Musings On Music History: The British Invasion Begins, Aerosmith Scores, and An Orginal Rocker Is Born
09.04: The Animals, they of “House of the Rising Sun,” one of the first salvos in the British Invasion of the ’60s, played their first show in the U.S. at the Paramount Theater in Brooklyn, on this day in 1964. America would very quickly become Brit-happy day trippers, rolling like stones and thinking ’bout tambourine men. The work of The Animals and their contributions to Brit Invasion history has been kind of forgotten in time. Sure the Brits probably would’ve still taken over American airwaves, bringing blues back to the States, but The Animals were one of the first to do it and are still one of the best. “House Of The Rising Sun” is an old, old American folk song, and nobody’s quite sure about its origins, but The Animals claimed it as their own and will be forever attached to it.
09.04: The Beatles’ “Love Me Do” became recorded reality, for the 2nd of 3 times, on this day in 1962 at Abbey Road Studios. It’d been recorded a few months earlier with The Beatles’ first drummer, Pete Best. After Ringo joined the group, they re-recorded it. Their producer, George Martin, however, didn’t like Ringo’s drumming, so another version, the one people are most familiar with, was recorded one week later using a session drummer. Ringo was still on that version, though. He played the tambourine.
09.05: Aerosmith didn’t miss a thing on this day in 1998 when the biggest hit of their career, their one and only #1 song, hit the top of the charts and remained there for four weeks. Can you guess which song it was? If you guessed “Sweet Emotion,” you are a hopeless romantic. Yes, “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” is cheesy and shmaltzy and over the top, but if it brings even a few more people into Aerosmith’s realm of rock and roll, then that’s okay. If a fan of this song happens to discover “Sweet Emotion” or “Dream On” or “Rag Doll,” then we’ll accept all of its cheese and shmaltz and over-the-top theatrics. But we will not listen to it because it will be stuck in our heads for days. Too late. Damn.
09.05: On this day in 1946, Freddie Mercury, lover of champions, fat-bottomed girls, Scaramouche, and fandangos, was born. The frontman’s frontman, Mercury’s stage presence would never be equaled by anyone, ever. The man couldn’t not be cool. We love Freddie, his passion for music, his passion for life, the way he could prowl a stage, and his incredible chops. The man could SING! Happy birthday, Freddie! We miss you, man.
09.05: On this day in 1992, John Cougar Mellencamp pounced on his matrimonial prey. The rocker married model Elaine Irwin after the two met when she was hired to appear on a Mellencamp album cover. And so the long line of model-rocker marriages would remain intact, though the Mellencamps, who were married for 18 years, lasted longer than the usual rocker-model marriage and seemed to be bucking the “use-’em-and-lose-’em” trend of divorces that hit the likes of Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, and Rod Stewart.
09.06: On this day in 1943, Roger Waters was born. Fortunately, there weren’t any floating pigs, walls, or dark sides of any moons in the delivery room. Those would come later when Roger and his little band that could, Pink Floyd, took over the world.
09.07: On this day in 1936, Buddy Holly was born. One of rock ‘n’ roll’s earliest stars, it is hard for us to imagine that Holly’s career lasted all of around 18 months, from the time “That’ll Be The Day” was released on May 27, 1957, to that fateful Day The Music Died on Feb. 3, 1959. Holly didn’t invent rock ‘n’ roll, wasn’t it’s first pracitioner, but he brought songwriting to the fore, as, before he came along, most perfomers had songs written for them, chosen by producers or label chiefs or even radio programmers. Holly wrote his own songs and showed that an artist could have more control over what he performed, while still churning out hits. Holly and his band, The Crickets, also did things differently in the studio, taking their time to craft the music, instead of adhering to label mandates, which usually kept the artists in tight schedules, leaving little room for experimentation. By writing his own songs and taking time in the studio to get those songs right, Holly influenced everone from The Beatles to The Beach Boys, from The Rolling Stones to Jimi Hendrix, and those artists, in turn, as you may have heard once or twice, influenced a plethora of musicians, themselves. Though Buddy Holly’s career lasted only a short while, his influence has lasted (and will continue to last), whether musicians, performers, and audiences know it or not, for over 50 years.
09.07: On this day in 1978, two weeks after his 32nd birthday, The Who’s drummer, Keith Moon, died of a drug overdose. Though he died quietly in his sleep, Moon’s death stood in concert with his destructive rock ’n’ roll attitude, which included the quintessential acts of trashing many a hotel room, blowing up his drum kit, and influencing Animal from The Muppet Show.
09.07: On this day in 1996, Tupac Shakur and Suge Knight were shot while driving in Las Vegas, after they’d been involved in a fight at a nearby casino. Shakur died six days later. His shooting has never been solved. Shakur’s prolific catalog of music is still being released. Some say he always knew he would die young, so he recorded as much as possible. An unfortunate martyr in the media-hyped East Coast vs. West Coast hip-hop “war”, Tupac was just beginning to realize that
09.09: The disco era, ensconced on the popular music charts for the latter half of the ‘70s, saw another #1 hit when “Boogie Oogie Oogie” by A Taste of Honey topped the charts on this day in 1977. Now, we have a love/hate relationship with disco. On the one hand, it was the precursor to house and techno music, which itself has influenced rock, pop, indie, and hip-hop, allowing all of these genres to embrace its inherent fun, driving force, and gorgeous electronic possibilities. On the other hand, the disco era gave us Rick Dee’s “Disco Duck,” (warning: watch at the risk of you’re own sanity) which, in and of itself, is enough to make us hate disco as a whole, anyone who’s ever listened to disco, and the latter half of the ’70s entirely. Thankfully, punk, new wave, and the emergence of hip-hop put an end to disco’s reign.
09.09: Legendary musician Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass, hell, the developer of the style that would become known as bluegrass, died on this day in 1996. The 84-year-old’s influence on country music cannot be understated. He held bluegrass in the highest esteem, often berating groups and musicians who didn’t match up with his standards. After he got a hold of them, they usually straightened up, though. And if they didn’t, he’d often say, “They ain’t no part of nothin’.”
09.09: Elvis “The Pelvis” Presley appeared for the first time on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on this day in 1956. Performing “Love Me Tender,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Ready Teddy,” and “Hound Dog,” as 54 million people tuned in to watch Elvis do his thing, which he did better than anyone previous or since.
09.09: Otis Redding, one of the greatest soul singers ever, joined us on this day in 1941. From “Try A Little Tenderness” to “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay,” from “Hard To Handle” to “The Glory Of Love,” Otis’ incredible voice (which still give us goose bumbs to this day) and lyrics set the bar higher and higher for later generations. Few, if any, have matched this man in terms of soulfulness and raw emotion.