Monday, December 28, 2020

Music History Today: December 29, 2020

December 29, 1973: Stevie Wonder rose to number 1 on the R&B chart with his classic "Living For The City."

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Stevie Wonder ended the calendar year of 1973 as he’d begun it: on top of the US R&B singles chart. In January, ‘Superstition’ spent three weeks at the top, then ‘Higher Ground’ served a week in September. On the final Billboard chart of the year, for December 29, he closed out 1973 in style, as ‘Living For The City’ reached No. 1.
Read more: U Discover Music

December 29, 1980: Folk musician Tim Hardin, who wrote the hit "If I Were a Carpenter," dies of a heroin overdose at age 39.

Tim Hardin signed with Verve Forecast and released his first album in 1966. Tim Hardin 1 was an artful mix of blues, country, rock, jazz, and ballads, including "Reason to Believe," "How Can We Hang On to a Dream?," and "Misty Roses." 
Tom Hardin
Critics have ranked Hardin's debut album among the most important of the era, comparing it to Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited. He moved back to Los Angeles shortly before the debut album was released, and there he recorded the songs for his second album. Tim Hardin 2, released in 1967, contained "If I Were a Carpenter," "Red Balloon," and "Black Sheep Boy."   
Read more: Bethel Woods Center

 

December 29, 1963: The Weavers, who at one time were America's most popular Folk group, give their farewell concert at Orchestra Hall in Chicago. 

The Weavers, the first and most influential modern-day folk singing group, first appeared in 1948 as The No-Name Quartet, founded by close friends Pete Seeger and Lee Hays, as well as two younger members of the New York folk scene, Fred Hellerman and Ronnie Gilbert.  

The Weavers

The Weavers took their name from an old German play about 19th century textile workers. In 1950 they recorded a version of "Goodnight Irene" by their friend Lead Belly, who had just died. It became a nationwide hit and assured the quartet a major label deal with Decca and extensive tour offers; there was even discussion of an NBC TV show. 

Read more: PBS

 

December 29, 1970:  Norman Greenbaum released the single "Spirit In The Sky" in the UK.

On his Twitter page, Norman Greenbaum describes himself as a “one-hit wonder,” but what a hit: “Spirit in the Sky,” with its distinctive fuzz-toned guitar, spacey effects and gospel-tinged harmonies, has been featured in more than 40 movies and TV shows, including “Apollo 13” and “Ocean’s Eleven” 

 

It was used to score one of the trailers for last year’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

“Because of ‘Spirit in the Sky,’ I don’t have to work. So in that sense, it’s a comfortable living,” Greenbaum told The New York Times in 2006. He said he wrote the words in 15 minutes. 

Read more: CNN

 

December 29, 1973: Brownsville Station entered the top 10  at number when "Smokin' In The Boy's Room" moved up to number 9.

Cub Koda, leader of the Michigan-based rock band Brownsville Station, was extremely knowledgeable about all things vintage rock ’n’ roll, blues, R&B, country, etc., and a maven of pop culture. 

That would also include ’50s juvenile delinquent films, in which, it seemed, every leather-jacketed punk had one cigarette dangling from his lips and another tucked above his ear, with the pack carefully inserted into a rolled-up shirtsleeve. 

By 1973, Brownsville Station—by that time the trio of Koda on guitar and vocals, Mike Lutz on bass, vocals and other instruments and Henry “H Bomb” Weck on drums and vocals—had already been around for four years. They’d cut two albums, of which only the second, A Night on the Town, had charted, peaking only at #191 in Billboard. 

Only two singles had charted as well, and neither had made much of a splash. They needed a hit. That’s when Koda flashed back to his school days, remembering the camaraderie enjoyed by the guys who assembled in that one place where they could puff away contentedly. 

Read more: Best Classic Bands

Living For The City
Stevie Wonder

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