Musings On Music History: GNR Hits #1, We Get Funked Up, and The Edge Is More Awesome Than You Think
08.06: Guns N’ Roses debut album, Appetite for Destruction hit #1 in on this day in 1988. Already on the charts for the previous 57 weeks, the album’s slow burn to the top in no way diminished its success, as it has since sold 27 million copies worldwide. Good thing Axl’s still got Appetite bringin’ in some bucks, in the wake of “G-N-R’s” last album. We won’t name that last album because, frankly, we want to forget it. We want to remember the real Guns N’ Roses. We want to remember the first time we heard “Welcome To The Jungle” and knew that it was some whole next-level stuff. Man, what a great album! Too bad that initial lineup burned out after only two proper albums. Yeah, Use Your Illusion (both of ’em) has some great moments, but stand it next to Appetite and you got nothing.
08.06: Rick James, super freak extraordinaire, died of a heart attack on this day in 2004. Did you know? Rick James and Neil Young were once in the same band in the mid-’60s. For real. Read that again. The man who brought us “Super Freak” and the man who brought us “The Needle And The Damage Done” both played together in an Ontario R&B band called Mynah Birds. What’s even weirder is that Mynah Birds, which never released an album, also included in its lineup, at one time or another, future members of Steppenwolf (“Magic Carpet Ride”) and Buffalo Springfield (of which Neil was also a member). It’s just weird.
08.06: Isaac Hayes funked his way into the world on this day in 1942. South Park, Colorado, would never be the same. One of the greatest soul & funk masters of the ’60s and ’70s, Mr. Hayes contributions to the world of music can be easily overlooked when people concentrate on his soundtrack to the film Shaft, from 1971. While a great time-capsule of a soundtrack and of a film, Isaac had been working behind the scenes for many, many years at Stax, one of the preeminent soul labels of the ’60s, before Shaft hit theaters. Co-writing more than 200 singles for a plethora of Stax singers and groups, Hayes finally broke out on his own toward the end of the ’60s with his 2nd solo album, Hot Buttered Soul, from 1969, which sounds exactly like you’d expect it to. Smooth, awesome, tasty, sexed-up soul music. He continued to release amazing music throughout his life (he died in 2008), but he found fame amongst a new generation with his portrayal of “Chef” on the satirical and prescient, and insanely funny, cartoon “South Park.”
08.07: The tattooed millionaire and Eddie-loving hard rocker, Bruce Dickinson, was born on this day in 1958. Dickinson wasn’t Iron Maiden’s first vocalist, but his heavy metal, sword-and-sorcery, operatic lyrics and voice helped catapult the band into the rock stratosphere. Iron Maiden’s first two albums (Iron Maiden in 1980 and Killers in 1981) came with Paul Di’Anno on vocals, and they really rocked, but they have nothin on Bruce’s first album with Maiden, 1982’s Number Of The Beast, which set the stage for their huge, slashing metal sound of the last 28 years, forever solidified with Piece Of Mind and Powerslave in ’83 and ’84, respectively. Bruce is the man. He’s also a certified pilot who flies the band around the world on their tours. Check out the documentary Iron Maiden: Flight 666for some incredible footage of Maiden shows around the world, but also of Bruce flying a Boeing 757!
08.08: On this day in 1961, The Edge was born. One of the most underrated guitar players around, we think that a lot of people take him for granted, not really realizing his immense contribution to U2’s overall sound. From “Sunday Bloody Sunday” to “Mysterious Ways” to “Vertigo,” Mr. David Howell Evans has put his stamp on each and every U2 tune. This is one band where every member is just as vital and important as the next, but, for us, The Edge edges slightly ahead of the other three in terms of awesomeness. This in no way, whatsoever, diminishes the stature of Bono, Larry, or Adam, but kind of just shows how much we loves a great guitar player. And we love that he took a name like The Edge. It’s kind of like all of those single-named musicians out there (Madonna, Sting, Cher, Gilbert), but even better because he’s got the “The” at the front, denoting that he is the real deal, that he ain’t playing around, that he is one cool cat. Believe it.
08.09: On this day in 1995, Deadheads mourned the loss of their defacto leader, Jerry Garcia, who passed away from a heart attack while in rehab. His long struggle with heroin finally lead to this gentle, fun-loving music man’s departure. What a long strange trip, indeed. Rest in peace, Jerry. We miss ya, kid.
08.11: On this day in 1966, John Lennon apologized, at a Chicago press conference, for saying The Beatles were “more popular than Jesus now.” He may have been a bit presumptive in his assertions, at least in the eyes of those who called for his head, those who asked that The Beatles not play their cities, or those who sold their stock in Capital Records, the Beatles record label.
08.11: Who you gonna call on this day in 1984? Ray Parker, Jr. , of course. His insanely huge theme song to the insanely huge Ghostbusters topped the charts and invaded the minds of millions for years to come, for better or worse. The movie is still awesome 27 years later (holy crap, has it been that long?) and the theme song is still as fun as ever. “Bustin’ make me feel good!” The video on the other hand, we could do without. Pure ’80s cringey dreck. What’s up with all the pseudo-celebs during the chorus at the end? It’s just weird. But we digress. Ghostbusters, the movie and the song, still hold a special place in our heart and make us smile, and we bet they do the same for a lot of you.
08.12: On this day way back in 1877, the first sound recording ever is made by Thomas Edison. What was that first recording? It was Edison reciting “Mary Had A Little Lamb.” Little did he know, at the time, the power of recorded sound and the directions it would take popular culture. Or that his version of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” would become a #1 worldwide smash, knocking Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” off the top of the charts and remaining there for a staggering ten weeks!
08.12: On this day in 1994, Woodstock ‘94, the 25th anniversary of the first Woodstock festival, was held in upstate New York. 350,000 attended the concert which featured Green Day, Aerosmith, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and others for three days of music, fun, and good vibes, proving that lighting can strike twice. However, the 30th anniversary concert, Woodstock ’99, with its riot- and violence-filled denouement, would prove to be more like the infamous Altamont Free Concert (look it up), which effectively ended the bright-eyed, love-in that was the late ’60s. Now, Woodstock ’99 didn’t effectively end anything, but it did prove that, sometimes, some things are better left in the past.