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Today in Music: a look back at pop music

By United Press International

(March 25)

Today's birthdays include Johnny Burnette, who was born in 1934; country's Hoyt Axton in 1938; Anita Bryant in 1940 (age 63); Aretha Franklin in 1942 (age 61); Elton John in 1947 (age 56); Boney M singer Maisie Williams in 1951 (age 52); Steve "Spiny" Norman of Spandau Ballet in 1960 (age 43); and singer/songwriter Jeff Healy in 1966 (age 37).

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Today's musical milestones:

In 1939, Billboard unveiled a new category of recorded and sheet music sales chart -- known as "hillbilly" -- to keep track of country music.

In 1957 Ricky Nelson, the real-life son of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, who played himself on the hit radio and TV series The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, cut his first records, "A Teenager's Romance" and "I'm Walkin'."

In 1961, Elvis Presley made what would be his last concert appearance for eight years, at Pearl Harbor's Block Arena in Hawaii.

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In 1967, the Who -- famous in England but unknown in the United States -- made its American debut low on the bill of a Murray the K rock show.

Also in 1967, Cream -- then an unknown in the United States -- arrived in New York for the group's first U.S. tour.

And in 1967, the Turtles topped the Billboard Hot-100 singles chart with "Happy Together."

In 1976, Phyllis Major, the wife of Jackson Browne, committed suicide.

In 1978, 19 years after his death, Buddy Holly topped the British album chart for the first time with "20 Golden Greats."

In 1984, singer/songwriter Tom Jans died.

In 1985, Kenny Rogers performed for the first time since surgery months earlier to remove nodules from his vocal cords.

In 1988, Jerry Lee Lewis defended his cousin -- TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggart, accused of dallying with a prostitute -- by saying Swaggart "don't have to lie about nothing."

In 1991, Madonna's "Sooner or Later" -- from the film "Dick Tracy" -- won the best song Oscar.

Also in 1991, Marc Connors of the Canadian rock group The Nylons died of pneumonia. He was 43.

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And in 1991, to squelch rumors that he was gay, country singer Randy Travis revealed to the Washington Post that he'd been romantically involved with his manager, Lib Hatcher, for 12 years -- but had denied it because she was 12 years older than he was.

In 1992, the B-52s and actress Kim Basinger headlined a New York fundraiser for Democratic presidential hopeful Jerry Brown.

In 1993, pop star Michael Jackson and Michael Milken announced plans to launch a cable-TV education network.

In 1994, Ike Turner announced plans to remarry.

In 1996, "Colors Of The Wind" -- from the Disney animated film "Pocahontas" -- won an Oscar for the best original movie song. The tune was a number-one pop hit for Vanessa Williams.

Also in 1996, Sheryl Crow entertained U.S. peacekeeping troops in Bosnia. The USO variety show also included comedian Sinbad.

In 1998, Mary J. Blige kicked off a spring concert tour in Detroit in support of her "Share My World" album.

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In 2000, a Honolulu newspaper (the Star-Bulletin) reported that prosecutors in Hawaii were looking into possible drug charges against pop singer Whitney Houston, who allegedly had left a suitcase containing 15.2 grams of marijuana at a security checkpoint of the Kona Airport earlier in the year. Authorities later declined to press charges.


Today's musical quiz:

She's been dubbed the "Aretha Franklin of Generation X." How did Mary J. Blige come to sign a recording contract with Uptown Records? Answer: While at a suburban New York mall with her friends, Blige made a karaoke-style recording of an Anita Baker song. The tape found its way to the CEO of Uptown Records, who was impressed enough to sign her.

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