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Today in Music History - Dec. 4

The Canadian Press logoThe Canadian Press 2021-12-04

Today in Music History for Dec. 4:


In 1927, Duke Ellington’s band began a four-year engagement at the famous Cotton Club in New York. Among the Ellington classics to emerge from this period were "Creole Love Call" and "Black and Tan Fantasy."

In 1944, Dennis Wilson, drummer and vocalist with "The Beach Boys," was born in Hawthorne, Calif. In 1961, Dennis, his brothers Brian and Carl, along with Mike Love and Al Jardine, formed the group that was to become "The Beach Boys." It was Dennis Wilson’s addiction to surfing that led to the group's distinctive style. On Dec. 28, 1983, Dennis Wilson drowned while swimming off Los Angeles.

In 1944, country crooner Eddy Arnold made his first recordings in Nashville, shortly after signing with RCA Victor. It was one of the earliest recording sessions in Nashville, later to become known as Music City.

In 1944, Canadian folksinger and songwriter Anna McGarrigle was born in St-Sauveur-de-Monts, Que.

In 1952, Rabon Delmore, of the country duo "The Delmore Brothers," died of lung cancer in Athens, Ala. He was 42.

In 1956, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis made a series of impromptu recordings at the Sun Record studios in Memphis. They were released 25 years later under the title "The Million Dollar Quartet." On the same day, Perkins recorded his hit "Matchbox," featuring Lewis on piano.

In 1965, "The Rolling Stones" guitarist Keith Richards was knocked unconscious when his guitar touched an ungrounded microphone during a show in Sacramento, Calif. He recovered and finished the show.

In 1975, Bob Dylan’s "Rolling Thunder Review" played Montreal.

In 1976, Benjamin Britten, one of the leading composers of the 20th century, died at his English farmhouse. He was 63.

In 1976, former "Deep Purple" guitarist Tommy Bolin died of an overdose of heroin and cocaine at a hotel in Miami. He was 25.

In 1980, the three surviving members of "Led Zeppelin" announced the breakup of the group following the September death of drummer John Bonham, who had choked to death in his sleep following a drinking binge at the home of "Zeppelin" guitarist Jimmy Page.

In 1987, rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen pleaded no contest in Los Angeles to drunken driving. He was fined $664 and ordered to contribute $3,500 to a scholarship in memory of a youth killed on his way home from a "Van Halen" concert by a drunk driver.

In 1988, Lorin Maazel became the first person to conduct Beethoven’s nine symphonies in a single day. The five consecutive concerts over a 12-hour period at London’s Royal Festival Hall raised money for several charities. Maazel conducted for six hours and 40 minutes and took four breaks totalling five-and-a-quarter hours between concerts.

In 1989, the Supreme Court upheld an appeals court ruling that said Prince did not steal the song "U Got the Look" from his half-sister. Lorna Nelson claimed the lyrics were similar to ones she had written.

In 1990, Madonna appeared on ABC’s "Nightline" to defend her "Justify My Love" video, which was banned by MTV. She denied the video’s explicit content was meant to stir up controversy and get publicity.

Video: TODAY celebrates 100th birthdays (and a 101st): Nov. 19, 2021 (TODAY)


In 1991, "Van Halen" played a free concert in Dallas, keeping a promise made by lead singer Sammy Hagar in 1988 when he stopped a Dallas show to apologize for his weak voice, caused by a sinus infection and strep throat.

In 1991, after eight years, 10 million records and numerous Country Music Association and Grammy awards, "The Judds" performed their final concert in Murfreesboro, Tenn. The mother-daughter duo came to an end after mother Naomi announced her retirement because she was suffering from hepatitis. Daughter Wynona continued as a solo act. (Over the years, the duo occasionally reunited for special tours. The Judds: The Last Encore tour ended in October 2011).

In 1992, Diana Ross performed a rare club date at the Ritz in New York. Her performance was also shown live on pay-per-view TV, and was released on album and video as "Diana Ross Live, The Lady Sings...Jazz and Blues Stolen Moments."

In 1993, Frank Zappa, whose work combined rock, jazz and classical music, died of prostate cancer at his Los Angeles home. His death wasn’t announced until after he was buried in a private service the following day. He was 52.

In 1994, the Recording Industry Association of America announced that "Boston’s" 1976 self-titled debut album had become the second biggest-selling album of all-time in the U.S. The association said it had sold more than 15 million copies, surpassed only by Michael Jackson’s "Thriller." (Currently, the album sits just out of the top-10 list with 17 million albums sold.)

In 1997, the band "Dinosaur Jr." broke up. They have since reformed.

In 1998, about 3,000 "KISS" fans, many of them in costume, were at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton for the filming of the climactic concert scene in the "KISS"-inspired movie "Detroit Rock City."

In 2001, a survey of readers of the British music journal "Q Magazine" named British singer-songwriter P.J. Harvey the greatest female rock and pop artist of all time. Madonna placed second followed by Kate Bush, Tori Amos and Bjork.

In 2001, Gary MacLean of the Winnipeg-based musical comedy duo "MacLean and MacLean" died of throat cancer at age 57.

In 2002, Jean-Pierre Perreault, Montreal choreographer, dancer and designer, died at age 55.

In 2007, Pimp C, a rapper with the Texas hip-hop group "Underground Kingz," was found dead in a hotel room in Los Angeles. He was 33.

In 2008, a copyright infringement lawsuit was filed by renowned guitarist Joe Satriani against "Coldplay," claiming the band's smash hit "Viva La Vida" copied "substantial, original portions" of his 2004 song, "If I Could Fly."  The "Coldplay" hit won a Grammy, topped charts around the world and had been used in commercials to sell iPods. The two parties reached an out of court settlement in September 2009. No details of the agreement were released.

In 2008, pop singer Boy George was convicted of falsely imprisoning a male escort. A jury at a court in London returned the verdict against the singer, tried under his real name of George O'Dowd. He was later sentenced to 15 months in jail.

In 2009, a judge dismissed a misdemeanour domestic violence charge against gospel singer BeBe Winans after determining he had seen a counsellor as required by prosecutors. Winans had been accused of pushing his ex-wife to the ground during an argument about their children.

In 2010, Norweigan band "A-ha" played their final concert, at the Oslo Spektrum. They became an international sensation with their 1985 single and video for "Take on Me." (They reunited for one show on Aug. 21, 2011, performing at a national memorial service dedicated to the victims of the 2011 Norway attacks. In 2015, they reunited again for a new album and several tours.)

In 2011, singer Neil Diamond, Broadway singer Barbara Cook, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and saxophonist Sonny Rollins received Kennedy Center Honors for their contributions to American culture through the arts.

In 2011, Ottawa singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn was among the multiple winners at the Canadian Folk Music Awards in Toronto. The 66-year-old claimed Contemporary Album of the Year for his 30th record "Small Source of Comfort," while also claiming the trophy for Solo Artist of the Year.

In 2018, Spotify announced Canadian rapper Drake was the platform's most-streamed artist of the year globally, earning 8.2 billion streams in 2018. He also had the year's most-streamed album and song with "Scorpion" and "God's Plan." Drake was also Spotify's most-streamed artist of all-time. Apple also named Drake as Apple Music's most-streamed artist of the year in 2018.

In 2018, Canadian Yannick Nezet-Seguin brought the entire orchestra on stage for curtain calls following his first performance as just the third music director in the Metropolitan Opera's 135-year-history. The 43-year-old led the premiere of a new production of Verdi's "La Traviata" by Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer. Gold confetti was dropped over Nezet-Seguin during his curtain call.

In 2020, Quebec pianist and composer Andre Gagnon died at the age of 84. According to his record label, Gagnon died from Lewy body disease, a neurodegenerative disorder. His career spanned decades and embraced many styles, from baroque to classical to disco. He also won two Juno awards and a Felix from the Quebecois music industry, all in the instrumental category.


(The Canadian Press)

The Canadian Press

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