Category Archives: November Milestones

Today in KC’s Music History: Virgil Thomson Born

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Virgil Thomson, the composer and music critic who collaborated with Gertrude Stein and won the Pulitzer Prize for composition, was born in Kansas City on Nov. 25, 1896.

Thomson helped develop the “American sound” in classical music in the 1920s and 30s, but he also composed for theater and film. He also was a music critic for the New York Herald-Tribune from the late 1930s to early 1950s.

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Today in KC’s Music History: “Cabaret” Opens on Broadway

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Cabaret, the Tony Award-winning musical, debuted on Broadway on Nov. 20, 1966. John Kander, Cabaret’s composer, was born and grew up in Kansas City, Mo.

Kander seems to have been overlooked in Kansas City’s music history, which is a shame. He’s a top Broadway composer and has had a significant career in film and television. And, irony of ironies, he wrote the city of New York’s de facto theme song.

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Today in KC’s Music History: Gene Clark Born

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Happy birthday to Gene Clark, one of the greatest musicians ever to come from Kansas City, born on Nov. 17, 1944.

Through his contributions as one of the Byrds’ lead vocalists and its main songwriter, Gene helped create folk-rock. He wrote most of Eight Miles High, which lead to psychedelia. In his post-Byrds career, Clark’s work was essential to the development of country-rock and the singer-songwriter movement. When Tom Petty covered a Byrds song, he chose Clark’s Feel a Whole Lot Better. The jangly pop bands of the 1980s and ’90s owe a lot to Gene Clark.

Clark was born in Tipton, Mo., about 110 miles east of Kansas City, but spent his childhood in Kansas City. Clark played in rock ‘n’ roll bands and became interested in folk music during its boom in the early 1960s. He played part-time in folk groups and worked as a golf course groundskeeper after he graduated from high school.

In August 1963, members of the New Christy Minstrels, then the country’s most popular folk group, were appearing in town when they heard Gene perform. He was invited to join the Christies and performed with them for about six months.

Clark landed in Los Angeles and soon met Roger McGuinn. Folkies who were smitten by the Beatles before the rest of the world was, they initially planned to perform as a duo. They then met David Crosby, which lead to the founding of the Byrds.

Gene Clark is buried in the town where he was born: Tipton, Mo., about 110 miles east of Kansas City. (Photo by Dan Torchia)

Clark’s commercial peak was with the Byrds, but his solo career produced a lot of important music. As a member of the Byrds, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and is only one of two Kansas City residents to be honored. (Big Joe Turner is the other.) Clark is also an inductee of the Kansas Music Hall of Fame.

Gene died in May 1991 and is buried in Tipton. His headstone simply reads “No Other.”

Learn More
The Byrds: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Page

Gene Clark: Fan Page

David Crosby: Web Site

Roger McGuinn: Web Site

Today in KC’s Music History: The Who Play at Shawnee Mission South High School

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During my years at Shawnee Mission South High School, I occasionally heard a story that I surely thought was a suburban legend: the Who played at my high school gymnasium?

The 1968 Shawnee Mission South yearbook devoted two pages to the Who's concert.

Yes they did, on Nov. 17, 1967. As the opening act. For the Buckinghams.

Before we laugh at this rock ‘n’ roll incongruity, it’s important to remember that in the fall of 1967, the Who was just another middling British singles band. And the Buckinghams’ best year was 1967, when they had four Top 20 hits, including two in the Top 10.

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Today in KC’s Music History: Aaron Yates Born

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His given name of Aaron Yates may not ring a bell, but but his professional name might: rapper Tech N9ne was born on Nov. 8, 1971.

Tech was born in Kansas City and has remained here for his entire career. He is widely considered to be the best selling independent artist in hip-hop. He’s sold more than 1 million CDs during this career, an amazing accomplishment for an independent artist. He is the co-owner of, and chief artist for, Strange Music, based in Lee’s Summit, Mo., a suburb just south of Kansas City.

Tech’s latest release is an EP, Seepage, which was released on Oct. 25. His last full album, The Gates Mixed Plate, was released on July 27.

In addition to his birthday this week, the movie Vengeance, starring Danny Trejo, will be released on DVD on Thursday. In the movie, Tech plays Chaco, a “street thug, madman who is the wrong place at the wrong time,” according to the film’s web site. He was going to contribute at least one song to the movie, according to director Gil Medina in an August 2009 interview, but I’ve not been able to confirm if this is still true.

Learn More
Tech N9ne: Web SiteFacebookBlogTwitter

Vengeance: Web SiteIMDB Page