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1956 - Johnny Cash records "I Walk The Line" at Sun Studio in Memphis. His label boss, Sam Phillips, has him speed up the tempo, which is a good call: The song becomes Cash's first #1 Country hit.

1967 - Steve Winwood leaves The Spencer Davis Group to form Traffic with Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood and Dave Mason. Early on they turned out out eclectic pop singles, gradually leaning towards extended songs that gave its players room to improvise in a jazz-like manner, even as the rhythms maintained a rock structure.

1977 - Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album hits #1 in America for the first time. It spends an astonishing 31 (non-consecutive) weeks at the top spot. Eavesdropping on bandmates singing painful truths about each other, wallowing in their grief, all in the presence of the person who caused the heartache, turns out to be a very popular pastime.

1991 - Lenny Kravitz releases his sophomore album, Mama Said. While a bit more polished than Let Love Rule, it's essentially a seamless record, with all of its classic rock homages so carefully produced that it sounds as if it could have been released in 1972. Includes the Hendrix meets Sly Stone "Always On the Run" (Slash gets a co-write) and the hit "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over," a plea for reconciliation to his soon-to-be ex-wife, actress Lisa Bonet.

2014 - Recordings by U2, ('The Joshua Tree'), the Everly Brothers, ('Cathy's Clown'), Jeff Buckley, ('Hallelujah'), Linda Ronstadt, ('Heart Like a Wheel') and Creedence Clearwater Revival ('Fortunate Son') were among those newly selected for induction into the Library of Congress National Recording Registry.


Serge Gainsbourg was born today in 1928. Serge Gainsbourg was the dirty old man of popular music; a French singer/songwriter and provocateur notorious for his voracious appetite for alcohol, cigarettes, and women, his scandalous, taboo-shattering output made him a legend in Europe but only a cult figure in America, where his lone hit "Je T'Aime...Moi Non Plus" stalled on the pop charts -- fittingly enough -- at number 69.

Dr. Demento is 83. He was born Barret Hansen, being the proud owner of a Master's degree in music from UCLA under that moniker, but he's far better known to millions of radio listeners as Doctor Demento. In 1995, he celebrated his 25th anniversary of broadcasting the greatest novelty records of all time, both new and old. In that time, he's elevated the novelty record -- in all its myriad styles -- to a high trash culture art form. He's made hits out of 40-year-old records that no one had ever played, and was singularly responsible for the success of "Weird Al" Yankovic, whose song parodies debuted on his show.

Marvin Gaye was born on this day in 1939. Few figures in American music in the 20th century can compare to Marvin Gaye. As a singer, he was without peer, possessing a silky voice that could sound either angelic or seductive or, on his biggest hit "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," positively haunted. As a songwriter, he was equally skilled at writing with an eye for the charts and mining the depths of his heart, a combination that created many of the enduring classics of his era.

He harnessed gospel and cabaret to create the exuberant uptown sound of Motown in the early '60s, but he changed with his turbulent times, pushing pop-R&B into the realms of soul by the end of the decade. As the 1970s dawned, Gaye grappled with social protest on What's Going On, the 1971 album that found the singer/songwriter charting his own idiosyncratic course.

Gaye's legacy resonated over the decades -- he was a touchstone for soul and pop music that was either sensual or political -- but his early death leaves hanging the question of what he could've achieved if he were alive. During his two decades as a recording artist, he already accomplished more than most artists do in a lifetime.(Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

Leon Russell was born today in 1942. The ultimate rock & roll session man, Leon Russell's long and storied career included collaborations with a virtual who's who of music icons spanning from Jerry Lee Lewis to Phil Spector to the Rolling Stones. A similar eclecticism and scope also surfaced in his solo work, which couched his charmingly gravelly voice in a rustic yet rich swamp pop fusion of country, blues, and gospel.

Emmylou Harris is 77. She is blessed with a crystalline voice, a remarkable gift for phrasing, and a restless creative spirit. She traveled a singular artistic path, proudly carrying the torch of "cosmic American music" passed down by her mentor, Gram Parsons, which made a mark on both country and rock. While she's released an amazing amount of critically acclaimed albums, she's always open to collaborations, recording albums with Mark Knopfler, Dolly Parton & Linda Ronstadt, and Rodney Crowell.


1987 - Drummer Buddy Rich dies at age 69. When it came to technique, speed, power, and the ability to put together incredible drum solos, Buddy Rich lived up to the billing of "the world's greatest drummer." Although some other drummers were more innovative, in reality none were in his league even during the early days.

2003 - Soul singer Edwin Starr died at age 61. Rightly revered for the storming protest classic "War," Edwin Starr didn't really need another hit to achieve legendary status in soul circles, so electrifying was that single performance. Even if nothing else ever matched the phenomenon of "War," Starr had several Top Ten hits on the R&B charts over the late '60s and early '70s, and also enjoyed a brief renaissance during the disco era.

On This Day In Music History was sourced, curated, copied, pasted, edited, and occasionally woven together with my own crude prose, from This Day in Music, Music This Day, Allmusic, Song Facts and Wikipedia.


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