This Week in Rock History: May 6th – May 12th

Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Experienced Is Released

On May 12, 1967, a musical bombshell was dropped on the rock world. This was the day of the release of The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s debut album, Are You Experienced. Produced by Jimi Hendrix’s manager, Chas Chandler, Are You Exeperienced was an immediate commercial and critical hit and many have regarded it as one of the finest debut albums in the history of rock. In the United Kingdom, Are You Experienced spent 33 weeks on the charts and made it all the way to #2. After the UK release, the United States’ version of the album was put out on August 23rd of 1967. In the U.S., it remained on the Billboard charts for 106 weeks and reached #5 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. It is noteworthy that three of the albums’ most famous songs, “Purple Haze”, “Hey Joe”, and “The Wind Cries Mary” were actually not included on the UK version of the disc since they had previously released as singles. The trio of classic rock hits, however, did make it onto the cut for the U.S. edition. The album’s legacy is tremendous. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked the album as the fifteenth greatest of all time. It was also chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry. Writer and archivist Rueben Jackson of the Smithsonian Institute has said that this album transformed rock music the way that James Joyce’s Ulysses altered literature. Happy birthday to you, Are You Experienced, and thanks for being one of the most amazing records ever.

Here’s what else happened this week in rock history:

Born This Week in Rock History

5/6/1945 – Bob Seger (Vocals, Guitar & Piano, Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band)
5/7/1946 – Bill Kreutzmann (Drums, Grateful Dead)
5/8/1911 – Robert Johnson (Delta Blues Singer-Songwriter & Guitarist)
5/8/1943 – Paul Samwell-Smith (Bass, The Yardbirds)
5/8/1943 – Danny Whitten (Guitar, Neil Young & Crazy Horse)
5/8/1953 – Alex Van Halen – (Drums, Van Halen)
5/8/1977 – Joe Bonamassa!!!
5/9/1949 – Billy Joel (Rock Singer-Songwriter, Pianist)
5/9/1950 – Tom Petersson – (Bass, Guitar, Cheap Trick)
5/11/1947 – Butch Trucks – (Drums, The Allman Brothers Band)

Died This Week in Rock History

5/6/2002 – Otis Blackwell (Rock & Roll Songwriter, Pianist)
5/8/1974 – Graham Bond (Vocals & Keyboards, Graham Bond Organisation)
5/11/1981 – Bob Marley (Vocals & Guitar, Bob Marley and the Wailers)
5/11/2003 – Noel Redding (Bass, The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
5/11/2008 – John Rutsey – (Drums, Rush)

Music releases and the top of the charts

5/6/1971 – Ike and Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” is certified gold
5/6/1972 – Elton John’s, “Rocket Man” was released
5/7/1977 – The Eagles’ “Hotel California” hits #1
5/8/1970 – The Beatles release their final album, Let It Be
5/8/1976 – The Steve Miller Band’s “Take The Money And Run” was released
5/8/1984 – Roger Waters releases his debut solo album, The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking
5/8/1993 – Aerosmith’s Get A Grip debuts on the charts at #1
5/8/2005 – Bruce Springsteen’s Devils and Dust tops the Billboard Albums chart
5/9/1964 – Louis Armstrong’s “Hello, Dolly!” hits #1
5/9/1970 – The Guess Who’s “American Woman” hits #1
5/12/1967 – The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Are You Experienced was released
5/12/1972 – The Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street was released
5/12/1973 – Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy hits #1

This Week in Rock History

5/6/1965 – While preparing to go to sleep in his hotel room while on tour in Clearwater, FL, the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards fools around with his new Gibson “fuzz box” amp and discovers a new guitar riff, one he likes so much he starts his tape recorder and plays it over and over until he falls asleep. When he awakens the next day, he finds a tape full of one guitar riff and about twenty minutes of snoring; bringing the riff to Mick Jagger at the hotel pool, the two begin composing their breakthrough hit, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Ironically, the song would bring The Rolling Stones great satisfaction.

5/7/1968 – Singer-songwriter Reginald Dwight changes his name legally to Elton Hercules John, the first and last names taken from his former bandmates in Bluesology, Elton Dean and Long John Baldry. Hercules was taken from a Greek mythological hero with god-like strength who performed amazing feats while wearing crazy-looking glasses.

5/7/1978 – Bob Dylan’s upcoming series of concerts at London’s Wembley Empire sell out all 90,000 tickets in just eight hours.

5/8/1967 – During filming of what would become the documentary Don’t Look Back, Bob Dylan gets the idea to make a short film of his single “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” featuring him standing in an alley next to London’s Savoy Hotel. Showing nothing but Dylan surrounded by friends Allen Ginsberg and Bob Neuwirth flipping giant cue cards with the lyrics of the song on them, the clip — one of the first “music videos” — becomes an iconic rock moment.

5/8/1972 – Following promoter Sid Bernstein’s decision to reinvent Radio City Music Hall in New York as a rock venue, Billy Preston becomes the first rock performer to headline at the famous landmark.

5/9/1965 – Bob Dylan gives a major performance in the UK, opening at London’s Royal Albert Hall for an audience that includes The Beatles, The Stones, Donovan, and Marianne Faithfull.

5/9/1966 – The Doors audition to be the house band at Los Angeles’s Whisky A Go Go. If The Doors audition to be your house band, you say, “Yes.” They did.

5/9/1974 – Bruce Springsteen gives the most important performance of his career, opening for Bonnie Raitt at her Boston Arena show. Playing his full two-hour set at Raitt’s insistence, Bruce delivers a show so impressive that Rolling Stone’s Jon Landau later wrote in Boston’s The Real Paper, “I saw rock and roll future, and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time.” Landau would later become Springsteen’s manager and producer.

5/9/1979 – Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr attend Eric Clapton’s marriage to George’s ex-wife, Patti (whom a lovestruck Clapton wrote “Layla” for), with the “Threetles” performing some old rock and roll songs at Clapton’s country manor. Mick Jagger, Elton John, Denny Laine, David Bowie, and Lonnie Donegan also attend. The couple would divorce in 1988. We find everything happening here extremely awkward.

5/9/1998 – Sean “Puffy” Combs and Jimmy Page play together on Saturday Night Live, performing the song “Come With Me.” The studio version of the song samples the Kashmir guitar riff. It probably would have been better if they added Robert Plant and John Paul Jones and played “Kashmir,” but beggars can’t be choosers.

5/10/1966 – Struggling singer Janis Joplin, back home in her native Texas, is invited back out to San Francisco by her friend Chet Helms, who invites her to audition with a group he’s managing called Big Brother and the Holding Company. Best move they ever made.

5/10/1968 – Reacting to alleged abuse of audience members by policemen, Jim Morrison incites a riot at a Doors concert at the Chicago Coliseum. We’re only surprised that Morrison didn’t expose himself.

5/12/1963 – Bob Dylan was supposed to appear on the Ed Sullivan show but walked out of rehearsals after being told he couldn’t perform the song he wanted to. The song was “Talking John Birch Paranoid Blues” and was told not to perform it because of its lyrics which are sharply critical of the U.S. military and segregation. Dylan said in response to the request to play a different song, “No this is what I want to do. If I can’t play my song, I’d rather not appear on the show.” Good for you, Mr. Dylan!

That’s all for This Week in Rock History. Which event do you think is the most important? Most interesting? Any other events we didn’t mention that you’d like to share? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook or send us a Tweet.

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