Today in Music History: Bobby Darin's 'Mack the Knife' goes No. 1

Bobby Darin
Publicity photo of Bobby Darin. (General Artists Corporation | Wikipedia Public Domain)

History Highlight

Today in 1959, Bobby Darin's swinging version of "Mack the Knife," a song about a killer from The Threepenny Opera, hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 and stayed there for nine weeks. Darin, who was known for lighter fare like "Splish Splash," gained a more adult following, putting him on par with Frank Sinatra. In 1962 he won a Golden Globe Award for his first film "Come September" co-starring his first wife, actress Sandra Dee. He also became deeply active in politics in the 1960s, and was present at the site of Kennedy's assassination in 1968. That would end up being a very rough year for him, as it was also that year that he found out he had been raised by his grandmother, and that the woman he thought was his sister was actually his mother. Those events deeply affected Darin and sent him into a long period of seclusion.

Also, Today In:

1965 - Johnny Cash was arrested crossing the Mexican border into El Paso, Texas, after customs officials found hundreds of pills in his guitar case. He received a suspended jail sentence and a $1,000 fine.

1974 - Olivia Newton-John started a two-week run at No. 1 on the U.S. singles chart with "I Honestly Love You," her first of five U.S. chart toppers. Meanwhile on the album chart, the Beach Boys hit No. 1 with Endless Summer, their second No. 1 album.

1979 - ABBA visited the White House while on tour for the first and only time in America. They met President Carter's daughter Amy, who was a big fan.

1980 - The Bee Gees sued their former manager Robert Stigwood for $136 million, claiming unpaid royalties and fraud. The group alleged that the contracts they signed with Stigwood in 1968 were predatory and unfair, and that they were too young to understand what they were signing. The suit was eventually settled out of court.

1987 - Former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr began rehearsals with The Pretenders in preparation for the band supporting U2 on their North American tour.

1991 - Guns N' Roses started a two-week run at No. 1 on the U.S. album chart with Use Your Illusion II.

1991 - Ray Charles was honored on the TV special "Ray Charles: 50 Years Of Music". Highlights of the show include Charles performing "Living For The City" with Stevie Wonder and "Busted" with Willie Nelson.

1992 - Singer Eddie Kendricks of The Temptations died in Birmingham, Ala., at age 52 from lung cancer. Noted for his distinctive falsetto singing style, Kendricks co-founded The Temptations and was one of the Motown group's lead singers from 1960 until 1971. His was the lead voice on the Temptations' hits, "The Way You Do The Things You Do," "Get Ready" and "Just My Imagination." As a solo artist, Kendricks recorded several hits of his own during the 1970s, including the U.S. No. 1 single "Keep On Truckin."

1999 - Roger Daltrey announced that The Who were re-forming and that their first performance would be in Las Vegas on Oct. 29 of that year.

1999 - The Corrs performed live on MTV's Unplugged at Ardmore Studios in Wicklow, Ireland.

1999 - Paul McCartney released Run Devil Run in the U.S.

1999 - After breaking up in 1983, The Who reformed when Roger Daltrey announced that they will play a concert in Las Vegas.

2000 - CSI: Crime Scene Investigation debuted on CBS with "Who Are You?" by The Who as the theme song. Three more series in the franchise appeared, all with theme songs by The Who: CSI: Miami ("Won't Get Fooled Again"), CSI: NY ("Baba O'Riley") and CSI: Cyber ("I Can See For Miles").

2000 - Beatles fans around the world rushed out to buy copies of the Fab Four's autobiography. Stores in Japan and Britain opened at midnight to satisfy demand for the book, the first written by the band members. Publishers said the 350,000-word volume had already attracted more than 1.5 million pre-orders worldwide.

2006 - Jeffrey Borer, owner of the company that sold Michael Jackson his private Gulfstream jet, was sentenced to six months in prison for ordering employee Arvel Jett Reeves to install two video cameras in it in order to catch Jackson saying something for which he could be blackmailed.

2007 - A federal jury found a Minnesota woman guilty of online music file sharing through the public service KaZaa, fining her $220,000.

2011 - David Cassidy filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Sony, claiming he had not been paid royalties for sales of Partridge Family merchandise which bear his image, including lunchboxes, magazines and board games. Cassidy told CNN, "It's just a matter of being fair and doing the right thing. Just be fair, be real, be genuine, don't be greedy."

2011 - The Martin Scorsese documentary "George Harrison: Living in the Material World" premiered on HBO. Ringo Starr says in the film: "He had the bag of love-beads personality and the bag of anger."

2012 - Adele posted her new theme to "Skyfall", the 23rd film in the James Bond series. The theme song, written by Adele and her songwriting partner Paul Epworth, featured a 77-piece backing orchestra.

2014 - Leonard Delaney, drummer for The Tornadoes, died at the age of 71 after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's disease.


Richard Street of the Temptations was born today in 1942.

Brian Connolly, lead singer with Sweet, was born today in 1945.

Steve Miller is 77.

Russell Mael of Sparks is 72.

Fast Eddie Clarke, guitarist with Motörhead, was born today in 1950.

Bob Geldof is 69.

Steve Jobs was born today in 1955.

James Valentine, Maroon 5 guitarist, is 42.

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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