Music

September 1, 1957 – Gloria Maria Milagrosa Fajardo Garcia Born in Havana, Cuba

Embed from Getty ImagesGloria Estefan, with her husband Emilio, at the 2014 Tony Awards

On September 1, 1957, a baby girl entered the politically charged world of Havana, Cuba.  Her father, Jose Fajardo, was a Cuban soldier and bodyguard to embattled President Fulgencio Batista.  Her mother, also named Gloria, was the granddaughter of emigres from Asturias and Logrono, Spain.  Baby Gloria was still very young when her family was forced to flee Cuba during Castro’s revolution, landing first in Lafayette, Indiana, then settling in Miami, Florida.   Jose joined the United States military, served in Viet Nam, and eventually revisited Cuba as part of the Bay of Pigs invasion.  Gloria attended Catholic elementary and secondary schools in Miami, and graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in psychology, minoring in French.  During her college years, Gloria worked at the Miami International Airport in the customs department as an English/Spanish/French translator.  She was approached by the CIA during this time as a possible employee, due to her language skills.

In 1976, Gloria met Emilio Estefan of the Miami Sound Machine and they married in 1978.  Gloria joined Emilio’s band and during the mid-1980s the Sound Machine produced several Top-10 hits and released an album that went multi-platinum.  In 1988, the band’s name was changed to Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine; in 1989, the band’s name was dropped and Gloria was credited as a solo artist with the Sound Machine as her backup.

In 1990, Gloria suffered a fractured spine when a semi-truck struck her tour bus.  Two titanium rods were implanted near her spinal column and she recovered completely after a year of intensive physical therapy.  She later formed the Gloria Estefan Foundation to help others with spinal cord injuries.

Over the years, Gloria Estefan has continued to record chart-topping hits, performed at the 1995 and 1999  Super Bowls and 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, toured the United States and the world, appeared in movies and on television, written children’s books, and become a restaurant and hotel owner.  Her awards include seven Grammys, the Ellis Island Congressional Medal of Honor, the Hispanic Heritage Award, the 1993 National Music Foundation Humanitarian of the Year award, and she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

A musical based on Gloria and Emilio’s life story premiered on Broadway at New York City’s Marquis Theatre in October of 2015. On Your Feet! shares the story “of two people who – through an unwavering dedication to one another and their pursuit of the American dream – showcased their talent, their music, and their heritage to the world.”

August 26, 1957 – Paul Anka’s Crush on “Diana”

 

On August 26, 1957, Paul Anka’s “Diana” ranked #1 on WMGM-New York City’s Top 40 Survey. In My Way: An Autobiography, Anka revealed that Diana Ayoub was the inspiration for the song he wrote in the fall of 1956, at age 15. “When I was fifteen, I developed a crush on a nineteen-year-old girl who worked as a secretary in the offices of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Ottawa . . . . I saw her in church and at community events – and I was smitten.

“Diana was my first infatuation. I had such a serious crush on her. I made my advances as a youngster and failed dismally. She wanted nothing to do with me. Diana was my inspiration, the fantasy girlfriend – and imagined problem (“I’m so young and you’re so old, this my darling, I’ve been told”). In truth it never got anywhere near that. I think she just thought it was funny someone so much younger than her – three years! – wanted to date her. That’s where songs come from: out of stories you tell yourself in your mind.”

“Diana” reached the top of both the Billboard  and R&B Best Sellers charts, and the second slot on Billboards’ Top 100. Sixteen-year-old Anka was on his way to a long, successful career.

August 16, 1957 – Buddy Holly & the Crickets at the Apollo Theater

 

Buddy Holly & the Crickets: L to R, Niki Sullivan, Jerry Allison, Holly, and Joe B. Mauldin

On August 16, 1957, Buddy Holly and his band, the Crickets, opened their one-week gig at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York City.  Holly made his start in the music business in 1955 opening for Elvis Presley.  His style included rockabilly and rhythm and blues, which he helped fuse and transform into early rock and roll.  Decca Records and two of its subsidiaries signed Holly to recording contracts in 1956 and 1957 and it was at this time that he formed the Crickets.  With Buddy as lead guitar and vocalist, Niki Sullivan on guitar, Joe B. Mauldin on bass, and Jerry Allison on drums, the Crickets pioneered the standard instrumentation pattern for other rock bands to follow.  Buddy Holly was also one of the first in rock and roll to write, produce, and perform his own songs.  His first big hit single, released in May of 1957, was “That’ll Be the Day”, which was sitting atop the best-seller charts by September.

Holly is recognized as a major force in bridging the racial divide in American music.  People had trouble telling, just by listening to their recordings, whether the Crickets were white or African-American.  Their national tour of August, 1957, included performances at African-American neighborhood theaters, like Harlem’s Apollo Theater – the only white band to do so at the time.  It is rumored that the promoter at the Apollo booked Holly and his band in the mistaken belief that they were African-American.

The Apollo Theater became a powerhouse club during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1930s.  At that time, Harlem was rapidly becoming a African-American enclave within New York City, and owners Frank Schiffman and Leo Brecher featured the best new African-American talent emerging on the scene.  Ella Fitzgerald made her debut there, and the long list of artists who got their start at the Apollo includes Billie Holliday, James Brown, Diana Ross & the Supremes, Gladys Knight & the Pips, and many, many more.

It took several performances for the Apollo’s clientele to take to this new white guy, with his big glasses and “hiccup” delivery.  But when the final curtain came down on Holly and his band, many in the audience may have known that they had seen, as critic Bruce Elder put it, “the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll”.

Apollo Theater

Image Credits: Brunswick Records; History of the Harlem Renaissance website

August 10, 1957 – Get Your Bucks Ready for Saturday Night

White Bucks Boone

Pat Boone sings the praises of white bucks

On August 10, 1957, teens and twenty-somethings across America got their bucks ready for Saturday night – their white bucks, that is.  A favorite footwear of both guys and gals, white bucks required serious maintenance to keep them looking just right.  Clean-cut singing heart-throb Pat Boone was known for his signature white bucks, often worn with twill slacks, an open-necked shirt, and sleeveless sweater vest.  Guys could vary the “uniform” with a letterman’s sweater or maybe the addition of a narrow tie.  Girls wore white bucks, too, with the ever-popular circle skirts, angora sweaters, and pearls or neck scarves.

How to clean your bucks after a week of wear and tear?  The first step was to remove dry stains with a suede or pencil eraser.  Next, use a sponge or dampened towel to clean the suede uppers.  Grease stains (Hair? Car? Remember Grease: The Musical?) could be removed with sawdust and dry cleaning solvent.  Stubborn stains might finally respond to scrubbing with a white vinegar-sprinkled towel.  The final touch?  Neaten up your bucks with a thorough brushing using a special suede brush.

Now you’re ready to cruise down to the drive-in.  Unless, of course, you’re a different sort of guy (or gal).  Then you’d want to make sure your bucks were as scuffed and dirty as possible.

Image Credits: Pat Boone/CBS News 

August 5, 1957 – American Bandstand Goes Coast-to-Coast


On August 5, 1957, WFIL-TV Philadelphia’s local weekday afternoon broadcast, Bandstand, went national on ABC, with 27-year-old Dick Clark as host.  Filling the 3:30 PM time slot, American Bandstand was the newly re-named, hour-and-a half-long celebration of all things teen and Top-40.  It continued to be broadcast from Studio B, 4548 Market Street, Philadelphia, an 80′ by 24′ by 20′ room which would become jam-packed with bleachers, cameras, and teens be-bopping to recordings of the latest pop hits.  Like its original incarnation, American Bandstand included musical film clips – early MTV-type material – during breaks in which another waiting set of 200 teens would be admitted to the studio to replace the previous group.  Regulars quickly became recognizable to the viewing audience, who could follow couples getting together, breaking up, and showing off new steps in the process.  Clark would also interview the teens, getting their feedback on the latest songs.

 

Accompanied by demonstrations of the Slop, the Bop, the Hand Jive, the Stroll, Circle or Calypso, a live singer or band would usually lip-sync their latest hit.  The first song played on the first national broadcast was Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shaking Goin’ On”

American Bandstand‘s theme song on August 5, 1957 (and up until 1969) was the absolutely unforgettable, almost culturally liturgical “Bandstand Boogie” by Charles Albertine.  Is there anyone out there in TV-land who can’t immediately sign along to the lyrics:

“We’re going hoppin’ (Hop!)
We’re going hoppin today
Where things are poppin’ (Pop!)
The Philadelphia way
We’re gonna drop in (Drop!)
On all the music they play
On the Bandstand (Bandstand!)”

Image Credits: ABC and WFIL-TV

August 4, 1957 – In the Studio with Johnny Cash (with his Hot and Blue Guitar)

On August 4, 1957, Johnny Cash recorded the final set of songs for his upcoming release, Johnny Cash with his Hot and Blue Guitar.  Produced by Sam Phillips and Jack Clement, Hot and Blue was released October 10, 1957, on the Sun Records label.  Six of the final twelve tracks were laid down on August 4th, including “(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle”, “Country Boy”, “If the Good Lord’s Willing”, “So Doggone Lonesome”, “I Was There When it Happened”, and “Doing My Time”.  Other great Cash songs on the album: “The Rock Island Line”, “Cry Cry Cry”, “I Walk the Line”, “The Wreck of the Old ’97”, and “Folsom Prison Blues”.

Johnny was 25 when he recorded Hot and Blue.  Along with Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich, Bill Justis, and Harold Jenkins (Conway Twitty), he began his recording career at Phillips’ small storefront studio on Union Avenue in Memphis.  He was Sun Records’ most prolific and best-selling artist after the departure of Elvis Presley.  Hot and Blue was Cash’s debut album and Sun Records’ first long-playing record released.

Image Credit: Sun Records

Vintage 1957 – DJ Wee Willie Nelson at KVAN

 

 

In 1957, Mrs. Myrle Nelson tended bar at the Goble Tavern in Goble, Oregon. The tavern and the grange hall were aging remnants from the small community’s timber industry past. Across the Columbia River, in Vancouver, Washington, radio KVAN employed Meryl’s son, a 24-year-old aspiring country singer-songwriter who went by the on-air name of “Wee Willie Nelson.”

Willie already had a songbook started and probably played for the tavern’s patrons. Kathy Dalton Showalter, whose parents owned the Goble at the time, says, “everyone played in those days . . . and it was just the employee’s son, you know? . . . Nobody would have paid attention.” Current Goble resident Harvey Meyers lets the cat out of the bag with a story from his father, Rusty Meyers, who led “the best Western swing band in the Northwest” and was also a disc jockey at KVAN. Willie approached Rusty to sit in with his band. Rusty refused because he “just couldn’t stand Willie’s voice,” which he described as “whiney” and likened to a “stuck hog.”

But 1957 turned out to be the start of something big for Nelson. He cut his first single under the “Willie Nelson Records” label. Side A presented “No Place For Me.” Side B offered “Lumber Jack,” a “lumberjack-theme . . . pandering to Oregonian pride.” It went exactly nowhere.

Not so with Willie. The man who arrived in the Northwest to “cadge money from his mother,” went “on the road again” for Texas and the big time. Patsy Cline recorded “Crazy” in 1961, which climbed to No. 2 on the country music charts in 1962. Willie also released his first album that year, “. . . And Then I Wrote.”