined to be involved in Jane’s Addiction reunions, treat fans to an intimate four-song set in Los Angeles … to help faltering indy record dealers, Metallica, Björk, Vampire Weekend, and many other acts perform and sign autographs at 700 participating stores across the U.S. … according to industry analysts at The Almighty Institute, 190 record stores have shut down in the U.S. during the past year, part of 1,500 closings since 2003 …

…and that was the week that was.

Arrivals:

April 15: blues singer Bessie Smith (1894), songwriter Eden Ahbez, who penned the Nat “King” Cole hit, “Nature Boy” (1908), biographer Albert Goldman, who slagged Elvis and Lennon (1927), country music artist Roy Clark (1932), Led Zeppelin manager and former wrestler, Peter Grant (1934), songwriter-music publisher David Mook (1936), ’50s rockabilly artist Bob Luman (1937), Clarence G. Satchell, horn player with The Ohio Players (1940), Allan Clarke of The Hollies (1942), singer-guitarist-producer Dave Edmunds (1944), Marc Conners, singer with The Nylons (1949), ’80s dance-pop singer Samantha Fox (1966), Ed O’Brien of Radiohead (1968)

April 16: Grammy-winning jazz and film composer, Henry Mancini (1924), sax player and bandleader of Bill Haley’s Comets, Rudy Pompilli (1924), pop singer Roy Hamilton (1929), jazz flutist Herbie Mann, born Herbert Jay Solomon (1930), Delta slide guitarist Johnny Littlejohn (1931), pop crooner Bobby Vinton (1935), singer Dusty Springfield, born Mary Elizabeth Catherine Bernadette O’Brien (1939), fingerstyle guitarist Stefan Grossman (1945), singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty (1947), singer Jimmy Osmond, the youngest of The Osmond Family (1963), Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum (1964), Tejano pop star Selena (1971)

April 17: British pop singer Billy Fury (1941), composer-keyboardist Jan Hammer (1948), Ron Asheton, guitarist for The Stooges (1948), guitarist-songwriter-producer Michael Sembello (1954), The Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley (1955), Stephen Singleton of ABC (1959), James Keenan of Tool (1964), singer-songwriter Liz Phair (1967), Opeth guitarist-vocalist Mikael Akerfeldt (1974)

April 18: conductor Leopold Stokowski (1882), opera singer Sylvia Fisher (1910), bluesman Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown (1924), Doors producer Paul Rothchild (1935), Mike Vickers of Manfred Mann (1941), Skip Spence of Jefferson Airplane, co-founder of Moby Grape (1946), Les Pattinson of Echo & The Bunnymen (1958), Jim Ellison, lead singer-guitarist with Material Issue (1964), Happy Mondays dancer and maracas player Bez, born Mark Berry (1964), Everclear’s Greg Eklund (1970), guitarist Mark Tremonti of Creed (1974)

April 19: Augustus Juilliard, founder of The Juilliard School (1836), Brit blues pioneer Alexis Korner of Blues Incorporated (1928), rock promoter Don Kirshner (1934), pop songwriter Bobby Russell (1940), Alan Price of the Animals (1942), funk keyboardist Bernie Worrell of Parliament and Funkadelic (1944), Mark “Flo” Volman of The Turtles and Frank Zappa’s Flo & Eddie (1947)

April 20: country/pop singer-songwriter Johnny Tillotson (1939), Craig Frost of Grand Funk Railroad (1948), R&B singer Luther Vandross (1951), Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater (1967), bassist Mikey Welsh of Weezer (1971)

April 21: Eric Maresca, writer of Dion’s hit “The Wanderer” (1939), punk rocker Iggy Pop, born James Jewel Osterburg (1947), guitarist Alan Warner of The Foundations (1947), guitarist John Weider of Family (1947), Robert Smith of The Cure (1959), Michael Timmins of Cowboy Junkies (1959), guitarist-songwriter Johnny McElhone of the band Texas (1963)

Departures:

April 15: Kelly Johnson, guitarist-vocalist for Girlschool (2007), singer John Fred Gourrier of “Judy in Disguise” fame (2005), Canadian rockabilly artist Ray Condo (2004), punk rock guitarist Joey Ramone (2001), country singer Rose Maddox (1998), Bobby Del Din, first tenor with The Earls (1992), music-industry mogul George Goldner (1970)

April 16: Alexander “Skip” Spence of Jefferson Airplane, co-founder of Moby Grape (1999), soul singer Brook Benton (1988), singer Eugene Church of The Clovers (1973)

April 17: James B. Davis, founder of The Dixie Hummingbirds (2007), New Orleans singer-guitarist-songwriter Earl King (2003), Linda McCartney (1998), lyricist Jack Yellen (1991), Mountain bassist Felix Pappalardi (1983), Vinnie Taylor of Sha Na Na (1974), rock-and-roll pioneer Eddie Cochran (1960)

April 18: Bernard Edwards, producer and founder of Chic (1996), songwriter-producer Mike Leander (1996), Milton Brown, leading figure in western swing (1936)

April 19: American Head Charge guitarist Bryan Ottoson (2005), jazz bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen (2005), Kansas City blues guitarist Larry Davis (1994), session sax player Steve Douglas (1993), 1950s R&B singer-pianist Willie Mabon (1985), big band singer Savannah Churchill (1974)

April 20: jazz pianist Andrew Hill (2007), pop singer Alan Dale (2002), conductor-composer Giuseppe Sinopoli (2001), producer Jose L. Rodriguez, who worked with Culture Club, Mary J. Blige, and Gloria Gaynor (1996), vocalist-guitarist Steve Marriott of Small Faces and Humble Pie (1991)

April 21: soul singer-songwriter Al Wilson (2008), singer-songwriter-pianist-arranger Nina Simone (2003), George Lanuis, lead singer of The Crescendos (1996), singer-songwriter Sandy Denny of Fairport Convention (1978), ska trombonist Don Drummond (1971), Chicago slide guitarist Earl Hooker (1970)

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