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This Week in Musical History
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Wednesday, February 18, 1999

This date in musical history: February 18

 In 1933, Yoko Ono, the widow of John Lennon, was born in Tokyo. A conceptual artist, she first met Lennon at one of her art exhibitions in New York. Lennon and Ono were married in March 1969 and for their honeymoon, they staged their first "Bed-In for Peace" in the presidential suite of the Ameterdam Hilton.
 Ono and Lennon released a series of albums with the Plastic Ono Band. One of them, "Live Peace 1969," was recorded at a Toronto rock festival. The couple separated for 18 months - from October 1973 to March 1975. By that time, they had virtually retired from music. Lennon and Ono made a comeback in 1980 with the "Double Fantasy" album, which went to number one and won a Grammy Award.
 On December 8th, 1980, Lennon was gunned down outside his apartment building by a 25-year-old Beatles fan, Mark David Chapman.
 Three months after Lennon's death, Yoko Ono released a tribute to her husband, "Season of Glass," which is the best known of her solo LPs.
 PHOTO: Yoko Ono.

 Other musical milestones on this date:
  • In 1882, violinist Alfred De Seve, a native of Montreal, appeared with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Mendelssohn's "Concerto in E Minor." His appearance was among the earliest by a Canadian soloist with a US orchestra.
  • In 1918, Herbert A. Fricker made his first appearance as conductor of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski. The two organizations formed a close association, performing together at concerts in both Canada and the US until 1925. Fricker conducted the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir until 1942, the year before his death.
  • In 1968, David Gilmour replaced Syd Barrett as lead guitarist in Pink Floyd. Barrett's departure was preceded by increasingly erratic behavior, said to have been caused by excessive use of LSD.
  • In 1973, the syndicated radio show "The King Biscuit Flower Hour" debuted with Blood, Sweat and Tears and a then-unknown Bruce Springsteen. The program, which is still on the air, would go on to feature live performances from some of the greatest names in rock, including the Rolling Stones, U2, Elton John and David Bowie.
  • In 1974, the theatrical rock group Kiss released their first LP. The band's heavy-metal thumping and garish costumes and makeup were scorned by the critics but lapped up by the public.
  • In 1981, Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac began a visit to Ghana during which he recorded a solo LP, "The Visitor," with African musicians.
  • In 1985, Chuck Berry played the Hard Rock Cafe in Los Angeles in a benefit for Ethiopian relief.
  • In 1986, Don Everly of the Everly Brothers was sued by his mother in an effort to have him sign over title to the house in Nashville where she had lived since 1958.
  • Also on this date in 1986, Broadway lyricist Alan Jay Lerner was sued by the US government for more than $1.4-million in back taxes and penalties.
  • Still on this date in 1986, folksinger Pete Seeger sang in East Germany for the first time in 19 years. Seeger's performance was part of East Germany's 16th annual Festival of Political Songs.
  • In 1987, composer Vangelis was cleared in a London court of plagiarising his Oscar-winning "Chariots of Fire" theme from a song written by another composer (Stavros Logarides) for a 1976 Greek television show. Vangelis said he wrote "Chariots of Fire" before he heard the other tune.
  • In 1988, Michael Jackson gave a free sneak preview of his national tour to 420 third-graders of a school in Pensacola, Florida. The kids were bused to the Pensacola Civic Centre where Jackson was rehearsing after they had sent the superstar a rap video in his honor.
  • In 1992, French culture minister Jack Lang called Lou Reed "a great poet of our anguish and perhaps our hopes" as he made him a knight of the French Order of Arts and Letters. The rock composer and singer declared he was "deeply touched and moved" by the honor.
  • In 1993, white rapper Marky Mark apologized for two incidents of racial violence during his teen years. He admitted harassing black school kids on a field trip in 1986 and assaulting two Vietnamese men over a case of beer two years later. Mark, whose full name is Mark Wahlberg, served 45 days of a 90-day jail sentence in the attack on the two Vietnamese in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
  • In 1995, record producer Denny Cordell, who produced the debut albums of the Moody Blues, the Move and Procul Harum in the 1960's, died in Dublin of cancer at age 51. The Procul Harum LP included "A Whiter Shade of Pale." Cordell also was the first to sign Joe Cocker and helped launch the careers of Tom Petty and J. J. Cale. After a decade out of the music business, Cordell returned in 1991 to join Island Records, where he signed the Cranberries and helped produce Melissa Etheridge's album "Yes I Am."
  • In 1997, a US Christian TV network cancelled Pat Boone's weekly gospel music show after he appeared in black leather and fake tattoos on the American Music Awards show. The Trinity Broadcasting Network said it received thousands of protest phone calls and letters from its "prayer partners," the network's euphemism for its financial contributors. Boone said his heavy-metal garb was "just a send-up." It was designed to promote his album "In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy," in which he performed easy listening versions of songs like Metallica's "Enter Sandman."

     Born on this date:
  • In 1782, Niccolo Paganini, the Italian violinist whose virtuosity became a legend, was born in Genoa. He extended the range of the violin by his use of harmonics, as well as perfecting the use of double and triple stops. Paganini's success in Milan carried his fame throughout Europe. He died in 1840 of cancer of the larynx.
  • In 1953, Robbie Bachman, drummer for Bachman-Turner Overdrive, was born in Winnipeg. The Canadian rock band, which also included Robbie's brothers Randy and Tim on guitars, was internationally popular in the 1970's with such hits as "Blue Collar," "Let It Ride," "Takin' Care of Business" and "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet," a 1974 million-seller. At its peak, BTO won many polls and honors in the US, as well as seven Juno Awards.
  • In 1914, country bandleader and songwriter Pee Wee King.
  • In 1929, Walt Grealis, founder of the Canadian music industry trade magazine, RPM.
  • In 1939, songwriter Bobby Hart.
  • In 1941, soul singer Irma Thomas.
  • In 1947, keyboardist and singer Dennis DeYoung, formerly of Styx.
  • In 1952, country singer Juice Newton.