On This Day, October 16

Rick Dees’ “Disco Duck” charted at #1 on the Bill Board Hot 100 on October 16, 1976. Rick Dees was working at station WMPS in Memphis, Tennessee, when he decided that the budding disco movement was ripe for a parody record. “One of the guys who worked out in [my] gym did a great duck voice,” Dees later recalled, “so I said, how about a ‘Disco Duck’?” From that rather modest moment of inspiration, Dees went home one afternoon and wrote the song that would end up transforming his career. Recorded on a local Memphis-area label, “Disco Duck” caught on first in Alabama, then across the South and eventually across the country after Dees convinced the label RSO to lease the song and release it nationally. On this day in 1976, Dees’ little side project took over the #1 spot on the U.S. pop charts from “A Fifth of Beethoven”—a disco version of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. “Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive. Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive…”  at the library and on hoopla.


Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde, Irish playwright, novelist, essayist, and poet, was born in Dublin on October 16, 1854. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. He is remembered for his epigrams, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, his plays, as well as the circumstances of his imprisonment and early death. At the height of his fame and success, while his masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), was still on stage in London, Wilde had the Marquess of Queensberry prosecuted for libel. The Marquess was the father of Wilde’s lover, Lord Alfred Douglas. The charge carried a penalty of up to two years in prison. The trial unearthed evidence that caused Wilde to drop his charges and led to his own arrest and trial for gross indecency with other men. After two more trials he was convicted and imprisoned for two years’ hard labour. In 1897, in prison, he wrote De Profundis, which was published in 1905, a long letter which discusses his spiritual journey through his trials, forming a dark counterpoint to his earlier philosophy of pleasure. Upon his release he left immediately for France, never to return to Ireland or Britain. There he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life. He died destitute in Paris at the age of 46. Find Oscar Wilde at the library and on hoopla.


James Albert Michener (February 3, 1907 – October 16, 1997) was an American author of more than 40 books, the majority of which were fictional, lengthy family sagas covering the lives of many generations in particular geographic locales and incorporating solid history. Michener was known for the popularity of his works; he had numerous bestsellers and works selected for Book of the Month Club. He was also known for his meticulous research behind the books. Michener’s novels include Tales of the South Pacific for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1948, Hawaii, The Drifters, Centennial, The Source, The Fires of Spring, Chesapeake, Caribbean, Caravans, Alaska, Texas and Poland. His non-fiction works include Iberia, about his travels in Spain and Portugal; his memoir titled The World Is My Home, and Sports in America. Return to Paradise combines fictional short stories with Michener’s factual descriptions of the Pacific areas where they take place. His first book was adapted as the popular Broadway musical South Pacific by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, and later as a film by the same name, adding to his financial success. Find Bali Hai and your own special dream at the library.


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