Today In Music: A look back at pop music

By PENNY NELSON BARTHOLOMEW, United Press International  |  Dec. 21, 2001 at 6:30 AM
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(Dec. 22)

Today's birthdays include the late country singer "Hawkshaw" Hawkins, who was born in 1921; Animals drummer Barry Jenkins in 1944 (age 57); Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen in 1946 (age 55); twins Robin and Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees in 1949 (age 52); and Deacon Blue singer Ricky Ross in 1957 (age 44).

Today's musical milestones:

In 1962, the Tornadoes' "Telstar" became the first song by a British group to top the U.S. singles charts.

In 1975, Ike and Tina Turner were robbed of a suitcase containing $86,000 in concert receipts.

In 1976, after years of languishing as a regional star, Bob Seger moved into the national spotlight as the "Live Bullet" album went "gold."

Also in 1976, singer/songwriter Isaac Hayes filed for bankruptcy.

In 1978, Kenny Jones joined The Who, replacing the late Keith Moon on drums.

In 1979, Paul McCartney, The Who, Elvis Costello, the Clash and Rockpile were among the artists taking part in a three-concert benefit series at London's Hammersmith Odeon for the People of Kampuchea.

In 1980, Stiff Records released an album titled "The Wit and Wisdom of Ronald Reagan." The record contained no sound whatsoever.

In 1992, rapper "Marky Mark" Wahlberg was charged in the August 1992 beating of a Dorchester, Mass., man.

In 1993, Michael Jackson broke his silence about the child molestation allegations facing him -- declaring he was innocent of the charges and guilty only of wanting to help kids.

Also in 1993, it was announced the son of one of the "Manson family" murder victims would get the royalties from a song Charles Manson wrote that appeared on a Guns N' Roses album.

And in 1993, Wilson Picket was sentenced to probation for driving drunk two years earlier across the lawn of his neighbor, Englewood, N.J., Mayor Donald Aronson.

In 1994, one day after Snoop Dogg was busted on pot charges in Lake Charles, La., five members of his entourage were arrested in fight at a riverboat casino hotel.

In 1995, Pollstar reported the Eagles was the biggest pop concert moneymaker of the year, earning $63.3 million. Boyz II Men came in second, followed by R.E.M. and the Grateful Dead.

In 1998, the "Godfather of Soul" James Brown held his annual toy give-away for poor kids at the Imperial Theatre in Atlanta.

Today's musical quiz:

"Saturday Night Fever," the soundtrack album for the movie by the same name, reportedly took the Bee Gees how long to record? Answer: Two weeks. The 1978 album is one of the biggest-selling soundtracks of all time.


(Dec. 23)

Today's birthdays include the late Little Esther Phillips, who was born in 1935; guitarist Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, and Chi-Lites lead singer Eugene Record, both in 1940 (age 61); the late Tim Hardin was born in 1941; Iron Butterfly drummer Ron Bushy in 1945 (age 56); guitarist Luther Grosvenor of Spooky Tooth in 1949 (age 52); Sha Na Na's Johnny Contardo in 1951 (age 50); Iron Maiden's Dave Murray in 1955 (age 46); and Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder in 1965 (age 36).

Today's musical milestones:

In 1961, the Beatles impressed a Decca Records talent scout during a show at the Cavern Club in Liverpool. The man arranged for the band to audition for the label Jan. 1, 1962, in London. However, Decca passed on signing the Beatles.

In 1964, Brian Wilson suffered a nervous breakdown during a flight from Los Angeles to Houston, where the Beach Boys was to launch a concert tour.

In 1966, The Who performed on the last broadcast of BBC-TV's pioneering rock show "Ready Steady Go!"

Also in 1966, Pink Floyd's first public performance was at the UFO Club in London.

In 1967, the Jimi Hendrix Experience's "Foxy Lady" was released.

In 1969, Elton John began collaborating with lyricist Bernie Taupin.

In 1970, John Lennon premiered his new song "Imagine" on national television.

In 1991, James Brown sued the makers of "The Commitments" for $3 million, saying the film used his likeness and music without his permission.

Also in 1991, Jon Bon Jovi played two benefit concerts in Red Bank, N.J., to raise money for charity.

In 1992, Lamont Dozier -- one-third of the 1960s songwriting team Holland-Dozier-Holland -- sued Berry Gordy Jr. He accused the Motown founder of illegally profiting from their songs.

In 1996, Hollywood, Fla., police filed DUI charges against Bobby Brown in connection with a one-car traffic accident on Aug. 17, 1996. Authorities said the singer was under the influence of alcohol, cocaine and marijuana at the time of the crash.

Also in 1996, Tony Bennett was released from a Washington, D.C., hospital following emergency hernia surgery.

In 1997, in a statement released by Mercury Records, the surviving members of INXS denied rumors that the band was looking for a new lead singer to replace Michael Hutchence, who'd committed suicide one month earlier (Nov. 22, 1997).

In 2000, legendary classical pianist Victor Borge, who mixed comedy with his musical skills, died in his sleep at his home in Greenwich, Conn. He was 91.

Today's musical quiz:

How did Elton John and Bernie Taupin meet? Answer: A record company executive introduced the two after both failed to find work through a want ad looking for songwriters.


(Dec. 24)

Today's birthdays include Motorhead's Lemmy, whose real name is Ian Fraser Kilmister, born in 1945 (age 56); Focus guitarist Jan Akkerman in 1946 (age 55); Ian Burden of Human League in 1957 (age 44); and pop singer Ricky Martin in 1971 (age 30).

Today's musical milestones:

In 1954, Johnny Ace shot himself while playing Russian Roulette backstage at the City Auditorium in Houston. He died the next day. Ace was 25.

In 1961, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by the Tokens became the first African song to reach No.1 on the U.S. pop charts.

In 1964, the Beatles' Christmas Show at the Hammersmith Odeon in London included the Yardbirds and Freddie and the Dreamers.

In 1966, "Pushing Too Hard" by the Seeds was released.

In 1972, Miami police cut the electrical power during the encore of a concert by Manfred Mann's Earth Band, sparking a two-hour riot.

In 1974, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell and Linda Ronstadt went Christmas caroling in Hollywood.

In 1977, the first of six consecutive No.1 singles on one label, RSO Records, began when the Bee Gees' "How Deep Is Your Love?" from the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack began its three-week run at the top of the charts.

In 1978, Bjorn Ulvaeus and his wife, Agnetha -- both members of ABBA -- separated after more than seven years of marriage.

In 1990, Janet Jackson became the first female artist to have seven singles from one album, "Rhythm Nation 1814," make it into the top 10.

In 1991, Pizza Hut announced it had signed Aretha Franklin to do TV commercials.

In 1996, the Los Angeles Times reported the late Tupac Shakur was millions of dollars in debt when he was killed in September 1996, despite being a popular rapper and selling $60 million worth of records. Sources were quoted saying the rapper's contract with Death Row Records had been arranged in such a way that he'd never have been able to pay off the debt.

In 1997, the road manager for pop singer Paula Cole was arrested in Boston on charges of being a fugitive from rape, assault and robbery charges in Kentucky. It turned out to be a case of mistaken identity and he was later released.

In 1998, the Recording Industry Association of America named Celine Dion the year's top-selling recording artist, due to the "Titanic" anthem "My Heart Will Go On." The song appeared both on her CD "Let's Talk About Love" and on the movie soundtrack album.

In 1999, Cher's "Believe" was the No.1 single of the year, according to Billboard. The top album was "Millennium" by the Backstreet Boys, who were also the No.1 pop artists of the year.

Today's musical quiz:

In 1972, this artist had a top-10 single with his cover of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." Who? Answer: Robert John.


(Dec. 25)

Today's birthdays include the late Cab Calloway, who was born in 1907; the late Chris Kenner was born in 1929; "Little Richard" Penniman, who uses Christmas Day as his birthdate, in 1932 (age 69); the late O'Kelly Isley of the Isley Brothers was born in 1937; guitarist Henry Vestine of Canned Heat and the Mothers of Invention in 1944 (age 57); bassist Noel Redding, who played with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, in 1945 (age 56); Jimmy Buffett in 1946 (age 55); country's Barbara Mandrell in 1948 (age 53); Robin Campbell of UB40, and Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics, both in 1954 (age 47); and Shane McGowan of The Pogues in 1957 (age 44).

Today's musical milestones:

In 1958, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Jackie Wilson, Frankie Avalon and the Everly Brothers opened a 10-day gig at Loew's State Theater in Manhattan. The show was promoted by Alan Freed.

In 1959, an 18-year-old Richard Starkey -- the future Ringo Starr -- received his first drum kit for Christmas.

In 1960, Mary Wells made her first chart appearance with "Bye Bye Baby."

In 1967, Paul McCartney announced his engagement to actress Jane Asher, the sister of singer Peter Asher. The marriage never took place.

In 1969, Robbie Bachman, 16, was given his first drum kit as a Christmas present. Three years later, he became the drummer in older brother Randy's group, Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

In 1978, Public Image Limited -- the group formed by Sex Pistol John Lydon, a.k.a. Johnny Rotten -- performed its first public concert, at London's Rainbow Theater.

In 1990, James Brown entertained the troops at Fort Jackson, S.C. It was the "Godfather of Soul's" first concert since going to prison two years earlier for leading police on a high-speed chase across two states.

Also in 1990, it was announced that the year's New Kids On The Block concert tour was the second-highest grossing road trip in music history and the year's highest.

In 1998, the Backstreet Boys, Lauryn Hill and Shania Twain were named to Entertainment Weekly's list of the year's top entertainers.

Also in 1998, the Beatles' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was returned to the legendary walk following an absence of almost five years.

In 2000, rapper Eminem, 'N Sync, Destiny's Child and country diva Faith Hill made Entertainment Weekly's list of the top-12 entertainers of the year.

Today's musical quiz:

Where did the members of UB40 come up with their group's name? Answer: UB40 is the title of a British unemployment form.


(Dec. 26)

Today's birthdays include the late Steve Allen in 1921; Abdul Fakir of The Four Tops, who was born in 1935 (age 66); and famed producer Phil Spector in 1940 (age 61).

Today's musical milestones:

In 1955, "See You Later, Alligator" by Bill Haley and the Comets was released.

In 1963, after rejecting all previous Beatles singles offered, Capitol Records released "I Want To Hold Your Hand," backed with "I Saw Her Standing There."

In 1964, the Kinks' "All Day and All Of The Night" was released.

In 1967, the Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour" appeared on BBC-TV to near-unanimous critical yawns. It was the Beatles' first flop.

In 1971, the first duet by George Jones and Tammy Wynette made its chart debut.

In 1988, a drunken Shane McGowan -- lead singer and main songwriter with the Irish rock band The Pogues -- was arrested after kicking the glass out of a London shop window. He was fined $400.

In 1989, U.S. troops were ordered to pay loud rock music outside the Vatican Embassy in Panama City, where Gen. Manuel Noriega had sought asylum. American forces had invaded Panama to capture Noriega.

In 1996, trade magazine Pollstar reported the KISS reunion tour was the top-grossing concert event of 1996.

Also in 1996, the Recording Industry Association of America reported that Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill" was the top-selling album of 1996.

In 1997, the New York Post reported the Rolling Stones was the top concert draw of 1997, grossing more than $89 million. U2 came in second with more than $79 million.

In 1999, singer/songwriter Curtis Mayfield died, nine years after being left paralyzed when a piece of lighting equipment fell on him during a concert. He was 57.

Today's musical quiz:

Has Phil Spector ever been a member of any singing groups? Answer: Yes. Besides acting as producer, Spector was also a part of The Teddy Bears when they had a No.1 single, "To Know Him Is To Love Him," in 1958.


(Dec. 27)

Today's birthdays include Gerry and the Pacemakers keyboardist Leslie Maguire and former Moody Blues keyboardist Mike Pinder, both of whom were born in 1941 (age 60); bassist Peter Quaife of the Kinks in 1943 (age 58); Mick Jones, guitarist with Spooky Tooth and Foreigner, in 1944 (age 57); KISS drummer Peter Criss in 1947 (age 54); Steppenwolf's Larry Byrom in 1948 (age 53); and guitarist David Knopfler, co-founder of Dire Straits, in 1952 (age 49).

Today's musical milestones:

In 1960, the Beatles played a "welcome home" show in Liverpool, England, following the group's first extended trip to Hamburg, West Germany.

In 1963, the Animals made the group's radio debut on the BBC's "Saturday Club."

In 1968, the MC5 debuted at the Filmore East in New York.

In 1969, the Rolling Stones album "Let It Bleed" entered the U.S. charts.

In 1975, the Four Seasons' "December 1963 (Oh What A Night)" was released.

In 1976, Queen's "A Day At The Races" album was released.

Also in 1976, bluesman Freddie King died at age 42. He was a substantial influence on a generation of British blues guitarists, in particular, Eric Clapton.

In 1981, composer Hoagy Carmichael died at age 82. Among other tunes, he wrote "Stardust" and "Lazy River."

In 1983, Van Halen's "1984" album was released.

Also in 1983, Walter Scott -- vocalist with the 1960s group Bob Kuban and the In-Men -- disappeared. His body was found three years later and his ex-wife and her husband were eventually convicted of his murder.

In 1985, Jerry Lee Lewis, 50, filed for divorce from his sixth wife, 23-year-old Kerrie. The couple later reconciled.

In 1992, Harry Connick Jr. was arrested when he was caught at New York's JFK Airport trying to carrying an unloaded pistol aboard a flight to New Orleans.

In 1996, Alanis Morissette was No.3 and Oasis No.5 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the top entertainers of 1996.

Also in 1996, Neil Diamond performed in Las Vegas for the first time in 20 years. His sold-out concert was held at the MGM Grand Garden.

In 1999, rapper/record mogul Sean "Puffy" Combs and his girlfriend, singer/actress Jennifer Lopez, were arrested in New York City after fleeing the scene of a nightclub shooting in which three people were wounded. While charges against Lopez were later dropped, Combs was charged with weapons possession and witness tampering.

Today's musical quiz:

This Moody Blues' song is often cited as one of the, if not the, most-requested tune at high school proms. What? Answer: 1972's "Nights In White Satin."


(Dec. 28)

Today's birthdays include the late Roebuck "Pops" Staples, patriarch of the Staple Singers, who was born in 1915; Johnny Otis in 1924 (age 77); Charles Neville of the Neville Brothers in 1938 (age 63); Edgar Winter in 1946 (age 55); Eastbeats bassist Dick Diamond in 1947 (age 54); and Alex Chilton of the Box Tops in 1950 (age 51).

Today's musical milestones:

In 1957, Danny and the Juniors' "At the Hop" topped the charts.

In 1968, the three-day Miami Pop Festival -- the first big East Coast rock festival -- opened in Miami. On the bill: Procol Harum, 3 Dog Night, Chuck Berry, the McCoys, Fleetwood Mac, Pacific Gas and Electric, Steppenwolf, Marvin Gaye, the Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, Iron Butterfly and the Turtles.

Also in 1968, the Beatles' "white album" topped the charts.

In 1971, The Who's Keith Moon emceed a Sha Na Na show at New York's Carnegie Hall.

In 1975, Ted Nugent was threatened while performing in Spokane, Wash., by a man in the audience who pointed a .44-magnum at the rocker. Police overpowered the gunman.

In 1983, Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson drowned while diving at Marina Del Rey, Calif. He was 39. An autopsy later found he'd been drinking.

Also in 1983, the "Making Michael Jackson's 'Thriller'" video was certified gold AND platinum. It was the first music video to reach either sales plateau.

And in 1983, Tracy Ullman married Allan McKeown.

In 1990, only 10 months after being sent to an Ohio prison for shooting a man in a tavern, country singer Johnny Paycheck asked Gov. Richard Celeste to pardon him. Less than a month later, the governor did.

In 1992, Paul Simon's wife, New Bohemian Edie Brickell, gave birth to their first child, a boy they named Adrian Edward Simon.

Also in 1992, Kenny Rogers and former Kentucky Gov. John Brown -- co-owners of the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based restaurant chain Roasters Limited -- were hit with a $10 million trademark infringement lawsuit by Cluckers Wood Roasted Chicken.

In 1993, Tammy Wynette was hospitalized in Nashville with what doctors described as a "sudden major infection."

Also in 1993, Billy Ray Cyrus married his longtime companion, Leticia Finley, in Nashville.

In 1994, Pollstar reported the Rolling Stones was the top moneymaker for the year, as the concert industry raked in a record $1.4 billion dollars in ticket sales.

Also in 1994, a man convicted of stalking Madonna was sentenced to six months in jail.

Today's musical quiz:

Edgar Winter and his brother, Jonathan, have what genetic anomaly? Answer: They're albinos, meaning they lack pigmentation in their skin and hair. Both Winter brothers are very, very fair-skinned and have whitish hair.

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