this day in music history

On August 8, 1969, The Beatles shot the cover for their last recorded album, Abbey Road. This album cover has become one of the most iconic of all time, coming in at #4 on this Rolling Stones reader-poll!  The record itself was definitely one of my favorites to pull out of my Dad’s collection when I was young.  Some of my most-played tracks:  ”Come Together”, “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”, “Octopus’s Garden”, “Here Comes the Sun”, and “Golden Slumbers”.   For the cover photo, the photographer, Iain Macmillan shot the band from a stepladder positioned in the middle of the road as a policeman stopped the traffic behind him. To read about the day and see the original sketch created by Paul McCartney visit The Beatles Bible, my go-to resource for all things Beatles!

Louis Armstrong was born on August 4, 1901 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He grew from singing in the streets with a boys quartet for money at age 11 to becoming one of Jazz music’s most influential, charismatic, and memorable musicians. I love watching old recordings of Armstrong performing- joy covers every bit of his face as he sings and scats and his musicality comes naturally and effortlessly as he plays his trumpet. Here are a few of my favorites:

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On July 25, 1975, A Chorus Line opened on Broadway at the Shubert Theater. During its run, it won 9 Tony awards and was nominated for 12!  A Chorus Line also won the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The above audio of “What I Did for Love” is by the 1975 original Broadway cast.

 

The Beatles can trace their roots to John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s first meeting on July 6, 1957 at a Quarrymen performance- 56 years ago today!   John was the lead singer of the band and while setting up to play at St Peter’s Church, one of his friends introduced him to Paul McCartney, who had just turned 15 years old.  The two hit it off right away and soon after, Paul joined the Quarrymen!  Read more on The Beatles Bible.

Cole Porter was an American composer and songwriter born on June 9, 1891 in Peru, Indiana.  By the age of ten, he was playing the violin and piano and had already written his first song!  In 1905, he headed to Worcester Academy in Massachusetts, bringing along an upright piano with him.   He once recounted a lesson learned while studying there that would guide his career as a composer: “Words and music must be so inseparably wedded to each other that they are like one.”  Despite being described as “precocious”, Porter became the valedictorian of his class and after graduating, went on to Yale.    At Yale, he left his mark as one of the original members and principal soloists of the famous a-cappella group, the Whiffenpoofs.  Porter wrote over 300 songs while at Yale including many songs that are still sung there today!  By his 30s, after his time spent throwing lavish parties in Paris, he became a widely-known successful Broadway composer.  Some of his best-known songs:  ”Anything Goes”, “Night and Day”, and “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love”.

I love this clip from “Midnight in Paris” when Owen Wilson’s character walks into a 1920s Paris party, having time-traveled from present day, stunned to find Cole Porter playing his 1928 hit “Let’s Do it, Let’s Fall in Love”!

 

Stevie Wonder was born on May 13, 1950 in Saginaw, Michigan.  Wonder, born Stevland Hardaway Judkins, was a child prodigy who excelled at a variety of instruments from an early age including piano, harmonica, drums, and bass.  He was discovered when Ronnie White (of The Miracles) was persuaded by his brother to visit a friend’s house to check out Stevie.  At only 11 years old, Berry Gordy signed him to Motown’s Tamla label!    His stage name:  ”Little Stevie Wonder”.  By age 13, he had his first major hit with “Fingertips”.
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On February 13, 1967, The Beatles released the double-A sided single “Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane”. We love both of these songs! Take a few minutes to enjoy them today.

 

On January 16, 1938, Benny Goodman became the first Jazz bandleader to play at Carnegie Hall. Goodman, widely known as “The King of Swing”, was an American Jazz and Swing musician, clarinetist, and bandleader. His publicist came up with the idea of performing Jazz at Carnegie in late 1937 and by January of 1938, they made the dream a reality. The concert sold out weeks in advance, with tickets going for a top price of $2.75! The concert has an important place in music history, as it solidified Jazz music’s place in mainstream culture.

Above, listen to one of our favorite Jazz pieces performed by Benny Goodman and his orchestra- “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Louis Prima.

Marian Anderson became the first African-American member of the Metropolitan Opera when she made her debut on January 7, 1955.  Above, is her beautiful version of “Ave Maria” by Schubert.

On October 18, 1964, The Beatles took a day off from their British tour to finish recording several songs.  I Feel Fine was one of them!


On August 28th, 1968, The Beatles began recording “Dear Prudence”, the second track from The Beatles (The White Album).  The song’s subject is Prudence Farrow, Mia Farrow’s sister, who accompanied The Beatles on their meditation retreat to India.  Prudence had become so immersed in her mediation that she refused to leave her cottage.  Lennon wrote the song as a plea for her to “come out and play”.  CLICK HERE to read more about the song on www.beatlesbible.com.

 

Happy Birthday, Edward Elgar! The English composer was born 155 years ago today.  One of his most notable pieces is his Cello Concerto in E Minor, Op. 85, a dark, contemplative, post-World War 1 composition.  One of the most famous recordings of this piece is by our favorite cellist, Jaqueline Du Pré.  Spend a few minutes today in Elgar’s honor watching Jaqueline play with the London Philharmonic in 1967!

Happy Birthday, Felix Mendelssohn!

Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy was born in Hamburg, Germany on February 3, 1809.  One of our favorite compositions by Mendelssohn is his Song Without Words, Op. 109 for cello and piano.  Watch this captivating performance of the piece by phenomenal cellist Jacqueline Du Pré, accompanied by her mother, Iris Du Pré.

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