April 24th 1972, John Lennon's controversial single, 'Woman Is the Nigger of the World' was released in the US. The song peaked at No.57, despite virtually every radio station in the country refusing to play it. Yoko Ono said the phrase during a magazine interview in 1967 and Lennon later explained that he was making a point that women deserved higher status in society.
April 24th 1968, Louis Armstrong was at No.1 in the UK with the single 'What A Wonderful World / Cabaret.' At 69 years of age, it made Armstrong the oldest act ever to score a UK No.1.
24th April 1975, Peter Ham, British singer, songwriter with Badfinger committed suicide by hanging himself in the garage of his Surrey home, aged 27. Ham co-wrote 'Without You', with band mate Tom Evans (who also later committed suicide). The song won an Ivor Novello award for Song Of The Year in 1973, and was a hit for Harry Nilson and Mariah Carey. Ham was a founder member of The Iveys, who became Badfinger, were signed to the Beatles' Apple label, their first hit 'Come And Get It' was written by Paul McCartney.
Artist Biography by Greg Prato
Of all the major alternative rock bands of the early '90s, Smashing Pumpkins were the group least influenced by traditional underground rock. Lead guitarist/songwriter Billy Corgan fashioned an amalgam of progressive rock, heavy metal, goth rock, psychedelia, and dream pop, creating a layered, powerful sound driven by swirling, distorted guitars. Corgan was wise enough to exploit his angst-ridden lyrics, yet he never shied away from rock star posturing, even if he did cloak it in allegedly ironic gestures. In fact, Smashing Pumpkins became the model for alternative rock success. Pearl Jam shunned it and Nirvana was too destructive. The Pumpkins, on the other hand, knew how to play the game, signing to a major-subsidized indie for underground credibility and moving to the major in time to make the group a multi-platinum act. And when The Pumpkins did achieve mass success with 1993's Siamese Dream, they went a long way to legitimize heavy metal and orchestrated prog rock, helping move alternative rock even closer to '70s AOR, especially in the eyes of radio programmers and mainstream audiences. Unlike many of their contemporaries, they were able to withstand many internal problems and keep selling records, emerging as the longest-lasting and most successful alternative band of the early '90s.
The son of a jazz guitarist, Billy Corgan grew up in a Chicago suburb, leaving home at the age of 19 to move to Florida with his fledgling goth metal band, the Marked. After the band failed down South, he returned to Chicago around 1988, where he began working at a used-record store. At the shop he met James Iha (guitar), a graphic arts student at Loyola University, and the two began collaborating, performing, and recording songs with a drum machine. Corgan met D'Arcy Wretzky at a club show; after arguing about the merits of the Dan Reed Network, the two became friends and she joined the group as a bassist. Soon, the bandmembers, who named themselves Smashing Pumpkins, had gained a dedicated local following, which included the head of a local club who booked them to open for Jane's Addiction. Before the pivotal concert, the band hired Jimmy Chamberlin, a former jazz musician, as their full-time drummer.
In 1990, Smashing Pumpkins released their debut single, "I Am One," on the local Chicago label Limited Potential. The single quickly sold out, and in December the band released "Tristessa" on Sub Pop. By this point, Smashing Pumpkins had become the subject of a hot bidding war, and the group latched on to a clever way to move to a major label without losing indie credibility. They signed to Virgin Records, yet it was decided that the group's debut would be released on the Virgin subsidiary Caroline, and then the band would move to the majors. The strategy worked; Gish, a majestic mix of Black Sabbath and dream pop produced by Butch Vig, became a huge college and modern rock hit upon its spring 1991 release. While it earned a large audience, many indie rock fans began to snipe at Smashing Pumpkins, accusing them of being careerists. Such criticism did The Pumpkins no harm and they embarked on an extensive supporting tour for Gish, which lasted over a year and included opening slots for Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam. During the Gish tour, tensions between bandmembers began to escalate, as Iha and D'Arcy, who had been lovers, went through a messy breakup, Chamberlin became addicted to drugs and alcohol, and Corgan entered a heavy depression. These tensions hadn't been resolved by the time the group entered the studio with Vig to record its second album.
Toward the beginning of the sessions, The Pumpkins were given significant exposure through the inclusion of "Drown" on the Singles soundtrack in the summer of 1992. As the sessions progressed, Corgan relieved himself of his depression by working heavily -- not only did he write a surplus of songs, he played nearly all of the guitars and bass on each recording, which meant that its release was delayed several times. The resulting album, Siamese Dream, was an immaculate production owing much to Queen, yet it was embraced by critics upon its July 1993 release. Siamese Dream became a blockbuster, debuting at number ten on the charts and establishing Smashing Pumpkins as stars. "Cherub Rock," the first single, was a modern rock hit, yet it was "Today" and the acoustic "Disarm" that sent the album into the stratosphere, as well as the group's relentless touring. Smashing Pumpkins became the headliners of Lollapalooza 1994, and following the tour's completion, the band went back into the studio to record a new album that Corgan had already claimed would be a double-disc set. To tide fans over until then, The Pumpkins released the B-sides and rarities album Pisces Iscariot in October 1994.
Working with producers Flood and Alan Moulder, Smashing Pumpkins recorded as a full band for their third album, which turned out to be, as Corgan predicted, a double-disc set called Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Although many observers were skeptical about whether a double-disc set, especially one so ridiculously named, would be a commercial success, Mellon Collie became an even bigger hit than Siamese Dream, debuting at number one on the charts. On the strength of the singles "Bullet with Butterfly Wings," "1979," "Zero," and "Tonight, Tonight," it sold over four million copies in the U.S., eventually being certified platinum over eight times (each disc in the set counted separately toward certification). The Pumpkins had graduated to stadium shows for the Mellon Collie tour, and the band was at the peak of its popularity when things began to go wrong again. On July 12, prior to two shows at Madison Square Garden, the group's touring keyboardist, Jonathan Melvoin, died from a heroin overdose; he was with Jimmy Chamberlin, who survived his overdose. In the wake of the tragedy, the remaining Pumpkins fired Chamberlin and spent two months on hiatus as they recovered and searched for a new drummer. Early in August, they announced that Filter member Matt Walker would be their touring drummer and Dennis Flemion, a member of the Frogs, would be their touring keyboardist for the remainder of the year. They returned to the stage at the end of August and spent the next five months on tour. During this time, Corgan contributed some music to Ron Howard's Ransom.
Early in 1997, once The Pumpkins left the road, Iha and D'Arcy launched Scratchie Records, a subsidiary of Mercury Records. In the spring, Smashing Pumpkins recorded two songs for the soundtrack of Batman & Robin. Iha's solo debut, Let It Come Down, appeared in early 1998; Adore, the new Smashing Pumpkins LP, followed a few months later to disappointing sales and reviews. Chamberlin returned to the group and D'Arcy exited prior to the early-2000 release of MACHINA: The Machines of God. Several months later, Corgan announced his intentions to dissolve the band before the year was out. With former Hole bassist Melissa auf der Maur replacing D'Arcy, the band launched its farewell tour in 2000. Fans received one last treat when Corgan and company worked feverishly to finish off tracks that were left over from the MACHINA sessions. Surprisingly, Virgin Records balked at the idea of releasing the 25-track set so close to the release of their previous album, so the band put the entire album (going by the official title of Machina II: The Friends and Enemies of Modern Music) on the Internet for fans to download for free. On December 2 of the same year, The Pumpkins played a mammoth final show at Chicago's Metro (also the venue at which the group played its first show back in 1988) before officially calling it quits.
But the former members of the band didn't wait long before carrying on with other projects -- Corgan spent the summer of 2001 playing guitar with New Order on select concert dates, and later in the year unveiled his new band, Zwan, including Chamberlin on drums (as well as former Chavez guitarist Matt Sweeney and bassist David "Skullfisher" Pajo). The other two former Pumpkins, Iha and auf der Maur, began putting together an alt-rock supergroup dubbed the Virgins. The same year, a pair of postmortem Pumpkins collections were issued for the holiday season -- a double-disc collection and a DVD both called Greatest Hits. Corgan released his first solo album, The Future Embrace, in 2005, and on the day it came out, he took out a full-page ad in The Chicago Tribune to announce that Smashing Pumpkins were reuniting. He hadn't informed any of his past bandmates, and only Chamberlin went along. Zeitgeist, a heavier album than any past Pumpkins album, was released in 2007.
Smashing Pumpkins promoted the album heavily well into 2008, but at the end of the year, Corgan announced that the group would no longer record albums, and would instead only issue singles. It wasn't the only change in the band. Corgan announced the departure of Chamberlin in March 2009, making him the last remaining original member of the band that by then consisted of guitarist Jeff Schroeder, bassist Nicole Fiorentino, and drummer Mike Byrne. Once the dust settled, Corgan followed through on his promise to issue only short-form releases, putting out the track "A Song for a Son" in December of 2009. Scattered songs from the band's Teargarden by Kaleidyscope concept were released over the next two years as free downloads, with physical collections of the tracks released in 2010 by way of the EP box sets Songs for a Sailor and The Solstice Bare. In 2012, Corgan decided to take a break from the single-centric concept and released Oceania. Ostensibly Smashing Pumpkins' eighth studio album, Oceania is also part of the 44-track Teargarden concept.(AllMusic)
Artist Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Metallica were easily the best, most influential heavy metal band of the '80s. Responsible for bringing the genre back to Earth, the bandmates looked and talked like they were from the street, shunning the usual rock star games of metal musicians during the early '80s. Metallica also expanded the limits of thrash, using speed and volume not for their own sake, but to enhance their intricately structured compositions. The release of 1983's Kill 'Em All marked the beginning of the legitimization of heavy metal's underground, bringing new complexity and depth to thrash metal. With each album, the band's playing and writing improved; James Hetfield developed a signature rhythm playing that matched his growl, while lead guitarist Kirk Hammett became one of the most copied guitarists in metal. To complete the package, Lars Ulrich's thunderous (yet complex) drumming clicked in perfectly with Cliff Burton's innovative bass playing.
After releasing their masterpiece Master of Puppets in 1986, tragedy struck the band when their tour bus crashed while traveling in Sweden. Burton died in the accident. When the band decided to continue, Jason Newsted was chosen to replace Burton; two years later, the band released the conceptually ambitious ...And Justice for All, which hit the Top Ten without any radio play and very little support from MTV. But Metallica completely crossed over into the mainstream with 1991's Metallica, a self-titled effort that found the band trading in its long compositions for more concise song structures. Peppered with hits like "Wherever I May Roam" and "Enter Sandman," it resulted in a number one album that sold over seven million copies in the U.S. alone. To support the record, Metallica launched a long tour that kept the musicians on the road for nearly two years.
By the '90s, Metallica had changed the rules for all heavy metal bands; they were the leaders of the genre, respected not only by headbangers, but by mainstream record buyers and critics. No other heavy metal band has ever been able to pull off such a feat. However, the group lost a portion of its core audience with its long-awaited follow-up to Metallica, 1996's Load. The album moved the band toward alternative rock in terms of image -- the bandmembers cut their hair and had their picture taken by Anton Corbijn. Although the album was a hit upon its summer release, entering the charts at number one and selling three million copies within two months, certain members of the Metallica fan base complained about the shift in image, as well as the group's decision to headline the sixth Lollapalooza. Re-Load, which combined new material with songs left off the original Load record, appeared in 1997; despite poor reviews, it sold at a typically brisk pace and spun off several successful singles, including "Fuel" and "The Memory Remains." Garage Inc., a double-disc collection of B-sides, rarities, and newly recorded covers, followed in 1998. Metallica's take on Bob Seger's "Turn the Page" helped maintain their presence in the charts, and the band continued its flood of product with 1999's S&M, which documented a live concert with the San Francisco Symphony. It debuted at number two, reconfirming the group's immense popularity.
Metallica spent most of 2000 embroiled in controversy by spearheading a legal assault against Napster, a file-sharing service that allowed users to download music files from each other's computers. Aggressively targeting copyright infringement of their own material, Metallica notoriously had over 300,000 users kicked off the service, creating a widespread debate over the availability of digital music that raged for most of the year. In January 2001, bassist Jason Newsted announced his amicable departure from the band. Shortly after the band appeared at the ESPN Awards in April of the same year, Hetfield, Hammett, and Ulrich entered the recording studio to begin work on their next album, with producer Bob Rock lined up to handle bass duties for the sessions (meanwhile, rumors swirled of former Ozzy Osbourne/Alice in Chains bassist Mike Inez being considered for the vacated position). In July, Metallica surprisingly dropped their lawsuit against Napster, perhaps sensing that their controversial stance did more harm than good to their "band of the people" image. That same summer, the band's recording sessions (and all other band-related matters) were put on hold as Hetfield entered an undisclosed rehab facility for alcoholism and other addictions. He completed treatment and rejoined Metallica as they headed back into the studio in 2002 to record St. Anger, which was released in mid-2003.
The recording of St. Anger was capped with the search for a permanent replacement for Newsted. After a long audition process, former Ozzy Osbourne/Suicidal Tendencies bass player Robert Trujillo was selected and joined Metallica for their 2003-2004 world tour. The growing pains that the band experienced during the recording of St. Anger were captured in the celebrated documentary Some Kind of Monster, which saw theatrical release in 2004. Four years later, the band returned with Death Magnetic, an energized album that returned the band to its early-'80s roots. Former Slayer producer Rick Rubin helmed the album, having replaced the band's longtime producer Bob Rock, while Kirk Hammett (who was forbidden to play guitar solos on St. Anger) peppered the record with metallic riffs and frenetic solos.
Death Magnetic spent three weeks at number one on the Billboard charts and the group supported it with an extensive international tour that included a festival gig with Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax. Metallica closed out their Warner contract with Death Magnetic -- outtakes from the sessions appeared as the Beyond Magnetic EP in late 2011 -- and while they were exploring their options, they struck up a collaboration with Lou Reed, releasing the ambitious, arty Lulu in the fall of 2011. In 2012 Metallica launched their own label, Blackened, which would be distributed by Universal; then, the following year, they announced the release of their second motion picture, Through the Never, which combined spectacular concert footage of them blasting through gems from their back catalog with a surreal road-trip odyssey starring Dane DeHaan. The film and its accompanying soundtrack album were released in September 2013.(AllMusic)
Artist Biography by William Ruhlmann
Possessed of a breezy, nonchalant style that belies his technical gifts, pianist Bruce Hornsby writes powerful songs from the heart that touch on several distinctly American traditions: pop, jazz, bluegrass, and '60s soul. He worked for a while as a studio player and songwriter, and had his first hit in 1986 with the stirring and philosophical "The Way It Is." After that, he continued to release albums that honored his own muse rather than the marketplace, and put together various backing bands to suit the mood and style of the genres he works in. Hornsby has also maintained a close musical relationship with the remaining members of the Grateful Dead, having toured as a temporary member in the early '90s and collaborated on off-shoot recordings and live shows.
Bruce Hornsby was born in Williamsburg, Virginia, and grew up in that combination college town and tourist center, later attending the University of Miami and the Berklee School of Music. He then spent years playing in bars and sending demo tapes to record companies. In 1980, he and his brother (and songwriting partner) John Hornsby moved to Los Angeles, where they spent three years writing for 20th Century Fox. There Bruce Hornsby met Huey Lewis, who would eventually produce him and record his material. Hornsby finally signed his band, the Range, to RCA in 1985. Their debut album, The Way It Is, was released in April 1986. It eventually produced three Top 20 hits, the biggest of which was the socially conscious "The Way It Is," which featured Hornsby's characteristically melodic right-hand piano runs. The album stayed in the charts for almost a year-and-a-half and sold two million copies. Hornsby & the Range won the Best New Artist Grammy Award for 1986.
Hornsby's second album, Scenes from the Southside, was not as successful as his debut, though it sold a million copies and produced the Top Ten single "The Valley Road." Hornsby also began to make his mark as a songwriter for others: Huey Lewis had a hit with his "Jacob's Ladder," as did Don Henley with "The End of the Innocence." Hornsby's third album, A Night on the Town (1990), found him trying to break out of his signature sound into other areas. It was less successful than its predecessors but, along with the pianist's extensive session work, it signaled his determination to tackle new musical challenges. Hornsby worked extensively as a producer and sideman in the early '90s, notably doing temporary duty in the Grateful Dead after their keyboardist, Brent Mydland, died in July 1990, and producing a comeback album for Leon Russell, an idol of Hornsby's. He also became the father of twin sons.
He finally turned in his fourth album, Harbor Lights, for release in 1993. This solo album, which did not feature his backup band, the Range, went gold, and Hornsby toured the U.S. and Canada through the end of the year. He followed it with a similar effort, Hot House, in July 1995, returning three years later with the double album Spirit Trail. Here Come the Noise Makers was issued in fall 2000. Since that time, Hornsby has released a handful of albums including Big Swing Face in 2002, Halcyon Days in 2004, the jazz-oriented Camp Meeting in 2007, and Levitate in 2009. Hornsby's most impressive playing has arguably been in live settings, though, as the two-disc set Bride of the Noisemakers -- released in 2011 and featuring concert performances from Hornsby and his band the Noisemakers, recorded between 2007 and 2009, illustrates -- putting the band’s impressive ability to jam in styles ranging from rock to jazz and bluegrass on full display. A live set with Ricky Skaggs, Cluck Ol' Hen, appeared at the end of the summer in 2013.(AllMusic)
April 23rd 1960, Born on this day, Steve Clark, guitarist with Def Leppard, who had a 1987 UK No.6 single with ‘Animal’, a 1987 worldwide No.1 album with Hysteria and a 1988 US No.1 single with ‘Love Bites’. Clark died on January 8th 1991, aged 30 after a night of heavy alcohol consumption combined with prescription drugs.
April 23rd 1949, Born on this day, John Miles, singer, songwriter, guitarist, (1976 UK No.3 single 'Music'). Also worked with Alan Parson's, Jimmy Page, Joe Cocker and Tina Turner.
April 23rd 1971, The Rolling Stones released their classic album Sticky Fingers in the UK. The band's first release on their own label via Atlantic Records, the cover was designed by Andy Warhol, who was paid $15,000 for his efforts. The LP sleeve featured a close-up of a pair of jeans with a working zip. Widely assumed to be that of Mick Jagger, the crotch photographed for the cover was actually that of actor Joe Dallesandro.
April 23rd 1969, The Beatles were at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'Get Back' the group's 16th UK No.1. Credited to "The Beatles with Billy Preston", it was the Beatles' only single that credited another artist, 'Get Back' was also the Beatles' first single release in true stereo in the US.
23rd April 1936, Born on this day, Roy Orbison singer, songwriter, who had a 1964 UK & US No.1 single with ‘Pretty Woman’ plus over 20 US & 30 UK Top 40 singles. With the Traveling Wilburys he had a 1988 UK No.21 single with ‘Handle With Care’. Orbison died on December 6th 1988.
April 22nd 1951, Born on this day, Paul Carrack, keyboards, guitar, vocals, Ace, (1974 UK No.20 single 'How Long') Squeeze, (1981 UK No.41 single 'Tempted'), Mike And The Mechanics, (1989 US No.1 & UK No.2 single 'The Living years') and solo hits.