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Tuesday, December 06, 2016

December 6, 1988

The POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR continues with Day #6 - as well as the Tuesday Timeline entry.  It's the first one for the month of December, and I'll tell you something...I had no shortage of topics to choose from.  The clincher is that I wanted to try and make this Christmas themed...and that was the hardest part.  But, I think I've found a way to do that...even if it means talking about the final day of one singer's life.

Before we get to that, let's have a look at some of the other events that took place on the 6th of December.

1768 - The first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica is published

1790 - The United States Congress relocates to Philadelphia from New York City

1865 - The ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution effectively bans slavery in the United States

1877 - The Washington Post is printed for the first time

1884 - Construction of the Washington Monument is completed

1897 - London, England becomes the first city in the world to host licensed taxicabs

1900 - Actress Agnes Moorehead (d. 1974) is born in Clinton, Massachusetts

1907 - 362 coal miners lose their lives following a mine explosion in Monongah, West Virginia

1917 - A munitions explosion occurs near Halifax, Nova Scotia, killing 1,900 people

1947 - The Everglades National Park is dedicated

1953 - Vladimir Nabokov completes the novel, "Lolita" - one of the most controversial pieces of literature ever written

1955 - Baseball player Honus Wagner dies at the age of 81

1967 - The first human heart transplant is performed by Adrian Kantrowitz

1971 - The diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan are severed, leading up to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

1989 - Fourteen women are gunned down by an anti-feminist gunman at an engineering school in Montreal, Quebec

1993 - Actor Don Ameche passes away at the age of 85

2006 - NASA reveals photographs taken by the Mars Global Surveyor that suggests the presence of liquid water on Mars

2010 - Canadian reporter and CityTV personality Mark Dailey dies of kidney cancer, aged 57

2011 - Singer Dobie Gray passes away, aged 71

And, for celebrity birthdays, we have the following people turning one year older.  Happy birthday to Patrick Bauchau, JoBeth Williams, Wendy Ellis Somes, Tom Hulce, Steven Wright, Nick Park, Judd Apatow, Torri Higginson, Ulf Ekberg, Craig Brewer, Noel Clarke, and Ryan Carnes.

So, how far are we going back in time this week?

Well, how about three decades less two years?  That would make the date December 6, 1988.

As I mentioned before, this date is a sad one in the music industry.  This was the day in which a real music legend lost his life...and it came at a time in which he was experiencing what could be considered one of the greatest comebacks in the industry.

Now, for some artists, they make comeback albums every three or four years or so.  It seems like it's almost a joke of sorts.  But in actuality, this was an entertainer who was in his prime in the late 1950s and early 1960s and hadn't had another hit until 1988.  Not only did he have success as a solo artist, but he had joined a supergroup that had formed the year before with Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and George Harrison. 

Who knew that Roy Orbison would have had such a career resurgence at the age of 52?  Even he seemed surprised at the idea of people responding so well to him.  After all, this was a man who started his career in 1957 with a voice that was unlike any other male voices heard on the radio at that time.  Whereas most of the male artists at that time had a defining masculinity about him which could be heard in their vocals, Orbison's voice showed a little bit of vulnerability, and almost seemed operatic in comparison. 

And yet, it seemed to fit in very well during the early 1960s.  He had hit after hit with songs like "Only The Lonely", and "Crying", and "Oh, Pretty Woman".  He even released a few Christmas singles such as the one heard below.  

Throughout the 1970s, his career stagnated a bit, but by the time 1988 rolled around, he had jumped in full swing with his work with The Traveling Wilburys, as well as recording a brand new album entitled "Mystery Girl".  By late 1988, the tracks were all completed and Orbison was set to release the album sometime in 1989.  It was the first new album that Orbison had released in ten years, and thanks to his work with the Traveling Wilburys, fans were anticipating the release.

But what the public didn't know was that Orbison hadn't been feeling very well in the weeks leading up to his death.  In November 1988, he had been experiencing chest pains.  He confided to his friend, Johnny Cash, about this and Cash had reportedly encouraged Orbison to get checked out by a doctor, but Orbison decided to ignore the advice and went ahead to Europe.  There, he accepted an award as well as performed in Antwerp, where he performed one of his newest singles, "You Got It".

From there, he conducted a series of interviews for television, flew back to the United States to perform shows, and by the 4th of December, he was physically exhausted from the stressful schedule.  He returned to his home in Henderson, Tennessee to recuperate from it all.  He planned to stay there until after the holidays were over, and from there, he would fly out to London to film some more videos for the Traveling Wilburys.  At least, that was what the plan was.

Sadly, two days later, on December 6, 1988, Orbison suffered a massive heart attack at the age of 52.  The tabloids had suggested that Orbison had worked himself to death, but Orbison had had heart troubles as far back as ten years prior to his death.  In many ways, the stress certainly didn't help him out, but my opinion is that Orbison's health had been a ticking time bomb for several years, and it's unfortunate that he died when his career was going so well.

But his legacy continues on.  His last album, "Mystery Girl" was released in February 1989, and that song that he performed in Antwerp became Orbison's final hit.

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