August 18: Remembering Elmer Bernstein

Celebrity-04-04-1922Born in New York City on April 4 1922 to Ukrainian and Austro-Hungarian parents, Elmer Bernstein [], died of cancer in his sleep this day in 2004.  He was an American composer and conductor best known for his many film scores. In a career which spanned fifty years, he composed music for hundreds of film and television productions. His most popular works include the scores to The Magnificent Seven, The Ten Commandments, The Great Escape, To Kill a Mockingbird, Ghostbusters, The Black Cauldron, Airplane!, Cape Fear, and Animal House.

Bernstein won an Oscar for his score to Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967) and was nominated for fourteen Oscars in total. He also won two Golden Globes, an Emmy, and was nominated for two Grammy Awards.


July 30, 1984: Queen’s Roger Taylor releases “Strange Frontier”

“Strange Frontier” was the second single, after “Man On Fire”, to be released from Queen drummer Roger Taylor‘s second album Strange Frontier. Released in the UK, USA, Canada and the Netherlands on 30 July 1984, with “I Cry For You” on the b-side, it reached #98 in the UK Singles Chart.

Taylor provided vocals, drums, keyboards, bass guitar, and guitars on the track, with David Richards playing additional keyboards.

July 19, 1993: The No More Brothers remix Freddie Mercury’s “Living On My Own”

“Living on My Own” is a song by Freddie Mercury, originally included in his first solo album Mr. Bad Guy. It was released as a single (backed with “My Love Is Dangerous”) in September 1985 in the United Kingdom where it peaked at number 50. The July 1985 release in the United States had “She Blows Hot & Cold” as its B-side.

In 1993, two years after Mercury’s death, the No More Brothers Mix of the song was released and reached number 1 in the UK and France, becoming Mercury’s first solo number 1 hit; in the rest of the world including Europe, Asia and IberoAmerica this version also reached the top in the charts, meanwhile in the United States and Canada the 1993 version was not officially released. It remained at the top for two weeks on the British charts.

1993 edition
A. Living on My Own (Radio mix)
B. Living on My Own (1992 album remix)


July 17, 1982: “Fame” by Irene Cara is the new UK No 1

“Fame” is a pop song, written by Michael Gore (music) and Dean Pitchford (lyrics), released in 1980 that achieved chart success as the theme song to the Fame film and TV series. The song was performed by Irene Cara, who played the role of Coco Hernandez in the original movie. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1980, and the Golden Globe Award the same year.

“Fame” rose to number four on the Billboard Hot 100 in August 1980. It also reached number one on the Billboard dance chart for one week. The song was rereleased in the United Kingdom in 1982 following the airing of the Fame television series. It hit number one in the UK Singles Chart for three weeks. It has sold 1.05 million copies in the UK as of June 2013. The song also reached number one in Flanders, Ireland, the Netherlands and New Zealand, and number three in Australia and Sweden. [Wikipedia]

July 16, 1984: Queen release “It’ A Hard Life”

“It’s a Hard Life” is a song by the British rock band Queen, written by lead singer Freddie Mercury. It was featured on their 1984 album The Works, and it was the third single from that album. It reached number 6 in the UK Singles Chart and was their third consecutive Top 10 single from the album. It also reached number 2 in Ireland and number 20 in the Netherlands.

Freddie Mercury – lead and backing vocals, piano
Brian May – electric guitar, backing vocals
Roger Taylor – drums, backing vocals
John Deacon – bass guitar


July 13, 1985: Live Aid

Live Aid was a dual-venue benefit concert held on 13 July 1985, and an ongoing music-based fundraising initiative. The original event was organised by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise funds for relief of the ongoing Ethiopian famine. Billed as the “global jukebox”, the event was held simultaneously at Wembley Stadium in London, England, United Kingdom (attended by 72,000 people) and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States (attended by about 100,000 people).

On the same day, concerts inspired by the initiative happened in other countries, such as the Soviet Union, Canada, Japan, Yugoslavia, Austria, Australia and West Germany. It was one of the largest-scale satellite link-ups and television broadcasts of all time; an estimated global audience of 1.9 billion, across 150 nations, watched the live broadcast.

The 1985 Live Aid concert was conceived as a follow-on to the successful charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” which was also the brainchild of Geldof and Ure. In October 1984, images of millions of people starving to death in Ethiopia were shown in the UK in Michael Buerk‘s BBC News reports on the 1984 famine. Bob Geldof saw the report, and called Midge Ure from Ultravox, and together they quickly co-wrote the song, in the hope of raising money for famine relief. Geldof then contacted colleagues in the music industry and persuaded them to record the single under the title ‘Band Aid’ for free. It stayed at number-one for five weeks in the UK, was Christmas number one, and became the fastest-selling single ever in Britain and raised £8 million, rather than the £70,000 Geldof and Ure had initially expected. Geldof then set his sights on staging a huge concert to raise further funds.

The idea to stage a charity concert to raise more funds for Ethiopia originally came from Boy George, the lead singer of Culture Club. George and Culture Club drummer Jon Moss had taken part in the recording of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and in December 1984 Culture Club were undertaking a tour of the UK, which culminated in six nights at Wembley Arena. On the final night at Wembley, Saturday 22 December 1984, an impromptu gathering of some of the other artists from Band Aid joined Culture Club on stage at the end of the concert for an encore of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”. George was so overcome by the occasion he told Geldof that they should consider organising a benefit concert. Speaking to the UK music magazine Melody Maker at the beginning of January 1985, Geldof revealed his enthusiasm for George’s idea, saying, “If George is organising it, you can tell him he can call me at any time and I’ll do it. It’s a logical progression from the record, but the point is you don’t just talk about it, you go ahead and do it!”

It was clear from the interview that Geldof had already had the idea to hold a dual venue concert and how the concerts should be structured:

“The show should be as big as is humanly possible. There’s no point just 5,000 fans turning up at Wembley; we need to have Wembley linked with Madison Square Gardens and the whole show to be televised worldwide. It would be great for Duran to play three or four numbers at Wembley and then flick to Madison Square where Springsteen would be playing. While he’s on, the Wembley stage could be made ready for the next British act like the Thompsons or whoever. In that way lots of acts could be featured and the television rights, tickets and so on could raise a phenomenal amount of money. It’s not an impossible idea, and certainly one worth exploiting.”

Broadcaster Richard Skinner opened the Live Aid concert with the words: “It’s twelve noon in London, seven AM in Philadelphia, and around the world it’s time for Live Aid.”

The Coldstream Guards opened the show in London playing “God Save The Queen”.  Status Quo were the first band to perform. Other artists and groups on the Wembley bill were The Style Council, The Boomtown Rats, Ultravox, Spandau Ballet, Sade, Sting & Phil Collins, Bryan Ferry, U2, Queen, and David Bowie. In Philadelphia, an unknown Bernard Watson (who had persuaded concert promoter Bill Graham to let him perform in the spirit of charity, after sleeping outside the stadium for a week) opened proceedings. He was followed by Joan Baez and the rest of the bill included The Four Tops, Billy Ocean, Black Sabbath, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Judas Priest, Bryan Adams, The Beach Boys, Madonna, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins (who travelled by Concorde to be able to play at both venues) Duran Duran, and Bob Dylan.

Celebrity presenters on both sides included DJ Tommy Vance, Noel Edmonds, Jack Nicholson, John Hurt, Chevy Chase, George Segal, Bette Midler and Dionne Warwick. [Wikipedia]

July 13, 1973: Queen releases their debut album

Queen is the self-titled debut studio album by the British rock band Queen, released on 13 July 1973 by EMI Records in the United Kingdom and by Elektra Records in the United States. It was recorded at Trident Studios and De Lane Lea Music Centre, London, with production by Roy Thomas Baker (as Roy Baker), John Anthony and Queen. The album was influenced by the hard rock, progressive rock and heavy metal of the time and covers subjects such as folklore (“My Fairy King”) and religion (“Jesus”). Lead singer Freddie Mercury composed five of the ten tracks, guitarist Brian May composed four songs, (including “Doing All Right”, which was co-written by Smile band-mate Tim Staffell), and drummer Roger Taylor composed and sang “Modern Times Rock and Roll”. The final song on the album is a short instrumental version of “Seven Seas of Rhye”.

Track listing
The band included on the album sleeve the comment “And nobody played synthesiser”, a purist principle of May’s, as some listeners had mistaken their elaborate multi-tracking and effects processed by guitar and vocal sounds as synthesisers. Bass guitarist John Deacon was credited as “Deacon John”, but after its release, he asked to be referred to by his real name.

Side one
1. “Keep Yourself Alive” Brian May 3:46
2. “Doing All Right” May, Tim Staffell 4:10
3. “Great King Rat” Freddie Mercury 5:41
4. “My Fairy King” Mercury 4:07
Side two
5. “Liar” Mercury 6:26
6. “The Night Comes Down” May 4:24
7. “Modern Times Rock ‘n’ Roll” Roger Taylor 1:48
8. “Son and Daughter” May 3:19
9. “Jesus” Mercury 3:45
10. “Seven Seas of Rhye” (Instrumental; listed as “Seven Seas of Rhye…”) Mercury 1:10

Freddie Mercury – lead and backing vocals, piano, Hammond organ on “Liar”
Brian May – electric and acoustic guitars, backing vocals, vocal bridge on “Keep Yourself Alive”, piano on “Doing All Right”
Roger Taylor – drums, percussion, backing vocals, screams on “My Fairy King”, lead vocals on “Modern Times Rock ‘n’ Roll”, vocal bridge on “Keep Yourself Alive”
John Deacon (credited as “Deacon John”) – bass guitar


Despite being released in 1973, the album did not reach its peak until 7 February 1976 when it reached No 24.  In the same chart, the band had A Night At The Opera at No 4, Sheer Heart Attack at No 15, and Queen II at No 34 [].  The following week it dropped to No 40 but returned to No 24 the following week.  By that time A Night At The Opera had slipped to 6, and Sheer Heart Attack to 20 while Queen II rose to No 23 [].

Listen to Queen on Deezer.

July 12, 1957: Elvis Presley is at Number 1 with “All Shook Up”

“All Shook Up” is a song recorded by Elvis Presley, and composed by Otis Blackwell. The single topped the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 on April 13, 1957, staying there for eight weeks. It also topped the Billboard R&B chart for four weeks, becoming Presley’s second single to do so, and peaked at No. 1 on the country chart as well. It is certified 2X Platinum by the RIAA. [Wikipedia]

The song was No 1 in the UK Singles Chart for seven weeks.

Listen to “All Shook Up” on Deezer.


July 12, 1962: Ray Charles is at No 1 with “I Can’t Stop Loving You”

“I Can’t Stop Loving You” is a popular song written and composed by country singer, songwriter and musician Don Gibson, who first recorded it in 1957.

The song was covered by Ray Charles in 1962 and released as a single. Charles’ version reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962, for five weeks. This version went to number one on the U.S. R&B and Adult Contemporary charts. Billboard ranked it as the No. 2 song for 1962. Charles reached No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart in July 1962, staying for two weeks.

The Ray Charles version is noted for his saying the words before the last five lines of the song on the final chorus: “Sing the Song, Children”. Choral backing was provided by The Randy Van Horne Singers.

Listen to “I Can’t Stop Loving You” on Deezer.

UK No1 Single 45 years ago today: Donny Osmond with “Puppy Love”

“Puppy Love” is a popular song written by Paul Anka in 1960 for Annette Funicello, whom he was dating at the time. Anka’s version reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #33 on the UK Singles Chart.

Twelve years later it was revived by Donny Osmond. It was released on February 19, 1972. It reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 on April 1, 1972. It peaked at #1 in April 1972 on both the Canadian RPM singles chart for three weeks and the UK Singles Chart for five weeks the following July. [Wikipedia]

Watch Donny Osmond perform “Puppy Love” on Top Of The Pops on the thevideojukebox2 YouTube Channel.