23 May

Pick a Day

23 MAY

In Music History

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2015 Australia makes its inaugural entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, which is held in Vienna, Austria. The country is represented by singer and songwriter Guy Sebastian. Their invitation to compete follows a successful guest appearance from Jessica Mauboy in 2014. Sebastian finishes fifth, with the win going to Sweden's Måns Zelmerlöw.

2014 Malik Bendjelloul, who directed the Sixto Rodriguez documentary Searching For Sugar Man, commits suicide at age 36.

2012 Billboard reports that the albums of Donna Summer increase in sales by a factor of over 3000% in the week following her death on May 17 after a battle with cancer.

2008 Veteran rapper Ricky "Slick Rick" Walters receives a full pardon from New York's Governor David Paterson for the attempted murders of two men in 1991, ending a long legal saga.

2008 Shirley Bassey suffers from abdominal pains in Monaco, necessitating emergency surgery and forcing her to cancel her upcoming appearance at Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday concert.

2006 Jordin Sparks wins Season 6 of American Idol.

2006 Clifford Antone, a blues club owner and independent record label founder who mentored the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Gary Clark Jr., dies at age 56 of a possible heart attack.

2000 Billy Corgan announces that The Smashing Pumpkins will break up at the end of the year, saying they are tired of "fighting the good fight against the Britneys of the world."

1996 The video for Metallica's "Until It Sleeps" debuts, showing the band with short hair for the first time.More

1994 Jimmy Fernandez (bassist for The God Machine) dies suddenly of a brain tumor at age 28.

1992 Totally Krossed Out by the teenage rap duo Kriss Kross hits #1 in the US. Produced by Jermaine Dupri, the title is a reference to how they wear their clothes: backwards in a look they call "krossed out."

1987 The Doobie Brothers reunite with original members, including singer/guitarist Tom Johnston, for a Vietnam Veterans benefit at the Hollywood Bowl. The show leads to a reunion tour for The Doobies.

1985 It's Aretha Franklin Appreciation Day in Michigan, as Governor James Blanchard declares the singer "One of Michigan's natural resources."

1979 The Third Barry Manilow Special airs on ABC.

1979 The Who's acclaimed documentary The Kids Are Alright debuts in New York City.

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Tom Petty Files For Bankruptcy

1979

Responding to a wave of lawsuits after refusing to transfer his contract to MCA Records, Tom Petty files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a bold move that halts the legal proceedings and forces MCA to negotiate.


Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers signed with a small label called Shelter Records when they got their start, with Petty also signing away his publishing for $10,000. After two albums on Shelter, the label was sold to MCA, but Petty wouldn't go along, leading both labels to sue him for breach of contract.

The lawsuits took a huge toll on Petty, who self-financed recording of the group's third album, Damn The Torpedoes, as the battles were being waged in court. Petty's legal ground rests on a deal he made with Shelter stipulating that he "consult and cooperate in the process" if the label changed distribution. For Petty, it's a way of renegotiating the band's record contract and his publishing deal, but it's also about principle. "The idea of being told to report to those guys really pissed me off," he says.

Legal impasses like this one have stalled the careers Bruce Springsteen, John Fogerty, and many others. Looking to avoid this fate and knowing the labels have bigger legal guns, Petty goes the bankruptcy route, which gives MCA lots of incentive to settle. Petty states $576,638 in debts with $56,845 in assets; these numbers are dubious, but until they can be verified, legal action against Petty is proscribed.

The tactic works: A deal is reached where Petty signs with the MCA subsidiary Backstreet Records under new terms. Both sides save face, and Damn The Torpedoes, with some songs, like "Refugee," inspired by the legal wrangling, is released in October. Petty earns a reputation as one who won't back down.

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