Friday, December 03, 2004

Friday History Top Five Lesson-Type Thing

Today, we present the love child of History Lesson and Friday Top 5--a countdown of the Top 5 Historical Events That Took Place on December 3:

5. December 3, 1968: "Love Child" by the Supremes completes its first week at Number One. (Sorry--it was too good a coincidence to pass up.)

4. December 3, 1954: Steve Forbert is born. Forbert's first two albums, the folky Alive on Arrival and the slicker Jackrabbit Slim promised more than the rest of his career could deliver, although he's recorded steadily ever since. "Romeo's Tune," from Jackrabbit, may have been the first great single of the 1980s.

3. December 3, 1971: "Frank Zappa and the Mothers were at the best place around/But some stupid with a flare gun burned the place to the ground." The Montreaux Casino fire, immortalized by Deep Purple in "Smoke on the Water," takes place. (An old post of mine about the song is here.)

2. December 3, 1979: Eleven concertgoers are trampled in a pre-concert rush at Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati before a show by the Who. The event has a profound impact on concertgoers everywhere, first of all by putting a dagger into the practice of festival seating. The impact had legs. The next summer, a bunch of us were heading into Alpine Valley Music Theater near Milwaukee when a pre-concert crush got a bit intense. Somebody yelled, "Remember the Who," and the crush relaxed almost instantly.

1. December 3, 1968: Elvis Presley's famous "comeback" special is broadcast, known then as "Singer Presents Elvis." It starts with Presley in black leather looking straight into the camera and singing, "If you're lookin' for trouble/You've come to the right place," thus announcing instantly the brief Renaissance of Rockin' Elvis. The year 1969 would be his most successful on the charts since his 1962 heyday.

Other Number One Songs on This Date:
1978: "You Don't Bring Me Flowers"/Neil Diamond and Barbara Streisand.
The story goes that some DJ noticed that the solo recordings of this song by each artist were in the same key, so he edited them together, and then Streisand and Diamond decided to record the thing for real. I don't know if it's true or not.

1975: "Fly Robin Fly"/Silver Convention. Another of my guilty pleasures. There's something about that bass line and those strings. Sue me.

1969: "Come Together"-"Something"/The Beatles. The greatest two-sided hit of all time, and it did only a week at Number One.

1964: "Leader of the Pack"/Shangri-Las. Classic girl group death song, which would be dethroned at the top in a few days by Lorne Greene (the star of Bonanza) and his spoken-word western number called "Ringo." I am convinced people bought it because they thought it had something to do with the Beatles.

1945: "It's Been a Long, Long Time"/Harry James. World War II continued to permeate the culture in late '45 on a scale we can scarcely imagine, even though the war had been over for a few months. This classic song of reunion after a long separation will spend five weeks altogether at Number One--three by this James recording and two by the version that knocks James from the top, by Bing Crosby with Les Brown's orchestra.


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