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Music History Monday: June 9

Posted by Jeff Harris, June 9, 2014 11:15am | Post a Comment

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On this day in music history: June 9, 1958 - "The Purple People Eater" by Sheb Wooley hits #1 on the Billboard Best Sellers chart for six weeks. Written by Wooley, the novelty song will be the biggest hit for the Oklahoma born singer/actor. Wooley will audition for the head of MGM Records in early 1958, singing mostly ballads. At the auditions' conclusion, he will sing "The Purple People Eater" when the label president asks if he has any other material. Sensing its hit potential, he will sign the singer and rush him into the studio with producer/A&R man Neely Plumb (father of actress Eve Plumb, Jan Brady on The Brady Bunch). The song is quickly cut and released, becoming an immediate smash. Entering the Best Sellers chart at #7 on June 2, 1958, it will leap to the top of the chart the following week. "The Purple People Eater" will sell over two million copies. Following the success of the record, Sheb Wooley will star on then new TV series Rawhide with an up and coming new actor named Clint Eastwood. "The Purple People Eater" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
 


On this day in music history: June 9, 1972 - Bruce Springsteen officially signs with Columbia Records. Having performed in bars and clubs in his native New Jersey for several years, the young bruce springsteensinger/songwriter will audition for legendary A&R man John Hammond whose previous discoveries include Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Charlie Christian, George Benson, Bob Dylan, and Aretha Franklin. Now under contract to Columbia, the label will put Springsteen in the studio in July to begin work on his debut album Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ. The first album will initially sell only 25,000 copies, with the follow up The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle not performing much better. Eventually, Springsteen's recording career will take off with his breakthrough album Born To Run in 1975. Over his four decade career, Bruce Springsteen will come to be regarded as one of the preeminent singer and songwriters of all time, selling over 120 million records worldwide, winning 20 Grammy Awards (to date), two Golden Globes, and an Academy Award.

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Cheri Knight: overlooked Queen of Alt. Country

Posted by J. Mark Beaver, December 31, 2008 07:15pm | Post a Comment
blood oranges corn riverBy all measures, 1990 was a pivotal year for country-rock, or what we came to call "Alt. Country," or even "No Depression," the latter term being the title of the debut album released that year by a country-infused trio out of Belleville, IL., called Uncle Tupelo. I 'm sure I don't need to spend too much time elaborating on the merits of this band that re-awakened a slumbering genre with enough force to have that genre thereafter associated with its debut.

I will say, however, that I own a good number of t-shirts with their name emblazoned on them, as well as t-shirts for the band Son Volt, formed, after Uncle Tupelo's break-up, by Jay Farrar. Out of all proportion to any of my other band T's (and I own many), these Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt t-shirts almost without fail find me being stopped by strangers telling me how much they love those bands.

Now to my real point...

Mining similar material and existing through the same arc of time, a much lesser known band, steeped in bluegrass but pulling it into the 21cheri knight knitterst century by its fiddle-strings was rockin' its way out of northern New York State. The Blood Oranges featured singer/songwriter/mandolinist Jim Ryan, guitarist Mark Spencer, singer/songwriter/bassist Cheri Knight and drummer Ron Ward. The Blood Oranges were a really, really good band, good enough that Steven Mirkin in a June 1994 Rolling Stone said that they, "...find ways to make country-rock fusion seem like an idea with unlimited potential." They followed their 1990 debut, Corn River with 1992's Lone Green Valley and The Crying Tree in 1994. All of them strong albums and all of them more or less greeted with apathy by the record-buying populace. Then they called it quits.

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