On this day in music history: June 17, 1991 – “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge”, the ninth studio album by Van Halen is released. Produced by Andy Johns, Ted Templeman and Van Halen, it is recorded at 5150 Studios in Hollywood, CA from March 1990 – April 1991. The albums’ title is inspired when Sammy Hagar, wanting to stir things up and make a statement against the tide of censorship sweeping the media at the time, suggests that the band title their latest album “F***”. Hagar’s friend, boxer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini tells him that the expletive “f***” is actually an acronym for the phrase “for unlawful carnal knowledge”. The album also marks the return of the bands original producer Ted Templeman, whom the band had been estranged from for many years. In spite of mostly mixed reviews from critics upon its release, it is warmly received by the bands loyal fans. It spins off four singles including “Poundcake” (#1 Album Rock) and “Right Now” (#2 Album Rock, #55 Pop). The latter is supported by a music video (directed by Mark Fenske) whose unique concept and graphic style makes it an instant staple on MTV, winning three Video Music Awards including Video Of The Year in 1992. The album also wins Van Halen their first (and so far only) Grammy Award for Best Hard Performance in 1992. “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” enters the Billboard Top 200 at number one, spending three weeks at the top, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 17, 1978 – Jefferson Starship play the second of two concerts at The Freilichtbühne Loreley (Loreley Open-Air Theatre) in St. Goarhausen, West Germany, when the gigs goes horribly wrong. Touring in support of their then latest album “Earth, on the first night (June 16, 1978), the band fails to appear, causing angry fans to ransack the stage. The second night is even more of a disaster, when lead singer Grace Slick shows up extremely drunk and belligerent. Slurring her words and singing off key throughout, she begins to berate the audience calling them "Nazis” and taunting them with the phrase “who won the war?”. The incident touches off a riot, with the enraged audience causing over a million dollars in damage to the venue (which ironically had been originally constructed just prior to World War II by The Third Reich for cultural events) and the bands equipment. Highly embarrassed by her actions, Slick voluntarily quits the band, not returning until early 1981 when Jefferson Starship records their album “Modern Times”.
On this day in music history: June 17, 1966 – “Bus Stop” by The Hollies is released (US release date is on July 8, 1966). Written by Graham Gouldman, it is the twelfth single release (ninth US) for the pop band from Manchester, UK. Formed in 1962 by childhood friends Allan Clarke and Graham Nash, The Hollies is an outgrowth of the pair having begun as a duo years earlier during the skiffle craze that has swept England during the late 50’s. Naming themselves in tribute to musical hero Buddy Holly, the bands line up is solidified by 1963, and also includes Eric Haydock (bass), Tony Hicks (lead guitar) and Bobby Elliott (drums). The Hollies are signed to EMI subsidiary Parlophone Records after being seen at the Cavern Club in Liverpool by Ron Richards, who also becomes their producer. The band score ten top twenty hits in the UK over the next two years, but are barely able to make a dent in the US charts. That changes in late 1965 with the release of “Look Through Any Window” (#4 UK, #32 US Pop), penned by songwriter and future 10cc bassist Graham Gouldman. It is the then nineteen year old Gouldman that writes The Hollies first major American hit. The initial idea for what becomes “Bus Stop” comes while Graham is riding the No. 95 bus from his day job at a men’s outfitters, back to his family’s home in Broughton Park, Salford. Already having the title, he tells his playwright father Hyme about his idea. Mr. Gouldman comes up with the songs opening line “bus stop, wet day, she’s there I say, please share my umbrella”. Inspired by his father’s words, much of the rest of the song falls into place quickly. Graham writes the songs middle eight section, while riding the bus on the same route to work the next day. A short time later, Graham shows the song to The Hollies, who immediately agree to record it. “Bus Stop” is recorded at Abbey Road Studios (Studio Three) in London on May 18, 1966, with the band cutting the final version within an hour and fifteen minutes. Released in the UK first, “Bus Stop” is an immediate smash, climbing to #5 on the singles chart. Issued three weeks later by The Hollies American label Imperial Records, it becomes their big breakthrough hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #98 on July 23, 1966, it peaks at #5 on September 17, 1966, matching its UK chart peak. The success of “Bus Stop” not only continues their run of hits in their home country, but also paving the way to their success on a worldwide basis. The song is also covered by Herman’s Hermits, Gene Pitney, The Classics IV, and Material Issue who record it for The Hollies tribute album “Sing Hollies In Reverse” in 1995.
On this day in music history: June 15, 1999 – “Supernatural”, the seventeenth album by Santana is released. Produced by Clive Davis, Matt Serletic, Wyclef Jean, Jerry ‘Wonder’ Duplessis, The Dust Brothers, Alex González, Charles Goodan, Lauryn Hill, Art Hodge, Fher Olvera, K.C. Porter, Dante Ross and Stephen Harris, it is recorded at The Plant Studios in Sausalito, CA, Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA, The Hit Factory, Electric Lady Studios, Chung King Studios in New York City, South Beach Studios in Miami Beach, FL, Worldbeat Studios in Davie, FL, PCP Labs in Los Angeles, CA, Cello Studios and Conway Studios in Hollywood, CA from January – April 1999. By the late 90’s, in spite of being regarded as rock icons, Santana is seen as a spent force commercially. Not having scored a Gold album since “Shangó” in 1982, that assessment would seem correct. After the poor sales of “Milagro” in 1992, the band stop recording, though remain active as a live act. In 1998 they are inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. At the ceremony, Carlos Santana runs into his former label boss Clive Davis, the chairman of Arista Records. Having originally signed Santana to Columbia Records in the late 60’s, Davis had overseen the band through their first and most successful era. In speaking with Davis, Santana expresses his ambition for that type of success again. Clive suggests to Carlos that they craft an album that combines the past with the present. Davis pairs the veteran guitarist with numerous high profile guest musicians, including Eric Clapton, Dave Matthews, Eagle-Eye Cherry, Lauryn Hill, Cee-Lo Green, Maná and KC Porter. Another guest is Matchbox Twenty lead singer Rob Thomas, who along with Itaal Shur come up with the infectious first single “Smooth” (#1 Pop, #10 Mainstream Rock, #11 AC). It is a massive worldwide hit, spending twelve weeks at number one, opening the floodgates to the albums’ success. It is quickly followed up with “Maria Maria” (#1 Pop, 1 R&B) featuring The Product G&B on vocals and co-produced by Wyclef Jean of The Fugees. “Maria” spends ten weeks at the top of the pop chart and three weeks at the top of the R&B chart. “Put Your Lights On” (#118 Pop, #8 Mainstream Rock, #17 Modern Rock) featuring Everlast (House Of Pain) also becomes a hit on mainstream and modern rock radio. The album sells a staggering thirty million copies worldwide. “Supernatural” breaks the record for most Grammy wins in a single year, originally set by Michael Jackson in 1984. Santana takes home nine awards including Record, Song and Album Of The Year. In addition, it also wins three Latin Grammys in 2000. It is remastered and reissued on CD in 2010 as a two disc Legacy Edition, with the second disc featuring unreleased tracks and remixes. “Supernatural” spends twelve weeks (non-consecutive) at number one the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 15x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, earning a Diamond Certification.
On this day in music history: June 15, 1989 – “Bleach”, the debut album by Nirvana is released. Produced by Jack Endino, it is recorded at Reciprocal Recording in Seattle, WA from December 1988 – January 1989. The first album by the Aberdeen, WA grunge rock band is recorded in only thirty hours of studio time at a cost of only $606.17. Second guitarist Jason Everman finances the recording of the album in spite of not playing a note on it. Guitarist/songwriter and lead singer Kurt Cobain credits him anyway as a gesture of thanks. Issued on small Seattle indie rock label Sub Pop Records, the album sells about 40,000 copies during its initial release, but rises significantly in prominence following Nirvana’s hugely successful second album “Nevermind” in 1991. “Bleach” finally charts on the Billboard Top 200 in 1992 peaking at #89. It tops the Catalog album sales chart on May 7, 1994 one month after Kurt Cobain’s death. A limited number of copies of the original LP release are pressed on white vinyl. Subsequent reissues are pressed on numerous colors including marbled pink, clear red, swirled aqua blue, marbled bottle green, marbled purple. In 2009, the album is remastered and reissued for its twentieth anniversary. The LP configuration is issued as a double vinyl set (exclusively sold through retailer Newbury Comics) featuring a live performance recorded at the Pine Street Theatre in Portland, OR in February of 1990. The LP’s also also pressed in multiple colors including white, blue marbled black and purple marbled black. “Bleach” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 15, 1982 – “Abracadabra”, the twelfth studio album by the Steve Miller Band is released. Produced by Steve Miller and Gary Mallaber, it is recorded at Capitol Studios in Hollywood, CA in Late 1981. After enjoying tremendous success from the mid to late 70’s, Steve Miller takes an extended hiatus from recording and touring, which lasts nearly four years. His first album of the new decade is the esoteric and decidedly less commercial “Circle Of Love” released in the Fall of 1981. The first single “Heart Like A Wheel” (#24 Pop) and the follow up title track (#55 Pop) both meet with tepid reactions from fans and from radio, the album sinks quickly from view. Though the side long track “Macho City”, released in edited form outside the US, becomes an unlikely underground club hit. Regrouping quickly, the veteran guitarist quickly rebounds returning to the more commercial, radio friendly pop/rock sound of the mid to late 70’s. “Abracadabra” is rapturously received by fans and radio, becoming his biggest success in more than five years. The title track becomes his third and final number one single in the US topping the Hot 100 in September 1982. It spins off two other singles including “Cool Magic” (#57 Pop) and “Give It Up” (#60 Pop). “Abracadabra” peaks number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 15, 1981 – “Duran Duran”, the debut album by Duran Duran is released. Produced by Colin Thurston, it is recorded at Red Bus Studios, Abbey Road Studios, Utopia Studio in London, and Chipping Norton Recording Studios, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, UK from October – December 1980. The Birmingham, UK band are at the forefront of the New Romantic movement sweeping England at the time of its release. Boasting a wide variety of musical influences including David Bowie, The Sex Pistols and American R&B/dance music innovators Chic, Duran Duran marry these musical genres together, creating a unique hybrid and develop their own distinctive sound. The album is a huge success in their native country spinning off three singles including “Planet Earth” (#12 UK) and “Girls On Film” (#5 UK). It goes largely unnoticed in the US on its initial release, until it is reissued in April 1983 following their breakthrough success with their second album “Rio”. The original US release removes the original single version of “Planet Earth”, replacing it with the extended “Night Version” of the song. The track “To The Shore” included on the UK LP is not featured on either version of the US LP. Also, initial US pressings are issued with Harvest labels, with a subsequent re-pressing using maroon Capitol labels in 1982. The 1983 US reissue (w/ black rainbow colorband Capitol labels) is repackaged with redesigned cover art (cover photo taken by photographer Brian Aris), restoring the short version of “Planet Earth”, and adding the then new single “Is There Something I Should Know?” (#1 UK, #4 US Pop). The album is first remastered and reissued on CD in 2003, featuring the original UK LP track listing. It is remastered and reissued again in 2010 as a double CD + DVD special edition, with the first disc including the non-LP B-sides “Late Bar”, “Khanada”, “Fame” and “Faster Than Light”. The second disc includes fourteen bonus tracks including demo recordings, live BBC 1 radio performances, and the night versions and night mixes of “Planet Earth” and “Girls On Film”. The DVD includes the music videos for all of the singles, and television performances. “Duran Duran” peaks at number three on the UK album chart, number ten on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
Born on this day: June 15, 1941 – Singer, songwriter and musician Harry Nilsson (born Harry Edward Nilsson III in Brooklyn, NY). Happy Birthday to this brilliant and visionary artist on what would have been his 77th Birthday.
On this day in music history: June 14, 1976 – “Chicago X”, the tenth album by Chicago is released. Produced by James William Guercio, it is recorded at the Caribou Ranch in Nederland, CO from March – April 1976. Taking a year and a half off from recording, the band return to the studio rejuvenated after a five year long non stop cycle of recording albums followed by extensive tours to support them. The albums biggest hit, the Peter Cetera penned and sung ballad “If You Leave Me Now” (#1 Pop) is nearly left off of the new record. While half of the band like the song, the others feel that the lush string laden track sounds out of place on the album. Producer Guercio overrules the others and it is slotted into the final running order. It becomes Chicago’s first number one pop single, topping the charts in the US and the UK, as well as winning two Grammy Awards including Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals in 1977. The album wins a third Grammy for its iconic cover artwork designed by John Berg of CBS Records’ art department, with the gatefold cover designed to look like a Hershey bar but with the trademark “Chicago®” logo on the front. “X” spins off two other singles including “Another Rainy Day in New York City” (#32 Pop), and “You Are On My Mind” (#49 Pop). It is remastered and reissued on CD in 2003 with two additional bonus tracks. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is reissued as a 180 gram LP by Friday Music in 2016. “Chicago X” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.