You Say It's Your Birthday: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Bob Carpenter

Yes, its also mega-record producer Phil Spector's birthday today.

Today is the birthday of Nitty Gritty Dirt

Band vocalist/keyboardist/accordionist Bob

Carpenter, born in 1946 in Philadelphia,

Pennsylvania. A true sonic testament to Americana,

the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was best known for its

down-to-earth country-rock sound, though they

became more rock-oriented over the years.

Formed around 1966 as the Illegitimate Jug Band, the

group featured guitarist and vocalist Jeff Hanna,

guitarist Jimmie Fadden and guitarist Jackson

Browne. Browne was replaced by John McUen, who

remained a seminal member of the group through

1987.

The group's debut album, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band,

was released in 1967 and enjoyed a hit with "Buy Me

For The Rain." Soon the band's musicians were occupied with other

projects, and the group

temporarily disbanded; they reunited before 1970 to record Uncle

Charlie, an album which

included their top-ten cover of "Mr. Bojangles." For their next project,

the band joined forces

with several country legends including Earle Scruggs, Doc Watson, Merle

Travis and Maybelle

Carter for Will the Circle Be Unbroken, released in 1972.

Sixteen years later the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band repeated this feat with a

new set of musicians --

from Johnny Cash to Chet Atkins to the Carter Family and John Denver --

for Will the Circle Be

Unbroken, Vol. 2. Though the band were popular as a live act, they

didn't receive much

recognition until they became the first rock band to tour the Soviet

Union in 1977. Carpenter

joined the band in 1978, and continues to play with the band today.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band had a string of hits through 1987, starting

out on the pop charts and

then moving to country around 1983. In 1992 the Aspen School of Music

named a scholarship in

the band's honor; they released String Wizards that same year, and

String Wizards II in 1994.

Other birthdays: Phil Spector, Paul Anthony Quinn (Saxon), and Corina. --

Beth Winegarner