History Lesson: Famous for 15 Minutes
August 8, 2002: Reports in Britain indicate that pop songs are preferred to hymns at funerals. The most popular songs include Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings" and Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On," either of which would be enough to make me glad I was dead.
August 8, 1981: MTV broadcasts the first concert ever televised live in stereo. The headliner: REO Speedwagon. REO thus reaches the point furthest removed from the small-town Midwestern bars they played throughout much of the 1970s, including one in my hometown.
August 8, 1970: Janis Joplin buys a headstone for her idol, blues singer Bessie Smith, who died in 1937. On the same day, "Ohio" by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young peaks at Number 14, just three months after the Kent State shootings.
August 8, 1969: The cover photo for the Beatles' Abbey Road is shot outside Abbey Road Studios. Six photos are taken in about 10 minutes. The one picked for the cover contains several bits of evidence that Paul is dead.
Birthdays Today: Rikki Rockett, co-founder of Poison, is 44. One of the great made-up rock-star names of all time, and guaranteed to snag more babes than his birth name, Richard Ream.
Airrion Love of the Stylistics is 56. The Stylistics' distinctive sound was thanks mostly to the falsetto of Russell Thompkins Jr., but Love got his moment in the spotlight on "You Make Me Feel Brand New."
Andy Warhol would be 78, had he not died in 1987. Warhol managed the Velvet Underground and, as the founder of the Pop Art movement, designed album covers and the Rolling Stones' lips logo. He also famously said that in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes--and he wasn't exaggerating by much.
Number One Songs on This Date:
1990: "Vision of Love"/Mariah Carey. A spectacular voice and a unique song added up to one of the most impressive debut singles ever. We didn't know at the time that Carey would spend the rest of her career narcissistically showing off her range on the blandest songs imaginable, and developing as obnoxious a diva personality as any female artist has ever had. Sometime in the fairly near future Carey will surpass Elvis Presley as the artist with the most weeks at Number One on the Hot 100. Rock is dead.
1978: "Miss You"/Rolling Stones. Their eighth Number One single in America, and the last one to date.
1976: "Don't Go Breaking My Heart"/Elton John and Kiki Dee. Elton's biggest hit would spend a month at Number One. We didn't know it at the time, but he was already beginning to slip from his perch as the world's most popular artist.
1963: "So Much in Love"/Tymes. In the early 1960s, there was a brief flurry of nostalgia for the street-corner doo-wop of the 1950s. (The first oldies radio stations were born about this time.) "So Much in Love" was the most successful manifestation of that flurry on the pop charts.
1954: "Sh-Boom"/Crew Cuts. The Crew Cuts specialized in safe-for-white-people versions of R&B hits, most notably this one (originally done by the Chords, whose version is considered one of the first rock-and-roll records) and "Earth Angel."