23 March

Pick a Day

23 MARCH

In Music History

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2008 The Jonas Brothers sing the national anthem at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House.

2002 In Houston, Texas, Dusty Hill of ZZ Top marries Charleen McCrory. He looks sharp, but we can't tell if there's a black tie under that beard.

1993 Depeche Mode release Songs of Faith and Devotion in America, where it goes to #1 despite charting no singles higher than "I Feel You," which tops out at #37.

1992 Billy Ray Cyrus releases "Achy Breaky Heart." It becomes his signature song and starts a line-dancing craze throughout the US.

1988 Mick Jagger performs his first solo gig in Japan, 15 years after having been barred from entering the country due to prior drug convictions.

1987 Whitesnake releases "Is This Love" in the UK.

1983 ZZ Top release their album Eliminator, which features Billy Gibbons' custom hot rod on the cover. Thanks to videos for "Gimme All Your Lovin'," "Sharp Dressed Man" and "Legs" featuring the car and various babes, they become unlikely MTV stars, earning a new generation of fans.More

1980 U2 sign a worldwide deal with Island Records. They get about $100,000 for their first album.

1980 Reggae musician Jacob Miller (of Inner Circle) dies in a car accident in Jamaica at age 27.

1978 A&M Records sign a new, young band called The Police.

1972 The film version of George Harrison's Concert For Bangladesh is released in America, helping raise additional money for aid that goes to UNICEF.

1969 Countering the counter-culture, about 30,000 people attend the "Rally For Decency" in Miami after Jim Morrison was charged with indecent exposure in the city. Celebrities at the event included Kate Smith, Jackie Gleason, The Lettermen and Anita Bryant.

1968 Blur frontman Damon Albarn is born in England.

1965 Marti Pellow (lead singer of Wet Wet Wet) is born Mark McLachlan in Clydebank, Scotland.

1964 John Lennon's book In His Own Write is published.

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Bluegrass Craze Takes Hold As 'O Brother' Soundtrack Hits #1

2002

The O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack, featuring a popular revival of the mountain ballad "Man of Constant Sorrow," takes bluegrass to #1 in America.

George Clooney may be the face of O Brother Where Art Thou? but bluegrass music is the star. Set in Depression-era Mississippi, the movie follows three bumbling escaped convicts (Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson) on a perilous journey to reclaim their buried loot. Along they way, they record a hit country record as The Soggy Bottom Boys, "Man of Constant Sorrow." Other soundtrack highlights include "The Big Rock Candy Mountain," "You Are My Sunshine," "I'll Fly Away" and "In the Jailhouse Now." Filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen brought in producer T Bone Burnett to compile traditional bluegrass and country songs for the soundtrack before filming even began. Burnett gathered some of the most celebrated artists from the bluegrass community, from Ralph Stanley, of the Stanley Brothers who first brought "Man of Constant Sorrow" into the mainstream in 1951, to Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, John Hartford, Alison Krauss and her Union Station bandmate Dan Tyminski (who dubbed Clooney's vocals as the lead Soggy Bottom Boy). "Bluegrass will never be the same because of that record and the way that music was presented in that movie," says Krauss, already a 10-time Grammy winner by the time O Brother Where Art Thou? took Album of the Year in 2002. "T Bone, with the way he produced that record, kept his hands off it and left his fingerprints all over it. He had such respect for the people playing it, for the history of it, the history of roots music itself – he has such a love and passion for it in its truest form, and people responded to that." With little support from country radio, the soundtrack gained traction thanks to the documentary/concert film Down From the Mountain that reunited artists from the album, along with an MTV music video for "Man of Constant Sorrow" and an all-star performance at the Grammy Awards ceremony, where the Soggy Bottom Boys won Best Country Collaboration with Vocals. Ralph Stanley also won Best Male Country Vocal Performance for his haunting a cappella rendition of the traditional "O Death." Gillian Welch, a California-raised folk singer whose career took off after participating on the landmark soundtrack, says the movie helped people recognize the bluegrass sound. "Back in the day, if you said you played American acoustic music, it sounded unfocused. I don't think people could exactly call up what that sounded like. After O Brother, they'd be like, 'Yeah, I've heard some of that kind of thing.' It was great way of introducing people to all this music I love."

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