24 December

Pick a Day

24 DECEMBER

In Music History

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2016 Rick Parfitt of Status Quo dies at age 68 after years of heart-related ailments.

2000 Folk singer Allan Smethurst (The Singing Postman) dies of a heart attack at a Salvation Army hostel in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England, at age 73.

2000 Nick Massi (of The Four Seasons) dies of cancer in West Orange, New Jersey, at age 73.

1992 Bobby LaKind (conga player for The Doobie Brothers) dies of colon cancer in Los Angeles, California, at age 47.

1991 Louis Tomlinson, the oldest member of One Direction, is born in Doncaster, England.

1977 After 10 weeks at #1 on the Hot 100, Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" is knocked off by another lite favorite: "How Deep Is Your Love" by the Bee Gees.

1974 James Taylor, Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell go Christmas carolling in Hollywood.

1972 At a Manfred Mann show in Miami, police respond to noise complaints by cutting power during the band's encore, leading to a riot.

1971 New York Dolls make their live debut, performing at a Christmas Party at the Endicott Hotel in New York City.

1966 Tommy James & the Shondells record "I Think We're Alone Now."

1963 Mary Ramsey, who goes on to replace Natalie Merchant as lead singer of 10,000 Maniacs, is born in Washington, DC.

1960 Beryl Ingham Formby, wife and manager of George Formby, dies of leukemia at age 59.

1957 Ian Burden (keyboardist, bass guitarist for The Human League) is born in Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, England.

1946 Jan Akkerman (guitarist for Focus) is born in Amsterdam.

1944 Mike Curb, founder of Curb Records and head of the Mike Curb Congregation, is born in Savannah, Georgia.

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"Silent Night" Debuts In Austria

1818

A church choir in Austria introduces a new Christmas song for their Midnight Mass: "Stille Nacht!" better known as "Silent Night."


If not for a broken church organ, the world may never have heard one of its most venerable Christmas carols. The parishioners at St. Nicholas church in Oberndorf, Austria, have been making due without a working organ for weeks and really are facing a silent night for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Josef Mohr, the newly appointed assistant pastor, recalls a poem he wrote a couple years earlier about the birth of Christ and thinks it could be turned into a song. With Christmas Eve fast approaching, he brings the composition to his friend Franz Gruber, a schoolteacher and amateur composer. Gruber is struck by the poem's rhythm and adds a melody and guitar arrangement. That night, Mohr and Gruber, backed by a choir, sing "Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!" for the first time, completely unaware of the impact their little Christmas song will have on the world. Meanwhile, Mohr is still waiting for that organ to be fixed. When the organ builder finally shows up to repair the instrument, the pastor gives him a copy of the new Christmas song to bring home. From there, two popular groups of traveling folk singers, the Rainers and the Strassers, start performing the tune on their travels throughout Europe. In 1839, the Rainers head to a gig in New York City and introduce "Stille Nacht!" to America, where it becomes "Silent Night." The carol is translated into over 300 languages around the world, but in the US the most popular version comes in 1935 when it's warmly crooned by Bing Crosby. Although "Silent Night" is his most popular recording of the decade, the Catholic singer donates all royalties from the religious tune to various charities, not wanting to cash in on his faith.

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