Today in rock history: On this date in 1980, Pink Floyd bought a massive billboard on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. The intriguing and wise marketing scheme involved the billboard being covered up, slowly, one day at a time, as part of promotion for the band’s blockbuster double-LP, The Wall. It worked, and the album remains one of the best-selling rock albums ever.
Today in rock history: On this date in 1947, one of the wittiest and cleverest songwriters of his era, Warren Zevon, was born in Chicago, Illinois. He began releasing albums in 1969, but became most prolific in the mid-1970s when he released a steady string of fantastic, critically lauded albums. Although his contemporaries and plenty of rock journalists held Zevon in high regard, he only began to get noticed thanks to songs 70s hitmaker Linda Ronstadt recorded. Among the Zevon compositions Ronstadt covered include the radio hit “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” plus album cuts “Carmelita,” “Mohammed’s Radio” and “Hasten Down the Wind.” Zevon did score his own cult hit with “Werewolves in London” from 1978’s outstanding Excitable Boy album. Sadly, Zevon passed away at the age of 56 in 2003 as a result of cancer.
Today in rock history: On this date in 1941, singer-songwriter Neil Diamond was born in Brooklyn, New York. Diamond was primarily known as a songwriter in his early years thanks to his role at the Brill Building where other greats like Carole King and Burt Bacharach got their starts. Composing tunes that were turned into massive hits by ‘60s pop band The Monkees, Diamond achieved his own success with an early single “Solitary Man.” More momentum arrived thanks to hits like “Sweet Caroline,” “I Am…I Said,” “Cracklin’ Rosie” and his duet with Barbra Streisand, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” Diamond turns 78 today and last played Tampa in April 2017.
Today in rock history: On this date in 1980, Adam Ant lost his backing band. After listening to the guidance of Sex Pistols advisor Malcolm McLaren, Ant took his music in a new direction by flirting with tribal rhythms and experimenting with pounding, hypnotic Burundi drum beats. The Ants’ new image and sound made their previous punk sound feel outdated and stale. The band seemed poised for success, but McLaren pulled the rug out from Ant by asking the backing band to leave its frontman. McLaren eventually turned the defectors into Bow Wow Wow, which competed with Ant’s band for attention. Still, a redesigned version of The Ants went on to enormous success in the U.K. and scored several No. 1 albums and singles.