Wednesday, September 28, 2005

History Lesson: That Ain't Workin'

September 28, 1991: Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis dies at age 65. Unlike other players who emerged in the postwar bebop period, Davis strived to play fewer notes, not more. His work in the 50s is marked by some of the most gorgeous jazz ever recorded. In the 1960s, he became one of the first jazz players to incorporate electric instruments and rock rhythms into his music, and over the next 25 years, challenged the very definition of what jazz is.

September 28, 1977: Only a couple of weeks before his death, Bing Crosby tapes his final TV Christmas special. Musical guest: David Bowie, who duets with Crosby on "The Little Drummer Boy," thereby creating one of the oddest Christmas perennials in history.

September 28, 1976: Despite the fact that he's been ill for several weeks and unable to work, George Harrison gets sued by his record company for failing to deliver an album on time. Thirty-Three and a Third is released a couple of months later, and was worth the wait, containing Harrison's biggest hit singles in three years, "This Song" and "Crackerbox Palace."

Birthdays Today:

Ben E. King is 67. King is best known for the solo hits "Stand By Me" and "Spanish Harlem," but he also sang with the Drifters on "There Goes My Baby," "Save the Last Dance for Me," "This Magic Moment," and others.

Hilary Duff is 18. And already richer than any of us will ever be.

Number One Songs on This Date:
1985: "Money for Nothing"/Dire Straits.
Sting's "I want my MTV" wail was a gimmick, and there's no denying that this song's groundbreaking video helped push it to the top. But strip off the gimmickry and turn off the video, and you've got a great rock record left over.

1982: "Hard to Say I'm Sorry"/Chicago.
It was the ultimate case of "what have you done for me lately?" when Chicago got dropped by its record label in the early 80s after a couple of lean years following an unbroken decade of hits. This record, on their new label, launched them into a second career as power balladeers.

1973: "We're an American Band"/Grand Funk. The 45 was gold vinyl with a picture sleeve. I hope I still have it.

1968: "Hey Jude"/Beatles.
Their longest-running Number One single at nine weeks, and at better than seven minutes on your turntable.

1956: "Hound Dog"-"Don't Be Cruel"/Elvis Presley. I heard "Hound Dog" again the other day, and was shocked anew by D. J. Fontana's massive attack on his drum kit following the line, "You ain't never caught a rabbit and you ain't no friend of mine." No wonder adults lost their minds when their kids brought this stuff home.


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