10 Strange But Interesting Musical History Facts

By: Jay Asher

In a departure from the serious side of music production tutorials and techniques, Jay Asher takes us on a journey through musical history with these 10 unusual facts that will surprise you.

1. Titanic

The London Symphony Orchestra was originally booked to perform on the Titanic on its maiden voyage, but they ended up on another boat at the last minute. That surely would have been worse than London Bridge falling down!

2. Tin Pan Alley

Yes, it is an actual place, New York City, and the side streets of Times Square. So many music publishers were hawking their songs on crappy “tinny” pianos that it got this nickname, and it stuck. Oddly enough the Brill Building got its nickname from being, well, The Brill Building.

3. Yesterday

This Paul McCartney song is the most covered song of all time! Although like all their songs it is credited to Lennon-McCartney, it was all Paul. He came up with the melody first and used dummy lyrics, called “Scrambled Eggs.” I am just guessing that had he stuck with those lyrics it would not have reached the same level of success. How come I am hungry all of a sudden?

4. Never Too Late For Great

Jazz great Louis Armstrong is an essential part of the history of Jazz, but there was not a lot of money in it and he got tired of being more respected than wealthy. So he decided to become a pop star. At sixty-seven years young, in 1967 coincidentally, he released the record “What A Wonderful World”, which climbed to the top of the charts all over the world. Even now, you are unlikely to attend a wedding or a bar mitzvah where it will not be played.

5. Tombstone Testimony

Jimi Hendrix’s tombstone has a Fender Stratocaster carved on it. My only quibble? It should have been depicted on fire.

6. Pioneer or Pied Piper?

The first pressed CD in the US was Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The USA.” Either the beginning or the end or recorded music, according to some. My view? I’ll never tell.

7.  Now that’s a babysitter!

Billie Holiday was a babysitter for comedian Billy Crystal. I wonder if she sang for him and  if so, which songs?

8.  Oy, I want a bagel and schmear

The name Klezmer music is derived from two Hebrew words, clay and zimmer, which translates roughly to “vessel of music.”

9. Hired Gun

Beethoven was the first of the composers we now consider masters who never had an official court position, making him the first freelancer. Man, I wish I had had a court position in my career

10.  By The Grace of God (or the Recording Academy)

Well some members think they are God.  Unbelievably, Elvis Presley won only three Grammy Awards in his incredible and influential career, and all three were for Gospel records. No Grammy for: Hound Dog, Jailhouse Rock, Don’t Be Cruel, Can’t Help Falling in Love, Suspicious Minds, and on and on. And how many has Kanye won? No offense to fans of his music but please, shoot me now.

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