The Classical/Operatic Folks
1) Jean-Louis Lully, French composer ~ "Overture to 'Zephire et Flore'" This piece is from an opera, but there's no singing in this one. Lully would have been 345 years old today if he'd defied all logic and survived that long.
2) Julius Klengel, German cellist and composer ~ "Allegro from Kindertrio, Op. 35 No. 2." Today is Klengel's 153rd birthday. But he's not celebrating – because he's quite dead.
3) Andrzej Panufnik, Polish composer, pianist, and conductor ~ "Autumn Music." If Panufnik had lived, he'd be 98 years old today.
4) Ettore Bastianini, Italian operatic baritone ~ "Il trovatore – Il balen del suo sorriso." This talented young man died at the age of 45. Otherwise, he'd be turning 90 years old today.
5) Cornell MacNeil, American operatic baritone ~ "Te Deum." I don't know much about opera, but I hear this guy was fantastic. Sounds pretty good to me. MacNeil would have been celebrating his 90th birthday today had he not died last year.
6) Alfredo Kraus, Spanish operatic tenor ~ "La donna e mobile." This guy sounds pretty good, too, but what do I know about opera? (Answer: Nothing.) Today would have been Kraus' 85th birthday. But he's not around to celebrate it, either.
The Jazz/Blues Musicians
1) Herb Jeffries, American jazz/pop singer, actor ~ "Flamingo" (with Duke Ellington). Jeffries, who is still alive and is celebrating his 99th birthday today, was the star of several all-black Western films in the 1930s, and was known as "The Singing Cowboy" because of this. He's quite good!
2) Theodore "Fats" Navarro, American jazz trumpet player ~ "Our Delight." Navarro was a talented jazz musician whose career was cut short by his heroin addiction, a bout of tuberculosis, and obesity. "Fats" died at age 26. He would have been 89 years old today.
3) John Carter, American jazz clarinet/saxophone/flute player ~ "In The Vineyard" (with Bobby Bradford). Carter was an excellent jazz musician. Had he lived, Carter would have been 83 years old today.
4) Robert "Chick" Willis, American blues singer/guitarist ~ "Blues Man." Known for his somewhat questionable lyrics (the man does a song called "I Want A Big Fat Woman"), "Chick" has been at it for a long time. Willis turns 78 years old today.
5) "Blind Lemon" Jefferson, jazz singer/guitarist ~ "Black Snake Moan." Jefferson, whose first name actually was Lemon, was known as the "Father of the Texas Blues" and was quite popular in the 1920s. If he'd lived, "Blind Lemon" would've been 119 years old to day.
6) Wayne Henderson, American soul/jazz and hard bop trombonist ~ "Inherit The Wind" (with The Jazz Crusaders). Wayne's the one in the crazy animal print outfit playing the trombone here. Henderson turns 73 years old today.
7) Bill Connors, American jazz musician ~ "Hymn Of The 7th Galaxy" (with Return To Forever). Connors is celebrating his 73rd birthday today.
8) Taylor Eigsti, jazz pianist and composer ~ "Like Someone In Love." Eigsti, once labeled a prodigy but long since having transcended the label, has been playing piano since the age of 4. He was leading his own band by age 12 and recorded his first album at age 14. Taylor turns 28 years old today.
The Pop/Rock Singers And Musicians
1) Anthony Newley, English pop singer/songwriter and actor ~ "On A Wonderful Day Like Today/Sweet Beginning." Newley enjoyed a long and successful career in music, television, films, and on stage. If he'd lived, Newley would be 81 years old today.
2) Ben Oakland, American composer, lyricist, and composer ~ "Java Jive" (performed by The Manhattan Transfer, music by Oakland). Throughout his career, Oakland composed mainly for Broadway and vaudeville, though he did work on several Hollywood scores, including for the film My Little Chickadee. If he'd lived, Oakland would be 105 years old today.
3) Mel Taylor, American drummer ~ "Wipeout" (with The Ventures). Possibly one of the most famous drum solos in the history of rock and roll was played by this guy in this song. If he'd lived to celebrate it, today would be Taylor's 79th birthday.
4) Linda McCartney, American musician and photographer ~ "Silly Love Songs" (with Wings). As part of the band Wings founded by her husband (former Beatle, Paul), McCartney co-wrote a number of memorable pop/rock hits, including this one. Linda died of breast cancer at the age of 56. She would have been 71 years old today.
5) Gerry Marsden, English musician/singer ~ "Ferry Cross The Mersey" (as Gerry and The Pacemakers). One of the better-known British pop bands in the 1960s other than The Beatles, Gerry and The Pacemakers had a number of hits, though none was dearer to Marsden's heart than this one, about the region of England from which he hailed. Marsden turns 70 years old today.
6) Jerry Donahue, American guitarist/singer ~ "Too Much Of Nothing" (with Fotheringay). Throughout his career, Donahue has been a member of folk-rock bands Fotheringay and Fairport Convention, as well as being a member of the rock-guitar trio The Hellecasters. Donahue celebrates his 66th birthday today.
File Under: Everything Else
1) Birgit Oigemeel, Estonian singer ~ "Homme." The first winner of Estonian Idol – yes, Estonia has an Idol show, too – Oigemeel is an accomplished young singer and actress in her native country. I don't know what she's singing about, but it sounds pretty. Birgit turns 24 years old today.
2) Kim Jong Min, South Korean dance music singer and entertainer ~ "오빠 힘내요" (with Koyote). The lead singer of dance band Koyote, Kim Jong Min is quite popular in his native country. I have to admit, the song is quite catchy, even though I don't have a clue what he's singing about. Kim Jong Min turns 33 years old today.
3) Leah Dizon, American singer and model ~ "Under The Same Sky." Raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, Dizon moved to Tokyo, Japan, at the age of 20 to pursue a career in entertainment. She made her recording debut (singing in Japanese!) later that same year. Leah celebrates her 26th birthday today.
4) William So Wing Hong, Hong Kong cantopop singer and actor ~ "越吻越傷心 - 蘇永康."
Known professionally as simply William So, this popular performer (in Hong Kong, at least) began his musical career by winning first runner-up in the 1985 New Talent Singing Awards. His performance at that event earned him a record contract. So's 1998 hit song "Kiss More, Sad More" later became the theme song for the popular (again, in Hong Kong, at least) TV series Healing Hands. So turns 45 years old today.
5) Ilkka Lipsanen, Finnish singer/guitarist ~ "Kesäkatu." Commonly known his stage name Danny, Lipsanen has been a popular singer in his native country of Finland since the 1960s, which is when he recorded this song, a Finnish-language version of The Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer In The City." Not bad, if you ask me. "Danny" celebrates his 70th birthday today.
6) Jim Henson, puppeteer ~ "The Rainbow Connection" (as Kermit The Frog). Henson is probably best known as the creator of The Muppets, including iconic characters like Kermit The Frog and Sesame Street's Ernie, both of whom Henson performed (puppeteering and voicing them) until his death in 1990. Henson's star burned out way too early at age 53, though his legend continues to this day. Today would have been Jim's 76th birthday.
7) Steve Whitmire, puppeteer ~ "Loud And Soft" (as Ernie, with Bert). Ironically, Henson's successor (and long-time Muppets puppeteer himself) as Kermit The Frog and Ernie, among other characters, was also born on this day. Whitmire turns 53 years old today.