Musings On Music History: The Stones Rock The Web, Jacko Is Wacko, and The Jukebox Is Born

11.18: On this day in 1994, The Rolling Stones became the first band to broadcast a streaming concert over that fandangled Interweb thingamajig. Heralding the coming of a new dawn, the Age of Aquarius became a distant memory, as the computers, thanks to Mick and the boys, quickly learned how to rock and, subsequently, took over Earth. Bow to your rockin’ computer overlords!

11.18: On this day in 1962, Kirk Hammet was born. Originally one of the co-founders of San Francisco Bay-area thrash metal band Exodus, Hammet would, in 1983, take over lead guitar duties in an up-and-coming L.A. metal band going by the distinctly metal name of Metallica, when Dave Mustaine was kicked out (supposedly for being abusive and a drunk) just before the recording of their first album (Kill ‘Em All). And the rest is history. For all intents and purposes, Hammet is the only lead guitar player on all of Metallica’s recorded material. Though Mustaine would later complain about how Hammet merely played the guitar licks that’d been written before he came on board, there is no doubt that Hammet is an excellent guitar player, helping the band slowly build their fanbase one album at a time, from early masterpieces (Ride The Lightning & Master Of Puppets) to chart breakthroughs (…And Justice For All & Metallica).  [more]

11.19: 2002 saw one of the most bizarre megastar behaviors in the recorded history of megastar behaviors when Michael Jackson, a parody of both his former self and a human, dangled his baby boy, Michael Prince II, over the balcony, to the horror of onlookers and paparazzi alike, of his Berlin hotel room on this day. Your guess is as good as ours as to what, exactly, rambled through Mr. Jackson’s brain at that very moment. Some people say drugs. Some say his mind never evolved beyond his childhood. Some think he was just crazy. Whatever. Jacko never disappointed, that’s for sure. In our minds, Off The Wall and Thriller represent two of the best albums, in any genre, of all time. Michael, your insanity and problems could never take those albums from us. We still shake our collective heads and wonder what happened, as we listen to the awesomeness that is “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Something.”

11.20: On this day in 1965, Mike D’s mom rocked the sure shot when the rapper was born. One of the beastliest of the Beastie Boys (actually, they’re all fairly beastly), Mike D started making music in ’79 as part of a punk outfit called The Young Aborigines, opening for hardcore and punk legends such as Bad Brains, Misfits, and The Dead Kennedys. Eventually changing their name to The Beastie Boys, shedding two of the founding members, adding Adam Yauch (MCA) and Adam Horowitz (Ad-Rock) , and jumping into the emerging world of hip-hop, the group became one of the most well-known in the world, transcending their early party rap personas to become full-fledged and well-deserved hip-hop superstars. Still rockin’ and rappin’ to this day, Mike D’s mom must be proud. Happy, happy, joy, joy!

11.21: On this day in 1965, Bjork brought her chillingly original vocal stylings, complete and utter beat-up-a-reporter-at-the-airport-insanity, knack for fowl fashion, and amazing musical talent into the world. From the Sugarcubes to the solo stuff, Bjork exudes originality and musicality, never afraid to try something new or do just what no one expects. She’s one of a kind, for sure.

11.22: INXS, the Aussie megagroup, lost its lead singer, Michael Hutchence, on this day in 1997. Found dead in his hotel room in Sydney, on the eve of launching the homecoming leg of their world tour, the coroner ruled his death a suicide, but many around him believe otherwise. Found nude with a belt lying nearby, some claim that he died during a botched sex act, as a suicide note never surfaced and he’d previously given no indication of being suicidal. However, alcohol, cocaine, Prozac and other prescription drugs were found in his bloodstream during his autopsy. This, coupled with a bitter custody battle, a history of depression, and an album, Elegantly Wasted, that went nowhere, may have been enough to push him over the edge. We’ll never know. We just know that we love “New Sensation” and “Devil Inside” like they were our own children. Viva la 1987!

11.22: On this day in 1978, Karen O was born. Karen who, you ask? Karen O, lead singer and songwriter extraordinaire for one of the best new rock bands of the early 21st century, Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Coming on the heels of the garage rock revival of the late 1990s, Yeah Yeah Yeahs took that genre, mixed it up with art rock punk, ala Talking Heads, and threw in a nice dash of ’80s alternative rock, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the heyday of U2, R.E.M., and The Pixies. Okay, maybe we go a little too far with that description, but that just goes to show how much we absolutely dig Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Karen O’s participation in each and every one of their endeavors. Happy birthday, Ms. O!

11.23: How’s this item for ya? The first jukebox saw the light of day (well, actually, the light of the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco) and the ears of many people on this day in 18-friggin-89. Whoa. Let’s all say that together. 1889. Long, long ago, by any standard, even wars of the stars. Called the “nickel-in-the-slot” player, it consisted of a phonograph housed in a wood cabinet, with four “stethoscope-like” tubes attached to it. Insert a nickel (over a $1 at today’s prices) and you and three of your closest, or not-so-closest, friends could listen to whatever record sat on the phonograph. We’re not really sure (we guess we could look it up, but we’re feeling lazy right now) what type of music influenced the youth of that day to rebel and dance and get footloose, but the first jukebox swept the country, taking over the market carved by the player piano. What a crazy world it must have been.

11.24: On this day in 1991, the music world lost the greatest frontman in the history of rock. Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen, passed away after his battle with the AIDS. Fueled by his gaunt appearance the years previous, media outlets (UK gossip rags, mostly) persisted in hounding the singer about his positive/negative status, throwing rumors about as they are prone to do. On Nov. 23, 1991, one day before his death, Mercury released a statement to the press stating that he was, indeed, as they’d conjectured for years, HIV positive, but he had not released this information, until then, in order to protect those around him from the unrelenting media attention that would’ve ensued. Bad enough that the paparazzi hounded him without knowing his status, but had they known, the scrutiny would’ve been tenfold. As the chief songwriter, along with Brian May, for Queen, Mercury penned the stadium anthem “We Are The Champions,” the rockabilly goodness that is “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” and probably the best singalong ditty ever conceived, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” This guy had it. He defined it. He was it. A consummate showman, four octave singer, and all-around awesome guy, Mercury’s death left a black hole in the rock universe.