ON THIS DAY in 1886
iconic performer Al Jolson was born Asa Yoelson in St. Petersburg, Russia. “The World’s Greatest Entertainer” (a billing he gave himself), ushered in the era of sound movies with The Jazz Singer in 1927. He had his own high budget radio shows (Shell Chateau in the 30’s, Kraft Music Hall in the 40’s) and was a frequent guest on other radio variety shows. He died near the start of the TV era Oct 23, 1950 after a heart attack at age 64.
In 1903, Canadian radio pioneer Reginald Fessenden was granted a patent for the liquid barretter microphone.
In 1904, British singer/comic George Formby was born in Wigan Lancashire. Between 1934 & 1945 he was the top draw in British cinema, and with his banjolele made a slew of recordings, many of which were heard regularly on the British Music Hall shows that were so popular in early Vancouver radio. He died March 6 1961 after a heart attack at age 56.
In 1911, actor Ben Alexander was born Nicholas Benton Alexander in Goldfield Nevada. A child actor in the silent era, he moved into radio announcing, and was virtually retired when Jack Webb chose him to be his Dragnet partner, officer Frank Smith, first on radio & then TV. He later starred in a second police TV series, Felony Squad. He died July 5, 1969 at age 58.
In 1919, actor Jay Silverheels was born Harold J. Smith at the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford Ontario, the son of a Mohawk chief. Starting in films as a stuntman and ‘Indian’ bit part actor, he worked in a movie with Clayton Moore, which led to being offered the role of Moore’s faithful Indian sidekick, Tonto, in the TV series The Lone Ranger. 220 episodes later he was rich & successful. In his later years he founded the Indian Actors Workshop. He died after a stroke March 5, 1980 at age 60.
In 1920, singer Peggy Lee, whose real name is Norma Delores Egstrom, was born in Jamestown, North Dakota.
She was among the few singers who can handle any type of song — pop, ballad, country, rhythm-and-blues or jazz. Benny Goodman gave her her stage name when she performed with his band from 1941 to ’43. Lee went out on her own after marrying Goodman’s guitarist, Dave Barbour. Her hit records included “Manana (mahn-YAH’-nah),” ”Fever” — a cover of Little Willie John’s r-and-b song — and ”Is That All There Is?” Peggy Lee died of a heart attack January 21st, 2002. She was 81.
in 1923, American actor James Arness was born in Minneapolis. He will be forever remembered for his portrayal of an iconic frontier lawman, Marshall Matt Dillon in a CBS-TV series that ran for 20 years, Gunsmoke.
In Europe Arness reached cult status for his role as Zeb Macahan in another western series How the West Was Won. He died of natural causes June 3 2011 at age 88.
In 1932, the Conservative government of R. B. Bennett passed the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Act; to supervise all public and private broadcasting; and set up publicly-owned radio network broadcasting in English and French.
Also in 1932, Frank LoVecchio, later to become famous as singer Frankie Laine, and his partner Ruth Smith began their all-time marathon dance record in Atlantic City. For dancing for 3,501 hours on 145 consecutive days, the couple made a grand total of 500-dollars.
In 1933, Jimmie Rodgers, the “Father of Country Music,” died of tuberculosis in New York City at age 35, just two days after making his final recording.
He was so ill during his final recording sessions that he had to rest between takes on a cot. Jimmie Rodgers recorded his first million-seller “T for Texas,” also known as “Blue Yodel,” in 1927, becoming country music’s first superstar. He never appeared on any major radio show or played the Grand Ole Opry. But he, Hank Williams and songwriter-publisher Fred Rose were the first to be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961.
In 1940, CBS Radio first presented “Invitation to Learning”. The 30-minute Sunday morning program that featured a discussion of great books, with Lyman Bryson as host, continued for 15 years.
In 1942, Lionel Hampton (below) recorded his most memorable version of “Flying Home,” featuring a lengthy honking tenor sax solo by Illinois Jacquet. Some authorities consider it to be an early example of rock & roll.
In 1953, after hitchhiking to the first Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Show in Meridian, Mississippi, Elvis Presley entered an amateur contest singing “I’m Left, You’re Right”, “She’s Gone,” and “Baby Let’s Play House.” He came in second and won a guitar.
In 1954, Liberace presented a three-hour, one-man concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Look at the official attendance: 13,000 women and 3,000 men! The performance nearly broke the box office mark of 18,000 set by classical pianist Ignace Jan Paderewski.
In 1955, 20-year old Pat Boone was in Chicago to tape what would be his first #1 single “Ain’t That a Shame” for Dot Records.
In 1956, Carl Perkins finally appeared on NBC-TV’s “The Perry Como Show” singing his milion-selling Sun Records version of “Blue Suede Shoes.” This after recovering from injuries suffered in a serious car crash two months earlier as Perkins was driving to New York to appear on the Como show.
In 1959, Vancouver’s CKWX General Manager (1942-59) and CAB chairman Frank “Tiny” Elphicke died at age 58. Together with brother Cecil he co-founded CKPG Prince George, which signed on February 8, 1946.
Also in 1959, Chicago-based radio host Joe Kelly, who MC’d the WLS National Barn Dance & NBC’s Quiz Kids (1940-53), died at age 57.
Again in 1959, the No. 1 Billboard Pop Hit was “The Battle of New Orleans,” by Johnny Horton.
In 1961, Dave Garroway told the NBC-TV brass that he was ready to retire.
“I want to give up the Today Show,” he said, “to stop talking awhile and start looking, thinking and listening to people.” Garroway voiced his trademark, “Peace,” with palm facing the camera, for one last time, after 10 years of early morning informing and entertaining.
Also in 1961, one-hit wonder Joe Dowell was in Nashville recording his future million-seller “Wooden Heart.”
In 1962, Acker Bilk went to No.1 on the Billboard singles chart with ‘Stranger On The Shore.’
Also in 1962, the original version of “Twist and Shout,” by the Isley Brothers, was released. The song was revived two years later by the Beatles.
In 1963, at the 15th Emmy Awards, top honours went to The Dick Van Dyke Show, best actor E G Marshall (The Defenders) & best actress Shirley Booth (Hazel.)
Also in 1963, Elvis Presley was in Nashville to record his future UK #1 song (#3 in the US) “(You’re The) Devil In Disguise.”
In 1964, 17-year-old UK singer Marianne Faithful recorded the Mick Jagger/Keith Richards ballad ‘As Tears Go By’, which would serve to launch her career. She was accompanied on the session by future Led Zeppelin members Jimmy Page on guitar and John Paul Jones on bass.
In 1965, The Rolling Stones were guests on ABC-TV’s weekly music showcase “Shindig!” along with Sonny & Cher, Jackie De Shannon, and Jimmy Rodgers.
In 1966, The Beatles began work on ‘Yellow Submarine’ at the Abbey Road studios in London. Recovering from a case of food poisoning, producer George Martin missed the session.
Also in 1966, Elvis Presley was back in Nashville to record his next Top 20 single, “Love Letters.”
Still in 1966, Bob Dylan and the Hawks — later called the Band — ended a British tour with two shows at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The tour, marking Dylan’s transformation from folk singer to rock star, was generally not well received. But among those attending the final shows were the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Prince Charles.
In 1968, r & b singer William E. “Little Willie” John died while serving a sentence for manslaughter at Walla Walla prison in Washington State, at age 30. Cause of death was either a heart attack OR asphyxiation.
In 1969, John & Yoko Lennon resumed their “bed-in for peace” on the 19th floor of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal. The bed-in had begun in March at the Amsterdam Hilton in Holland. During the week in Montreal they wrote & recorded “Give Peace a Chance,” with background chants from drug guru Timothy Leary, Tommy Smothers and a group of Hare Krishnas.
Also in 1969, Dick Cavett began a prime time summer TV series three nights a week on ABC. The critics said, “It’s two nights and three quarters of one too much for Cavett.” Within two years, ABC decided that Cavett would be the star of its late night offering five nights a week against Johnny Carson. Guess which one kept his job?
In 1970, The Guess Who‘s American Woman/No Sugar Tonight was still the #1 Billboard hit after four weeks on the charts. The Winnipeg band featured lead singer Burton Cummings.
Also in 1970, the final episode of “I Dream of Jeannie” aired.
Still in 1970, The Beatles‘ “Let It Be” LP was certified to be a Gold Record, having sold more than half-a-million units.
In 1971, Don McLean was in New York to record his soon-to-be iconic signature song “American Pie.”
In 1973, the Beatles‘ album “The Beatles 1967-1970” went #1.
In 1974, a 14-year-old girl suffered a fatal heart attack during a London concert by David Cassidy. Four other fans were taken to hospital and 100 others required medical treatment. The deeply affected Cassidy began toning down his teen idol image soon thereafter, quit ”The Partridge Family” T-V series, and didn’t tour for the next ten years.
In 1975, Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water” was released.
In 1976, while on a flight from Los Angeles to London Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin got drunk and verbally harassed the other first-class passengers, who included actors Telly Savalas and Dudley Moore.
Also in 1977, Billy Powell of the O’Jays, one of the most popular black vocal groups of the ’70s, succumbed to cancer in Canton, Ohio, at age 35. The O’Jays’ biggest hit was “Love Train,” a number-one record in 1973.
In 1980, the No. 1 Billboard Pop Hit was “Funkytown,” by Lipps, Inc.
In 1982, Bobby Darin‘s son and mother were on hand as the late singer was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In 1984, former backing singer with Stevie Wonder, Deniece Williams started a 2 week run at No.1 on the Billboard singles chart with ‘Let’s Hear It For The Boy’, taken from the film ‘Footloose.’
In 1985, “Everything She Wants” by Wham! topped the charts and stayed there for 2 weeks.
In 1987, pianist-arranger-record producer Art Snider died in Toronto of cancer at age 60. From 1956 to ’61, Snider operated the Chateau record label, which released some of Gordon Lightfoot’s first recordings. He also briefly was Lightfoot’s manager.
In 1989, radio stations staged 30 seconds of silence at 7:42 AM (EST), to honor Radio.
In 1990, for the first time ever the Top five positions on the Billboard singles chart were held by female artists. Madonna was at No.1 with ‘Vogue’, Heart were at No.2, Sinead O’Connor No.3, Wilson Phillips at No.4 and Janet Jackson was at No.5.
In 1991, CNN business anchor Tom Cassidy lost his battle with AIDs at age 41.
Also in 1991, “I Don’t Wanna Cry” by Mariah Carey topped the charts and stayed there for 2 weeks.
Iin 1993, radio dramatist Carleton E. Morse, best known for creating “One Man’s Family” & “I Love A Mystery,” died at age 91.
In 1994, Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley secretly wed in the Dominican Republic. But the marriage unravelled within two years.
In 1995, the Rolling Stones surprised fans in Amsterdam by playing two shows in a small nightclub as a prelude to the European leg of their “Voodoo Lounge” tour. The club concerts were recorded for an album released later that year.
Also on this date in 1995, Flavor Flav of the rap group Public Enemy was sentenced to three months in jail for firing a gun at a neighbour in his New York apartment building. They had been arguing over the rapper’s girlfriend.
In 1996, a fire at the English home of Eric Clapton caused over one and a half million pounds worth of damage. Firemen arrived to find Clapton braving the blaze to save his collection of guitars.
In 1997, Bob Dylan was admitted to a Malibu Hospital (Calif.) with chest pains, causing all his summer tour to be cancelled.
In 1998, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy became the latest act to vouch for the power of Coke when its new jingle first aired. The neo-swing band, prominently featured in the hit film “Swingers,” recorded an original 60-second music spot, “It’s Always Coca-Cola Every Time (Always Big Bad Voodoo Daddy).”
In 1999, the longtime voice of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, ‘Cactus Jack’ Wells died following surgery at age 88.
Also in 1999, the British punk revivalist band Manic Street Preachers refused to play a concert to mark the opening of Wales’ parliament because Queen Elizabeth II was present. The Welsh group had vowed never to rock for the monarchy, considering it an outdated institution.
In 2000 at 3 pm, Victoria radio station CFEX FM 107.3 (EXTREME 107.3) signed on the air after being heard live on the internet since January and on FM cable in Victoria since May 1. Its format was modern rock/alternative. (It is now CHBE-FM, branded as Virgin Radio).
Also in 2000, former Motley Crue drummer and Methods Of Mayhem frontmanTommy Lee was sentenced to five days in jail for violating his parole by drinking. Lee, who logged four months of a six-month sentence behind bars in 1998 for kicking his wife, “Baywatch” actress (and Vancouver Island native) Pamela Anderson, also saw his probation extended until May 2003.
Still in 2000, singer Richard Carpenter of the Carpenters received an honorary degree from California State University at Long Beach.
In 2004, Fantasia Barrino was named winner of the third edition of Fox TV’s “American Idol,” beating out Diana DeGarmo.
In 2005, actor Eddie Albert, who starred in the TV series Green Acres, Petticoat Junction & Switch, died of pneumonia at the remarkable age of 99.
In 2008, composer Earle Hagen died at his California home at age 89. Hagen co-wrote the jazz classic Harlem Nocturne and composed the themes for popular TV shows such as The Andy Griffith Show (he also did the whistling!), I Spy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Make Room for Danny, The Mod Squad and others.
Also in 2008, Yale University awarded Paul McCartney an honorary Doctorate of Music. The band played “Hey Jude” as McCartney was handed his degree.
In 2009, a US judge ended a bitter two-year battle over the late soul singer James Brown‘s estate. Judge Jack Early ruled half of his assets will go to a charitable trust, a quarter to his wife and young son, and the rest to his six adult children.
Also in 2009, “Black Gives Way To Blue,” the Alice In Chains comeback album was certified gold with shipments exceeding 500,000 copies. The group’s fourth studio album was their first with vocalist/guitarist William DuVall, who replaced the late Layne Staley.
In 2010, Saskatchewan-born radio and TV host Art Linkletter (House Party, People Are Funny, Kids Say the Darndest Things) died at age 97.
Also in 2010, the ninth season of Fox-TV’s “American Idol” wrapped up with Lee DeWyze edging Crystal Bowersox for the title. This was the first season in which neither finalist achieved significant record sales.
In 2011, Alice Cooper cancelled his first concert in 30 years, after getting ill with food poisoning enroute to Chile. Alice was back on the Sangtiago stage the following evening.
In 2013, Paul McCartney paid his respects at Elvis Presley’s grave during the former Beatle’s first visit to Graceland. McCartney left a personalized guitar pick on the grave, ‘so Elvis can play in heaven.’
In 2014, character actress Anna Berger, who frequently played small matriarchal roles in films and on TV shows like The Sopranos, Everybody Loves Raymond, NYPD Blue and Ryan’s Hope, died at age 91.
In 2016, actress Angela Paton, best known for her role in the Bill Murray film ‘Groundhog Day,’ died after a recent heart attack at age 86. She had many many guest roles on TV, playing mostly older women, including a running part in the 1980’s CBS prime time soap ‘Falcon Crest.’
In 2017, Zbigniew Brezinski, the Polish-born diplomat who advised US Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter, and the father of MSNBC morning host Mika Brezinski, died at age 89.
Also in 2017, Disturbed’s cover of the Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘60’s hit “The Sound Of Silence” was officially certified double platinum (2 million units) by the Recording Industry Association of America.
In 2018, Black Veil Brides frontman Andy Biersack was robbed while he and his wife were sleeping at their California home. “The thief took years worth of BVB memorabilia including my STWOF (Set The World On Fire) stage outfits,” wrote Biersack in a Twitter post.
In 2019, former NFL All Star quarterback Bart Starr of Green Bay, a TV sensation as the winner of the first two Super Bowls, died after a 5-year old stroke at age 85.
Retired Toronto-born opera singer Teresa Stratas is 83.
Sportscaster Brent Musburger is 82.
Winnipeg-born drummer Garry Peterson of The Guess Who is 76.
Singer Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac) is 73.
Actor Philip Michael Thomas (Miami Vice) is 73.
Actress Pam Grier (The L-Word) is 72.
Country singer Hank Williams Jr. is 72.
Actress Barbara Stock (Port Charles, Spenser: For Hire, Dallas) is 65.
Actress Lisa Niemi (Super Force) is 65.
Actor Joe Penny (Riptide, Jake & the Fatman) is 65.
Actress Margaret Colin (Gossip Girl, Now & Again, Sibs) is 63.
Country keyboardist Dave Robbins of BlackHawk is 62.
Actor Doug Hutchison (Kidnapped, Lost, Party of Five) is 61.
Actress Genie Francis (General Hospital, Days of Our Lives) is 59.
Comedian/director Bobcat Goldthwait (Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Man Show) is 59.
Seattle-born actress Tamara Clatterback (My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss, The Young & the Restless, Days of Our Lives) is 58.
Actress Musetta Vander (Super Force) is 58.
Singer/songwriter Lenny Kravitz is 57.
Actress Helena Bonham Carter (The Crown, Burton and Taylor, Turks and Caicos) is 55.
Drummer Phillip Rhodes of The Gin Blossoms is 53.
Actor Joseph Fiennes (FlashForward) is 51.
Actress Rachael Blake (Cleverman) is 50.
Singer Joey Kibble of Take 6 is 50.
“South Park” co-creator Matt Stone is 50.
Actress Selena Leyva (Orange is the New Black, Law & Order) is 49.
Actor T.J. Ramini (Twisted, NCIS, 24) is 46.
Singer/actress Lauryn Hill (As The World Turns) is 46.
Actress Nicki Aycox (Dark Blue, Cold Case) is 46.
Actor Alexander Karim (Tyrant) is 45.
Actor Laurence Fox (Inspector Lewis) is 43.
Actor Benji Gregory (ALF) is 43.
Contemporary Christian musician Nathan Cochran of MercyMe is 43.
R&B singer/former rapper Jaheim is 43.
Bassist Nathan Cochran of MercyMe is 43.
Actress Elisabeth Harnois (CSI, All My Children) is 42.
Actor Hrach Titizian (Homeland, 24, The Beast) is 42.
Actress Nanrisa Lee (Bosch) is 41.
Reality TV personality Scott Disick (Keeping Up with the Kardashians) is 38.
Winnipeg-born actress/stunt performer Rochelle Okoye (Wayward Pines, Arrow, The Flash) is 36.
Actress Ashley Bell (United States of Tara) is 35.
Actress Brandi Cyrus (MTV Video Music Awards, Hannah Montana) is 34.
Twin models/actresses Carla and Melissa Howe (Playboy Morning Show) are 31.
Actress Julianna Rose Mauriello (LazyTown) is 30.
Actress Kerry Ingram (Game of Thrones, Free Rein) is 22.
New Westminster BC-born actress Megan Charpentier (The Christmas Clause, A Trace of Danger, Profile for Murder) is 20.
Chart Toppers – May 26
Dream – The Pied Pipers
Candy – Johnny Mercer & Jo Stafford
Sentimental Journey – The Les Brown Orchestra (vocal: Doris Day)
At Mail Call Today – Gene Autry
Wanted – Perry Como
Little Things Mean a Lot – Kitty Kallen
Man Upstairs – Kay Starr
I Really Don’t Want to Know – Eddy Arnold
If You Wanna Be Happy – Jimmy Soul
Surfin’ USA – The Beach Boys
Foolish Little Girl – The Shirelles
Lonesome 7-7203 – Hawkshaw Hawkins
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – Roberta Flack
Oh Girl – Chi-Lites
I’ll Take You There – The Staple Singers
Grandma Harp – Merle Haggard
Bette Davis Eyes – Kim Carnes
Being with You – Smokey Robinson
Stars on 45 medley – Stars on 45
Seven Year Ache – Rosanne Cash
Vogue – Madonna
All I Wanna Do is Make Love to You – Heart
Hold On – Wilson Phillips
Walkin’ Away – Clint Black
Livin’ La Vida Loca – Ricky Martin
That Don’t Impress Me Much – Shania Twain
Kiss Me – Sixpence None The Richer
Please Remember Me – Tim McGraw
Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis
Love in This Club – Usher featuring Young Jeezy
No Air – Jordin Sparks featuring Chris Brown
Just Got Started Lovin’ You – James Otto
Today in Broadcast History compiled by Ron Robinson