Today in Music History for June 28:
In 1914, bluegrass musician and singer Lester Flatt was born in Overton County, Tenn. Flatt, his partner Earl Scruggs and their band, “The Foggy Mountain Boys,” did more than any other group to bring bluegrass music to the attention of the mass audience in the 1960s. Flatt and Scruggs’ “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” from “The Beverly Hillbillies” TV show was a hit in 1962. And their recording of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” which they had originally waxed in 1949, reached the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1968 after it was used in the film “Bonnie and Clyde.” When Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs’ musical partnership ended in 1969, they had been together for more than 20 years. Flatt died on May 11, 1979.
In 1943, drummer Bobby Harrison of the group “Procul Harum” was born in England. Dave Knights, the bass player with “Procul Harum,” was born on this date in 1945. “Procul Harum” had a worldwide smash in 1967 with “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” The organ line of the song was lifted from Bach’s “Suite Number Three in D Major.” “A Whiter Shade of Pale” sold six million copies, and has been recorded in dozens of rock, soul, jazz and country versions.
In 1969, “Crosby, Stills and Nash” released their first album.
In 1973, promoter Richard Nader’s “British Re-Invasion Show” played at a packed Madison Square Garden in New York. The package, featuring “Herman’s Hermits,” “Gerry and the Pacemakers” and Billy J. Kramer, later toured 18 U.S. cities.
In 1978, members of “Kansas” became the first rock band to be named Deputy Ambassadors of Goodwill by UNICEF at a ceremony at Madison Square Garden in New York.
In 1985, rock singer Phil Collins lost his voice during a concert in Detroit. He was forced to cancel for only the second time in 10 years.
In 1986, pop group “Wham!” drew a sellout crowd of 75,000 to their farewell concert at Wembley Stadium in London. Elton John duetted with “Wham!” member George Michael on “Candle in the Wind.” The duo, of Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, had sold more than 38 million records, and their foreign tours included a visit to China. Michael said he wanted to concentrate on songwriting and pursuing a solo career, while Ridgeley planned to be a professional race car driver.
In 1988, Motown Records, the most prominent black-owned independent record company, was sold to MCA Records and an investment firm for US$61 million. Included in the sale were the contracts of such stars as Stevie Wonder and Lionel Richie. The label had been established in the early 1960s by Berry Gordy, Jr. During its heyday from 1962-71, Motown had 30 No. 1 pop hits by such artists as “The Supremes,” “The Temptations,” Marvin Gaye and “The Four Tops.” But it later proved unable to develop acts which had mass appeal outside the black community.
In 1991, Paul McCartney made his debut as a classical composer when his “Liverpool Oratorio” was performed at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral. The former “Beatle’s” partly autobiographical, eight-movement ode to growing up in the northern British port was performed by hundreds of singers and musicians, including soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. The two-thousand people in attendance stood and applauded for 10 minutes.
In 1992, the first National Music Day was celebrated in England. The day was the brainchild of Mick Jagger, and included hundreds of events nationwide.
Video: Today in History for June 9th (The Canadian Press)
In 1993, Boris Christoff, one of opera’s great bass singers, died in Rome at age 79. He had suffered a crippling stroke six years earlier. Christoff was particularly renowned for his interpretation of Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov.”
In 1996, “KISS” opened their summer reunion tour before 38,000 fans at Tiger Stadium in Detroit. The entire show was devoted to songs from the original quartet’s pre-1978 glory days, including “Love Gun,” “Deuce” and “Strutter.”
In 1996, a week into their hugely-hyped reunion tour, the “Sex Pistols” stopped a show in Copenhagen after 15 minutes because fans wouldn’t stop throwing bottles at them. One fan said, “in the old days, they would have returned the bottles.”
In 1998, George Harrison told the London tabloid “News of the World” that he had been successfully treated for throat cancer. The former “Beatle” said he had noticed a lump on his neck while gardening at his home west of London the previous summer. He said the cancer was caused by smoking. Harrison died of cancer on Nov. 29, 2001.
In 2006, producers announced that the much hyped $28 million musical stage adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” would close after six months — on Sept. 3 in Toronto — because it couldn’t draw the crowds it needed to turn a profit.
In 2009, Terry Black, the Canadian singing sensation who burst onto the scene in the 1960s at the age of 15 with the hit single “Unless You Care,” died a year after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He was 62.
In 2009, “Aerosmith” singer Steven Tyler ripped a quadricep muscle in his leg while jumping around during their show in Uncasville, Conn. They were forced to postpone two weeks’ worth of concerts while he recovered.
In 2009, just days after Michael Jackson’s death, fans downloaded 2.3 million digital tracks for the week ending June 28, a record-breaking rise from the 37,300 the previous week. No single artist had sold more than a million digital tracks in a week since Nielsen SoundScan began counting in July, 2004. When adding in all “Jackson 5” songs as well as sales in Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, digital downloads for the week hit 3.3 million, up from 52,000 the previous week.
In 2009, Michael Jackson was honoured at the BET Awards, which had been completely revamped to recognize the legacy of “The King of Pop,” who died three days earlier at age 50.
In 2010, Burton Cummings, former singer of “The Guess Who,” returned to St. John’s High School in Winnipeg to accept his honorary high school diploma. It appeared his decision to drop out of school to become a musician was a good one – he was named to the Order of Canada on Dec. 30, 2009, won the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award in 2002 and inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005.
In 2010, Bill Aucoin, who discovered the rock group “KISS” and helped build them into a musical and merchandising juggernaut, died of surgical complications from prostate cancer. He was 66.
In 2011, former “Eurythmics” singer Annie Lennox received her Order of the British Empire award from Queen Elizabeth. She was honoured for her work fighting AIDS and poverty in Africa.
In 2016, Scotty Moore, the pioneering rock guitarist who played on “Hound Dog” and other early Elvis Presley hits, died at age 84. Moore’s slashing guitar style and Bill Black’s hard-slapping work on a standup bass gave Presley the foundation on which he developed his sound. Sun records producer Sam Phillips paired Presley with Moore and Black in 1954. They played on Presley’s first professional recording, “That’s All Right.”
(The Canadian Press)
The Canadian Press