This Week in Music History
August 8th, 1970 - Janis Joplin purchases a headstone for her biggest musical influence, blues singer Bessie Smith. Smith passed away in 1937 from injuries sustained in a tragic car accident and was buried at Mount Lawn Cemetery in Philadelphia, but was never given a marked gravestone because her estranged husband Jack Gee had pocketed the money raised by the community.
August 9th, 1986 – Queen wraps up what will be their last live performance when they finished their set at Knebworth Park in England in front of 120,000 fans. The last two songs the full band would ever play together live were ‘We Are The Champions’ and ‘God Save The Queen’.
August 10th, 1963 – Little Stevie Wonder starts his three week run at No.1 on the singles chart with ‘Fingertips part II’. At the age of 13, this makes him the youngest singer to top the charts. It was also, the first live, non-studio recording to reach number one on the singles chart since Johnny Standley’s 1952 comic monologue ‘It’s in the Book’.
August 11th, 1984 – Ray Parker Jr. starts a three week run at No.1 on the singles chart with the ‘Ghostbusters’ theme song. Parker is accused of stealing the melody from Huey Lewis and the News, and the dispute is eventually settled out of court in the following year. Parker was a session guitarist for Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye before hitting the charts on his own.
August 12th, 1972 – Alice Cooper has a hit with ‘School’s Out’. It’s only No. 7 on the US singles chart but it hits No.1 today in the UK. Cooper said his inspiration for ‘School’s Out’ was from being asked what the greatest three minutes of his life was. His response: “There’s two times during the year. One is Christmas morning, when you’re just getting ready to open the presents. The greed factor is right there. The next one is the last three minutes of the last day of school when you’re sitting there and it’s like a slow fuse burning. I said, ‘If we can catch that three minutes in a song, it’s going to be so big.’”
August 13th, 1966 – Lovin Spoonful starts their three week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with ‘Summer In The City’. The song featured a series of car horns, starting with a Volkswagen Beetle horn, and ends up with a jackhammer sound, giving the impression of city sounds in the summertime.
August 14th, 1970 – Stephen Stills was arrested on suspected drugs charges while staying at a Hotel in San Diego, after being found crawling down hallway in an incoherent state. He was later freed on bail.