Musings On Music History: Elvis The Pelvis Makes His Debut, A Sweet Child Hits #1, and The Man In Black Leaves Us

09.09: The disco era, ensconced on the popular music charts for the latter half of the ‘70s, saw another #1 hit when “Boogie Oogie Oogie” by A Taste of Honey topped the charts on this day in 1977. Now, we have a love/hate relationship with disco. On the one hand, it was the precursor to house and techno music, which itself has influenced rock, pop, indie, and hip-hop, allowing all of these genres to embrace its inherent fun, driving force, and gorgeous electronic possibilities. On the other hand, the disco era gave us Rick Dee’s “Disco Duck,” (warning: watch at the risk of you’re own sanity) which, in and of itself, is enough to make us hate disco as a whole, anyone who’s ever listened to disco, and the latter half of the ’70s entirely. Thankfully, punk, new wave, and the emergence of hip-hop put an end to disco’s reign.

09.09: Legendary musician Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass, hell, the developer of the style that would become known as bluegrass, died on this day in 1996. The 84-year-old’s influence on country music cannot be understated. He held bluegrass in the highest esteem, often berating groups and musicians who didn’t match up with his standards. After he got a hold of them, they usually straightened up, though. And if they didn’t, he’d often say, “They ain’t no part of nothin’.”

09.09: Elvis “The Pelvis” Presley appeared for the first time on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on this day in 1956. Performing “Love Me Tender,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Ready Teddy,” and “Hound Dog,” as 54 million people tuned in to watch Elvis do his thing, which he did better than anyone previous or since. [more]

09.09: Otis Redding, one of the greatest soul singers ever, joined us on this day in 1941. From “Try A Little Tenderness” to “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay,” from “Hard To Handle” to “The Glory Of Love,” Otis’ incredible voice (which still give us goose bumbs to this day) and lyrics set the bar higher and higher for later generations. Few, if any, have matched this man in terms of soulfulness and raw emotion.

09.10: On this day in 1950, Joe Perry, one half of the Toxic Twins (aka Perry and fellow Aerosmith bandmate Steven Tyler), was born.

09.10: “Sweet Child ‘O Mine” became Guns ‘N Roses first #1 hit on this day in 1988. The single would propel the band’s album, Appetite for Destruction (one of the most beautifully dirty hard rock albums of all time), to the top, as well, over a year after it’d been released to little national fanfare. Long a staple of the Sunset Strip music scene in L.A., Guns ‘N Roses fast and furious entry in the spotlight came as a surprise to no one who’d actually seen the guys perform. They had “it.”

09.11: On this day in 1987, shortly after winning a Grammy award for Best Reggae Performance, pioneering reggae musician Peter Tosh was murdered during a robbery in his home. One of the original Wailers, along with Bob Marley and Bunny Livingston, Tosh’s music became more political and militant after leaving the band in 1974, standing in contrast to Marley’s “One Love.”

09.12: September 12th was a fruitful day for musicians. In 1944, Deep-voiced crooner and composer Barry White was born, eventually becoming the number one performer to be put on the stereo when you got back to the house with a special someone, after a late night at the bar. 1952 saw Neil Peart pound his way into the world, where he would soon bang his way to the top as the drummer for a little Canuck band called Rush. Ben Folds joined us on this day in 1966, not yet playing piano, but having a good set of lungs, beginning his journey toward musical longevity. [more]

09.12: On this day in 2003, Johnny Cash died of complications from diabetes. One of the biggest musicians, not just country musicians, ever, Cash’s influence on his chosen genre, as well as rock, could never be delineated in full. Just listen to At Folsom Prison, then watch the video for his cover (which, no offence to Trent, we regard as better than the original) of Nine Inch Nails “Hurt,” and you will see why the Man In Black remains, forever and ever, a giant.

09.13: On this day in 1996, Tupac Shakur died from gunshot wounds suffered the week before. The rapper, all of 25 years old, had been in intensive care for that week, undergoing many surgeries, including the removal of a bullet-damaged lung, and had been given a 50% chance of survival. Everyone thought he would pull through. He had before, but not this time.

09.15: On this day in 2004, seminal punk guitarist Johnny Ramone died of prostate cancer. A founding member of The Ramones, Johnny (aka John William Cummings) took his love of The Stooges (Iggy Pop’s awesome rock band) and the MC5 (an aggro-rock band out of Detroit) and turned it into what would become known as punk. Many knowledgeable and awesome people consider the Ramones, having influenced members of The Sex Pistols and The Clash (themselves two of the first punk bands) with their tour of the U.K. in 1976, to be the first punk band of any repute. We won’t disagree with this consideration.

09.15: Richard Wright, one of the founding members of Pink Floyd (yes, that Pink Floyd) died on this day in 2008. Though not the most prominent member of the band, his integral work on keyboard added heft and layer to such tracks at “Us & Them” and “The Great Gig in the Sky.”

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