Musings On Music History: Captain Trips Takes A Trip To the Hoosgow, Jimi Plays With Matches, And There’s A Double Dose Of Clapton

03.26: Steven Tyler was born on this day in 1948. Steven, Steven, Steven. Whatchya doin’, man? You’ve reigned over hard rock for the nearly four decades, with your cohorts in Aerosmith. You’ve had some serious ups and some serious downs, and we thought you’d learned your lessons. Guess not. Really? Really? You’re gonna quit the band, strike out on your own, and put out a solo album? How high were you when you made those statements? Pretty damn high, we think. Maybe that’s why you came back a few days later, telling everyone what they already knew, that you were pretty whacked out on some “stuff.” We’re glad you realized some things about yourself, about your addictions, about how you need Aerosmith in your life because it doesn’t get much better than a downright dirty and rocking Aerosmith show. Then you had to go pull a Paula Abdul on us and join the circus. Maybe you’re just bored with the whole rock star bit. Maybe you wanted to put Aerosmith back in the minds of the whippersnappers of today (then go out on tour again, wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Maybe you just don’t care anymore. Whatever the reasons: Happy Birthday, Steven!

03.27: Jerry Garcia was pulled over for speeding on the New Jersey turnpike on this day in 1973. Apparently, Jerry was on his way to a drug convention or something because the fuzz found marijuana, cocaine, and LSD in the car. (Might be one of the reasons his nickname was Captain Trips.) Yeah, they took him to jail. He spent three hours in the hoosgow and was eventually given a suspended one-year sentence. Jerry, as always, during the initial arrest and the subsequent court appearances, greeted everyone with a smile, shaking hands, beaming with his inimitable and amiable nature. The arresting officer is quoted as saying, “He was such a nice guy, we hated to bust him.” We love Jerry. His music. His storied life. Most of all, though, we love his laugh. We would’ve loved to hang out with Jerry, listen to his stories, listen to him pick out some tunes on a guitar. We just wouldn’t want to drive anywhere with him. [more]

03.28: Eric Clapton married Pattie Boyd on this day in 1979. Boyd was the ex-wife of Beatle, George Harrison. Wanna know why she was George’s ex-wife? Clapton. He’d been infatuated with Pattie for years. Eric and George had been good friends for many years, writing and recording together, Eric playing on the amazing George tune “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” that was included on The Beatles White Album. Eric’s band Derek and The Dominos backed-up George on his first, proper, amazing solo album, All Things Must Pass. Yeah, they were good mates, Eric and George. So, what does Eric do to show his friendship? He longs after George’s wife, trying and failing to win her love. Clapton wrote “Layla,” one of the biggest hits of his career, about his love for her. Derek and The Dominos entire first album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs came to be written under Clapton’s cloud of unrequited affections, which also, after he realized she didn’t want him, led to his depression and drug dependence (which, surprise surprise, continued even after Eric’s love was requited). To be fair, it actually wasn’t solely Clapton’s influence that led to the break-up of George and Pattie’s marriage, but it didn’t help, either. They’d been drifting apart and she and he both had alleged affairs. Despite the awesomeness that is Clapton, though, it’s still a messed up thing to lust after your mate’s wife. Or is it just us?

03.28: On this day in 1996, Phil Collins left Genesis and Genesis was never the same. Yes, we know, sad face. (Well, actually, the band did reform with Phil at the helm in 2007 for the Turn It On Again: The Tour Tour, but that’s another story.) You’ll never again hear the likes of “Invisible Touch” or “Land Of Cofusion” or any of that other glorious synthesizer ’80s incredbileness. A lot of people don’t know, however, that Phil wasn’t always the frontman for Genesis or that the band didn’t begin life as a pop music monster. Rather, Genesis began as a psychedelic prog rock behemoth (with the one and only Peter Gabriel at the fore), characterized by highly conceptual songs and albums, as well as a live show powered by a theatricality rarely seen in rock circles (outside of Ziggy Stardust, of course). It’s a shame, actually, that the old Genesis was overshadowed with the rise of ’80s synthesizer Genesis because, in our humble opinion, original Genesis was much more inventive, challenging, original, and just plain awesome. Oh well, such is life.

03.30: On this day in 1945, God was born. If you’re a little confused by that statement, give us a moment to explain ourselves. By the mid-’60s, Eric Clapton already ruled the English guitar scene, having made a distinct impression as lead guitar for The Yardbirds (a band which would also have, after Clapton’s resignation, Jeff Beck, then Jimmy Page on lead guitar), Johnny Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, and Derek & The Dominoes (yeah, Mr. Clapton was the definition of an intinerant bluesman). Well, Clapton’s fans worshipped his playing, loved everything he did and, one day, one of those über-fans graffitied up a wall with the phrase “Clapton Is God” and someone else took a photo of it and the rest is history. People started spray-painting this message all over London. Clapton didn’t really care for the attention or the insinuation that he was the best guitar player on the planet, especially after he got to know Jimi Hendrix and realized the true meaning of “Guitar God.” So, yeah, to get back to our original purpose for this post, Happy Birthday, Eric Clapton! From “Layla” to “Wonderful Tonight,” from “I Feel Free” to “Tears In Heaven” you’ve given us much aural pleasure over the years.

03.31: For those about to birthday, we salute you. Yes! This day in 1955 welcomed the birth of one of the best hard rock guitar players on the planet and one of the best stage presences ever to entertain an adoring audience, when Angus Young, he of the English school boy outfit, he of some of the most iconic rock songs ever, he of AC/DC was born in Glasgow, Scotland. Angus headed to Australia with his family (mom, dad, seven siblings) in 1963 and never looked back. And still, to this very day, Angus continues to melt faces and shred brains all over the planet with two hands, six strings, and an amazing penchant for awesomeness.

03.31: On this day in 1967 Jimi Hendrix set fire to his guitar on stage for first time at Finsbury Park at the start of his UK tour. He would do it many times after that, most famously at the Monterey Pop Festival in June of ’67, which proved to be his “coming out” party in the U.S., where he’d been slow to catch on until that point, having honed his already substantial skills in London for the better part of the year previous, playing all over Europe to adoring fans and smitten/jealous musicians. Well, Monetery Pop and his guitar-aflame shtick (that he did for the first time on this day, 44 years ago) proved to be the fire that would ignite Jimi Hendrix worldwide.

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