Musings On Music History: In Which GNR Is #1, We Lose Too Many, and A King Is Born
09.10: On this day in 1950, Joe Perry, one half of the Toxic Twins (aka Perry and fellow Aerosmith bandmate Steven Tyler), was born.
09.10: “Sweet Child ‘O Mine” became Guns ‘N Roses first #1 hit. The single would propel the band’s album, Appetite for Destruction (one of the most beautifully dirty hard rock albums of all time), to the top, as well, over a year after it’d been released to little national fanfare. Long a staple of the Sunset Strip music scene in L.A., Guns ‘N Roses fast and furious entry in the spotlight came as a surprise to no one who’d actually seen the guys perform. They had “it.”
09.11: On this day in 1987, shortly after winning a Grammy award for Best Reggae Performance, pioneering reggae musician Peter Tosh was murdered during a robbery in his home. One of the original Wailers, along with Bob Marley and Bunny Livingston, Tosh’s music became more political and militant after leaving the band in 1974, standing in contrast to Marley’s “One Love.”
09.12: September 12th was a fruitful day for musicians. In 1944, Deep-voiced crooner and composer Barry White was born, eventually becoming the number one performer to be put on the stereo when you got back to the house with a special someone, after a late night at the bar. 1952 saw Neil Peart pound his way into world, where he would soon bang his way to the top as the drummer for a little Canuck band called Rush. Ben Folds joined us on this day in 1966, not yet playing piano, but having a good set of lungs, beginning his journey toward musical longevity.
09.12: On this day in 2003, Johnny Cash died of complications from diabetes. One of the biggest musicians, not just country musicians, ever, Cash’s influence on his chosen genre, as well as rock, could never be delineated in full. Just listen to At Folsom Prison, then watch the video for his cover (which, no offence to Trent, we regard as better than the original) of Nine Inch Nails “Hurt,” and you will see why the Man In Black remains, forever and ever, a giant.
09.13: On this day in 1996, Tupac Shakur died from gunshot wounds suffered the week before. The rapper, all of 25 years old, had been in intensive care for that week, undergoing many surgeries, including the removal of a bullet-damaged lung, and had been given a 50% chance of survival. Everyone thought he would pull through. He had before, but not this time.
09.15: On this day in 2004, seminal punk guitarist Johnny Ramone died of prostate cancer. A founding member of The Ramones, Johnny (aka John William Cummings) took his love of The Stooges (Iggy Pop’s awesome rock band) and the MC5 (an aggro-rock band out of Detroit) and turned it into what would become known as punk. Many knowledgeable and awesome people consider the Ramones, having influenced members of The Sex Pistols and The Clash (themselves two of the first punk bands) with their tour of the U.K. in 1976, to be the first punk band of any repute. We won’t disagree with this consideration.
09.15: Richard Wright, one of the founding members of Pink Floyd (yes, that Pink Floyd) died on this day in 2008. Though not the most prominent member of the band, his integral work on keyboard added heft and layer to such tracks at “Us & Them” and “The Great Gig in the Sky.”
09.16: On this day in 1925, B.B. King was born. Lucille (look it up) would never be the same. Master of the blues, virtuoso improviser on the guitar, and influencer of everyone from Clapton to Hendrix to Stevie Ray Vaughn, B.B. King’s reach around the globe can never be underestimated. He is the Ambassador of the Blues. Long live the King.