4 February

Pick a Day


In Music History

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2017 Black Sabbath play the final concert of their farewell tour at the Genting Arena in their English home city of Birmingham. Their final song of the night, "Paranoid," is streamed live on Facebook so fans around the world can witness the historic moment onstage.

2016 Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White dies at age 74 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease.

2013 Reg Presley (lead singer The Troggs) dies of lung cancer, coupled with a series of strokes, at age 71.

2013 Jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd (of The Blackbyrds) dies at age 80.

2013 R&B singer Darlene McCrea (of The Cookies) dies.

2009 Lux Interior (of The Cramps), real name: Erick Lee Purkhiser, dies of aortic dissection at age 62.

2008 John Mellencamp becomes the first of many artists to accuse soon-to-be-Republican presidential nominee John McCain of using their music without authorization. McCain had been using the song "Our Country," and while he had the legal rights to do so, Mellencamp makes it clear he does not support McCain and asks that he refrain from using his music.

2008 Phil Lesh, Bob Weir and Mickey Hart resurrect Grateful Dead for a benefit concert in support of presidential hopeful Barack Obama in San Francisco.

2008 With digital delivery transforming the industry, some record companies package releases with additional goodies. The Virgin-owned Astralwerks label issues Laura Marling's debut album, Alas, I Cannot Swim, in what they call a "songbox" format, which includes a concert ticket and souvenirs representing each song along with the CD.

2007 Razorlight members Johnny Borrell and Carl Dalemo clash onstage at a gig in Lyon. The concert is halted, but the band returns to finish the set.

2002 On the occasion of civil-rights activist Rosa Parks' 89th birthday, Stevie Wonder sings his song "Happy Birthday" to her at the premiere of her TV-movie biography The Rosa Parks Story. The song had originally been written by Wonder to help bring about a national Martin Luther King holiday.

1999 In a daring move, Rykodisc becomes the first music label to give its stamp of approval to MP3, the controversial Internet-based music distribution format that struck fear into the hearts of many music industry executives.

1997 The Offspring return with their fourth studio album, Ixnay on the Hombre - the follow-up to their 1994 breakthrough album Smash and the band's first after signing to Columbia Records in 1996.

1989 Thanks to radio-station rediscovery, Sheriff hit #1 in America with the ballad "When I'm With You," which peaked at #61 when it was first released in 1983. The band, which has been defunct since 1985, never get back together.

1987 Liberace dies of AIDS-related pneumonia at age 67.

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Judge Says "Down Under" Copies "Kookaburra"


A judge rules that the flute riff of the Men at Work song "Down Under" plagiarizes another Australian classic: the 1932 song "Kookaburra."

"Kookaburra" was written by a schoolteacher named Marion Sinclair, who died in 1988 and was not involved in the case. Little is made of any similarity between the two songs until 2007, when a popular trivia show in Australia called Spicks and Specks plays "Down Under" and asks the question, "Name the Australian nursery rhyme this riff is based on." In 2009, Larrikin Music, which owns the rights to "Kookaburra," files the lawsuit, which "Down Under" co-writers Colin Hay and Ron Strykert (lead singer and guitarist for Men at Work), fight tooth-and-nail. Justice Peter Jacobson rules that there is infringement, but on July 6, he awards Larrikin just 5% of the song's royalties, and only since 2002 - a far cry from the 60% they asked for. "The musical significance of the relevant bars from 'Kookaburra' is relatively small," he states in his ruling. According to Colin Hay, the award amounts to about $100,000. He says legal fees in the case are about $4.5 million. The meager judgment provides some solace, but Hay is crestfallen. "I believe what has won today is opportunistic greed, and what has suffered is creative musical endeavor," he says in a statement. Greg Ham, who played the flute part on "Down Under," takes it hard. "I'm terribly disappointed that's the way I'm going to be remembered — for copying something," he says. In 2012, Ham dies of heart failure at age 58. In the documentary Waiting For My Real Life, Hay says, "Gregory felt terribly guilty about having played the line, unconsciously or not." bird photo: JJ Harrison



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