Today in rock history: on this date in 1986, country rock innovator Steve Earle released his very first album, Guitar Town. Like a breath of fresh air in country music, Earle delivered a debut record that showed off his straightforward approach and his vast songwriting talents. A surprise hit, Earle’s rough and rugged, rock-influenced sound helped take his first effort all the way to the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s country albums chart not long after its release. Garnering Earle two Grammy nominations, the record helped put Earle on the music map and began his long tenure as a respected singer-songwriter which continues to date. Besides the title track, which was popular on country radio and landed in the top 10 on the country singles chart, the album also featured the additional hit singles “ Goodbye’s All We Got Left” and “Someday.” Read a review of Earle's recent Clearwater set below.
PRETTY F****IN' COUNTRY
Review: In Clearwater, Steve Earle delivers for a sold-out Capitol Theatre
Today in rock history: on this date in 2002, celebrated Gainesville, Florida punk rock band Against Me! released its debut album, Against Me! Is Reinventing Axl Rose. After releasing a series of EP’s that attracted plenty of local attention for the Florida-based band, its first full-length album received unanimous positive accolades from rock critics and publications nationwide. Released on Florida independent record label No Idea, the album contained selections that had previously been released on some of the band’s earlier EPs but were re-recorded for their inclusion on the album. A huge milestone for the band which favored acoustic instruments and songs, the exposure the band received as a result of this initial full-length album was enormous. By 2007, the band would be signed to major label Sire Records and would continue to be an important, groundbreaking band. Read our interview with guitarist James Bowman here.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1951, what’s greatly recognized as being the very first rock and roll record was recorded. “Rocket 88,” a song written about an automobile, the Oldsmobile Rocket 88, was recorded at Memphis Recording Service in Memphis, Tennessee with producer Sam Phillips who’d later go on to found the legendary record label, Sun Records. “Rocket 88” was an upbeat mix of swing and jazz which, in retrospect, when combined, formed the roots of the style that would later become labeled rock and roll. The song was released on Chicago-based blues label Chess Records and was credited to a group named Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats. In actuality, the group was called Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm which was led by the musician who’d become better known later through the records he’d release with this then wife, Tina Turner. Jackie Brenston was actually the saxophone player in the band but got the nod to sing lead vocals on the track. Brenston also received sole songwriting credit on this now-historic record although it was Ike Turner who actually penned the tune. The song was released as a single in April of 1951 and rose to No. 1 on Billboard’s rhythm and blues charts by June of ’51.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1971, Led Zeppelin kicked off a short tour titled the “Thank You” tour that found the band, which was already incredibly popular worldwide, revisiting the small clubs who booked them as a new band on their way to the top. On the first night of the tour in Belfast, Ireland, the band performed, for the first time, a song it had just recently finished writing but hadn’t yet recorded. “Stairway to Heaven,” which would become one of the most popular rock and roll songs of all time and certainly one of Led Zeppelin’s most recognizable songs, was played for the very first time before becoming a regular part of the band’s regular live set for every show it would ever perform until its very last concert in 1980. The audience present at Ulster Hall, the Irish concert venue where this landmark performance took place was reportedly not impressed with the long song and felt that it was too much of a ballad from the band from which they’d come to expect to rock harder.