Today in Music History for Nov. 20:
In 1886, the Toronto Conservatory of Music was incorporated. It began with 200 students and 50 teachers, and operated in a space over a music store in the downtown area. The institution became the Royal Conservatory of Music in 1947, and remains Canada's largest and oldest music school.
In 1916, Canadian contralto Kathleen Howard, a native of Niagara Falls, Ont., made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Third Lady in "The Magic Flute." Howard spent 12 years with the Met, becoming the company's most popular character contralto. She died in 1956.
In 1946, Duane Allman, one of rock music's most innovative guitarists, was born in Nashville. He and his brother, Gregg, played together in various groups before Duane became a session guitarist at the Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala. During the late 1960s, Duane played on albums by such soul music stars as Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin and Percy Sledge. In 1968, Duane assembled the group that was to become known as "The Allman Brothers Band," which blended various forms of southern music -- blues, R&B, country and gospel -- into a rock style that influenced such later groups as "Lynyrd Skynyrd" and "The Marshall Tucker Band." The Allman Brothers first album sold well only in the U.S. South, but by the time their "At the Fillmore" East double LP was released in 1971, the Allman Brothers were being called America's best rock 'n' roll group. But less than three months after that album's release, Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident in Macon, Ga. The Allman Brothers' next LP, "Eat a Peach," recorded before Duane's death, became the group's biggest-selling record.
In 1947, singer-songwriter-guitarist Keith McKie, leader of the Canadian rock band "Kensington Market," was born in St. Alban's, England. "Kensington Market," named after a Toronto neighbourhood, was one of Canada's most distinctive rock bands of the late 1960s. Their two albums, "Aardvark" and "Avenue Road," now are much in demand by collectors. "Kensington Market" disbanded in 1969 after their second U.S. tour.
In 1950, Gary Green, lead guitarist with the British progressive rock band "Gentle Giant," was born. Although "Gentle Giant" was formed in 1970, the band did not break through in North America until the political concept album "The Power and the Glory" was released in 1974. "Gentle Giant's" final album was "Civilian" in 1980.
In 1954, Canadian rock guitarist-singer Frank Marino was born in Montreal. "Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush" were a popular heavy rock band in the 1970s. Up front was Marino's guitar playing, which was heavily influenced by Jimi Hendrix.
In 1954, when his career as America's most successful singing cowboy was almost over, Gene Autry appeared for the first time on the "Grand Ole Opry." Autry was easily the most popular country singer of the 1930s and '40s, with such hits as "Silver Haired Daddy of Mine," "South of the Border" and "Tweedle-O-Twill." Autry's trio of million-selling children's records -- "Here Comes Santa Claus," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Peter Cottontail" -- were recorded in the late '40s.
In 1955, Ed Sullivan presented a 15-minute tribute to R&B on his television show. Featured were Bo Diddley, Lavern Baker, "The Five Keys" and saxophonist Willis (Gator Tail) Jackson. Diddley refused Sullivan's request to perform Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons," claiming he didn't know the song, and sang "Bo Diddley" instead.
In 1966, the musical "Cabaret" opened on Broadway.
In 1970, "The Kinks" singer Ray Davies re-recorded one word for the single "Apeman." The song contained the word "foggin'," which sounded too much like an expletive.
In 1971, Isaac Hayes' "Theme From Shaft" became the No. 1 record on the Billboard Hot 100. It won the Oscar for Best Film Song and the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement.
In 1973, "The Who" drummer Keith Moon collapsed twice during a concert in San Francisco, allegedly due to jet lag. Pete Townshend called for a volunteer from the audience, and 19-year-old Scott Halpin finished the set with the band.
In 1973, writer and comedian Allan Sherman died of respiratory ailments at the age of 48. Sherman's comedy record "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah," set to the music of Ponchielli's "Dance of the Hours," went to No. 1 on the Billboard chart in 1963.
In 1975, following the release of "The Who By Numbers," the band opened a month-long U.S. tour in Houston. John Entwistle was arrested for disorderly conduct at a post-concert party and spent several hours in jail.
In 1987, rock singer Sting opened his "Nothing Like the Sun" world tour in Rio de Janiero.
In 1987, Prince's third movie, "Sign O' the Times," opened in Canadian theatres. His previous picture, "Under the Cherry Moon," had bombed, but "Sign O' the Times" was praised by the critics. It was a concert film, comprised of 13 songs from Prince's album of the same name.
In 1990, the two performers known as "Milli Vanilli" held a press conference to discuss the lip-synching scandal that cost them their Grammy. Rob Pilatus told kids to get a good lawyer if they want to get into show business.
In 1991, 30,000 copies of Michael Jackson's album "Dangerous," scheduled for release the following week, were stolen from an air freight terminal in Los Angeles. Three men with shotguns broke into the facility and tied up the employees. No one was hurt.
In 1991, one of Michael Jackson's brothers, Randy Jackson, was sentenced in Los Angeles to a month in a hospital lockup for beating his wife and baby daughter. The former "Jackson Five" member was also placed on two years probation and ordered to enroll in a domestic violence rehabilitation program.
In 1991, "The Rolling Stones" signed with Virgin Records in a deal estimated to be worth $30 to $40 million. The deal gave Virgin rights to all albums made by "The Rolling Stones" since 1971. The band agreed to record three new albums, beginning in 1993. "The Stones'" previous contract was with Sony Music, formerly CBS Records.
In 1994, David Crosby received a new liver in a seven-hour operation in Los Angeles. Crosby's publicist blamed the musician's medical problems on his decades of drug abuse. Crosby made a complete recovery.
In 1995, "Free as a Bird," featuring a John Lennon vocal and music by the three surviving "Beatles," was released to British radio stations. The new recording came 25 years after "The Beatles" broke up and 15 years after Lennon's death. "The Beatles" album from which it was taken, "Anthology I," went on sale in Britain the same day, and a day later in the U.S. and Canada.
In 1997, rapper Coolio and his entourage allegedly left a boutique near Stuttgart, Germany, without paying for $2,000 worth of clothing. Five months later, police charged Coolio and six members of his group with theft and assault. The rapper was charged with hitting the boutique owner in the stomach after she confronted them. Coolio was given a six-month suspended sentence and fined $17,000.
In 1998, saxophonist Roland Alphonso, a founding member of the influential ska band "The Skatalites," died in Los Angeles of a brain hemorrhage at age 67. His death came a day after he burst a blood vessel while performing. "The Skatalites" were the top studio band in Jamaica from 1963-67, backing up such groups as "The Wailers" and "The Maytals," as well as making their own best-selling records. "The Skatalites" heavily influenced such '70s British bands as "The Specials" and "Madness."
In 2003, record producer Phil Spector was charged with murder in the shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson, at his home in Alhambra, Calif., in February. The first trial in 2007 was declared a mistrial. In April 2009, the jury in the second trial convicted him of second-degree murder and he was later sentenced to 19 years in prison.
In 2008, pop and rock star couple Ashlee Simpson-Wentz and Pete Wentz of "Fall Out Boy" became proud parents of a baby boy, Bronx Mowgli. (They divorced in November 2011.)
In 2009, Swedish soprano Elisabeth Soderstrom, considered one of the most versatile opera stars of the postwar period, died in Stockholm at age 82. Soderstrom sang all over the world and was contracted to the Metropolitan Opera in New York from 1959-64 and 1983-87.
In 2009, model-TV host Heidi Klum legally changed her last name to Samuel. She married singer Seal in 2005 and they have had three kids together. She also has a daughter from another marriage. (They separated in 2012 and the divorce was finalized in 2014.)
In 2010 at the Canadian Folk Music Awards, Newfoundland trio "The Once" won for Traditional Album and New/Emerging Artist. Toronto klezmer outfit "Beyond the Pale" won for Instrumental Group and the "Pushing the Boundaries" awards. Amelia Curran of St. John's, N.L., was named Solo Artist of the Year while Toronto duo "Dala" won for Vocal group.
In 2011, 21-year-old country superstar Taylor Swift won three times at the American Music Awards - Favourite Country Female Artist, Country Album ("Speak Now") and Artist of the Year, the show's highest accolade that she previously claimed in 2009.
In 2015, British singer Adele released her much-anticipated album, "25." It sold 3.38 million copies in the U.S. in its first week, smashing the previous record held by 'NSYNC's "No Strings Attached" in 2000, which sold 2.4 million copies. It also broke the record for most albums sold digitally in a week, with 1.64 million downloads, beating Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," with 662,000.
In 2016, Canadians Drake and Justin Bieber each took home four awards at the fan-voted American Music Awards. Drake, with a record 13 nominations, won awards for Rap/Hip-Hop Artist, Rap/Hip-Hop Song (Hotline Bling), Rap/Hip-Hop Album (Views), and Soul/R&B Song (Work by Rihanna featuring Drake). Bieber captured Pop/Rock Male Artist, Pop/Rock Song (Love Yourself), Pop/Rock Album (Purpose), and Video of the Year (Sorry).
In 2019, John Mann, whose voice rang through countless Canadian celebrations as the lead singer of Celtic-inflected Spirit of the West, died after a battle with early onset Alzheimer's. He was 57. The band's publicist confirmed the Calgary-born singer and songwriter who was perhaps known best for the boisterous pub anthem "Home for a Rest," died peacefully in Vancouver from the disease with which he was diagnosed several years earlier. A four-time Juno nominee for his work with Spirit of the West, Mann and his band became underground heroes for their politically savvy, musically diverse songwriting, which fused traditional strains of folk, Celtic and turn-of-the-'90s alt-rock.
The Canadian Press