Category Archives: Music

Singing Nun Jeanine Deckers

Singing Nun Jeanine Deckers

December 7, 1963

Dominique” Billboard’s #1 single and album
In 1959, twenty-five year old Jeanine Deckers was coming off a broken engagement when she found the family she was seeking: the Fichermont convent in Belgium.
Singing Nun Jeanine Deckers
Jeanine Decker’s Singing Nun album cover

Sister Smile

Jeanine Deckers

The reclusive Dominican order in Fichermont convent permitted Jeanine Deckers to bring her guitar with her. As, Sister Luc-Gabrielle, she wanted to use her musical talents to raise funds for the order. That is the quick story of "Dominique."  That is the happy beginning to a sad story ending.

Singing Nun Jeanine Deckers

In the twilight of December 7, 1963 the sun was about to rise on American Beatlemania, but Soeur Sourie's "Dominique" was both Billboard's #1 single and album. The single remained at #1 for all of December. The album remained at the top spot until February 15, 1964 less that a week after the Ed Sullivan showcased the Beatles their "Meet the Beatles" album deposed the Singing Nun.

As a reclusive convent Jeanine Decker remained apart from the busy outside world. Such may be the right idea: isolation from the the world's selfishness can make life simpler and allow productivity. World fame found Jeanine Decker and removed that isolation. She found some happiness outside the Order's strict rules. She fell in love with Annie Pécher, a novice nun. And Annie Pécher fell in love with Jeanine Decker.
Singing Nun Jeanine Deckers
Jeanine Deckers and Annie Pécher

 

Singing Nun Jeanine Deckers
In 1966, they left the convent to live together.

Decker's financial success brought tax troubles. Once apart from the convent, the profits that the song had given the order became Decker's responsibility. Though she tried to pursue a secular recording career, her Catholic fan base lost interest in the lack of a religious habit, her living with another woman, and her praise of birth control.

Determined to live her new life, Deckers even wrote a song, Sister Smile Is Dead, (reminds me of Dylan's "Maggie's Farm." )

In 1982 she released a disco version of Dominique

In  1983, she and Pécher opened a school for autistic children. It  failed financially.
Their lives filled with addiction and despair,  the two women took their own lives on March 29, 1985. In her part of the note left behind, Pécher wrote, "We do suffer really too much... We have no more place in life, no ideal except God, but we can't eat that....We go to eternity in peace. We trust God will forgive us. He saw us both suffer and he won't let us down."
Jeanine Deckers
Headline announcing Jeanine Deckers and Annie Pecher’s death.
UK Express story >>> Suicide pact

Jeanine Deckers and Annie Pécher

Jeanine Deckers and Annie Pécher
The tomb of Jeanine Deckers and Annie Pécher
The New York Times article of their deaths >>> Belgium's Singing Nun Is Reported a Suicide)

In 1996, a play was produced on Broadway called, "Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun" (click >>> NYT review)

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Rolling Stones Altamont Banquet

Rolling Stones Altamont Banquet

It is an extraordinary  Rolling Stones bookend: December 6, 1968 and December 6, 1969. The Stones released Beggars Banquet on the former date. The album was a return to a more rock sound than the previous Satanic Majesty's Request of 1967.

Rolling Stones Altamont Banquet

Rolling Stones Altamont Banquet
The more popular the band, the more they seemed to attract media criticism and those bands rewarded the critique with more to criticize. The first cover, the cover that the record companies immediately dismissed, was a dirty bathroom wall full of  graffiti. It was always a Rolling Stones banquet of needling their detractors.
Rolling Stones Altamont Banquet
rejected cover for Beggars Banquet

Altamont Free Concert

1969. The year of so many festivals crowned with the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. And exactly one year after the Stone's Beggars Banquet release, it was time for Woodstock's odd uncle: the Altamont Free Concert, at the Altamont Speedway in northern California. The Rolling Stones organized it with themselves headlining along with Santana, The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Jefferson Airplane, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The Grateful Dead refused to play shortly before their scheduled appearance due to the increasing violence at the venue.
That violence, captured in the film Gimmie Shelter by by Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin , shows how attempts to control the crowd failed.

From Wikipedia: At one point Jefferson Airplane...Marty Balin is knocked out by a Hells Angel; Paul Kantner in response: "Hey, man, I'd like to mention that the Hells Angels just smashed Marty Balin in the face, and knocked him out for a bit. I'd like to thank you for that." To which a Hells Angel sitting on stage grabs a microphone, and replies: "You're talking to my people. Let me tell you what's happening. You, man, you're not happening!"   (click for full article>>> Wikipedia article on Gimme Shelter)
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December 5 Music Contrasts

December 5 Music Contrasts

What was #1 on Billboard sometimes offers an interesting cultural contrast and December 5 in the 60s does just that. From Bonanza's TV star Lorne Greene singing his cowboy song Ringo, to the fresh-faced California Beach Boys in concert, to a group of "hippies" singing about confusion and distrust of the status quo.

December 5 Music Contrasts

Lorne Greene
December 5 Music Contrasts
Lorne Greene on Bonanza
December 5 – 11, 1964: “Ringo” by Lorne Greene #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. A "one-hit-wonder" the song only stayed at #1 for a week. Lorne Greene stuck around as a successful actor much longer.

Though there was an actual outlaw Johnny Ringo, the song's story is not an accurate one. The country song became a hit on both the pop and easy listening charts before the country charts. That was unusual. Don Robertson and Hal Blair wrote the song.  

The fact that a certain very popular band had a very popular drummer by the same name encouraged RCA to release the song.

Beach Boys

December 5 Music Contrasts
Beach Boys 1965
December 5, 1964 – January 1, 1965:  The Beach Boys Beach Boys Concert was the Billboard #1 album. It would stay there nearly a month. Brian had not yet decided to go psychedelic.

The concert album was not quite as "live" as one would have thought. Vocals are overdubbed. Most of the album was part of a 1964 Sacramento concert (as advertised), but a couple of the songs were from December 1963. There were other studio enhancements as well. 

Keep in mind that Beatlemania and the British Invasion were at their height by December 1964, but the Beach Boys' popularity kept this album #1 for four weeks!

Buffalo Springfield

December 5 a contrast in music
Dewey Martin, Jim Messina, Neil Young, Rich Fury, and Stephen Stills
December 5, 1966 – On this date, the Buffalo Springfield recorded “For What It’s Worth." It will be released on January 9, 1967.  They wrote it as a protest to the way the LA Police were treating teen-agers, not an anti-war song, but it became one nonetheless and an anthem to many of the Baby Boomer generation.

For a larger explanation about the song's origins, see Sunset Strip Riots

A very thorough piece on the song >>> For What It's Worth, explained

 

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