It happened this week…

This is the week that was in matters musical…

1951, produced by the legendary Sam Phillips at Sun Records in Memphis, Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm record “Rocket 88″ is released … considered groundbreaking for its use of the distorted electric guitar of Willie Kizart, it’s credited by many rock historians for being the first rock ‘n’ roll record … unfortunately for Turner, the bandleader and piano player, he is not the star on the record label—it is credited to saxophonist Jackie Brenston who handles lead vocals …

1954, Elvis Presley auditions for The Songfellows, a country vocal group … they pass on the future king saying he can’t sing harmony …

1955, Elvis Presley appears for the first time on television on a regional show called Louisiana Hayride

1963, influential country singer Pasty Cline dies in a private plane crash at the height of her career … with her on the ill-fated flight are Grand Ole Opry members Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins … Clines becomes the first female solo artist inducted to The Country Music Hall of Fame …

1966, a pre-Cream, pre-Blind Faith, all-star, one-time-only group called Eric Clapton & The Powerhouse is created to record a few tunes for an Elektra Records compilation … in addition to featuring Clapton on guitar, Steve Winwood sings and Jack Bruce plays bass … the ad hoc group records three tunes, of which “Crossroads,” will become a legendary live recording by Cream … John Lennon puts the “fun” back into fundamentalism when he remarks that the Beatles “are probably bigger than Jesus right now” … Beatles paraphernalia meets pyrotechnics as albums, books, and posters are burned in protest throughout the heartland … Phil Spector produces the monumental Ike & Tina Turner track “River Deep, Mountain High” … it’s rumored that he spent more than $22,000 creating the orchestral backing track—an unprecedented sum in its day … word has it that Spector also paid Ike Turner, Tina’s spouse and Svengali, 20 grand to stay the hell out of the studio … the single goes to #3 in England but apparently, sales found rivers too deep and mountains too high in the USA, thus preventing the record from making it to the cash register …

1967, Steve and Muff Winwood announce plans to quit the Spencer Davis Group … the brothers have been with the band four years … Steve goes on to form Traffic … Muff’s career is … well, muffled …

1969, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour TV show is canceled by CBS … during its run the show had featured many rock acts including The Beatles, The Doors, and The Who … the cancellation is seen as the result of the brothers refusing to censor comments made by guest Joan Baez about her husband David Harris who was facing prison as a war resister …

1970, Janis Joplin is fined $200 for onstage swearing in Tampa, Florida …

1971, Radio Hanoi opens its first broadcast of American rock music with Jimi Hendrix’s version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” … the program is heard by U.S. soldiers throughout Vietnam … the tape was sent to the North Vietnamese station by anti-war activist Abbie Hoffman …

1973, Paul McCartney pleads guilty to charges of growing marijuana at his Scottish farm … he claims that a fan had given him the seeds and that he did not know what they would grow … to discourage any further attempts to solve the botanical mysteries of the universe, he’s fined $240 …

1976, flamboyant pop star Elton John becomes flammable after being rendered in wax … his image is put on display at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum … years later, in an odd twist of art imitating life imitating art, Elton will release the song “Candle In The Wind” … okay, for you literal-minded folk, his wax image is not outside in the wind … alright, it doesn’t actually have a wick, but it could have … fine, so Elton’s really not writing about being made into a candle … just drop it, okay? …

1980, the number-one song on the pop chart this week is “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen …

1993, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana washes down a handful of Valiums with champagne and winds up in a coma in a Rome hospital … he revives after about 20 hours … though officially labeled accidental, the overdose was secretly thought to be a suicide attempt by those close to Cobain, while conspiracy theorists suggest that Courtney Love may have slipped him the dose without his knowledge … right, ’cause it’s real easy to drop a handful of pills in someone’s mouth while they’re otherwise occupied … we would have liked to hear that one go down (so to speak), “Courtney, I think I somehow have gotten something stuck in my throat … actually, it feels like 40 somethings.” … “How odd, Kurt honey … here, wash down those 40-somethings that accidentally got stuck in your throat with this champagne, which I always keep handy for these kinds of emergencies.” … conspiracy or innocent mishap … you decide …

1995, R.E.M. drummer Bill Berry undergoes successful brain surgery for an aneurysm after collapsing during a concert in Switzerland … whose brain did they use? … Abby someone … Abby who? … Abby Normal …

1998, Alan Reed, an American dancer, sues Japanese pop star Seiko Matsuda for 48 million yen (approximately $12.97) charging that she pressured Reed, a member of her stage show, into having sex with her … like Reed, his case is a loser … okay, it’s really $320,000 …

1999, Cher’s long-time manager Bill Sammeth files suit against his former client alleging that he had a deal to receive 15% of profits from her comeback hit album Believe, its singles, and a planned world tour … along with masterminding her comeback, Sammeth claims he was a close friend of the star for 22 years before being “unceremoniously dumped” … Cher has no comments regarding the alleged dumping …

2004, Jack White of the White Stripes pleads guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery on singer Jason Stollsteimer of The Von Bondies … the charges stem from a bar fight between the two Detroit musicians that occurred the previous December at the CD release party for Blanche, another Detroit area band … White is fined $750 …

2005, CBGB, the birthplace of punk, faces closure in a dispute over unpaid rent due the charity for the homeless that owns the building … club owner Hilly Kristal says the dispute dated from 2001, when the landlord presented a $300,000 bill for unpaid rent … that’s 24,885,000 yen in case you were wondering … no, the number is right, the yen is stronger against the dollar now … XL Recordings’ Dizzee Rascal is arrested in East London after he is found carrying pepper spray (considered a firearm) … his companion is charged with possession of drugs (marijuana) and offensive weapons (a baton and more pepper spray) …

2006, new age meets chauvinism when musician Yanni (“Yawn-i” to his detractors) is arrested in Florida on charges of domestic battery against his girlfriend … by way of advice (and we in the music retail biz face this regularly), it’s important to state clearly up front in any transaction: “battery’s not included” … a British court rules that Apple Computer did not violate Apple Corps’ trademark when it launched iTunes … the case hinged on a 1991 agreement that forbade Apple Computer from distributing music on physical media … at that time the computer maker paid Apple Corps $27 million and agreed to not enter into music distribution under the Apple Computer name … the English judge finds that because iTunes is not the original source of the content it offers, the no-distribution provision doesn’t apply … The Beatles’ company threatens to appeal the verdict … in a convoluted deal reached the following year, Apple Computer (which has by then removed “Computer” from its name) acquires rights to all Apple logos used by both companies and will license the green apple logo of Apple Corps back to the company founded by The Beatles … no financial details are revealed in press accounts … it’s like the old saying goes: “If you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em.” … for honoring the unsung heroes of the personal pleasure industry, shedding light on the plight of the noble, downtrodden pimp, Three 6 Mafia becomes the first African-American hip-hop act to win a Best Song Oscar … the tune is “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” featured on the Hustle & Flow soundtrack …

2008, MTV pulls Gnarls Barkley’s video Run for having the potential to induce seizures … before the song reaches its conclusion the retro dancers are surrounded by strobing, crisscrossing, and interweaving black-and-white patterns … enough to cause the video to fail the Harding Test—software designed to protect sufferers of photosensitive epilepsy from having seizures … the rock music blogosphere is buzzing with the news that Robert Plant has reportedly turned down the notion of a Led Zeppelin reunion tour, preferring to focus his attention on a newfound musical partnership with Alison Krauss … speculation that the pair would tour as Led Mandolin has proven false …

2009, Liverpool Hope University rolls out a new master’s program, “The Beatles, Popular Music and Society,” to give students the opportunity to analyze music and culture through the band’s work … Mike Brocken, who is directing the program at the university in the band’s hometown in northwestern England, says, “If popular music is about anything, it’s about people. If we look at popular culture, it simply provides us with a very complex mirror of ourselves.” … and no, you can’t major in Paul with a minor in Ringo … for those who think British education may be significantly lowering the bar, a California university that shall remain nameless offers a course in Keanu Reeves … excellent! (play air guitar here) … The Allman Brothers kick off their 40th anniversary year with a three-week residency at New York’s Beacon Theater—an annual tradition for the Southern rockers … the shows feature a star-studded lineup of friends sitting in with the band that inludes Eric Clapton, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Sheryl Crow, Billy Gibbons, Taj Mahal, Levon Helm, Buddy Guy, Boz Scaggs, and Stanley Clarke …

…and that was the week that was.

Arrivals:

March 3: jazz bassist Pierre Michelot (1928), Mike Pender of The Searchers (1942), Jance Garfat of Dr. Hook (1944), singer-songwriter Jennifer Warnes (1947), guitarist-singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock (1953), rapper Tone L̄c (1966), John Bigham of Fishbone (1969), Ronan Keating of Boyzone (1977)

March 4: Miriam Makeba (1932), Bobby Womack (1944), singer-songwriter Shakin’ Stevens (1948), Billy Gibbons (1948), Chris Squire of Yes (1948), Emilio Estefan of Miami Sound Machine (1953), Jason Newsted of Metallica (1963), Patrick Hannan of The Sundays (1966), Fergal Lawler of The Cranberries (1971)

March 5: blues great J.B. Lenoir (1929), R&B star Tommy “High Heel Sneakers” Tucker (1933), Electric Prune James Lowe (1945), “Electric Avenue” Eddy Grant (1948), Alan Clark of Dire Straits (1952), singer-songwriter-producer Teena Marie (1956), Bobby DeBarge (1956), Mark Smith of The Fall (1957), Andy Gibb (1958), Craig Reid and Charlie Reid of The Proclaimers (1962), John Frusciante of The Red Hot Chili Peppers (1971)

March 6: bluesman Furry Lewis (1893), western swing pioneer Bob Wills (1905), Bernie Wayne, pop composer who wrote “Blue Velvet” (1919), jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery (1923), Sylvia Robinson of Mickey and Sylvia (1936), bluegrass banjo legend Doug Dillard of The Dillards (1937), Mary Wilson of the Supremes (1944), Hugh Grundy of The Zombies (1945), Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour (1947), singer Kiki Dee (1947), Megadeth guitarist Chris Broderick (1970)

March 7: Maurice Ravel, composer of “Bolero” (1875), producer and ex-Zombie Chris White (1943), singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt (1944), J. Geils Band vocalist Peter Wolf (1946), Procol Harum organist Matthew Fisher (1946), Taylor Dayne, born Leslie Wonderman (1962)

March 8: Micky Dolenz of The Monkees (1945), Eagles bassist Randy Meisner (1946), Three Dog Night’s Michael Allsup (1947), Mel Galley of Whitesnake (1948), Little Peggy March of “I Will Follow Him” fame (1948), singer and synth pop pioneer Gary Numan (1958), Peter “Pedro” Gill of Frankie Goes to Hollywood (1960), Julian Lennon (1963), Cheryl James of Salt-N-Pepa (1964), singer-songwriter Shawn Mullins (1968), Kameelah Williams of 702 (1978)

March 9: composer Samuel Barber (1910), Motown songwriter Clarence Paul (1928), R&B stalwart Lloyd Price (1933), John Thomas “Scooter” Steele, bass singer with The (Five) Willows (1934), country singer Mickey Gilley (1936), Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere & the Raiders (1942), John Cale of The Velvet Underground (1942), guitarist Robin Trower (1945), Ron Wilson of The Surfaris (1945), Jimmie Fadden of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (1948), R&B singer Jeffrey Osborne (1948), The Move’s Trevor Burton (1949), Robert Sledge of Ben Folds Five (1968), rapper Lil’ Bow Wow (1987)

Departures:

March 3: surrealist poet-songwriter and Beatles influence, Ivor Cutler (2006)

March 4: Piedmont blues guitarist John Cephas (2009), Beatles’ engineer and Pink Floyd producer Norman Smith (2008), songwriter-pianist Marvin Jenkins (2005), guitarist John McGeoch (2004), country artist Eddie Dean of “I Dreamed Of a Hillbilly Heaven” fame (1999), Grand Olde Opry cast member Minnie Pearl (1996), songwriter Eden Ahbez (1995), jazz guitarist Mary Osborne (1992), founder of the doo-wop Herald and Ember labels Al Silver (1992), bebop guitarist Tiny Grimes (1989), Richard Manuel of The Band (1986), R&B bandleader Red Saunders (1981), Brit rocker Mike Patto (1979), Raymond Edwards of The Silhouettes (1977)

March 5: Bob Timmins, an addiction specialist who worked with Kurt Cobain and Slash (2008), Vivian Stanshall of The Bonzo Dog Band (1995), blues brother John Belushi (1982), country singer Patsy Cline (1963), country singer and Grand Ole Opry member Cowboy Copas (1963), country singer and Grand Ole Opry member Hawkshaw Hawkins, born Harold Franklin Hawkins (1963)

March 6: David Williams, rhythm guitarist on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” (2009), Sir Joseph Lockwood, head of Britain’s EMI records (1991)

March 7: Jimmy “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” Boyd (2009), Portland-based blues harp player and singer Paul deLay (2007), Malian blues singer and guitarist Ali Farka Toure (2006), Jesse Taylor, former guitarist with the Joe Ely Band (2006), country bandleader-songwriter Pee Wee King (2000), producer Dave Jordan (1995), Texas blues singer-guitarist George “Little Hat” Jones (1981)

March 8: Grand Ole Opry star Hank Locklin (2009), Adam Faith, British pop singer and actor (2003), session drummer Bobby Chouinard (1997), novelty songwriter-performer and DJ, Vic Venus (1994), jazz singer and bandleader Billy Eckstine (1993), Ron “Pigpen” McKernan of the Grateful Dead (1973), country singer Jack Anglin (1963)

March 9: country singer Chris LeDoux (2005), George Scott, founding member of the gospel group The Blind Boys of Alabama (2005), Rust Epique, guitarist for pre)Thing (2004), rapper Notorious B.I.G. (1997), Mercury Wilson, lead rapper-singer for The Force M.D.’s (1995), R&B songwriter and producer Robert “Bumps” Blackwell (1985), Harry Womack, bassist, member of the Valentinos, and brother of Bobby Womack (1974)

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