Today in Music: a look back at pop music

United Press International

(May 14)

Today's birthdays include Sidney Bechet, in 1897; Bobby Darin, who was born in 1936; Jack Bruce of Cream in 1943 (age 60); former Rascals guitarist Gene Cornish in 1945 (age 58); Al Ciner, guitarist with American Breed, in 1947 (age 56); David Byrne of Talking Heads in 1952 (age 51); Tom Cochrane, guitarist with Red Rider, in 1953 (age 50); Poison's C.C. Denville and Ian Astbury of The Cult, both in 1962 (age 41); Fabrice Morvan, one-half of the lip-synching duo Milli Vanilli, in 1965 (age 38); and Danny Wood of NKOTB -- formerly known as the New Kids on the Block -- in 1969 (age 34).


Today's musical milestones:

In 1955, "Rock Around the Clock," re-released after the debut of the movie "Blackboard Jungle" entered the Billboard charts on this date and started climbing. By July, it had become No. 1 in the United States, and by the end of the year it had topped the English charts as well. The song, by Bill Haley and the Comets, became one of the most influential in history.

In 1976, Keith Relf of the Yardbirds was electrocuted at his London home while tuning a guitar. He was 33.


In 1982, "Fast" Eddie Clark quit Motorhead in the middle of the band's U.S. tour. Guitarist Brian Robertson of Thin Lizzy flew to the United States to replace him.

In 1987, Emmylou Harris told a congressional panel that she believed digital audio tape machines should be required to have anti-copying devices.

Also in 1987, Frank Sinatra -- criticized by anti-apartheid forces for playing South Africa in 1981 -- attacked the system of racial separation, calling South African President P.W. Botha "a bum."

In 1991, the Bee Gees' 27th album, "High Civilization," was released in the United States.

Also in 1991, Motown sued MCA for $10 million, accusing it of refusing to promote Motown records to pop radio stations.

In 1994, former Rascals guitarist Gene Cornish celebrated his 50th birthday with an all-star guitar jam at the Classic American Guitar Show in Long Island, N.Y.

In 1998, Frank Sinatra died of a heart attack after being rushed to Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 82.

Also in 1998, George Michael was sentenced to two years probation, fined and ordered to perform community service after pleading no contest to lewd conduct charges. The singer was arrested April 7 after a police officer witnessed him committing a "lewd act" in a Beverly Hills, Calif., park restroom.


Today's musical quiz:

Thin Lizzy's lead singer Phil Lynott performed on this 1978 rock musical version of a famous science fiction novel. What? Answer: Lynott was featured on "War of the Worlds," a rock music version of the H.G. Wells novel of the same name.

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