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Today in Music History for May 24: In 1859, the song "Ave Maria," featuring a melody by French composer Charles Gounod superimposed on a theme from Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier," was first performed in Paris by opera singer Marie Caroline Miolan-Car

Today in Music History for May 24:

In 1859, the song "Ave Maria," featuring a melody by French composer Charles Gounod superimposed on a theme from Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier," was first performed in Paris by opera singer Marie Caroline Miolan-Carvalho.

In 1876, the band of the North West Mounted Police, the forerunner of the RCMP, made its debut in Swan River, Manitoba. The instruments were purchased by the 20 band members themselves and shipped from Winnipeg by dog sled.

In 1941, Bob Dylan was born Robert Allan Zimmerman in Duluth, Minn. He is said to have changed his name in honour of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, but Dylan later denied the story. His inspiration was pioneer folk singer Woody Guthrie. Dylan was discovered by Columbia Records' John Hammond during an audition for another folk singer. His early hits, such as "Blowin' in the Wind," "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" and "Mr. Tambourine Man" became instant standards and his music made an impression on millions of young people. But in 1965, Dylan shocked folk music purists by appearing at the Newport Festival with an electric guitar and a backup band. Dylan was named to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and received the 1997 Kennedy Centre Honors for artistic excellence. Dylan won an Oscar in 2001 for writing the song, "Things Have Changed" from the movie "Wonder Boys." In 2016, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature.

In 1944, singer Patti Labelle was born Patricia Louise Holt in Philadelphia. She formed "Patti Labelle and the Blue Belles" in 1961, and the group had a No. 15 hit the following year with "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman." "The Blue Belles" were renamed "Labelle" in 1971, and in 1973 joined the glitter rock trend with their futuristic space cadet suits. Labelle's "Lady Marmalade" was a 1975 million-seller. The group broke up in 1977, and Patti Labelle began a solo career. Another "Labelle" member, Sarah Dash, was born on this day in 1942.

In 1963, Elmore James, one of the most influential urban blues guitarists, died of a heart attack in Chicago at age 45. His slide-guitar technique was copied by many rock musicians, including Eric Clapton, Duane Allman and Brian Jones. His best-known recording is "Dust My Broom."

In 1969, Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull were arrested for marijuana possession at their home in London.

In 1974, Duke Ellington, jazz pianist, composer and band leader, died of cancer at age 75. He was one of the most well-known jazz performers and great composers of the 20th century. He acquired his nickname "Duke" from his dapper appearance as he worked as a soda-jerk at Washington's Poodle Dog Cafe. In 1927, he got his big break and moved into the Cotton Club in Harlem, which offered him a platform to develop his career. By 1931, his Cotton Club orchestra had become the leading big band in the U.S. He wrote such standards as "Mood Indigo," "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good" and "Satin Doll."

In 1978, the self-titled debut album by the rock band "Van Halen" was certified gold in the U.S. It eventually sold more than two million copies.

In 1980, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks of "Genesis" manned the booths at the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles, selling tickets to their show the next night.

In 1988, Jon Bon Jovi joined Bryan Adams on stage as Adams gave an impromptu performance at a Vancouver nightclub. All 900 tickets for Adams' show, which wasn't announced until that day, were snapped up within seven minutes. Adams donated the $20,000 raised to Vancouver Children's Hospital for treatment of young cancer patients.

In 1990, Axl Rose of "Guns N' Roses" and Erin Everly, Don Everly's daughter, filed for divorce. They were married for only 27 days.

In 1991, Gene Clark, a founding member of "The Byrds," died of natural causes at his home in Sherman Oaks, Calif. Clark had a history of alcohol and drug abuse. He was either 49, as noted in reference books, or 46, as claimed by his manager. Clark, a singer-guitarist-songwriter, performed on the hits "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn! Turn! Turn!" but left the pioneer folk-rock group in 1966. The split was due to differences with "Byrds'" leader Roger McGuinn -- and to Clark's fear of flying, which made touring difficult. Clark and the other "Byrds" were inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame four months before his death.

In 1994, "Poison" lead singer Bret Michaels suffered multiple broken bones and other injuries when he crashed his Ferrari into a light pole in Los Angeles. Michaels wasn't charged, but had to pay for the pole.

In 1995, the members of "Lynyrd Skynryd" put their handprints and signatures into the Hollywood Rock Walk.

In 1997, "The Tragically Hip's" "Live Between Us" was released. It became their third straight album to debut at No. 1 on the Canadian music chart. An unprecedented eight tracks from the album were listed that first week on the rock radio chart published by "The Record" music industry magazine.

In 2000, Britney Spears' album "Oops!...I Did It Again" sold 1.3 million copies its first week out, giving her a then-record for the most first-week sales for a female artist.

In 2006, Taylor Hicks beat out Katherine McPhee to win the fifth season of "American Idol."

In 2010, "Slipknot" bassist Paul Gray was found dead in a hotel room in Des Moines, Iowa. He was 38. Autopsy results showed he died of an accidental overdose of morphine and fentanyl and he also had significant heart disease. He was one of the founding members of the Des Moines-based group known for its grotesque masks, thrashing sound and aggressive, dark lyrics. The band won a Grammy in 2006 for best metal performance for the song "Before I Forget."

In 2013, Ed Shaughnessy, the jazz drummer who anchored the rhythm section of Doc Severinsen's "Tonight Show" band from 1963-92, died in Southern California. He was 84. The New Jersey native began his jazz career as a teenager, playing with Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman and Count Basie. He replaced Buddy Rich in Tommy Dorsey's band.

In 2014, rapper Kanye West and TV reality star Kim Kardashian were married in a private ceremony at Belvedere Fort in Florence, Italy.

In 2016, iconic Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip posted on their website that frontman Gord Downie was battling terminal brain cancer - first diagnosed in December and followed by surgery and treatment. Doctors cleared Downie for the band's summer, 10-city cross-Canada tour. (Downie died on Oct. 17, 2017.)

In 2023, iconic, chart-topping singer Tina Turner died at age 83 at her home in Switzerland after a long illness. She sold more than 150 million records worldwide and won 11 Grammys.


The Canadian Press