Today in rock history: On this date in 1967, folk hero and influential singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie passed away in New York, New York after a bout with Huntington's Chorea disease. A major influence on many folk and rock singers, most notably Bob Dylan, Woody is a musical hero and a major player in American folk music. Best-known for his classic song , “This Land Is Your Land,” Guthrie’s catalog is treasured and revered by fans and purists worldwide, and he will always be remembered as a major force in the realm of politically motivated songs and lyrics and as a highly influential songwriter.
Today in rock history: On this date in 1975, legendary rock and roll band The Who released its seventh solo album, The Who By Numbers. Famous for its dot-to-dot front cover artwork created by the band’s bassist, John Entwistle, the album was a rousing success in both the U.S. and England where it charted on the Top 10 of album sales charts in both regions. Singles from the favorably-reviewed record included the comical “Squeeze Box” and the hard-rocking “Slip Kid.” Other Who standouts from the album include “Blue, Red and Grey” and the personal, introspective ballad, “How Many Friends."
Today in rock history: On this date in 1983, former progressive rock band turned pop band Genesis released its 12th album. The self-titled album (often referred to as the “shapes album” in regard to the geometric shapes pictured on the cover) became one of the band’s most popular and best-selling albums thanks to the long list of singles that were released from it. Radio and MTV hits from the record included the paranoiac “Mama,” the melodic “That’s All,” and the rhythmic “Home By The Sea.” A No. 1 album in the band’s native England, the record also cracked the Top 10 in the United States and was a multi-platinum selling hit in both countries, helping to make Genesis one of the most successful pop bands of the 1980s after existing primarily as an arty prog band.
Today in rock history: On this date in 1992, Irish singer and songwriter Sinead O’Connor made television history when she tore a picture of the pope to shreds while performing live on weekly sketch comedy show, Saturday Night Live. In protest against the Catholic church, the singer performed a cover of “War,” originally recorded by reggae great Bob Marley and abruptly tore the picture, an act that took many audience members and home viewers by surprise. The act was met with outrage and horror. The NBC television studio was flooded with nearly 5,000 calls in protest of O’Conner’s act. Massive backlash and boycotts against Sinead began to occur and the act caused great damage to her still-rising success as one of the strongest and most emotive vocalists of the era. While the singer has never fully recovered from this act, commercially speaking, she’s continued to release albums throughout the years and has remained as outspoken as ever.