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This Week in Musical History
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Tuesday, January 27

This date in musical history: January 27

 In 1756, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose works mark one of the great peaks in music history, was born in Salzburg, Austria. He was a child prodigy, whose father taught him to play the harpsichord, violin and organ. And Mozart is said to have begun composing before he was five years old. By the age of 13, he had written concertos, sonatas, symphonies and an operetta.
  In 1781, Mozart moved to Vienna where he met Franz-Joseph Haydn, and the two composers began a life-long friendship. Mozart became the court composer to the Austrian emperor in 1787, but the pay was poor and he struggled financially for the rest of his life. In 1791, he was commissioned by wealthy nobleman to compose a requiem mass. But Mozart was unable to complete the work before he died at the age of 35.
  Interest in the works of Mozart received a boost in 1984 with the release of the widely-acclaimed movie "Amadeus" and the chart topper "Rock me Amadeus" by Falco.
 PHOTO: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, or Wolfy to his friends, gets busted.

 Other musical milestones on this date:
  • In 1913, the Calgary Symphony Orchestra made its debut at the Sherman Grand Theatre before more than 700 people. It was the second of four orchestras to bear the name of the Calgary Symphony, and was disbanded at the outbreak of the First World War. The final version of the Calgary Symphony Orchestra was formed in 1949. It lasted until 1955, when it became part of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.
  • In 1972, Mahalia Jackson, the Queen of the Gospel Singers, died of heart failure at the age of 60. More than any other singer in history, she helped spread gospel music around the world. Jackson sang "We Shall Overcome" on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, just before Martin Luther King, Junior, delivered his famous "I Have a Dream Speech." She also sang at King's funeral.
  • In 1979, Rod Stewart's album "Blondes Have More Fun" became number one on the Billboard chart. Sales of the album were spurred by the single "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?," and the success represented a comeback for Stewart.
  • In 1989, Michael Jackson gave what was billed as his last concert performance in Los Angeles. The show marked the end of Jackson's "Bad" world tour, which had begun 16 months earlier in Japan. In the audience at the LA concert were such stars as Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Fonda, Phil Collins, Tiffany and members of Motley Crue. The "Bad" tour included 123 concerts in 15 countries, with a total attendance of 4.4-million and a box office gross of over 125-million dollars, both record figures. Jackson's "Bad" LP sold more than 20-million copies worldwide.
  • In 1991, Whitney Houston performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl game - sort of. What the crowd heard was a pre-recorded version while Houston and an orchestra performed on the field. A blend of Houston's live vocals and the pre-recorded version, released as a single, became a hit because of patriotism sparked by the Persian Gulf War.
  • In 1992, country singer Wynonna Judd made her debut as a solo artist on the American Music Awards show on ABC TV. The Judds, the award-winning duo of Wynonna and her mother Naomi, broke up in 1991 because of Naomi's ill health.
  • In 1993, some Alberta government backbenchers refused to approve a motion to have the provincial legislature congratulate k.d. lang for winning an American Music Award. The MLA's were upset with the Alberta native's "Meat Stinks" anti-beef commercial done three years earlier. Five days later, the House of Commons made up for the slight, honoring Lang for being named the best new adult contemporary artist.
  • Also on this date in 1993, Warner Brothers announced it was releasing Ice-T from his recording contract. The company cited "creative differences" for the decision, which followed the previous year's controversy over Ice-T's "Cop Killer." Police and others said the track advocated the killing of police. Several of Ice-T's concerts had to be cancelled when off-duty police refused to provide security for the shows.
  • Still on this date in 1993, fans at a Clovis, New Mexico club, expecting to see a group called Yukon Jack, got a shock when Garth Brooks and his band walked on stage. The surprise performance was arranged by Brooks's booking agent - a longtime friend of the club's owner.
  • In 1997, Ottawa native Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill" was named favorite album at the American Music Awards in Los Angeles. Presenter Paul Abdul accepted the award for Morissette, who was on vacation in India. Morissette was also picked as favorite female artist. Timmins, Ontario, native Shania Twain captured the trophy for best female country artist.
  • Also on this date in 1997, Gerald Marks, a Tin Pan Alley composer best known for the standard "All of Me," died in New York at age 96. Marks wrote "All of Me" with Seymour Simons in 1931, and the following year, Louis Armstrong and Paul Whiteman had number-one records with it. There have been hundreds of versions since. Marks also co-wrote "Is It True What They Say About Dixie?" for Al Jolson in 1936. But bandleader Jimmy Dorsey was the one who took the song to the top of the charts.

     Born on this date:
  • In 1930, singer Bobby (Blue) Bland was born in Rosemark, Tennessee. His grainy vocal style is a mixture of gospel and blues, and he had considerable influence on singers as diverse as Rod Stewart and Al Green. "Call on Me" and "That's the Way Love Is" was a double-sided million-seller for Bland in 1963. But white audiences didn't begin to buy his records until he recorded his "California Album" and "Dreamin' " in the early '70s. They proved to be the most popular LPs of his career.
  • In 1931, Rudy Maugeri, baritone singer and arranger for the Crew-Cuts, was born in Toronto. All four members of the group were students at St. Michael's Cathedral Choir School in Toronto. They were discovered in 1954 by Mercury Records while they were singing in Cleveland under the name of the Canadaires. They became the Crew-Cuts after the popular hair style of the time. One of the first white groups to record rock 'n' roll versions of black rhythm-and-blues hits, the Crew Cuts are best known for their 1954 million-seller "Sh-Boom."
  • In 1918, bandleader Skitch Henderson.
  • In 1927, jazz pianist Don Shirley.
  • In 1937, country steel guitarist Buddy Emmons.
  • In 1938, Canadian classical saxophonist Pierre Bourque, in Plessisville, Quebec.
  • In 1944, British rock songwriter and singer Kevin Coyne.
  • In 1945, drummer Nick Mason, a founding member of Pink Floyd.
  • In 1947, Nedra Talley of the '60s vocal group, the Ronettes.
  • In 1951, Seth Justman of the J. Geils Band; and Brian Downey of Thin Lizzy.
  • In 1955, Richard Young of the country band the Kentucky Headhunters.
  • In 1958, country singer Tracy Lawrence.
  • In 1959, Margo Timmins, lead singer of the Canadian band Cowboy Junkies, in Montreal.
  • In 1968, Mike Patton, vocalist with the San Francisco group Faith No More.