Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Today in Music History - March 8: Today in Music History - March 8

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Today in Music History - March 8: Today in Music History - March 8

Article excerpt

Today is March 8:

In 1942, "Transit Through Fire: An Odyssey of 1942," the first opera commissioned by the CBC, was broadcast on the network. The music was by Healey Willan, and was orchestrated by Lucio Agostini.

In 1945, Mickey Dolenz of the made-for-television group, "The Monkees," was born in Los Angeles. Following the success of "The Beatles" movie "A Hard Day's Night," producers for Columbia Pictures TV wanted a comedy program based on a rock group. They auditioned 500 performers in the fall of 1965, and chose Mickey Dolenz, David Jones, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith. They became "The Monkees," and their TV show was at the top of the ratings almost from its beginning in September, 1966. Records by "The Monkees" soon began to move on to the charts, and they had such hits as "Last Train to Clarksville," "I'm a Believer" and "Pleasant Valley Sunday." In the beginning, none of "The Monkees" played the musical instruments on their recordings. They only sang, with backing provided by top studio musicians. Mickey Dolenz, the drummer of the group, had never even played the drums before joining the band. Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork were the accomplished musicians in the group, but by the time the band broke up in 1969, all four were able to perform capably on their instruments. In 1986, "The Monkees" -- minus Mike Nesmith -- held a reunion tour of the U.S. and Canada, and they continue to make appearances.

In 1946, Randy Meisner, bassist and vocalist with the "Eagles," was born in Scottsbluff, Neb. The four original "Eagles" -- Meisner, Bernie Leadon, Glenn Frey and Don Henley -- were brought together in 1971 to back up Linda Ronstadt on her album, "Silk Purse." Meisner had already played with "Poco" and Rick Nelson's "Stone Canyon Band." The "Eagles" mixture of country and hard rock gave them several No. 1 albums and such top-selling singles as "Take It Easy," "Desperado" and "Hotel California," which went to No. 1 in 1977. That was the year that Randy Meisner left the group. He later released two solo albums and toured with a band called "The Silveradoes."

In 1954, the first copies of "Earth Angel" by "The Penguins" were pressed at a record manufacturing plant in New York. The record made No. 1 on the R&B chart and No. 8 on the pop chart, but a cover version by "The Crew-Cuts" was an even bigger pop hit.

In 1962, "The Beatles" made their TV debut on the BBC program "Teenager's Turn." They performed a cover of Roy Orbison's "Dream Baby."

In 1970, Diana Ross performed her first solo concert after leaving "The Supremes." It took place in Framingham, Mass.

In 1971, Radio Hanoi opened its first broadcast of American rock music with Jimi Hendrix's version of "The Star-Spangled Banner." The program was heard by U.S. soldiers throughout Vietnam.

In 1973, Ron (Pigpen) McKernan, keyboards and harmonica player with the "Grateful Dead," died of liver disease in San Francisco. McKernan, a heavy drinker, was only 28. His replacement was Keith Godchaux, who had played piano with Dave Mason. Although the "Dead" did not have a top-10 single until 1987's "Touch of Grey," they have stayed together more than 20 years, making them the longest surviving psychedelic band. …

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