Today in Music History - June 17

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Today in Music History - June 17

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Today in Music History for June 17:

In 1872, composer Johann Strauss conducted a 987-piece orchestra and a 20,000-member choir in a performance of "The Blue Danube" in Boston.

In 1882, composer Igor Stravinsky, considered by many to be the greatest composer of the 20th century, was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. He died in 1971.

In 1910, country music star Red Foley was born in Bluelick, Ky. Foley, elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1967, was the first country star to have a network radio show. He died in 1968.

In 1935, Ted Kowalski, original tenor of the Canadian vocal quartet "The Diamonds," was born. Formed in Toronto in 1953, "The Diamonds" had a series of hits in the late '50s and early '60s, many of which were covers of songs originally sung by black R&B artists. Their first hit was "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" in 1956, a traditional doo-wop version of the "Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers" song that reached No. 12 on the U.S. charts. The group received three gold records for "Little Darlin'," "Silhouettes" and "The Stroll." He left the group after five years in 1958 to pursue an engineering degree at the University of Toronto. The band was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame at the 1984 Juno Awards. They were also inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and the Doo-Wop Hall of Fame. He died Aug. 8, 2010 after a battle with heart disease.

In 1946, singer-songwriter Barry Manilow was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. He has sold more than 50 million records around the world, and had five albums on the chart at once in 1977 -- a record surpassed only by Johnny Mathis and Frank Sinatra. In 1972, Manilow became Bette Midler's arranger and pianist. His debut album came out the next year, and it and Manilow's next seven albums each sold one million copies. Manilow also had No. 1 hit singles with "Mandy" in '75 and "I Write the Songs" in '76. In 1980, he produced Dionne Warwick's comeback LP, which contained the hit "I'll Never Love This Way Again." From the mid-'80s on, he experimented with swing, pop standards, and Broadway show tunes. His 2002 greatest hits CD, "Ultimate Manilow" debuted on the charts at No. 3. His latest four CDs are remakes of classic songs from the '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s.

In 1959, England's "Daily Mirror" paid 8,000 pounds in libel damages to Liberace. One of the newspaper's columnists implied the pianist was a homosexual when he wrote that Liberace was a "fruit-flavoured, mincing, ice-covered heap of Mother Love." Liberace had denied under oath -- falsely, it turned out -- that he was gay. When the truth surfaced after his death in 1987, the newspaper suggested it wanted its money back.

In 1965, "The Kinks" arrived in New York for their first U.S. tour.

In 1968, the studio bubblegum group "Ohio Express" received a gold record for their single "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy."

In 1972, keyboardist Ron (Pigpen) McKernan played his final gig with the "Grateful Dead" at the Hollywood Bowl. He would die the following March of alcohol-induced liver failure and internal bleeding.

In 1977, guitarist Michael Schenker of the British hard-rock band "U.F.O." went into hiding for six months rather than tell the band that he wanted to leave. Schenker, a German, later said he didn't speak English well enough to explain how he felt. He eventually split with "U.F.O." in 1979 to form his own group.

In 1978, Grace Slick's alcoholism prevented her from going on stage with "Jefferson Starship" at a concert in St. Goarhausen, West Germany. Fans rioted, causing more than $1 million in damage. Two days later, Slick left "Jefferson Starship," and Marty Balin took over as lead vocalist.

In 1986, Stevie Wonder opened his first North American tour in five years in Seattle. The tour, which played 64 cities in the U.S. and Canada, carried the same name as Wonder's "In Square Circle" album. It was a tribute to a new U. …