Skip to content
Join our Newsletter


Today in Music History for June 21: In 1821, Henry Baker, compiler of "Hymns Ancient and Modern," the unofficial Anglican Church hymnal, was born. In 1908, the nationalist Russian composer Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov died at age 64.

Today in Music History for June 21:

In 1821, Henry Baker, compiler of "Hymns Ancient and Modern," the unofficial Anglican Church hymnal, was born.

In 1908, the nationalist Russian composer Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov died at age 64. His most important works were his operas, such as "The Snow Maiden" and "Le Coq d'Or." The best known of Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestral works is the exotic and colourful "Scheherezade."

In 1948, Edward Wallerstein, the president of Columbia Records, demonstrated the 33 1/3 long-playing record developed by Peter Goldmark of CBS Laboratories. The microgroove record played at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute, in contrast to the standard 78 RPM, and could contain a maximum of 23 minutes of music a side, versus the approximately three minutes that could be squeezed onto a 78. Columbia offered to share its technology with its main competitor, RCA Victor, but RCA opted to market its own version of the microgroove record -- one that played at 45 RPM. But the battle of the speeds ended in 1950, when RCA announced it also would produce 33-and-a-third rpm long-playing records. Soon, all major record companies were producing both 45s and 33s, spelling the end of the 78 RPM record.

In 1955, Johnny Cash's first record -- "Hey Porter," backed with "Cry, Cry, Cry" -- was released on the Sun label. It was a moderate hit, selling about 100,000 copies.

In 1958, Bobby Darin recorded his first hit, "Splish Splash."

In 1965, "The Charlatans," a band from the Haight Ashbury section of San Francisco, played their first gig at the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, Nev.

In 1966, "The Rolling Stones" sued 14 New York City hotels that had banned them. They claimed the move hurt their careers.

In 1970, Pete Townshend's use of the British slang term "bomb" to describe the success of "The Who's" rock opera "Tommy" caused him to be detained at the Memphis airport. FBI agents thought it was a bomb threat.

In 1973, "Bread" played their final concert before more than 13,000 people at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City. A truck accident earlier in the day had destroyed the soft-rock band's equipment, so they had to play with borrowed instruments and amps.

In 1979, guitarist Mick Taylor released his first solo album, four years after leaving "The Rolling Stones."

In 1980, German bandleader and composer Bert Kaempfert died on the Mediterranean island of Majorca at age 56. His recordings featured muted trumpet and electric bass in front of a large orchestra. Among Kaempfert's hits, many of which he composed, were "Wonderland by Night" -- a No. 1 record in 1960 -- and "Red Roses for a Blue Lady." Kaempfert also wrote "Strangers in the Night" and "Spanish Eyes." He also produced the first recording session of "The Beatles."

In 1981, just after signing a multi-album contract with Warner Brothers, the pop group "Steely Dan" announced they were breaking up. Donald Fagan and Walter Becker, the driving forces behind the band, said their 14-year musical partnership was over. "Steely Dan's" hits included "Reeling in the Years" and "Peg." Donald Fagen and Walter Becker reunited in the early 1990s to record and tour.

In 1987, Madonna performed for the first time in Japan at a concert in Tokyo, where 35,000 fans paid the equivalent of $45 to $60 each, but scalpers were asking as much as $900 for a ticket. Madonna was the best-selling foreign rock star in Japan in 1986.

In 1989, "The Who" launched their reunion tour with a warm-up concert before 5,000 fans in Glen Falls, N.Y. The tour's official opening was two nights later in Toronto, the same city where they wound up their so-called farewell tour in 1982. At the Glens Falls show, Pete Townshend grimaced when he missed a high note on a song from "Tommy." But the crowd roared its approval when Roger Daltrey shattered a tambourine. "The Who" played in 36 stadiums during their reunion tour, and also staged charity performances of "Tommy" in Los Angeles and New York.

In 1990, jazz and big band singer June Christy, who rose to fame with the Stan Kenton Orchestra in the 1940s, died in Los Angeles of kidney failure. She was 64.

In 1994, Britain's high court ruled that George Michael could not get out of his $12-million contract with Sony. The judge said the contract was "reasonable and fair," and was not a restraint of trade. Michael vowed he would never record for Sony again.

In 1995, the Itar-Tass news agency reported that Moscow concerts by "Bon Jovi" and Rod Stewart had been cancelled. The agency said so many Moscow police had been put on anti-terrorist duty following an attack by Chechen rebels on a southern Russian town that there weren't enough left for security duties at the concerts.

In 1995, police in Albany, N.Y., arrested at least 50 people in a disturbance outside a "Grateful Dead" concert. The trouble began when police tried to chase away vendors. Three officers were hurt.

In 1996, the "Sex Pistols" performed together for the first time in 18 years before 15,000 fans in Helsinki. Lead singer Johnny Rotten, feeling the crowd was too subdued, shouted "I can't hear you." The audience responded with a shower of bottles, one of which struck Rotten. The show was halted briefly while the emcee pleaded for calm.

In 1997, Grammy-nominated R&B singer Arthur Prysock died in Bermuda after a lengthy illness. He was 74.

In 2001, veteran bluesman John Lee Hooker died of natural causes at age 83. Among his best-known songs is "I'm in the Mood," which earned him a 1990 Grammy for his duet with Bonnie Raitt. Hooker was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.

In 2001, some of Jimi Hendrix' belongings went on the auction block in London. One of the rock legend's guitars went for US$133,000, while a black pen he used to sign recording contracts went for US$8,800.

In 2009, at the Much Music Video Awards, "Nickelback" won for Best Video, Best Rock Video and Best Post-Production for "Gotta Be Somebody."

In 2010, Canadian dance-rockers "You Say Party! We Say Die!" announced that they would continue on as "You Say Party" after the death of drummer Devon Clifford in April from a massive brain hemorrhage. Krista Loewen decided to leave the band so they rounded out their lineup with former tour mates Robert Andow and Bobby Siadat of the Vancouver band "Gang Violence" to play keyboards and drums.

In 2011, the non-profit Nippon Foundation of Japan sold a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin, known as Lady Blunt, for US$16 million at a London auction to raise money for tsunami disaster relief.

In 2012, Victoria's Secret model Lily Aldridge and "Kings of Leon" frontman Caleb Followill welcomed their first child, naming her Dixie Pearl Followill.

In 2012, composer and lyricist Richard Adler, who won Tony Awards for co-writing the songs for such hit musicals as "The Pajama Game" and "Damn Yankees," died at age 90. He staged and produced several shows for U.S. presidents, including the unforgettable birthday celebration for President John F. Kennedy featuring Marilyn Monroe singing "Happy Birthday."

In 2019, the singer-songwriter from the rock band Crowbar that gave us the 1971 hit "Oh What a Feeling'' passed away in a Calgary hospital. Kelly Jay Fordham was 77. "Oh What a Feeling" was the Hamilton rock act's biggest hit -- and rose to the top of the charts thanks to Canadian content regulations that required radio stations to play a certain amount of homegrown music.


The Canadian Press