23 Mar, 2024

March 23 in Music History

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March 23 in Music History

Today's birthdays:

Damon Albarn, 55.

Damon Albarn is an English musician. He is the frontman and main lyricist of the rock band Blur and the co-creator and primary musical contributor of the virtual band Gorillaz.

Raised in Whitechapel, East London, and around Colchester, Essex, Albarn attended the Stanway School, where he met the guitarist Graham Coxon, with whom he would later form Blur. They released their debut album Leisure in 1991. After spending long periods touring the US, Albarn's songwriting became increasingly influenced by British bands from the 1960s. The result was the Blur albums Modern Life Is Rubbish (1993), Parklife (1994) and The Great Escape (1995). All three received critical acclaim, while Blur gained mass popularity in the UK, aided by a Britpop chart rivalry with Oasis. Chart-topping albums such as Blur (1997), 13 (1999) and Think Tank (2003) incorporated influences from lo-fi, art rock, electronic and world music. These were followed by The Magic Whip (2015), Blur's first studio album in 12 years, and The Ballad of Darren in 2023.

Albarn formed the virtual band Gorillaz in 1998 with the comic book artist Jamie Hewlett. Drawing influences from hip hop, dub, pop, trip hop and world music, Gorillaz released their self-titled debut album in 2001 to worldwide success, spawning numerous successful follow-ups and continuing to release albums and tour into the 2020s. Albarn remains the group's only consistent musical contributor. His other notable projects include the supergroups the Good, the Bad & the Queen and Rocket Juice & the Moon. He co-founded the non-profit musical organisation Africa Express and has composed film soundtracks. Albarn also scored the stage productions Monkey: Journey to the West (2008), Dr Dee (2012) and Wonder.land (2016). His debut solo album, Everyday Robots, was released in 2014, followed by The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows in 2021.

In 2008, The Daily Telegraph named Albarn the 18th-most powerful person in British culture. In 2016, Albarn received the Ivor Novello Award for Lifetime Achievement from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to music. In 2020, Albarn was granted Icelandic citizenship.

Chaka Khan, 71.

Yvette Marie Stevens, better known by her stage name Chaka Khan, is an American singer. Known as the "Queen of Funk", her career has spanned more than five decades beginning in the early 1970s as the lead vocalist of the funk band Rufus. With the band she recorded the notable hits "Tell Me Something Good", "Sweet Thing", "Do You Love What You Feel" and the platinum-certified "Ain't Nobody". Her debut solo album featured the number-one R&B hit "I'm Every Woman" (which became a pop hit for Whitney Houston). Khan scored another R&B charts hit with "What Cha' Gonna Do for Me" before becoming the first R&B artist to have a crossover hit featuring a rapper, with her 1984 cover of Prince's "I Feel for You". More of Khan's hits include "Through the Fire" and a 1986 collaboration with Steve Winwood that produced a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100, "Higher Love".

Khan has won ten Grammy Awards. With Rufus, she achieved three gold singles, one platinum single, four gold albums, and two platinum albums. In the course of her solo career, Khan achieved three gold singles, three gold albums, and one platinum album with I Feel for You. She has also worked with Ry Cooder, Robert Palmer, Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Guru, Chicago, Gladys Knight, De La Soul, Mary J. Blige and Ariana Grande. In December 2016, Billboard magazine ranked her as the 65th most successful dance club artist of all time. She was ranked at No. 17 in VH1's original list of the 100 Greatest Women of Rock & Roll. Khan has been nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times as a solo artist and four times as a member of Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, the first time in 2012 as a member of Rufus. In 2023, Khan was picked as an inductee in the Musical Excellence category.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, 76.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, Baron Lloyd-Webber is an English composer and impresario of musical theatre. Several of his musicals have run for more than a decade both in the West End and on Broadway. He has composed 21 musicals, a song cycle, a set of variations, two film scores, and a Latin Requiem Mass.

Several of Lloyd Webber's songs have been widely recorded and widely successful outside of their parent musicals, such as "Memory" from Cats, "The Music of the Night" and "All I Ask of You" from The Phantom of the Opera, "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar, "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" from Evita, and "Any Dream Will Do" from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. In 2001, The New York Times referred to him as "the most commercially successful composer in history". The Daily Telegraph named him in 2008 the fifth-most powerful person in British culture, on which occasion lyricist Don Black said that "Andrew more or less single-handedly reinvented the musical."

Lloyd Webber has received numerous awards, including a knighthood in 1992, followed by a peerage for services to the arts, six Tonys, seven Olivier Awards, three Grammys (as well as the Grammy Legend Award), an Academy Award, 14 Ivor Novello Awards, a Golden Globe, a Brit Award, the 2006 Kennedy Center Honors, and two Classic Brit Awards (for Outstanding Contribution to Music in 2008, and for Musical Theatre and Education in 2018).In 2018, after Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Special (Live), he became the thirteenth person to win an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, and a Tony. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, is an inductee into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and is a fellow of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors.

The Really Useful Group, Lloyd Webber's company, is one of the largest theatre operators in London. Producers in several parts of the UK have staged productions, including national tours, of Lloyd Webber musicals under licence from the Really Useful Group. He is also the president of the Arts Educational Schools, London, a performing arts school located in Chiswick, West London. Lloyd Webber is involved in a number of charitable activities, including the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Nordoff Robbins, Prostate Cancer UK and War Child. In 1992, he started the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation which supports the arts, culture, and heritage of the UK

On this day today:

1944 - Ric Ocasek of The Cars is born in Baltimore, Maryland. His date of birth is often reported at March 23, 1949 because that's what he often claimed, but records show he was actually born five years earlier.

1961 - Elvis Presley records "Can't Help Falling In Love."

1965 - Marti Pellow (lead singer of Wet Wet Wet) is born Mark McLachlan in Clydebank, Scotland.

1972 - The film version of George Harrison's Concert For Bangladesh is released in America, helping raise additional money for aid that goes to UNICEF.
1974 - Hall & Oates' "She's Gone" peaks at #60 on the Hot 100. Later that year, a version by Tavares hits #50, and in 1976, the original goes to #7 when it is re-released. The duo were each dealing with girl problems when they wrote the song together.

1978 - A&M Records sign a new, young band called The Police.
1979 - Van Halen release their second album, Van Halen II, setting a furious pace that finds them issuing an album a year from 1978-1982. The album includes the concert favorites "Dance the Night Away" and "Somebody Get Me a Doctor."

1980 - U2 sign a worldwide deal with Island Records. They get about $100,000 for their first album.
1983 - ZZ Top release their album Eliminator, which features Billy Gibbons' custom hot rod on the cover. Thanks to videos for "Gimme All Your Lovin'," "Sharp Dressed Man" and "Legs" featuring the car and various babes, they become unlikely MTV stars, earning a new generation of fans.

1985 - John Fogerty's comeback album Centerfield hits #1 in America. He had plenty of time to work up material: Fogerty took 10 years off because of a dispute with his former record label.
1987 - Whitesnake releases "Is This Love" in the UK.

1988 - Mick Jagger performs his first solo gig in Japan, 15 years after having been barred from entering the country due to prior drug convictions.
1990 - The romantic comedy Pretty Woman, starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, debuts in US theaters. Named for Roy Orbison's classic tune, it also boasts an impressive soundtrack, including the #1 hit "It Must Have Been Love" by Roxette.

1992 - Billy Ray Cyrus releases "Achy Breaky Heart." It becomes his signature song and starts a line-dancing craze throughout the US.
1993 - Depeche Mode release Songs of Faith and Devotion in America, where it goes to #1 despite charting no singles higher than "I Feel You," which tops out at #37.

2000 - 60-year-old Tina Turner launches her Twenty Four Seven tour at the Target Center in Minneapolis. It takes in $80 million, making it the top-grossing tour of 2000.
2002 - At the 22nd Golden Raspberry Awards, Mariah Carey takes home her first Razzie as Worst Actress for her starring role in Glitter. The film earns a total of six nominations, including one for Mariah's cleavage as Worst Couple.
2002 - At the 75th Academy Awards, Eminem becomes the first rapper to take home an Oscar when "Lose Yourself," from his semi-biographical film 8 Mile, wins Best Original Song. Eminem doesn't bother to attend the ceremony, thinking he has no chance of winning, so his friend and producer Luis Resto accepts the honor in his absence.

2002 - The O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack, featuring a popular revival of the mountain ballad "Man of Constant Sorrow," takes bluegrass to #1 in America.
2004 - Usher releases his fourth album, Confessions, which goes on to sell over 10 million copies in America. The lead single, "Yeah!," is already three weeks into a 12-week run at #1.

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17 Apr, 2024
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