Musings On Music History: In Which We Are Joined By Many A Musician, Not The Least Of Whom Is Probably A Guitar-Wielding Super Being

01.08: What a few coupla days for music-related birthdays! Today, in 1935, The King himself, Mr. Elvis Aaron Presley came into this world in Tupelo, Mississippi. Joining him for a birthday today are The White Duke, David Bowie (1947), and one Mr. Robert Sylvester “R.” Kelly (1969), best known for being trapped in a closet and some other incidents we’d rather not mention.

01.09: Songbird Joan Baez flew into this world, and into, eventually, many a dirty hippy’s heart, on this day in 1941. While her music and words are held in high esteem by many within the music community, many consider them to be fluff and her delivery to be grating. We dig her. Nuff said on that. We’re celebrating another birthday today, as well, and we totally dig the fratastic stylings of one Mr. David John “Dave” Matthews who danced, very goofily, we might add, into this plane of existence on this day in 1967, in a little town known as Johannesburg, South Africa. Yeah, we know, it’s not cool, in many music circles, to like Dave Matthews Band, but we do, so nanny, nanny, boo, boo, and get over yourself. [more]

01.09: Jimmy Page. That’s it. Jimmy Page. The man, the myth, the guitar god joined us on this plane of existence on this day in 1944. He probably joined us from some far off land, where guitars are the only means of communication, where he was the finest orator in all the land, holding sway over the masses, bidding them do as he wished. Kinda like he does here on Earth, too, as a matter of fact. Being that he makes his guitar sing, that he brought a new, sometimes-ethereal dimension to the blues and to rock, alike, Jimmy Page is one of the most influential guitar players of all time. With Led Zeppelin, he brought the blues to arenas and stadiums the world over. Not an easy task, to say the least. Taking a music genre that’d been born in the backwoods of rural America and bringing it to the world, bringing it the the fore of music in the ’70s, Jimmy and Led Zeppelin led the rock dominance of that decade. Most guitarists, whether they know it or not, from the late ’60s on, have been influenced by his mammoth playing, his epic sweeps around the the auditory canal. Yeah, we said it. Auditory canal. He totally rocks ours, and we are thankful for his presence in music, in rock, in the blues, and in life. Happy birthday, Jimmy!

01.10: One more round of b-days for this week, as we celebrate the births of bad, bad Jim Croce (1942), infatuational Rod Stewart (1945), and battlefield-lovin’ Pat Benetar (1953). If you threw those three into the Thunderdome, who would emerge the victor? No question, Pat Benetar. She’s just bad, any way you look at it, and, believe us, we’ve looked at her every which way and loose. Whatever that means. They all rock, of course, but Croce’s soft side (for which we heap much love upon him) would do him in and Stewart is too much of a dandy to really do any damage. Ergo, Benetar rules!

01.12: Okay, so there’s this disco thing that happened in the ’70s. It ruled the airwaves, mainstream media, movie screens, and just about everything else that could possibly absorb its dancing, groovy, hedonistic, and varied craptastic stylings. Like most things that become mainstream, disco’s beginnings began in the underground, primarily in gay and African-American dance clubs of the late ’60s, and moved above ground as more and more people began to hear it, as more and more radio stations began to pick up on what people were hearing, as more and more people wanted to wear awesome clothes. A lot of hate quickly found its way to disco, and, as soon as the genre began to top the charts with the likes of “Disco Duck” (the song still makes us shudder today), the backlash began in earnest. Without disco, however, house music would never have evolved from its ashes, and, subsequently, acid house, techno, breaks, and every other genre of electronic and dance would never have come to be. Now, think what you will of those particular genres (like disco, they have their haters), but make no mistake that they continue to thrive, evolve, and influence today. Anyhoo, the biggest group of the disco era, The Bee Gees, have sold an insanely impressive 200 million albums in their forty-year career. That puts them in the ranks of, believe it or not, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, and Elvis Presley. Those are pretty cool neighbors, we thinks. The forgotten Bee Gee, brother Maurice Gibb, the harmonizer, the background voice, died on this day in 2003, after suffering a heart attack during surgery to remove an intestinal blockage. For us, who still guilty-pleasure listen to disco if it’s on the radio or on our iPod or we happen to grab our coveted disco mixtape, this isn’t so much a sad day as it is a time of reflection, a time to think about what was and how what was became what is. It’s a fun thought experiment and a good history lesson.

01.12: Poor, poor Mystikal. This hasn’t traditionally been a good week for the rapper, who’s deeply philosophical womens’ rights hit single, “Shake Ya Ass,” raised awareness of the plight of strippers the world over. He’s a very sensitive guy. On this day in 2006, Mystikal was found guilty of tax evasion, having failed to file tax returns for two of the biggest years of his career. Why does this happen to people in the music biz? Have they never heard of accountants? You know, those guys that keep track of your finances and draw up your tax returns? Those guys that keep you out of jail for tax evasion? Yeah, we guess Mystikal just didn’t have time for all that accountant nonsense. He’d been too busy sexually assaulting, along with his two bodyguards, his hairstylist and videotaping the whole thing. Sensitive guy. For that affront to humanity and women everywhere, Mystikal was sentenced to prison on Jan. 16, 2003. Like we said, not a good week for little Mystikal. But, then again, he really brought it all upon himself, so we don’t feel bad for him, whatsoever. We wonder if his new friends in jail make him perform “Shake Ya Ass” during shower time.