July 4 – Stephen Foster, Lovin’ Spoonful

1826

Pennsylvania birth of the ‘father of American music’, Stephen Collins Foster.

Foster’s work includes Oh! Susanna, My Old Kentucky Home, Old Black Joe, Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair, Beautiful Dreamer  and Swanee River .

Some of his early work is made famous by New York blackface group Christy’s Minstrels. As a pioneer pop music composer (285 songs) (*) and abolitionist, Foster enjoyed little profit from his work. In 1864, ill while living in NYC’s Bowery, he fell and struck his head and soon died — aged 37.

In 1970 he’s inducted into the Songwriter HoF.

 ( Website ▷CAM-Foster▹ ▷PBS bio▹ Harmony Lane (1935 bio, 82m) 

See also: Minstrel show, The New Christy Minstrels

1966

NYC pop-rock band The Lovin’ Spoonful, led by John Sebastian, release soon-to-be US#1 hit, Summer in the City on Kama Sutra Records.
‘Live’ 

Written by Sebastian’s brother Mark, it’s from the album Hums of the Lovin’ Spoonful which peaks at US#14. The recording is unusual at the time for including a number of samples of city ambience, including a jackhammer.

Other hits by the band include Do You Believe In Magic , You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice and Daydream .

Sebastian (playing the Hohner Pianet) and guitarist Zal Yanovsky got their start in a group called The Mugwumps(*), which later included The Mamas & the Papas members Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty. In 1967, Yanovsky is replaced by Jerry Yester, one of nearly 300 people who wandered through folk revival machine The New Christy Minstrels.

In 1969 Sebastian is drafted for an unscheduled acoustic performance at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair when rainwater makes the stage too dangerous for electric instruments. He sings I Had a Dream, which becomes the opening track of the famous, US#1 soundtrack album.

In 2000 the Spoonful is inducted into the Rock HoF.

 ( Spoonful site  ( Sebastian site ▷Sebastian interview ▹