In the 1960s, Dusty Springfield helped bring the sound of Motown to audiences in the U.K. She shot to the top of the charts with hits such as “Wishin’ and Hopin'” and “Son of a Preacher Man” as part of the new wave of “blue-eyed soul” artists who popularized soul music in the British Isles. Her success took her to America, where she toured and recorded with many of the same artists who inspired her. At the same time, Springfield worked to bring over American soul acts to tour and capitalize on the genre’s newfound popularity. We remember Springfield’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1971: Selena, U.S. singer-songwriter known as the Queen of Tejano Music, is born in Lake Jackson, Texas.
In 1989, Selena landed a record contract with Capitol/EMI and became the label’s first Latin artist; they were excited to sign her and thought she would be the next Gloria Estefan. “Selena,” her debut album with EMI, yielded her first entry on Billboard’s Hot Latin Tracks chart, “Contigo Quiero Estar.” With her next album came her first No. 1 Hot Latin Tracks hit, “Buenos Amigos.” It was the first in a long string of hits that would dominate the chart for seven years. Read more
1950: David Graf, U.S. actor known best for playing Sergeant Eugene Tackleberry in the “Police Academy” movies, is born in Zanesville, Ohio.
1949: Melody Patterson, U.S. actress known best for her role as Wrangler Jane on the sitcom “F Troop,” is born in Inglewood, California.
1947: Gerry Rafferty, Scottish singer-songwriter whose hits included “Stuck in the Middle With You” with Stealers Wheel and the solo track “Baker Street,” is born in Paisley, Scotland.
As a solo artist, Rafferty was a bit of a one-hit wonder. True, he had success with his band Stealers Wheel, and their song “Stuck in the Middle With You” is a classic rock favorite, achieving even more prominence after it was used in an unforgettable scene of Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs.” On his own, Rafferty released 11 albums, many of which – especially his earlier outputs – were critically acclaimed. Read more
1943: Dave Peverett, English singer and guitarist who was a founding member of Foghat, is born in London, England.
1939: Dusty Springfield, English singer and record producer whose hits include “I Only Want To Be With You” and “Wishin’ and Hopin’,” is born in London, England.
“Dusty in Memphis” was a meticulously crafted record, overseen by Springfield herself, a notorious perfectionist who rejected most of the songs initially proposed and later rerecorded her vocals to further refine the album’s sound. Famous producers were in charge of the album – Jerry Wexler, producer of Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin among them – but Springfield was used to self-producing her albums, and she kept some creative control over “Dusty in Memphis.” Elvis Presley‘s backing band provided the rhythm, and songwriters such as Randy Newman and Carole King contributed tracks. The result was stunning. Read more
1934: Robert Stigwood, Australian music manager and film producer who managed the Bee Gees and produced the movie “Saturday Night Fever,” dies at 81.
Stigwood began working with Cream in 1966. He produced Cream’s self-titled debut and later signed a distribution deal with Polydor that brought producer Felix Pappalardi on board in time for 1967’s celebrated Disreali Gears. That same year, Stigwood merged his first company with NEMS, which was founded by Beatles‘ manager Brian Epstein. He was also managing the Bee Gees. Read more
1930: Herbie Mann, U.S. jazz flutist who helped popularize world music, is born in Brooklyn, New York.
1929: Roy Hamilton, U.S. singer whose hits included “Unchained Melody” and “Don’t Let Go,” is born in Leesburg, Georgia.
1927: Dick “Night Train” Lane, U.S. football player whose record for the most interceptions in an NFL season still stands more than 60 years later, is born in Austin, Texas.
Adams’ marriage to Ernie Kovacs tragically lasted less than 10 years, ended by Kovacs’ death in a car accident in 1962. It was then that Adams put her business skills into play. After her husband’s death, Adams was deeply in debt. She began a number of business ventures – a cosmetics line, a chain of salons, an almond farm. She took on commercial work, honoring her husband’s love of cigars by becoming the advertising face of Muriel Cigars. Before long, she had pulled herself out of debt, and a quarter of a century after losing Kovacs, she was a millionaire. Read more
1924: Henry Mancini, U.S. composer who wrote songs and scores for many classic films, winning Oscars for “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Bachelor in Paradise,” and “Days of Wine and Roses,” is born in Cleveland, Ohio.
After spending six years writing movie music at Universal Pictures, Mancini decided to go out on his own. His big break came in 1958 when he was asked to write music for a new private eye show. Mancini’s gritty, driving theme is immediately recognizable. And his work on “Peter Gunn” marked the beginning of a beautiful friendship with the show’s creator, director Blake Edwards. Read more
1922: Kingsley Amis, English writer whose works include the novel “Lucky Jim,” is born in South London, England.
Ustinov was about more than laughs. He also was a serious actor, winning his first Academy Award for his role in 1960’s “Spartacus.” The BBC called him “one of Britain’s most respected actors.” He was a talented writer, creating dozens of stage plays, screenplays, and works of fiction and nonfiction. He was fluent in French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish, and conversational in Greek and Turkish. Ustinov served as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and president of the World Federalist Movement. Read more
1918: Spike Milligan, Irish actor and comedian whose sketch TV show “Q5” was a major influence on “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” is born in Ahmednagar, British India.
1917: Barry Nelson, U.S. actor who was the first to portray James Bond, in the 1954 TV adaptation of “Casino Royale,” is born in San Francisco, California.
After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1941, Nelson was signed to MGM after being spotted by a talent scout. He appeared in a number of films for the studio in 1942, including “Shadow of the Thin Man,” “Johnny Eager,” and “Dr. Kildare’s Victory.” He also landed the leading role in “A Yank on the Burma Road,” playing a cab driver who decides to lead a convoy of trucks for the Chinese government. Nelson entered the Army during World War II and went on the road with other actors performing the wartime play “Winged Victory,” which later was made into a movie starring Red Buttons, George Reeves, and Nelson. Read more
1912: Garth Williams, U.S. artist known for illustrating children’s books including “Charlotte’s Web” and the “Little House” series, is born in New York, New York.
1889: Charlie Chaplin, English actor and comedian known for his iconic persona, the Tramp, is born in London, England.
The man behind the mustache was as much an underdog as any character he ever played. The youngest son of two English performers, Chaplin and his brother were thrust into a Dickensian world of workhouses and residential schools after the death of their father and subsequent mental breakdown of their mother. At 8, Chaplin used his parents’ contacts in the performing world to join a clog dancing group, which led to legitimate work in theater and vaudeville. Read more
1867: Wilbur Wright, U.S. inventor who was one of the Wright brothers, who invented the world’s first successful airplane, is born in Millville, Indiana.