Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Anniversaries in Music

Did you know that a significant amount of events in music history have taken place in the month of August? For example, the debut album of Pink Floyd called “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” was released fifty years ago this month. Ultimate Classic Rock calls it “a psychedelic masterpiece”. It was the only LP made under the leadership of founding member Syd Barrett. The name of the album came from the title chapter of the children’s book “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame. Rolling Stone listed it as one of the “greatest albums of all time”. The record is available on Freegal twenty-four hours a day. Here are more August happenings in music history:

·      On August 2, 1962 Robert Allen Zimmerman emerged from a courthouse in Manhattan as Bob Dylan for the first time. In an interview with The New York Times, the artist was quoted as saying that his name change had nothing to do with Dylan Thomas the poet. Mr. Dylan reportedly said “I just chose the name and it stuck”.

·      Named as an “all-time summer anthem” by Yahoo Music and one of the “Greatest Songs of All Time” by Rolling Stone, ‘Hot Fun in the Summertime’ by Sly & The Family Stone was shared with the world in August of 1969. It was that year's seventh biggest hit per Billboard.

·      Thirty years ago this month, the soundtrack for the 1980’s blockbuster smash movie “Dirty Dancing” was released. Per Billboard, the album spent an astounding eighteen weeks in the number one spot and has sold over 32 million copies worldwide. From “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” by Jennifer Warnes & Bill Medley to “She’s Like The Wind” by Patrick Swayze himself, the entire soundtrack is on Freegal.

·      According to AllMusic.com, it’s quite rare for a musical act to celebrate it’s fiftieth anniversary. In August of 2007, The Osmonds did just that in Las Vegas. It was the first time that the full clan had performed together in 27 years. They performed hits they had as a group and also chart-toppers that Donny and Marie had as a duo. AllMusic writes “slice it any way you want, but the Osmonds' musical prowess has been practically unparalleled for half a century, never going out of style, never acting in bad taste, and always entertaining.” The recording of their 50th Anniversary celebration is on Freegal.

·      In 1958, the Billboard “Hot 100” chart was published for the first time. It tracks music sales of all songs across all genres. It is the same today. In August of  1958, the first ever #1 Billboard Hot 100 song was ‘Poor Little Fool’ by Ricky Nelson. According to Billboard, Mr. Nelson had 12 hits on the charts in 1958 and 1959. His music, including ‘Poor Little Fool’ is on Freegal.

·      On August 18th of 1977, the King of Rock and Roll,  Elvis Presley, passed away. He was only 42. Rolling Stone calls Mr. Presley “one of the most important cultural forces in history…decades after his death, his image and influence remain undiminished. “ Also according to Rolling Stone “Presley still appears to hold the largest number of gold, platinum, and multiplatinum certifications of any artist in history”. His estimated total album sales at this time is over one billion in total.

·      Celebrated classical composer Leonard Bernstein performed his last ever concert on August 19, 1990 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in Massachusetts. Mr. Bernstein has won nine Grammy Awards, two Tony Awards, a George Peabody Medal, and he is a Kennedy Center Honoree among other accomplishments. The New York Times also declared him to be “one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history”.

·      On August 20th of 1882, Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s ‘1812 Overture’ debuted in Moscow. The overture was written to celebrate “Russia’s defense of it’s motherland against Napoleon's invading army” according to ClassicFM. In 1891, Mr. Tchaikovsky conducted the piece himself at the dedication of Carnegie Hall. It is perhaps best known for it’s cannon fire and ringing chimes. The overture is now often played at July 4th concerts in the U.S.

·      “King of Pop” Michael Jackson was born on August 19, 1958. Mr. Jackson won hundreds of awards in his career including 13 Grammy Awards and 26 American Music Awards (more than any other artist). His trophy tally makes him the “most successful artist of all-time” per MTV.  He is also one of the best-selling musicians in history. Michael Jackson's album “Thriller” remains the top selling album of all-time per Rolling Stone.

*All of the music and artists referenced above are available on the Freegal Music site.