Category: music

On this day in music history: July 18, 1980 – …

On this day in music history: July 18, 1980 – “Closer”, the second album by Joy Division is released. Produced by Martin Hannett, it is recorded at Brittania Row Studios in Islington, London from March 18 – 30, 1980. Originally formed in 1976 by Bernard Sumner (guitar) and Pete Hook (bass), the two friends decide to buy instruments and form a band after seeing The Sex Pistols perform in their hometown of Manchester. Along with their mutual friend Terry Mason (drums), they also ask Martin Gresty to sing lead. When Gresty turns them down, they go in search for a lead singer by placing an advertisement in a local Virgin Records store. The ad is answered by Ian Curtis, another childhood friend who is also an avid fan of the punk rock scene. Initially calling themselves Warsaw after the David Bowie song “Warszawa”, they play their first gig on May 29, 1977 along side The Buzzcocks, Penetration and John Cooper Clarke. Warsaw go through a succession of drummers after Mason steps aside to manage the band. Third drummer Steve Brotherdale is replaced by Curtis’ former school mate Stephen Morris in August of 1977. The band also abandon their original name after only three months when they discover there is a London punk band called Warsaw Pakt. They rename themselves Joy Division, after the name of the forced sex slavery wing of Nazi concentration camps, referred to the in the novella “House Of Dolls”. After releasing their first EP “An Ideal For Living” in 1978, they sign with Manchester based indie label Factory Records. Releasing their debut album “Unknown Pleasures” in June of 1979, the band increase their already loyal following and begin writing material for the follow up. With their rise in popularity, singer Ian Curtis’ personal problems also begin to overwhelm him. Suffering from epilepsy, Curtis begins having frequent seizures, becoming increasingly depressed as his marriage also is failing. He pours his emotions into the lyrics of Joy Division’s songs, most poignantly in the non-album single “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (#13 UK), and others like “Atrocity Exhibition”, “Isolation” and “A Means To An End”. The band complete the recording of their second album “Closer” in less than two weeks, at Brittania Row Studios in London, owned at the time by Pink Floyd. Two months before it’s released, Ian Curtis commits suicide on May 18, 1980, by hanging himself. He is only twenty three years old at the time. When “Closer” is released, it is very well received and is praised as a post-punk masterpiece. Surviving members Sumner, Hook and Morris (with his girlfriend and later wife Gillian Gilbert) form New Order out of the ashes of Joy Division, going on to even greater success during the 80’s and beyond. “Closer” hits number one on the UK Indie Album chart, peaking at number six on the UK Album chart, and is certified Gold in the UK by BPI.

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On this day in music history: July 18, 1968 – …

On this day in music history: July 18, 1968 – “Anthem Of The Sun”, the second album by The Grateful Dead is released. Produced by Dave Hassinger and The Grateful Dead, it is recorded at RCA Victor Studio A in Hollywood, CA, American Recording Company in Century City, CA, Shrine Exposition Center in Los Angeles, CA, Eureka Municipal Auditorium in Eureka, CA, Eagles Auditorium in Seattle, WA, Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR, Coast Recorders in San Francisco, CA, Carousel Ballroom in San Francisco, CA, Kings Beach Bowl in Lake Tahoe, CA, Century Sound Studios and Olmstead Studios in New York City from September 1967 – March 31, 1968. Once again working with recording engineer and producer Dave Hassinger, The Grateful Dead begin work on their sophomore release, just six months after their debut. Determined to capture their live on stage sound in the studio, Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh painstakingly piece together the tracks, using parts that have been recorded in a controlled studio environment along with parts of live performances of the same material. Frustrated with the extremely slow pace that the band is working at, Hassinger quits the project midway through. The Dead recruit their sound man Dan Healy to assist them, and the sessions resume back in San Francisco. “Anthem” also marks the first appearance of longtime Dead and Jerry Garcia collaborator Robert Hunter, who pens the lyrics for the song “Alligator”, co-written by bassist Phil Lesh and keyboardist Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. Taking full advantage of their contract with Warner Bros which allows them unlimited studio time, they continue tweak and rework the songs over a period of six months. The resulting album is a wide ranging psychedelic collage mixed specifically to emphasize that intent. Though reaction to it is mixed upon its release, in time the experimental “Anthem” is regarded as groundbreaking, laying the groundwork for the follow up “Aoxomoxoa” which brings The Dead’s musical vision into clearer focus. “Anthem” is remixed and reissued in 1972 with alternate cover artwork, changing the cover background from purple to white, changing the title and artist graphics. It is remastered and reissued on CD (with HDCD encoding) in 2001, using the original 1968 mix, restoring the original cover art and containing three live bonus tracks. Though the high definition digital download release uses the 70’s remix version. In 2011, it is reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Rhino Records, also using the original mix. The album is reissued again for its 50th anniversary on July 13, 2018. The 2 CD edition features the original mix and 1971 remix versions on disc one, and a live concert set recorded at Winterland in San Francisco on October 22, 1967 on disc two. A limited edition LP, pressed on yellow and orange swirl vinyl is issued as an exclusive through Barnes & Noble. “Anthem Of The Sun” peaks at number eighty seven on the Billboard Top 200.

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On this day in music history: July 18, 1966 – …

On this day in music history: July 18, 1966 – Singer and musician Bobby Fuller​ is found dead in his mother’s car outside his apartment in Hollywood, CA. Just four months after making his breakthrough with the rock & roll classic “I Fought The Law” (#9 Pop), the Texas born musician dies under mysterious circumstances. Fuller is found in the front seat of his mother’s car, reeking of gasoline, his upper body covered in abrasions and petechial hemorrhages in his eyes, and on his face. In spite of an extensive investigation by the LAPD, the authorities are unable to determine if Bobby Fuller committed suicide or was murdered. More than thirty years later, Fuller’s life and death are profiled on the programs “Unsolved Mysteries” and “Mysteries And Scandals". Both programs draw the conclusion that Fuller’s death may have been mafia related (due to his association with a woman alleged to have mob ties), and was covered up by the Los Angeles Police Department.

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On this day in music history: July 18, 1964 – …

On this day in music history: July 18, 1964 – “Rag Doll” by The 4 Seasons hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio, it is the fourth number one single for the New Jersey based vocal quartet fronted by lead singer Frankie Valli. The inspiration for the song comes from an encounter that songwriter Bob Gaudio has on his way to the recording studio. While driving down the Westside Highway into New York City, he stops at a red light. A young woman dressed in tattered clothing comes up to his car and begins cleaning his windows. Reaching into his pocket for change, he finds that all he has is a five dollar bill. Faced with the dilemma of giving her the bill or nothing, Gaudio gives her the five dollars. As he drives away, he remembers the woman’s stunned expression while still standing in the middle of the street. After reaching the studio, he tells his writing partner Bob Crewe about what he had just experienced and the two complete the song shortly after. Wanting to record the song quickly, Crewe books Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons into a basement demo studio in Manhattan, when their regular studio isn’t open on Sunday. The alternate recording venue is also chosen, since the group are about to embark on another tour the following day. Released in early June of 1964, “Rag Doll” is another immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #53 on June 20, 1964, it races to the top of the chart four weeks later. The original singles’ B-side “Silence Is Golden” is also covered by British pop band The Tremeloes in 1967, hitting number one on the UK singles chart and peaking at number eleven on the Billboard Hot 100. “Rag Doll” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 18, 1960 – …

On this day in music history: July 18, 1960 – “Sketches Of Spain”, the thirty-fourth studio album by Miles Davis is released. Produced by Teo Macero and Irving Townsend, it is recorded at Columbia 30th Street Studios in New York City on November 20, 1959 and March 10, 1960. Barely three months after the release of the landmark “Kind Of Blue”, Miles Davis returns to the studio to begin recording the follow up release. Having previously worked with arranger Gil Evans on “Miles Ahead” and “Porgy And Bess”, Davis once again calls on the Canadian born musician to collaborate once again. Initially the project is started without a central concept or theme, at first recording the piece “Concierto de Aranjuez” by Spanish composer  Joaquin Rodrigo. A composition originally written for guitar, Evans and Davis transform it into an epic orchestral jazz masterpiece. It features Miles accompanied by his core band of musicians including Jimmy Cobb (drums), Paul Chambers (bass) and Elvin Jones (percussion), backed by brass and woodwind instruments. The nearly side long recording becomes the centerpiece of the new album, with Gil Evans writing the Spanish tinged “Saeta” and “Solea” as well as the band recording early 20th century composer Manuel de Falla’s “Will O’ The Wisp” from the ballet “El Amor Brujo”. In spite of the challenging nature of the material, compositionally as well as technically, it sees Davis and Evans both at the peak of their creative powers. Miles’ control and command of his instrument is apparent from the first note to the last, displaying extraordinary degrees of sublitity and nuance. Released in the Summer of 1960, “Sketches Of Spain” receives unanimous acclaim from fans and critics alike, recognizing that Miles Davis and Gil Evans have again raised the bar for jazz music. In time, it is regarded as one of the most important albums of the 20th century. It wins Davis and Evans their first Grammy Awards for Best Original Jazz Composition in 1961. Originally released on CD in 1983, it is remastered and reissued in 1997 with three additional bonus tracks. It is remastered again in 2009 by Sony Legacy as an expanded two CD edition, featuring more outtakes and alternate recordings from the sessions. Reissued numerous times on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is most recently reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2011, with the long out of print mono mix being released in 2012. “Sketches” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1997. “Sketches Of Spain” peaks at number thirteen on the Billboard Jazz Album chart, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 18, 1960 – …

On this day in music history: July 18, 1960 – “I’m Sorry” by Brenda Lee hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. Written by Ronnie Self and Dub Albritton, it is the first chart topping single for teen aged country/pop singer from Atlanta, GA born Brenda Mae Tarpley. Produced by legendary country music producer Owen Bradley (Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn), the song is recorded during the last five minutes of a session. The single is groundbreaking as it is one of the first country records to use strings, becoming one of the trademark elements of the “Nashville Sound”. Initially, Lee’s record label Decca is hesitant to release it as a single, feeling that the songs lyrics about unrequited love are too mature for the then fifteen year old vocalist. It is issued as the B-side of the uptempo “That’s All You Gotta Do”. Both sides chart successfully with “That’s All” peaking at #6 on the Hot 100 on July 4, 1960, though “I’m Sorry” quickly overtakes it in popularity, becoming a huge smash and Lee’s signature song. It not only tops the pop singles chart, but also reaches the top five on the R&B chart, peaking at #4. Entering the Hot 100 at #76 on May 30, 1960, it climbs to the top of the chart seven weeks later. “I’m Sorry” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 18, 1953 – …

On this day in music history: July 18, 1953 – An eighteen year old truck driver named Elvis Presley makes his first recordings at the Memphis Recording Service (aka Sun Records). The 78 acetate disc contains the songs “My Happiness” and  "That’s When Your Heartaches Begin". The disc is recorded as a birthday gift for his mother Gladys. The receptionist Marion Keisker asks Presley what type of singer he is, which he replies “I sing all kinds”. Then after asking him what he sounds like , Elvis states “I don’t sound like nobody”. After the brief session, Keisker plays the recordings for her boss Sam Phillips, who calls Presley back to make more recordings in the following months. Phillips pairs Presley up with guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, and the trio begin working together. The original acetate (the only surviving copy, since the tape was erased following the session) with Elvis’ first two recordings are officially released ten years after Presley’s death in 1987. For many years, the record has been in the possession of Presley’s high school friend Ed Leek. After numerous attempts to sell disc, it is finally purchased by rock musician Jack White in 2015 for $300,000. White then issues it on a limited basis on Record Store Day in April of 2015, as a 10 inch 78 RPM disc, even replicating the original typewritten labels on the original acetate.

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On this day in music history: July 17, 1982 – …

On this day in music history: July 17, 1982 – “Screaming For Vengeance”, the eighth studio album by Judas Priest is released. Produced by Tom Allom, it is recorded at Ibiza Sound Studios in Ibiza, Spain in Early 1982. After having their commercial breakthrough in the US with the albums “British Steel” and “Point Of Entry”, Judas Priest return to the studio in early 1982 to record their eighth album. Once again, they record on the Spanish resort island of Ibiza (for tax purposes)The veteran heavy metal bands eighth release is their most successful to date in the US, spinning off two singles including “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” (#67 Pop, #4 Mainstream Rock) and “Electric Eye” (#38 Mainstream Rock). The band also tour extensively in support of the album and other metal bands such as Iron Maiden, Krokus and Uriah Heep opening for them on the US leg. It is remastered and reissued on CD in 2001, with two additional bonus tracks added. The expanded reissue is also released as a double vinyl LP by Back On Black Records in 2010, pressed on green, yellow, orange and standard black vinyl. “Screaming For Vengeance” peaks at number seventeen on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 17, 1981 – …

On this day in music history: July 17, 1981 – “Escape” (aka E5C4P3), the seventh album by Journey is released. Produced by Mike Stone and Kevin Elson, it is recorded at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA from April – June 1981. Starting off the 80’s with the successful “Departure”, Journey follows it with the live album “Captured”. In between, they also record “Dream, After Dream”, the soundtrack for the Japanese film “Yume, Yume No Ato”. Shortly afterward, founding member Gregg Rolie leaves to pursue a solo career. Rolie recommends former Babys keyboardist Jonathan Cain as his replacement. Besides his excellent musicianship, Cain proves to be a highly valuable asset to the band for his songwriting abilities, especially in tandem with lead singer Steve Perry and guitarist Neal Schon. Co-writing all ten of the songs on the album, Cain establishes himself as another element in Journey’s success. Sporting instantly memorable songs, it quickly becomes their most successful studio album. Though some critics react unfavorably, accusing the band of selling out their progressive rock roots, the public and radio could care less, enthusiastically embracing the album. It spins off a total of five singles including “Who’s Crying Now” (#4 Pop), “Open Arms” (#2 Pop) and “Still They Ride” (#19 Pop). The second single “Don’t Stop Believin’” (#9 Pop), is released in October of 1981 as the follow up to “Who’s Crying Now”. Though successful at the time, it’s overshadowed by the two singles released before (“Crying”) and after (“Open Arms”), which are bigger chart and airplay hits. However, “Don’t Stop Believin’” builds in popularity, becoming a highlight of Journey’s live concerts. It becomes a staple on rock radio over the next two decades, and a huge karaoke favorite. Its greatest success comes in 2007 when featured in the final episode of the “The Sopranos”. Following the initial broadcast seen by nearly twelve million people, “Believin’” immediately surges to the top of the Apple iTunes digital download chart. To date it has sold over 6.5 million digital downloads, making it one of the largest selling digital singles released in the pre-digital era. It also becomes an anthem at sporting events, being adapted as a rallying cry by fans of the San Francisco Giants during their World Series victories. The success of “Escape” inspires the video game “Journey Escape”, created by California based video game company Data Age for the Atari 2600 game console in 1982. The albums now iconic cover artwork of their trademark scarab crashing out of a glass orb, is painted by famed Bay Area based artist Stanley Mouse. One of the first titles released on CD by CBS Records in 1982, it is remastered and reissued in 2006 with four additional bonus tracks. It is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Friday Music in 2010. “Escape” spends one week at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 9x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: July 17, 1961 – Hip Hop icon…

Born on this day: July 17, 1961 – Hip Hop icon Guru of Gang Starr (born Keith Edward Elam in Roxbury, MA). Happy Birthday to this great MC and lyricist on what would have been his 57th Birthday.

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