Musings On Music History: A Plethora Of Beatles, We Lose A Great, and Rock Gets A Hall
08.27: On this day in 1965, The Beatles met Elvis Presley for the first and only time at his home in Bel Aire. Rumors abound about the meeting, with some saying The King felt threatened by The Fab Four’s ascendency, while others, who claimed to be there that night, say everyone had a good ol’ time, jamming some tunes, shooting some stick, and just hanging out. We can see how The Beatles, having grown up on Elvis, would’ve been stoked to hang out with their idol, while Elvis may have been a bit threatened by the youngsters domination of the charts and the hearts of music lovers everywhere. Elvis shouldn’t have worried, though, as he was just three years away from his ’68 Comeback Special, which would revitalize his mojo and carry him forward until his death.
08.27: On this day in 1990, guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughan died in a helicopter crash. He was 35. Yeah, that sucked. That was a dark day for us. Stevie had been through so much, had climbed out of addiction and back into life, had embraced his music as never before and truly enjoyed performing again. It had been so long since he’d had that feeling. Then, after a show in Wisconsin, just a minute after take-off, he was gone. The helicopter in which he was riding slammed into a nearby hill, the pilot unfamiliar with the terrain and unable to see in that night’s heavy fog. Truly one of the greatest guitar players who ever lived, check out the Live From Austin DVD if you don’t believe us. Amazing.
08.29: On this day in 1958, Michael Jackson was born. Despite his numerous bouts of odd behavior over the years, he was still the man who gave us “Beat It,” “Human Nature,” and “Billie Jean.” And nothing will change that. Ever.
08.29: On this day in 1920, momentously influential jazz musician Charlie “Bird” Parker strode into this world. Even then, he was the coolest cat in the room. Helping to pioneer the jazz sub-genre of bebop and lead jazz from the dominant swing era toward the complex compositions, smoky clubs, and scorching solos we still associate with jazz to this day, Bird’s influence reached beyond jazz into the realm of the Beat Generation, which in turn influenced ’60s hippy culture, which in turn influenced politics and culture, which in turn….well you get the idea. Charlie Parker was, is, and forever shall be the man. His death, at the ripe old age of 34, proved, once again, that the candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long. Happy birthday, Charlie. Rest in peace.
08.29: The Beatles last real concert, at Candlestick Park in San Fran, went down on this day in 1966. Instead of constant touring, the band wanted to focus on recording albums. Though a loss to some fans, the music world gained immeasurably from this, as the guys put out some of the best albums of all time, taking studio recording to new heights and unexpected directions with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles (The so-called White Album), Abbey Road, and Let It Be.
08.31: Van Morrison, he of moondancing and G-L-O-R-I-A fame, was born on this day in 1945. What a monumental talent, from his days fronting Them (“Baby Please Don’t Go” and the classic “Gloria”) to his world-conquering solo work (“Brown-Eyed Girl”, “Into The Mystic”, and, of course, “Moondance”), Mr. George Ivan Morrison still rocks our world today, selling out shows wherever he goes, showering his fans with his awesomeness.
09.01: R.L. Burnside, the 78-year old blues veteran whom every music lover should know, died on this day in 2005. For real, seek out his burly, groovetastic, hill country blues. From his traditional, early work to his rock- and hip-hop-influenced ’90s and ’00s records, Burnside is a treasure.
09.01: The very first release, titled Three, by a little Irish band called U2 flew onto the scene on this day way back in 1979. Containing a mere three tracks, hence the title, the EP hit the Irish charts, peaking at 19, and earned the guys critical praise and music awards. The first of much and many, respectively.
09.01: INXS performed for the first time under that name on this day in 1979. Before that, the band, simply known as The Farriss Brothers, already did things in excess, but after the change the band’s name seemed a bit more apropos.
09.02: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened its doors on this day in 1995 in Cleveland, Ohio, forever enshrining all that is awesome and good about rock and roll, rhythm and blues, hip-hop, country, and most other genres of which one could think. Over the years, there have been many a criticism lobbied against the voting and nomination processes, with many of the progenitors of popular music ignored in favor of more popular and contemporary groups. We can’t speak to that, but one thing we can agree with is the site of the museum. Cleveland had long argued its position as the birthplace of rock and roll, with the actual coining of the term by Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed, in lobbying to be the home of the Hall of Fame, beating out Memphis, Cincinnati, and New York. Rock and roll wouldn’t be “rock and roll” without Alan Freed and Cleveland.
09.02: On this day in 1970, Genesis placed an add for a drummer in Melody Maker magazine. Phil Collins answered the ad. Lucky for us that he did. Otherwise, who knows if the world ever would have experienced the mysticism and enchantment that is “Easy Lover” (which would never have come from Genesis of the late ’60s and ’70s, but probably wouldn’t have existed without Phil’s induction into said band and his exposure to the larger world of pop music).