16 May

Pick a Day

16 MAY

In Music History

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2012 Chuck Brown, the "Godfather of Go-Go," dies at age 75.

2010 Black Sabbath singer Ronnie James Dio succumbs to stomach cancer at age 68.

2007 Parma, Italy, names streets after Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.

2003 Hoboken, New Jersey, names its post office after its favorite son, Frank Sinatra.

2003 While undergoing dialysis, Barry White suffers a stroke. Though his sister publicly claims he will soon perform again, it proves to be the end of White's public life.

2002 Cher appears on the TV show Will & Grace for the second time. This episode is titled "A.I.: Artificial Insemination."

2001 Brian Pendleton (rhythm guitarist for Pretty Things) dies of lung cancer at age 57.

2000 With his Warner Bros. contract terminated, Prince starts using that name again. He changed it to an unpronounceable symbol in 1993 after a dispute with the label.

1999 Diana Ross and Brandy star as mother and daughter in the made-for-TV movie Double Platinum.

1998 Five years after it was first released (in Danish) "Torn" goes to #1 on the US Airplay chart with a version by the Australian actress Natalie Imbruglia.More

1998 Keith Richards injures his ribs and chest when he falls from a chair at his Connecticut home, and The Rolling Stones are forced to reschedule the first four dates of their upcoming tour while he recovers.

1993 R&B singer Marv Johnson, Motown's earliest performer, dies of a stroke at age 54.

1990 Sammy Davis Jr. dies of complications from throat cancer at age 64.

1990 Famous puppeteer Jim Henson, who was also a songwriter and musician, dies of streptococcal toxic shock syndrome at age 53.

1987 U2 earns its first #1 hit in the US when "With Or Without You" leaps to the top of the Hot 100.

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Bob Dylan Releases Blonde On Blonde, The First Double Album In Rock

1966

Bob Dylan releases the "thin, wild mercury" sound of Blonde on Blonde, rock's first double album. Millions of minds are blown.


Blonde on Blonde is Dylan's seventh studio album released in less than five years of recording. The album is viewed by many as the peak of Dylan's creative genius and the culmination of the wild experimentation and prophetic lyrical potency that had been building with the two previous albums, Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited. Dylan says the album is the closest he has ever come to the "thin, wild mercury sound" he hears in his head. It shows influences of Memphis and Chicago blues, New Orleans processionals, pop, and good ol' rock and roll.

The title comes from some free association between Dylan, Al Kooper, and others during a mixing session in the studio. Dylan says it has no particular meaning, although the first letters of each word spell out "Bob," and that the title resembles Brecht on Brecht, a play by Bertolt Brecht.

Reactions suggest that Dylan has transcended the status of mere entertainer and become an almost mystical icon. Paul Nelson states, "Dylan in the end truly UNDERSTANDS situations, and once one truly understands anything, there can no longer be anger, no longer be moralizing, but only humor and compassion, only pity."

The albums' cover features a blurred image of Dylan that many attribute to a hint at drug use. Photographer Jerry Schatzberg, however, claims it is simply a result of he and Dylan shaking on the cold street while taking the shot.

Blonde on Blonde reaches #9 on the US Albums chart and #3 in the UK on its way to going double platinum. "Rainy Day Women #12 And #35" and "I Want You" hit the US Top 20. "Just Like A Woman" and "Visions Of Johanna" (of which Dylan says he'd "never done anything like that before") go on to become two of his most critically lauded songs. Years later, Andrew Motion, Britain's Poet Laureate, will call "Visions of Johanna" the greatest song lyric ever written.

Side 4 of Blonde on Blonde features a single song, the 11+ minute winding, poetic odyssey that is "Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands," which was recorded in a single take at 4 o'clock in the morning with the backing musicians having never rehearsed it and not knowing how or when it was going to end.

The album's unique sound is largely credited to Dylan's orders to have tall dividers called "bafflers" taken out. These barriers usually separate the musicians working in studio, but their removal creates a spontaneous, collaborative atmosphere that shows up in the music.

Blonde on Blonde mostly features songs recorded in Nashville, Tennessee, which has a very orthodox music culture very different from the one Dylan is used to working in. Al Kooper, who played a critical role in translating Dylan's plans during the recording of Blonde on Blonde, states, "[Bob Dylan] was the quintessential New York hipster - what was he doing in Nashville? It didn't make any sense whatsoever. But you take those two elements, pour them into a test tube, and it just exploded."

The album proves to be a revolutionary work that raises the stakes for the popular music of the day, making even established musicians of the time more ambitious in both their sounds and their themes.

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