More music fast facts
The Beatles are the best-selling artists worldwide, having sold more than 600 million albums.
Elvis Presley is the highest-selling individual artist (more than 500 million) based on sales claims and Rihanna is the highest-selling individual artist based on certified units (230 million).
The Beatles holds the record for most singles (20) in the Billboard Hot 100 chart, followed by Elvis and Mariah Carey, each with 18.
“Mr. Mojo Risin” is an anagram for Jim Morrison.
The music group Simply Red is named after redhead lead singer Mick Hucknall’s nickname “Red”.
Sting (Gordon Sumner, b. 1951) got his name because of a yellow-and-black striped sweater he often wore.
The name of the American rock band Devo comes from the band’s concept of de-evolution.
Steely Dan is named after “Steely Dan III from Yokohama”, an oversized, steam-powered strap-on dildo mentioned in the William S. Burroughs novel Naked Lunch.
Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were the two left-handed Beatles.
Some of Beethoven’s symphonies were performed in Kentucky before they were performed in Paris, France.
They Might Be Giants was the first modern band to use an Accordion and a Glockenspiel together.
The Beatles song “Dear Prudence” was written about Mia Farrow’s sister, Prudence, when she wouldn’t come out and play with Mia and the Beatles at a religious retreat in India.
Richard Nixon left instructions for “California, Here I Come” to be the last piece of music played at his funeral (“softly and slowly”) were he to die in office.
Cleo and Caesar were the early stage names of Cher and Sonny Bono.
By 2017, Robbie Williams had 12 number one albums on UK Official Albums Chart, as many as The Rolling Stones and Madonna and one less than Elvis. The Beatles lead with 15.
Robbie Williams has won more BRIT Awards than any other artist – 13 as solo performer and another 5 as part of Take That.
ABBA got their name by taking the first letter from each of their first names (Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny, Anni-frid.)
ABBA: Bjorn, Agnetha, Anni-Frid, Benny. Img ABBA site.
The Beatles song “Martha My Dear” was written by Paul McCartney about his sheepdog Martha.
Paul McCartney’s mother was a midwife.
Don MacLean’s song “American Pie” was written about Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens. All three were on the same plane that crashed.
John Lennon’s first girlfriend was named Thelma Pickles.
Lynyrd Skynard was named after the gym teacher Leonard Skinner of the boys who went on to form that band. They have sold 28 million records in the United States.
In 1976, Sarah Caldwell (March 6, 1924 – March 23, 2006) became the first woman to conduct the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
The “Hallelujah Chorus” fits into the Easter portion of Handel’s Messiah, not Christmas.
The most legally downloaded album by a German artist is the 2013 album “Farbenspiel” Helene Fischer.
Lenny Kravitz holds the record for the most wins for the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, with 4 consecutive wins from 1999 to 2002.
Bruce Springsteen has won 20 Grammys, including Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance three times: 1985, 1994 and 2002.
Lou Reed’s band The Velvet Underground was named after the Michael Leigh book on the S&M culture. Their first manager was Andy Warhol, who also produced their first album (The Velvet Underground and Nico)and designed the cover. The cover artwork featured a bright yellow banana that could be peeled off to reveal a bright pink banana underneath, with the label “Peel Slowly and See.”
The tune for the “A-B-C” song is the same as “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
Hang On Sloopy is the official rock song of Ohio.
Roberta Flack wrote “Killing Me Softly” about singer Don McLean.
The 1983 song “Rosanna” by Toto was written by David Paich and based on numerous girls he had known. As a joke, the band members initially played along with the common assumption that the song was written about Rosanna Arquette.
Styx was the first band to receive 4 platinum records in a row.
Bruno Mars, Glorida Estefan and Nelly played the Super Bowl halftime show twice.
In May 1997, Paul McCartney broke his own world record by obtaining his 81st gold disc.
The band Jethro Tull is named after the English horticulturalist who invented the seed drill. The band, lead by singer/flautist Ian Anderson, is famous for songs such as “Aqualung,” “Locomotive Breath” and “Thick as a Brick.”
The longest song to reach number one on the Billboard charts on LP was “I’d Do Anything For Love” by Meatloaf.
Hip Hop was first used as the name of culture by DJ Africa Bambatta in the 1970s; he also coined the term “rapping.” (The word “rap” – meaning “to converse” – has been used in British English since the 16th century.)
“Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson was the first video by a black artist to air on MTV. The song is off “Thriller”, the best-selling album in history (65 million copies sold).
The name of the 3-month-old naked baby swimming on the cover of Nirvana’s album “Nevermind”, released in 1991, is Spencer Elden.
The Concert for Bangladesh, held on August 1, 1971 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, was the first benefit concert in history; it raised a quarter of a million dollars for refugees fleeing the Bangladesh genocide.
Eddie Cochran’s last recording was Three Steps to Heaven. Cochran died at age 21 after a road accident during his British tour in 1960.
Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison were all 27 years old when they died.
None of the Beatles knew how to read music. Paul McCartney eventually taught himself.
The Grateful Dead were once called The Warlocks.
There are more bagpipe bands in the U.S. than in Scotland.
The bagpipe was first made from the liver of a sheep.
Melba toast is named after Australian opera singer Dame Nellie Melba (1861-1931).
The Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Organ in Atlantic City, New Jersey, is the largest pipe organ in the world. Completed in 1932, it contains 7 manuals, 449 ranks, 337 registers, 33,114 pipes and weighs 150 tons. It is the largest musical instrument ever constructed and the loudest musical instrument ever constructed.
The concerti on the information discs of the two Voyager probes are performed by famed Canadian pianist Glenn Gould.
The Lumineers first played under the names Free Beer, 6Cheek, and Wesley Jeremiah, the latter after Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites who founded the band in 2002. Their first single, “Ho Hey”, released in 2012, stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 for 62 weeks, one of the highest runs in the chart’s history.
The oldest surviving notation of Jewish music was written by Obadiah the Proselyte, an Italian who converted to Judaism in 1102.
“Ever think you’re hearing something in a song, but they’re really singing something else? The word for mis-heard lyrics is mondegreen.
Beethoven was the first composer who never had an official court position, thus the first known freelance musician. Born in 1770, he grew up poor, but published his first work at age 12. By age 20 he was famous. Beethoven was deaf when he composed his final complete symphony, the Symphony No. 9, at age 54; he passed away at age 56. He was short, stocky, dressed badly, didn’t like to bath, lived in squalor, used crude language, openly conducted affairs with married women, and had syphilis.
Warner Chappel Music owns the copyright to the song “Happy Birthday” (or, “Happy Birthday To You”). The melody is based on the 1893 song “Good Morning to All” by Patty and Mildred J. Hill. “Happy Birthday” is the highest-earning single song in history, still earning more than a million dollars per year from commercial use. Copyright for the song expired on January 1, 2017 in the European Union and expires in the United States in 2030.