Today in rock history: on this date in 1982, the always unpredictable and surprising Neil Young released his 12th studio album, the electronic-heavy Trans. The record came at a time when Young was recording for the Geffen Records label and took plenty of artistic liberties with his music and his art. Trans was received negatively from the press and from longtime fans who weren’t ready for the legendary Canadian singer-songwriter to dive into electronic-based music. Most of the songs on the album featured Neil’s vocals augmented by a vocoder which gave his voice a futuristic, almost robotic quality. It was revealed that Young was highly influenced by the work of German electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk but that the true motivation behind this unique album was the ability to communicate with one of his children, Ben, who was born with cerebral palsy and was unable to speak. The controversial album alienated many of Young’s diehard fans but, over the years, has earned a cult following that admire the album and the chances Neil Young boldly took in creating it.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1946, singer and actress Marianne Faithfull — a friend of the Rolling Stones — was born in Hampstead, England. Being engaged in a serious romantic relationship with the band's lead singer Mick Jagger in the mid-1960s brought fame and attention to Faithfull, and he scored an early success with her recording of “As Tears Go By” which became an international hit that was synonymous with the “Swinging London” scene of the era. A series of hit records and film roles made Marianne a well-respected artist throughout the decade until bouts with drugs and addictions sidelined her for quite a while. She rebounded in the late 1970s with her superb comeback album Broken English and has released a steady string of strong, adventurous albums ever since. Marianne Faithfull is often regarded as one of the most important and significant female rock and roll singers to emerge in the 1960s.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1980, American folk rock singer-songwriter Tim Hardin died as a result of a heroin overdose. Besides the many albums Hardin released on his own, he’s probably best known for a pair of songs he wrote that have both been covered by a slew of other artists. His folk classic “If I Were A Carpenter” has been recorded by artists like Johnny Cash, Robert Plant, The Four Tops and Bobby Darin while “Reason To Believe” gave Rod Stewart a worldwide hit early in his solo career. Hardin has earned indie-rock cred, too, with artists like Okkervil River, Damon and Naomi and Mark Lanegan recording versions of his songs over the years. Tim Hardin was 39 years old at the time of his death.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1966, American guitar wizard Jimi Hendrix made his television debut in England when he appeared on the popular music television show Top Of The Pops for the very first time. Hendrix had gone to England in search of fame at the suggestion of Chas Chandler, bassist for the popular British rock band The Animals, who was serving as Jimi’s manager at the time. Hendrix and his newly formed band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, arrived at the television studio just after 9 a.m. on the morning of the telecast to rehearse and were beamed live later that evening when the band performed its new single, “Hey Joe” for an unsuspecting English television audience. In no time, Jimi became a major star in England and similar fame and fortune came to him soon in his native America in the coming months.