Today in rock history: On this date in 1980, hip hop pioneer Kurtis Blow became the very first rap artist to appear and perform on the weekly syndicated, R&B and soul-leaning, music program, Soul Train. As the tide was turning and rap music was starting to gain momentum, host Don Cornelius begrudgingly invited Blow to perform his unstoppable hit single “The Breaks,” which was riding high on sales charts at the time. During the interview segment, Cornelius admitted to Kurtis Blow that he didn’t really get the attraction to this new style of music that was emerging but, nonetheless, continued to feature hip-hop artists on the program as the genre continued to get bigger.
TODAY IN ROCK HISTORY
Remember when David Bowie ended up on Soul Train?
Today in rock history: On this date in 1968, famed bluegrass music duo Flatt & Scruggs performed at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco, California. At a time when the city was steeped in psychedelic music and counterculture, the idea to book the traditional act seemed unlikely at first but, the hippies in town flocked to the show and made the engagement incredibly successful. Bluegrass would influence Jerry Garcia from San Francisco’s top act, The Grateful Dead, immensely and he’d slowly incorporate that influence into the music of The Dead and into his own solo projects. Flatt & Scruggs was invited back to the venue to play again after this successful run and gained a brand new crop of fans with the exposure it received in San Francisco.
TODAY IN ROCK HISTORY
On this day in 1984, Depeche Mode tried to reel America in with People Are People
Today in rock history: On this date in 1982, British synth-pop band Depeche Mode released its second album, A Broken Frame. After the success of its debut album the year prior (the poppy, upbeat Speak & Spell) band founder and chief songwriter Vince Clarke left the band to form Yazoo with powerhouse, soulful singer Alison Moyet. Depeche Mode was left as a trio and the songwriting duties were left to Martin Gore. Gore rose to the occasion and wrote a batch of topical, catchy, danceable and reflective songs that made up this fine album. Singles from the album included the pop gem “See You,” “The Meaning of Love” and the DM classic, “Leave in Silence.” The album was a success in England, and at this crucial time in the band’s existence, Depeche Mode came out winners when the album peaked at No. 8 on English sales charts and eventually achieved gold sales status. From this point on, and right up to the present day, Gore remains the band’s primary songwriter and has continued to hone his craft as a clever, insightful and intricate lyricist and composer.
Today in rock history: On this date in 1994, Athens, Georgia rock band R.E.M. released its ninth album, the hugely successful Monster. The album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s pop albums chart upon its release and achieved the same enormous feat in several countries around the world. At the peak of the band’s popularity, the album went on to sell over 4 million copies in the U.S. alone and boasted several hit singles. Among them were “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?,” “Bang and Blame” and “Crush With Eyeliner.” The album prompted the band’s first major worldwide concert tour in over six years which was a success all over the globe. The album came after a particularly emotional time for the band; the track “Let Me In” was written with Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain in mind who’d recently passed away, and the entire album was dedicated to actor and musician River Phoenix, a personal friend of the band’s, who’d also died not long before the record’s release.