Today in Music History – March 8

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Today in Music History – March 8

Posted on: March 8th, 2014 by tommyj

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The Canadian Press
Sat, 8 Mar 2014 01:15:00 CST

Today in Music History for March 8:

In 1942, "Transit Through Fire: An Odyssey of 1942," the first opera commissioned by the CBC, was broadcast on the network. The music was by Healey Willan, and was orchestrated by Lucio Agostini.

In 1945, Mickey Dolenz of the made-for-television group, "The Monkees," was born in Los Angeles. Following the success of "The Beatles" movie "A Hard Day’s Night," producers for Columbia Pictures TV wanted a comedy program based on a rock group. They auditioned 500 performers in the fall of 1965, and chose Mickey Dolenz, David Jones, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith. They became "The Monkees," and their TV show was at the top of the ratings almost from its beginning in September, 1966. Records by "The Monkees" soon began to move on to the charts, and they had such hits as "Last Train to Clarksville," "I’m a Believer" and "Pleasant Valley Sunday." In the beginning, none of "The Monkees" played the musical instruments on their recordings. They only sang, with backing provided by top studio musicians. Mickey Dolenz, the drummer of the group, had never even played the drums before joining the band. Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork were the accomplished musicians in the group, but by the time the band broke up in 1969, all four were able to perform capably on their instruments. In 1986, "The Monkees" — minus Mike Nesmith — held a reunion tour of the U.S. and Canada.

In 1946, Randy Meisner, bassist and vocalist with the "Eagles," was born in Scottsbluff, Neb. The four original "Eagles" — Meisner, Bernie Leadon, Glenn Frey and Don Henley — were brought together in 1971 to back up Linda Ronstadt on her album, "Silk Purse." Meisner had already played with "Poco" and Rick Nelson’s "Stone Canyon Band." The "Eagles" mixture of country and hard rock gave them several No. 1 albums and such top-selling singles as "Take It Easy," "Desperado" and "Hotel California," which went to No. 1 in 1977. That was the year that Randy Meisner left the group. He later released two solo albums and toured with a band called "The Silveradoes."

In 1954, the first copies of "Earth Angel" by "The Penguins" were pressed at a record manufacturing plant in New York. The record made No. 1 on the R&B chart and No. 8 on the pop chart, but a cover version by "The Crew-Cuts" was an even bigger pop hit.

In 1962, "The Beatles" made their TV debut on the BBC program "Teenager’s Turn." They performed a cover of Roy Orbison’s "Dream Baby."

In 1970, Diana Ross performed her first solo concert after leaving "The Supremes." It took place in Framingham, Mass.

In 1971, Radio Hanoi opened its first broadcast of American rock music with Jimi Hendrix’s version of "The Star-Spangled Banner." The program was heard by U.S. soldiers throughout Vietnam.

In 1973, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, keyboards and harmonica player with the "Grateful Dead," died of liver disease in San Francisco. McKernan, a heavy drinker, was only 28. His replacement was Keith Godchaux, who had played piano with Dave Mason. Although the "Dead" did not have a top-10 single until 1987’s "Touch of Grey," they have stayed together more than 20 years, making them the longest surviving psychedelic band.

In 1973, Paul McCartney was arrested for growing marijuana on his farm in Campbelltown, Scotland. He was fined 100 pounds.

In 1983, guitarist-vocalist Roger Hodgson announced he was leaving "Supertramp" for a solo career. Hodgson had shared the singing and songwriting duties with Rick Davies.

In 1987, Detroit rocker Bob Seger announced during a concert in his hometown that his current "Like a Rock" tour would be his last.

In 1989, country and gospel singer-songwriter Stuart Hamblen died in Santa Monica, Calif., of cancer. He was 80. Hamblen was best known for his spiritual tunes, including "It Is No Secret What God Can Do" and "This Ole House," — which Rosemary Clooney turned into a million-seller in the early 1950s.

In 1992, Red Callender, the jazz bassist who introduced the legendary Charles Mingus to the instrument, died in Saugus, Calif., at age 76.

In 1993, Billy Eckstine, one of the first black balladeers to cross over into the white market, died in Pittsburgh after suffering a stroke. He was 78.

In 1994, Britain’s attorney general ruled out a new inquest into the death of Jimi Hendrix. The legendary guitarist died in London on Sept. 18, 1970, at age 27. The original inquest recorded an open verdict, meaning there was insufficient evidence to determine the cause of death. A pathologist concluded that Hendrix choked to death after drinking wine and taking an overdose of barbituates. His former girlfriend, Kathy Etchingham, had been campaigning for a new inquest, claiming he died earlier than officially recorded.

In 1999, police were called to a Wal-Mart store in Hamilton to control thousands of swooning young girls trying to get autographs from "The Moffatts." The appearance of the four brothers from British Columbia had been expected to draw about 300 fans — 5,000 showed up. Hundreds had camped out all night. Some of the young fans collapsed into clothing displays during the band’s 45-minute show and subsequent autograph session. Wal-Mart officials reported an unspecified amount of damage to the store.

In 2009, country singer Hank Locklin died. He was 91. His smooth tenor voice on hits like "Send Me the Pillow You Dream On" and "Please Help Me I’m Falling" marked a career that spanned half a century. Locklin helped usher in "the Nashville Sound" that gave country music a more lush feel. He performed on the Grand Ole Opry for 47 years.

In 2010, Grammy Award-winning rapper Lil’ Wayne was sentenced to a year in jail and led away in handcuffs to start serving his term immediately after his sentencing. He pleaded guilty in October to attempted criminal possession of a weapon and admitted having a loaded gun on his tour bus in 2007.

In 2011, Mike Starr, original bassist for "Alice in Chains," was found dead in a home in Salt Lake City. He was 44. The iconic Seattle-based band made its mark on the grunge scene of the early 1990s. He left the group in 1993. He struggled with substance abuse and had appeared on "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew" in 2009.

In 2012, James T. "Jimmy" Ellis, the frontman for "The Trammps" who released "Disco Inferno," died in Rock Hill, S.C. He was 74.

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(The Canadian Press)

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