Musings On Music History: Led Zep’s Last, Huey’s Big Hit, and System’s Phenomenal Singer

08.19: Led Zeppelin released their last album of original material, In Through The Out Door, on this day in 1979. Though not exactly a return to their earlier oeuvre, the album did contain some shining moments, such as “South Bound Suarez” and “All My Love.”  A year later, drummer John Bonham died after a day of heavy-drinking, and Led Zeppelin disbanded a short time later. Unlike a lot of bands who lose a founding member, Led Zeppelin realized, for reasons both personal and professional, that they did not want to go on as a band. There’s always talk of another reunion tour, as they’ve done intermittently since the group’s disbandment, but we’ll believe it when we see it. We’re just happy for the music they created and left for our hungry ears to devour. Rock on, fellas. Rock on.

08.20: They found a new drug, as Huey Lewis and the News get their first #1 hit with “The Power of Love,” from the Back To The Future soundtrack. We know, we know, it’s hard to believe that they didn’t have a #1 previous to Michael J. Fox’s intervention and influence and Huey’s star-making turn/cameo in said flick, but it’s true.

08.20: Good times, not bad times, came the way of Robert Plant’s family on this day in 1948, as the future singer of one of the best-selling rock bands of all time was born. If you said Bob was lead singer of Huey Lewis and the News, then you do not get a cookie, do not pass go, and go straight to jail. If you said he helped lead Led Zeppelin to the top of the rock world, then you’re a winner, winner chicken dinner. [more]

08.21: On this day in 1967, Serj Tankian was born. As lead singer and co-songwriter of ’90s standout metal band System Of A Down, Serj helped his band standout from the pack of nü-metal bands that emerged in the mid-’90s (Korn, Static X, Limp Bizkit), eschewing the basic song structures and limited lryics of bands (ahem, Limp Bizkit, we’re talking to you) with whom System was lumped. System really didn’t sound like anyone else, which is probably why people responded so strongly to their sound, espcially the metal riffs, Tankian’s singular vocals, the lyrics traded between Tankian and guitarist Daron Malakian, the odd time signatures and mid-song change-ups. Doesn’t sound like the makings of a hit band, does it? It worked insanely well for System Of A Down. Believe it.

08.23: On this day in 1962, John Lennon married Cynthia Powell, his first wife, in Liverpool after learning that she was pregnant with their one and only child, Julian. The couple divorced six years later when Yoko Ono entered the picture, eventually becoming his second wife. And, no, Yoko neither broke up John’s first marriage nor The Beatles. All of that happened for reasons way beyond any one person’s abilities.

08.23: Keith Moon, The Who’s drummer extraordinaire, entered the world on this day in 1946. During his short life (all of 32 years) he became, and is still considered, one of the best drummers in the music world. Just a teen when he joined the band, Moon played on all of The Who’s albums from 1965 to 1978, when Who Are You came out two weeks before his untimely death from a drug overdose. The candle that burns twice as bright….

08.24: On this day in 1981, Mark David Chapman, was sentenced to 20-years-to-life in prison for the insanity-fueled murder, on the sidewalk in front of the now-famed Dakota building, of John Lennon. Chapman will, very likely, not know freedom for a long while, as his parole has repeatedly been denied over and over, which is just fine with us.

08.24: On this day in 1994, Pearl Jam drummer Dave Abbruzzese quit the band to pursue the study of music. Having played drums on two of Pearl Jam’s best-selling albums, Vs. and Vitalogy, Abruzzese’s contributions to the ’90s rock catalog are still remembered to this very day.

08.24: Judas Priest was cleared of charges, during a civil lawsuit, that they’d inserted subliminal lyrics into one of their recordings that encouraged people to kill themselves, on this day in 1990. Later, Rob Halford stated that if they were going to insert subliminal lyrics, which they didn’t, it would more likely be along the lines of “buy more of our records.”

08.25: August 25th produced an eclectic bunch of rockers. In 1949, Gene Simmons’ tongue was born. Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford didn’t break any laws on his way to being born in 1951. And songwriter extraordinaire Elvis Costello was born in 1954. And yes, he borrowed his name from The King. His birth name is Declan Patrick MacManus, which doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue or scream “rock star,” so you can see why he might want to borrow the big guy’s name for his very own nom de plume.

08.25:On this day way back in 1970, Elton John sang to an American audience for the very first time. He went on to sing for a couple more people throughout his career, as you may or may not have heard. He might’ve sold some records, too.

08.25: In yet another example of a young performer dying before his or her time, R&B songstress Aaliyah, who had just released her third album to critical and commercial success, died in a plane crash in 2001, after filming a video in the Bahamas.

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