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The Time Sammy Davis Jr. Impersonated Michael Jackson

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Sammy Davis Jr. was known for his impersonations—check out his rendition of “As Time Goes By” as 13 different people. So when he hit the stage with Jerry Lewis for a 1988 TV special, he decided to show the audience that his talents weren’t just limited to acts from his era.

Though he briefly mentions Rod Stewart, his main target was Michael Jackson. Davis and Jackson were extremely close—when Jackson was just in his twenties, he would show up at Davis’s house unannounced to immerse himself in the archives, a room downstairs that contained videos of Davis’s performances over the years.

“Michael Jackson is more than a friend," Davis explains, while also alluding to the fact that the King of Pop borrowed some dance moves from him. "He’s like a son.” And then he launched into this impression:

Michael returned the favor during a special on February 4, 1990, in which Hollywood’s biggest stars gathered to honor Davis, who was celebrating six decades in show business:

Sadly, the anniversary show was the last time Davis would perform in public. Though throat cancer had mostly stolen his voice by this point, Sammy let his tap shoes do the talking. He died on May 16, 1990—just three months after the tribute aired.

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Tonamel, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
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Listen to the Eerie Sounds of a Glass Armonica
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Tonamel, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Invented by Benjamin Franklin in the 1760s, the glass armonica (named after the Italian word for harmony, armonia) is one of the world's more unusual musical instruments. It's formed of about 50 glass bowls attached to a rotating spindle and nested inside of each other, which are played to produce sounds similar to those you get if you rub a moistened fingertip around the edge of a wineglass. Mozart composed for it, and Beethoven too.

Today, Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts graduate student Jake Schlaerth is one of only about 30 glass armonica players in the country, and he contributed his talents to the score for the Wolverine movie Logan earlier this year. In the video below from Rutgers (spotted by The Kid Should See This), you can watch Schlaerth play the eerie-sounding instrument and explain more about what makes it so special.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

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Ronald Dumont / Stringer / Gett Images
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Pop Culture
Ella Fitzgerald Recording Will Be Released After More Than 60 Years in Record Label Vault
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Ronald Dumont / Stringer / Gett Images

Ella Fitzgerald ascended to jazz royalty with her pitch-perfect renditions of "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," "Summertime," and tunes from the Great American Songbook. Now, Verve Records plans to release a Fitzgerald recording from the 1950s that’s never been heard by fans. As WBGO reports, Ella at Zardi’s will make its public debut on December 1 after 60 years in the record label’s vault.

Fitzgerald sang the two sets featured on the album in 1956 after signing with Verve Records, a label her manager Norman Granz formed specifically for her. She was days away from recording Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book, a turning point in her career, and she spent her nights practicing songs at Zardi’s Jazzland in Hollywood. The recording opens with Granz introducing Fitzgerald, describing her as “the greatest there is,” before she dives into her performance of “It All Depends on You.” The new release will mark the first appearance of the song on a Fitzgerald album.

After Verve recorded the sets at Zardi’s on February 2, 1956, they stowed the tapes away in the vault, where they lay buried for decades. The decision to finally share the music with the public comes on the year of the singer’s centennial celebration, marking what would have been her 100th birthday.

The full 21-track album will be available digitally and as an audio CD when it comes out at the beginning of next month. Listeners can preorder it today on Amazon.

[h/t WBGO]

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