19 January

Pick a Day

19 JANUARY

In Music History

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2017 3 Doors Down, Toby Keith and Sam Moore are among the performers at President Donald Trump's inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

2013 Steve Knight (keyboardist for Mountain) dies of complications from Parkinson's disease in New York, at age 77.

2010 At the trial of Matt Baker, a Texas man accused of killing his wife in 2006, his former mistress Vanessa Bulls testifies against him, claiming he sent her an email with these lyrics from the The All-American Rejects song "Dirty Little Secret": I'll keep you my dirty little secret Don't tell anyone or you'll be just a little regret Baker is convicted of murder.

2009 The 12th annual Maple Blues Awards, the event honoring excellence among Canadian blues artists, is held by The Toronto Blues Society in Toronto, Canada. Jeff Healey sweeps three Maple Blues Awards including the coveted "Entertainer of the Year" honor.

2008 John Stewart (of The Kingston Trio) dies of a massive stroke, or possible brain aneurysm, at age 68. Wrote the Monkees hit "Daydream Believer."

2008 Charlie Daniels is inducted into the Grand Ole Opry by Marty Stuart and Connie Smith.

2008 John Mayer makes a special visit backstage to meet Miley Cyrus during her Hannah Montana Best of Both Worlds Tour in Las Vegas.

2007 Denny Doherty (of The Mamas & The Papas) of kidney failure at age 66 after surgery for a stomach aneurysm.

2006 Wilson Pickett dies of a heart attack at age 64.

2002 The Strokes make their first appearance on Saturday Night Live, where they sing "Last Nite" and "Hard To Explain" from their debut album, Is This It.

2000 Josh Clayton-Felt of School of Fish dies from aggressive testicular cancer.

1993 The US Supreme Court rules that Tom Waits can keep all of the $2.5 million awarded him by a lower court. Waits had sued Frito-Lay for using a soundalike of him in a 1988 snack commercial.

1992 Rapper Mac Miller is born Malcolm McCormick in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His 2011 debut album Blue Slide Park goes to #1 in America despite being independently distributed.

1990 Reba McEntire makes her acting debut fending off snake-like monsters in the horror flick Tremors, starring Kevin Bacon.

1982 Bad Religion release their first full-length studio album, How Could Hell Be Any Worse?

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Sinatra Stages Legendary Gala For JFK

1961

The night before John F. Kennedy's inauguration, Frank Sinatra throws a star-studded gala to eradicate the Democratic Party's $2 million campaign debt. With the help of Peter Lawford, fellow Rat Packer and husband of JFK's sister Patricia, Sinatra enlists elite entertainers for the evening, including Nat King Cole, Harry Belafonte, Gene Kelly, Ethel Merman, and actors Laurence Olivier, Janet Leigh, Tony Curtis, and Bette Davis.


"We're all indebted to a great friend, Frank Sinatra," says Kennedy near the end of the festivities. "Long before he could sing he was pulling in votes in a New Jersey precinct… Tonight, we saw excellence." Sinatra took pride in his friendship with Kennedy and did everything he could to help him along his path to the presidency, tirelessly campaigning for his Democratic nomination in West Virginia, where anti-Catholic sentiment ran high, and meeting with Jersey City's mayor to bolster support in that state – all the while campaigning throughout the country with his Rat Pack pals. With the excitement of Kennedy's victory in his veins, nothing can stop Sinatra – not even a snowstorm. As Washington is pounded with over eight inches of snow, Sinatra escorts First Lady Jackie Kennedy to the National Guard Armory, where thousands of seats sold for $100 each, and several clusters of ringside boxes went for $10,000 a pop. An array of entertainers braves the blizzard for a night of song, dance, and skits. Gene Kelly performs the Irish number "The Hat Me Dear Old Father Wore," Nat King Cole sings "Surrey With a Fringe On Top," and Jimmy Durante takes on the Kennedy-family favorite "September Song." Sinatra reworks his signature hits with JFK-inspired touches: "That Old Jack Magic" replaces "That Old Black Magic" and "High Hopes" becomes an homage to the new administration: "Jack and Lyndon B, Let's follow their lead. They're the men that our America needs!" A little snow was no excuse for Sinatra, who already overcame several obstacles planning the fundraiser. He equipped the acoustically challenged auditorium with an extra sound system and took over an entire top floor of the Statler-Hilton Hotel for rehearsals. When Ethel Merman and Laurence Olivier were waylaid by Broadway commitments in Gypsy and Becket, respectively, Sinatra bought all the tickets and closed both shows for the night. His most painful concession was allowing close friend Sammy Davis, Jr. to be disinvited over his recent marriage to white actress May Britt. Kennedy feared the interracial union would tarnish his image with Southern Democrats and wouldn't be swayed by Sinatra's protests. Despite the behind-the-scenes drama, the night was not only a milestone in the singer's career, but a pivotal moment in the history of entertainment and politics. Vanity Fair writer Todd Purdum notes: "It was an only-in-America blend of high culture and low comedy, of schmaltz and camp, and it may have marked the moment when popular entertainment became an indispensable part of modern politics." In 2017, PBS celebrates the centennial of John F. Kennedy's birth with a one-hour documentary about the event, JFK: The Lost Inaugural Gala.

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