It happened this week

This is the week that was in matters musical …

Not the best week to be a blues legend…

1938, the legendary Robert Johnson dies in Greenwood, Mississippi, after having been apparently poisoned … known for his womanizing, the murderer was presumed to be the angered spouse of one of his paramours … it was rumored that Johnson’s talent came at the expense of his soul, the result of a midnight deal struck with Satan at a Mississippi crossroads … probably the most influential bluesman to emerge in the 20th century, his songs and riffs have become a foundation for the genre …

1939, pioneering electric guitarist Charlie Christian sits in with Benny Goodman’s jazz combo at a Beverly Hills club … the clarinetist isn’t interested in hearing Christian, but the guitarist’s avid supporter, Columbia talent scout John Hammond gets him onstage while Goodman is on a break … Christian proceeds to wow the crowd and musicians alike with his seemingly endless single-string virtuosity … he will go on to redefine the role of the electric guitar in jazz …

1953, The Prisonaires, a vocal quintet made up of Tennessee State Penitentiary inmates release their cover of "Just Walkin’ in the Rain" on Sun Records … lead singer Johnny Bragg is given some diction coaching by a young wannabe singer named Elvis Presley … the song will reach #10 on the R&B chart …

1958, influential bluesman Big Bill Broonzy who composed over 2,000 songs including the blues standard, "Key To The Highway," dies in Chicago at age 65 …

1959, bluesman Blind Willie McTell dies of a brain hemorrhage in Georgia … a brilliant 12-string guitarist, he wrote "Statesboro Blues," later covered by the Allman Brothers … McTell recorded using several aliases throughout his career …

1962, Ringo Starr replaces Pete Best as The Beatles’ drummer …

1964, The Chipmunks Sing the Beatles album is reportedly selling 25,000 copies of John and Paul’s compositions a day … meanwhile in San Francisco, the Fab Four begin their first tour of the U.S. at the Cow Palace … the Righteous Brothers and Jackie DeShannon are also on the bill …

1967, The New York Times reports on a new noise-reduction system for records and tapes pioneered by the Dolby brothers … drummers everywhere pan the system as a cymbal killer …

1968, the record industry marks its first billion-dollar year several years ahead of expectations … this same week, responding to a study reporting damage to the ears of guinea pigs subjected to loud music, New York disco owner, Steve Paul quips, "Should a major increase in guinea pig attendance occur at The Scene, we’ll certainly bear their comfort in mind" …

1969, the Woodstock Music and Art Festival is held on Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York … nearly half a million will gather to celebrate what is billed as "3 Days of Peace and Music" and enjoy performances by a stellar lineup including Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Ten Years After, and Jefferson Airplane among others … meanwhile Down Under, Mick Jagger is accidentally shot in the hand during the shooting of the film Ned Kelly in Australia … his wound is not serious … also this week, Miles Davis starts cutting the first sessions of the landmark album Bitches Brew with Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Benny Maupin, John McLaughlin, Larry Young, Harvey Brooks, Lenny White, Don Alias, and Jumma Santos … this who’s-who list of nascent fusion greats will be expanded during later sessions that result in a double album … in 2004 Columbia releases a four-CD set of the complete sessions … meanwhile at London’s Abbey Road Studios, the Beatles cut "I Want You (She’s So Heavy)" … the occasion marks the last time all four Beatles will converge on this hallowed ground together …

1971, Joan Baez charts with her cover of The Band’s "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" … it will top out at #3, making it her biggest hit ever …

1977, The King leaves the building … the 42-year-old Elvis (at the same age and in the same week in which his mother died in 1958) is found dead in his bathroom by girlfriend, Ginger Alden … according to the autopsy, death resulted from coronary arrhythmia … within days his death becomes a media event of major proportions … it also sparks the debate as to whether his death has been staged and rumors that he is alive and well … even today sightings are reported, though usually now in jest … this same week the Police play their first gig as a threesome after guitarist Henri Padovani leaves the band …

1981, pop singer Thomas Wayne dies in a head-on crash near Memphis … he attended the same high school as Elvis Presley and was a one-hit wonder with his 1959 hit "Tragedy" …

1988, undervalued blues, rock, and jazz guitarist Roy Buchanan, whose career was plagued by bouts of depression, commits suicide in a Virginia jail after being arrested for being publicly drunk … Michelle Shocked’s album Short Sharp Shocked is released with an authentic cover shot of the artist being carted off by a pair of L.A. cops … her label, Cooking Vinyl, overprints sunglasses on a policeman’s face and obscures a badge number to protect the innocent …

1990, in a tragic freak accident, part of a lighting rig falls on Curtis Mayfield during a performance in Brooklyn, New York … the incident leaves the celebrated soul singer and songwriter paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of his life that will end in 1999 …

1995, Courtney Love blows her cork on the last night of the Lollapalooza tour in Mountain View, California, when the audience gives her band Hole a lackluster response … security guards carry her off the stage when she begins physically fighting audience members …

1997, electric blues guitarist Luther Allison dies as the result of inoperable brain and lung cancer … noted for his fierce technique and stinging tone, Allison largely toiled away from the limelight in Chicago blues clubs, but earned plenty of ink when his name was mentioned as a possible new axeman for The Rolling Stones …

1998, Pete Townshend plays for an SRO crowd at Chicago’s House of Blues and raises $300,000 for Marysville Academy, a home for abused and neglected children …

1999, The Backstreet Boys break box office records by selling all 765,000 tickets for their North American tour in just one day, taking in a cool $30 million, most of it within just a single hour … this same week Spin Doctors lead singer Chris Barron is diagnosed with a rare condition causing paralysis of the vocal chords … he will make a slow recovery in the following months …

2001, Dave Matthews and wife Ashley welcome their twin daughters Stella Busina and Grace Anne into the world …

2002, Drowning Pool’s Dave Williams is found dead on the band’s tour bus during the Ozzfest tour … rumors abound that Williams’ death is the result of a drug or alcohol overdose … the postmortem will show that Williams died from cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle, with toxicology reports showing no illegal drugs in his system …

2003, OSHA fines Derco LLC— the company that operated The Station Club — $85,200 for violations that resulted in the fire that killed 100 Great White fans and a band member in February … the band itself is fined $7,000 …

2004, jam band Phish plays its final two-day concert in Coventry, VT, putting the phinish on a 21-year career … meanwhile on the legal front, the U.S. Court of Appeals rules that file sharing services such as Grokster and StreamCast do not bear responsibility for user’s illegal activities … the ruling puts a crimp in the RIAA’s attacks on peer-to-peer services that enable the dissemination of MP3s … the recording industry will have to go after individual violators of copyright laws instead …

2005, Eminem cancels a European tour and checks into rehab … a representative says the sojourn is for a "dependency on sleep medication" … the 11-date tour cancellation costs the rapper about $18 million in ticket sales … Madonna breaks a collarbone, hand, and three ribs when she’s tossed from a horse in England … the ride was in celebration of her 47th birthday … in L.A. a tearful Courtney Love is yet again ordered into rehab by a judge after a court-ordered drug test comes up positive … meanwhile, during an appearance on the Today show, performer-producer Sean Combs stuns the nation by announcing that henceforth he will be known as just "Diddy" … previous variations of his stage name have included Puff Daddy and just plain Puffy …

2006, Joseph Hill, lead singer and founder of the reggae band Culture dies suddenly during a European tour, reportedly from liver failure … Hill, who cut an imposing figure onstage with his large, lanky frame and charismatic stage presence, was a strong exponent of the roots reggae style with incisive commentary on Rastafarian values, social issues, and politics … meanwhile the troubled recording industry is shaken by another failure when Tower Records has its water shut off by the major record labels who refuse to ship new product … the 89-store chain that previously went through a 2004 restructuring bankruptcy is thought to be close to liquidation … weeks later the chain is shuttered …

2007, a crazed fan who stalked former Blur guitarist Graham Coxon for over a year is cautioned by British police to keep her distance … Sue Ellingham allegedly met the star after a gig and then started posting abusive messages on his website and wrote false claims about his sex life … as her obsession grew, she allegedly turned up at the singer’s five-year-old daughter’s school and at his London home, then trashed Coxon’s Kent farmhouse … meanwhile in Raleigh, NC, former Kid Rock DJ Uncle Kracker is arrested on a second-degree sex offense charge after an incident involving a female patron at the Ess Lounge, a downtown nightclub …

And that was the week that was.

Arrivals:

August 14: swing and jazz violinist Stuff Smith (1909), R&B singer Jackie Brenston (1927), songwriter Carol Joyner Gourley (1938), Dash Crofts of Seals and Crofts (1940), David Crosby (1941), Tim Bogart of Vanilla Fudge (1944), inventor of slap bass technique, Larry Graham (1946), Slim Dunlap of The Replacements (1951), Sharon Bryant of Atlantic Star (1956), Kevin Cadogan of Third Eye Blind (1970)

August 15: blues harp player Buster Brown, born Waymon Glasco (1911), jazz pianist Oscar Peterson (1925), bluegrass-country singer Rose Maddox (1925), Bill Pinkney of The Drifters (1925), R&B singer Bobby Byrd (1934), singer Bobby Helms (1936), Peter York of the Spencer Davis Group (1942), songwriter Jimmy Webb (1946), Tom Johnston of The Doobie Brothers (1948), Tommy Aldridge of Black Oak Arkansas (1950), MCA of The Beastie Boys (1967)

August 16: baritone jazz crooner Al Hibbler (1915), jazz pianist Bill Evans (1929), British pop-country singer Karl Denver (1931), pop singer Eydie Gorme (1931), The Dubs singer Richard Blandon (1934), singer Bobby Mitchell (1935), R&B singer Barbara George (1942), touring musician Kin Vassy (1943), Barry Hay of Golden Earring (1948), J.T. Taylor of Kool & The Gang (1953), Tim Farriss of INXS (1957), Madonna (born Louise Ciccone) (1958), Chris Pederson of Camper Van Beethoven (1960), Emily Erwin of Dixie Chicks (1972), pop singer Vanessa Carlton (1980)

August 17: ’50s pop singer Georgia Gibbs (1919), Mark ("Teen Angel") Dinning (1933), bluesman Luther Allison (1939), Sib Hashian of Boston (1949), guitar phenom Eric Johnson (1954), XTC’s Colin Moulding (1955), Belinda Carlisle of The Go-Go’s (1958), Gilby Clark of Guns N’ Roses (1962), Maria McKee (1964), Steve Gorman of the Black Crowes (1965), Jill Cunniff of Luscious Jackson (1966), Donnie Wahlberg of New Kids on the Block (1969), Posdnuous of De La Soul (1969)

August 18: lyricist Otto Harbach (1873), folk singer Cisco Houston (1918), pop and country singer Johnny Preston (1939), soul singer Nona Hendryx (1945), Dennis Elliot of Foreigner (1950), Ron Stryker of Men at Work (1957), Dr. Spot (1960), Everlast (1969)

August 19: jazz pianist Jimmy Rowles (1918), Ginger Baker (1939), Johnny "I Can See Clearly Now" Nash (1940), vocalist Billy J. Kramer of the Dakotas (1943), Ian Gillan of Deep Purple (1945), Queen’s John Deacon (1951), Lee Ann Womack (1966)

August 20: jazz trombonist-vocalist Jack Teagarden (1905), country singer Jim Reeves (1924), jazz guitarist Jimmy Raney (1927), Paul Robi of The Platters (1931), bluesman J.J. Malone (1935), country singer-songwriter Justin Tubb (1935), Tom Coster of Santana (1941), Isaac Hayes (1942), John Povey of The Pretty Things (1942), James Pankow of Chicago (1947), Robert Plant (1948), Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy (1951), Rudy Gatlin of The Gatlin Brothers (1952), Doug Fieger of The Knack (1952), singer-songwriter John Hiatt (1952), Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit (1970)

Departures:

August 14: country artist Johnny Duncan (2006), Esther Wong, owner of the L.A. punk venue Madame Wong’s (2005), Drowning Pool vocalist Dave Williams (2002), Tony Williams, lead vocalist of The Platters (1992), Hawkwind vocalist Robert Calvert (1989), guitarist Roy Buchanan (1988)

August 15: William Herbert "Lum" York, bass player for Hank Williams (2004), singer-songwriter Joe Seneca (1996), Jamaican singer-songwriter Jackie Edwards (1996), Buddy Holly producer Norman Petty (1984), pop singer Thomas Wayne (1971), bluesman Stick McGhee, born Granville McGhee, most associated with his song, "Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee" (1961), influential bluesman Big Bill Broonzy (1958)

August 16: jazz drummer and bebop pioneer Max Roach (2007), master percussionist Ray Romero (2006), virtuoso country fiddler Vassar Clements (2005), Sufi singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1997), Bobby DeBarge (1995), songwriter Mark Heard (1992), guitarist Stacy Sutherland (1978), Elvis Presley (1977), Robert Johnson (1938)

August 17: James Brown’s bassman Bernard Odum (2004), lutheir to the stars Tony Zemaitis (2002), Chicago soul singer Johnny Sayles (1993), drummer-guitarist Phil Seymour (1993), Pearl Bailey (1990), soul singer Lorraine Ellison (1985), Temptations singer and guitarist Paul Williams (1973)

August 18: bluegrass picker and founder of the Country Gentlemen Charlie Waller (2004), film composer Elmer Bernstein (2004), Spiders leader Leonard "Chick" Carbo (1998), ivory tickler Michael M. Jones (1984)

August 19: reggae singer Joseph Hill (2006), soul singer Betty Everett (2001), jazz saxman Guy Durosier (1999), Belgian impresario and concert promoter Freddy Cousaert (1998), session pianist Richard Tee (1993), rockabilly star Dorsey Burnette (1979), Blind Willie McTell (1959)

August 20: Blues Traveler bassist Bobby Sheehan (1999), singer Rio Reiser (1996), masterful steel guitarist Leon McAuliffe of Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys (1988), jazz trumpeter Thad Jones (1986)

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