7 April

Pick a Day


In Music History

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2020 Acclaimed singer-songwriter John Prine dies at 73 after coming down with coronavirus.

2015 Don McLean's original manuscript to his lyric for "American Pie" sells at auction for $1.2 million. Says McLean: "I thought it would be interesting as I reach age 70 to release this work product on the song 'American Pie' so that anyone who might be interested will learn that this song was not a parlor game."

2014 25-year-old Peaches Geldof, daughter of the Live Aid mastermind Bob Geldof, is found dead in Kent, England, after overdosing on heroin. Her mother, Paula Yates, died in 2000 when Peaches was 11.

2013 Andy Johns (engineer for Led Zeppelin, Television, and The Rolling Stones) dies at age 62 of complications from a stomach ulcer.

2009 The jukebox musical Rock of Ages, a celebration of glam metal and classic rock of the '80s, opens at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. More

2008 The newly reunited Stone Temple Pilots announce a 65-date reunion tour and play for the first time since 2002.

2007 Beyoncé's "Beautiful Liar," featuring Latin-pop star Shakira, breaks the record for the highest leap on the Billboard Hot 100 when it jumps 91 places to #3. The record was previously held by Akon, whose "Smack That," featuring Eminem, rose from #95 to #7 (ultimately peaking at #2) in 2006.

1999 Shania Twain's third album Come On Over is certified Diamond (10 million in sales) by the RIAA, making her the first female artist with back-to-back Diamond albums; her second album, The Woman in Me, was certified in 1997.

1998 Drummer Carlos Vega (James Taylor's band) dies at age 41 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound the day before he is scheduled to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show alongside James Taylor.

1998 Mary Bono, who was married to Sonny Bono when he died in a skiing accident four months earlier, wins a special election to claim her husband's seat in California's 44th Congressional District. Mary, who has no previous political experience, holds office until 2013.

1988 When the piano wire that keeps him safely suspended during his gallows stunt snaps, Alice Cooper nearly hangs himself for real on stage at Wembley Arena in London. He's able to slip his chin over the rope to keep his neck from snapping until a roadie can rescue him.

1987 Jazz singer Maxine Sullivan, known for her 1937 swing version of "Loch Lomond," dies after suffering a seizure at age 75 in New York City.

1987 Whitesnake slides into hair metal with their seventh, self-titled album. It's by far their most successful, with the MTV hits "Here I Go Again" and "Is This Love?"

1984 New British Invasion: 40 of the artists on the US Top 100 singles chart are Brits - a new record.

1981 Rick James releases his most successful album, Street Songs, with "Fire And Desire" and "Super Freak."

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Billie Holiday Is Born


Billie Holiday is born Eleanora Fagan in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

After a hardscrabble childhood forces her into prostitution by the age of 13, Eleanora Fagan looks for a new line of work that won't get her thrown in the workhouse. She changes her name to Billie Holiday and begins touring the local jazz scene in Harlem, where her knack for improvisation captures the attention of record producer John Hammond. "She was the first girl singer I'd come across who actually sang like an improvising jazz genius," says Hammond. He signs her to Brunswick Records in 1935, where she teams with jazz pianist Teddy Wilson and fashions pop tunes into jazz standards with her unique phrasings, most notably "What A Little Moonlight Can Do." In 1936, she's the first major artist to record "Summertime," from the musical Porgy & Bess, and it's the first time a jazz standard lands on the pop chart (#12). Throughout the late '30s, she tours as a girl singer with Count Basie and Artie Shaw, but times are hard due to poor traveling conditions and the harsh realities dealt to a black singer performing alongside whites in the segregated South. After being banned from passenger elevators, dining rooms, bars, and even front doors, Holiday retreats to the recording studio where she records the controversial tune "Strange Fruit," adapted from a poem about lynching, and its popular flip side "Fine and Mellow." Her star continues to rise in the next decade with pop hits through Columbia, Capitol, and Decca Records, like "God Bless the Child," "Lover Man," and "What Is This Thing Called Love?" But as Holiday enjoys her commercial peak, raking in $250,000 a year, her personal life plummets when a heroin addiction leads to a 1947 arrest for possession of narcotics and a brief prison stint. None of this affects the adoration of the public, as she plays a sold-out, post-prison concert at Carnegie Hall. Following the 1956 release of Lady Sings the Blues, the accompanying album to her candid autobiography (which inspires a 1972 biopic starring Diana Ross), she'll pack the venue again and record the live album The Essential Billie Holiday. But drug use and alcoholism ravage both her voice and her body, and she lands in the hospital from liver and heart disease. On her deathbed, she is handcuffed and placed under police guard by The Federal Bureau of Narcotics on a drug possession charge. She dies on July 17, 1959, at age 44 of complications from cirrhosis of the liver.



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