Born Today in History ›
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Published: 8 months ago
Alex Chilton may not be as well-known as some rockers, but he influenced so many. For power-pop geeks, that music genre started with Chilton's band Big Star. The lead singer and co-songwriter for Big Star created melodic rock and intelligent songwriting that served as the template for many bands including the Replacements and R.E.M. We remember Chilton's life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1950: Alex Chilton, U.S. singer-songwriter and guitarist who was the lead singer for the Box Tops and Big Star, is born in Memphis, Tennessee.
1931: Martin Milner, U.S. actor known best for starring on the TV series "Adam-12," is born in Detroit, Michigan.
1929: Terry Sawchuk, Canadian-born U.S. goaltender who became a Hockey Hall of Fame member after a 21-season career in the NHL, is born in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
1926: Donna Hightower, U.S. singer who recorded hits including "I Ain't in the Mood" and "Light of Love," is born in Caruthersville, Missouri.
It was in Spain that her years of work in the music industry finally began to pay off, according to a tribute written by Randall Riley, an acquaintance. After winning a European song festival in 1970, Columbia Records noticed and offered her a recording contract. Donna then wrote the lyrics to her biggest hit, "This World Today Is a Mess." That record was issued internationally, selling more than 1 million copies, and became the song for which she was most closely associated. Read more
1921: Johnny Otis, U.S. singer-songwriter who exerted a strong influence on the development of rock 'n' roll, is born in Vallejo, California.
Otis was leading his own band in 1945 when he scored his first big hit, "Harlem Nocturne." In 1950, 10 of his songs made Billboard magazine's R&B chart, according to his 2012 obituary by The Associated Press. His "Willie and the Hand Jive" sold more than 1.5 million copies and was covered years later by Eric Clapton. He later wrote "Every Beat of My Heart," which was a hit for Gladys Knight & the Pips. But the influence of Otis was felt most through his ability to recognize and promote talent. He wove into his bands such diverse and legendary R&B vocalists as Etta James, Hank Ballard, Big Mama Thornton, and the Robins, the latter a group that would evolve into the Coasters. Read more
1914: Roebuck "Pops" Staples, U.S. gospel musician and patriarch of the Staple Singers, is born in Winona, Mississippi.
1908: Lew Ayres, U.S. actor known for portraying Dr. Kildare in nine movies, as well as for his performance in "All Quiet on the Western Front," is born in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
1905: Cliff Arquette, U.S. actor and comedian who was the father of actor Lewis Arquette and grandfather of actors Patricia, Rosanna, Alexis, Richmond, and David Arquette, and who was known for his TV character, Charley Weaver, is born in Toledo, Ohio.
Comedy scholar Trav S.D. said: "I'd say the biggest influence somebody like Charley Weaver (Arquette) would have had on younger comedians would be guys like Andy Kaufman and Steve Martin, maybe Martin Mull and Fred Willard, and Pee-wee Herman ... guys who were like performance artists and comic actors. They come out in character, and they don't drop character. They are putting you on the whole time. In today's comedy – some will wince – I'd point to somebody like Larry the Cable Guy." Read more
1903: Earl Hines, U.S. jazz pianist and bandleader who was one of the most influential pianists in jazz history, is born in Duquesne, Pennsylvania.
1895: Carol Ryrie Brink, U.S. author who won the Newbery Medal for her children's novel "Caddie Woodlawn," is born in Moscow, Idaho.
1856: Woodrow Wilson, 28th president of the United States who served from 1913 to 1921, is born in Staunton, Virginia.
1763: John Molson, English-Canadian brewer who founded the Molson Brewing Co., is born in Moulton, England.