Today in rock history: On this date in 1933, commanding soul singer Joe Tex was born in Rogers, Texas. Born Joseph Arrington, Jr., Tex began his career in the mid-1950s when he was signed to King Records. The record label is most remembered for having the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, on its roster, but Brown incidentally became embroiled in a bitter rivalry with Tex at the time. Although Tex recorded several singles throughout the 1950s, success didn’t come until 1964 when his first major hit single, “Hold What You’ve Got,” got him noticed. Joe Tex became known for delving into a variety of styles and combining soul, gospel and rhythm and blues to create his own blend of Southern-flavored music. More hits came later, most notably “I Gotcha,” a song that became well-known to a whole generation of young listeners after film director Quentin Tarantino used it in his 1992 film, Reservoir Dogs. That single was Tex’s biggest hit of his career and sold more than 2 million copies in 1971 when it was released. Tex scored a hit during the disco era as well when his dance hit “"Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)" became a dance club smash. Tex passed away at the age of 49 in 1982 as a result of a heart attack. Tex has been nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame several times, but, sadly, has yet to be inducted.
Today in rock history: On this date in 1964, Bob Dylan released his fourth album, Another Side of Bob Dylan. Following the success of his previous album, the socially conscious The Times They Are a-Changin’ (released in January 1964), this follow-up release didn’t fare quite as well on sales charts. Less politically motivated than its successor, Another Side of Bob Dylan received some backlash from critics who felt that Dylan was starting to lose his edge and his relevance. Performed solely by Bob, the record features Dylan on acoustic guitar, harmonica and piano only and features some of his strongest and most poignant compositions like “Chimes of Freedom” (which would later be covered by The Byrds as well as by Bruce Springsteen), “All I Really Want to Do” and “It Ain’t Me Babe.” Climbing just above the Top 40 on Billboard’s pop albums chart, the record was a much bigger success in England where it reached to Top 10 on sales charts in that country. In retrospect, the album has been regarded in much higher esteem than it was when originally released, and it eventually went on to achieve gold sales status. Dylan just announced an October 20 date at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater — details on the show are available here.
Today in rock history: On this date in 1995, the quirky and infectious self-titled debut album by North Carolina-based band Ben Folds Five was released. The unconventional album featured the band (which was actually just a trio) playing a variety of instruments with guitar conspicuously absent. Released on a small, independent record label, the album earned scores of positive reviews and got the band noticed in the press. Following its success, several major record labels became involved in a bidding war to land Ben Folds Five on their respective rosters. Five singles were released from the record, but it achieved no chart success. Described by an array of descriptions like jazz-influenced pop or cabaret pop, the band, led by pianist, singer and chief lyricist Ben Folds, and this debut album helped the band attract a loyal, dedicated fan base which stuck by them for many years to follow.
Today in rock history: On this date in 1988, California-based gangsta rap group N.W.A. released its groundbreaking debut album, Straight Outta Compton. Its brutal honesty and unapologetic messages turned heads and caused an uproar. The outspoken group included hip-hop luminaries Dr Dre, Ice Cube and the late Eazy-E, who went on to redefine the role and the significance of rap music on the way to becoming catalysts in the longevity and social significance of hip-hop music. Without the aid of any radio airplay or a concert tour, the album went on to sell more than 3 million copies and earned an undeniable place in the history of hip-hop. Singles from the album included “Express Yourself” and the title track, but it was the song “F**k The Police” that achieved the greatest amount of notoriety and inspired shock and horror among the group’s many detractors and critics. Regarded as one of the cornerstones of hip-hop music, Straight Outta Compton celebrates its 30th anniversary today and remains as socially relevant and hard-hitting as it was when originally released.