Musings On Music History: A Loser, A Bon, and A Boomtown Rat Walk Into A Bar…

07.08: On this day in 1970, the world’s coolest “Loser” was born, as Beck (last name Hansen; born Bek David Campbell), strummed his way into the world. Beck is one of the most talented and successful underground singer/songwriters ever to bust a singsong rhyme just as easily as he strums a slow jam. From his first hit, the afore-referenced “Loser”, to the release of the astonishing Odelay to the new millenium’s Sea Change and Guero, Beck has never been afraid to try on new styles, to walk down different paths, whether anynoe follows him there or not.

07.08: On this day in 1980, Jello Biafra officially lost his bid to become Mayor of San Francisco. The Dead Kennedys frontman ran on a platform forcing businessmen to wear clown suits within city limits and promoting a citywide ban on cars. The lifted and famous dessert slogan, “There’s always room for Jello”, helped him finish 4th out of 10 candidates, receiving 3.5% of the vote. How awesome would that have been? Streets crowded with people in clown suits. It’d either be the funniest or the creepiest thing we’ve ever seen. Probably both. [more]

07.09: “It’s a long way to the top, if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll!” Man, what an awesome lyric from an awesome band. Along that path, on this day in 1946, former AC/DC frontman, Bon Scott, was born. It would be a good 30 years before Bon would growl those lyrics and it’s been nearly that long since he last sang them, but they rocked then and they rock now and they will always rock, thanks to Bon and the boys. Happy birthday, Bon. We miss ya’, kid.

07.09: On this day in 1975, Jack White was born. Bringing his Detroit rock pedigree to bear on his immense love for the blues, White has, with the help of his cohort Meg White, seemingly overnight, brought rock and roll back to the airwaves, back to the fore of many music minds, and shown the world that rock is, in fact, NOT dead, that rock still has room for amazement, and that rock can be true and popular without sacrificing quality (unlike a lot of the “rock” that crowds radio station playlists with their overly simple and highly derivative musicianship and lyrics). We love Jack White, in all of his iterations. From The White Stripes to The Raconteurs to The Dead Weather to his incredible production on Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose, Jack is filled to the brim with talent, drive, and an intense love for music. Happy birthday, Jack. You most definitely rock.

07.09: On this day in 1995, The Grateful Dead played their last concert with Jerry Garcia, at Soldier Field in Chicago. Garcia passed away a month later, at the very young age of 53. That’s what 15 years of heroin addiction can do to a person, even one as down-to-earth and insanely talented as Jerry. He died while in rehab, his unhealthy body unable to adapt to not having the drug in its system. That’s pretty messed up and an incredible waste of life. Jerry helped usher in the psychedelic rock movement that sprang from San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district in the mid-’60s. The Dead, along with The Jefferson Airplane and Big Brother & The Holding Company, heralded a new tweak on the rock sound, when they dropped acid and played what they saw and felt, which, often times, in playing and tripping, lasted hour upon hour upon neverending hour. That the Grateful Dead would emerge as one of the biggest touring bands of all time and put out two of the most amazing American albums of all time, Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty, is thanks in no small part to the immensity of Jerry’s talent. It didn’t hurt that he was surrounded by great musicians, but Jerry is, was, and forever shall be the face of the Grateful Dead. Sorry, Bobby.

07.13: The world rocked all at the same time for charity, today in 1985. Live Aid took place simultaneously at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia and Wembley Stadium in London, raising millions of dollars for the needy in Ethiopia. Among the notable acts that played: The Who, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, U2, Madonna, and a monumental performance by the incomparable Queen. Organized by Boomtown Rats lead singer Bob Geldof (of the one hit wonder “I Don’t Like Mondays” and the role of “Pink” in the film Pink Floyd’s The Wall), Live Aid proved to be much bigger than anyone ever suspected it could be. It had been initially hoped that the shows would raise over a million dollars, but, when all was said and done, it raised over 150 million dollars. Not bad, Bob Geldof, not bad.

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