1973 - Gram Parsons, at only 26, died of an overdose. A member of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, he has attained legendary status in the Americana world in the years since. Gram Parsons is the father of country-rock. The songwriter pioneered the concept of a rock band playing country music, and as a solo artist he moved even further into the country realm, blending the two genres to the point that they became indistinguishable from each other. While he was alive, Parsons was a cult figure that never sold many records but influenced countless fellow musicians, from the Rolling Stones to the Byrds. In the years since his death, his stature has only grown, as numerous rock and country artists build on his small, but enormously influential, body of work.
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."
1985 - 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.
1987 - The Grateful Dead hit #10 on the US Hot 100 with "Touch Of Grey," the only "hit" song for the band. The song is about the band aging gracefully. According to Dead drummer Mickey Hart, Robert Hunter wrote the lyric as a pick-me-up. "When he wrote 'Touch Of Grey,' we were struggling," Hart said. "But it became an anthem to us. It perked us up."
When asked about the inspiration behind “Touch Of Grey,” Hunter told Rolling Stone “You know, I’ll give you the blistering truth about it. A friend brought over a hunk of very good cocaine. I stayed up all night. And at dawn I wrote that song. That was the last time I ever used cocaine. Nor had I used it for many years before that. Now I listen to it and it’s that attitude you get when you’ve been up all night speeding and you’re absolutely the dregs. I think I got it down in that song.
1991 - Michael Jackson was a guest voice on The Simpsons, where he played a mental patient Homer befriends named Leon Kompowski.
1993 - Pearl Jam released their second studio album, Vs. It's a much rawer, looser record than their debut Ten, feeling like a live performance; Vedder practically screams himself hoarse on a few songs. The band consciously strives for spontaneity, admirably pushing itself into new territory -- some numbers are decidedly punky, and there are also a couple of acoustic-driven ballads, which are well suited to Vedder's sonorous low register. Vs. may not reach the majestic heights of Ten, but at least half the record stands with Pearl Jam's best work. (Photo by Rob Loud/Getty Images)
Beatles manager Brian Epstein was born today in 1934.
Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers was born today in 1940.
(Mama) Cass Elliot of The Mamas and the Papas was born today in 1941.
Freda Payne, "Band Of Gold", is 80.
Singer songwriter, David Bromberg is 77.
Lol Creme, 10cc, Godley and Creme, is 75.
Producer and singer Daniel Lanois is 71. Produced albums for an array of artists, including Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, Neil Young, and Emmylou Harris, and for bands like U2 (notably The Joshua Tree).
Nile Rodgers of Chic is 70.
Lita Ford of The Runaways is 64.
Tegan and Sara Quin are 42.
On This Day In Music History was sourced from This Day in Music, Allmusic, Jambase, Song Facts and Wikipedia.