Musings On Music History: In Which TV Finds Its Soul, Music Hits Its Lowest Point Ever, and Another Incredible Talent Is Silenced

10.01: Jimi Hendrix found his bass player, Noel Redding, on this day in 1966. Joining Hendrix and Redding, shortly thereafter, Mitch Mitchell rounded out The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Though they would only put out three official albums and last for less than three years, the band remains one of the most influential of the ’60s rock era, in no small part because of Hendrix himself, but also due to the rapport between Hendrix, Redding, and Mitchell.

10.01: Coming full circle, Jimi Hendrix was buried on this day in 1970 in Seattle, Washington, where he was born. His death was the first of three that would effectively end the ’60s bright glow. All dying from drug- or alcohol-induced causes, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison each only made it to the tender age of 27. Hard to believe, with the way their influence still holds today, that they didn’t even make it three decades in this world. R.I.P., Friends.

10.01: A new music-related TV show debuted on this day in 1971. Soul Train showcased R&B and soul artists and, as the ’80s kicked in, was one of the first to showcase hip-hop artists. Introducing many people to music they might not have otherwise been exposed to, Soul Train continued on the air for 35 years, until 2006 when production of new shows shut down. [more]

10.03: Rock ‘n roll got an infusion of talent on October 3rd. Stevie Ray Vaughan (1954), one of the greatest guitar players ever, Tommy Lee (1962), one of the greatest metal drummers ever, and Gwen Stefani (1969), one of the greatest wives of Gavin Rossdale ever, were all welcomed into the world today.

10.03: Sinead O’Connor took on the Catholic Church, and lost, apparently, when she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II during a 1992 performance on Saturday Night Live. The singer’s popularity waned following the incident and she was booed off the stages of many performances, including Bob Dylan’s 30th Anniversary Tribute Concert at Madison Square Garden in New York. To us, however, this does nothing to take away either the power of her voice or of the mesmerizing and haunting video for “Nothing Compares 2 U.” Watching that video still gives us chills.

10.04: On this day in 1970, Janis Joplin, a stellar blues voice in rock ‘n’ roll, died of a heroin overdose in a hotel room. Known just as well for her hard drinking and flamboyant style as her vocal prowess, Joplin had nearly completed a new album at the time of her death. That album, Pearl, which included “Me and Bobby McGee,” would become the best-selling of her short career. From her work with Big Brother and the Holding Company, The Kozmic Blues Band, and The Full Tilt Boogie Band, Joplin left behind a collection of inspired blues- and funk-inflected rock tunes. Though many consider her to have been a decidedly un-handsome woman, those kinds of superficial things mean squat to us (for real, most musicians aren’t that good looking), as she possessed a singular voice through which she conveyed more emotion and depth than most singers before or since. We miss ya, kiddo.

10.04: One of Pink Floyd’s best albums, which is saying a lot, really, hit #1 in the States on this day in 1975. Wish You Were Here, the follow-up to the massive Dark Side of the Moon, has sold over 10 million copies since its release, and, at the time, further solidified Pink Floyd’s place in the pantheon of rock and roll. Wish You Were Here only contained five songs, but oh what great songs. From the Syd Barrett tribute, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” to the sweet lament of the title track, the amazing songs belied the extreme distance between band members during the production of the album. Dark Side of the Moon’s success drained the guys both physically and mentally, but even in this state, they still put out an album ten times better than most bands can even dream of.

10.05: October 5th was another banner day for rock births. Steve Miller (1943), flying like an eagle, and Brian Johnson (1947), husky-voiced AC/DC frontman, are both celebrating birthdays today. Miller, the midnight toker, and Johnson, shakin’ you all night long, continue, to this very day, to rock the lid off of every venue they decide to enter.

10.06: One of the lowest points ever in the history of music came on this day in 1976, when disco and the American record-buying public officially assaulted good taste and logic by making “Disco Duck” by Rick Dees a gold single, well on its way to becoming a platinum hit. Yes, you heard that right. “Disco Duck” sold over a million copies. What the hell?! If you’ve never heard this song and don’t remember disco, you are truly blessed. If you do, we are very sorry for your pain.