ON THIS DAY IN BLACK MUSIC HISTORY: DECEMBER 23

#1 R&B Song 1978:   “Le Freak,” Chic

 

Born:   Little Esther Phillips (Esther May Jones), 1935; Eugene Richard (the Chi-Lites), 1940

 

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1955   The Five Keys and The Turbans tore the house down at Dr. Jive’s Brooklyn Paramount Christmas show.

 

1957   Sam Cooke charted with “Ill Come Running Back to You,” his second #1 R&B hit in two tries. Cooke was the father of Linda Womack of the duo Womack & Womack. Cooke originally recorded under the name Dale Cooke so as not to offend the spirited audience he sang to as a member of the gospel group the Soul Stirrers.

 

1959   Chuck Berry was arrested and charged with violating the Mann Act after he took a fourteen-year-old Apache Indian to work as a hat-check girl in the nightclub he owned in St. Louis. The arrest was predicated on the police position that he had transported a minor across a state line for immoral purposes. When Berry fired her, believing she was working as a prostitute, she reported him to the police. He was initially convicted and sentenced to the maximum of five years in jail, and fined $2,000. Due to racist comments by a judge, however, Berry was freed before he could be retried.

 

1960   The Brooklyn Paramount kicked off its annual Christmas rock ‘n’ roll shows, which ran through January 3. Among the sixteen acts appearing were Chubby Checker, the Drifters, Bo Diddley, Ray Charles, Little Anthony & the Imperials, the Shirelles, the Coasters, and the Blue Notes.

 

1976   Adding his name to the long list of performers who couldn’t keep a handle on their finances, Isaac Hayes filed for bankruptcy, with debts ranging from $6 million to $9 million.

 

1978   Chic’s C’est Chic album, one of the albums that defined the disco age, reached #4.

 

 

1991   British TV’s BBC2 aired Christmas in Vienna, a special featuring Diana Ross and Placido Domingo, from the Vienna City Hall.

 

1998   Cissy Houston, Roberta Flack, and Phoebe Snow backed Darlene Love as she did her yearly rendition of the immortal Phil Spector record “Christmas (Baby Plase Come Home)” on David Letterman’s CBS-TV show.

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