21 December

Pick a Day

21 DECEMBER

In Music History

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2019 Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" goes to #1 in America for the first time, 25 years after it was first released in 1994.

2014 With gay marriage now legal in England, Elton John marries David Furnish, exactly nine years after they were joined in a civil ceremony.

2013 "The Monster" by Eminem featuring Rihanna hits #1 in America. It's the first hit co-written by Bebe Rexha, who later emerges as an artist.

2012 Lee Dorman (bassist for Iron Butterfly) dies in Laguna Niguel, California, at age 70.

2007 Tim Burton's film adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim/Hugh Wheeler musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street opens in US theaters. Johnny Depp stars as the Demon Barber himself, and manages to earn the respect of critics for his singing performance on the film's soundtrack.

2001 The movie How High opens in theaters. The film stars Method Man and Redman as stoners who get into Harvard.

2000 The Chicago Sun-Times becomes the first newspaper to publish a story detailing R. Kelly's alleged sex crimes with underage girls.

1999 DMX releases his third album, ...And Then There Was X. Led by the singles "What's My Name" and "Party Up (Up in Here)," it goes to #1 in America, where it sells nearly 5 million copies.

1996 En route to a White House dinner with the Clintons, Tony Bennett suffers a ruptured hernia and is rushed to the hospital.

1996 Fourteen months after it was released, No Doubt's album Tragic Kingdom goes to #1 in America, where it spends nine weeks.

1996 Liz Phair and husband Jim Staskauskas welcome baby boy James Nicholas.

1992 Bluesman Albert King dies of a heart attack in Memphis, Tennessee, at age 69.

1989 Carlos Santana (of Santana) and his wife Debbie welcome their daughter Angelica Faith.

1988 Paul Avron Jeffreys (bassist for Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel) is killed en-route to his honeymoon when he and his wife, Rachel, become victims of the Lockerbie terrorist bombing (of Pan Am Flight 103). He was 36. The Four Tops were also slated to be onboard the plane but overslept after a late-night recording session.

1985 Dante Bonutto's Phil Lynott interview is screened. It would be the singer's last TV appearance before his death.

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Elvis And Nixon Shake On It

1970

Music and politics collide when Elvis Presley meets President Richard Nixon at the White House. A famous photo of the two shaking hands horrifies many Elvis fans.


It's the most requested photo in the National Archives, even more than the Constitution: Elvis Presley, looking every bit the King of Rock and Roll in a purple velvet jumpsuit and enormous gold belt buckle, shaking hands with a staid President Nixon during a secret meeting in the Oval Office. The image is a jolt to Elvis fans. After all, this was the same singer who shook up cultural mores with his gyrating hips. Ed Sullivan called him "unfit for family viewing"; the Catholic diocese called him a "definite danger to the security of the United States." But Nixon, the enemy of counterculture, was as surprised as anyone to hear that Elvis wanted to meet him. Just hours earlier, Elvis appeared at the White House gate with a six-page, handwritten letter addressed to the president, scribbled out during an impromptu redeye flight, detailing his concerns about hippies and the growing drug culture. The entertainer, who explains he's done "an in-depth study of drug abuse and Communist brainwashing techniques" insists he is the ideal candidate to appeal to these anti-Establishment types who smoke grass and take umbrage with the Vietnam War. "I can and will do more good if I were made a Federal Agent at Large and I will help out by doing it my way through communications with people of all ages," he writes. What Elvis really wants is the badge that goes along with the title. He's collected plenty of honorary police badges while on tour and wants one from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Lucky for him, BNDD liaison Egil "Bud" Krogh is a fan and loves the idea of hooking up the King and the president. A memo to Nixon points out the rock music culture's influence on the drug sub-culture, citing the recent drug-related deaths of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. Suggestions for Presley activities include an album with the theme "Get High on Life" and a TV special that dissects popular songs to show "drug and other antiestablishment themes." When Elvis arrives for the meeting with Nixon, which is kept under wraps to protect the singer's image, he agrees that rock music is the core of the issue, specifically The Beatles. Krogh observes in his notes, "Presley indicated that he thought the Beatles had been a real force for anti-American spirit. He said that the Beatles came to this country, made their money, and then returned to England where they promoted an anti-American theme." A bold statement, considering he sang many of the Fab Four's tunes during his concerts, but enough to earn him his new badge. After gifting the president with a World War II-era Colt .45 and some Presley family photos, he heads back to Graceland with his prize. Presley develops an addiction to prescription drugs, which contributes to his death in 1977, an irony not lost on Paul McCartney: "The great joke was that we were taking [illegal] drugs, and look what happened to him." The infamous meeting inspires a few movies, most notably 2016's Elvis & Nixon, starring Michael Shannon as Elvis and Kevin Spacey as Nixon.

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