This Week in Music History
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This Week in Music History: Strat Torched…Beatles Butchered…Beach Boys Banned…Tweedy Weaned

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The Events That Rocked Music—The Week of March 31

1949: RCA introduces the first 45-rpm record…the first little disc with a donut hole is “Texarkana Baby” by country & western singer Eddy Arnold; it’s made with green vinyl as part of an early attempt to color code singles according to their music genre: red for classical music and yellow for children's songs, etc.…the scheme doesn’t last and most later 45s are released in plain old black…

1956: following Elvis Presley’s show at the San Diego Arena, the city’s police chief vows that the singer will be arrested for disorderly conduct if he ever plays the town again…

1958: Chuck Berry's “Johnny B. Goode” single is released… it will peak at No.8 on the chart…the song's original lyrics referred to Johnny as a "colored boy," but Berry later acknowledges he changed it to "country boy" to ensure radio play…rock ‘n’ roll may be here to stay but America still loves its crooners...Johnny Mathis’ Greatest Hits album hits the charts this week and there it will stay for a record 490 weeks...

1961: The Beatles begin a three-month stay at a Hamburg joint called The Top Ten Club…the future Fab Four play 92 straight nights—seven hours on weeknights and eight hours on weekends with 15-minute breaks between sets…aside from building their endurance, the lads’ future hairstyles are set when Stu Sutcliffe’s German girlfriend gives him a memorable haircut…

1963: Portland’s The Kingsmen record “Louie Louie” in a local studio after paying a $36 fee for the Saturday-morning session…Paul Revere & The Raiders record their version in the same studio …who recorded it first is a matter of contention…it becomes a garage-rock classic…

1966: At a London photo session, The Beatles pose in white butcher smocks and are draped with pieces of meat and decapitated doll parts for the cover of their next American album, Yesterday…and Today…after advance copies are sent to disc jockeys and reviewers, negative reaction to the cover photo is so strong Capitol recalls 750,000 copies from distributors to replace the cover…a more conventional cover “slick” is applied over the offending image on many of those copies leading to usually muffed attempts by fans to peel off the later cover…original “Butcher” covers command huge prices today…

1967: Jimi Hendrix sets his Strat on fire for the first time while playing The Astoria in London…it’s the first night of a 24-date tour with The Walker Brothers, Cat Stevens, and improbably, cheesemaster Engelbert Humperdinck…the partially charred guitar will sell for £280,000 at a 2008 London auction of rock memorabilia…

1968: Pink Floyd co-founder Syd Barrett leaves the band...Barrett’s mental instability, exacerbated by heavy drug use, has become so severe he can no longer function…

1969: Bruce Springsteen along with his band, Child, make their performing debut at the Pandemonium Club in Wanamassa, New Jersey…

1970: As an April Fool’s gag, John Lennon and Yoko Ono issue a press release stating that they’ll be undergoing dual sex-change operations…a publicity junket goes seriously awry when Brinsley Schwarz’s PR firm flies 133 British journalists to New York to cover the band’s performance at a Fillmore East gig opening for Van Morrison…due to visa snags the band arrives hours before the show and delivers a lackluster set… meanwhile the plane with the journalists aboard has mechanical troubles and they arrive unhappy and hung over…the reviews are unflattering…

1971: After her show at L.A.’s Troubadour club, singer-songwriter Carly Simon is introduced to James Taylor…she finds him not so vain and they marry the following year…

1977: Fleetwood Mac’s LP Rumours hits the top of the album sales chart…one of the biggest-selling LPs of all time, it’ll move more than 45 million copies around the world…

1983: U.S. Interior Secretary James Watt bans the Beach Boys from performing at the 4th of July celebration on the Washington Mall offering the rationale that rock ‘n’ roll bands attract the wrong element...two days later President Reagan overturns the goof-ball decision and personally invites the Beach Boys to perform…

1984: Soul singer Marvin Gaye is shot to death by his father at his parents’ L.A. home…the shooting occurs when Gaye attempts to intervene in a fight between his parents…Marvin Sr. is initially charged with murder, but charges are dropped when it’s revealed he has a brain tumor…

1985: David Lee Roth quits Van Halen…he’ll be replaced with Sammy Hagar…the single “We Are The World” featuring a huge roster of pop stars is aired simultaneously on more than 5,000 radio stations worldwide…proceeds from the #1 seller benefit the charity USA for Africa…

1990: Eric Clapton is fined £300 with £10 costs after being stopped for speeding at 105 mph; Slow Hand’s license is suspended for three months…

1993: In a memorable appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman, potty-mouthed Madonna is persistently bleeped by the network…Madge also hands Letterman a pair of her panties, which he promptly stuffs in his desk drawer…

1994: Kurt Cobain commits suicide by shooting himself in the head at his home in Seattle.…the body is found four days later by an electrician who had arrived to install a security system… a suicide note reads, "I haven't felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music, along with really writing…for too many years now"… a high concentration of heroin and traces of Valium are found in the Nirvana frontman’s body…

1995: Tejano pop star Selena is murdered by the president of her fan club when confronted over embezzled funds…

1997: Joni Mitchell is reunited with Kilauren Gibb, the daughter she gave up for adoption 32 years earlier…

1998: Wendy O. Williams of the Plasmatics dies in a wooded area near her home in Storrs, Connecticut of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head…she had been working as an animal rehabilitator, nursing sick and hurt wild animals back to health…"I don't believe that people should take their own lives without deep and thoughtful reflection over a considerable period of time," reads her suicide note. "I do believe strongly, however, that the right to do so is one of the most fundamental rights that anyone in a free society should have. For me much of the world makes no sense, but my feelings about what I am doing ring loud and clear to an inner ear and a place where there is no self, only calm."…she was 48 years old.

2001: Whitney Houston and husband Bobby Brown are banned for life from L.A.’s Hotel Bel-Air after trashing their suite…a TV is smashed, two doors ripped off their hinges, and the walls and carpets are stained…it takes five days to repair the damages…Mariah Carey signs a recording deal with Virgin for $100 million; the richest music contract ever …

2004: Jeff Tweedy of Wilco checks himself into a Chicago rehab facility to be weaned from addictive pain meds he uses to deal with chronic migraine headaches...he emerges 26 days later proclaiming it is “the most beautiful thing I’ve ever done”...

2005: Death Row Records boss Marion "Suge" Knight is ordered to pay $107 million to a woman who claims she helped found the label in 1989…Lydia Harris says she invested in Death Row, but was pushed out by Knight…a year later he will file for bankruptcy…

2006: A John Lennon schoolbook containing the 12-year-old's drawing of Lewis Carroll's poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter” is sold at auction for $239,000…the poem was the inspiration for The Beatles' 1967 song “I Am the Walrus”… a ship's log written by Lennon during a stormy trip to Bermuda in 1980 is also auctioned for $23,000…Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” becomes the first single to top the charts strictly on the basis of download sales…

2007: when a Swedish couple attempt to name their baby Metallica, officials refuse to register the birth saying the name is “inappropriate”…Swedish law requires official approval of birth names…

2008: Jay-Z and Beyoncé Knowles form popdom’s premier power couple when they get hitched in a private ceremony at his New York crib… the nuptials are attended by Coldplay frontman Chris Martin and wife Gwyneth Paltrow as well as Beyoncé’s former bandmates in Destiny's Child, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams…It’s official: iTunes is the world’s biggest record retailer after overtaking Walmart…the online service has moved more than four billion downloaded songs since going live in 2003…

2011: A memorial in tribute to Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain is unveiled in his hometown of Aberdeen, Washington on the 17th anniversary of his death… designed by local artists Kim and Lora Malakoff, the statue features Cobain’s Fender “Jag-Stang” guitar…

2012: Jim Marshall whose amps served up the raw power that fueled countless rock and metal acts dies in a London hospice at 88…the roar of Marshall amps and cabinets has become the default backline sound of modern rock styles…

2013: A signed copy of The Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band sells at a Dallas auction for $290,500…the price is far higher than the $30,00 estimated value of the rare LP, a UK Parlophone version with high-gloss cover and vinyl gatefold sleeve…Mark Knopfler pulls the plug on two June shows in Russia in protest of the government’s ransacking the offices of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International…

This Week’s Births

March 31: blues pianist “Big Maceo” Merriweather (1905), Texas blues great Lightnin Hopkins (1912), songwriter John D. Loudermilk (1934), trumpeter and A&M Records chief Herb Alpert (1937), Al Nichol of The Turtles (1946), Jon-Jon Poulos, drummer for The Buckinghams (1948), vocalist/keyboardist/flutist for Dutch group Focus Thijs van Leer (1948), Sean Hooper of Huey Lewis and the News (1953), session drummer and co-founder of Toto Jeff Porcaro (1954), Paul Ferguson of Killing Joke (1958), Dennis Boon of The Minutemen (1958), rapper Tony Yayo of G-Unit (1978), Fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff (1984)

April 1: classic 1920 blues singer Alberta Hunter (1895), ragtime composer Scott Joplin (1917), influential jump blues pianist and bandleader Amos Milburn (1927), pop singer/actress Debbie Reynolds (1932), Rudolph Isley of The Isley Brothers (1939), Alan Blakely of The Tremeloes (1942), Phil Margo of The Tokens (1942), John Barbata of Jefferson Starship (1945), Small Faces bassist Ronnie Lane (1948), reggae singer Jimmy Cliff (1948), Lindisfarne guitarist Simon Cowe (1948), Ultravox keyboardist Billy Currie (1952), Scottish pop singer Susan Boyle (1962), Karen Woodward of Bananarama (1963), Throwing Muses bassist Leslie Langston (1965), Clifford Smith aka Method Man of Wu-Tang Clan (1971), Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum (1986)

April 2: Chicago blues sax player J.T. Brown (1910), Marvin Gaye (1939), rock pianist and bandleader Leon Russell (1941), jazz guitarist (Larry Coryell (1943), Kurt Winter of The Guess Who? (1946), singer-songwriter Emmylou Harris (1947), Lynyrd Skynyrd bassist Leon Wilkeson (1952), The Cars’ David Robinson (1953), Tony Brock of The Babys (1954), neo-soul singer Gregory Abbott (1956), Maroon 5 keyboards player Jesse Carmichael (1979), rapper Jasiel A. Robinson, (Yung Joc) (1983)

April 3: pop singer/acrtress Doris Day (1924), country singer Don Gibson (1928), influential James Brown funk guitarist Jimmy “Chank” Nolen (1934), master of the B3 Jimmy McGriff (1936), jazz bassist Scott LaFaro (1936), Phillipe Wynne of The Spinners (1938), songwriter Jeff Barry (1939), Jan Berry of Jan and Dean (1941), Joe Canzano of The Duprees (1941), pop singer Billy Joe Royal (1942), Duprees lead vocalist Joey Vann 1943), guitarist, producer and songwriter Artie Traum (1943), pop singer Tony Orlando (1943), Fortunes singer and guitarist Barry Pritchard (1944), The Band's Richard Manuel (1945), Elton John bassist Dee Murray (1946), guitarist/singer-songwriter Richard Thompson (1949) Grand Funk's Mel Schacher (1951), Marshall Tucker Band guitarist Stuart Swanlund (1958), Mike Ness of Social Distortion (1962), Simon Raymonde of Cocteau Twins (1962), Criss Oliva of Savatage (1963), heavy metal singer Sebastian Bach (1968)

April 4: R&B singer-pianist Cecil Gant (1913), post-war electric blues titan Muddy Waters (1915), French pop singer and bad boy Serge Gainsbourg (1928), Nutmegs leader Leroy Griffin (1934) tenor saxman Stanley Turrentine (1934), Tune Weavers singer Margo Sylvia (1936), South African-born trumpeter Hugh Masekela (1938), Chicago soul singer Major Lance (1939), Knox Carnochan of The Vibrators (1945), Allman Brothers bassist Berry Oakley (1948), Dire Straits drummer Pick Withers (1948), Peter Haycock of Climax Blues Band (1952), Humble Pie's Jerry Shirley (1952), Thin Lizzy, Skid Row, Colosseum II guitarist Gary Moore (1952), Mick Mars of Motley Crue (1956), The Cardigans bassist Magnus Sveningsson (1972), Razorlight singer and guitarist Johnny Borrell (1980)

April 5: jazz drummer Stan levey (1926), Tony Williams of The Platters (1928), Fairport Convention's Dave Swarbrick (1941), David LaFlamme of It's a Beautiful Day (1941), Brit blues and rock vocalist Eric Burdon (1941), Judas Priest drummer Dave Holland (1948), ABBA singer Agnetha Faltskog (1950), Everett Morton of The English Beat (1951), Stan Ridgway of Wall of Voodoo (1954), Semisonic drummer Jacob Slichter (1961), Dream Theater's James LaBrie (1963), Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready (1966), producer and recording artist Pharrell Williams (1973)

April 6: rock star confidante Burneta “Bunny” Jones (1917), fat-toned harp player Big Walter Horton (1917), pop singer Gale Storm who successfully covered several black singer’s tunes with toned-down versions (1922), composer and pianist Andre Previn (1929), ukulele-playing pop peculiarity Tiny Tim ( 1930), Merle Haggard (1937), Tangerine Dream keyboard player Christopher Franke (1942), John Stax of the Pretty Things (1944), Tony Conner of Hot Chocolate (1947), Air Supply drummer Ralph Cooper (1951), guitarist Warren Haynes (1960), Stan Cullimore of The Housemartins (1962), Pixies singer-guitarist Frank Black (1965)

This Week’s Deaths

March 31:The Pastels lead singer Big Dee Irwin (1986) Kelly Isley of The Isley Brothers (1986), Selena (1995), singer Jeffrey Lee Pierce of The Gun Club (1996), Danish pop rocker Tommy Seebach (2003), jazz alto sax player Jackie McLean (2006)

April 1: songwriter Kurt Weill (1950), Marvin Gaye (1984), Sister Luc-Gabrielle AKA The Singing Nun (1985), drummer Nigel Preston of The Cult (1990), soul singer Jimmy Hughes (1997), Rozz Williams of Christian Death (1998), rock 'n' roll pioneer Jesse Stone (1999), Ted McCarty, pioneer Gibson guitar designer-inventor (2001), Zombies guitarist Paul Atkinson (2004),

April 2: jazz drummer Buddy Rich (1987), organist Joe Madison (1995) Rob Pilatus of the disgraced pop duo Milli Vanilli (1998), session guitarist Cliff White (1998), jazz reedman Bud Shank (2009), classical guitarist Rolando Valdes-Blain (2011)

April 3: jazz singer Sarah Vaughan (1990), Delta bluesman Roosevelt "Booba" Barnes (1996), session baritone sax man Alvin "Red" Tyler (1998), British songwriter Lionel Bart (1999), bluesman Lester “Big Daddy” Kinsey of The Kinsey Report (2001), electronic musician Frank Tovey of Fad Gadget (2002), Wonder Stuff drummer Martin Gilks (2006), hip-hop pioneer Wayne Frost known as Frosty Freeze (2008)

April 4: Kurt Cobain (1994)

April 5: soul singer Joe Hinton (1981), singer Bob Hite of Canned Heat (1981), Danny Rapp of Danny & the Juniors (1983), Atlantic Records co-founder Nesuhi Ertegun (1989), Memphis session guitarist Rick Harvey (1993), drummer Colin "Cozy" Powell (1998), Alice in Chains vocalist Layne Staley (2002). amp designer Jim Marshall (2012)

April 6: Elvis sound-alike Ral Donner (1984), session guitarist Edward Freche (1995), Plasmatics vocalist Wendy O. Williams (1998), country singer Tammy Wynette (1996), vibes player Red Norvo (1999), Niki Sullivan of The Crickets (2004), Lawrence Brown of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes (2008)

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