Today In Music: A look back at pop music

By PENNY NELSON BARTHOLOMEW, United Press International

(March 23)

Today's birthdays include Doc Watson in 1923 (age 79); Ric Ocasek, formerly of The Cars, who was born in 1949 (age 53); Chaka Khan, whose real name is Yvette Marie Stevens, in 1953 (age 49); Marti Pellow of Wet Wet Wet in 1966 (age 36); and Blur's Damon Albran in 1968 (age 34).


Today's musical milestones:

In 1964, John Lennon's first book, "In His Own Write," was published.

In 1980, a gunman held up Elektra Records in New York City, demanding to speak to the Eagles or Jackson Browne. He gave up when told they lived in California.

In 1985, Billy Joel married his "Uptown Girl" -- model and actress Christine Brinkley. The couple later divorced.

Also in 1985, Jeanine Deckers -- better known as "the Singing Nun" -- killed herself in a suicide pact with another woman. She was 52. As the "Singing Nun," Deckers had a No.1 single with "Dominique" in 1963. She later left the convent.

In 1987, Janet Jackson, Luther Vandross and Cameo took top honors at the first annual Soul Train Awards.


In 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a $400,000 judgment for Bette Midler against an advertising agency that used a Midler sound-a-like in a car commercial.

In 1993, the organizers of the Boston Music Awards announced that Aerosmith would be honored with a special "Right to Rock" award, honoring the band's fight against censorship.

Also in 1993, a settlement was announced in MCA and Motown's nearly two-year-old legal battle over a distribution deal.

In 1995, Tupac Shakur's album "Me Against the World" debuted in the No.1 position on the Billboard Hot-200 album chart. At the time, the rapper was in prison after being convicted three months earlier in the November 1993 sexual assault of a woman in his hotel room.

In 1998, the hit single "My Heart Will Go On" -- from the motion picture "Titanic," and sung by Celine Dion -- won the Oscar for best original song.

Today's musical quiz:

Before making her English-language recording debut with "Unison" in 1990, how many best-selling French albums did Celine Dion have? Answer: Nine.


(March 24)

Today's birthdays include the late singer Billy Stewart, who was born in 1937; War harmonica player Lee Oskar in 1946 (age 56); drummer Mike Kellie of Spooky Tooth in 1947 (age 55); April Wine bassist Steve Lang and Nick Lowe, both in 1949 (age 53); Supertramp bassist Dougie Thomson in 1951 (age 51); German pop singer Nena, whose real name is Gabriele Kerner, in 1960 (age 42); and Sharon Corr of The Corrs and rapper Mase, both in 1970 (age 32).


Today's musical milestones:

In 1958, Elvis Presley, 23, was sworn into the U.S. Army as Pvt. Presley, serial number US-53310761.

In 1964, the British Top-10 singles chart was entirely British for the first time ever.

In 1965, Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman was knocked unconscious by an electric shock from a microphone stand during a concert in Denmark.

In 1973, a fan at a Lou Reed concert in Buffalo, N.Y., jumped on-stage and bit into Reed's posterior after screaming "Leather!" Afterwards, Reed commented, "America seems to breed real animals."

In 1984, Beach Boy Al Jardine married Mary Ann Helmandollar.

In 1992, a Chicago judge approved a court settlement offering refunds to those people who bought the music of or attended concerts by the lip-synching duo Milli Vanilli.

In 1993, Elton John broke Elvis Presley's record of having a top-40 single every year for 23 years straight when "Simple Life" entered the top 40 -- making it 24 years in a row for John.

Also in 1993, singer Judy Collins went jogging with President Clinton but ran out of breath and hitched a ride with a limousine back to the White House.


In 1998, a judge in Leicester, England, sentenced British pop singer Mark Morrison to one year in jail for sending an imposter to perform his court-ordered community service. Morrison had been convicted in a 1995 nightclub brawl that left one man dead.

In 2000, a throat infection forced Latin pop star Enrique Iglesias to postpone his free concert at Universal's CityWalk Plaza Stage in Orlando, Fla.

Today's musical quiz:

When Elvis Presley became a G.I., his monthly earnings dropped by quite a bit. How much? Answer: Presley's pay dropped from $100,000 to $78 a month.


(March 25)

Today's birthdays include Johnny Burnette, who was born in 1934; country's Hoyt Axton in 1938; Anita Bryant in 1940 (age 62); Aretha Franklin in 1942 (age 60); Elton John in 1947 (age 55); Boney M singer Maisie Williams in 1951 (age 51); Steve "Spiny" Norman of Spandau Ballet in 1960 (age 42); and singer/songwriter Jeff Healy in 1966 (age 36).

Today's musical milestones:

In 1939, Billboard unveiled a new category of recorded and sheet music sales chart -- known as "hillbilly" -- to keep track of country music.

In 1961, Elvis Presley made what would be his last concert appearance for eight years, at Pearl Harbor's Block Arena in Hawaii.


In 1967, the Who -- famous in England but unknown in the United States -- made its American debut low on the bill of a Murray the K rock show.

Also in 1967, Cream -- then an unknown in the United States -- arrived in New York for the group's first U.S. tour.

And in 1967, the Turtles topped the Billboard Hot-100 singles chart with "Happy Together."

In 1976, Phyllis Major, the wife of Jackson Browne, committed suicide.

In 1978, 19 years after his death, Buddy Holly topped the British album chart for the first time with "20 Golden Greats."

In 1984, singer/songwriter Tom Jans died.

In 1985, Kenny Rogers performed for the first time since surgery months earlier to remove nodules from his vocal cords.

In 1988, Jerry Lee Lewis defended his cousin -- TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggart, accused of dallying with a prostitute -- by saying Swaggart "don't have to lie about nothing."

In 1991, Madonna's "Sooner or Later" -- from the film "Dick Tracy" -- won the best song Oscar.

Also in 1991, Marc Connors of the Canadian rock group The Nylons died of pneumonia. He was 43.


And in 1991, to squelch rumors that he was gay, country singer Randy Travis revealed to the Washington Post that he'd been romantically involved with his manager, Lib Hatcher, for 12 years -- but had denied it because she was 12 years older than him.

In 1992, the B-52s and actress Kim Basinger headlined a New York fundraiser for Democratic presidential hopeful Jerry Brown.

In 1993, pop star Michael Jackson and convicted junk-bond swindler Michael Milken announced plans to launch a cable-TV education network.

In 1994, Ike Turner announced plans to remarry.

In 1996, "Colors Of The Wind" -- from the Disney animated film "Pocahontas" -- won an Oscar for the best original movie song. The tune was a number-one pop hit for Vanessa Williams.

Also in 1996, Sheryl Crow entertained U.S. peacekeeping troops in Bosnia. The USO variety show also included comedian Sinbad.

In 1998, Mary J. Blige kicked off a spring concert tour in Detroit in support of her "Share My World" album.


In 2000, a Honolulu newspaper (the Star-Bulletin) reported that prosecutors in Hawaii were looking into possible drug charges against pop singer Whitney Houston, who allegedly had left a suitcase containing 15.2 grams of marijuana at a security checkpoint of the Kona Airport earlier in the year. Authorities later declined to press charges.

Today's musical quiz:

She's been dubbed the "Aretha Franklin of Generation X." How did Mary J. Blige come to sign a recording contract with Uptown Records? Answer: While at a suburban New York mall with her friends, Blige made a karaoke-style recording of an Anita Baker song. The tape found its way to the CEO of Uptown Records, who was impressed enough to sign her.


(March 26)

Today's birthdays include Rufus Thomas, whose early 1960s hits included "Walking the Dog" and "Funky Chicken." Thomas was born in 1917. Five Satins lead singer Fred Parris was born in 1936 (age 66); Diana Ross in 1944 (age 58); Richard Tandy of Electric Light Orchestra in 1948 (age 54); Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, also in 1948 (age 54); bassist Fran Sheehan of Boston in 1949 (age 53); Teddy Pendergrass in 1950 (age 52); country's Charly McClain in 1956 (age 46); Susanne Sulley of Human League in 1963 (age 39); and country singer/songwriter Kenney Chesney in 1968 (age 34).


Today's musical milestones:

In 1970, Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary pleaded guilty to "taking immoral liberties" with a 14-year-old girl.

In 1971, Emerson, Lake and Palmer recorded their version of Russian composer Moussorgsky's suite "Pictures at an Exhibition," live at Newcastle City Hall in England.

In 1975, Ken Russell's film version of The Who rock opera "Tommy" premiered in London.

In 1976, Paul McCartney's first live appearance in the United States in a decade was delayed three weeks when guitarist Jimmy McCulloch of Wings broke a finger in an accident in his Paris hotel room.

In 1977, "Less Than Zero" -- the debut single from Elvis Costello -- was released by the newly formed Stiff Records in London.

In 1980, Police played a one-night show in Bombay, India. The group was the first western pop band to perform in the Indian city in 10 years.

In 1986, Kerry McCarver Lewis -- the 23-year-old sixth wife of Jerry Lee Lewis, then 51 -- filed for divorce. The couple later reconciled.

In 1991, Black Crowes lead singer Chris Robinson said the band was dropped as the opening act for ZZ Top because of his on-stage remarks about commercial sponsorship of concerts. (Miller Brewing Company was sponsoring the ZZ Top tour.)


In 1992, a Boston judge dropped assault and battery charges against New Kid On The Block Jordan Knight, who had allegedly ordered his bodyguard to slug a heckler outside a nightclub the previous June.

In 1995, rapper Eric "Eazy-E" Wright died from AIDS only three weeks after being diagnosed. He was 31. Wright was the founder of the rap group NWA and of the Los Angeles-based Ruthless Records.

In 1998, a survey named Madonna the worst dressed at the 70th annual Academy Awards. The pop singer-turned-actress had styled her hair in blonde ringlets and wore a black dress with the decolletáge to her waist.

In 1999, rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard -- a.k.a. Russell Jones -- of the rap group Wu Tang Clan was arrested yet again, for the second time in 5 days and at least the fourth time in three months, this time in Harlem, N.Y. He was charged with driving without a license.

In 2000, country singer Faith Hill substituted for Whitney Houston during a medley of old Oscar-nominated songs at the 72nd Annual Academy Awards. The Los Angeles Times reported conductor Burt Bacharach fired Houston after a rehearsal in which the diva reportedly was unprepared and unresponsive to Bacharach's direction, but program publicist Jane Labonte said only that Houston was having problems with her voice during the rehearsal and wasn't sure she could perform.


Also in 2000, Kiss performed its own version of the Pepsi "Joy of Cola" jingle in a new commercial that debuted during the 72nd Academy Awards. Also in the spot: "Pepsi Girl" Hallie Eisenberg.

Also in 2000, Carly Simon performed the Beatles' song "Act Naturally" for a Blockbuster ad that aired for the first time during the Oscars telecast.

Today's musical quiz:

What was Kenney Chesney's major at East Tennessee State University? Answer: Advertising and marketing.


(March 27)

Today's birthdays include Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks, who was born in 1950 (age 52); Walt Stocker of the Babys in 1953 (age 49); Andrew Farris of INXS in 1959 (age 43); Brazilian singer/actress Xuxa in 1963 (age 39); and Mariah Carey in 1970 (age 32).

Today's musical milestones:

In 1965, the Yardbirds replaced departing lead guitarist Eric Clapton with Jeff Beck, who'd been recommended by the group's first choice, Jimmy Paige.

In 1972, Elvis Presley recorded what turned out to be his last major hit -- a powerful, driving cover of bluesman Arthur Alexander's "Burning Love."

Also in 1972, Grand Funk Railroad fired its manager.


In 1973, the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia was pulled over for speeding on the New Jersey Turnpike. But the $15 ticket for speeding was nothing compared to the substantial bail he had to raise when the police found various illegal substances in his car.

In 1982, Ronnie Lane of Faces was admitted to a Florida hospital for treatment of multiple sclerosis.

In 1987, a South River, N.J., high school student was suspended for wearing to school a t-shirt that said "To Hell with the Devil," promoting the Christian rock group Stryker.

In 1991, Donnie Wahlberg of the New Kids On The Block was arrested on arson charges in Louisville, Ky. He'd allegedly poured vodka on a hotel carpet and set it on fire.

In 1993, NBC repeated the "Saturday Night Live" show with musical guest Sinead O'Connor, first aired in Oct. 1992 -- but without the segment during which she ripped up a picture of Pope John Paul II.

In 1995, Elton John and Tim Rice won the best song Oscar for "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" from the Disney animated film "The Lion King."


In 2000, Ian Dury, lead singer of Ian Dury & The Blockheads, died of liver cancer. He was 57.

Today's musical quiz:

What's the title of Elton John's debut album? Answer: This is a trick question. John debuted in 1965 on Bluesology's "Come Back Baby." But you'd be equally correct if you answered with "Empty Sky," John's solo debut album released in Britain in 1969, or 1970's "Elton John," his U.S. debut album.


(March 28)

Today's birthdays include Turtles bassist Charles Portz, who was born in 1945 (age 57); John Evans, keyboardist with Jethro Tull, and Milan Williams of the Commodores, both in 1948 (age 54); country's Reba McEntire in 1954 (age 48); and Cheryl "Salt" James of Salt 'n' Pepper in 1969 (age 33).

Today's musical milestones:

In 1958, W.C. Handy died at age 84.

In 1964, Britain's first "pirate" rock radio station, Radio Caroline, began broadcasting from a barge anchored off shore to circumvent British broadcast laws.

In 1969, Ringo Starr announced in London that there'd be no further public appearances by the Beatles. John Lennon disputed that, but it turned out Starr was right.


In 1974, Arthur "Big Boy" Cruddup -- who wrote "That's All Right Mama" -- died at the age of 69.

In 1979, Eric Clapton married Patti Boyd, George Harrison's ex-wife and the inspiration for Clapton's song "Layla."

In 1982, David Crosby was arrested on various drug and weapons possession charges. When asked why he was carrying a concealed .45, Crosby replied -- "John Lennon."

In 1984, drummer Mick Fleetwood filed for bankruptcy.

Also in 1984, Culture Club arrived in Montreal, Canada, for the group's North American tour. The band was greeted at the airport by about 2,500 screaming fans.

In 1985, a wax effigy of Michael Jackson was unveiled at Madame Tussaud's in London.

In 1987, the Doobie Brothers moved a benefit concert from Phoenix to Las Vegas to protest Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham's decision to rescind the state holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

In 1991, rock 'n' roll broadcast pioneer Dick Clark was honored on the Hollywood Rock Walk.

In 1993, Willie Nelson performed a benefit concert in Hillsboro, Texas, to raise money to restore the Hill County Courthouse that'd been destroyed by fire. Nelson spent his childhood in the area.


In 1994, more New York dates were added to Barbra Streisand's upcoming tour. All of the shows sold out within minutes.

Also in 1994, police announced a total of 91 arrests at a weekend series of Grateful Dead concerts on Long Island, N.Y.

Again in 1994, 25 unruly fans were arrested outside a Pearl Jam concert in Miami.

In 1999, Freaky Tah -- a.k.a. Raymond Rogers -- of the gangsta rap group The Lost Boyz was shot to death by masked gunmen outside a New York City hotel. He was 28. Two men later were arrested in connection with the murder.

In 2000, country singer Trisha Yearwood's new album, "Real Live Woman," was released.

Today's musical quiz:

In 1993, Boy George had a solo hit single from this Neil Jordan movie. What? Answer: George sang the theme song from the film "The Crying Game."


(March 29)

Today's birthdays include the late Pearl Bailey, who was born in 1918; Vangelis in 1943 (age 59); and Toto's Bobby Kimball in 1947 (age 55).

Today's musical milestones:

In 1960, Tootsie's Orchid Lounge opened in Nashville.

In 1973, following its single "The Cover of the Rolling Stone," Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show actually made the cover of that particular magazine.


In 1975, all six Led Zeppelin albums released up to this time were on the U.S. album charts during the same week.

In 1980, the BeeGees were sued in Chicago by an amateur songwriter who claimed they plagiarized one of his tunes for their 1978 hit "How Deep Is Your Love?" The BeeGees won on appeal.

In 1985, Thompson Twin Tom Bailey was found collapsed on the floor of his hotel room, suffering from exhaustion.

In 1987, Prince won eight "Razzies" for worst achievement in movie making at the annual spoof of the Academy Awards.

In 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear 2 Live Crew's appeal of a ruling that said the rap group broke federal copyright laws when it did a parody of Roy Orbison's "Oh Pretty Woman." The high court would reverse the decision.

Also in 1993, a judge in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., overturned the October 1990 conviction of a record store owner charged with obscenity for selling 2 Live Crew's "As Nasty As They Wanna Be" album.

In 1996, Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee and his wife, "Baywatch" star Pamela Anderson Lee, sued Penthouse for $10 million in a failed bid to force the magazine not to market a stolen home video showing the couple "doing it."


Today's musical quiz:

How many musical instruments can Prince play? Answer: Prince reportedly can play more than two dozen instruments.

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