Musings On Music History: In Which We Are Joined By Vincent Damon Furnier, Robert Nesta Marley, & William Bailey

02.04: Vincent Damon Furnier was born this day in 1948. Vince who? Well, Vincent went on to become one of the biggest rockers of the 1970s, taking every stage by storm, turning every concert into the craziest and most awesome theatre production you could possibly be at and still hold on to your rock ‘n’ roll cred. Still don’t know what were talking about? Take a look at this. Yep, Vince Fournier is none other than Alice Cooper. Yes, that Alice Cooper. Vince/Alice took hard rock into Ziggy Stardust territory, not in sound, really, but in the way he approached the his music and his stage. Any concert that includes great music paired with guillotines, boa constrictors, electric chairs, and lots of stage blood is rockin’ awesome in our book. Welcome to his nightmare! [more]

02.06: This day in 1945 saw the birth of the man who would bring Jamaica, its music, and the philosophy of Rastafarianism to the world’s attention. We’ve got mad love for Robert Nesta Marley, or Bob, as you may know him, as we discovered him in our blurry college years, gathered with friends for good times, listening to Legend, the best-selling compilation (though not complete in its inclusions by any stretch) of some of his best songs. From “Three Little Birds” to “Exodus” to “Is This Love,” not only did Legend turn us on to the works of Bob Marley, it also expanded our musical horizon significantly, showing us another side of the world, one which we’d never even bothered to think about. From this point, we ventured out to discover the legend of the man himself, his musical beginnings in the ska movement of the ’60s with Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston and his organic movement into, and shepherding of, roots reggae in the ’70s. If ever there is a man who epitomizes the word “icon,” it is Bob Marley. Not only does his image and music pretty much represent an entire nation in the eyes of the world, but his influence reaches far, far beyond his country’s tiny borders, into the worlds of rock, pop, rhythm & blues, house, philosophy, religion, and stoned college kids everywhere. Even if they don’t know his history, his survival of an assassination attempt, his death from cancer at age 36 in 1981, his total embrace of the Rastafari religion, or the talented progeny (11 kids by 9 different women!) he left behind, people know his music and understand his message. In the end, this is what Bob wanted. Bob would’ve been 68 today, and we miss his presence on this planet, but we are just happier than a pig in you-know-what to go home tonight, put on Uprising, sit down with a glass of wine, and bask in simple beauty of “Time Will Tell.” Thank you, Bob.

02.06 And on this day in 1962 William Bailey (aka Axl Rose) was born. One of the most vibrant and virile frontmen to emerge from the Sunset Strip scene of the ’80s, Axl and his bandmates in Guns N’ Roses transcended the poppy hair metal (we’re looking at you, Poison!) so popular in their city at the time and blasted out of the gate (no, blew the gate to bits) with Appetite For Destruction, still one of the dirtiest and best rock albums of all time and, arguably, the best hard rock debut album of all time. Now, we won’t sit here and ponder the many lives of Guns N’ Roses, the many eccentricities of Axl, or his return to the record stores with Chinese Democracy (we say his return because Axl is the only original member of GNR left, so we can’t really call Chinese Democracy a GNR album no matter how badly Axl wants us to). What we will do is sit here and listen to “Rocket Queen” and “It’s So Easy” and know the greatness of what was. Happy birthday, Axl, and thanks for Appetite.

02.08: On this day in 1961, the Crüe got their leader when Vince Neil was born. Arguably the biggest band to emerge from L.A.’s halcyon Sunset Strip hair metal days, Mötley Crüe helped lead the charge of hard rock and metal. Like Guns N’ Roses, however, Mötley Crüe transcended much of the “metal” (again, we’re looking at you, “Unskinny Bop”) that blared from the rock clubs at the time. Vince, Tommy, Nikki, and Mick brought a dirtiness to hard rock that was sorely needed. From “Shout At The Devil” to “Wild Side” to “Dr. Feelgood”, Mötley Crüe brought a much needed (dare we say it?) grunginess to rock. Now, maybe it’s ironic that Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and “grunge” helped stop the forward momentum of Mötley Crüe and hair metal, but that doesn’t mean that Vince and the Crüe weren’t rocking and rolling as much, and often more, than anyone before or since. Happy birthday, Vince!