b. Donald Howard Koplow, 11 May 1935, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Pop vocalist Don Howard was 17 years old when he first heard a particular folk song recited by a girlfriend. After playing it on his guitar he adjusted the lyrics and copyrighted it under the title ‘Oh Happy Day’. With his booming voice and the song’s slow, chanting rhythm, it was released in the USA in December 1952 and rose to number 4 in the charts without any promotion or plugging, selling over a million copies. Some time afterwards, Nancy Binns Reed (the girlfriend), an amateur songwriter, claimed ownership of the tune. Howard gave her a credit as co-writer and agreed to share the royalties. A cover version by vocal quartet the Johnston Brothers also reached number 4 in the UK in mid-1953.
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