On This Day in Rock & Roll History: March 9

This is the 60th installment of my music history feature, which explores select happenings on a specific date over time, mostly focusing on the ’60s and ’70s. While not surprisingly by now I have a well-defined system in place how I go about gathering facts for these posts, I still enjoy writing them. So let’s embark on another time travel journey and take a look back at some of the events on March 9 throughout rock and pop music history. As always, the selections reflect my music taste and, as such, are not meant to be a complete list.

1967: The Beatles began work on Getting Better in Studio 2 of Abbey Road’s EMI Studies as part of the recording sessions for their next studio album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The song was mainly written by Paul McCartney with some lyrical input from John Lennon. During the late evening session, the tune’s rhythm track was recorded: McCartney’s rhythm guitar and Ringo Starr’s drums on track one; McCartney’s guide vocals on track two; a pianette (type of electric keyboard) played by George Martin on track three; and some additional drums on track four. Subsequently, a so-called reduction mix was created to free up additional tracks on the tape (eight-track recording would only start to become available in 1968). The Beatles and the studio crew called it a night, or I guess I should rather say an early morning, at 3:30 am (March 10). They devoted three additional sessions to the tune, evidently figuring it was getting better all the time. How do I know all of that? I don’t! Wait, what?! Well, there’s The Beatles Bible that captures all these details for the music geeks among us. 🙂

1973: American blues and boogie rockers Canned Heat released their ninth studio album The New Age. It was the first to feature guitarist James Shane and keyboarder Ed Beyer. At that time, Canned Heat had already lost key co-founder Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson who had died from a drug overdose in September 1970. Wilson had written and co-written the band’s biggest U.S. hit singles Going Up the Country and On the Road Again, respectively, and sung lead vocals on both. Here’s the opener Keep Clean written by Bob Hite, the band’s other key co-founder who since passed away as well in April 1981, also due to drugs. Unfortunately, Canned Heat has been hit hard with drug-related deaths. Fun fact: According to Wikipedia, renowned rock critic Lester Bangs was fired by Rolling Stone for writing a “disrespectful” review of the album at the time it came out.

1987: Irish rock band U2 released their fifth studio album The Joshua Tree. Fueled by hit singles With or Without You, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For and Where the Streets Have No Name, it topped the charts in more than 20 countries and became U2’s all-time top-seller. With over 25 million copies sold, it’s also one of the world’s best-selling albums. Produced by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, The Joshua Tree yielded two 1988 Grammy awards for Album of the Year and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. While it undoubtedly created over-exposure for U2, I feel The Joshua Tree is holding up pretty well to this day. Here’s one of the tunes that wasn’t released as a single, which I’ve come to dig over the years as one of my favorites: Red Hill Mining Town. Like all other tracks on the album, Bono provided the lyrics, while the music was credited to the entire band.

1993: Sting put out his fourth solo album Ten Summoner’s Tales, which remains my all-time favorite by the ex-Police front man. If I see this correctly, it became Sting’s best-selling album. It also received six 1994 Grammy nominations and won three: Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical, Best Music Video, Long-Form, and Best Vocal Performance, Male (for If I Ever Lose My Faith in You). Here’s the beautiful Shape of My Heart, co-written by Sting and his longtime sideman, guitarist Dominic Miller.

Sources: Wikipedia; Songfacts Music History Calendar; The Beatles Bible; YouTube

8 thoughts on “On This Day in Rock & Roll History: March 9”

  1. I loved Canned Head…they were missing Alan Wilson here and he was hard to replace…but they still sounded good.

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    1. According to an excerpt I just read from a biography about Banks (Let it Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America’s Greatest Rock Critic, by Jim DeRogatis), Rolling Stone record reviews editor Jon Landeau told Bangs he was “consistently being disrespectful to musicians.” It sounds like he had a sharp tongue. And that Jann Wenner never was his biggest fan.

      In any case, it’s remarkable other music critics like Robert Christgau never got fired for some of the crap they wrote!

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      1. I never realised that. I think the opposite problem is worse, when reviews read like press releases and aging stars get 5 star reviews for dubious product (like Mick Jagger’s Goddess in the Doorway).

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      2. Sure, reviews that just rubber-stamp music because it’s by a famous artist aren’t particularly useful either. Frankly, I haven’t read reviews by Bangs. I relied on Wikipedia, which in turn cited the aforementioned biography about Bangs.

        According to that biography, Jon Landeau apparently gave as an example for Bang’s disrespectful writing a review of Springsteen’s “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.,” in which he called his lyrics “idiotic.” To which Bangs supposedly responded, “Well sure, they were, and that was what was good about ’em!”

        All I can say is I’m glad I’m not a music critic. Inevitably, it would sooner or later mean having to review stuff I don’t like. Instead, I much prefer to spend my time to focus on music I dig.

        Plus, at the end of the day, I feel reviews are pretty subjective. And just because I like or dislike some music, it doesn’t mean it’s good or bad.

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