It happened this week

This is the week that was in matters musical…

1891, Tchaikovsky rocks New York City’s Music Hall … the Music Hall, later to be known as Carnegie Hall, throws its grand opening with a performance by Tchaikovsky just two days before the composer’s 51st birthday …

1937, blues legend John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson cuts his first tracks at the Aurora Studios in Aurora, Illinois, including “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” …

1958, the world’s first Grammy awards are handed out to Domenico Modugno for “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu,” popularly known as “Volare” (Record of the Year and Song of the Year), the Champs for “Tequila” (Best Rhythm & Blues Performance), and The Kingston Trio for “Tom Dooley” (Best Country & Western Performance) … The Coasters’ single “Yakety Yak,” featuring a disaffected, back-talkin’ teen is released … though six of the group’s novelty tunes will land in the Top Ten, this will be their only #1 hit …

1960, Jeannie Black charts with her single “He’ll Have to Stay” … it’s an answer song in the form of a retort to Jim Reeves’ hit “He’ll Have to Go” … either way, whether he stays or goes, he’s probably going to wind up paying alimony … Cathy Jean & the Roommates cut the single “Please Love Me Forever” that will rise to #12 on the pop chart … but the lead singer and her backup group never share a room, vocal booth, or even meet … the Roommates arrive to do their vocal backing track after Cathy’s left the studio … perhaps “Cathy and the Boarders” or “Cathy and the Unwanted Guests” might have been more appropriate names for the pop ensemble …

1961, Tony Orlando makes his TV debut on American Bandstand singing his hit “Halfway to Paradise” with his fly open …

1963, when producer Quincy Jones learns that Phil Spector is planning to cover Lesley Gore’s teen-angst single “It’s My Party” with a version by the Crystals, he rushes the Gore 45 to stores just two days after cutting the track …

1964, Keith Moon takes the bandstand for the first time with The Detours, who will later rename themselves The Who … 15 years later to the day, Kenney Jones takes over The Who’s drum throne after Keith had gone on to trash that big hotel room in the sky …

…The Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love” enjoys its fifth and final week at the top of the pop chart … Louis Armstrong’s “Hello Dolly” will knock it out of that spot a week later …

1968, proto-supergroup Buffalo Springfield, whose lineup includes Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Jim Messina, and Richie Furay, calls it quits … quickly rising from the ashes of The Springfield, Stills goes on to form supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash; Richie Furay becomes the voice of country rock band Poco along with guitarist Jim Messina, who will later join forces with Kenny Loggins; and Neil Young will keep on rockin’ in the free world long after the rest have fallen by the wayside …

1969, the savvy agent for Tommy James and the Shondells blows off a chance for the band to play Woodstock, dismissing it as “a stupid gig on a pig farm” …

1972, Warren Beatty brings together 30 artists, including Michelle Phillips, Mama Cass, Judy Collins, Goldie Hawn, and Jack Nicholson for a series of 12 benefits underwriting George McGovern’s bid for the presidency … despite their best efforts, the nation re-elects Nixon only to have him resign in shame while facing impeachment halfway through his term …

1976, Bruce Springsteen, after playing a gig in Memphis, goes to Graceland where he is arrested by guards when he tries to climb over the fence …

1988, Madonna begins her starring role on Broadway in Speed the Plow … though the title suggests a possible cry for help from the Material Girl in her post-Virgin days, the title actually refers to work; having to plough under and start over again …

1992, The American Nirvana is sued by a British Nirvana over the name, which they claim to have been using since 1968 … the suit is settled amicably for undisclosed terms in the British band’s favour and the British Nirvana even go on to record a cover of Kobain’s “Lithium” …

1996, Pamela Anderson Lee and Tommy Lee fail to stop Penthouse from publishing stills from a home-made porno flick featuring the famous couple … this despite their claim that the film was stolen from their house … that’s right, burglars looking for the big score, when tossing a rock star’s mansion for saleable memorabilia, take a cue from sportscasting: “Let’s head straight to the videotape” …

2000, Lars Ulrich of Metallica goes to Napster headquarters in San Mateo, California, and presents a list of 300,000 Napsters he claims are using the software to illegally share the group’s music … ironic, coming from the band that encouraged its fans to record its music for free in order to climb out of obscurity into the limelight …

2005, Cream comes together after 37 years to perform the first of four sold-out concerts … the two-hour set encompasses all of Cream’s biggest hits including “Sunshine of Your Love,” “Spoonful,” and “White Room” …

Bruce Springsteen’s new album Devils & Dust debuts at #1 on the Billboard Pop Chart … Audioslave plays a free outdoor concert in Cuba … they’re the first non-Cuban rock group to ever do so …

2006, Jersey Boys, a Broadway musical that’s based on vocal group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons is doing great business … however, other recent rock- and pop-based shows about John Lennon, The Beach Boys, and Elvis closed shop after short runs in the face of a lot of empty seats … breaking a Guinness world record, 1,572 guitarists gather in the town square of Wroclaw, Poland, to simultaneously play the Jimi Hendrix song, “Hey Joe” … if this doesn’t get Joe’s attention, nothing will …

2007, a New Jersey company claims Guns N’ Roses owes it $107,000 plus interest for handling gear and other services during the band’s 2006 tour … a lawsuit is filed against the band, three affiliated companies that handled tour arrangements, and members of the band including singer Axl Rose … rap star Busta Rhymes, or Trevor Smith as he is known to his parents, is arrested on suspicion of drunk driving in New York … police stopped Mr. Rhymes because his car windows are a little too tinted … apparently, so is Busta … officers smell alcohol on the rapper’s breath and take him into custody … keeping the rap/DUI connection alive, rapper Eve is charged with a drunk driving accident in Hollywood … the Grammy-winning artist, whose real name is Eve Jihan Jeffers, is arrested on the scene after she crashes her gold Maserati into a center divider … she is freed after posting $30,000 bail … which is probably what it’s going to cost her just to get the Maserati’s front end straightened out … getting Eve straightened out is another story … friends and relatives gather on what would have been James Brown’s 74th birthday to remember the soul singer and question the direction of the music industry … “How did we get from ‘Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud’ to where we are today?” asks his daughter Deanna Brown Thomas, referring to her father’s famous lyrics …

2009, Madison Square Garden hosts a 90th-birthday tribute to folk-singer Pete Seeger … an all-star roster turns out to help celebrate the event … guest artists include Dave Matthews, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Morello, John Mellencamp, Warren Haynes, Steve Earle, and Kris Kristofferson … also this week, Cat Stevens accuses Coldplay of plagiarism—again … multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett who split from Wilco in 2001 files a suit against Jeff Tweedy for $50,000 charging breach of contract … the case stems from Bennett’s appearance in the 2002 documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart … Bennet will die in his sleep less than a month later …

…and that was the week that was.

Arrivals:

April 29: Duke Ellington (1899), Carl Gardner of The Coasters (1928), Lonnie Donegan (1931), Chicago blues guitarist Otis Rush (1934), Klaus Voorman (1942), Duane Allen of the Oak Ridge Boys (1943), Tammi Terrell (1945), Soft Machine’s Hugh Hopper (1945), Tommy James (1947), John Cascella, keyboardist and accordion player with John Mellencamp (1947), Francis Rossi of Status Quo (1949), Mark Kendall of Great White (1958), Carnie Wilson of Wilson Phillips (1968), Master P (1970), Mike Hogan of The Cranberries (1973)

April 30: jazz bassist Percy Heath (1923), country icon Willie Nelson (1933), British solo act and songwriter Jerry Lordan of “Apache” fame (1934), pop singer Bobby Vee (1943), Chris “Choc” Dalyrimple of Soul For Real (1971), J.R. Richards of Dishwalla (1972), Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees (1973)

May 1: pioneering Delta blues singer Charley Patton (1891), big-voiced blues shouter Big Maybelle, born Mabel Louis Smith (1924), the “King of Calypso,” Harry Belafonte (1927), innovative blues harp player Little Walter, born Marion Walter Jacobs (1930), songwriter Titus Turner (1933), jazz vocalist and pianist Shirley Horn (1934), singer-songwriter Judy Collins (1939), singer Rita Coolidge (1944), singer-songwriter Mimi Fariña (1945), guitarist-songwriter-producer Ray Parker Jr. (1954), Johnny Colt of the Black Crowes (1966), country singer and actor Tim McGraw (1967), D’Arcy Wretsky-Brown of Smashing Pumpkins (1968), Nick Traina, member of punk bands Link 80 and Knowledge (1978)

May 2: Link Wray, born Frederick Lincoln Wray, Jr., progenitor of the power chord (1929), jazz-blues organist Richard “Groove” Holmes (1931), John Lee “Bunk” Gardner of The Mothers of Invention (1933), Mr. Romance, crooner Zingelbert Bembledack … Tringelbert Wangledack … Yingibert Dambleban … Klingybun Fistelvase … Steviebuns Bottrittrundle … Kringelbert Fishtybuns … Dindlebert Zindledack … Slut Bunwalla … Gerry Dorsey … Wingelbert Humptyback … Zengelbert Bingledack … Engelbert Humperdinck … Vingelbert Wingledanck … no, no, go back one, go back one … “Engelbert Humperdinck,” that’s it! (1936), Hilton Valentine of The Animals (1943), Goldy McJohn of Steppenwolf (1945), singer-songwriter Lesley Gore (1946), country singer Larry Gatlin (1948), Lou Gramm of Foreigner (1950), Bruce Hall of REO Speedwagon (1953), Prescott Niles of The Knack (1954), Joe Callis of Human League (1955)

May 3: singer and actor Bing Crosby (1903), folk singer Pete Seeger (1919), country singer and truck-drivin’ son-of-gun, Dave Dudley, born David Darwin Pedriska (1928), the godfather of soul and the hardest working man in show business, James Brown (1933), Dick Dale, king of the surf guitar (1937), jazz bassist Ron Carter (1937), lead singer of The Four Seasons, Frankie Valli, born Frank Castelluccio (1937), singer-songwriter Nick Ashford of Ashford and Simpson (1942), Welsh folk singer Mary Hopkin of “Those Were the Days” fame (1950), singer-songwriter Christopher Cross (1951)

May 4: drummer Ed “Cass” Cassidy of Spirit (1923), jazz trumpeter and bandleader Maynard Ferguson (1928), soul singer Tyrone Davis (1938), soul singer Johnnie Taylor (1938), Ronnie Bond, member of The Troggs (1942), Peggy Santiglia of The Angels (1944), guitarist George Wadenius of Blood Sweat & Tears (1945), Bill Ward of Black Sabbath (1948), Jackie Jackson of The Jackson Five (1951), country artist Randy Travis (1959), Mike Dirnt of Green Day (1972), Lance Bass of ‘N Sync (1979)

May 5: 12-string blues guitarist, Blind Willie McTell, composer of “Statesboro Blues” (1901), soul singer Johnnie Taylor (1937), country singer Tammy Wynette (1942), Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward (1948), Rex Goh, guitarist with Air Supply (1951), acoustic guitarist Martin Simpson (1953), Kevin Mooney of Adam and the Ants (1962), Kevin James LaBrie of Dream Theater (1963)

Departures:

April 29: country singer Vern Gosdin (2009), Albert Hofmann, the man who synthesized LSD (2008), Fabulous Thunderbirds bassist Keith Ferguson (1997), David Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson (1993), Floyd Butler, co-leader of the pop outfit Friends of Distinction (1990), blues great J.B. Lenoir (1967), blues pianist Leroy Carr (1935)

April 30: Zola Taylor, the only female member of The Platters (2007), “The Duchess,” Norma-Jean Richardson nee Wofford, touring guitarist with Bo Diddley (2005), Nazareth drummer Darrell Sweet (1999), Body Count drummer Beatmaster V born Victor Ray Wilson (1996), influential bluesman Muddy Waters, born McKinley Morganfield (1983), rock writer Lester Bangs (1982), singer-songwriter Richard Fariña (1966)

May 1: singer Jim Hager of Hager Twins (2008), sax player John Pocisk of Johnny and the Hurricanes (2006), Italian tenor Sergio Franchi (1990), musician-bandleader-satirical arranger Spike Jones (1965)

May 2: jazz drummer Billy Higgins (2001), funk brother and Motown drummer Benny Benjamin (1989)

May 3: Peter Falcaglia, member of Dion’s touring band (1995), Helmut Kollen, bassist and guitarist for Triumvirat (1977), Les Harvey, guitarist for rock group Stone The Crows (1972)

May 4: Dudu Zulu, born Dudu Mntowaziwayo Ndlovu, percussionist for Johnny Clegg & Savuka (1992), Chicago blues harp player Paul Butterfield (1984)

May 5: reggae producer and record label owner Clement “Coxsone” Dodd (2004), zydeco pioneer Boozoo Chavis (2001), Ralph Garnone, singer with The Bob Knight Four (1986), singer Clarence Quick of The Del-Vikings (1983), blues and gospel singer-guitarist Reverend Gary Davis (1972)

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