August 15: This Day in Black History
FEATURED: Dance Theater of Harlem
1911: Buster Brown was born. He was a blues and R&B singer best known for his hit, “Fannie Mae”. He passed away in 1976 at age 64.
1925: Oscar Peterson was born. He was a jazz pianist & composer and called the ‘Maharaja of the Keyboard’ by Duke Ellington. He passed away in 2007 at age 82.
1925: Billy Pinkney was born. He was a singer and a member of the Drifters. He passed away in 2007 at age 81.
1934: Bobby Byrd was born. He was an R&B/Soul singer, songwriter, bandleader, talent scout, record producer and musician. He was also the founding member of the Famous Flames. He passed away in 2007 at age 73.
1935: Vernon Jordan, Jr. was born. He is a lawyer, business executive and a leading figure in the civil rights movement. He turns 78 today.
1938: Maxine Waters was born. She is a U.S. Representative for California’s 43rd congressional district. She turns 75 today.
1944: Frederick Knight was born. He is a singer, songwriter & record producer. He turns 69 today.
1950: Billy Griffin was born. He is a singer, songwriter and was lead singer of the Miracles after Smokey Robinson left. He turns 63 today.
1953: The Prisonaires, five inmates from the Tennessee State Penitentiary, had their debut disc, “Just Walkin’ In the Rain,” issued on Sun Records. Lead singer Johnny Bragg had been helped with his diction during their June recording session by a young would-be vocalist who was hanging around the studio. The teen’s name was Elvis Presley.
1958: Big Bill Broonzy passed away. He was a prolific blues singer, songwriter and guitarist. His career began in the 1920s when he played country blues to mostly African-American audiences. He was 65 years old.
1961: Stick McGhee passed away. He was a jump blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. He died of lung cancer at age 44.
1964: The Four Tops debuted on the charts with “Baby, I Need Your Loving,” which reached #11. They would go on to have forty-five hit 45s through 1988. The quartet originally signed with Motown records for a $400 advance.
1969: The Dance Theater of Harlem was founded.
1970: Anthony Anderson was born. He is an actor and comedian. Anderson has diabetes, and has been active in diabetes awareness. He turns 43 today.
1981: ‘I’m in Love’ by Evelyn Champagne King was the Number One song this day.
1981: After a man was shot and killed returning from Stevie Wonder’s concert at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, CA, Stevie gave his gold album for Hotter Than July to the young man’s girlfriend.
1992: Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” reached #1 pop today and stayed for a precedent-setting thirteen weeks.
1992: Mary J. Blige’s first single “You Remind Me” peaked at #29 on the pop charts while going on to #1 R&B. Mary, who sang in a Pentecostal church choir while living in Savannah, GA, started her pursuit of a musical career with a demo she did of Anita Baker’s “Caught Up in the Rapture” on a Yonkers, NY, shopping mall karaoke machine.
1996: Joe Seneca passed away. He was a songwriter and actor of film, stage and television. He was 77 years old.
1998: Obviously a good day for Mary J. Blige, her fifth album, The Tour, topped off at #7 R&B. Three of Mary’s five albums (What’s the 411?, My Life, and Share My World) had reached the top spot between 1992 and 1997.
1998: Richie Havens, who performed at both Woodstock concerts and the twenty-fifth anniversary Woodstock ’94, returned yet again to a Day in the Garden, a festival to commemorate the original achievement on its thirtieth anniversary.