Monday, December 7, 2020

Music History Today: December 8, 2020

December 8, 1980: John Lennon, 40 years old, was shot and killed outside his apartment in New York City.

Forty years ago today Annie Leibovitz photographed John Lennon and Yoko Ono at their apartment in New York City for a feature in Rolling Stone. Lennon autographed an album for a man in the morning.  

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At 10:50 that night, as John and wife Yoko returned to their apartment in The Dakota, New York City, the man came back and shot Lennon four times in the back.  Lennon was pronounced dead on arrival at age 40 at 11:07 at Roosevelt Hospital in New York. 

After the shooting, the 24-year-old Chapman remained at the scene, took out his copy of The Catcher in the Rye and read it until the police arrived. He was arrested without incident.

Much of America learned of the tragedy from ABC-TV, which was in the midst of airing an NFL game between the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football. Announcer Howard Cosell, who had interviewed Lennon years earlier, announced the news of the murder: 

"This, we have to say it, is just a football game, no matter who wins or loses. An unspeakable tragedy, confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City. John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West Side of New York City, the most famous perhaps of all of The Beatles, shot twice in the back, rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, dead on arrival."

When asked why he decided to target Lennon, Chapman said he couldn't resist the fame that would come with the crime. "That bright light of fame, of infamy, notoriety was there," he said. "I couldn't resist it." 

Read more: All That's Interesting

December 8, 1943: Jim Morrison of The Doors is born James Douglas Morrison in Melbourne, Florida. 

Jim Morrison was an American rock singer and songwriter. 

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He studied film at UCLA, where he met the members of what would become the Doors, an iconic band that would have hits like "Light My Fire," "Hello, I Love You," "Touch Me" and "Riders on the Storm."

Known for his drinking, drug use and outrageous stage behavior, in 1971 Morrison left the Doors to write poetry and moved to Paris, where he presumably died of heart failure at the age of 27. 

Read more: Biography

December 8, 1958: "The Chipmunk Song" by David Seville & The Chipmunks entered the Billboard Top 40 chart on its way to a four week stint at number 1.

In 1958, Ross Bagdasarian, a Broadway actor who’d had a pretty good role as a pianist in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 masterpiece Rear Window, started experimenting with speeding up his voice on tape, making it into a high-pitched effect.
Alvin & The Chipmunks
From there, he came up with the idea of the Chipmunks, three happy-go-lucky singing rodents. Technically, “The Chipmunk Song” is a marvel. Working in a pre-electronic era, Bagdasarian had to manipulate tape speeds, play four different characters, and get the whole thing to hang together as a piece of music. 
Read more: Stereogum

  

December 8, 1965: The Mamas & the Papas released their first career single, "California Dreamin'."

The Mamas And The Papas were a sort of merger of two folk groups, the New Journeymen and the Mugwumps.  

The Mamas & The Papas

They only got one #1 hit — bafflingly, “California Dreamin'” peaked at #4 — but they were huge for a while. They broke up in 1969, at least in part because they couldn’t stop having affairs with each other. 
Read more: Sterogum

December 8, 1976: An updated version of the musical drama A Star is Born debuts in movie theaters, starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.

As a concert film for Barbra Streisand, A Star Is Born proves excellent.

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Kris Kristofferson & Barbra Streisand
As a dramatic lover story, the film is beautifully photographed and appropriately sad. Streisand and co-star Kris Kristofferson make an appealing romantic pair, and director Frank Pierson guides Kristofferson to the best acting performance of his career.  
Read more: Hollywood Reporter

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Elton John

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