Monday, November 23, 2020

Music History Today: November 24, 2020

November 24, 1991: Freddie Mercury of Queen died of AIDS-related bronchial pneumonia at age 45.

Freddie Mercury, rock's showman incarnate, died last night, 24 hours after he confirmed he was suffering from Aids.

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Mercury, lead singer with the band Queen, had become a recluse at his home in Kensington, west London, over the past two years, fuelling speculation that he was suffering from the disease. He was 45. 

Read more: The Guardian (25 November 1991) 

November 24, 1957: Harry Belafonte became the first black man to hit Number 1 in the UK with "Mary's Boy Child." 

"Mary's Boy Child" is a 1956 Christmas song, written by Jester Hairston. Harry Belafonte heard the song being performed by the choir and sought permission to record it. 

Harry Belafonte
Harry Belafonte

It was recorded in 1956 and released as a single that year. Belafonte released it again the following year in 1957 on his album An Evening with Belafonte, using a different, longer take. This longer version was also released in the UK as a single, where it became the first UK number one to have a playing time of over four minutes. 

Read more: Wikipedia

November 24, 1973: Ringo Starr reached Number 1 with "Photograph."

How do you think John Lennon felt about the fact that Ringo Starr had a #1 single before he did? Before sitting down to do the research on Ringo’s “Photograph,” I’d been wondering about that. As it turns out, we actually know the answer: Lennon was proud. He was happy. 

Ringo Starr

As Fred Bronson points out in his extremely valuable and well-researched Billboard Book Of Number 1 Hits, Lennon addressed the Ringo question in a 1975 interview on Tom Snyder’s late-night talk show Tomorrow. 

Read more: Stereogum

November 24, 1976: The Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser collaboration Wanted! The Outlaws became the first country album to be certified Platinum.

It took decades to sell one million copies of any country music record. That record -- Wanted! The Outlaws-- spawned a revolutionary new subgenre, "outlaw country." 

Willie Nelson & Waylon Jennings

Even with all the big honky tonk heroes of the country world, no solo artist found a way to sell one million albums. Hank Williams couldn't do it. Merle Haggard couldn't do it. Even Willie Nelson, whose 1975 concept album Red Headed Stranger shattered notions of what country music could be, couldn't do it. But in the early 1970s, artists like Nelson and Waylon Jennings left the "Nashville Sound" in the dust. Down in Austin, Texas, the pair cooked up something far hairier. 

Read more: Wide Open Country

November 24, 1979: "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" by Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer becomes the first duet between two women to hit Number 1 in America.

In 1979, Streisand was a reliable hit-maker and also one of the biggest movie stars in the world. Donna Summer, meanwhile, was coming off of a dominant year, releasing the massively successful double album Bad Girls. 

Donna Summers & Barbra Steisand

Streisand and Summer were two of the biggest pop stars of the moment. When they got together, people paid attention.  Once Barbra Streisand showed that she could sing a disco song, something like “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” was probably inevitable. 
Read more: Stereogum

Killer Queen

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