Today in rock history: on this date in 1977, ex-New York Dolls guitarist, singer and songwriter Johnny Thunders released his one and only album with his post-Dolls outfit, The Heartbreakers. The band had been trying to land a recording contract here in the States since the mid-1970s to no avail; after being invited to England to tour with Sex Pistols and The Clash, the band landed a deal with the Track Records label. The tour, however, fell through thanks to the Pistols’ usage of profanity on live British television, resulting in live gig cancellations. Nonetheless, Thunders and the Heartbreakers made the most of their time in England and recorded their one and only album, the classic L.A.M.F. while overseas. The title is an acronym Thunders had seen as scrawled graffiti throughout New York City (standing for “Like a mother f**cker”) and, although the sound quality of the record has always been criticized for being lackluster and not fully capturing the rawness of the band, the record is nonetheless an important piece of punk rock history created by none other than Johnny Thunders, one of the key players who was instrumental in influencing the genre with his former band.
Video Premiere: Sleeping Pills shares a clip for “Forever” from new LP, A Maze In A Wave
Celebrating its 40th anniversary today, this incendiary record contains Thunders classics like “One Track Mind,” “Born To Lose” and “Chinese Rocks,” a song written by ex-Heartbreaker Richard Hell and bassist Dee Dee Ramone from the Ramones who also recorded its own version of this very song on its 1980 album, End Of The Century. A Bay area artist, Sleeping Pills' Phil Taylor, recently professed his adoration of Thunders — read more about that here.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1977, British symphonic pop group Electric Light Orchestra released its seventh studio album, the 2-LP set, “Out Of The Blue.” The record was ELO’s best-selling album of all time, topping sales figures of over ten million copies worldwide. The deluxe, lavishly packaged LP contained the hits “Sweet Talkin’ Woman,” “Mr. Blue Sky” and “Turn To Stone” which were all big radio hits in both the U.S. and the band’s native U.K. The album peaked at no. 4 on sales charts in both regions and proved to be the most successful release of the band’s catalog. In the days of striking album artwork and art design, the record came packaged with a large foldout poster of the band inside as well as with a cardboard cutout of the space station pictured on the front cover.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1988, Rolling Stones founder, guitarist and songwriter Keith Richards released his first solo album, Talk Is Cheap. After featuring on lead vocal duties on a cut or two on many Stones albums, fans were ready for Richards to step out on his own and deliver a full length album of solo work. And what they got was a rousing, blues-inspired, successful album that more than elated most fans of the successful band. Featuring an all-star cast of musicians including longtime Stones collaborators saxophonist Bobby Keys and keyboardist Chuck Leavell, the record received high marks and praise from rock journalists who felt the sound and the rawness of the record suggested what the Stones had been lacking for a long time. The band Richards assembled for the project, The X-Pensive Winos, toured behind the record to great reviews and followed up the album with a raucous live record to document the tour. Featuring the minor hit single “Take It So Hard,” the album cracked the Top 30 on American sales charts and also achieved gold status with sales topping the 500,000 mark.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1949, guitarist, singer, producer and songwriter Lindsey Buckingham was born in Palo Alto, California. After a brief stint as a pop/rock duo with then girlfriend Stevie Nicks, and with one self-titled album released in 1973 to their credit, Buckingham was personally invited to join longtime British blues/pop band Fleetwood Mac along with Nicks. After the pair joined the Mac team, they helped the band enter the most successful and productive era of their lineup. By bringing their penchant for writing hit songs and their amazing vocal abilities, they helped the established band achieve incredibly successful heights like its 1977 album Rumors, one of the best-selling rock albums of all time, would reach. On this very date in 1981, Buckingham also released his very first solo album, Law and Order. Lindsay’s first solo outing did well; it made Billboard’s Top 40 on album charts and featured a Top 10 single, the dreamy pop hit “Trouble” which featured Mac founder Mick Fleetwood’s sturdy drum work on it. Buckingham will play Ruth Eckerd Hall with Christie McVie on Nov. 9. — more info on the show is available here.
Born on this date in 1938 in Albert Lea, Minnesota: the late great rockabilly hero, Eddie Cochran. Responsible for hits like “Summertime Blues” and “Somethin’ Else,” the young rocker passed away at the age of 21 in an auto accident. His music and his attitude have influenced many musical artists including The Who, Brian Setzer, Joan Jett and Sid Vicious who all covered his material long after his untimely passing. Never to be forgotten.
Born on this date in 1954 in Dallas, Texas: one of the greatest blues/rock singers and guitarists to ever live, the great Stevie Ray Vaughan. Stevie had the uncanny ability to blend the two genres and make commercially viable and successful music while doing so. His steady string of hit records and his amazing guitar work made him as loved and revered by fans of traditional blues as by rock and roll purists. Passing away at the age of 35 in 1990 in a plane accident, Vaughan showed the music world a small fraction of what he was capable of within a very short time. From his work on David Bowie’s 1983 hit album “Let’s Dance,” through his stupendous debut album “Texas Flood” (released that same year), it was obvious from the beginning that Vaughan was no ordinary player. The small yet highly important body of work he recorded throughout his all too short career is still respected and revered to this date.