39 years ago this week, the Eagles sat atop of the Billboard Top 200 with their fifth studio album, an effort which would ultimately go on to be the best-selling studio album of their entire career.
Hotel California was a transitional album for the Eagles: in addition to being the first album without founding member Bernie Leadon and the last album with the band’s original bassist, Randy Meisner, it was also the inaugural album for guitarist Joe Walsh. That fluctuation in the lineup obviously didn’t hurt the Eagles’ creativity, though, given that the album featured such signature songs for the band as “New Kid in Town,” “Life in the Fast Lane,” and, of course, the title track, which introduced the world at large to the word “colitas” and also caused a tense moment between John Soeder of The Plain Dealer and Don Henley after the journalist asked if he regretted the lyric which referred to wine as a spirit, since spirits are distilled and wine is fermented.
This just in... Dr. Rhino has Bicentennial fever! I tell ya, 1976 has its claws in me and just won’t let go. So, come along as we travel back to the year that we said “Hello” to the Son Of Sam, “Goodbye” to Howard Hughes, and “What’s Happening!!” to everybody else!
45 years ago today, the MC5 released their second album, which was actually their first studio album, but while the band might’ve made a hell of a first impression with Kick Out the Jams, recorded live at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom over the course of two nights, they confirmed with Back in the USA that they could kick out the jams in the confines of the studio, too.
Back in the USA is bookended by a pair of covers, kicking off with a raucous version of “Tutti Frutti,” made most popular by Little Richard, and closing out the proceedings with the title track, written by Chuck Berry. The nine tracks situated between them, though, were written by the band, and they were strong enough to take the album into the lower reaches of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2011, ranking at #451.
If you want an easy frame of reference to both how long Aretha Franklin has been in the business and how prolific she was in the earlier part of her career, this should do it: today marks the 45th anniversary of the Queen of Soul’s 16th studio album…and her first album came out in 1956.
You may be thinking, “Well, that’s really not much more than an album a year, so that’s not all that impressive,” but not so fast: after that first album, Songs of Faith, she didn’t release another one until 1961’s Aretha, at which point she released at least one album a year, but there were some years that she released two (’62, ’64, ’68, and ’70, too, since Spirit in the Dark came out in August), and in 1967, she actually released three albums. The most ironic thing about that year, though, is that the last of the three albums was entitled Aretha Arrives.
Are you kidding? She’d already been there for 11 albums by that point!
We're pretty sure Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart would want you to celebrate his birthday (that would be today, January 15) by entering to win a framed limited edition print of his art and a copy of his SUN ZOOM SPARK BOX SET. If you're having deja vu, we DID give away a DIFFERENT print and a box last month and if you aren't staring at that colorful print up on your wall, it most definitely means you can enter again! Good luck and godspeed!
37 years ago today, the Sex Pistols performed their final gig with bassist Sid Vicious, with frontman Johnny Rotten concluding the concert with the most famous punk rock question this side of “Who Killed Bambi?”
After taking the UK by storm and creating controversy every time they turned around, often whether they intended to or not, the Sex Pistols made a half-hearted attempt at winning over the hearts of American music fans. Unfortunately, by the time they got around to doing so, they’d added the aforementioned Mr. Vicious to their ranks, and he in turn had added heroin to his list of addictions.
While trying to tour their way around the US, the biggest challenge for the band was keeping Sid straight, and given that he was jonesing so hard for horse that he actually carved the words “Gimme a Fix” into his chest with a razor blade at one point, you can imagine that that was no easy task. In short, the entire tour was a big pain in the ass for all parties concerned, and by the time the Pistols limped into San Francisco, everyone was sick of everyone else, and Rotten was literally sick, battling the flu or some approximation thereof.
48 years ago today, an event took place in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park which has been described by pop culture historians as the prelude to the Summer of Love, but at the time, the San Francisco Oracle called it “A Gathering of Tributes for a Human Be-In.
Organized by artist Michael Bowen, the Human Be-In was a sight to behold, particularly if you were a square who’d never had a close encounter with a hippie – let alone tens of thousands of them – up to that point. Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg spoke to the assembled masses, Dick Gregory and Jerry Rubin were present and accounted for in the crowd, and there were performances by the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Quicksilver Messenger Service. Likely more life-changing in the long run, however, were the copious amount of acid – White Lightning, to be specific – passed out to the crowd by famed psychedelic chemist Owsley Stanley.
36 years ago today, one of the most soulful singers of the ‘60s and ‘70s died far too soon, but his musical legacy – both as a solo artist and as a duet partner, most notably with Roberta Flack – still remains strong.
Born in Chicago on October 1, 1945, Donny Hathaway was singing in the church choir with his gospel-singing grandmother, Martha Pitts, by the age of three, and he made such an impression that he soon joined her on tour, starting his musical career as “Donny Pitts, the Nation’s Youngest Gospel Singer.” He continued to sing his heart out all the way through high school and into college, studying music at Howard University on a fine-arts scholarship. Ultimately, Hathaway left Howard without graduating, but given that he met his future collaborator, Ms. Flack, while he was there, it’s safe to say that he secured a future nonetheless. (Plus, he probably didn’t feel like he really needed to finish, since he was already getting job offers in the music business while he was still enrolled.)