11 October

Pick a Day

11 OCTOBER

In Music History

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2018 Kanye West, an ardent supporter of Donald Trump, visits the White House, where he delivers a rambling, 10-minute monologue as the President looks on.More

2018 The Music Modernization Act is passed into law, clarifying how artists, songwriters and producers are compensated for music played on streaming services, online radio, and satellite radio. It also grants royalties for songs written before 1972.

2016 Rod Stewart is knighted at Buckingham Palace, becoming Sir Roderick David Stewart.

2013 Lady Gaga makes her movie debut playing shape-shifting assassin La Camaleon in the Robert Rodriguez action-crime flick Machete Kills.

2011 George "Mojo" Buford (harmonica player for Muddy Waters's band) dies after a long illness in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at age 81.

2006 Singer Justin Hawkins announces that he has left British band The Darkness to continue his drug rehabilitation.

1999 The City of Miami, under threat of legal action from the American Civil Liberties Union and Havana Caliente Records, allows Cuban dance band Los Van Van to perform at the James L. Knight Center.

1999 Debbie Rowe, Michael Jackson's second wife, files for divorce. She was a nurse at the office of Jackson's plastic surgeon.

1997 Gregg Allman, Bo Diddley, Keb'Mo', Buddy Guy and John Hiatt are among the musicians who perform at a tribute to Muddy Waters at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

1997 On the UK albums chart, it's battling Britpop as The Verve's Urban Hymns knocks Oasis' Be Here Now out of #1.

1992 Rapper and reality star Cardi B is born Belcalis Almanzar in Edgewater, New Jersey.

1992 Amy Grant and her songwriter husband Gary Chapman have their third child: Sarah Cannon.

1988 Sarah McLachlan releases her debut album, Touch, through Nettwerk Records. The album would be re-mixed and re-released the following year.

1976 Donna Summer's Four Seasons Of Love concept album is released.

1975 Neil Sedaka's "Bad Blood," with backup vocals by Elton John, hits #1 for the first of three weeks.

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Saturday Night Live Debuts With Lots Of Music

1975

Saturday Night - a title later changed to Saturday Night Live - makes its debut on NBC. Music is a big part of the show, and the first episode features two musical guests performing two songs each: Janis Ian doing "At Seventeen" and "In the Winter," and Billy Preston playing "Nothing from Nothing" and "Fancy Lady."


The second episode is hosted by a musician: Paul Simon. He reunites with Art Garfunkel during the show, one of many music history moments that would be made on the 30 Rock stage. Simon's episode, which also features Randy Newman and Phoebe Snow, is more musical variety than sketch comedy. The Not Ready For Prime Time Players, including Chevy Chase and John Belushi, get more airtime on later episodes, but music gets its due. Season 1 performers include transgressive singers like Gil Scott-Heron and Patti Smith, but also pop stars like ABBA and Neil Sedaka, an eclectic mix of popularity and credibility.

'70s guests include luminaries like Chuck Berry, Linda Ronstadt, Brian Wilson, Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson. They don't snag The Beatles, but they get pretty close: In a 1976 episode, executive producer Lorne Michaels goes on camera with a check for $3,000, which he offers the group if they'll swing by. John Lennon and Paul McCartney are watching from Lennon's apartment in New York City and consider the offer, but decide to pass it up.

The first musician to go off-script on the air is Elvis Costello, who snubs his record company by stopping his performance of his latest single, "Less Than Zero," and launching into an unreleased song called "Radio Radio." This kind of antic gets you banned from the show and labelled a loose cannon, but other daring musicians are willing to risk it. In 1980, James Brown won't stop performing, so they have to cut to commercial; in 1981, Prince throws down the microphone and yells "f--k." But the most controversial incident belongs to Sinéad O'Connor, who tears up a picture of the Pope in 1992. Costello and Prince are welcomed back decades later; O'Connor and Brown are not.

SNL often features politicians, who don't always mesh with the musical guests. In 1996, Rage Against The Machine is kicked off the show after their first number when they try to hang upside-down American flags on their amplifiers as a counterweight to host Steve Forbes, a billionaire running for President. But the most polarizing politician to host the show is Donald Trump, whose November 7, 2015 appearance comes at a time when his presidential bid still seems like a long-shot. The musical guest is Sia, who makes no overt protest but declines his request to take a picture. When Trump takes office, he blasts the show, which blasts him back with an unflattering portrayal by Alec Baldwin. Bucking the anti-Trump sentiment, Kanye West, granted a third song on the 2018 season premiere episode, performs wearing a hat with Trump's campaign slogan (Make America Great Again) and then breaks into a rant professing his support: "If someone inspires me and I connect with them, I don't have to believe in all they policies."

Not every memorable musical moment is political: Steve Martin's "King Tut" becomes a hit in 1978 when he does the Egyptian-themed number on the show; Paul Simon debuts "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes" in 1986 with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the group he discovered in Apartheid-torn South Africa. In 2017, a week after a shooting at his festival performance in Las Vegas and five days after Tom Petty's death, Jason Aldean hits the right note by performing "I Won't Back Down" to open the show.

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