Today in Music History - Sept. 21

Today in Music History for Sept. 21:


In 1934, Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen was born in Montreal. Also renowned as a novelist and poet, Cohen's musical career began in 1966 when he sang two of his poems, "Suzanne" and "Stranger," during a reading in New York City. The readings soon became concerts, and other artists, such as Judy Collins, helped spread his fame by recording his songs. In 1984, he released "Various Positions" containing arguably his most iconic song, "Hallelujah." His music and reputation enjoyed a popular revival when Jennifer Warnes' tribute album of his songs, "Famous Blue Raincoat," was a surprise hit in 1986. In 1991, he was inducted into Canadian Music Hall of Fame, in 2006, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and in 2008, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2015, he won a Juno for Album of the Year for "Popular Problems" and released "You Want It Darker" less than a month before his death on Nov. 10, 2016.

In 1934, singer Tommy Common was born in Toronto. He was a regular performer on CBC-TV's "Country Hoedown" from 1956-65. Common starred on the "Diamond Lil" series for CTV in the 1971-72 season, and the next year succeeded Charlie Chamberlain on "Don Messer's Jubilee." Tommy Common committed suicide in 1985.

In 1947, Don Felder, guitarist and vocalist with the "Eagles," was born in Gainesville, Fla. He became the fifth member of the "Eagles" in 1974 after a playing as a session musician on the group's third album, "On the Border." The "Eagles" broke up in 1981 after nearly a decade as one of the world's most popular rock bands, but they later reunited. Felder's first solo work was a song he recorded for the soundtrack of the animated film "Heavy Metal."

In 1957, Scotty Moore and Bill Black, from Elvis Presley's backup band, quit over a salary dispute with Col. Tom Parker.

In 1963, Wilfrid Pelletier and Zubin Mehta conducted the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in the inaugural concert at the Place des Arts.

In 1974, guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter left "Steely Dan" to join the "Doobie Brothers."

In 1976, a girl lost an eye when she was hit by a beer bottle during the second night of a punk festival at the 100 Club in London. Police at first accused future "Sex Pistol" Sid Vicious, who was then the drummer for "Siouxsie and the Banshees." All punk music was banned from the club as a result of the melee.

In 1979, the "New York Post" announced that "The Beatles" would reunite for a benefit concert for the hundreds of thousands of boat people who fled southern Vietnam after the fall of Saigon in the summer of 1975. "The Beatles" did not reunite.

In 1980, Canadian arranger and composer Johnny Burt died in Toronto at age 66. He was music director of the Canadian Talent Library from 1962-72, choosing the artists and supervising their recordings. Burt himself made eight LPs of pop songs for the label, whose records were distributed mainly to radio stations.

In 1984, country singer Barbara Mandrell made her movie debut in the made-for-TV production "Burning Rage."

In 1986, the "National Enquirer" ran a photo of Michael Jackson lying in an oxygen chamber with the headline, "Michael Jackson's Bizarre Plan to Live to 150." Jackson later said he was simply lying in a chamber he had purchased for burn victims.

In 1987, jazz-rock bassist Jaco Pastorius died after being beaten outside a nightclub in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was 35. The club manager was charged with second-degree murder but later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter. Pastorius, famed for his work with "Weather Report," was once considered one of the finest bass guitarists in jazz. But his reputation became tarnished after frequent bouts with alcoholism.

In 1993, about 100,000 fans turned out for a Michael Jackson concert in Tel Aviv. The audience was among the largest ever for a concert in Israel.

In 1994, prosecutors in Los Angeles announced that Michael Jackson would not face sexual molestation charges, primarily because his accuser, a 14-year-old boy, wouldn't testify. The investigation began in August 1993 when the boy claimed Jackson had sex with him several times the previous year. The boy received a reported $15 million payment from Jackson to end a civil suit but the boy's lawyer said the payment had nothing to do with the teen's decision not to testify in any criminal case.

In 2001, "America: A Tribute to Heroes" was shown uninterrupted and commercial free on hundreds of television stations worldwide. The telethon-style benefit concert was organized by actor George Clooney in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon. It raised over $150 million in pledges for the families of the victims and the families of the New York City police officers and firefighters.

In 2004, an airplane carrying Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, was diverted to Bangor, Maine, as it travelled from London to Washington. Federal authorities said Islam's name had appeared on a terrorist watch list.

In 2009, Reverend John (Bootsie) Wilson, the last surviving member of "The Silhouettes," died at his home in Spartanburg, S.C., after batting cancer and a kidney ailment. He was 69. Wilson replaced Bill Horton as lead singer of the group in 1961, three years after their song "Get a Job" hit No. 1. The group disbanded in 1968. Wilson became an African Methodist Episcopal pastor and served for three decades at eight churches.

In 2010, "Rolling Stones" guitarist Ronnie Wood held his first art exhibition at a major American museum, the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio. The exhibition included 30 paintings, 22 pen-and-pencil drawings and seven mixed-media works.

In 2011, Grammy-winning alternative rock group "R.E.M." announced on its website that it "decided to call it a day as a band." The band shook up the music world with its experimental, edgy sound and then earned multiplatinum success and a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In 2011, Canadian bass Don Garrard died in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was 82. In 1953, he sang the title role in the CBC-TV production of "Don Giovanni," the first production of any complete opera on North American television. In 1961, he moved to England, becoming the principal bass of the Sadler's Wells company. Garrard also has performed often with the Canadian Opera Company.

In 2012, rockers "Kings of Leon" received two awards from the city of Nashville - a star on the Music City Walk of Fame and the second annual Music City Ambassador Award.

In 2013, music producer Bob Ezrin and late pianist Oscar Peterson were among a group given a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto's theatre district. Pop star Carly Rae Jepsen of Mission, B.C., received the Allan Slaight Award, which recognizes young and inspirational Canadians.

In 2013, guitarist Doug Grassel of The Ohio Express died of fibrosis of the lungs. He was 64. The band is probably best known for the song "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy," which hit No. 4 in 1968. They also had hits with "Chewy Chewy" and "Beg, Borrow and Steal." They formed as Sir Timothy and the Royals in 1965 and changed their name to The Ohio Express in 1967. They broke up in the early 1970s but a version of the band still tours.

In 2015, 74-year-old folk icon Buffy Sainte-Marie won the $50,000 Polaris Prize for her album "Power in the Blood," deemed the best full-length Canadian album of the past year based on artistic merit.

In 2015, trumpeter Ben Cauley, a member of the Stax Records group "The Bar-Kays" and the only survivor of the 1967 plane crash that killed most of his bandmates and Stax star Otis Redding, died in Memphis. He was 67.

In 2016, country music superstar Garth Brooks became the first artist to earn seven diamond status albums in the U.S. after the Recording Industry Association of America certified his 2007 album, The Ultimate Hits collection. (The others: No Fences, Garth Brooks, Double Live, Sevens, The Hits and Ropin’ the Wind.)


(The Canadian Press)

The Canadian Press

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