Today in rock history: On this date in 1958, upon arrival in England for a highly anticipated tour of the country, rocker Jerry Lee Lewis shocked the British press when it was learned he’d married a 13-year old girl who happened to also be his first cousin once removed. Arriving at London’s Heathrow airport, reporters and members of the press greeted Lewis and were eager to speak to him about the lengthy tour he had lined up. One of the reporters asked a young girl who was part of Lewis’s entourage who she was and she replied that she was Jerry Lee Lewis’s wife. The news caused a furor in the country and many of the shows that had been scheduled were suddenly cancelled. His first few shows were poorly attended and consisted mostly only of people who’d come to boo him and make their disapproval known. Lewis (who was 22 years old at the time) and his child bride left England after only a week and returned to the U.S. only to be greeted by more outrage and shock. Jerry Lee Lewis was blacklisted instantly and a red-hot career that boasted rock classics like “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” never fully recovered. Lewis and his cousin Myra were married for thirteen years and divorced in 1970.
On this date in 1967, after battling its record label for the opportunity to play its own instruments and write its own songs, made-for-TV band The Monkees succeeded and released a third album, Headquarters. Forbidden from playing on the band's first two albums, the band, consisting of accomplished musicians Peter Tork, Mike Nesmith and former child star Davy Jones (who’d already had a prior recording career before joining The Monkees), prevailed and were granted more creative control. Headquarters reached the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s pop albums charts in America and went on to sell over 2 million copies in the U.S. alone. The album featured songs regularly played on the group’s weekly sitcom including “You Just May Be the One,” “Shades of Gray” and “For Pete’s Sake,” which became the show’s closing theme for its second season on the air.
On this date in 1980, singer, actress and former lead vocalist for the best-selling girl group of all time, The Supremes, Diana Ross, released her tenth and most successful solo album to date. Diana was a unprecedented success for Ross, who’d enlisted the talents of Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards — the masterminds behind dance/funk group Chic — to handle songwriting duties as well as production of the record. The record featured the megahits “Upside Down” and “I’m Coming Out,” which returned Diana to regular radio airplay on both pop and R&B playlists. Another single, “My Old Piano,” was a hit as well. Ross's return to sales charts and radio airwaves saw Diana reach No. 2 on the U.S. pop albums chart and sold over 10 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling solo album of Ross' long career. “I’m Coming Out” has been adopted as an anthem for the LGBT movement and remains one of Diana’s most recognizable and danceable songs.
On this date in 1990, masterful hip-hop duo Eric B & Rakim released a third album, Let the Rhythm Hit ’Em. Although the record didn’t produce singles that would chart as highly as those from the first two albums, the record was nonetheless received and reviewed extremely well. Considered a fan favorite and often regarded as the duo’s most consistent album, Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em found Eric B & Rakim covering more serious and topical subject matter. Three singles were released from the record, its title track, “In The Ghetto” and “Mahogany,” and although they made minimal impact on sales charts, the songs helped catapult this record to prestigious status and to being regarded as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time.