Today in music history: Elvis' 'White Christmas' gets a DJ in trouble

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley (NPR)

History highlight:

Today in 1957, Al Priddy, a DJ at the Portland, Oregon, radio station KEX, was fired for playing the Elvis Presley version of "White Christmas." The station's program manager had banned the song, saying it "desecrates the Spirit of Christmas and transgresses the composer's intent." The story made national news, but Priddy was back on the air two weeks later, with the station claiming letters were pouring in to support the DJ. As part of the stunt, Priddy recorded the GM calling in to "fire" him for playing the song and played the conversation on his show before he left.

Also, in:

1967 - The Monkees' album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones Ltd went to No. 1 on the U.S. album chart. It was their fourth album to sell over a million copies, following The Monkees, More Of The Monkees and Headquarters.

1969 - Cindy Birdsong of the Supremes was kidnapped at knifepoint by a maintenance man who worked in the building she lived in. She later escaped unharmed by jumping out of his car on the San Diego freeway. The kidnapper was arrested in Las Vegas four days later.

1979 - Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand's "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" was at No. 1 on the U.S. singles chart. A radio station engineer had spliced together Neil's version with Barbra's version and got such good response, the station added it to their playlist. When Neil was told about it, he decided to re-record the song with Barbra herself, and within weeks of its release, the single went to No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 5 in the U.K.

1982 - U.S. folk singer David Blue died of a heart attack aged 41 while jogging in New York's Washington Square Park. He was a member of Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue during the late 70s and he wrote "Outlaw Man" covered by The Eagles on their 1973 Desperado album.

1983 - MTV aired the full 14-minute version of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video for the first time. Regarded as the most influential pop music video of all time, the video was inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2009, the first music video to ever receive this honor, for being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant.

1995 - Mariah Carey went to No. 1 on the U.S. singles chart with her duet with Boyz II Men "One Sweet Day". It made Carey the first artist in history to have two consecutive single debut at No. 1, with "Fantasy" being her first.

2000 - The Smashing Pumpkins played their final concert when they appeared at the Metro Club in Chicago.

2001 - Valerie Jones died at age 45. She was one-third of the sister group The Jones Girls, who sang back-up vocals with Lou Reed, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Lou Rawls, Teddy Pendergrass and Betty Everett. Diana Ross eventually provided larger exposure for the group by giving the sisters a featured portion within her own stage show. Their biggest hit was "You Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else", which broke the Billboard Magazine Top 40 at No. 38 in 1979. The song was also a Top 5 R&B hit, and became a gold record.

2002 - Oasis singer Liam Gallagher was arrested and charged with assault after he Kung-Fu kicked a police officer. The incident happened at the Bayerischer hotel in Munich. The singer lost his two front teeth in the brawl.

2006 - Dutch singer Mariska Veres from Shocking Blue died of cancer at the age of 59.

2009 - Scottish songwriter, lyricist, vocalist, producer, pianist, and co-creator of The Alan Parsons Project Eric Woolfson died from kidney cancer age 64.

2012 - Led Zeppelin received a prestigious award from Barack Obama for their significant contribution to American culture and the arts. Dressed in black suits and bow ties, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page were among a group of artists who received Kennedy Center Honors at a dinner event at the White House. In his tribute to the band, Obama said: "When Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham burst onto the musical scene in the late 1960s, the world never saw it coming." The president thanked the former band members for behaving themselves at the White House given their history of "hotel rooms being trashed and mayhem all around".

2013 - Reggae singer Junior Murvin, best known for the 1976 hit song "Police and Thieves", died in Jamaica aged 67.

2014 - American saxophone player Bobby Keys died as a result of cirrhosis at his home in Franklin, Tennessee. Keys started touring at age fifteen with Bobby Vee and fellow Texan Buddy Holly and was best known as being the main saxophone player for The Rolling Stones. When on tour with the Stones, according to legend, Keys filled a bathtub with Dom Perignon champagne and drank most of it.

2016 - Duran Duran said they were "outraged and saddened" at losing a High Court fight to reclaim US rights to some of their most famous songs. The group had argued that US copyright laws gave them the right to call for a reversion of copyright after 35 years. 'Girls on Film', 'Rio' and 'A View to a Kill'' were among the disputed tracks.

Birthdays:

Tom McGuinness of Manfred Mann is 77.

Rick Savage of Def Leppard is 59.

Foo Fighters bassist Nate Mendel is 51.

Singer Nelly Furtado is 41.

Singer Britney Spears is 38.

Singer/songwriter Charlie Puth is 28.

Highlights for Today in Music History are gathered from This Day in Music, Paul Shaffer's Day in Rock, Song Facts and Wikipedia.


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