Tuesday, May 23, 2017

23 MAY

In Music History

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2015Australia makes its inaugural entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, which is held in Vienna, Austria. The country is represented by singer and songwriter Guy Sebastian. Their invitation to compete follows a successful guest appearance from Jessica Mauboy in 2014. Sebastian finishes fifth, with the win going to Sweden's Måns Zelmerlöw.
2014Malik Bendjelloul, who directed the Sixto Rodriguez documentary Searching For Sugar Man, commits suicide at age 36.
2012Billboard reports that the albums of Donna Summer increase in sales by a factor of over 3000% in the week following her death on May 17 after a battle with cancer.
2008Veteran rapper Ricky "Slick Rick" Walters receives a full pardon from New York's Governor David Paterson for the attempted murders of two men in 1991, ending a long legal saga.
2008Shirley Bassey suffers from abdominal pains in Monaco, necessitating emergency surgery and forcing her to cancel her upcoming appearance at Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday concert.
2006Jordin Sparks wins Season 6 of American Idol.
2006Clifford Antone, a blues club owner and independent record label founder who mentored the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Gary Clark Jr., dies at age 56 of a possible heart attack.
2000Billy Corgan announces that The Smashing Pumpkins will break up at the end of the year, saying they are tired of "fighting the good fight against the Britneys of the world."
1994Jimmy Fernandez (bassist for The God Machine) dies suddenly of a brain tumor at age 28.
1992Totally Krossed Out by the teenage rap duo Kriss Kross hits #1 in the US. Produced by Jermaine Dupri, the title is a reference to how they wear their clothes: backwards in a look they call "krossed out."
1987The Doobie Brothers reunite with original members, including singer/guitarist Tom Johnston, for a Vietnam Veterans benefit at the Hollywood Bowl. The show leads to a reunion tour for The Doobies.
1985It's Aretha Franklin Appreciation Day in Michigan, as Governor James Blanchard declares the singer "One of Michigan's natural resources."
1979The Third Barry Manilow Special airs on ABC.
1979The Who's acclaimed documentary The Kids Are Alright debuts in New York City.
1979Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" is certified Platinum.
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The Who Release The Rock Opera Tommy

The Who release their album Tommy, a rock opera about a deaf, dumb and blind boy who plays a mean pinball.

Tommy (1969) is a lavish concept album from British rock band The Who, which spreads across two LPs. Unusually for a record by a British act, Tommy is released in the US a week earlier than in the UK - due to problems with the production of the album cover. The record is a critical and commercial success, eventually being certified double platinum the US and selling more than 20 million copies worldwide. It also introduces a new genre: Rock Opera.

The Who's guitarist and principal songwriter, Pete Townshend, has been seeking a way to move on from the 3-minute pop single after the group's early success with short-form radio-friendly songs such as "My Generation." Tommy builds on the symphonic structure of the band's experimental 9-minute epic "A Quick One While He's Away" - from The Quick One (1966), and the story-telling aesthetic of their last concept album: The Who Sell Out (1967). 

Tommy tells the tale of the titular hero, who is struck deaf, dumb and blind after witnessing a murder. His parents neglect him, and he suffers abuse from his cousin and uncle. He later discovers he is a master of the arcade game pinball - the lack of visual and auditory distractions enabling him to master the game by using vibrations to sense the ball's position. After a doctor realizes his affliction is mental, rather than physical, Tommy recovers his senses and starts a religious cult. Finally, after being rejected by his new-found followers, he withdraws once again. 

The extracted single "Pinball Wizard" becomes a hit in the UK, and the album is later developed into an acclaimed movie by Ken Russell in 1975. The cinematic version features new, re-recorded versions of the album's songs as well as some additional Townshend compositions, all of which are performed by the actors themselves. A stage musical version is also developed in 1992. Surprisingly, it takes until 1994 for a Tommy-themed pinball machine to appear, featuring imagery and sounds from the Broadway production.

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