Today in rock history: on this date in 1968, renowned New Orleans-based pianist, singer and songwriter, Dr. John released his very first album. Gris-Gris was the first proper album to spotlight the accomplished musician who, to that point, had been known mostly as a session musician. The album is notable in that it magnificently blended the sounds of traditional New Orleans music with psychedelic-rock and space-rock. The combination made for a completely unique and extraordinary sound unlike anything that had been created before it. The album made little impact on sales charts; the label that released the record, Atco Records, had no idea how to market or promote the almost indescribable sound and the arrival of Dr. John. The record has since drawn praise and accolades from rock journalists who now marvel at Dr. John’s ability to create this masterful work so early in his career.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1968, Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin released her 14th studio album, the career-defining classic, Lady Soul. This stellar album was another No. 1 hit for Franklin as it went straight to the top of Billboard’s R&B album chart as well as climbing to No. 2 on the pop chart and No. 3 on the jazz chart simultaneously. Three top 10 pop hits hail from the record too: “Chain of Fools,” “(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone” and one of Aretha best known and most recognizable classics, the Carole King and Gerry Goffin-penned pop masterpiece, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Lady Soul is often regarded as one of the best soul albums of all time and certainly ranks among the very best of Aretha’s lengthy catalog.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1960, Michael Hutchence was born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. As a founder of Australian rock band INXS which would reach global success by the mid-1980s, Hutchence and his band mates started the band in the late 1970s and remained incredibly successful until Michael’s untimely death in 1997. Several hit albums along with a brief stint as an actor added to the magnetism and the mystique of Hutchence who was, for many, the absolute best and most engaging rock and roll frontman of his time.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1969, Neil Young, the debut, self-titled solo album from the Canadian rocker who’d just made his exit from California rock band, Buffalo Springfield was released. The album received mixed reviews at the time of its release and failed to chart or achieve any type of notable success. Neil Young himself was not happy with the sound or the production value of the record and was very vocal about it at the time. The record was soon remixed and re-released not long after its original release to appease Young. Although the album was not a huge seller, it featured Neil classics like “The Loner” and “I’ve Been Waiting For You,” a song that’s been covered by David Bowie, The Pixies and Dinosaur Jr. By May of 1969, Neil Young would release this album’s follow up, the immensely popular Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere which better represented his work and served as the introduction to Neil Young for many listeners and record buyers.