Musings On Music History: A Plethora Of Birthdays, A Few Odd Activities, and The Passing Of A Legend
06.19: It’s not always easy to help the children. On this day in 2006, The Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft barged into a youth club demanding to work with children. His verbal application was denied for some reason. Odd. You mean you can’t barge into a youth center acting like a crazy person demanding to be with children? Weird. We thought that would be totally appropriate. Some people suspect alcohol and/or drugs may have been the impetus for Richard, others think he just wanted to give back to the world. We’re not sure what to think, but we might look to a few Verve song titles for clues: “The Drugs Don’t Work,” “Stormy Clouds,” and “Valium Skies” come to mind. Or not.
06.20: The births of many a musician occurred on this day. First up is Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson (seriously, we know it’s de rigueur to shower praise on Pet Sounds, but Brian Wilson’s insane work ethic brought out the amazing in the whole group), born in 1942. Next, Lionel Richie didn’t dance on the ceiling at first, but that didn’t come too long after his birth on this day in 1949. Next, the scrubbed-from-Van-Halen-history (for real, they tried to replace him on the album art for Van Halen with Eddie’s son, Wolfgang) bass player Michael Anthony took the stage for the first time on this day in 1954. Finally, Duran Duran’s bassist extraordinaire, John Taylor, slapped his way into this world and, eventually, onto the world stage on this day in 1960. “Girls On Film” just wouldn’t be the same without his slappy hands.
06.21: On this day in 2001, the incredible boogie and blues legend, John Lee Hooker, passed away. He was 80. From his early days singing spirituals in Mississippi to rocking Hastings Street in Detroit in the late 1940s, from influencing early British invasion bands like The Animals to The Yardbirds (who, themselves, became very influential) to his resurgence in the late ’80s and throughout the ’90s, Hooker’s monumental stature in both the blues and rock is something to behold. Pick up a collection of his early works or access his magic through one of the numerous recorded live sets, and you will not be dissapointed.
06.21: Pumpkin reunited? Billy Corgan sure hoped so on this day in 2005. The Smashing Pumpkins frontman took out full-page advertisements in two newspapers stating, “I want my band back, and my songs, and my dreams.” Looks like they got the message. The band reunited in 2007. Well, Billy reunited with Jimmy Chamberlin, the drummer. Bass player D’arcy and lead guitar James Iha wanted nothing to do with the band anymore, which hadn’t had any kind of democratic input (and really not even then) since their first, and arguably greatest, album, Gish. Chamberlin lasted almost four years, until 2009, when he, again, split with Corgan, saying, “I can no longer commit all of my energy into something that I don’t fully possess.” Take that as you will. We love Smashing Pumpkins, but the band could just as easily be called The Billy Corgan Band or Billy’s Band or something like that because it’s never been anything more than a vehicle for Billy’s amazing, and narcissistic, musical tendencies.
06.22: Cyndi Lauper’s mom just wanted to have fun, but, instead, had a natural child birth on this day in 1953. Cyndi’s had fun since then, though.
06.22: On this day in 1981, Mark David Chapman plead guilty to murdering John Lennon. To this day, this is the one rock ‘n’ roll death we wholly wish we could go back in time to prevent. Lennon’s death, unlike those of so many of his overdosing ’60s compatriots, made no sense, whatsoever. Having just released, three weeks prior to his death, the monumental and breathtaking Double Fantasy, Lennon seemed ready to retake the rock world, to show everyone why his voice needed to be heard yet again. Mark David Chapman’s insanity saw to it that we would never have this. We sincerely hope he’s never released from Attica prison.
06.24: Rumors? No, it’s true. On this day in 1942, Mick Fleetwood, he of the band which carried his name into fame and infamy, he who co-starred (believe it) in the ’80s awesometastic Schwarzenegger movie The Running Man, he who makes many a funny face as he bangs furiously upon his drum kit, was born.