I have been asked many times where I got the idea for the Musical Milestones.
The idea came from the same place as many great concepts: I stole it. Or let’s say I adapted it.
It really began about 30 years ago with a regular bit I did when I was the Afternoon Drive deejay at AM 1430, a radio station in Toronto. I did a comedy bit saluting humorous anniversaries with a character I called The Old Historian. You can hear his last appearance by clicking this link: scottwalker.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/CJCL-The-Old-Historian.mp3
I have also always been interested in the stories behind the music: why particular songs were written, what the inspiration was, how all the often-disparate forces come together to create a piece of music history. And here’s where my bit of larceny came in. I was a fan of a legendary American newscaster named Paul Harvey. Paul did regular newscasts on ABC radio from 1951 to 2008, reaching up to 24-million listeners a week. His newscasts included a segment called The Rest of the Story in which he told stories involving famous events or people. His story would always contain an interesting twist and a surprise ending.
So, in 1994, I pitched an idea for a musical version of The Rest of the Story to CBC Radio – without confessing the origin of my great idea. I had begun researching and collecting stories about the music industry: the artists, the recordings, the events. Whenever I found a story with an interesting twist, I would find a date to anchor it to: the date the recording took place, or when the record was released or hit #1. I kept track of them in a database I created that now contains about 5,000 entries. Often, I found links between one story and another; sometimes between one era and another. For example, a guy who was playing trombone in a strip club in the Thirties was ‘discovered’ by Glenn Miller, became the only musician to play on all of Miller’s recordings, and then went on to supply an essential element of a classic rock hit from the Sixties.
So my feature on CBC Radio, which was called The Musical Almanac, ran for twelve years and became very popular with audiences...right up until the network cancelled it. At the time, I was living in Victoria, BC. So I took the Almanac across the street to a private station, CFAX 1070. And now, as the Musical Milestones, it has found a new home on Cashbox Radio.
Here are some of the stories I’ll be talking about over the next little while:
- The third most-recorded song in history, which began life under the title Scrambled Eggs – Oh Baby, I Love Your Legs.
- The 50th anniversary of one of the biggest hits of the Seventies; an album that stayed on the charts for almost six years.
- The all-star charity concert that became a legal and tax nightmare for its organizer.
- How the record that officially kicked of the rock era was almost forgotten.
- The song written for a squeegee kid
- …and many, many more.
I hope you’ll join me because – to quote Paul Harvey – “now you know the rest of the story.”
Editor’s Note: You can listen to Musical Milestones with Scott Walker on Saturdays @3pm and Sundays @ 7pmEST on cashboxradio.ca/ or download our FREE app for Android or iPhone and other platforms here: cashboxradio.ca/we-are-listed-here/