Musing On Music History: The Rolling Stones Become Rock Stars, Bruce Springsteen Goes To The Movies, and Elvis Joins The Army

03.18: On this day in 1965 The Rolling Stones cemented their rock ‘n’ roll image when Mick, Keith, and Bill were each fined £5 each for urinating in front of a public filling station after a concert in Essex, England. How very rock ‘n’ roll of you, fellas.

03.20: Never, in the history of rock and roll, has more vitriol been spewed at one person, more bad language been spent cursing that person’s name, and more nonsense been heard than when certain people talk about Yoko Ono and what said people perceive to be her role in the break-up of The Beatles. The truth of the matter is that the only thing that broke up The Beatles was The Beatles. They were ready to move on. They’d conquered the known world, in a time of world conquerors, had evolved with a speed that would’ve turned Darwin’s head, gone from mop-topped teeny bopper band to a psychedelic powerhouse that challenged the way music is made. They’d done it all in less than a decade, so what more was there to do? Say “so long” and move on to other things, that’s what. Why, oh why, do we bring this up? Because this day in 1969 marks the anniversary of the day John Lennon and Yoko Ono married in Gibraltar. Though The Beatles were officially still together at this point, they hadn’t played live together for years (save for the rooftop concert, which, in our opinion, rocks, but wasn’t a real show) and didn’t even record together, instead choosing to record their parts separately for Abbey Road. And it wasn’t Yoko’s fault. Far from it. Business got in the way of friendship and the guys had had enough. We can mourn that they didn’t put out anymore albums together, especially in the wake of their last two magnificent (aren’t they all, though?) albums, Abbey Road and Let It Be, but when we are left to look at the Beatles cannon today, we can say that it is amazing and complete and an incredible journey from Liverpool to a dingy club in Hamburg to The Ed Sullivan Show to Shea Stadium to the known world. And John loved Yoko. So, blah to all you people who think she broke up The Beatles. You are wrong. [more]

03.21: On this day in 1994, Bruce Springsteen tasted Oscar fame. The Boss’ “Streets of Philadelphia” from the film Philadelphia won for Best Original Song. Great song. Great musician. Great guy. Give it a listen. Nuff said.

03.23: It’s been a while since we celebrated the rocker/supermodel relationship and renewed our faith in the celebrity marriage system of “use ’em and lose ’em,” but this day gives us reason to rejoice in this pastime once again. Well, it’s not a pastime shared by all, per se, but almost a near-given in the world of rock ‘n’ roll. On this day in 1985 Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley (one of the oddest couplings in the history of coupling) tied the knot on a yacht and gave it a shot. Well, the “shot” lasted nine years, an eternity in rocker/model relationship years, and the blessed union birthed a daughter, Alexa Ray, who also carries that rare music gene. Nonetheless, the divorce, and the around-the-way reminder of that on this day, renews our cynical faith in rockers and supermodels to stay true to form and “use ’em and lose ’em.” Happy anniversary, Billy and Christie!

03.24: Elvis Presley, at the height of his career, enjoyed chart success, lady success, and success success. Being an unstoppable force, what’s a lonely Tennessee rock ‘n’ roller to do? Join the Army, of course, which is what Elvis Presley did on this day in 1958 when he officially became a Private in the U.S. Army. Actually, he was drafted. They still had that back then, during the Cold War, when the Red Menace (remember communism, kiddos?) tipped the tongues of wagging journalists and politicians alike. Alright, think about this. Elvis had eleven #1 hits prior to entering the service. He didn’t try to talk his way out of duty, didn’t let the studios and record companies throw their collective weight around to get him released, and didn’t take special duty that would’ve gotten him out of certain military assignments. He went through basic training at Fort Hood, completed two years of service in Germany (where he met Priscilla, by the way), and was honorably discharged in March 1960. Can you think of any musician that would do that today? A musician with eleven #1 hits to his/her name? Hell, no! Granted, times were different back then. World War II still weighed heavily, nearly 13 years after its end, on the minds of Americans, and the Cold War continued to ratchet up its intensity. But even with that, Elvis didn’t have to go into the Army, go to Germany and take orders like every other GI. He could’ve taken special duty and toured with a band, entertaining troops, pretty much do the same thing he did in his civilian life. But he didn’t. Yeah, we love The King, from his first country singles to “Don’t Be Cruel,” from the ’68 Comeback Special to the rhinestoned, fattened Elvis of the ’70s. He took music in this country, and the world, for that matter, in a whole new direction, making way for all of the genres we love today. Elvis didn’t invent rock ‘n’ roll, but he popularized it, brought it to the forefront of the public’s mind, and he did it with style. And he joined the friggin’ Army at the height of his career. That, to us, at least, says a lot about the man and is one of the main reasons we dig on him so much.

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