Bill Graham and Fillmore East

Promoter Bill Graham (born Wulf Wolodia Grajonca) opened the Fillmore East in New York’s East Village on this date in 1968, with a concert that featured Big Brother and the Holding Company (with Janis Joplin). Graham was born in Berlin in 1931. At age 8, not long after Kristallnacht, he was placed in an orphanage by his Russian immigrant […]

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Three Electric Guitarists

Three late, great electric guitarists were born on this date: John Geils in 1946, Walter Becker in 1950, and Randy California in 1951. Geils was the leader and only non-Jewish member of the J. Geils Band, which early on was dubbed “The Jewish Rolling Stones,” due to its sound and high-energy live shows. The band members often […]

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Brian Epstein

The Beatles arrived in America on this date in 1964 and launched a cultural tidal wave. They were accompanied by their 30-year-old manager Brian Epstein, who had paid for the recording of their first demo record, convinced record producer George Martin to sign them, invented their “mop-top” hairstyles, outfitted them in suits, and arranged for […]

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He Coined the Term “Rhythm and Blues”

Jerry Wexler, who, as a reporter for Billboard Magazine in 1948, coined the term “rhythm and blues” (as a replacement for the offensive “race records”) and who later, as a music producer, recorded some of R&B’s greatest performers, was born on this date in 1917 in New York. The “acts” Wexler signed or produced included Ray […]

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September 19: A Good Day for Rock & Roll

Brian Epstein, the manager of the Beatles who brought them to America and to international fame, was born on this date in 1935; Cass Elliot of the Mamas & the Papas was born on this date in 1945; instrumentalist David Bromberg was born on this date in 1946; Bob Dylan recorded one of his finest […]

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February 23: Our Day Will Come

“Our Day Will Come,” sung by Ruby and the Romantics, entered the Billboard chart of hit songs on this date in 1963, where it would climb to #1. The song was co-written by Bob Hilliard (Goldsmith) and Mort Garson. Hilliard was a Tin Pan Alley lyricist who also worked with Burt Bacharach, Carl Sigman, Jule […]

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February 21: Murray the K

Radio disc jockey Murray “the K” Kaufman died at 60 on this date in 1982. Kaufman was the child of a vaudevillian mother and appeared in several Hollywood films in the 1930s. After World War II (in which he served organizing shows for troops), he worked as a song plugger and a Borscht Belt show […]

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January 13: Owner of a Lonely Heart

Trevor Rabin, guitarist with the progressive rock band Yes and a film composer with more than forty scores to his credit, was born in Johannesburg, South Africa on this date in 1954. Although a musician from a young age and the son of a family of musicians (whom he describes as “extremely anti-apartheid”), he was […]

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January 5: Chris Stein and Blondie

Lead guitarist, songwriter, and co-founder of the band Blondie, Chris Stein was born in Brooklyn to leftwing Jewish parents on this date in 1950. While studying at the School of Visual Arts, Stein photographed the downtown New York scene of the early 1970s and became lovers with Deborah Harry, the singer with whom he created […]

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December 10: Fats Domino and Lew Chudd

Creole musician Fats Domino recorded his first songs for Imperial Records on this date in 1949, including the song, “The Fat Man,” which would sell a million copies by 1953 and provide him with his stage name. Imperial Records was owned by Lew Chudd (Louis Chudnofsky), a Canadian-born Jew who grew up in Harlem and […]

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