As you may have noticed, we haven’t released a new episode in awhile. That’s because I’ve been working on a few other creative projects that have been occupying my attention, making it hard to produce new episodes. So, I thought I should make it official and announce that the show is beginning a temporary hiatus.
Joe Stone is the youngest son of the founder of TK Records, Henry Stone, and wanted to follow in his father's footsteps. Henry, however, refused to allow any of his children to work in the music industry. Listen as Joe chronicles how he convinced his father to take a chance on him.
If you attend a baseball game today, during the seventh inning stretch you’re likely to hear the entire stadium sing, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” We’ve grown so accustomed to singing the song during ballgames that it feels like the ritual has been around forever, but if it wasn’t for a device called the magic lantern, first-wave feminism, and a sportscaster named Harry Caray, our familiar custom wouldn’t exist.
1978 set the record for most album sales with disco surpassing rock & roll for the first time ever. Industry insiders predicted the following year would continue to break sales records, but an economic downturn and a fierce anti-disco backlash proved their predictions false.
In 1970, two deejays discovered they could take the dance floor on a journey by playing records back-to-back, continuously throughout the night. Soon clubs all over the world adopted this style of deejaying, and a new culture and music genre called "disco" emerged.
The Colored American Opera Company was born at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church — the first all-black church in the nation’s capitol — where an Italian priest invited a white Spanish American veteran of the U.S. Marine Band, and teacher of march legend John Philip Sousa, to teach a French style of Opéra Bouffe to an African American choir. In doing so, in 1873, just a decade after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, together, they created the first American opera company — black or white — in the nation.
When “Time of the Season” became a hit song in 1969, the Zombies had already disbanded, but for some reason, there was a band touring around America calling itself the Zombies.
This is the story of boy band impresario and convicted Ponzi schemer, Lou Pearlman. Listen as Pearlman biographer, Tyler Gray, and talent manager Jeanne Tanzy-Williams discuss an individual who was larger than life.
Vaudeville was once America's most popular form of entertainment. Audiences flocked to the theaters to watch an array of performances ranging from standard singers and comedians, to shadow puppets and a man who eats weird stuff. A few savvy businessmen recognized vaudeville's popularity early on, and ruthlessly built vast networks of theaters. They transformed popular entertainment, for the first time, into big business.
In 1915, Joe Hill, a Swedish-American labor activist, was unjustly convicted and executed by the State of Utah, but not before leaving behind a body of work that would inform the next generation of American folk music.
Every Sunday since the end of World War II, musicians journeyed to Washington Square Park to sing folk-songs. Until one Sunday—after the City of New York denied the musicians a singing permit—they decided to protest instead. What resulted was a violent confrontation with authority.
In 1897, the city of New Orleans created a legal red-light district nicknamed Storyville. Prostitution, gambling, and drinking were all legal in the district. Wherever you went you could hear the sounds of a new emerging style of music called Jazz.
Jingles are traditionally defined as short songs about a product that are written for TV or radio, but—with songs like Poo-Pourri’s “Imagine Where You Can Go” being released on the internet—does the traditional definition need to be expanded?
It's hard to believe, but only a few centuries ago, young boys were castrated for the sole purpose of preserving their high-pitched singing voices. These boys—commonly referred to as Castrati—started out singing the high parts in church choirs, but, with the surging popularity of opera, soon amassed fame reminiscent of our modern pop stars.
Ten years before hippies grew their hair long and twenty years before rock stars like David Bowie began wearing makeup, Tiny Tim did both. His unique appearance complimented his high-pitched falsetto singing and small ukulele. Like a performer out of step with time, Tiny’s repertoire featured songs from an era of music most people had forgotten. The audience didn’t know what to think; some people thought Tiny was one red rubber nose away from being a clown, others saw a sincere musician channeling the spirit of a bygone era. The only thing everyone could agree on was that they could not take their eyes off Tiny Tim.
Taps is a 24 note bugle call that was composed during the American Civil War. It is the only piece of music that is required to be performed at a United States military funeral. Oddly, when it was written it was never intended to be played at funerals. It was supposed to tell soldiers when to go to sleep.
Ramón Sabat once owned Panart Records, the largest indie label in Cuba. Legendary Cuban vocalists like Celia Cruz and Olga Guillot made their first recordings with Panart. Nat King Cole recorded his first Spanish album in Panart Studios. Success, however, did not come easily to Panart. Ramón Sabat had to overcome the dirty tactics of a rival American-owned record label and surmount the prohibitive poverty that barred many Cubans from owning a record collection. The only force strong enough to stop Panart Records was the Cuban National Government.
Jennifer Nelson is a documentary filmmaker who wanted to make a movie about the song “Happy Birthday to You.” When she inquired about using the song in her film the owners of the song forced her to pay for it, and she did. However, while Jennifer Nelson was researching her film, she uncovered some evidence that could prove that the people she paid may not own the song and never did.
Imagine if all your favorite songs were banned from the radio. Well, that actually happened during the Great Radio Boycott of 1941. The United State’s most famous songwriters collectively decided to pull their catalogs from the public airwaves. This was their response to the radio stations refusing to pay a fair price for the music they broadcast. The boycott lasted for only ten months, but the consequences were far-reaching, especially for one entertainer named Sharkey. Sharkey was forced to watch as his radio career became collateral damage in this historic battle.
In 1981, no one thought MTV was a good idea. Cable companies had little interest in a network that broadcast music videos 24-hours a day. Record labels scoffed at the idea of giving music videos away for free. As a last resort, the fledgling cable channel decided to risk the ire of the cable companies and air the now iconic “I Want My MTV” advertising campaign. The campaign implored teenagers to call their local cable company and demand their MTV. Call they did and the rest, as they say, is history.
Back in the day, all the A-list philosophers and scientists argued over the best method for tuning a musical instrument. The battles they fought were some of the fiercest intellectual scuffles the western world has ever seen.
In the aftermath of World War II, the United States Military assigned a tech-savvy GI named Jack Mullin the mission of investigating secret inventions left behind by the Nazis. Mullin’s journeys around Germany led him to a makeshift radio studio that had a device called the Magnetophon, the first reel-to-reel tape recorder that realistically recorded sound.