Today in rock history: On this date in 1945, the quintessential British glam/art-rock crooner Bryan Ferry was born in Washington, County Durham, England. Fronting the unique, highly original and influential band Roxy Music, Ferry quickly gained notoriety for being the stylish, suave, debonair frontman for one of the most successful bands of the early 1970s glam rock movement. Soon after the Roxy Music's formation, Ferry began recording solo albums and achieved success with those releases as well. Always expanding his repertoire, Ferry has dabbled in jazz and big band music and has always put his own spin on cover versions of popular songs he’s covered throughout his career. Still recording and touring to this day, Ferry celebrates his 73rd birthday today.
Today in rock history: On this date in 1972, Massachusetts-based, R&B influenced rock and roll band J. Geils Band released its first live concert album, Live Full House. Recorded in Detroit, Michigan, a city that warmly embraced the band from its beginnings, the record hinted at the band’s incredible live abilities and onstage firepower. Containing super-charged renditions of songs originally recorded by artists like The Contours, Bobby Womack and John Lee Hooker, Live Full House helped the band continue to build a steadily-climbing group of fans and followers who supported the group throughout its entire tenure. The first of the band’s three live concert albums is often cited as one of the best live concert albums ever released, and the band’s version of “Looking For a Love” — a song originally recorded by Bobby Womack’s first band, The Valentinos — enjoyed nationwide radio airplay and helped raise the band’s reputation as one of the best live bands in America.
Today in rock history: On this date in 2011, the massive, deluxe box set Complete from leading 1980s indie-rock band The Smiths was released. Available in a variety of formats, the biggest and most impressive of the sets included vinyl versions of the band’s eight album releases, their CD counterparts, 25 replicated 7-inch singles and a DVD. The band’s four studio albums, one live album and three compilation albums were all remastered by lead guitarist and co-songwriter Johnny Marr who worked meticulously to get the recordings to sound and more fresh and vibrant than earlier pressings did. Released in standalone CD or LP formats as well, Complete was eagerly awaited and anticipated by the band’s longtime, devout fans who’d clamored for a set of this magnitude for a long time. The massive, deluxe set was only pressed as an edition of 4,000 copies worldwide, it sold-out almost instantly and now goes for prices as high as $2,000 dollars in collector's markets as opposed to the $500 price tag it carried upon its initial release.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1974, former Beatle John Lennon released his fifth solo album, the highly successful Walls and Bridges. The album rose all the way to No. 1 on Billboard’s pop albums chart in America and featured two hit singles; “#9 Dream” which, ironically, peaked at No. 9 on U.S. singles charts as well as “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night,” Lennon’s very first No. 1 solo hit which featured superstar musician Elton John on backing vocals. Recorded and released during a particularly difficult time in Lennon’s life that was characterized by a split from his wife Yoko Ono, the album was favorably reviewed and was seen as one of Lennon’s strongest and most consistent solo albums. It also proved to be Lennon’s last collection of original material until his final album, 1980’s Double Fantasy was released. Depicting some of Lennon’s childhood drawings on a front cover that was cleverly designed with pop-art inspired folding flaps, Walls and Bridges was one of the late singer's most ambitious and personal albums of his career. (Editor's note: It's also important to remember that Lennon is one of those musicians we all seem to worship despite his overuse of drugs or history of physically abusing his first wife Cynthia and mentally abusing his oldest son Julian.)