23 December

Pick a Day

23 DECEMBER

In Music History

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2018 Miley Cyrus marries the actor Liam Hemsworth. They split up eight months later.

2015 '80s hitmaker Richard Marx marries model and TV host Daisy Fuentes. Marx was previously married to actress/dancer Cynthia Rhodes.

2009 Andre Kyles aka DJ Omega Supreme (of Organized Konfusion) dies of cancer.

2007 Jazz musician Oscar Peterson dies at age 82.

2006 English entertainer Charlie Drake dies in Twickenham, Middlesex, England, after suffering multiple strokes at age 81.

2003 Simon & Garfunkel donate a million dollars to the Children's Health Fund (started by Paul six years earlier.)

1997 Jackie Landry (of The Chantels) dies of breast cancer at age 56.

1996 Tony Bennett is released from a Washington, DC, hospital after an emergency hernia operation (he was stricken while preparing to perform at the White House).

1994 Dan Hamilton of Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds dies of Cushing's syndrome in Los Angeles, California, at age 48.

1992 Eddie Hazel (lead guitarist for Funkadelic) dies from internal bleeding and liver failure in Plainfield, New Jersey, at age 42.

1991 James Brown sues the producers of the movie The Commitments, claiming his name and likeness were used without his permission (he loses the case five years later).

1989 Ice Cube is fired from N.W.A, who had just rose to fame with their multi-platinum record Straight Outta Compton. Cube eventually goes solo.

1987 Carly Simon marries her second husband, James Hart (they divorce 19 years later).

1985 Reno, Nevada residents James Vance, 20 and Raymond Belknap, 18, shoot themselves in a suicide pact after spending hours drinking, smoking marijuana and listening to Judas Priest's Stained Class album. A lawsuit filed by their families claims the track "Better By You, Better Than Me" contains subliminal messages encouraging the suicides, but the case is dismissed.

1978 Rod Stewart releases "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" in the US.

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Cat Stevens Becomes Yusuf Islam

1977

Cat Stevens converts to Islam and changes his name to Yusuf Islam.


It's not the first name change for Stevens, who is born Steven Georgiou in London to Greek immigrants. Like his father, who overcame poverty and started his own restaurant, Stevens is driven to succeed, and that ambition, combined with sensational songwriting chops, makes him one of the top performers of the early '70s; his hits include "Peace Train," "Wild World" and "Morning Has Broken." In 1975, while swimming in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Malibu, California, he nearly drowns. Swept out to sea, he prays for help. "I knew someone was there and I said, 'Oh God, if you help me I'll work for you,'" he says. "A wave came from behind me and gently pushed me towards the shore and then I had all the energy I needed to get back." This near-death experience leads him on a spiritual journey, and when his brother gives him a copy of the Koran, he embraces Islam, taking the name Yusuf Islam ("Yusuf" is the Arabic equivalent of "Joseph") and leaves his music career behind. Two years later, he enters into an arranged marriage that lasts a lifetime - the couple raise five children together. Yusuf and his family strictly adhere to the Muslim faith, praying to Mecca five times a day. He turns his attention toward humanitarian efforts and education, setting up Islamic schools in England with income from his royalties. In 1981, he auctions off his gold records and other mementos from his previous life, using the proceeds to further fund the schools. Yusuf stays out of the public eye until 1989, when he chimes in on the controversy over the fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran against the author Salman Rushdie over his book The Satanic Verses. Yusuf refuses to condemn the fatwa, making him the subject of scathing news stories. He becomes a pariah in some circles; the Los Angeles DJ Tom Leykis organizes a burning of Cat Stevens records, and 10,000 Maniacs pull their cover of "Peace Train" from further pressings of their album In My Tribe. The controversy eventually blows over as he once again goes incognito. In 2000, he releases a children's religious album called A Is For Allah and also reissues his Cat Stevens material. He gradually returns to the limelight, recording and performing both religious and secular music.

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