Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Music History Today: December 16, 2020

December 16, 1988: Disco sensation Sylvester (Sylvester James Jr.) dies of AIDS at 41.

Dick Clark couldn't get his American Bandstand crowd to stop cheering. It was early December, 1978 and Clark's studio audience had just heard Sylvester and his backup singers, Two Tons O' Fun, perform their first hit, "Dance (Disco Heat)".

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After Clark got the crowd to pipe down and conducted an awkward interview, the gender-bending singer — wearing makeup, a loose kimono and leather pants — performed his follow-up single. The song, "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)," hit the top of Billboard's dance chart that year. 

Read more: NPR

December 16, 1957: Elvis Presley's Elvis' Christmas Album hits Number 1 in America. 

Want to know how revolutionary Elvis was in Fifties America? Irving Berlin, the author of "White Christmas," was so scandalized by Elvis's 1957 version of the song that he tried to get it banned from radio.


Sorry, Irv. Instead, Elvis' Christmas Album topped the Billboard charts for a month and went on to sell nearly 20 million copies in various editions. It's a wonderful mix of lighthearted rock & roll, reverent versions of traditional favorites and nods to his country and gospel roots. The classic, of course, is "Blue Christmas."  

Read more: Rolling Stone

December 16, 1978: One of the hottest songs, "Please Come Home For Christmas," by the Eagles, moved up the chart from 78 to 45.

In 1978, the rock band Eagles covered and released "Please Come Home for Christmas" as a holiday single.  

The Eagles

Their version peaked at #18 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, the first Christmas song to reach the Top 20 on that chart since Roy Orbison's "Pretty Paper" in 1963. This was the first Eagles song to feature Timothy B. Schmit on bas. The lineup features Don Henley, Glenn Frey , Joe Walsh, Schmit, and Don Felder. 

Read more: Wikipedia

December 16,  1978: Steve Martin continued to sit at Number 2 with A Wild and Crazy Guy.

“A Wild and Crazy Guy” was the second comedy album from Steve Martin. Rising unexpectedly to number two on the “Billboard” charts, it defined a new era of comedy.


Comedy’s outrageous rebels reaped the benefit when obscenity laws were overturned as unconstitutional in the early 1970s. Within a few short years, the rebel comedians were fully assimilated into the mainstream. The profane honesty of Richard Pryor, the satirical indictments of SCTV, the madcap surrealism of Monty Python, the cocaine-fueled danger of “Saturday Night Live”--they collectively created a new language in comedy. But it was “A Wild and Crazy Guy,” a Steve Martin album without drug references or political commentary, that defined comedy in the post-Watergate era. 

Read more: Library of Congress

December 16, 1989:  "We Didn't Start The Fire" by Billy Joel was Number 1 again with Phil Collins in hot pursuit with "Another Day In Paradise."

“We Didn’t Start The Fire” became Joel’s third and final #1 hit by the end of ’89. You can blame Sean Lennon. 

Billy Joel

Lennon, who would’ve been around 13 when it was written, visited the 40-year-old Joel in the studio where the two had a conversation about their respective generation’s troubles. Fred Schruer’s Billy Joel biography quotes Lennon: “At least when you were a kid, you grew up in the fifties, when nothing happened.” That’s what inspired the song’s rhyming list of historical events, 1949-1989. 

Read more: Stereogum

You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)

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