1999 The Dixie Chicks become the first country group to top the Billboard albums chart when Fly debuts at #1. More
1991 Michael Jackson is a guest voice on The Simpsons, where he plays a mental patient Homer befriends named Leon Kompowski.
1990 Eddie Vedder is selected as lead vocalist of what will become Pearl Jam after Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard and Mike McCready hear his demo tape where he added vocals to three instrumental tracks the band had recorded.
1984 At a whistle-stop in Hammonton, New Jersey, campaigning president Ronald Reagan praises singer Bruce Springsteen, saying: "America's future rests in a thousand dreams inside your hearts; it rests in the message of hope in songs so many young Americans admire: New Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen. And helping you make those dreams come true is what this job of mine is all about." This leads to widespread criticism in the press because Springsteen's recent hit, "Born In The U.S.A.," is in fact a bitter cry of outrage at how poorly the United States treats its veterans, which Reagan had apparently mistaken for a straight-forward patriotic anthem - an easy mistake to make if you listen to the chorus only and not the lyrics.
1973 Gram Parsons of The Byrds dies at age 26 after taking a shot of liquid morphine in his room at Joshua Tree Inn. Parsons had been recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, but relapsed during his trip to Joshua Tree National Park. "He was clean and took a strong shot," his friend Keith Richards says. "It's the one mistake you don't want to make."
1960 Chubby Checker's version of "The Twist" goes to #1 in America, while the original version by Hank Ballard & The Midnighters reaches its peak chart position of #28. Checker's version tops the chart again in 1962.
1952 Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers is born in New York City.
2014 James Blunt marries Sofia Wellesley, granddaughter of the 8th Duke of Wellington, at a private ceremony in Majorca, Spain.
2012 The Dave Matthews Band sees their album Away From the World debut at #1 on the Billboard albums chart. This continues the band's unbroken winning streak of six #1 albums on the Billboard 200.
2012 Fiona Apple is arrested when her tour bus is stopped in the West Texas town of Sierra Blanca, the same place where Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg were previously busted. Border patrol agents find four grams of hash on the bus, which Apple says is hers. She spends a night in jail before being released on bail.
2009 Roc Raida (of X-Ecutioners) dies of a heart attack at age 37, weeks after sustaining a Krav Maga-related injury.
2009 Arthur Ferrante, half of the piano-playing duo Ferrante and Teicher, dies at age 88.
2008 Ten years after getting arrested for lewd behavior in a Los Angeles public bathroom, George Michael is arrested on drug charges in a restroom north of London. "I want to apologize to my fans for screwing up again, and to promise them I'll sort myself out," the singer says. "And to say sorry to everybody else, just for boring them."
2006 Saxophonist Danny Flores (writer of The Champs' "Tequila") dies of complications from pneumonia at age 77.
2004 Country singer Skeeter Davis, known for the 1962 crossover hit "The End of the World," dies of breast cancer at age 72.
2003 Australian country singer Slim Dusty, real name David Gordon Kirkpatrick, dies of kidney and lung cancer at age 76.
2003 Jazz saxophonist Frank Lowe dies of lung cancer at age 60.
2003 A week after his death at the age of 71, country legend Johnny Cash is bestowed with artist, song and album of the year awards at the Americana Music Awards ceremony in Nashville. Cash wins Song of the Year for his cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" and Album of the Year for American IV: The Man Comes Around, the fourth in a series produced by Rick Rubin.
2000 It's "Kenny Chesney Day" in the singer's hometown of Luttrell, Tennessee. Chesney returns to Gibbs High School, where the faculty tells stories about his exploits.
Frank Zappa, John Denver and Dee Snider of Twisted Sister testify at a Senate hearing where the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) argue for a ratings system on music. The musicians explain that this is censorship, but the PMRC wins a victory and warning labels are ordered on albums containing explicit lyrics.
The battle over offensive song lyrics has been brewing for a while, but Johnny Cash never had to worry about legislative action when he sang about shooting a man in Reno just to watch him die, and Alice Cooper couldn't prompt a hearing even when he sang about necrophilia. It takes Prince and Madonna to bring the issue to the Senate floor. Spurred on by missives from the National Parent Teacher Association, Tipper Gore (wife of Senator Al Gore), Susan Baker (wife of Treasury Secretary James Baker) and Pam Howar (wife of construction bigwig Raymond Howar) form the PMRC in April 1985. Gore's moment of clarity comes when she hears her 11-year-old daughter listening to "Darling Nikki" by Prince; Baker is roused when she finds out her 7-year-old daughter has been listening to "Like A Virgin." They ask the RIAA for a rating system on albums similar to the one used in movies, but detailing the nature of the offending lyrics: "X" for sex "O" for occult "D/A" for drugs and alcohol "V" for violence This gets nowhere, so they instead push for one warning label affixed to any album with explicit lyrics. The group swells to 22 board members, all wives of legislators or other politically connected men. They get a Senate hearing where the three women and other members associated with the group make their case. Opposing them are Denver, Zappa and Snider, representing distinct realms of the musical landscape, but united in their resistance to government interference. Snider speaks of "how unfair the whole concept of lyrical interpretation and judgment can be and how many times this can amount to little more than character assassination." Defying stereotype, he is married with a 3-year-old son, a Christian, and doesn't touch drugs or alcohol. "Parents can thank the PMRC for reminding them that there is no substitute for parental guidance," he says. "But that is where the PMRC's job ends." Zappa is biting in his testimony. "Taken as a whole, the complete list of PMRC demands reads like an instruction manual for some sinister kind of toilet training program to house-break all composers and performers because of the lyrics of a few. Ladies, how dare you?" His argument isn't so much about the stickers, but where it will lead. "The establishment of a rating system, voluntary or otherwise, opens the door to an endless parade of moral quality control programs based on things certain Christians do not like." Denver charms the committee, which seems graced by his presence. Still, he is steadfast in opposing the measure. "An artist, I am opposed to any kind of a rating system, voluntarily or otherwise," he states. Denver explains that his song "Rocky Mountain High" has been misinterpreted as being about drug use, an example of how the listening experience varies by individual. On November 1, the RIAA, which represents the big record companies, agrees to voluntarily place stickers on albums with objectionable lyrics. The issue is far from settled; at first the stickers are small and used on very few albums. Since many retailers won't carry albums with the stickers, record companies use them sparingly. The tactic works for a while, but the PMRC continues to push, and different states and municipalities propose their own legislation that would limit the sale of albums with explicit lyrics. In 1990, the RIAA responds by changing the label to the bold black-and-white rectangle that reads, "Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics," and making sure that albums with offensive content get them. The stickers have a generally positive effect on sales, since most fans of metal and rap like to know they're getting something at least a little raunchy. "Clean" versions of these albums are issued to stores like Walmart that won't stock the stickered albums; to get the unabridged versions, you have to head to Tower Records, Musicland, or one of the other record stores willing to stock them, but they won't sell them to minors. Like cigarettes and lottery tickets, proof of age is now required to buy a dirty-version 2Pac album.
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