Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Today in Music History - April 23

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Today in Music History - April 23

Article excerpt

Today in Music History - April 23

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Today in Music History for April 23

In 1920, Canadian string instrument builder Frank Gay was born in Marcelin, Sask. In 1953, Gay established a studio in Edmonton, building guitars for such famous country stars as Johnny Cash, Don Gibson and Hank Snow. Three of Gay's guitars -- those owned by Johnny Horton, Webb Pierce and Faron Young -- are in the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.

In 1923, the "New Symphony Orchestra," which would become the "Toronto Symphony Orchestra" in 1927, gave its first concert at Massey Hall. The orchestra was conducted by Luigi von Kunits until his death in 1931.

In 1936, pioneer rock singer Roy Orbison was born in Vernon, Texas. His writing and performing in the '50s helped create a mass market for rock music, including his own recording of "Ooby Dooby," which was a moderate hit in 1956. In 1958, he wrote "Claudette," named for his wife, which became a million-seller for "The Everly Brothers." His sound mellowed somewhat in the following decade, and he began his string of million-sellers in 1960 with "Only the Lonely." His other hits included "Running Scared," "Crying" and "Oh, Pretty Woman," a No. 1 record in 1964. Orbison suffered two personal tragedies in the '60s. His wife was killed in a 1966 motorcycle accident, and two of his three children died in a 1969 fire at his home near Nashville. His career took an upswing in 1988 when his collaboration with Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Tom Petty, under the name "The Traveling Wilburys," was a big hit. Just as the album and the single from it, "Handle With Care," were climbing the charts, Orbison died of a heart attack on Dec. 6 at the age of 52. His album, "Mystery Girl," was released two months after his death, and produced the hit single "You Got It."

In 1956, Elvis Presley made his Las Vegas debut, opening for comedian Shecky Greene. Presley's two-week engagement was cancelled after a week because of poor audience response. Elvis would not return to Vegas for 13 years.

In 1969, "The Ash Grove," a famous folk and blues club in Los Angeles, was destroyed by fire. Among the performers who got their start there were "Taj Mahal," "Canned Heat" and "The Chambers Brothers."

In 1975, Pete Ham, leader of "Badfinger," hanged himself at his home in Weybridge, England. He was reported to be depressed over business problems. Signed by "The Beatles" to their Apple label, nothing much happened for "Badfinger" until Paul McCartney wrote a song called "Come and Get It" and had the group record it for the film "The Magic Christian." The record reached the top-10 on both sides of the Atlantic.

In 1981, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded a live album called "The Survivors" in Stuttgart, West Germany.

In 1986, Harold Arlen, one of popular music's greatest composers, died in New York at age 81. …

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