Today in rock history: on this date in 1974, British heavy metal band Judas Priest released its very first album, Rocka Rolla. Released to very little fanfare, the band had not yet found its footing and hadn’t developed into the leather-clad metal icons they’d later become. The record consists of some material that dates back to the days before the band had welcomed ferocious lead singer Rob Halford into the fold. Halford would lead the band to superstardom thanks to his soaring vocal abilities and his penchant for writing bone crushing metal anthems. The 1974 model of Judas Priest found the band delving more into blues-inspired hard rock and wearing clothing more associated with flower power hippies than leather gods. Although the album failed to make any waves on sales charts and it features no hit singles, it set the stage for its follow-up album, 1976’s Sad Wings Of Destiny, the album on which the band started to carve out its sound and brought them a first taste of recognition as a heavy metal force to be reckoned with.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1975, after scoring 13 top 40 hit singles, pop country singer and renown guitarist Glen Campbell finally hit the no. 1 spot on Billboard’s pop singles chart with his monster hit, “Rhinestone Cowboy.” The song had already topped the publication’s country and easy listening charts but proved to be Campbell’s biggest hit of all time when it reached the coveted top spot on the pop chart. The song was the inspiration for the Dolly Parton/Sylvester Stallone’s 1984 comedic film Rhinestone and has been covered by artists like Radiohead, Soul Asylum and Belle and Sebastian. The song almost instantly became Campbell’s signature song and, despite being nominated for several Grammys (that it wouldn’t win) upon its release, it became the best-selling country music single of 1975.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1986, British female pop trio Bananarama sailed into the no. 1 spot on U.S. singles chart with their remake of the 1970 hit “Venus” originally recorded by Dutch rock band, Shocking Blue. The song was already a regular part of Bananarama’s live concert repertoire but when the time came to record and release the song, they ladies were met with stern opposition from their record producers. Arguing that the song would not make for a viable, commercial dance hit, the group argued with producers and eventually went forward with its idea with a brand new production team. The song went on to be the group’s best performing single around the world, reaching the no. 1 spot in Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Mexico, and South Africa besides cracking the Top 10 in just about every other country around the globe. The song was also reached the no. 1 spot on U.S. dance charts and received plenty of airtime on music video channel, MTV.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1943, Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters was born in Surrey, England. Forming the psychedelic band in 1965 with lead singer and creative force Syd Barrett, Waters took over songwriting duties upon Barrett’s departure soon after the release of the band’s debut album in 1967 and became the leader of the band who’d soon reach astronomical levels of popularity by the early 1970s. Still in the throes of a successful solo career since his departure from the band in 1985, Waters has released plenty of well-received solo albums including his most recent critically acclaimed release, 2017’s Is This the Life We Really Want?. The tour in support of the album (which stopped at Tampa's Amalie Arena in July) has proven to be one of the most lauded and best-grossing tours of recent years proving that, at age 74, Roger Waters is still a rock and roll force to be reckoned with.