Today in Music: a look back at pop music

By United Press International
Subscribe | UPI Odd Newsletter

(April 26)

Today's birthdays include Maurice Williams of the Zodiacs, who was born in 1938 (age 65); Duane Eddy was also born in 1938 (age 54); Bobby Rydell in 1942 (age 61); Gary Wright, who was with Spooky Tooth before going solo, in 1943 (age 60); the late Pete Ham of Badfinger was born in 1947; Jimmy Hall of Wet Willie in 1949 (age 54); Duran Duran's Roger Taylor in 1960 (age 43); and TLC's Tionne Watkins in 1970 (age 33).


Today's musical milestones:

In 1977, Studio 54 opened in New York City.

In 1978, Ringo Starr starred in his first TV special -- an updated version of Mark Twain's "The Prince and the Pauper."

In 1982, a gunman robbed Rod Stewart on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood and stole his Porsche.


In 1984, Liverpool's Cavern Club reopened.

Also in 1984, cancer claimed Count Basie at age 79.

In 1987, Fats Domino, Jose Feliciano and Allen Toussaint were among the headliners at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Also in 1988, country singer Randy Travis swept the first TNN Viewer's Choice Awards, winning in five categories.

In 1988, a federal jury in White Plains, N.Y., ruled Mick Jagger did not steal "Just Another Night" from an aspiring reggae musician, ending the copyright suit against the Rolling Stone frontman.

In 1994, Grace Slick pleaded guilty to pointing a shotgun at a police officer who had responded to a call of trouble at her Marin County., Calif., home.

In 1995, Bobby Brown and two other men were arrested and charged in the beating of a man at a Disney World nightclub.

Also in 1995, former Guns N' Roses drummer Steven Adler was charged with felony heroin possession after he was found slumped over the wheel of his car parked on a Los Angeles street.

In 1996, the rock band Phish helped draw huge crowds to the opening day of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.


In 1999, tickets for Woodstock '99 set an all-time Ticketmaster record for first-day single-event sales. A total of $7 million worth of tickets were sold.

Also in 1999, Billy Joel spoke about show business to acting students at Manhattan's New School. He said teaching was the only other profession he thought he'd enjoy as much as music.

And in 1999, Sinead O'Connor told the BBC she had been ordained as the first woman priest in the Latin Tridentine Church, a Roman Catholic splinter group, and said she would be known as "Mother Bernadette Mary."

Today's musical quiz:

At age 7, Gary Wright appeared in what 1950s-era children's program? Answer: "Captain Video."


(April 27)

Today's birthdays include "America's Top 40" host Casey Kasem in 1932 (age 71); drummer Jerry Mercer of April Wine in 1939 (age 64); Kate Pierson of the B-52's in 1948 (age 55); Kiss guitarist Paul "Ace" Frehley in 1951 (age 52); and Adam and the Ants guitarist Marco Pirroni and Sheena Easton, both in 1959 (age 44).

Today's musical milestones:

"White Christmas," starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, debuted on this day in 1954. The film, which opened at Radio City Music Hall, was Paramount's first wide-screen film, made with a process called VistaVision.


In 1972, Blue Oyster Cult manager Phil King was killed by a gambling partner in New York.

Also in 1972, Grand Funk Railroad fired manager Terry Knight. The band later sued him to recover $8 million in unpaid songwriting royalties.

In 1973, the Opryland theme park opened in Nashville.

In 1975, Pink Floyd opened a five-night series of concerts in Los Angeles, during which more than 500 marijuana smokers were arrested.

In 1976, a collection of Nazi books and memorabilia being carried by David Bowie was confiscated at the Soviet-Polish border.

In 1979, Stevie Wonder made an unannounced appearance at a UCLA Duke Ellington tribute concert. He performed "Sir Duke" and Ellington's "C-Jam Blues."

In 1981, Ringo Starr married actress Barbara Bach in London. Paul and Linda McCartney, George Harrison and Harry Nilsson were among those at the wedding.

Also in 1981, Gary Numan played a "farewell" concert in London.

In 1984, Elton John and Poland's Lech Walesa exchanged autographs and chatted following a concert in Gdansk.

Also in 1984, Texas bluesman Z.Z. Hill died at age 48.


In 1992, Carnie Wilson of Wilson Phillips had her purse snatched outside a Los Angeles restaurant. The parking attendants gave chase and recovered the purse.

In 1993, La Toya Jackson decided not to press charges against her husband/manager Jack Gordon. The charges stemmed from his allegedly beating her with a dining room chair.

In 1994, Aerosmith's Steve Tyler told ABC's "Turning Point" of his battle to overcome heroin addiction.

Also in 1994, John Mellencamp's wife, Elaine, gave birth to a son. It was the first child for the couple and first son for Mellencamp, who had three daughters by previous marriages.

In 1995, Grammy-winning gospel artist Steven Curtis Chapman swept the 36th Annual Dove Awards in Nashville, taking home six awards.

In 1998, Billy Joel, Elton John, Sting and James Taylor performed at the ninth annual Rainforest Foundation International benefit concert at New York's Carnegie Hall.

In 1999, the children and estate of the late Temptations singer Melvin Franklin sued Franklin's widow and the group's co-founder, Otis Williams, in Nashville federal court. They accused Williams and Kim English -- the widow Franklin -- of unlawfully using the Temptations' name and conspiring to collect royalty payments that should have gone to the estate and Franklin's children.


Also in 1999, a 21-year-old Ohio man was injured when he fell from a 3rd-level balcony during a Neil Young concert in Akron. The three people he landed on also were hurt.

Today's musical quiz:

Where did Ringo Starr and actress Barbara Bach meet? Answer: In Mexico, while filming the movie "Cave Man."


(April 28)

Today's birthdays include John Wolters, drummer with Dr. Hook, who was born in 1945.

Today's musical milestones:

Ross Bagdasarian's "The Witch Doctor," employing the unusual technique of recording the singer's voice at a different speed than the music, hit the No. 1 spot on Billboard's pop charts on this day in 1958. Bagdasarian, who recorded under the name of David Seville, later scored a repeat with his "Chipmunks."

In 1963, Andrew Oldham saw the Rolling Stones perform for the first time at the Crawdaddy Club in London. He became the group's manager and producer the next day.

In 1980, Marshall Tucker Band bassist Tommy Caldwell died of head injuries following a car accident near his hometown of Spartanburg, S.C. He was 30.

In 1984, what would be the Judds' first No.1 hit, "Mama He's Crazy," entered the music charts.


In 1987, Rolling Stone Bill Wyman founded AIMS to provide promising young musicians with affordable time in recording studios.

Also in 1987, Ray Charles testified before Congress on behalf of increased funding for hearing research, telling lawmakers: "My eyes are my handicap, but my ears are my opportunity."

And in 1987, Sweden said it wouldn't exempt Frank Sinatra from a special tax on his upcoming show because he'd broken an artistic boycott of South Africa.

In 1988, B.W. Stevenson -- who had a top-10 single in 1973 with "My Maria" -- died following heart surgery. He was 38.

In 1990, Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses married Erin Everly -- daughter of Don, the older of the Everly Brothers -- in Las Vegas. They would divorce within a year.

Also in 1990, the Broadway musical "A Chorus Line" closed after a record 6,237 performances.

In 1993, Prince announced he was retiring from studio recording to concentrate on theater, film and nightclubs. He didn't.

Also in 1993, a Cleveland newspaper reported Paul McCartney would perform a benefit concert for the formal groundbreaking of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.


In 1994, Lisa Marie Presley -- Elvis' only child -- and her musician-husband Danny Keough announced they were divorcing after 5 1/2 years of marriage and two children.

In 1995, Dr. John, Los Lobos, and Peter Paul and Mary were among the headliners at the 26th annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

In 1997, Cyndi Lauper announced on a Fox TV Network morning show that she was pregnant. It was the first child for her and her husband, actor David Thornton.

In 1999, members of The Verve confirmed reports that they were breaking up.

Also in 1999, members of R.E.M. made their TV series debut on Fox TV's "Party of Five."

And in 1999, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In 2000, Sting, Dr. John, the Allman Brothers Band, the Neville Brothers, the Staple Singers and the Radiators were among the headliners at the 31st annul New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Also in 2000, fire destroyed the Augusta, Ga., offices of the "Godfather of Soul" James Brown. A 29-year-old employee of James Brown Enterprises was later charged with arson in connection with the blaze.


Today's musical quiz:

Before making it big on their own, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers toured for two years with this artist as his backing band. Who? Answer: Bob Dylan.


(April 29)

Today's birthdays include the late Duke Ellington, who was born in 1899; Carl Gardner of the Coasters in 1928 (age 75); Lonnie Donegan in 1931; April Stevens of the duo Nino Tempo and April Stevens in 1937 (age 66); Duane Allen of the Oak Ridge Boys in 1943 (age 60); Tommy James in 1947 (age 56); Status Quo's Francis Rossi in 1949 (age 54); and Wilson-Phillips singer Carnie Wilson in 1968 (age 35).

Today's musical milestones:

In 1962, Jerry Lee Lewis launched his second tour of the United Kingdom. His first -- in 1958 -- ended in an uproar when the British media discovered he was married to his 13-year-old cousin.

In 1960, Dick Clark testified before a House subcommittee and denied involvement in the payola scandal that had shaken the radio industry in 1959 and 1960. Several disk jockeys had been accused of accepting money illegally from record companies for playing their records.


In 1969, Duke Ellington was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on his 70th birthday. The musical legend was the son of a White House butler.

In 1971, Bill Graham announced plans to close the two Fillmores -- East in New York and West in San Francisco.

In 1972, New York Mayor John Lindsay asked immigration authorities not to deport John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

In 1980, Black Sabbath began its first tour with Ronnie James Dio, who replaced Ozzy Osbourne.

In 1987, a high school in South Beloit, Ill., moved up the time of its graduation ceremony so students could make it to a Bon Jovi concert.

In 1988, a reunited Little Feat made its debut on a Mississippi River steamboat at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

In 1991, Alan Jackson and Michael Irwin won song of the year honors at the Music City News Country Songwriters Awards in Nashville for "Here In The Real World," the title track from Jackson's first album.

In 1992, singer/dancer Paula Abdul married actor Emilio Estevez in Santa Monica, Calif. The marriage lasted about two years.


Also in 1992, Garth Brooks was named entertainer of the year and top male vocalist at the 27th annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Los Angeles.

And in 1992, singer/actress Sheena Easton collapsed while on stage in "Man of La Mancha" -- her Broadway debut role. She was hospitalized overnight for an intestinal ailment.

In 1993, a New York entertainment company sued Michael Jackson after it said he reneged on a deal for it to record rap artists doing rap versions of Beatles songs. Jackson owns the rights to the Lennon-McCartney catalog.

Also in 1993, Guns N' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke broke his left wrist in a motorcycle accident, forcing the rockers to cancel a string of concerts.

And in 1993, a Nashville newspaper reported that Garth Brooks would record a song with Kiss on the band's upcoming album.

In 1994, Tupac Shakur was arrested after Los Angeles police stopped the rapper's car and found a loaded pistol as well as marijuana in the vehicle.

In 1995, rapper Tupac Shakur -- jailed after being convicted of sexual assault -- wed his longtime girlfriend in a New York prison ceremony. The marriage was later annulled.


In 1996, Boyz II Men's manager announced the quartet had agreed to a $100 million, five-album deal with Motown Records. It was said to be the richest recording contract ever.

Also in 1996, a Pasadena, Calif., judge ordered Stone Temple Pilot frontman Scott Weiland into residential drug treatment program for three months. That -- following Weiland's arrest in 1995 on cocaine and heroin possession charges.

And in 1996, Kenny Rogers underwent laser gall bladder surgery in Athens, Ga.

In 1998, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler whacked himself in the knee with a 20-pound microphone base, tearing ligaments and causing other damage. The injury forced the band to postpone the rest of its North American tour.

In 1999, Billy Joel's first classical composition premiered at New York's Carnegie Hall.

Also in 1999, officials in Littleton, Colo., pulled the plug on Lenny Kravitz when his concert ran past the city's 10:30 p.m. curfew.

In 2000, Chaka Khan, Rufus Wainwright, Garth Brooks, Melissa Etheridge, kd lang, George Michael, Queen Latifah and the Pet Shop Boys performed at Equality Rocks, a benefit concert for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation held in Washington, D.C.


In 2001, R.E.M., Hugh Masekela and Spice Girl Mel B headlined a concert in London's Trafalgar Square that celebrated seven years of multi-racial government in South Africa.

Today's musical quiz:

Where did Melissa Etheridge "come out"? Answer: At a Bill Clinton inaugural ball. Etheridge leaped onstage, kissed movie hostess Elvira and declared herself a lesbian.


(April 30)

Today's birthdays include the late Johnny Horton, who was born in 1925; country's Willie Nelson in 1933 (age 70); John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas in 1935; Bobby Vee in 1943 (age 60); Wayne Kramer of MC5 in 1948 (age 55); Merrill Osmond in 1953 (age 50); and rapper Turbo B, whose real name is Durron Maurice Butler, in 1967 (age 36).

Today's musical milestones:

In 1965, Herman's Hermits launched its first U.S. concert tour. The opening act was the Zombies.

In 1966, folk singer and novelist Richard Farina -- the husband of Joan Baez's sister -- was killed in a motorcycle accident. He was 29.

In 1983, blues great Muddy Waters -- whose real name was McKinley Morganfield -- died from a heart attack in his adopted city of Chicago. He was 68.


Also on this date in 1983, Michael Jackson's "Beat It" rose to No. 1 on the Billboard charts just one week after "Billie Jean" ended its seven-week run at the top. Jackson became the first artist in the 1980s to score two hits in the top five at the same time.

In 1987, Madonna's "La Isla Bonita" became her 11th consecutive top-five hit, a feat accomplished only by Elvis Presley and the Beatles.

Also in 1987, in a lawsuit going back 20 years, members of the former Jefferson Airplane asked a judge to release $2 million in royalties held by their record company.

And in 1987, Bobby McFerrin was among the headliners at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

In 1988, Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" dropped off the Billboard Top-200 album chart for the first time in 725 weeks -- three weeks short of 14 years!

Also in 1988, Paul McCartney announced he'd signed a deal with the state-run Soviet record company Melodiya for an album of 13 rock hits.

In 1992, rioting in Los Angeles caused officials to cancel ticket sales to a July 13 Michael Bolton concert at the Hollywood Bowl. The sales were rescheduled.


In 1997, tornado warnings failed to stop a concert by Marilyn Manson in Kalamazoo, Mich.

In 2000, CBS aired the made-for-TV biopic "Take Me Home -– The John Denver Story." It starred Chad Lowe in the title role and was based on Denver's autobiography "Take Me Home." Denver was killed in October 1997 when his experimental plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean.

In 2001, Stabbing Westward launched a North American club tour in Orlando, Fla., in support of the band's first album in three years.

Today's musical quiz:

In February 1959, when he was 15, Bobby Vee was called upon to perform for a hometown crowd in Fargo, N.D., after what happened? Answer: The star of the show had been killed in a plane crash. That star was Buddy Holly. Vee knew all the lyrics to the songs and so was pressed into service.


(May 1)

Today's birthdays include Sonny James, who was born in 1929 (age 74); the late Marion "Little Walter" Jacobs in 1930; Judy Collins in 1939 (age 64); Rita Coolidge in 1945 (age 58); Blood Sweat and Tears trumpet player Jerry Weiss and Buckinghams bassist Nick Fortune, both in 1946 (age 57); Ray Parker Jr. in 1954 (age 49); Mr. Mister guitarist Steve Farris in 1957 (age 46); and Black Crowes bassist Johnny Colt and country singer Tim McGraw, both in 1966 (age 37).


Today's musical milestones:

In 1966, the Beatles played the group's last show in Britain. The event was the "New Musical Express Pollwinner's Concert." Others on the bill included the Rolling Stones and The Who.

In 1967, the King took a Queen -- Elvis Presley married Priscilla Ann Beaulieu at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. The wedding cake alone cost $3,500.

In 1969, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash videotaped a TV special for ABC at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

In 1970, Elton John's first U.S. album -- the self-titled "Elton John" -- was released.

In 1975, the Rolling Stones announced the "Tour of the Americas" by playing "Brown Sugar" on a flatbed truck driving down New York's Fifth Ave.

In 1977, the Clash launched its first tour of Britain with a May Day show at the Roxy in London.

In 1980, the Academy of Country Music named Loretta Lynn its Artist of the Decade.

In 1986, producer and songwriter Jugo Peretti -- who founded Avco Records -- died at age 68.

In 1987, Billy Joel announced plans to be the first U.S. rock star to play the Soviet Union with concerts in Moscow and Leningrad.


Also in 1987, a U.S. federal appeals court ruled that a British man had no right to sell Elvis Presley merchandise -- such as women's underwear imprinted with "The King's" likeness.

In 1991, the choice of Billy Joel as a commencement speaker at Fairfield University -- a Jesuit school in Connecticut -- sparked controversy when a professor charged that Joel's song "Only the Good Die Young" was anti-Catholic and contained lewd references to Catholic girls.

In 1992, a Harry Connick Jr. concert at the Universal Ampitheater was canceled because of rioting in Los Angeles.

In 1993, a man was arrested and charged with trespassing after repeatedly trying to get into the Michael Jackson family estate in Encino, Calif.

Also in 1993, supermodel Naomi Campbell announced on Irish television that she was engaged to U2 bassist Adam Clayton. They later broke it off.

In 1997, a Beverly Hills car rental agency cancelled plans to auction off the bullet-ridden door from the GMC Suburban in which rapper Notorious B.I.G. was sitting when he was killed. The police confiscated the door, saying they needed it for evidence.

In 2000, Lou Reed and the Eurythmics appeared with Pope John Paul II at the May 1st Jubilee celebrations in Rome. They appealed to the international community to cancel the outstanding debts owed by some of the world's poorest countries.


Today's musical quiz:

"Suite Judy Blue Eyes" was written for Judy Collins by whom? Answer: Stephen Stills. They were a couple at the time.


(May 2)

Today's birthdays include the late Bing Crosby, who was born in 1904; Link Wray in 1935 (age 68); guitarist Hilton Valentine of the Animals in 1943 (age 59); Argent guitarist John Verity in 1944 (age 58); Goldy McJohn, keyboardist with Steppenwolf, and Bianca Jagger, Mick Jagger's ex-wife, both in 1945 (age 57); Argent drummer Robert Henrit, and singer Lesley Gore, both in 1946 (age 56); Gatlin Brother Larry Gatlin in 1949 (age 53); Lou Gramm of Foreigner in 1950 (age 52); The Knack's bassist Prescott Niles in 1954 (age 48); Human League's Jo Callis in 1955 (age 47); and Dr. Robert -- a.k.a. Robert Howard -- of the Blow Monkeys in 1961 (age 41).

Today's musical milestones:

In 1957, Elvis Presley recorded "Jailhouse Rock."

In 1965, the Rolling Stones made the group's second appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

In 1979, the film "Quadrophenia" -- based on The Who's album and featuring Sting -- premiered in London. That same evening, drummer Kenny Jones -- replacing the late Keith Moon -- performed for the first time in public with The Who at London's Rainbow Theater.


In 1980, Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In the Wall" was banned in South Africa. Officials feared it might encourage boycotts at black schools.

In 1982, Adam and the Ants broke up. Adam Ant -- a.k.a. Stuart Goddard -- continued as a solo act.

In 1986, Wal-Mart pulled albums by 11 rockers and comics -- including AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Motley Crue -- off store shelves in 22 states.

In 1987, a fully clothed Dolly Parton popped out of a cake at the grand re-opening of her Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

In 1994, Eric Clapton performed a benefit concert at New York's Lincoln Center.

In 1995, Yoko Ono donated her royalties from the original cast recording of her 1994 off-Broadway musical "New York Rock" to AmFAR.

In 1998, Hideto Matsumoto, the lead guitarist in the now-defunct rock band X Japan, hanged himself in a Tokyo condo.

In 1999, the 30th annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival set a new attendance record of 495,000 for the 10-day event. The Radiators, the Neville Brothers, the Isley Brothers and Hootie and the Blowfish topped the bill for the last day.

Today's musical quiz:


Bush's debut album "Sixteen Stone" almost didn't get released. Why? Answer: Gavin Rossdale's band had been signed with Disney's Hollywood Records but their big fan, Disney President Frank Wells, was killed in a helicopter crash in 1994 just as "Sixteen Stone" was being finished. Other Hollywood executives decided the album unworthy and so it remained in limbo until being rescued by Interscope Records.

Latest Headlines