I used to think that, musically speaking, nothing good happened in this town. There was that jazz history 70 or 80 years ago, but not much else. But for the past year, I’ve been researching KC’s music history for a documentary. I discovered how wrong I was.
I’ve also learned that history isn’t some distant thing. It’s all around us and it’s continually made. And when you collect it and try and make sense of it, you can be amazed at what’s happened.
The Jackson County Historical Society’s web site has this quote from historian David McCullough: “I can’t think of another piece of landscape of similar size where so many things have happened that have been of significance in the story of America.” Presumably, he was mainly talking about politics, but I think you can make a case for music, too.
With apologies to John Hughes, my goal for this blog is to be the Ferris Bueller when a Cameron says there’s nothing good about Kansas City’s music history. So, to start the parade, here’s some history that you may not be aware of.
- Luciano Pavarotti made his U.S. recital debut at Liberty’s William Jewell College in February 1973.
- The Blue Riddim Band was first American band to receive a Grammy nomination for best reggae album in 1986. This longtime KC band first formed when the members attended Shawnee Mission East high school.
- Two radio first: When it played music, WHB was the first station in the country to have a full-time Top 40 format. And KPRS was the first black owned station west of the Mississippi and is the country’s oldest African-American continually owned radio station.
- Patsy Cline performed her last show at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kan.
There’s lots more, so keep reading.