Thursday, December 24, 2020

Music History Today: December 25, 2020

December 25, 2016: George Michael dies of heart failure aged just 53 in bed at his riverside home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. 

After the death of a beloved celebrity, you’ll usually find fans grieving or posting tributes. Occasionally, especially if the death was sudden and unexpected, you’ll also find conspiracy theories about why and how these celebrities died. Such was the case when British singer George Michael died. 

George Michael/Faith

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Although he died in December 2016, it took a few months to complete the autopsy and investigation into Michael’s sudden passing. In March 2017, the Oxfordshire senior coroner determined that George Michael’s cause of death was dilated cardiomyopathy (a condition where the heart becomes too large and cannot pump blood effectively) combined with an inflammation of the heart.

Read more: Who

December 25, 1954: Annie Lennox is born in Aberdeen, Scotland. 

Between 1977 and 1980, she was the lead singer of The Tourists, a pop group and her first collaboration with Dave Stewart. Lennox and Stewart's second group was the duo Eurythmics, where she first found international fame.

Annie Lennox

She became known for her androgyny, and had big hits including 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),' 'There Must Be an Angel,' 'Love Is A Stranger,' 'Here Comes the Rain Again' and 'Who's That Girl?.' Although Eurythmics never officially parted, Lennox began a solo career in the early 1990s. She has since scored several big solo hits, including 'Why', 'Walking on Broken Glass', 'No More I Love Yous', and 'Dark Road'. 

Read more: Smooth Radio

 

December 25, 1965: The Dave Clark Five's "Over And Over" hits number 1.

Not too many bands are named after their drummers, but in the case of the Dave Clark Five, it fit. Clark wasn’t just the drummer; he was the band’s manager and producer as well. And the band’s entire sound was organized around his big, dumb beat — a four-four stomp that overwhelmed everything around it.

Dave Clark Five

The band had a few genuinely exciting pop moments — one of which, the 1964 single Glad All Over,” turned out to be their only UK #1. But the band also devoted a lot of its energies to covering American R&B songs from the late ’50s and early ’60s, making those songs slightly stiffer and more mannered, putting that big beat in service of honoring those grooves. And that was how their take on “Over And Over” landed them their one American #1.  

Read more: Stereogum

December 25, 1971: Melanie's "Brand New Key" hits number 1 in America for the first of three weeks.

Melanie Safka was a real-deal folk singer who was mostly an unknown when she performed at Woodstock in 1969. Playing that festival led her to wrote “Lay Down (Candles In The Rain),” her first American hit.

Melanie

When Melanie wrote “Brand New Key,” she didn’t necessarily think of it as a single; it’s more of a fun, dizzy interlude on her LP Gather Me, which is otherwise a straight-up idiosyncratic folk record in that early Joni Mitchell vein. But “Brand New Key” ended up being memorable enough to overshadow everything else she ever did.  

Read more: Stereogum

December 25, 1989: Cher had her last US Top Ten single for nine years when "Just Like Jesse James" hit number 8. She didn't crack the Top Ten again until "Believe" in 1998.

"Just Like Jesse James" is Cher's nineteenth album, Heart of Stone. The song's title is a reference to legendary Wild West bandit Jesse James. Cher has stated during concert performances that she personally never much liked the song despite its successful chart performance.

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AllMusic's Gary Hill later noted that this song isn't like the rest of the songs on the album, and called it an "effective ballad." The Daily Vault's Mark Millan described it as "country-tinged", adding that Cher "clearly reveled in singing, and although it's very 'wordy,' it recalls the days when Cher had great success in recording songs that told a story like 'Half-Breed,' 'Dark Lady,' and 'Gypsies, Tramps And Thieves.'  

Read more: Wikipedia

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