Today in rock history: On this date in 1975, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run” tour kicked off at the Palace Theater in Providence, Rhode Island. Although the album the tour was supporting was still a month away from being released, the tour embarked early in anticipation of what Springsteen’s record label felt would be his breakthrough record. After two solid but poorly selling, albums, hopes were high that Bruce’s third album would be the one that would make him a star. The label was right. This concert is notable in that it marked the very first live performance of “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,” a song that would appear on the Born to Run album and also become a staple in Springsteen’s live shows for many years to come. Also noteworthy is the fact that this concert was the very first to feature Steven Van Zandt as part of the E Street Band.
Today in rock history: On this date in 1965, what’s often referred to as the most important and acclaimed single in rock and roll history was released. Bob Dylan’s classic “Like A Rolling Stone” started a musical revolution; lyrically, musically and aesthetically, the song changed the landscape of popular music. Bob’s record label was as reluctant to release a six-minute song as a single, as popular radio stations were to play it. At a time when pop songs came nowhere near that length, the sheer brilliance of this game-changing record was too grand to go unnoticed. “Like A Rolling Stone” climbed as high as No. 2 on Billboard’s pop charts, which served as a true testament of the magnitude of this song. Although Dylan was having a hard time conceiving a proper arrangement for the song during recording sessions, it was the decision to make it an electric rocker that proved to be the key element in creating this milestone recording. Paired with Al Kooper’s inventive, driving organ work throughout the song, “Like A Rolling Stone” is, without a doubt, the defining record that ushered in the precise moment when pop music shifted from lightweight fodder to an art form. Deemed the greatest rock song of all time in a list by Rolling Stone magazine, “Like A Rolling Stone” is still as vital, powerful and defining today as it was when released 53 years ago.
Today in rock history: On this date in 1956, drummer Paul Cook was born in Shepherd’s Bush, London, England. A childhood friend of guitarist Steve Jones, the pair, along with a third member, formed a band called The Strand that eventually morphed into the most notorious and controversial of all the British punk rock bands of the 1970s, The Sex Pistols. A skilled drummer and a focal point of the Pistols with his blond, spiky locks, Cook was the quintessential punk-rock drummer of the era. Often seen mockingly wearing a ripped Pink Floyd T-shirt with the words “I Hate” scrawled above the band’s moniker, Cook was as mischievous and outspoken as any of his bandmates. Joining forces again with Steve Jones after the demise of the Pistols, the pair formed The Professionals, a no-nonsense, red-hot rock band that packed plenty of firepower. Playing with and appearing on a host of different records throughout his career, Cook is also responsible for the discovery of the 1980s all-female singing group Bananarama and produced that group’s debut single.
Today in rock history: On this date in 1976, The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein, the fifth album by funk heavyweights Parliament was released. Following in the outer space motif adopted on its previous record, Mothership Connection, the band led by musical pioneer George Clinton forged a sound and a feel that was just as unique and unprecedented as its look. The album is notable in that it features horn arrangements by the great Fred Wesley, formerly an integral part of James Brown’s backing band. The classic lineup of Parliament, featuring Bernie Worrell and Bootsy Collins, is in fine form on this funk gem. Two singles were released from the album: “Do That Stuff” and “Dr. Funkenstein,” which both charted respectably on R&B singles charts. It was the second Parliament record to achieve gold sales status, and the group was one of the most outrageous and fascinating bands to see perform live at the time, as well as being capable of packing a dance floor whenever one of its records were played.