34 years ago today, Todd Rundgren released an album which sounds a bit a different from most of the efforts that preceded it, but there’s never any question that it’s Todd all over.
Throughout the late ‘60s and the entirety of the ‘70s, Rundgren was about as experimental as a mainstream pop artist could get and still maintain a significant following, trying a little of this and a little of that, rarely settling for the same sound from one album to the next. As such, the fact that Healing sounds different is, in its way, exactly what you’d expect from him. That said, the material finds him getting a bit more reflective than usual.
25 years ago today, Kylie Minogue went to the pinnacle of the UK singles chart with a cover of a song made famous by Little Anthony and the Imperials and co-written by…Grandpa Munster?!?
Nah, just kidding. The lyricist was named Al Lewis, though. Just a different Al Lewis, i.e. not this guy.
“Tears on My Pillow” was the fourth and final single released from Minogue’s sophomore full-length effort, Enjoy Yourself, and from its sales, it’s clear that the record-buying public responded to its title by saying, “Don’t mind if I do,” with the album ultimately going platinum four times over in the UK while also finding significant success in Australia, France, and Switzerland, too.
In the US, though? Not so much.
55 years ago, a swingin’ cat who entered the world under the name Walden Robert Cassotto but came to be better known by his stage name – Bobby Darin – released a jazzy little full-length number which proved to be the second top-10 album of his career.
This Is Darin was actually Darin’s third album, but his first, self-titled album never actually charted, although it did provide the world with a classic single in the form of “Splish Splash.” Between that debut and his second album, That’s All, Darin also struck paydirt with his version of Woody Harris’s “Queen of the Hop” as well as “Dream Lover,” which was ultimately a far more important hit in the long run, as Darin wrote all by his lonesome. Both tracks were top-10 hits, and as a result of these singles increasing his name recognition, Darin released That’s All to tremendous acclaim, winning Grammys for Record of the Year and Best New Singer, providing him with career-defining singles like “Mack the Knife” – his first #1 hit – and “Beyond the Sea” (#6), and achieving a level of success which effectively ensured that all eyes and ears would be on whatever he might decide to do next.
Hitting the big 6-0 today is a gentleman whose prowess on guitar is the stuff of legend: Eddie Van Halen.
Born in Nijmegen, Netherlands in 1955, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen wasn’t just born unto a father who played clarinet, saxophone, and piano, he was actually named after a musician…or didn’t you realize that “Lodewijk” is Dutch for “Ludwig”? (This explains a bit more why Eddie went on to name his son Wolfgang.) The Van Halen family moved to Pasadena, California in 1962, and soon began to study piano, along with his brother Alex. Although Eddie had a gift when it came to tickling the ivories, even winning a piano competition at Long Beach City College four years running, he soon shifted his interests to the guitar, while Alex - inspired by his brother – decided to take a stab at playing drums.
34 years ago today, one of the most memorable anthems to emerge from the UK during the ‘80s first hit record store shelves, kicking off Kim Wilde’s career in a big, big way.
“Kids in America” may have been Wilde’s first single, but she came into the music business with the right background: she was the daughter of ‘50s rock ‘n’ roller Marty Wilde. Unsurprisingly, it was family connections which helped pave the way for her own success, but what is surprising is that the first connection wasn’t her dad: she was discovered by legendary producer Mickie Most while she was recording vocals for a song by her brother, Ricky Wilde. Impressed by both her voice and her image, Most was interested in working with her, which led to Ricky and Marty collaborating on a song for Kim…and given this particular post, you’ve probably guessed what that song was.
37 years ago today, a member of Chicago died who, over the course of the band’s career and musical evolution, has become far more of a footnote than he deserves to be: guitarist Terry Kath.
Born – appropriately enough – in Chicago on January 31, 1946, Terry Alan Kath came from a musical family, with a mother who played banjo and a brother who played the drums, so it’s perhaps no surprise that the prevalence of various instruments in his home led him to try and master these instruments himself. Once he entered high school, however, he obtained his first guitar and amplifier, effectively setting his future career in motion. Although he was far more self-taught than not, Kath had nonetheless learned enough by 1963 to join his first semi-professional band, The Mystics, later becoming a member of Jimmy Rice and the Gentlemen and – later still – Jimmy Ford and the Executives, where he was effectively the bandleader.
29 years ago today, Ray Charles officially joined the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and while some might generally think of Charles’s music as being more in the vein of R&B, jazz, or even country (he did top the country charts in ’85 with “Seven Spanish Angels,” you know), surely we can all agree that the man’s music most definitely rocks.
Charles was certainly in good company on January 23, 1986: his other fellow performer inductees included Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, James Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sam Cooke, the Everly Brothers, and Little Richard. (If you hadn’t already guessed from that list, yes, it was the Hall of Fame’s very first induction ceremony.) When it was Charles’s time to shine, Atlantic Records founder and president Ahmet Ertegun took the stage to say a few words about the man for whom he wrote “Mess Around” before introducing “my adopted honorary Turkish brother,” Quincy Jones, who handled the formal induction duties.
Remember when we used to argue about Days of the New?
This was back in the mid-nineties when Geffen Records was the king of rock, just before that format imploded and so did the label. Before videos were all about the production and not the music, before rap went on a victory lap.
It's almost like it didn't happen. Days of the New was huge, and then they disappeared. You see the "creative genius" of the group, Travis Meeks, fired the rest of the act after the initial success. Which he could then never duplicate. Did he lose the formula, or was the effort of the rest of the band key?