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Remembering jazz saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. (born in Buffalo, NY) - December 12, 1943 - December 17, 1999.
On this day in music history: December 17, 1955 - Musician Carl Perkins will write the rockabilly classic "Blue Suede Shoes." The song is inspired by a story told to Perkins by his friend and Sun Records labelmate Johnny Cash. Cash tells him about a black airman referring to his military regulation shoes as "blue suede shoes." Not long after that, Perkins is playing a dance and from the bandstand he'll see a couple dancing and he'll hear the man say "uh-uh, don't step on my suedes!" After the show, he will begin writing the song on his guitar laying down the chord progression when the lyrics start coming to him. With no other paper around, Perkins will begin scrawling the words down on a brown paper potato sack. Two days later, on December 19th, Perkins and his band will record the song at Sun Studios in Memphis. It will be released on January 1, 1956. Initially radio stations begin playing the singles' flipside, "Honey Don't." DJ Bill Randle at WERE in Cleveland will flip the record and begin featuring "Blue Suede Shoes" on his nightly radio show. By the end of January, the record is a hit in the Cleveland area and begins to spread to other cities. Within another month the single is a national hit, simultaneously climbing the pop, country, and rhythm & blues charts. Tragedy will strike on March 22, 1956 for Perkins when, while traveling to New York City to make a television appearance on the Perry Como Show, he and his band are involved in a serious car accident. The singer and his brother sustain serious injuries. Fortunately this incident does not stop the record's momentum. "Blue Suede Shoes" will spend three weeks at #1 on the Country & Western chart, peaking at #3 on the Billboard Best Sellers chart and #2 on the Rhythm & Blues chart, selling over a million copies. Carl Perkins recording of "Blue Suede Shoes" will be inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1986.
On this day in music history: December 17, 1971 - Hunky Dory, the fourth album by David Bowie is released. Produced by David Bowie and Ken Scott, it is recorded at Trident Studios in London in April 1971. Work on the album will begin while Bowie is without a record contract, having recently left Mercury Records. To help handle the production duties, Bowie will hire Scott (former Abbey Road and Trident staff recording engineer) to assist in the production. Executives from the US division of RCA Records will hear the completed album and sign him to a three album deal in September of 1971. It will also be the first album to introduce new bassist Trevor Bolder (taking the place of bassist/producer Tony Visconti) and also features Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman on several tracks. The album features several classics including "Changes" and "Oh You Pretty Things," and will receive significant critical praise from the British and US rock press upon its release. The album's cover photo is inspired by a picture of actress Marlene Dietrich that Bowie sees in a photo book, with him striking a similar pose. Hunky Dory will peak at #3 on the UK album chart and #93 on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: December 17, 1978 - Destiny, the 12th album by The Jacksons, is released. Prduced by The Jacksons, it is recorded at Cherokee Studios and Dawnbreaker Studios in Los Angeles, and Total Experience Studios and Wally Heider/Filmways Studios in Hollywood from August 1977 - November 1978. Following the lukewarm reception to their previous album Goin' Places, the group is on the verge of being dropped by their label CBS Records. They will convince the label to give them one more shot, allowing them to write (with one exception) and produce an entire album themselves. Receiving guidance from former Blood, Sweat & Tears drummer Bobby Columby and Mike Atkinson (as executive producers), the album will mark an important turning point both in the group's career and is the catalyst for Michael Jackson to restart his solo recording career. It will spin off two singles including "Blame It On The Boogie" (#3 R&B, #54 Pop) and the platinum-selling "Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)" (#3 R&B, #7 Pop). Destiny will peak at #3 on the Billboard R&B album chart, #11 on the Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.