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Thursday, May 04, 2017

May 4, 1959

Hello, everyone!  May the 4th be with you!

Unfortunately, this
Throwback Thursday post is NOT Star Wars themed.  But that's not to say that there WON'T be one this month.  There very well could be.  But this week, we're going to go a different, but delightful direction.  One that is pleasing to the ears, if you want to look at it that way.

In the meantime, let's have a look and see what happened throughout history on the 4th of May with the historical happenings that I did not select for today's blog topic.

1471 - The Battle of Tewkesbury takes place during the War of the Roses; Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales is killed by Edward IV

1776 - Rhode Island becomes the first colony to renounce allegiance to King George III

1814 - Napoleon I begins his exile on the island of Elba

1871 - The National Association - the first professional baseball league - opens its debut season in Indiana

1904 - The United States begins construction of the Panama Canal

1910 - The Royal Canadian Navy is established

1919 - Students in China protest the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in Tiananmen Square

1926 - The UK General Strike commences

1929 - Actress Audrey Hepburn (d. 1993) is born in Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium

1932 - Al Capone begins serving an eleven-year prison sentence for tax evasion in Atlanta, Georgia

1942 - Singer Nickolas Ashford (d. 2011) is born in Fairfield, South Carolina

1945 - The Neuengamme concentration camp is liberated by British armed forces

1946 - United States Marines are called into Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary to stop a riot that had broken out two days earlier

1949 - Nearly the entire Torino football team is killed in a plane crash; the two surviving players were not on the flight at the time it crashed

1953 - Ernest Hemingway wins the Pulitzer Prize for "The Old Man and the Sea"

1958 - Artist Keith Haring (d. 1990) is born in Reading, Pennsylvania

1970 - Four students are shot and killed and nine others wounded at Kent State University by the Ohio National Guard who were attempting to break up a protest the Cambodian Campaign

1979 - Margaret Thatcher becomes the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

1988 - Henderson, Nevada is rocked by an explosion at the PEPCON plant, which is caused by the ignition of Space Shuttle fuel

1998 - The Unabomber is sentenced to four life sentences plus thirty years

2007 - The town of Greensburg, Kansas is almost completely demolished by an EF5 tornado

2009 - Actor/comedian Dom DeLuise dies at the age of 75

2012 - Founding member of the Beastie Boys Adam Yauch dies at the age of 47

2014 - A series of bus bombings in Nairobi, Kenya kill three and injure 62

Now for celebrity birthdays, we have the following people turning one year older...Katherine jackson, Thomas Kinsella, Ron Carter, Dick Dale, Robin Cook, Russi Taylor, Darryl Hunt, Jackie Jackson, Pia Zadora, Randy Travis, Andrew Denton, Jay Aston, Gregg Alexander, Will Arnett, Mike Dirnt, Erin Andrews, Lance Bass, Dallon Weekes, and Rory McIlroy.

And what day are we going back in time to this week?

Ah, May 4, 1959.  I remember it well.  Wait, no I don't.  It was 22 years before I was born.

But it was a very interesting date in the world of music.  In fact, one could say that it was the day that musical artists finally got recognition for their talent.

I suppose in some ways prior to 1959, musical artists would get a lot of gratification from their fans in knowing that the career they pursued was the right one.  Certainly the more records one sold, the more popular and successful an artist could be.  But I imagine that before 1959, artists were thinking that there should be a way to formally recognize an artist for the talent that they have.

Enter the creation of the Grammy Award.  Named after the Gramophone - the ancient looking record player that adorns the top of every single award - the very first Grammy Awards ceremony was held on May 4, 1959, celebrating the best of music from the year 1958.

I have to say that when it comes down to it, the Grammy Awards are really the only awards show that I have the slightest interest in.  I've been a faithful viewer of the awards show since 1988, and have watched every year since (well, minus 2011 when I was recovering from surgery on Grammy night).  I've always loved music, and I appreciate the fact that the Grammy Awards put together some interesting performances that pair up artists that you never thought would go together. 

Of course, pop music has become less and less popular with me, and these days I find myself wondering who the heck some of the performers really are when just twenty years ago, I was so hip on the current music scene.  Oh, to go back to 1997 again.

Well, how about we go back to 1959 to see who won the very first set of Grammy Awards?  Would you believe that back in 1959, there were only twenty-eight awards handed out?  That's a fraction of the awards that are handed out now.  The number changes frequently due to the changing nature of the categories, but I wouldn't be surprised if more than a hundred awards are handed out at each ceremony.  And this includes the Latin Grammy Awards, which were first handed out in 2000.

Anyway, just to give you an idea as to what happened at the first Grammy Awards, I can tell you that it was unique in that the inaugural Grammy Award ceremony was not broadcast on television.  In fact, it wouldn't be until 1971 before the Grammy Awards would be broadcast live on television (though pre-taped ceremonies began to be broadcast beginning with the second Grammy Awards held on November 29, 1959).  Another unique bullet point about the Grammy Awards is that two different ceremonies were held on the same day.  One was held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, while the other one was held in New York's Park Sheraton Hotel.

So, who were the winners?  Here's a partial many of these songs and artists do you know?

RECORD OF THE YEAR:  Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu (Volare) - Domenico Modugno
ALBUM OF THE YEAR:  The Music from Peter Gunn - Henry Mancini
SONG OF THE YEAR:  Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu (Volare) - Domenico Modugno
BEST FEMALE VOCAL POP PERFORMANCE: Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Songbook - Ella Fitzgerald
BEST MALE VOCAL POP PERFORMANCE: Catch a Falling Star - Perry Como
BEST GROUP VOCAL POP PERFORMANCE: That Old Black Magic - Keely Smith & Louis Prima

BEST R&B PERFORMANCE:  Tequila - The Champs
BEST JAZZ PERFORMANCE:  Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berling Songbook - Ella Fitzgerald
BEST COUNTRY PERFORMANCE: Tom Dooley - The Kingston Trio

BEST CHILDREN'S RECORDING:  The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) - Ross Bagdasarian Sr.

The rest of the awards were mostly for technical things such as album packaging, production and engineering, and spoken word albums.  But with only twenty six awards to hand out, I can't imagine the ceremony being very long.  Certainly not the three hour spectacle (at least) that we're used to seeing.

And considering that the Grammy Awards are set to celebrate their sixtieth anniversary in 2018, I'd say that the first annual Grammy ceremony was the beginning of a lot of beautiful music.  And it's estimated that over 8,000 awards have been given out ever since. 

Now that's something to sing about!

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