Sunday, January 3, 2021

Music History Today: January 4, 2021

January 4, 1960: R.E.M. front-man Michael Stipe is born in Decatur, Georgia

As the frontman for R.E.M., arguably the most important and influential American rock band of the post-punk era, Michael Stipe transformed himself from enigmatic cult hero into mainstream icon. 

Michael Stipe

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Famed for his confoundingly opaque lyrics and notoriously mumbled delivery, the once-introverted Stipe translated his growing fame into an outlet to champion his social and political concerns, emerging as one of popular music's most respected figures, as well as the acknowledged forefather of the alternative rock movement. 

Read more: Allmusic

January 4, 1965: Gary Lewis & the Playboys released their first career single "This Diamond Ring." It goes to number one for two weeks in February.

Gary Lewis & the Playboys were an American 1960s era pop and rock group, fronted by musician Gary Lewis, the son of comedian Jerry Lewis. 

Gary Lewis & the Playboys

They are best known for their 1965 Billboard Hot 100 number-one single "This Diamond Ring", which was the first of a string of hit singles they had in 1965 and 1966. The band had an earnest, boy-next-door image similar to British invasion contemporaries such as Herman's Hermits and Gerry and the Pacemakers.  

Read more: Live Oldies 927

 

January 4, 1967: The Doors released their debut album.

When the Doors entered a Hollywood recording studio to make their debut album at the end of August 1966, they knew what they wanted.

The Doors

"Break on Through (To the Other Side)" was the album’s lead track and single, but the showpieces came at the end of each side: "Light My Fire" was Top 40 pop with a hard-on; "The End" was apocalyptic theater laced with oedipal tension. And they pretty much summed up The Doors experience. 

Read more: Ultimate Classic Rock

January 4, 1975: Elton John's "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" hits number 1 in the US. 

The Beatles’ “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” did not get to #1. It didn’t even chart, for the simple reason that the Beatles never released it as a single. 

Elton John

None of the songs from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band were singles. The entire album was meant to hang together as a whole, and that’s what it did. Elton John, no stranger to all types of drugs, got to #1 with his version of “Lucy In The Sky” less than eight years after the original had come out. 

Read more: Stereogum

January 4, 1982: Built for Speed by the Stray Cats peaked at number 2 on the album chart.

Built for Speed is essentially a compilation of 12 tracks taken from the band's first two British album releases: six from Stray Cats (February 1981) and five from Gonna Ball (November 1981), plus the title track, "Built for Speed", which had not previously been released in the United Kingdom.

The Stray Cats

It was the most successful record for the band, earning a platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America, and with the music videos for songs such as "Rock This Town" and "Stray Cat Strut" reaching MTV regular rotation status. 

Read more: Wikipedia

 

Everybody Hurts
R.E.M.

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