Saturday, January 30, 2010

Clairton Churches

Welcome to Clairton, City of Prayer

So says the sign:
We have written much regarding Clairton. The sign that welcomes one to town has long read, “Welcome to Clairton, City of Prayer.” The sign did not read, “#1 Coke Producer in the World.” Clairton has always been proud of its churches and has embraced the parishioners. But churches are made of brick and mortar and although they might stand for decades or even centuries, as the complexion of a town changes, and as its demographics change, so must the churches change to keep up with the needs of their flocks.

St. Mary’s Serbian Orthodox: Several years ago I was visiting my mother in Clairton. Both my parents were born there and both attended school in Clairton. My mother, as a child, attended St. Mary’s Serbian Orthodox church on Reed Street. That building had a fascinating history. The Serbian Orthodox church started out as a Presbyterian church located on the corner of Fifth Street and Large Avenue. The well to do Presbyterian congregation wanted to build a new church several blocks away on the corner of Fifth Street and Mitchell they sold their existing building to the Serbians. It was moved several blocks down Large Avenue and over to its current location and christened St. Mary’s Serbian Orthodox Church.

On this particular occasion the Serbian Orthodox church was celebrating its eightieth birthday. Mt mother, then in her mid 80s attended the festivities with me at her side. Together we walked down the stairs toward the basement hall and she commented that these were the very stairs she ran up and down and played on as a little girl. That day she needed my arm to help her negotiate the stairs. The Serbian church recently closed its doors for good due to a dwindling congregation. There is not telling what will happen to the beautiful edifice.

The City of Prayer: Clairton’s motto is apt. The Clairton Silver Anniversary book published in 1947 lists, in no particular order, the following houses of worship in a city of some 10,000 souls: Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, St. Paulinus Roman Catholic Church, First Presbyterian Church, First Methodist Church, United Free Gospel Mission, First African Methodist Episcopal Church, Wilson Presbyterian Church, Clairton Christian Church, St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, Morning Star Baptist Church, Pine Run Methodist Church, The First Slavish Roman Catholic Greek Rite Church, St. Clare's Roman Catholic Church, Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, Christian Missionary Alliance, Mount Oliver Baptist Church, Church of God in Christ, Greek Church, Serbian Orthodox Church, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Fast forward 60 years: A regular reader of this blog sent me a news article that appeared in the Pittsburgh newspaper a couple of years ago. It highlighted St. Paulinus church and one of its parishioners who had attended the church for some 60 years. For the past 20 of those 60 years she had volunteered to clean the church, dusting and polishing the pews and interior. St. Paulinus was hand built by parishioners and community members during the height of the Great Depression. It is a beautiful stone building perched proudly on a hill overlooking the Monongahela River in the Wilson section of Clairton. Two years ago the church saw its last mass preached and it closed. Of the remaining parishioners many switched to attend St. Clare of Assisi, formerly St. Joseph. Shrinking finances as well as a shrinking congregation made helped the Diocese of Pittsburgh make the decision to close St. Paulinus.

St. Paulinus Parish was small and without enough money for a professional architect or builder in the midst of the Great Depression when the bishop gave it permission to build a church. The pastor at the time, announced that the parishioners would build the church themselves and brought stone for construction from the “nearby New England Hollow,” according to church history.

The building committee studied the architecture of many European churches and eventually came up with a design. Several facets of the architecture of the works of Medieval craftsmen were replicated during church construction. The bell tower was modeled after the towers of the walled city of Carcassonne, France, and the ciborium, a wooden canopy over the altar, was said to be made of the wood from abandoned riverboats and decorated with designs copied from a cathedral in Sicily. Church members made the ciborium, the altar railing, candleholders, sanctuary and sacristy, according to church history.

The women of the parish stained the church’s pews and are also credited with embroidering the altar linens and making the vestments for the altar boys. The church was blessed on Sept. 6, 1937, and the building was renovated in 1976 to accommodate changes in the liturgy.

First Presbyterian:
The “new” Presbyterian church that was built at the corner of Fifth Street and Mitchell Avenue had its largest congregation during the 1950s. That congregation included many movers and shakers in the town and that in turn led to the expansion of the church building. Church offices and a large hall were added during the 1950s expansion addition. The church served as the location for teen dances held weekly after home football games, as well as many other cross-denominational activities throughout the years. But the effects of changing demographics in Clairton have affected First Presby as well as the aforementioned churches. The building is deteriorating, donations and the congregation is small. The pews that once sat hundreds of Sunday worshipers now seat a handful.

Still the City of Prayer: As one door closes another one opens. The 1947 Silver Anniversary booklet lists 20 churches in Clairton. A listing of churches in Clairton today shows 20 active churches. Some of the older buildings might have needed updating and others might have closed. But new congregations sing and pray just as loudly today as they did 60 years ago. Clairton is still the City of Prayer.

A little blogging music Maestro… “Onward Christian Soldiers,” by any church choir.

Dr. Forgot

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Open up Your Hearts

Clairton’s Neighbors

Little Midwestern Town: Ben Avon, PA is a small town not far from Clairton. A description of Ben Avon posted on its web site describes it as, “Located along the Ohio River between Emsworth and Avalon, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Ben Avon is a vibrant community built in the past and restored for the future.

With a population of approximately 2,000, Ben Avon is home to numerous professionals working in Pittsburgh, who also want the thrills of a small town environment.”

Jamie McMurtrie is from Ben Avon. So is her younger sister, Ali. Jamie has been working at an orphanage in Haiti since 3003 and Ali joined her in 2007. Both lived in the infant house (ages up to 5 years) with the sickest and smallest orphans. So they were in the thick of things when the recent earthquake struck. They decided immediately that they needed to spring into action to save as many of the 61 orphans as possible. Below is a recent newspaper account of the results of their efforts. Thanks to blog reader Carol Walsh for telling us about this biggest humanitarian effort for the smallest victims:

Rescue mission bringing Haitian orphans to Pittsburgh
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
By Sadie Gurman and Jon Schmitz, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A team of medical personnel accompanied by Gov. Ed Rendell and U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire was in the air and headed to Pittsburgh early today with 53 children from an orphanage in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

The mercy mission, which included medical staffers from several Pittsburgh area hospitals, was beset with paperwork problems involving the orphans that forced the rescue team to return on a different plane.

But after several hours on the ground at the airport in Port-au-Prince, the children boarded a C-130 military transport plane and took off around 11 o'clock last night, bound for Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. After a refueling stop, the plane was to fly to Pittsburgh.

The mercy mission, funded by an unknown sponsor, left about 11 a.m. yesterday from Pittsburgh International Airport aboard a Republic Airways chartered jetliner that carried Mr. Rendell, Mr. Altmire and the medical teams.
But after landing in Port-au-Prince early yesterday evening, the jetliner, which was only allowed to remain on the ground for two hours, was forced to depart before officials could resolve some documentation issues, said Gary Tuma, a spokesman for the governor.

Mr. Tuma said officials scrambled to secure another plane to bring the orphans back to Pittsburgh.

The rescue mission came in response to messages last week from sisters Jamie and Ali McMutrie of Ben Avon, who said last Tuesday's devastating earthquake endangered the health of 130 children in their care at the BRESMA orphanage in Port-au-Prince.
Mr. Tuma did not know whether any of the children had serious injuries from the earthquake, which destroyed a large part of their orphanage.

Earlier yesterday, officials said the plan was to have as many as 61 children, ages 1 to 4, waiting at the Port-au-Prince airport and immediately board the plane, which was under orders to leave within two hours. Once in Pittsburgh, they were to be taken to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC for evaluation, Mr. Tuma said.
UPMC officials early this morning put the number of children on board the plane at 53.
Also aboard the charter flight were medical personnel from UPMC, West Penn Allegheny Health System, Pittsburgh Mercy Health System and Excela Health.
Catholic Charities has made arrangements for their care until they are adopted, he said.

About 90 other children from the orphanage were being taken in similar rescue missions conducted by the Dutch and French governments, he said.

The Pennsylvania mission was arranged with various agencies including the U.S. State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and military.

"The reason the governor is personally on the plane is that the Haitian ambassador thought it was important to have someone of his stature on the plane so if the mission ran into difficulty he might be able to break down some of the barriers," Mr. Tuma said.

He said he did not know how the mission was being funded.
Also among those on board was Mary Carrasco, director of A Child's Place in the Pittsburgh Mercy system, which provides care for children who are abused, neglected or in foster care. With her was a Haitian interpreter who speaks Creole to communicate with the children, according to Joan Mills, who works in Dr. Carrasco's office.

Over the days leading up to the trip, Dr. Carrasco and her team gathered medical supplies including Pedialyte, wipes, diapers, cups, bottles, pacifiers and other items to care for the children.

Ms. Mills said they expected to find children beset with dehydration, diarrhea and other problems related to lack of food, water, health care and sanitary facilities.
Also on the flight were Joyce Leifer, a pediatrician who is associated with Children's Hospital; Ed Sites of the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work; Connie Moore of Excela Health's Latrobe Hospital, who has experience as a pediatric nurse; and three professionals from West Penn Allegheny: Chip Lambert, an emergency medicine doctor, Deborah Bohan, a physician's assistant in pediatrics critical care at AGH Suburban, and Arc Balest, a neonatalogist.

Ms. Moore told Robin Jennings, an Excela spokeswoman, in an e-mail at 11 a.m. yesterday that the medical team was in the plane and ready to go, waiting on the tarmac, with Mr. Rendell and Mr. Altmire aboard.

Ms. Jennings said Ms. Moore explained some of the logistics, including that the plane would be assigned landing and departure times in a two-hour window. At that point, Ms. Moore wrote, the plan was for the children to be present at the airport, screened on the tarmac and taken out of Haiti.

In addition to its personnel on the flight, West Penn Allegheny was preparing to receive children at its Suburban Campus in Bellevue if necessary, said Dan Laurent, a spokesman for Allegheny General Hospital.

"Suburban Campus is the site of our inpatient pediatrics program -- including pediatric critical care. Dr. Susan Kaczorowski, a pediatric critical care specialist and chair of the Department of Pediatrics, has been involved locally in the effort. She said the on-flight medical crew will likely be triaging the kids on the flight to determine who needs to go where," he said.

Luke Hingson, president of Pittsburgh-based international charity Brother's Brother Foundation, said sponsors of the flight, whom he declined to identify, offered space on the plane to carry medical supplies. He said the organization provided "several thousand pounds" of supplies, including antibiotics, surgical packs and instruments.
Dr. Lambert, who also is volunteer medical director for Brother's Brother, planned to stay on the island for several days to consult on medical matters, Mr. Hingson said.

The offices of Reps. Mike Doyle and Sens. Bob Casey and Arlen Specter also were involved in arranging the flight, but Mr. Altmire was said to be leading the effort.
The U.S. State Department was made aware of the flight but did not organize it, according to spokesman Matthew Buffington.

Allegheny County as of yesterday had identified more than 300 licensed caregivers to provide housing to the children, spokeswoman Megan Dardanell said.

Tracie Mauriello, David Templeton, Karamagi Rujumba, Jill Daly, Pohla Smith, Dan Malloy, Dan Majors contributed to this report. Jon Schmitz can be reached at or 412-263-1868. Sadie Gurman can be reached at or 412-263-1878.

A little blogging music Maestro… “Through the Eyes of a Child,” by Reamonn.

Dr. Forgot

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Daddio of the Raddio

Today's post came to me as an email from Clairton gal Dee Martin. I considered shortening it or posting it in segments but decided to post it as it was written.

- By Ed Weigle

"Any entertainer of my era who says they don't know who Porky Chedwick is, they're damn lyin'! That's the cat that played the records. I know." –Bo Diddley
"Porky Chedwick?! Now you're taking me back! --Dick Clark

"Porky Chedwick is a legend!" --Charlie Thomas, The Drifters

I've finally had enough of so-called music and radio "historians" who believe they've told all the important stories there are to tell. The last straw for me came on February 4, 2001, when I phoned my dear friend and mentor back home in Pittsburgh, Porky Chedwick, to wish him a happy 83rd birthday. He's been "The Daddio of the Raddio" and "The Founder and Creator of the Oldies" to all of Pittsburgh for most of his 54 years on radio. For me, he's been a beloved member of my family, ever since he kindly offered me guidance as I embarked on my own broadcasting career at age 13. His recommendation of my Steel City alma mater, Point Park College, years later, even led to my first national gig, voicing promos for HBO, Cinemax and other television networks. This great friend, second only to my parents as my primary career influence, has helped launch a few notable music and broadcasting careers, since he first manned the "air chair" in 1948. Still, the millions of people—like you, perhaps-- who may have never met him or heard his name, are the true beneficiaries of his unique legacy.

Our conversation that wintery day was uncommonly brief. Porky was bundled up and scrambling to catch his ride to WLSW-FM, a suburban Pittsburgh station where he hosted a Sunday oldies show. Later that evening, he added another record hop to his current total of more than 7,000 he's hosted since the late 1940s. While much younger men are retired or passing out lollipops to children in department stores, "The Platter Pushin' Pappa" has no intention of ever stowing away his 45s. "Spinner Sanctum" will remain open for business in The Oldies Capitol of the World as long as he has a breath. I've often said that Porky would never consider retirement because he can't find a rhyme for it!

"The Bossman," Porky Chedwick has remained as familiar as Pirates, Steelers, Penguins, Iron City Beer and Heinz Ketchup to four generations of Pittsburgh's. For two consecutive years, beginning with his Golden Anniversary in radio in 1998, our city honored Porky with the annual "Porkstock" summer oldies festival-- the only such tribute given a disc jockey, living or dead. It was quite an affair, while it lasted, showcasing day-long concerts by scores of rock and roll pioneers, including Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Johnnie & Joe, The Skyliners, The Marcels and many others, whose early careers Porky helped boost. A local bakery even took to the airwaves to sell "Porky Pies." Sadly, the implosion of Three Rivers Stadium also ended what could have become a great yearly city tradition. To their credit, WQED-TV's T.J. Lubinsky (grandson of the founder of Savoy Records) and concert promoter Henry DeLuca have featured Porky on their nationally popular PBS R&B/doo wop television specials, taped at The Benedum Center.

Craig "Porky" Chedwick, from Homestead, Pennsylvania, blazed a dual trail on the east coast, by establishing a foundation for what another Caucasian and fellow Pennsylvanian, Alan Freed, called "rock and roll" some four years later. Simultaneously, by airing all "dusty discs," Porky also pioneered oldies radio and the associated billion-dollar industry, which keeps record labels like Rhino (headed by Pittsburgher Richard Foos) thriving today. Porky's extreme importance to the history of radio-- and to music as we know it-- is undeniable, given the voluminous documentation that exists and countless fans who witnessed his milestones personally. Still, for reasons unknown, the history books have completely overlooked him. Even the fact that Porky was recognized for his accomplishments by Congressman Ron Klink on the floor of the US Congress on October 5, 1998 hasn't enticed scholars to look more closely at this man we call "The Founder and Creator of the Oldies." Our friend, the late composer and Skyliners vocal group founder/manager, Joe Rock, observed to me once, "Alexander Graham Bell did invent the telephone, but he never owned a piece of AT&T. It's the same with Porky and oldies."

Porky Chedwick was anything but a shrewd businessman, who sought to become fabulously wealthy at the expense of the artists whose music he played. He remains a simple man, who merely looked to our industry to make an honest living, doing something he enjoyed. Although he was the first to perpetuate this music, Porky's lack of business savvy and reputation for being too kind, virtually assured that he'd never be able to fully capitalize on that fact. Money has never mattered much to Porky-- I've seen him giving a homeless man his last bus fare and then walking home, miles away. I believe he would simply like to finally be given his due credit, among all the other DJ luminaries who, in fact, came after him. By ignoring the very important part Porky played in both the radio and music industries, no account of the roots of rock and roll can be complete. Hopefully, this article will help to correct this inexcusable historical oversight, before still another birthday goes by for him.

Visitors to Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame can find Porky Chedwick among other radio icons—the only Pittsburgher so honored-- whose airchecks (on-air recordings) and biographies have been preserved for posterity. No known early transcriptions of his radio shows exist, so his "aircheck" is actually a 1993 re-creation done for the "Cruisin'" record series. The recording features a portion of his most famous theme, "Bongo Blues," by The Dee Williams Sextette and vintage jingles by The Platters and The Skyliners. Also included is his early-'60s theme, "Here Comes Bossman Porky," by an un-credited Ruby & The Romantics, rescued and re-mastered by me from the original studio acetate Porky used to carry to sock hops in a giant satchel of sleeveless 45s (I've recently learned that a former radio station owner, with whom Porky had dealings in the '80s, refused to give this and other original jingles back to him.. I'd like to see Kurt Angle unleashed on him some night on WWE Smackdown!). Unfortunately, the biography in the exhibit fails to tell how, days after his radio debut on August 1, 1948, Porky pioneered the oldies radio format and became the first white disc jockey on the east coast to present a program of exclusively black R&B, gospel and jazz. Unlike most white R&B disc jockeys who followed his lead in the overnights, Porky's broadcasts were in broad daylight (For the record, Los Angeles DJ, Hunter Hancock, now in his late 80s, preceded Porky by less than a year as the first white disc jockey to play all contemporary R&B. Porky and Hunter are both the first and the last surviving DJ pioneers of their respective coasts).

Fifty-four years ago, Munhall High School graduate Craig Chedwick-- known as 'Porky' for amusing, if not enviable reasons-- was already a well-known public address announcer at local athletic events and a sports "stringer" for the Homestead newspaper. One day he read that a small daytime-only radio station, soon to debut in the suburb, was looking for announcers. WHOD AM 860 would provide ethnic and foreign language programming for Pittsburgh's vast immigrant blue-collar. Porky's local popularity was well known to the station owners and he was instantly granted a five-minute Saturday afternoon sports commentary program. Days later, the show, sponsored by Toohey Motors auto dealership, was expanded to include music from Porky's own collection of 78s. The tunes Porky featured were so well received, the sports portion was dropped and his "Masterful Rhythm, Blues and Jazz Show" became a half-hour program. Station management had no idea that the records Porky played were at least several years old. As more sponsors signed on, the show was expanded to five hours, seven days a week and finally occupied the noon-to-five weekday slot as "The Porky Chedwick Show." During the summer months, when FCC regulations allowed WHOD to broadcast as late as 8:45 PM, Porky was allowed to fill the hours the station couldn't sell. With only 250 watts of power, the signal was more than sufficient to garner Porky a large following-- so much so that his show eventually became a thorn in the side of 50,000-watt monster KDKA and even competed for listeners with Pirates baseball broadcasts! "The Porky Chedwick Show" remains a fixture on WAMO AM 860 today, every Saturday afternoon, where it first originated.

The records Porky aired on WHOD were ones he had collected over the years and had been playing at social gatherings around Pittsburgh's racially integrated suburbs, using a single turntable and a borrowed guitar amp. In Porky's own impoverished steel-working neighborhood-- described by him as being like a "secluded island" of about 60 homes "with yards infested with children in torn clothes"-- a white man playing Negro music was nothing extraordinary. Poverty, he told me, had a way of uniting his entire community into one extended family, where skin color was inconsequential. As the second of ten children, Porky's parents relied on him to keep his younger siblings entertained and out of trouble. One of his many nicknames, "The Pied Piper of Platter," may have been inspired by his taking all local kids under his wing and offering them refuge through his music. "I was mainly looking for the gospel sound and down-home rhythm and blues," remembers Porky, "The songs which spoke of the problems of poor people. That was my music." In the '30s and '40s, "race" or "sepia" records were banished to a record store's back shelves or bargain bins, since few were sold. Many, from Sunny Mann's Record Store in Homestead, were simply given to Porky. "I used to have to blow the dust off them before I could play them, " remembers Porky, "(Later), on the air I called them 'dusty discs' and the Porky Chedwick sound was born!"

Porky's "sound" established the immense R&B-based repertoire of uniquely Pittsburgh oldies, most of which never felt the regular kiss of a turntable stylus anywhere else on the planet. Scores of these records may have remained in obscurity, had he not featured them prominently, because they were released only on fragile macerate 78 r.p.m. discs. By the time radio began to embrace black records, 78s were being phased out in favor of much more durable 45s. Porky's practice of playing old records became a novelty, picked up by disc jockeys across America. Radio stations like New York's WCBS-FM and K-Earth in Los Angeles would maintain oldies formats for decades. Record labels emerged, dedicated to meeting the increasing demand for rock and roll nostalgia. When promoter Richard Nader conceived his first major "rock and roll revival" concerts—essentially the catalyst for the '50s music revival of the 1970s—he cited his influence as none other than his hometown hero, Porky Chedwick.

By 1949, record promoters with long-overlooked black independent labels had learned of Porky's groundbreaking efforts with oldies on WHOD, so they inundated him with contemporary R&B. He happily accepted new material and helped launch many recording careers. Still, oldies would always dominate his playlist. Nothing could ever make Porky play a record that he didn't believe his "movers and groovers" would "dig." He never took a dime for playing a record, insisting that music belonged to everyone-- a fact that satisfied payola investigators, when they came knocking on his door in 1960. From the WHOD studios, situated in the back of a candy store on the bank of the Ohio River, the sounds of Roy Brown, Wynonie Harris, The Dominoes, Hank Ballard and The Midnighters and The Drifters— and their often provocative lyrics— first reached young, Caucasian ears in a major east coast market. Joe Rock, a one-time A&R man himself, recalled, "Porky could get away with playing records that would come closer to causing hell with the FCC than anyone." Often, Porky would astound visiting record label reps by taking a 45 out of their hand and "banging" the B-side, instead of the "plug" side. Porky knew what his dedicated legions wanted and was responsible for putting Pittsburgh on the cutting edge of music in the 1960s, making it a major testing ground for R&B through the '70s. He revealed his reason for the music's popularity to Billboard Magazine in 1966: "It's a good interpretation of basic emotions. I've got kids brainwashed. They like the groove stuff."

"The Station of Nations," WHOD, abandoned their ethnic manifest in 1956, when they became the property of Dynamic Broadcasting. The new owners re-christened the station WHAM, an acronym for the rivers Allegheny, Monongehela and Ohio. WAMO's format became country and western, with "The Porky Chedwick Show" the only exception to the twang! By then, rock and roll had begun to capture a national audience and record companies— not just black interests— were beating a path to Porky's studio door. Col. Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, was one such caller, but Porky felt Elvis was (ironically) "too country." For years, the only "Hound Dog" heard on his show was the 1953 original, by "Big Mama" Willie Mae Thornton (It's amusing to note that at the first "Porkstock" in 1998, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame officials presented Porky with a large framed momento, heralding the museum's new "Elvis Is In the Building" exhibit! When Porky returned from the stage after accepting the award, he looked a bit puzzled. I said to him, "So what the hell else could they give you? A tie?" The folks from Cleveland obviously didn't realize the irony of their kind gesture). In 1958, WAMO underwent its most revolutionary change, when it switched from "hillbilly" to an all-R&B format, with an all-black air staff. All except for Porky, that is.

Although Porky's show was decidedly black (in fact, most people thought he was black), he would occasionally feature white acts. Most were local and sounded anything but white. One such artist was the late singer/songwriter, Johnny Jack (Greco), whose parents were Sicilian. His first national release at age 19 in 1959 was "Smack Madame," inspired by Porky's rhyming on-air patter. "We took the record to Clark Race at KDKA and he refused to play it," recalled John, "He said the lyric 'smack Madame mammy jammy get it all' was filthy. But the real reason he wouldn't play it was printed right on the label-- 'As originated on The Porky Chedwick Show!' Even the big stations were afraid of Porky!"

Porky was one of the first DJs to openly and vigorously promote a Christian lifestyle, free of alcohol, drugs and tobacco (By his own admission, Porky's only vice was girls, although I've known him long enough to confidently add coconut crème pie!). Ironically, while Porky was being lambasted by the vanilla establishment for corrupting (white) youngsters with his "evil music," his private crusade against juvenile delinquency—which included having young boys from juvenile court placed in his custody—was earning the accolades of Sen. Estes Kefauver, then the voice of American Morality. Porky established youth baseball leagues, outfitting his teams and supplying them with baseballs sent to him by his brother in the Army. The kids loved Porky, in spite of what their parents thought. Joe Rock remembered, "When I'd listen to Porky on the radio, my father used to say, 'Turn that damn thing off!' Of course, my father and he became friends years later, because by then, the music Porky played represented the good old days."

Porky's youthful audience responded to their "Pied Piper of Platter" with such fierce loyalty, one can only look back in wonder. The fact that he didn't even have 1,000 watts behind his signal until 1960 makes it all the more extraordinary. "Porky's Pulling Power," as WAMO sales literature of the time called it, was so monumental that when Porky would open the microphone and shout over the record, "Blow your horn!" during a wailing sax solo, the entire city would respond with a cacophony of car horn blasts! Once, while excitedly "breaking" a new song, he proclaimed, "This is on fire!" Within minutes, sirens blaring, the Homestead fire brigade stormed the studio, responding to hundreds of phone calls from listeners insisting the station was burning down! The police weren't amused, either, the time Porky suggested his audience stop whatever they were doing and start dancing. The resulting traffic tie-ups from teens getting out of their cars to dance in tunnels and on parkways created gridlock for miles. At a remote broadcast he did under the marquee of the Stanley Theater downtown Pittsburgh in 1961, more than 10,000 kids crowded the streets. Police estimated that there were another 50,000 in transit, causing such a traffic jam that Mayor Joseph M. Barr personally came down to request an end to the broadcast. "Kids were packed so tightly, you could literally stand on the shoulders of the people and walk for blocks," remembers Porky.

Porky's rock and roll shows were late on the timeline, considering much earlier ones presented by other DJs, like Alan Freed. Still, they were no less grand. "The Porky Chedwick Groove Spectacular" on May 11, 1962, at the newly-built Pittsburgh Civic Arena, is still perhaps the largest multi-bill rock and roll concert the city has ever seen. Variety reported the show grossed more than $35,000-- an amazing sum for its time. More than 13,000 kids packed the arena, while some of the more than 3,000 outside, who had to be turned away, vented their anger by lobbing rocks and bottles at the arena dome. Jackie Wilson headlined the day-long affair, with 21 other acts, including Bo Diddley, The Flamingos, The Marvellettes, The Five Satins, Jerry Butler, Ketty Lester, Johnny Jack, The Skyliners, Patti LaBelle and the BlueBelles, The Castells, Bobby Vinton, The Drifters, The Debonaires (a local group, whose record, "The Holly Lind," paid tribute to the street where Porky lived), Gene Pitney and The Coasters— all for a ticket price of $1 to $4! A few of the artists did the show for free, as a way of thanking Porky for his support. Porky's generosity with free promotion made local artists just as popular with teenagers as the national acts. Johnny Jack remembered how Porky rushed backstage at that show to tell him that there was a young man outside the arena who was claiming to be Johnny Jack. John didn't care, but his Sicilian mother, Angeline, insisted on going out to see the imposter, who apparently could have been John's twin. "There he was, signing my autograph!" said John. "My mother walked up to him and said, 'You Johnny Jeck?' He gave her a big smile and said, Why, yes!' She shook his hand and said, 'I'm-a please-a to meet you— I'm-a you mama!'" (John was a great friend of ours, who went on to pen and record many local hits, including "Comes Love," for The Skyliners— on which he also sang baritone— and "Born Poor," the B-side of "The Rapper," a Top 5 national hit for The Jaggerz in 1970. His 1962 cover of "Need You" remains a top Pittsburgh favorite. Lou Christie gives both John and Porky credit for helping to launch his career. Sadly, we lost John to cancer seven years ago).

In 1964, WAMO left behind the drab yellow-brick building at the end of the Homestead High Level Bridge for a more prestigious address—and another drab yellow building-- at 1811 Boulevard of the Allies, downtown Pittsburgh. A year later, when Porky was named "Pittsburgh's Favorite DJ" by Esquire Magazine, station promotional flyers were already calling Porky "a legend in his own time." He remained the top advertising draw at WAMO through the end of the decade. Record stores had trouble keeping in stock the many oldies compilation albums to which Porky had lent his name and picture. Unfortunately, his lack of business acumen kept him continually at the mercy of charlatans who absconded with most of the profits. Porky told me once, "I made a million dollars, but I never saw it. I don't think God wants me to have money because he knows I can't handle it." He never enjoyed the comforts of a six-digit salary, like his more famous contemporaries, nor did he even make union scale for most of his career. In the early '90s, Porky declared personal bankruptcy. He continues to live, basically, from sock hop to sock hop.

Porky's private life could itself have been culled from a blues lyric. Although he raised two sons, Paul and Michael, to successful adulthood, the cards seemed stacked against him where family was concerned. He experienced the grief of losing two sisters as a youth, two infant daughters of his own and a 16-year-old son who bore his name. An accidental misfire of a neighbor's slingshot when he was just eight eventually cost him his right eye. As time went by, his trademark golden eyeglasses functioned mostly to protect his usable eye. Still, he maintained a feverish nightclub appearance schedule, once allegedly hosting a string of 110 consecutive nightly sock hops in the mid-1960s.

Porky's presence on Pittsburgh radio remained constant for most of his first 40 years. In 1972, he even hosted a pre-recorded overnight weekend show on legendary 1410 KQV. In spite of many offers to move elsewhere for more money, Porky could never leave the people and the city he loved. He only left Pittsburgh once—for one week, in the early 80's. As it happened, a Denver DJ mentioned "The Daddio of the Raddio" and was surprised to find a multitude of transplanted Pittsburghers living there. While Joe Rock filled in at WAMO, the Denver station flew Porky out to do an airshift and one of his famous record hops. Soon, changing times would cause a rift between Porky and the radio station he essentially put on the map.

By the dark days of the mid-1980s, when the "Less Talk, More Music and NO Personality" doctrine pervaded radio, Porky was viewed as somewhat an anachronism. Most of the "boss jocks" of the bygone era had become frustrated with super-programmed radio and retired shortly after music deserted the AM band. Oldies that weren't in the national mainstream were discouraged by WAMO's new program director. Unfortunately, those non-traditional oldies made Porky's show what it was! When he was forced to begin playing vanilla, stock-pop pap that he wouldn't have touched in his prime, his friends all knew that a break from WAMO was eminent. His failing eyesight was also making it increasingly difficult for him to cue records and he's sometimes start a record mid-song (The number of songs in his repertoire would have made recording his records on broadcast tape cartridges far too expensive and time consuming). Porky held out until 1984, when the station honored him for his years of service—then promptly sacked him! He returned to the air about a year later, following a phone call I made to an enthusiastic John James, the general manager of WEDO in McKeesport. For the next several years, "Pork the Tork" had an afternoon show and a producer to cue the records, which Porky alone selected. WAMO would not ask him back until 1992.

During this temporary decline, I was Porky's self-appointed chauffeur. A near-miss with a city bus as he crossed a street one afternoon to shake someone's hand almost cost him his life. We established our own "rat pack" social group, with Johnny Jack, Fred Johnson—the inimitable bassman of The Marcels—and Prof. Joan Williams of Point Park College's journalism department. Each Wednesday we'd meet downtown at Kason's or Costanzo's supper club. Several successful ideas were conceived at these meetings, including a cable TV mini-series I hosted with Porky and Fred, directed by Joan. One day, two of Porky's admirers, Jim Sanders and Skip Smith (cousin of Skyliner Jack Taylor), joined us at Kason's to discuss starting an oldies club, which would stage concerts by early doo wop artists. Today, The Pittsburgh Oldies Record Collectors Club-- whose acronym, P.O.R.C.C., was no accident-- is famous for doing just that. In 1989, we finally convinced Freddie to re-unite with his cousins, "Nini" Harp and "Bingo" Mundy, to perform and record together for the first time in nearly 30 years. The resulting a capella tracks recorded in my basement studio led to "Starlight Serenade, Vol. 4" on Starlight Discs, which Porky broke in Pittsburgh and Don K. Reed featured on WCBS-FM's "Doo Wop Shop" in New York. As a teenage radio personality and a rock and roll history buff, I was perhaps never so much in my element as I was with these great friends.

On Porky's birthday in1989, he debuted as host of a short-lived radio program, which was syndicated to several stations around the tri-state area from 1080 WEEP in Pittsburgh. It was called "Porkytown"-- a trainwreck of '50s doo wop and '80s pop, back to back. I think Porky even did the show for free. Fortunately for his ever-floundering finances, Porky's personal appearance dates kept coming fast and furious. We even worked together as club DJs for the first time at The Linden Grove, a newly refurbished historical landmark where Porky originally appeared in the 1950s. The throngs of Porky's fans who packed the giant dance hall caused fits each week for the Castle Shannon fire marshal. Two hours before he would take the DJ booth on Thursday nights, the parking lots—both the size of a football field—were already packed!

It has been suggested that Porky's excellent physical condition (excluding his eyesight and diminished hearing) today may be partly due to the many times he had to regularly resort to walking to his record hop engagements. Many nights he's walk for miles, lugging a heavy satchel of records, when he couldn't secure motor transportation. His physical fitness most certainly played a part in his swift recovery from brain surgery in 1990. When he was diagnosed with a large, benign tumor, it sent a shock throughout Pittsburgh and a national community of pioneer artists who still feel in his debt. Friends including Little Anthony, Hank Ballard, Lou Christie, Wolfman Jack, Johnnie and Joe, Bobby Comstock, The Marcels, The Vogues and Bo Diddley organized a benefit concert to help shoulder his huge medical bill. His recovery actually rivaled the Gulf War as a point of interest (beyond classic rock) on my WRRK Pittsburgh radio program, with listeners calling daily for a progress report. Porky received more than 5,000 get-well cards while in the hospital-- some just addressed to "The Bossman," care of West Penn Hospital. His wife of just several months, Jeannie, was a godsend to him. She quickly became very unpopular with many of the opportunists, who preyed on Porky's kindness. She continues to manage his business affairs admirably and I believe is entirely responsible for him doing as well as he is.

When Porky called me in1996 to tell me about his inclusion in the Cleveland disc jockey exhibit, Fred Johnson and I had the first and only gold record created for our friend. The inscription says it all:

"To the Founder and Creator of the Oldies: You'll live forever in the hearts of every artist whose name and music you brought before the public; every person who tunes to a radio station dedicated to the "Dusty Disc" and every aspiring broadcaster to whom you offered friendship, advice and inspiration. Congratulations on your recognition in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."

I'm hopeful that someone—perhaps an historian or a screenwriter—may soon take a closer look at this under-appreciated broadcaster. Far too few people understand what Porky Chedwick's trailblazing achievements helped make possible. Whether you know him or not, it simply is not right that a man who truly was one of the earliest pioneers of the rock and roll era will be the last to be given credit, when-- if-- that definitive history of rock and roll is finally written.


ED WEIGLE has remained one of the most prolific voiceover artists in America since 1980. Born in Pittsburgh and raised in the Greensburg-Latrobe area, he began his broadcasting career at age 13. After an on-air stint in Chicago in 1994, he left the "air chair" to concentrate on production and voiceovers, exclusively. He currently works for Nick Sommers Productions in Engelwood, Florida—One of the nation's three major radio and TV production facilities, specializing in live event tour commercials. Ed creates, voices and produces all radio spots for World Wrestling Entertainment and their various brands, including Smackdown!, Raw!, Tour of Defiance, King of the Ring, Summerslam and Wrestlemania. Although he vows his on-air association with radio will never again go beyond 60- and 30-second increments, he often waxes nostalgic for bygone days, when radio was still an honored tradition, not just a pastime for corporate accountants.. A time when personalities like Porky Chedwick could shine, as they never will again.

A little blogging musice Maestro: Pick your favorite from the Porky days.

Dr. Forgot

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Those Were the Days

Over My Shoulder a Backward Glance

Thank Goodness 2009 has ended. Let’s take a look back. The year is 1909.
One hundred years ago. What a difference a century makes!

The average life expectancy was 47 years.

Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.

Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.

There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles Of paved roads.

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower

The average wage in 1909 was 22 cents per hour.

The average worker made between $200 and $400 per year ..

A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

More than 95 percent of all births took place at HOME.

Ninety percent of all doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION!

Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press AND government as 'substandard'.

Sugar cost four cents a pound.

Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.

Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.

Most women only washed their hair once a month, And used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason..

Five leading causes of death were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhea
4. Heart disease
5. Stroke

The American flag had 45 stars.

The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was only 30!

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea hadn't been invented yet.

There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.

Two out of every 10 adults couldn't read or write.
Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacists said, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.

Eighteen percent of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.

There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE U.S.A.!

1910 Politics: The close electoral split between Democrats and Republicans in the years following the Civil War was altered in the elections of 1896. In that year the Republican William McKinley won the presidency with a decisive victory over agrarian Democrat William Jennings Bryan. Thereafter, the Republican Party held a majority of congressional seats for twenty-six of the thirty-four years from 1896 to 1930 and, with only two exceptions, won every presidential election from 1896 until 1932. Except for the 1910s the Republicans dominated American politics for the first third of the twentieth century. From 1910 to 1918 the Democratic Party held a majority of seats in Congress, and Democrat Woodrow Wilson won both presidential elections held during the decade.

On the national level, the United States faced such issues as immigration, the living conditions of the poor, political corruption, conservation of natural resources, women suffrage, child labor and labor working conditions. William Howard Taft was president, having succeeded Teddy Roosevelt who was president from 1901 to 1909. Taft, a Republican, lost his popularity due to his defense of the Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act of 1909. Tariffs were a leading political issue and the Republican platform in 1908 sought to lower tariff rates. Big business favored tariffs because it protected their products. Southerners and farmers in the Midwest wanted to lower tariffs so that their products would be more affordable. Taft worked closely with Nelson Aldrich of Rhode Island, the boss of the U.S. Senate, to create a bill that instead of lowering tariffs increased them. In so doing, he alienated his party as well as the former president, Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt was committed to regulating big business, also known as the Trusts, lowering tariffs and conserving the environment. His platform was named, the “New Nationalism.” Taft, as a conservative Republican, turned his back on reform and in the process, helped precipitate a split in the Republican Party. As a result, Teddy Roosevelt created the Bull Moose Party. With this split, it ushered in Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson.

Wilson, a southerner who had been a professor and president of Princeton University, was running for governor of New Jersey in 1910. He advocated reform of Princeton along the lines of the English university house system which became unpopular. Therefore, he ran a successful race for governor where he pushed through important reforms such as a primary elections law, anti-corruption measures and employers’ liability. In running for president, he consulted with Louis Brandeis of the U.S. Supreme Court and came up with the platform of the “New Freedom.” This platform advocated freedom from monopolies as opposed to Roosevelt’s attempt to regulate monopolies. Later as president, Wilson accomplished much: three constitutional amendments that dealt with direct popular election of senators, prohibition and suffrage for women; the Clayton Antitrust Act, establishment of the Federal Reserve banking system, and the Federal Child Labor Law.

Teddy Roosevelt in 1910 was on safari in East Africa, enjoying his freedom from the strain of politics in the wake of his presidency. Of note during his administration was the creation of the Panama Canal, his negotiations for a cessation of hostilities of the Russo-Japanese war in 1905, his Nobel Prize for Peace, the regulation of big business, and the conservation of national resources. Teddy selected Taft, the secretary of war, as his successor for president. However, Taft never enjoyed his job as president. He would much rather have stayed with jurisprudence. As a result, he lost his reelection bid and ultimately would become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1921-1930.

Eugene Debs, a socialist, had the most radical political outlook. The national secretary and treasurer of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, he was a leader in the Pullman strike in 1894. He later organized the Social Democratic Party of America and became the presidential candidate of the Socialist Party from 1900 to 1920. He was imprisoned for three years, convicted and sentenced for violation of the Espionage Act of 1918.

Aren’t you glad all the political hatred is behind us?

A little blogging music Maestro: Anything patriotic!

Dr. Forgot

Monday, January 11, 2010

Crazy Clairton Cousins

Memories are made of this

Clairton Cousins: So many of us grew up in the halcyon days of Clairton. For the most part we were poor; many were children and grandchildren of immigrants, and most of us had parents or relatives who worked in the local steel mills. In our particular family there happened to be six male cousins within five years of age of one another. We met regularly at my grandparent’s house to celebrate holidays and generally for weekly family gatherings. My maternal grandparents were both Slavic immigrants with Diedo (grandfather) a Bosnian Serb, and Baba (grandmother) from Croatia. They lived in a duplex that they had build with their own hands and many hands from friends and relatives. The house was on Arch Street, one block off State Street and between St. Clair and Park Avenues. It was a five-minute walk from the mill gate so the second part of the duplex was usually rented out to a mill worker. Family lore has it that in the early days of their marriage – they were married in 1915 – the second house doubled as a place for many Slavic steelworkers on paydays to drink and gamble but I was never able to verify the veracity of that lore.

Evenings around the pot-bellied stove: During the get togethers at our grandparent’s house the girl cousins would wander off in one direction, the adults in another, and the six male cousins would head up into the cellar. Since the house was built into a hillside, the cellar was reached by going UP a few stairs instead of down, as a typical cellar. We would sit around the pot bellied stove and the older cousins would fill the younger cousins with stories of their imaginary feats of virtue and conquests of a lesser virtue. The younger cousins would listen in awe until Diedo would come in and admonish us not to go into the wine cellar where his homemade wines were brewing. He would explain in his broken English that the wines were not yet ready to drink and if we sneaked some we would first get sick then our hide would be tanned for not listening. He always concluded with a wink and, “But if you take, take from number three barrel. She’s a best.”

More than fifty years have passed since the six cousins sat around that pot-bellied stove and discussed life. The eldest cousin, yours truly, went off to college and settled in Las Vegas. The second, John, went to college and the Army, then settled in California and worked in the computer field. Cousin Tony moved to Florida and became a professional entertainer, singing in lounges and on cruise ships. Cousin Milan’s family moved to the Philadelphia area when the mills had a downturn and his father was transferred. Milan was an outstanding athlete and attended University of Maryland on a football scholarship. After graduation he settled near his parents and became a plant manager. Frank went into the auto repair business and stayed near his parents. Steve also went to college on an athletic scholarship and settled in Nevada and became a school principal.

Tragedy strikes: If the cousins were nothing else, they were all healthy – until a debilitating disease struck Frank. After several years of fighting he lost the battle. It was a realization that we were all getting to the age where we were no longer invulnerable. We lived thousands of miles away from one another but all kept in touch – sadly our meetings were most often to attend the funerals of our parents.

Tony was the first to get the inspiration for a Cousins reunion. For several years we were just not able to make time for a reunion but last year Tony flew to Vegas where he, Steve, and yours truly shared an evening of good food, good wine, and great memories. We phoned John and Milan from the restaurant and let them know what they were missing. This year the three of us again met in Las Vegas and drove to California to meet with John and had another great day of reminiscing, and another great dinner. We phoned Milan and let him know that next year we were going to invade his territory so all the remaining cousins could celebrate our lives and the roads we traveled.

We hit the lottery: During part of our reminiscing we always reflect on the state of the country. Yes, the country is in the midst of economic woes. Yes, we have troops overseas who are in harm’s way. Yes, the politics have become bitter and the country seems to be divided against itself, but we all hit the lottery. When our grandparents decided to leave their countries and come to America they guaranteed their offspring the opportunity to be anything we wanted and were capable of doing. They guaranteed that we and our families would be safe from wars on our soil, and that we would be more prosperous than any prior generation. Our children would be guaranteed an education, our world class universities would be available to anybody who wanted to take advantage of them regardless of family background. As a country we would give over $ 300 billion annually to those less fortunate. Despite needed changes in the health care system we have health care available to virtually everybody. A recent survey showed that nearly 80% of Americans are proud to be Americans. That puts in a tie with Ireland and ahead of Australia. No other country even comes close. So each year as we meet for our reunion, we will not only reflect on our times growing up, we also will take time to thank our grandparents for making the decision to come to America. Just being born here hit the lottery.

A little blogging music Maestro… “Those Were the Days,” by Mary Hopkin.

Dr. Forgot

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy Gnu Ear

State of the New Decade

Thank you Kingston Trio: The New Year always reminds me of a song that was popular four or five decades ago. See how little things have changed over the decades.

They're rioting in Africa, they're starving in Spain.
There's hurricanes in Florida, and Texas needs rain.
The whole world is festering with unhappy souls.
The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles.
Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch.
And I don't like anybody very much!

But we can be tranquil, and thankful, and proud,
For mans' been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud.
And we know for certain that some lovely day
Someone will set the spark off, and we will all be blown away.

They're rioting in Africa, there's strife in Iran.
What nature doesn't do to us, will be done by our fellow man.

Famous happenings on this date: On this date in history in:
1496 Leonardo daVinci unsuccessfully tries flying machine.
1521- The Pope excommunicated Martin Luther.
1667 Russia and Poland sign peace treaty.
1750 Tax revolt in Netherlands.
1777 George Washington’s army defeated Cornwall in the Battle of Princeton.
1821 First engineering college in U.S. opens in Troy, NY.
1833 Britain seized the Falkland Islands.
1870 Construction began on the Brooklyn Bridge.
1871 Henry Bradley patented oleomargarine.
1888 Marvin Stone invented the drinking straw.
1920 The Yankees acquired Babe Ruth from Boston and the curse was on.
1938 The March of Dimes was established.
1947 First televising of Congressional hearings.
1958 Sir Edmund Hillary reached the South Pole.
1959 Alaska became the 49th state.
1962 Pope John XXIII excommunicated Fidel Castro.
1967 Jack Ruby (who shot Lee Harvey Oswald) died.
1969 30,000 copies of John Lennon’s album “Two Virgins” confiscated.
1972 Don McLean’s gold record “American Pie” lasted 8:32.

Happy Birthday to: On this date the following people were born:
• 106 BC – Cicero, Roman statesman and philosopher (d. 43 BC)
• 1196 – Emperor Tsuchimikado of Japan (d. 1231)
• 1698 – Pietro Metastasio, Italian poet (d. 1782)
• 1710 – Richard Gridley, American Revolutionary soldier (d. 1796)
• 1719 – Francisco José Freire, Portuguese historian (d. 1773)
• 1722 – Fredric Hasselquist, Swedish naturalist (d. 1752)
• 1733 – Sir Richard Arkwright, British industrialist and inventor (d. 1792)
• 1760 – John Storm, American Revolutionary soldier (d. 1835)
• 1778 – Antoni Melchior Fijałkowski, Polish bishop (d. 1861)
• 1793 – Lucretia Mott, American women's rights activist (d. 1880)
• 1802 – Charles Pelham Villiers, British House of Commons member (d. 1898)
• 1803 – Douglas William Jerrold, British playwright (d. 1857)
• 1806 – Henriette Sontag, German soprano (d. 1854)
• 1810 – Antoine Thomson d'Abbadie, French geographer (d. 1897)
• 1819 – Charles Piazzi Smyth, Astronomer Royal for Scotland (d. 1900)
• 1821 – Dragotin Dežman, Slovenian politician, archeologist and botanist (d. 1889)
• 1831 – Savitribai Phule, Female social activist, first female teacher in India, and first female poet in Marathi language (d. 1897)
• 1836 – Sakamoto Ryoma, Japanese revolutionary (d. 1867)
• 1840 – Father Damien, Flemish missionary (d. 1889)
• 1855 – Hubert Bland, British socialist (d. 1914)
• 1861 – William Renshaw, British champion tennis player (d. 1904)
• 1862 – Sir Matthew Nathan, British Governor of Queensland and other places (d. 1939)
• 1865 – Henry Lytton, British actor and opera singer (d. 1936)
• 1870 – Henry Handel Richardson, Australian author (d. 1946)
• 1873 – Ichizo Kobayashi, Japanese businessman (d. 1957)
• 1875 – Alexandros Diomidis, governor of the Bank of Greece and Prime Minister of Greece (d. 1950)
• 1876 – Wilhelm Pieck, first President of East Germany (d. 1960)
• 1879 – Grace Coolidge, First Lady of the United States (d. 1957)
• 1883 – Clement Attlee, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (d. 1967)
• 1884 – Raoul von Koczalski, Polish pianist and composer (d. 1948)
• 1885 – Harry Elkins Widener, book collector, businessman, victim of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, and person after whom Harvard University's largest library is named (d. 1912)
• 1886 – John Gould Fletcher, American poet and author (d. 1950)
• 1886 – Josephine Hull, American actress (d. 1957)
• 1887 – August Macke, German painter (d. 1914)
• 1887 – Helen Parkhurst, American educator (d. 1973)
• 1892 – J. R. R. Tolkien, British writer (d. 1973)
• 1894 – ZaSu Pitts, American actress (d. 1963)
• 1895 – Borys Lyatoshynsky, Ukrainian composer (d. 1968)
• 1897 – Marion Davies, American actress (d. 1961)
• 1898 – Carlos Keller, Chilean fascist politician (d. 1974)
• 1900 – Donald J. Russell, North American railroad executive (d. 1985)
• 1901 – Ngô Đình Diệm, President of South Vietnam (d. 1963)
• 1905 – Ray Milland, British actor (d. 1986)
• 1905 – Anna May Wong, American actress (d. 1961)
• 1909 – Victor Borge, Danish entertainer (d. 2000)
• 1910 – Frenchy Bordagaray, American baseball player (d. 2000)
• 1911 – John Sturges, American director (d. 1982)
• 1912 – Renaude Lapointe, Canadian journalist and senator (d. 2002)
• 1912 – Armand Lohikoski, Finnish director (d. 2005)
• 1915 – Mady Rahl, German stage and film actress (d. 2009)
• 1915 – Jack Levine, American social realist painter
• 1916 – Maxene Andrews, American singer (The Andrews Sisters) (d. 1995)
• 1916 – Betty Furness, American actress (d. 1994)
• 1916 – Bernard Greenhouse, American cellist
• 1917 – Roger W. Straus, Jr., American publisher (d. 2004)
• 1917 – General Vernon Walters, U.S. military officer, diplomat (d. 2002)
• 1920 – Renato Carosone, Italian musician (d. 2001)
• 1921 – John Russell, American actor (d. 1991)
• 1922 – Ronald Smith, British pianist (d. 2004)
• 1922 – Bill Travers, British actor and director (d. 1994)
• 1923 – Hank Stram, American football coach (d. 2005)
• 1923 – Charles Tingwell, Australian actor (d. 2009)
• 1924 – Doug Ellis, British entrepreneur
• 1924 – André Franquin, Belgian cartoonist (Gaston Lagaffe) (d. 1997)
• 1924 – Nell Rankin, American singer (d. 2005)
• 1926 – George Martin, British producer
• 1929 – Sergio Leone, Italian director (d. 1989)
• 1929 – Ernst Mahle, Brazilian composer
• 1930 – Marcel Dubé, Quebec playwright
• 1930 – Robert Loggia, American actor
• 1932 – Dabney Coleman, American actor
• 1932 – Coo Coo Marlin, American race car driver (d. 2005)
• 1932 – Tongolele, US-born dancer in Mexican movies
• 1935 – Raymond Garneau, French Canadian politician and businessman
• 1936 – David Vine, British sports commentator (d. 2009)
• 1937 – Seri Wangnaitham, Thai dancer and choreographer (d. 2007)
• 1939 – Nikos Alefantos, Greek football manager
• 1939 – Janice Crosio, Australian politician
• 1939 – Bobby Hull, Canadian hockey player
• 1939 – Ruben Reyes, Filipino Supreme Court jurist
• 1941 – Van Dyke Parks, American musician
• 1942 – John Marsden, Australian lawyer, gay activist (d. 2006)
• 1942 – John Thaw, British actor (d. 2002)
• 1943 – Jarl Alfredius, Swedish news anchor (d. 2009)
• 1944 – David Atherton, British conductor
• 1944 – Blanche d'Alpuget, Australian novelist, biographer
• 1945 – Stephen Stills, American musician
• 1946 – John Paul Jones, British musician (Led Zeppelin)
• 1946 – Cissy King, American entertainer
• 1949 – Sylvia Likens, American torture victim (d. 1965)
• 1950 – Victoria Principal, American actress
• 1951 – Gary Nairn, Australian politician
• 1952 – Jim Ross, American wrestling announcer
• 1954 – Dean Hart, Canadian wrestler (d. 1990)
• 1954 – Ned Lamont, American businessman and political figure
• 1954 – Ross the Boss, American guitarist
• 1955 – Palmolive, British musician (The Slits, The Raincoats)
• 1956 – Mel Gibson, Australian actor and director
• 1956 – Willy T. Ribbs, American race-car driver
• 1957 – Bojan Križај, Slovenian skier
• 1958 – Shim Hyung-rae, South Korean filmmaker
• 1958 – James J. Greco, American businessman
• 1960 – Sandeep Marwah Founder of Film City, Noida, India
• 1962 – Francesca Lia Block, American author
• 1963 – Vic Grimes, American professional wrestler
• 1963 – Alex Wheatle, British novelist
• 1963 – Jerome Young, American professional wrestler
• 1964 – Bruce LaBruce, Canadian filmmaker
• 1966 – Martin Galway, Northern Ireland composer
• 1969 – Michael Schumacher, German seven-time F1 World Champion
• 1969 – Gerda Weissensteiner, Italian bobsledder and luger
• 1970 – Christian Duguay, American comic actor
• 1970 – Mahaya Petrosian, Iranian actress
• 1970 – Matt Ross, American actor
• 1971 – Cory Cross, Canadian ice-hockey player
• 1972 – Yoon Chan, South Korean actor
• 1972 – Nichole Nordeman, American singer
• 1974 – Alessandro Petacchi, Italian cyclist
• 1975 – Thomas Bangalter, French DJ (Daft Punk)
• 1975 – Jason Marsden, American actor
• 1975 – Danica McKellar, American actress
• 1976 – Angelos Basinas, Greek footballer
• 1976 – Alisen Down, Canadian actress
• 1976 – Dinara Drukarova, Russian actress
• 1976 – Nicholas Gonzalez, American actor
• 1977 – Lee Bowyer, British footballer
• 1977 – A.J. Burnett, American baseball player
• 1977 – Mayumi Iizuka, Japanese voice actress (seiyū)
• 1978 – Liya Kebede, Ethiopian model
• 1978 – Kimberley Locke, American singer
• 1978 – Park Sol-mi, South Korean actress
• 1978 – Mike York, American ice hockey player
• 1980 – Bryan Clay, American decathlete
• 1980 – Angela Ruggiero, American ice hockey player
• 1980 – David Tyree, American football player
• 1981 – Eli Manning, American football player
• 1984 – Billy Mehmet, Irish footballer
• 1985 – John David Booty, American football player
• 1985 – Linas Kleiza, Lithuanian basketball player for the Denver Nuggets
• 1986 – Lloyd Polite, American R&B singer
• 1986 – Jacob Timpano, Australian footballer
• 1986 – Jessica O'Rourke, American footballer
• 1987 – Leonidas Panagopoulos, Greek footballer
• 1988 – Rodrigo de la Cadena, Mexican artist and performer
• 1989 – Alex D. Linz, American actor
• 1989 – Julia Nunes, American singer and ukulele player
• 1989 – Anya Rozova, Russian model and America's Next Top Model contestant
• 1989 – Mustapha Hussein, Saddam Hussein's grandson, Qusay Hussein's son (d. 2003)
A little blogging music Maestro… “Those Were the Days,” by Mary Hopkin.

Dr. Forgot