This Week in Musical History
This date in musical history
In 1987, Chicago bluesman Paul Butterfield, who brought the blues to a generation of rock fans in the 1960's, was found dead in his Los Angeles home. He was 44. An autopsy showed he died of an overdose of several drugs, including heroin.
Butterfield was one of the first young white musicians to venture into black clubs on Chicago's South Side. He learned his amplified harmonica style directly from such blues harp greats as Little Walter, Junior Wells and Big Walter Horton.
Butterfield's searing harmonica solos and soulful vocals, and the guitar work of Elvin Bishop and Mike Bloomfield, were the highlights of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, formed in 1963. After playing their own set at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, the band backed Bob Dylan in his first-ever performance with electric instruments. The concert outraged folk music purists.
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band was credited with paving the way for such high-energy British blues groups as Cream, which surfaced in the late 1960's. Butterfield began a somewhat sporadic solo career after the band broke up in 1972.
Other musical milestones on this date:
In 1957, Gene Vincent and his band, the Bluecaps, were flown from California to Nashville to record "Be-Bop-A-Lula" and "Woman Love." Capitol Records was so anxious to match RCA Victor's success with Elvis Presley that they had Vincent's record in the shops within two weeks. Although "Be-Bop-A-Lula" was a giant hit, Vincent's career was basically over by the following year. He died in 1971 following a seizure brought on by a bleeding ulcer.
Also on this date in 1957, "The Alan Freed Show" debuted on ABC-TV. The legendary disc jockey's rock 'n' roll variety show was cancelled some months later after black teenage singer Frankie Lymon was shown dancing with a white girl.
In 1959, the first Grammy Awards were presented by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Record of the year and song of the year was "Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu" - better known as "Volare" - by Domenico Modugno. Henry Mancini won the Album of the Year award for "The Music From Peter Gunn" and the Kingston Trio won the first country Grammy for "Tom Dooley."
In 1964, the Moody Blues were formed in Birmingham, England. The group was the brainchild of vocalist Denny Laine, who recuited Mike Pinder, Ray Thomas, Graham Edge and Clint Warwick. "Go Now" was a big hit on both sides of the Atlantic in 1965. The Moody Blues underwent a reorganization in 1967, emerging with a new lead vocalist, Justin Hayward, and a lush, orchestral sound. Their concept albums, such as "Days of Future Passed," "Seventh Sojourn" and "A Question of Balance," were very popular.
In 1977, Canadian singer and songwriter Jesse Winchester made his US debut at the Bottom Line nightclub in New York City. Winchester had come to Canada in 1967 to evade the US draft and became a Canadian citizen in 1973. He was not able to return to his native country until the amnesty for draft evaders was declared in 1977.
In 1986, the Toronto-based acapella group, the Nylons, performed on the "Tonight Show." Guest host Gerry Shandling said the group "left their instruments with their lost luggage."
Also on this date in 1986, Alannah Currie of the Thompson Twins suffered a miscarriage.
In 1997, Paul Vincent (vin-SEHN'), manager for Quebec pop star Roch Voisine, was found dead in his Montreal apartment. He was 46. No cause of death was released but police said there were no signs of foul play. Police seized cocaine, hashish and marijuana from a safe in Vincent's bedroom. He had pleaded guilty a month earlier to cocaine and hashish posession charges stemming from a police seizure at his home in 1996. Vincent left his entire fortune to Voisine. One report put it as high as $30-million but Voisine said it was nowhere near that amount.
Born on this date:
In 1905, honky tonk singer Al Dexter was born in Jacksonville, Texas. He perfected his style in the oil-boom dance halls of East Texas. And he recorded one of the first songs to have the word "honky tonk" in its title, "Honky Tonk Blues." Dexter, who died in 1984, is best known as the composer of the wartime hit, "Pistol Packin' Mama."
In 1928, Canadian jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson was born in Montreal. He went to the US at the age of 20, playing in the big bands of Boyd Raeburn, Jimmy Dorsey, Charlie Barnett and Stan Kenton. Ferguson won the Down Beat magazine reader's poll for trumpet in 1950, '51 and '52. He later formed his own big band, which in the 1970's turned in a jazz-rock direction. Ferguson's recording of "Gonna Fly Now," the theme from "Rocky," was a major hit single in 1977.
In 1930, opera singer Roberta Peters.
In 1931, Ed Cassidy, drummer with Spirit.
In 1937, Dick Dale, the "King of the Surf Guitar; and jazz bassist Ron Carter.
In 1938, soul singer Tyrone Davis.
In 1943, Nicholas Ashford of Ashford and Simpson.
In 1944, Peggy Santalia of the '60s pop group the Angels.
In 1949, country singer Stella Parton.
In 1951, Jackie Jackson of the Jackson Five.
In 1954, singer Marilyn Martin, who duetted with Phil Collins on "Separate Lives."
In 1955, Mark Herndon, drummer with Alabama.
In 1956, Arnold Lanni of Sheriff and Frozen Ghost.
In 1959, country singer Randy Travis, whose real name is Randy Bruce Traywick.
In 1972, Mike Dirnt, bassist with the punk revival band Green Day.
Elvis marries Priscilla. Thank you, thank you very much... uh huh.
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