Sunday, May 28, 2017

28 MAY

In Music History

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2000The White Stripes perform on TV for the first time, playing "Apple Blossom" and "You're Pretty Good Looking" on the Detroit Public Television series Backstage Pass.
1988Steven Tyler of Aerosmith gets married for the second time when he ties the knot with Teresa Barrick, in her hometown of Tulsa. The union lasts 17 years.
1988George Michael's "One More Try" tops the Hot 100 for the first of three weeks.
1985Colbie Caillat is born in Malibu, California.
1985English radio broadcaster Roy Plomley, known for the long-running BBC Radio series Desert Island Discs, dies of pleurisy at age 71.
1983Irene Cara's passion makes it happen: "Flashdance... What a Feeling" goes to #1 in America.
1983"Candy Girl" by New Edition becomes the first UK #1 hit with a rap.
1981Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Fiveare the opening act for The Clash, who play the first of eight shows at Bond's in Times Square, New York (future home of Tower Records). The rappers are booed and assaulted with various projectiles as the crowd does not appreciate their act.
1980Pop singer Mark Feehily (of Westlife) is born in Sligo, Ireland.
1978David Cassidy is the guest star on an episode of NBC's TV show Police Story. He does so well that he is given his own show called David Cassidy: Man Undercover, which tanks hard.
1977Bruce Springsteen is finally free to record after a legal battle with his former manager Mike Appel kept him out of the studio for two years. Springsteen learns that it's not a good idea to sign a contract on the hood of a car.
1976Gregg Allman testifies against The Allman Brothers Band's road manager/bodyguard Scooter Herring in a deal to avoid drug charges after a drug-trafficking sting. This causes tensions in the band, who take two years off before re-forming.
1975The Doobie Brothers fifth album, Stampede, is certified Gold.
1973Ronnie Lane leaves The Faces, and will be replaced by Tetsu Yamauchi on bass.
1973Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn release "Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man," which becomes their third #1 country hit as a duo.
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Steve Wozniak Buys the Most Expensive Backstage Pass in History

Apple's Steve Wozniak hosts the second US Festival, intending it to be the "Super Bowl of rock." The lineup is even more impressive than that of its 1982 predecessor, and the attendance is substantially larger. Wozniak splurges on David Bowie with two million dollars of his own money, simply because he "really loves him."
The second US Festival kicks off in Glen Helen Regional Park in San Bernardino, California - same site as the first.

The lineup slated to play is perhaps the most impressive in popular music history, but the buzz surrounding the event is mostly focused on the exorbitant amount of money being paid to Van Halen and David Bowie.  

Apple co-founder Wozniak, whose wealth creates a full blown existential crisis for anyone who hears of it, has decided to go for Bowie at the last minute. Bowie, who hasn't played America since 1978, is already in the midst of touring Europe for his album Let's Dance. He can only perform the US Festival by chartering a 747 to bring all his equipment to the show and then fly it back to Europe to continue his tour. This will cost $1.5 million. 

The problem is that US has already booked Van Halen, which has a "favored nation" clause in its contract, stipulating that no band can get paid more than they do (and also, no brown M&Ms). So, if Bowie gets $1.5, Van Halen is guaranteed at least that much. This means that, ultimately, Bowie costs Wozniak two million dollars, since Van Halen was slated to make a mere $1 million. It is not a prudent business decision on Wozniak's part; he simply loves Bowie. This leads event promoter Barry Fey to call Wozniak's bookings the "most expensive backstage pass in history."

The whole situation stirs up a hornets' nest with another group on the bill: The Clash, who are getting paid a comparatively meager $500,000 to play. Ostensibly a punk band opposed to capitalism and greed, The Clash railed against this financial arrangement in the press for a week leading up to the event. Their rancor spills into their performance on opening day as they play angry and try to goad the audience into similar discontent.

Fey, unwilling to concede to the Clash's complaints, puts a copy of their $500,000 paycheck up on one of the first jumbo screens used in a concert, for all the audience to see. The performance marks the last time Mick Jones ever performs with the group.

Each day of the festival is themed by a musical genre: Day 1 is New Wave Day; Day 2 is Heavy Metal Day; Day 3 is Rock Day; and Day 4, held on June 4th a few days after the main festival slate, is Country Day.

New Wave Day features the Divynyls, INXS, Wall of Voodoo, Oingo Boingo, The English Beat, A Flock of Seagulls, Stray Cats, Men at Work, and The Clash. The Stray Cats steal the show. The day will also be the last time that Stan Ridgwayplays with Wall of Voodoo, and a breakout for INXS, a second stage act that earns an encore and lots of buzz. Their first American hit, "The One Thing," peaks at #30 the same day.

Just as fears rise that the giant hair of New Wave Day cannot be outdone, Heavy Metal Day roars to the rescue, featuring Quiet Riot, Mötley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Triumph, Scorpions, and Van Halen. They rock righteously. Heads are banged. Despite the well-received performances, this day is remembered as the one when the audience turned ugly. With upwards of 300,000 fans at its peak (it is not a camp-in festival, so people commute in and out), violence breaks out. A Pomona man is beaten to death with a tire iron over a drug deal gone wrong. Another man dies of overdose. San Bernardino Sheriff Floyd Tidwell says, "It's an absolute zoo. This is a different kind of crowd than last year. They're more prone to violence and selling narcotics." It's a sad note for a festival that has built itself around the idea of unifying people through music and technology. 

Rock Day has Los Lobos, Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul, Berlin, Quarterflash, Missing Persons, a wee little Irish band named U2, The Pretenders, Joe Walsh, Stevie Nicks, and David Bowie, who takes the stage an hour and a half late but puts on a good show.

Country Day comes on June 4. It features Thrasher Brothers, Ricky Skaggs, Hank Williams, Jr., Emmylou Harris & The Hot Band, Alabama, Waylon Jennings, Riders in the Sky, and Willie Nelson. Its poor attendance prompts Wozniak to tell the press that he will not do another US Festival. He eventually changes his mind and starts planning another in 2009, but it does not come to fruition, as he determines that he simply does not have the resources to do another US Festival. 

For whatever reason, despite its monster lineup, the second US Festival is largely forgotten by history, with only those children of the '80s who attended keeping the flame alive. In many ways, though, it is a historically significant cultural event, bridging the festivals of the '60s and early '70s with the festival rebirth that comes in the '90s. While far from profitable, it provides lasting memories for all who experience it, including Wozniak. 

"It's OK - a memory is good," Wozniak explains. "You don't have to redo the US Festival."

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