1955 - Johnny Cash releases "Folsom Prison Blues." Cash made prison reform his political cause of choice. "I don't see anything good come out of prison. You put them in like animals and tear out the souls and guts of them, and let them out worse than they went in."
The most famous line in this song, "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die," Cash said he wrote while "Trying to think of the worst reason for killing another person."
1956 - Elvis Presley gave his final performance on Louisiana Hayride, a live radio program (and later TV program) that was broadcast on KWKH in Shreveport, Louisiana. Horace Logan, the creator of the show, first made the now legendary phrase "Elvis has left the building".
1957 - Sammy Davis Jr. hosts a syndicated radio talk show with a round-table discussion of Rock 'n' Roll. His guests are Columbia Records executive Mitch Miller and MGM Records president Arnold Maxim. When Davis and Miller blast Rock 'n' Roll as "the comic books of music," Maxim takes an opposing viewpoint and says, "I don't see any end to Rock 'n' Roll in the near future."
1967 - The Who release their third album, The Who Sell Out. A tribute to pirate radio stations with fake radio jingles between songs. The concept peters out in the middle of side two, nonetheless, on strictly musical merits, it's a terrific set of songs that ultimately stands as one of the group's greatest achievements. Psychedelic pop was never as jubilant.
1969 -John Lennon and Yoko Ono launch the "War Is Over" campaign with billboards declaring peace around the world.
With the Vietnam War raging with no end in sight, John and Yoko make a bold statement, launching billboards in 11 major cities that say:
War Is Over
If You Want It
Love, John & Yoko
1975 - Parliament release their album Mothership Connection, which takes the George Clinton-led group into their own funky universe. Mothership Connection boasts a trio of hands-down classics -- "P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up)," "Mothership Connection (Star Child)," "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)" -- that are among the best to ever arise from the funk era, each sampled and interpolated time and time again by rap producers; in particular, Dr. Dre pays homage to the former two on The Chronic. The definitive Parliament-Funkadelic album. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
1977 - The Sex Pistols were refused entry into the USA two days before a scheduled NBC TV appearance. Johnny Rotten because of a drugs conviction, Paul Cook & Sid Vicious because of 'moral turpitude' and Steve Jones because of his criminal record.
1986 - At the Oakland Coliseum Arena, the Grateful Dead play their first concert since frontman Jerry Garcia slipped into a diabetic coma six months earlier. With Garcia's heath scare, it was unclear if the band would continue, but Garcia reassures fans with the opening number, "Touch Of Grey," as he sings, "I will get by. I will survive."
John Hammond, producer, A&R scout, was born on this day in 1910. Worked with Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Leonard Cohen, George Benson and Janis Joplin.
Max Yasgur, owner of the Woodstock farm where the 1969 festival was held, was born on this day in 1919. Many of Yasgur's neighbors turned against him after the festival, and he was no longer welcome at the town general store, but he never regretted his decision to allow the concert on his farm. In 1971, Yasgur sold the 600-acre (240 ha) farm, and moved to Marathon, Florida, where, a year and a half later, he died of a heart attack at the age of 53. He was given a full-page obituary in Rolling Stone magazine, one of the few non-musicians to have received such an honor.
Alan Freed, the DJ who coined the phrase "Rock and Roll", was born today in 1921. At the Cleveland radio station WJW, he becomes the first white disc jockey to play upbeat rhythm and blues records north of the Mason Dixon line. At the time, they are called "race" records, but Freed calls the music "rock and roll."
Cindy Birdsong of The Supremes is 83. Joined in 1968, when she replaced co-founding member Florence Ballard. Birdsong had previously been a member of Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles.
The Clash bassist Paul Simonon is 67.
Tim Reynolds of Dave Matthews Band is 65.
On This Day In Music History was sourced from This Day in Music, Allmusic, Song Facts and Wikipedia.