Today in Music History for March 20:
In 1937, Canadian country singer Tommy Hunter was born in London, Ont. Hunter joined CBC-TV’s "Country Hoedown" in 1956 as rhythm guitarist with "King Ganam’s Sons of the West." "The Tommy Hunter Show" succeeded "Country Hoedown" on the CBC network in 1965. It became one of the most popular TV variety programs in the country, and received international exposure via The Nashville Network pay TV channel in the U.S. When the CBC cancelled it in 1992, it was the longest-running music show on any North American network. Hunter is known as "Canada’s Country Gentleman," and has received several Juno Awards as Canada’s best male country singer.
In 1948, blues and gospel singer Marva Wright was born in New Orleans. She sang traditional jazz and gospel standards but was better known for sultry, sometimes bawdy blues songs. Among her best known songs were "Heartbreakin’ Woman" and "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean." On March 23, 2010, she died of complications from a stroke she suffered in 2009.
In 1951, rock drummer Carl Palmer, of "Emerson, Lake and Palmer," was born in Birmingham, England. Formerly with the band "Atomic Rooster," Palmer joined with Keith Emerson and Greg Lake to form the trio that made classically-flavoured progressive rock popular in the early 1970s. Their first album sold a million copies, as did 1972’s "Trilogy." "Emerson, Lake and Palmer" were known for their bombastic concert performances. Palmer often played his $25,000 worth of percussion instruments on an elevator which moved up and down during their appearances. "Emerson, Lake and Palmer" broke up in 1979, and Carl Palmer went on to help form the supergroup "Asia" in 1981. There was an "ELP" reunion later in the decade and again about 10 years later.
In 1957, Bobby Helms’ "Fraulein" began a year-long stay on the Billboard country chart.
In 1964, "Funny Girl," starring Barbra Streisand, opened on Broadway.
In 1969, John Lennon of "The Beatles" married Yoko Ono at a civil ceremony in Gibraltar. Lennon and Ono’s relationship caused much tension in the final days of "The Beatles" and is often cited as one reason the group broke up.
In 1970, the Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell single "The Onion Song" was released by Motown. Terrell, however, did not appear on the record because she was incapacitated by a brain tumour that killed her four days before the single’s release. The female vocal was actually by Valerie Simpson.
In 1970, English rock star David Bowie married American Angela Barnett in a civil ceremony in London. They later divorced acrimoniously.
In 1971, Janis Joplin reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Me and Bobby McGee," five months after her death in October, 1970.
In 1980, after 303 weeks on Billboard’s album chart, "Pink Floyd’s" "Dark Side of the Moon" became the longest-charting rock album of all time. It would stay on the chart until April, 1988, finally dropping off after 741 straight weeks. (It has since reappeared on the chart and as of March 2014, reached a total of 857 weeks.) It resurfaced when Billboard created the Top Pop Catalog Album chart in March, 1991 and has been a mainstay ever since at 1,100 weeks. Total worldwide sales of "Dark Side of the Moon" are more than 45 million.
In 1988, Toronto-born Gil Evans, a composer, pianist and big band leader, died in Mexico at the age of 75. Evans is best known for his innovative arrangements with jazz trumpeter Miles Davis.
In 1989, Archie Bleyer, the founder of Cadence Records, died in Sheboygan, Wisconsin at the age of 79. Cadence was the home in the 1950s of such stars as "The Everly Brothers," Andy Williams and "The Chordettes." Bleyer married a member of "The Chordettes," Janet Ertel. He was also music director for Arthur Godfrey’s TV show before starting his record label, and had a top-20 hit of his own in 1955 with a cover of "The Ames Brothers’" "The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane."
In 1990, singer Gloria Estefan suffered a broken vertebra when "The Miami Sound Machine’s" bus was rammed from behind by a truck on an interstate highway in Pennsylvania. She underwent surgery and took months to recover.
In 1990, seven people were slightly hurt when a "Depeche Mode" autograph session at a Los Angeles record store got out of hand.
In 1990, a jury said Tom Scholz, leader of the group "Boston," did not breach a contract with CBS Records when the group failed to deliver an album. The jury, ending a seven-year legal battle, also said CBS Records did not engage in a conspiracy against Scholz when it tried to stop other companies from signing him.
In 1991, Sony Corp. announced a long-term contract with Michael Jackson that the company said could be worth more than $1 billion in sales. Jackson also got his own record label, Nation, under the deal.
In 1991, a Los Angeles jury awarded Peggy Lee more than $3.8 million in videocassette profits for her singing and songwriting in Disney’s animated classic "Lady and the Tramp." A judge later reduced the award to $2.3 million. The singer had been paid only $3,500 for co-writing six songs and providing the voice for four characters in the 1955 film.
In 1991, the four-year-old son of rock guitarist Eric Clapton died after he fell out the window of a 53rd-floor apartment in New York. A housekeeper had left the window open.
In 1994, "The Rankin Family" from Cape Breton won all four categories in which they were nominated at the Juno Awards in Toronto. The five Rankins won Junos for Entertainer of the Year, best country group, group of the year and best single — for "Fare Thee Well Love."
In 1995, fans lined up outside record stores in "The Beatles’" hometown of Liverpool, England to buy the first new single released by the "Fab Four" in almost 20 years. "Baby It’s You" was taken from "The Beatles Live at the BBC" album.
In 1998, singer Tony Orlando was cleared by a jury in Springfield, Mo., of sexual harassment and discrimination charges levelled by two former backup singers.
In 2009, musician Mel Brown, regarded as one of the most talented bluesmen to come out of the Mississippi Delta, died at the age of 69 in his adopted hometown of Kitchener, Ont. Besides appearing on countless albums put out by other musicians, Brown released 13 of his own. In 2004, he was awarded the Toronto Blues Society Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 2009, "Smokey Robinson and The Miracles" received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In 2009, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin left "Smashing Pumpkins" to focus on making music with his own band, "The Jimmy Chamberlin Complex," as well as pursue other musical interests. That left Billy Corgan as the only original member.
In 2011, "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never" trumped Michael Jackson’s "This Is It" to become the most successful concert-themed movie in U.S. box office history, earning US$72.2 million. (It went on to earn just over $73 million.) "This Is it" still holds the worldwide record though, with US$261.2 million.
In 2012, "Canada’s Country Gentleman" Tommy Hunter ended his farewell tour before a hometown crowd in London, Ont., on his 75th birthday. He is best known for his country music variety series, "The Tommy Hunter Show," which ran for 27 years on CBC from 1965-92.
(The Canadian Press)