Today in rock history; Winter Haven's Gram Parsons dies, Simon and Garfunkel's historic Central Park concert and more

Chubby Checker finds a hit in "The Twist" and Linda Ronstadt releases her ninth album.

click to enlarge Gram Parsons publicity photo. - Reprise Records
Reprise Records
Gram Parsons publicity photo.

Today in rock history: on this date in 1973, Winter Haven, Florida native Gram Parsons passed away at the young age of 26 in Joshua Tree, California. Parsons had been a member of both The Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, is largely credited with fusing country music with rock and roll, and pioneered the country rock genre that would become so popular throughout the 1970s. Parsons was also a friend and regular collaborator with fellow country music singer Emmylou Harris. The catalog of music he left behind continues to inspire and will live on forever. Tampa's Gram Parson's hostel, Gram's Place, is named in his honor.

Today  in rock history: on this date in 1981, popular singing duo Simon and Garfunkel reunited after their breakup to stage a free benefit concert in New York City’s Central Park. All proceeds from the show went to the revitalization and maintenance of the park which had been long neglected due to a lack of city funding. The pair performed for more than 500,000 fans which proved just how popular the pair (which had split up more than 10 years prior to this event) still remained. The success of the show inspired Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel to go on tour together again but internal tensions flared again and they soon parted ways again after the tour had concluded. The show resulted in a multi-million selling live album recorded at the show as well as a home video release that captured the performance on tape. The double-album release cracked the Top 10 in several countries around the globe and has sold millions of copies worldwide as well.  Art Garfunkel is slated to appear in Clearwater in January. More information on the shows is available here.

Today in rock history: on this date in 1960, the popular dance hit by Chubby Checker, “The Twist” reached the NO, 1 spot on Billboard’s pop singles chart. The song was written by and originally released by R&B singer Hank Ballard in 1959 but it was Checker who made it a worldwide hit. The single would reach the no. 1 spot on the chart again in January of 1962, making it the first single in recorded music history to reach the top of the charts by the same artist on two separate occasions.

Today in rock history: on this date in 1978, pop singer Linda Ronstadt released her ninth studio album, Living In The USA. The record came at the height of the versatile singer’s career and was her third consecutive album to reach no. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 pop albums chart. This release also marked Linda’s sixth consecutive million selling album, a feat that was a true testament to her popularity throughout the 1970s. Hits from the album include the radio smashes “Just One Look”, a take on Smokey Robinson’s “Ooh Baby Baby” and the Chuck Berry-penned title track. The album cover depicted a photo of the singer wearing a satin jacket and roller skates and supposedly helped boost the sales and popularity of both of those items upon its release. The record shipped two million copies to record retailers, making it an instant double-platinum success even before its release date had occurred. This was the first time in record sales history that a single album by a solo artist shipped that many copies to fulfill advance orders.

About The Author

Gabe Echazabal

I was born on a Sunday Morning.I soon received The Gift of loving music.Through music, I Found A Reason for living.It was when I discovered rock and roll that I Was Beginning To See The Light.Because through music, I'm Set Free.It's always helped me keep my Head Held High.When I started dancing to that fine, fine...
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