Musings On Music History: In Which Maiden Gets A New Voice, Country Gets An Alternative, And Keef Gets Arrested (Yet Again)

10.21: Coffee houses and open mic poetry nights owe a debt of gratitude to Jack Kerouac. The beatnik writer died today in 1969. He was 47. Author of On The Road and The Dharma Bums, Kerouac influenced an entire generation of writers, thinkers, and musicians, such as The Beatles, The Doors, Death Cab For Cutie, The Hold Steady, and Tom Waits. Kerouac’s writing was itself heavily influenced by music, especially bebop jazz, with its free-flowing ideas and unconventional structures. A singular voice amongst a movement (the Beat Generation), Kerouac’s death came from an internal hemorrhage brought about by heavy drinking.

10.23: On this day in 1956, honky-tonk music found a new hero when Dwight Yoakam strolled into this world, ready to kick country in the ass and remind it from whence it came. Embracing the country music he grew up on (think Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and Hank Williams), Yoakam didn’t play by Nashville’s rules and refused to bow to the mainstream pop-country that began to dominate the charts in the ’80s. His music saw more embrace from rock and alternative audiences than country, and he played clubs that regularly hosted punk and hardcore bands, yet he still charted many songs on the country charts. This is why we love Dwight and why he rocks so very hard. [more]

10.24: On this day in 1978, Keith Richards was found guilty of drug possession when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police found heroin and cocaine on his person. Richards received a suspended sentence and was ordered to play a benefit concert for the blind in Oshawa, Ontario. Because, ya know, that’s an appropriate sentence for a drug-addled musician and people who are blind love Keith, too, or something like that. We don’t really understand this suspended sentence. We’re just amazed that Keith got caught with 22 grams of heroin and pretty much just had to play a concert as punishment. So, remember, if you get caught with 22 grams of heroin in Canada in 1978, all you’ll be punished with is having to do what you do every day. Party time!

10.26: Bruce Dickinson officially took over lead singing duties in Iron Maiden on this fine day in 1981, when he appeared live with the band for the very first time, at a show in Bologna, Italy. Maiden’s first lead singer, Paul Di’Anno, had left in the middle of their Killer Live Tour to pursue other opportunities. How’s that working out for you, Paul? Don’t get us wrong, we really dig Paul’s work with Maiden. His strong rock voice bridged punk growl with ’70s hard rock. Just listen to “Wrathchild” from Killers and you’ll see what we mean. He helped lay the groundwork for the beast that would emerge after his departure. Bruce, however, led the band into the netherworlds of heavy metal knights, dark magic, Greek myth, dying with your boots on, and international stardom. Bruce is the man, and our undying love for his soaring, operatic vocals and evocative lyrics is forever imprinted on our brain. Maiden rules!

10.26: On this day in 1993, Catholic churches in San Juan, Puerto Rico, urged parishioners to tie black ribbons on trees in protest of an upcoming Madonna concert. Her s&m-flavored, burlesquey, cirque du Madonna show (The Girlie Show World Tour) came on the heels of Erotica, her best-selling album from the previous year, and her children’s picture book, Sex, which teenage boys everywhere, for some reason, couldn’t wait to get their hands on. Adding gallons of gasoline to the fire, during her show in Puerto Rico, Madonna rubbed the commonwealth’s flag between her legs. Wow, we’ve never wished we were a flag before, but that show changed everything as far as that’s concerned.

10.27: On this day in 1967, Scott Weiland was born. Oh, Scotty, Scotty, Scotty. What’s up, man? We remember when Stone Temple Pilot’s first video, “Sex Type Thing,” hit the MTV at the height of grunge, and everyone thought it was grunge, but it wasn’t grunge. It was you, Scotty. You, your tortured soul, and your bandmates, channeling equal parts Mistfits and Led Zeppelin and Danzig, joining the rock frenzy of those heady days, not really caring in which sub-genre you were lumped. Ah, it was a good time to be a rocker. What happened, Scotty? We think you have an epic rock voice, that you definitely look and act like a rock guy, and that your predilection for different types of music only add to your oeuvre, but we haven’t again felt that rush we felt all the way back in ’92, when our eyes gazed upon the MTV, and we whispered to ourselves, “Wow, this band’s got it going on.” We know you still got it in you, Scotty, and we’ll wait patiently for the day it finally re-emerges.

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