May 26 – Moondog, Aker Bilk, Little Willie John

1916

Birthday of blind street musician, instrument-maker, Viking poet Louis Hardin, better known as Moondog.
 
He’s ‘a living landmark in New York, the object of pilgrimage for hippies, composers, entertainers and writers’.He once took Alan Freed to court!
▷Guardian story ▹  
MP3: Hour of Moondog, Snore&Guzzle    MP3: KGNU podcast (7 minutes in) 

1962

English jazz clarinettist Acker Bilk gets a rare US#1 instrumental with his self-penned, wistful tune Stranger on the Shore.

 
It’s so rare that it remains the biggest-selling instrumental single of all time. On the UK charts for 55 weeks, it also becomes the second British record to top the US Billboard charts, the first (post-war anyways) being Vera Lynn‘s 1952 version of Auf Wiederseh’n Sweetheart.
 
Other US top instrumentals of those halcyon days: Baxter’s Poor People of Paris ; Stoloff’s Moonglow ; Prado’s Patricia ; Cortez’ The Happy Organ ; Santo & Johnny’s Sleep Walk ; The Shadows (1960!) Apache ; Faith’s Theme from A Summer Place ; The Ventures’ Walk, Don’t Run ; Welk’s Calcutta ; The Tornados’ Telstar ; Mancini’s Moon River ; and The Chantays’ Pipeline .
 
Phew.

See also: List of 1960s one-hit wonders in the United States, List of million-selling singles in the United Kingdom

1968

R&B singer Little Willie John (*), 31, supposedly dies of a heart attack in Walla Walla Penitentiary (Washington) while serving time for manslaughter. (*)(*)

His best known songs include Fever, a US R&B #1 (US#24) in 1956 which he cuts when he’s barely 18. It later becomes Peggy Lee‘s signature song.

Willie John in my opinion was the best male singer I ever heard. He used to send chills up and down my spine, and I never met another singer with that kind of emotion and feeling in his songs. — Apollo manager Bobby Schiffman

He’s inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. One of his two sons has sung backup with Stevie Wonder for years.  ( Website

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