Today in Music History: April 17
1970 While performing at the White House at the invitation of President Richard Nixon, Johnny Cash was asked to perform 'Okie From Muskogee'. Cash declined because it was not his song, but had been a hit for Merle Haggard. Instead, Cash selected other songs, including 'The Ballad of Ira Hayes' (about a brave Native American World War II veteran who was mistreated upon his return to Arizona), and his own compositions, 'What Is Truth' and 'Man in Black'.
1970 Santana began sessions for what would be their breakthrough album Abraxas at Wally Heider Recording Studio, San Francisco, California. When released in September of this year, Abraxas peaked at #1 on the US chart. Carlos Santana learned to play the guitar when he was 8 years old. His father was a professional violinist.
1971 All four Beatles had solo singles in the UK charts, Paul McCartney with 'Another Day', John Lennon, 'Power To The People', George Harrison, 'My Sweet Lord' and Ringo Starr, 'It Don't Come Easy'. The Beatles are talked about as one of the best bands of all times but surprisingly none of The Beatles could even read music! They did know chords and where middle C was on a piano. In a 1980 interview with Playboy, John Lennon said, "I think Paul and Ringo stand up with any of the rock musicians. Not technically great — none of us are technical musicians. None of us could read music. None of us can write it. But as pure musicians, as inspired humans to make the noise, they are as good as anybody."
1971 Three Dog Night started a six week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Joy To The World'. The group's second US No.1; a No.24 hit in the UK. The group didn't think much of this song when they recorded it, tacking it on to the album because they needed one more song to complete it. The song ended up being a massive hit staying 6 weeks at #1 on the US charts. Three Dog Night got their band name from an old Australian Aborigine saying they heard. If it was cold at night, you slept with your dogs for warmth. The next day you might tell a friend, "Man, it was a three dog night last night." This led a lot of people to believe that the group was Australian, but they were based in California.
1973 Pink Floyd's album 'The Dark Side of the Moon' went gold in the US. The LP went on to stay in the US chart for more than ten years and became the longest charting rock record of all time. Enough copies have been sold that 1 in 12 people in the ENTIRE WORLD own the record. Despite their enormous record-breaking chart success with 'The Dark Side of the Moon', they’ve only topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart ONCE, with 'Another Brick In The Wall Pt. II,' hitting #1 in 1979.
1982 Vangelis was at No.1 on the US album chart with 'Chariots Of Fire', he later also won an Oscar for the album for best original score. With so much talent, one would think Vangelis could read and write music. Not really. He did finally enroll at a special arts academy, and when the professors asked him to play something, he said that he pretended to read the music and play from memory. He didn't fool the profs one bit, but like a true Aries, he didn't care.
1991 Nirvana appeared at the OK Hotel in Seattle, where they played a new song, 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', live for the first time. Other local bands, such as Mudhoney, Tad, Mother Love Bone, and Soundgarden all appeared at the club, which has now been turned into a residential property. One night, Kurt Cobain got into an argument with Kathleen Hanna (from Bikini Kill). When he woke up the next morning, he found that Tobi had written "Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit" on the wall of his hotel room. Tobi was actually referring to the deodorant brand that she wore (Teen Spirit). Unaware of the deodorant, Kurt loved the term so much that he decided to name his Pixies-influenced song, Smells Like Teen Spirit, after the phrase. While he probably had to pay a fine for the vandalism on the hotel's wall, we're pretty sure the song more than paid for the damages.
1993 David Bowie went to No.1 on the UK album chart with 'Black Tie White Noise' his eighth UK No.1 LP. Bowie has always been quite visionary, extremely theatrical with his music and the way it is presented to the audience. This was most evident in the late 1960's. He studied mime to portray his music in a different way to many of the 60's clone bands. He believed the future of music would be a combination of acting and video. This would appeal to a greater audience. Hello MTV!
And the music goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times...