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Today in Music History for July 11: In 1889, "Leo the Royal Cadet," described as a military opera, premiered at Martin's Opera House in Kingston, Ont. The performance took place under the patronage of the nearby Royal Military College.

Today in Music History for July 11:

In 1889, "Leo the Royal Cadet," described as a military opera, premiered at Martin's Opera House in Kingston, Ont. The performance took place under the patronage of the nearby Royal Military College.

In 1937, George Gershwin, one of the world's greatest composers of popular music, died in Beverly Hills, Calif., of a brain tumour. He was only 38. Gershwin wrote his first hit, "Swanee," in 1918 for the Broadway show, "Sinbad," starring Al Jolson. Gershwin's other hits included "The Man I Love," "S'Wonderful," "Summertime" and "Love is Here to Stay." The lyrics for many of his songs were provided by his brother Ira. George Gershwin wrote the scores for such Broadway shows as "Funny Face," "Porgy and Bess" and "Of Thee I Sing," which in 1932 became the first musical to win a Pulitzer Prize. Gershwin played the piano at the premiere of his widely acclaimed "Rhapsody in Blue" in 1924, accompanied by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. "Rhapsody in Blue" was also the title of a 1945 movie biography, starring Robert Alda as Gershwin.

In 1947, Jeff Hanna, guitarist with "The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band," was born in Detroit. Formed in California in 1966, the country-rock group's commercial breakthrough didn't come until 1970 with the album "Uncle Charlie and his Dog Teddy." From the LP came a top-10 single, a cover version of Jerry Jeff Walker's "Mr. Bojangles." In 1971, "The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band" recorded a critically-acclaimed three-LP set of traditional country tunes, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," with such country music elders as Roy Acuff, Mother Maybelle Carter and Doc Watson. A second "Circle" volume was issued in 1989. Most of the "Dirt Band's" other recent records have also been in a country vein.

In 1949, Canadian Liona Boyd, one of the world's leading classical guitarists, was born in London, England. Boyd has performed around the world, both as a soloist and with symphony orchestras. She has also recorded with the likes of Gordon Lightfoot, Eric Clapton and Chet Atkins. Her 1976 North American tour with Lightfoot helped introduce classical guitar to a wider audience. Boyd has won several Juno Awards and is a member of the Order of Canada.

In 1957, Alan McCartney of the Montreal techno-rock trio "Men Without Hats" was born.

In 1959, singer Joan Baez performed a duet with Bob Gibson at the Newport Folk Festival. The performance was released as Baez's first recording.

In 1964, "The Supremes" released their first hit, "Where Did Our Love Go."

In 1970, the "Woodstock" soundtrack hit No. 1 on the U.S. album chart, the first triple album to do so.

In 1971, "Jesus Christ Superstar," which began life as a record album, had its first stage performance in Pittsburgh. The Andrew Lloyd Webber rock musical, starring Yvonne Elliman and Ben Vereen, would open on Broadway the following October.

In 1979, Neil Young's concert film "Rust Never Sleeps" premiered in Los Angeles.

In 1979, the first digital rock album, "Bop Till You Drop," by Ry Cooder, was released. The digital recording process had been used for some time for classical LP's, but this was the first time it had been employed for rock.

In 1981, Hubert Johnson, a member of the Motown group "The Contours," committed suicide in Detroit. Johnson was a cousin of Jackie Wilson, who introduced "The Contours" to Motown head Berry Gordy Jr. "The Contours" took their feverish dance tune "Do You Love Me?" to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962.

In 1987, an unusual collaboration between British rock star Sting and U.S. jazzman Gil Evans opened the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy. Evans's orchestra backed Sting during the performance, which included such "Police" tunes as "Shadows in the Rain" and "Roxanne."

In 1993, Irish singer Sinead O'Connor pulled out of her planned stage debut in Dublin at the last moment, complaining of emotional exhaustion. She was to have opened four days later in "Hamlet's Nightmare," playing the part of "Death."

In 1993, Mario Bauza, a pioneer in Afro-Cuban jazz, died in New York of cancer at age 82. Bauza helped launch the career of Ella Fitzgerald with "The Chick Webb Orchestra" in the 1930s. But his major contribution to jazz was combining Cuban rhythms with jazz-oriented brass, a style that heavily influenced Dizzy Gillespie.

In 1995, "R.E.M." bassist Mike Mills underwent abdominal surgery in Germany. The band was forced to cancel several shows for the second time in a year. The earlier cancellations came after drummer Bill Berry suffered a brain aneurysm.

In 1996, Lou Gottlieb, the frontman for the 1960s folk group "The Limeliters," died in Sebastopol, Calif., of cancer at age 72. Gottlieb also played bass with the trio, whose other members were Glenn Yarbrough and Alex Hassilev. "The Limeliters" had 10 albums on the Billboard chart between 1961-64. The most popular was "Tonight: In Person," which reached No. 5 in 1961. Gottlieb retired from music in 1966, but revived "The Limeliters" seven years later and the group performed until shortly before his death.

In 2008, "Barenaked Ladies" frontman Steven Page was charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana. He avoided jail time in an October trial by agreeing to follow court stipulated orders for the next six months. The charges were formally dismissed in May 2009.

In 2009, Paul McCartney played his lone Canadian concert of the year for an estimated 50,000 people who gathered on the Halifax Common.

In 2010, pop star Shakira headlined a closing ceremony in Johannesburg for the 2010 World Cup.

In 2010, a free Jimmy Buffett concert, with proceeds going to help the Gulf Coast through the oil spill crisis, drew tens of thousands of people to Gulf Shores, Ala. The concert was originally scheduled for July 1st but had to be postponed because of heavy surf from Hurricane Alex.

In 2010, Big Kenny of the country duo "Big & Rich" co-wrote a new song called "Heart of Africa" which he debuted at a special concert in Kenya held to raise money for the World Food Program of the United Nations.

In 2011, Rob Grill, the lead singer of 1960s rock band "The Grass Roots," died at age 67. He sang on such hits as "Midnight Confessions," ''Temptation Eyes," and "Let's Live for Today."

In 2011, singer-songwriter Jewel gave birth to her first child, a boy, Kase Townes Murray.

In 2014, Tommy Ramone, drummer of the seminal punk band The Ramones and the last surviving member of the original group, died at age 65. He co-founded the group in 1974 in New York along with singer Joey Ramone, bassist DeeDee Ramone and guitarist Johnny Ramone. All four band members had different surnames, but took the common name Ramone. The band influenced a generation of rockers, and their hit songs "I Wanna be Sedated" and "Blitzkrieg Bop," among others, earned them an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.


The Canadian Press