Today in rock history: On this date in 1982, an album that would eventually become the best-selling LP of all time was released. Following in the footsteps of his previous smash album (1979’s Off The Wall) Michael Jackson once again elected to work with ace producer Quincy Jones for the creation of a collection of songs that crossed genres and styles on the way to breaking every record that previously existed in terms of record sales. Occupying the No. 1 spot for most of 1983 and into 1984, the record has, to date, sold 66 million copies worldwide. Producing seven hit singles that all landed in the Top 10 of Billboard’s pop singles charts, Thriller was a cultural phenomenon whose videos received plenty of exposure on MTV thanks to the way they appealed to record buyers of all ages, races and nationalities. The album made Michael Jackson the single most recognizable and popular musical artist of the 1980s and also earned him a record eight Grammy awards. Classic singles from the effort included “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “P.Y.T.” and, of course, the title track, which was made into an epic, 14-minute music video.
Today in rock history: On this date in 1953, psychedelic soul,funk and R&B musician Shuggie Otis was born in Los Angeles, California. The son of rock and roll and rhythm and blues musician and bandleader Johnny Otis, Shuggie was born Johnny Alexander Veliotes, Jr. but given the nickname Shuggie as a baby. A genre-bending and accomplished musician, Otis is known for writing the psychedelic soul tune “Strawberry Letter 23” which, when covered by funk act The Brothers Johnson in 1977, went all the way to No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B chart. Shuggie, always a critical favorite for both his guitar playing and his vocal style, has released a string of strong albums, but his 1974 release, Inspiration Information, is usually regarded as his finest work. Otis’ work has been sampled by a variety of modern day hip-hop artists, and his body of work is still held in high regard to this day. Still musically active, Shuggie released a new album, Inter-Fusion, in early 2018.
Today in rock history: On this date in 1963, With the Beatles, the second album from the Fab Four, became the very first million-selling album in England by a rock band. With Beatlemania at its height in the band’s native country, there was no stopping The Beatles, and the LP topped British sales charts for 21 straight weeks. Prior to that, the band's debut, Please Please Me, occupied the No. 1 spot for 30 weeks, and the combined run meant that The Beatles sat at No. 1 for almost an entire year.
Today in rock history: On this date in 1929, radio and television personality Dick Clark was born in Mount Vernon, New York. Nicknamed the “World’s Oldest Teenager,” Clark is known primarily for hosting the weekly television musical program American Bandstand, which helped launch the careers of many recording acts on the way to becoming an integral part of the weekly musical menu for teenagers across the country. Hosting the program in the mid-1950s for a regional Philadelphia-based station, the show was picked up by the ABC television network the following year and broadcast nationally until its end in 1989. Hosting numerous musical artists throughout his time as the show’s host, Clark also brought the program’s prior all-white policy to an end to ensure that all recording artists were welcomed on the program. Clark — who passed away in 2012 at the age of 82 — was also a longtime host of television game show Pyramid and also created the annual year-end program Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, which naturally hosted a variety of musical acts performing before and after the world famous ball-drop in New York City’s Times Square.