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Today in Music History - Sept. 29

The Canadian Press logoThe Canadian Press 2020-09-29

Today in Music History for Sept. 29:


In 1907, Gene Autry, the most famous singing cowboy of the movies, was born in Tioga, Texas. His career took off with his 1931 recording of "Silver Haired Daddy of Mine," which eventually sold five-million copies. Autry moved to Hollywood, where he made more than 100 B-movies, beginning with the serial "Phantom of the Empire." His 1949 recording of "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is estimated to have sold 30 million copies, second only to Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" among Christmas songs. Autry invested his money wisely, becoming a millionaire whose holdings included the California Angels baseball team. He died at his Los Angeles home on Oct. 2, 1998, at age 91.

In 1935, the original rock 'n' roll wild man, Jerry Lee Lewis, was born in Ferriday, La. His piano-slamming musical style first hit the charts in 1957 when "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On" sold six-million copies. The followup, "Great Balls of Fire," sold five-million. Both songs were No. 1 simultaneously on the pop, country and R&B charts. Lewis' career came to a crashing halt in 1958 after it was revealed he had married his 13-year-old cousin. He was forced to abandon a British tour, and many radio stations refused to play his records and his career languished for nearly a decade. But in 1968, Lewis began a comeback as a country performer, scoring such top-10 hits as "Another Time, Another Place," "What Made Milwaukee Famous (Made a Loser Out of Me)" and "Would You Take Another Chance On Me." Lewis has survived half a dozen marriages, a drinking problem and a perforated stomach ulcer. He continues to tour and record, mixing his wild rock 'n' roll with country ballads. In 1986, Lewis was part of the well-received "Class of '55" reunion album, with Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and a host of rock heavyweights. A Lewis film biography, "Great Balls of Fire," starring Dennis Quaid, was a major box office disappointment in 1989.

In 1948, Mark Farner, lead singer and guitarist for "Grand Funk Railroad," was born in Flint, Mich. "Grand Funk Railroad" was the most commercially-successful American heavy metal band from 1970-76, scoring No. 1 hits in 1973 with "We're An American Band" and the following year with a remake of Little Eva's "The Locomotion.'" "Grand Funk" broke up in 1976, reuniting briefly in 1981 for an album and an appearance on the soundtrack of the animated film "Heavy Metal."

In 1952, the "CBC Symphony Orchestra" made its broadcast debut. More than half of its 80 members were players from "The Toronto Symphony." The "CBC Orchestra" was disbanded in 1964.

In 1961, Bob Dylan played harmonica on an album by folksinger Carolyn Hester. The session was produced by John Hammond of Columbia Records, who signed Dylan after hearing him play. When Dylan's debut album sold only 5,000 copies in its first year of release, Dylan was referred to by other Columbia executives as "Hammond's Folly.'"

In 1963, "The Rolling Stones" began their first British tour as part of a package with "The Everly Brothers," Bo Diddley and Little Richard.

In 1975, singer Jackie Wilson suffered a heart attack while performing as part of the Dick Clark revue at the Latin Casino in Cherry Hill, N.J. He collapsed just as he sang the line "My heart is crying" from "Lonely Teardrops." He briefly emerged from a coma in 1976 but slipped back into unconsciousness until his death in 1984.

In 1976, Jerry Lee Lewis accidentally shot his bass player, Norman "Butch" Owens, twice in the chest with a .357 Magnum. Lewis claimed he was trying to hit a pop bottle. Owens recovered, and Lewis was charged with discharging a gun within the Memphis city limits.

In 1977, James Brown's band walked out on him in Hallendale, Fla., complaining that he underpaid them.

In 1983, "A Chorus Line" became, at the time, the longest-running show on Broadway with its 3,388th performance. The show had begun at the Shubert Theatre on July 25, 1975. It closed on April 28, 1990, after 6,137 performances seen by more than 6.5 million people. (The record is currently held by "The Phantom of the Opera.")

In 1989, Bruce Springsteen surprised patrons at a Prescott, Ariz., bar with an impromptu concert. "The Boss" jammed with the house band at Matt's Saloon on "Don't Be Cruel" and "Route 66" but declined to join them in a version of his song "Pink Cadillac." Springsteen said he couldn't remember the words.

In 1993, Vince Gill dominated the Country Music Association Awards in Nashville, picking up four trophies on his own and sharing one with George Jones. Gill won awards for Album, Song, Male Vocalist and Entertainer of the Year.

In 1994, officials in Memphis announced that a Tennessee state review of Elvis Presley's medical records found no evidence the coroner lied when he said Presley died of heart disease. The review did not indicate whether heart disease was the best diagnosis, just that there was no evidence the coroner lied about his findings. There has always been speculation that Presley's death in 1977 was caused -- or at least hastened -- by drug abuse.

In 1995, about 10,000 people attended a pro-sovereignty rock 'n' roll concert in Montreal. Among the performers were Genevieve Paris, Marie-Claire Seguin and Dan Bigras. Premier Jacques Parizeau and Bloc Quebecois Leader Lucien Bouchard were in the audience.

In 1996, John Lennon's son Julian revealed he was the mystery buyer of Paul McCartney's recording notes for "The Beatles" classic "Hey Jude." McCartney wrote the song for Julian, originally calling it "Hey Jules." Lennon paid about C$53,000 for the notes at a London auction earlier in the month.

In 1997, Bob Sheehan, bass player for the New Jersey-based "Blues Traveler" was arrested at Winnipeg International Airport after officials found a small amount of cocaine in his wallet. He pleaded guilty to possession, and the Crown did not proceed on the more serious charge of importing the drug. Sheehan was put on probation. "Blues Traveler" was in Winnipeg as the opening act for "The Rolling Stones."

In 2001, singer-actress Jennifer Lopez married choreographer Cris Judd in a private ceremony in Calabasas, Calif. They later divorced.

In 2006, a Rhode Island nightclub owner was sentenced to four years in prison and his brother to probation under a plea agreement, angering relatives of the 100 people who died in a 2003 fire at The Station.

In 2008, "Caribou" was the big winner of the Polaris Music Prize. They won $20,000 for having their CD "Andorra" chosen as the year's best Canadian CD.

In 2008, Janet Jackson had to cancel a concert in Montreal after she got suddenly ill during her sound check and had to be rushed to the hospital just before show time. She went on to cancel a string of concerts before finally revealing it was migraine-associated vertigo that stopped her from performing.

In 2009, "Alice in Chains" released "Black Gives Way To Blue," their first album since lead singer Layne Staley died of a drug overdose in 2002. William DuVall was the new lead singer.

In 2010, Santana's "Guitar Heaven: the Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time" debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 Album chart. He joined "The Rolling Stones" as the only acts with a top-10 in each decade since the 1960s.

In 2011, Sylvia Robinson, who had a hit as a singer-songwriter with the sexually charged "Pillow Talk" but was later known as one of hip-hop's early founders as the record label owner that put out "Rapper's Delight," rap's first mainstream success, died of congestive heart failure. She was 75.

In 2011, Grammy-winning rapper T.I., born Clifford Harris Jr., was released from an Atlanta halfway house after spending about 10 months in federal prison on a probation violation.

In 2011, "Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers" won the Entertainer of the Year trophy at International Bluegrass Music Association Awards while super group "The Boxcars" took home a leading four awards.


(The Canadian Press)

The Canadian Press

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