28 May

Pick a Day

28 MAY

In Music History

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2001 The Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) announces their list of the 30 best Australian songs of the last 75 years. The top 3: 1) "Friday On My Mind" by The Easybeats 2) "Eagle Rock" by Daddy Cool 3) "Beds Are Burning" by Midnight Oil

2001 MTV's Total Request Live spawns a country spinoff on sister network CMT with Most Wanted Live. Broadcasting from Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, hosts Lance Smith and Amber Moog present a crop of country clips ranked by fan voters.

2000 The White Stripes perform on TV for the first time, playing "Apple Blossom" and "You're Pretty Good Looking" on the Detroit Public Television series Backstage Pass.

2000 Suzi Gardner of L7 becomes the first woman casted by Cynthia Plaster Caster, who has worked on a number of rock stars, including Jimi Hendrix. For her female subjects, which later include Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab and Karen O of Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, Cynthia molds their breasts.

1996 Jimmy Rowles, a jazz pianist who played with the likes of Benny Goodman, Les Brown, Peggy Lee, and Ella Fitzgerald, dies of cardiovascular disease at age 77.

1993 The action comedy Super Mario Bros., a live adaptation of the popular Nintendo game starring Bob Hoskins as Mario and John Leguizamo as Luigi, debuts in US theaters. The movie flops, but the soundtrack's lead single, "Almost Unreal" by Roxette, is a top 10 hit in the UK.

1988 Steven Tyler of Aerosmith gets married for the second time when he ties the knot with Teresa Barrick, in her hometown of Tulsa. The union lasts 17 years.

1988 George Michael's "One More Try" tops the Hot 100 for the first of three weeks.

1985 Colbie Caillat is born in Malibu, California.

1985 English radio broadcaster Roy Plomley, known for the long-running BBC Radio series Desert Island Discs, dies of pleurisy at age 71.

1983 Irene Cara's passion makes it happen: "Flashdance... What a Feeling" goes to #1 in America.

1983 "Candy Girl" by New Edition becomes the first UK #1 hit with a rap.

1981 Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five are the opening act for The Clash, who play the first of eight shows at Bond's in Times Square, New York (future home of Tower Records). The rappers are booed and assaulted with various projectiles as the crowd does not appreciate their act.

1980 Pop singer Mark Feehily (of Westlife) is born in Sligo, Ireland.

1978 David Cassidy is the guest star on an episode of NBC's TV show Police Story. He does so well that he is given his own show called David Cassidy: Man Undercover, which tanks hard.

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Steve Wozniak Buys the Most Expensive Backstage Pass in History

1983

Apple's Steve Wozniak hosts the second US Festival, intending it to be the "Super Bowl of rock." The lineup is even more impressive than that of its 1982 predecessor, and the attendance is substantially larger. Wozniak splurges on David Bowie with two million dollars of his own money, simply because he "really loves him."

The second US Festival kicks off in Glen Helen Regional Park in San Bernardino, California - same site as the first. The lineup slated to play is perhaps the most impressive in popular music history, but the buzz surrounding the event is mostly focused on the exorbitant amount of money being paid to Van Halen and David Bowie. Apple co-founder Wozniak, whose wealth creates a full blown existential crisis for anyone who hears of it, has decided to go for Bowie at the last minute. Bowie, who hasn't played America since 1978, is already in the midst of touring Europe for his album Let's Dance. He can only perform the US Festival by chartering a 747 to bring all his equipment to the show and then fly it back to Europe to continue his tour. This will cost $1.5 million. The problem is that US has already booked Van Halen, which has a "favored nation" clause in its contract, stipulating that no band can get paid more than they do (and also, no brown M&Ms). So, if Bowie gets $1.5, Van Halen is guaranteed at least that much. This means that, ultimately, Bowie costs Wozniak two million dollars, since Van Halen was slated to make a mere $1 million. It is not a prudent business decision on Wozniak's part; he simply loves Bowie. This leads event promoter Barry Fey to call Wozniak's bookings the "most expensive backstage pass in history." The whole situation stirs up a hornets' nest with another group on the bill: The Clash, who are getting paid a comparatively meager $500,000 to play. Ostensibly a punk band opposed to capitalism and greed, The Clash railed against this financial arrangement in the press for a week leading up to the event. Their rancor spills into their performance on opening day as they play angry and try to goad the audience into similar discontent. Fey, unwilling to concede to the Clash's complaints, puts a copy of their $500,000 paycheck up on one of the first jumbo screens used in a concert, for all the audience to see. The performance marks the last time Mick Jones ever performs with the group. Each day of the festival is themed by a musical genre: Day 1 is New Wave Day; Day 2 is Heavy Metal Day; Day 3 is Rock Day; and Day 4, held on June 4th a few days after the main festival slate, is Country Day. New Wave Day features the Divinyls, INXS, Wall of Voodoo, Oingo Boingo, The English Beat, A Flock of Seagulls, A Flock of Seagulls, Men at Work, and The Clash. The Stray Cats steal the show. The day will also be the last time that Stan Ridgway plays with Wall of Voodoo, and a breakout for INXS, a second stage act that earns an encore and lots of buzz. Their first American hit, "The One Thing," peaks at #30 the same day. Just as fears rise that the giant hair of New Wave Day cannot be outdone, Heavy Metal Day roars to the rescue, featuring Quiet Riot, Mötley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Triumph, Scorpions, and Van Halen. They rock righteously. Heads are banged. Despite the well-received performances, this day is remembered as the one when the audience turned ugly. With upwards of 300,000 fans at its peak (it is not a camp-in festival, so people commute in and out), violence breaks out. A Pomona man is beaten to death with a tire iron over a drug deal gone wrong. Another man dies of overdose. San Bernardino Sheriff Floyd Tidwell says, "It's an absolute zoo. This is a different kind of crowd than last year. They're more prone to violence and selling narcotics." It's a sad note for a festival that has built itself around the idea of unifying people through music and technology. Rock Day has Los Lobos, Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul, Berlin, Quarterflash, Missing Persons, a wee little Irish band named U2, The Pretenders, Joe Walsh, Stevie Nicks, and David Bowie, who takes the stage an hour and a half late but puts on a good show. Country Day comes on June 4. It features Thrasher Brothers, Ricky Skaggs, Hank Williams, Jr., Emmylou Harris & The Hot Band, Alabama, Waylon Jennings, Riders in the Sky, and Willie Nelson. Its poor attendance prompts Wozniak to tell the press that he will not do another US Festival. He eventually changes his mind and starts planning another in 2009, but it does not come to fruition, as he determines that he simply does not have the resources to do another US Festival. For whatever reason, despite its monster lineup, the second US Festival is largely forgotten by history, with only those children of the '80s who attended keeping the flame alive. In many ways, though, it is a historically significant cultural event, bridging the festivals of the '60s and early '70s with the festival rebirth that comes in the '90s. While far from profitable, it provides lasting memories for all who experience it, including Wozniak. "It's OK - a memory is good," Wozniak explains. "You don't have to redo the US Festival."

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