Today in Music History - Jan. 24

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Today in Music History - Jan. 24

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Today in Music History for Jan. 24:

In 1941, singer-songwriter-actor Neil Diamond was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. He began in 1962 as a $50-a-week songwriter, and among the songs he churned out was "I'm a Believer," a hit for "The Monkees" in 1966, and later remade by Anne Murray. Diamond signed with Bang records in 1965, turning out a series of teen hits such as "Cherry Cherry" and "Kentucky Woman." At the end of the 1960s, successes such as "Sweet Caroline" and later "Song Sung Blue" established him as a major star.

In 1947, singer-songwriter Warren Zevon, who wrote and sang the rock hit "Werewolves of London," was born in Chicago. Zevon was among the wittiest and most original of a broad circle of performers to emerge from Los Angeles in the 1970s. Zevon had a reputation as one of rock music's most politically incorrect lyricists. He released his first album, "Wanted -- Dead or Alive," to little notice in 1969, but gained attention in the '70s by writing a string of popular songs for Linda Ronstadt, including "Poor, Poor Pitiful Me," "Carmelita" and "Hasten Down the Wind." His next two albums, 1976's "Warren Zevon" and 1978's "Excitable Boy," followed those songs with sardonic tales of prom-date rapists; headless, gun-toting soldiers of fortune; and vain werewolves who drank pina coladas at singles bars. He also composed the song "She Quit Me Man" for the movie "Midnight Cowboy.'" He died after a year-long battle with lung cancer on Sept. 7, 2003.

In 1957, Elvis Presley recorded the song "Teddy Bear."

In 1962, "The Beatles" signed a management contract with Brian Epstein. He had caught the group's act at the Cavern club in Liverpool, England the previous month. Epstein cleaned up the group's image, replacing their black leather jackets, tight jeans and Presley style haircuts with collarless grey Pierre Cardin suits and the now-familiar shaggy "Beatle" hairstyle.

In 1967, Aretha Franklin recorded her first major hit, "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)," at Muscle Shoals, Ala. But the LP on which she was working had to be finished later in New York because Franklin's husband got into an argument with one of the studio musicians.

In 1969, "Jethro Tull" played its first U.S. concert, in New York City. They were the opening act for "Led Zeppelin."

In 1970, James (Shep) Sheppard, lead singer of "The Heartbeats" and "Shep and the Limelights," was found beaten to death in his car on the Long Island Expressway in New York." A Thousand Miles Away" by "The Heartbeats" is one of the best-remembered songs of the late-'50s doo-wop era.

In 1984, Yoko Ono and her son, Sean Lennon, visited some of the old "Beatle" haunts in Liverpool.

In 1985, three former members of "The Mothers of Invention" sued Frank Zappa for back royalties. Zappa responded that drummer Jimmy Carl Black still owed him money for drum lessons in 1969.

In 1986, singer and actor Gordon MacRae, the star of such movie musicals as "Oklahoma" and "Carousel," died of cancer in Lincoln, Neb., at the age of 64. MacRae's long career reached its peak on the screen in the mid-1950s. Later in the decade, he moved into television as host of the "Colgate Comedy Hour" and "Lux Television Theatre." He also made many recordings, primarily show tunes, for Capitol Records. He fought a long battle against alcoholism, and once said that he had been so drunk during a concert in Greenville, South Carolina that he couldn't remember any song lyrics. MacRae suffered a stroke in 1982 but he struggled to keep performing until cancer overtook him in 1985.

In 1989, Guild, the Rhode Island guitar company that made instruments for such stars as Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, was sold to a Wisconsin amplifier manufacturer. …