Music History Monday: April 7

Posted by Jeff Harris, April 7, 2014 10:35am | Post a Comment

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Born this day: April 7, 1915 - Iconic jazz vocalist/songwriter Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Harris in Philadelphia, PA). Happy Birthday to "Lady Day" on what would have been her 99th Birthday.

On this day in music history: April 7, 1967 - FM Underground radio is launched at KMPX 106.9 in San kmpx san franciscoFrancisco. Having grown tired of the grind of AM Top 40 radio, broadcasting legend DJ Tom Donahue, who will pioneer the free-form album rock radio format that puts the focus on rock album cuts rather than the tight and often restrictive Top 40 pop formatting that plays strictly hit singles. KMPX will broadcast from a studio at 50 Green Street in San Francisco's North Beach district. The station will both change the face of commercial radio and be instrumental in breaking new artists like Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, and Jimi Hendrix. However, Donahue's time at the station will last less than a year. Splitting his time between the San Francisco station and sister station KPPC in Pasadena, the strain of working both stations will cause the veteran DJ/Program Director's relationship with owner Leon Crosby to breakdown, leading to Donahue's ouster from the station. In a show of solidarity, the staff of KMPX will strike after Crosby replaces Donahue with Bob Prescott as PD. The strike will last for eight weeks, in which time Crosby will fire all of the original staff and replace them with DJ's mined from other stations around the country. Upset by what has transpired, a number of prominent rock musicians including The Grateful Dead and The Rolling Stones will ask KMPX to refrain from playing their music as a show of support for the deposed station workers. By May of 1968, Tom Donahue and several former KMPX staffers will be working at rival station KSAN (owned by Metromedia Broadcasting).

On this day in music history: April 7, 1973 - “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” by Vicki Lawrence hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks, peaking at #6 on the Adult Contemporary chart and #36 on the Country singles chart. Written by Bobby Russell, it is the biggest hit for the comedic actress and co-star of The Carol Burnett Show. The story song (about a murder in a small southern town and the man who is wrongly convicted and executed for it) is first offered to Cher. Her husband and manager Sonny Bono will turn it down, feeling it might offend her fans in the South. Lawrence who is married to songwriter Russell (“Honey,” “Little Green Apples”) at the time, thinks its a hit and will record it herself. The track is recorded in October of 1972 at United/Western Studios in Hollywood with producer Snuff Garrett (Cher, Gary Lewis & The Playboys), with the finished recording being completed in three hours. Released in November of 1972 by Bell Records, the single will lay dormant for a couple of months before finally charting. Entering the Hot 100 at #100 on February 10, 1973, it will climb to the top the chart eight weeks later. The song will have a long life after Vicki Lawrence's version falls off the chart. A number of other artists including Tanya Tucker and Reba McEntire will also cover the song. "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: April 7, 1978For You, the debut album by Prince, is released. Prince For YouProduced by Prince, it is recorded at The Record Plant in Sausalito, CA from October - December 1977. Signed to Warner Bros Records in 1977, the label will be the only one of several clamoring to sign the then 19-year-old musician, willing to allow him to produce himself and give him full creative control. Though the label will ask recording engineer and executive producer Tommy Vicari (George Duke) to keep close watch over the sessions. The album will be a virtual "one man show," with Prince playing all of the instruments and singing all of the vocals on his first album. He will also run way over budget during the sessions, spending more than double the amount of money advanced to him by Warner Bros. Though only a modest success upon its release, it will spin off two singles including "Soft And Wet" (#12 R&B, #92 Pop) and "Just As Long As We're Together" (#91 R&B). For You will peak at #21 on the Billboard R&B album chart and #163 on the Top 200.

On this day in music history: April 7, 1984 - "She's Strange" by Cameo hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for four weeks, also peaking at #47 on the Hot 100 on May 5, 1984. Written by Larry Blackmon, Charlie Singleton, Nathan Leftenant, and Tomi Jenkins, it is the first R&B chart-topper and first US pop chart single for the New York City-based R&B/Funk Band. Bandleader and drummer Larry Blackmon will come up with the initial idea for the song, recording a demo version with him playing drums and bass. The record will break new musical ground at the time, becoming one of the first R&B records to incorporating rap verses into the main fabric of the song. Released as the first single and title track to the band's tenth album, it continues their upward momentum and furthers their move toward mainstream pop success both in the US and in the UK where Cameo has nurtured an ever-increasing fanbase. The success of "She's Strange" will also drive the accompanying album to Gold status, becoming their sixth release to reach that sales plateau.

On this day in music history: April 7, 1987Whitesnake, the seventh album by Whitesnake is released. Produced by Mike Stone and Keith Olsen, it is recorded at Mountain Studios in Vancouver, BC, Canada and Goodnight LA Studios in Los Angeles from September 1985 - November 1986. The band will experience numerous setbacks before and after recording starts. Lead singer David Coverdale will suffer a serious sinus infection that will require surgery (for a deviated septum) and significant recovery time. Drummer Cozy Powell and Coverdale's working relationship will also become strained, leading to Powell leaving band. He will be replaced by veteran rock drummer Aynsley Dunbar (Journey, Jefferson Starship). Once recording gets underway again in August of 1986, there will be more changes along the way. They will bring in additional musicians including guitarist Adrian Vandenburg, who will eventually be asked to join the band. The album will become their most successful spinning off five singles including "Here I Go Again" (#1 Pop), "Is This Love" (#2 Pop), and "Still Of The Night" (#79 Pop), all of which will be supported with videos featuring David Coverdale's then girlfriend (later wife), actress Tawny Kitaen. The European and US releases of the album will differ from the former featuring a different running order and two additional tracks ("Looking for Love" and "You're Gonna Break My Heart Again"), not included on the US pressing. Whitesnake will peak at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 8x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

Relevant Tags

Music History Monday (82), Billie Holiday (15), Kmpx (1), Vicki Lawrence (1), Prince (60), Cameo (2), Whitesnake (2)