This Week In History - Sept. 17-23

By: David Ball

This Week In History - Sept. 17-23
The Bangles

Here are a couple of weird and wacky stories that caught my fancy:

I'm thinking this was a blessing in disguise for ticket-stub holders: David Lee Roth got injured doing a complex samurai move while on stage during a September 17, 2003 concert. Roth whacked himself in the head with a staff and needed 21 stitches to repair his ever-expanding forehead, causing the cancellation of the remainder of his tour and devastating a couple fans of that especially wanted to hear tracks from Diamond Dave's imaginatively titled new studio album, Diamond Dave. One thing is for sure: the samurai "move" certainly proved he was no Yojimbo, or to a far lesser extent, Mike Anthony (his former band mate and samurai wannabe; see Van Halen's cheesy "Pretty Woman" video).

On September 21, 1986, the usually reliable National Enquirer published a story that claimed Michael Jackson slept in an oxygen chamber in order to live to be 150. I gotta admit that the accompanying photo of the Gloved One is pretty damning. Unfortunately, his plan to live to be 150 fell short by 100 years.

Quick question: "What artist scored the most hit singles in UK chart history?"

Wrong answers: Elvis, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Paul McCartney, Cliff Richard, Robbie "I'm big in Europe" Williams and Led Zeppelin. According to research done by the Guinness Book of World Records, released on September 19, 2005, the artist with the most hit UK singles is Status Quo. WTF? Formed in south London in 1962, the Quo's first hit was 1967's "Pictures of Matchstickmen". Although they scored another 60 more in the UK during their "still active" 48-year career, "Pictures of Matchstickmen" was their only Top 20 single in the US. Quo's last UK hit was 2004's "You'll Come Around". Incidentally, Queen came in second place with 52 hits while The Rolling Stones and UB40 tied in for third with 51. So, don't feel too bad for Canadian's biggest band, the Tragically "We'd kill even the Dalai Lama for just one Top 20 in the States" Hip; Status Quo only has you beat, but only by one. 

One of the most successful bands of the ‘80s, The Bangles, broke-up on September 21, 1989. Formerly known as The Supersonic Bangs and The Bangs, the L.A.-based all-girl quartet achieved superstardom five years after they discarded their exciting early garage rock sound in favour of slickly produced ‘60s-leaning West Coast folk/pop. First, though, they released their critically acclaimed, but largely ignored, studio debut in 1984—an unpolished psychedelic gem (and best effort). But because of their aforementioned—and calculated—musical shift, their second album, Different Light, sold millions on the strength of radio-friendly hit singles, "Walk Like an Egyptian", "If She Knew What She Wants" and the Prince-penned, "Manic Monday". Their commercial appeal was also heightened by the emerging importance of music videos and MTV. Thus, the band's no-brainer focus began to swing superficially from the talented but painfully plain-looking Peterson sisters, to rhythm guitarist/singer Susanna Hoffs, she of the smoking hot looks and blood-boiling sex-appeal. However, creative tensions caused the band to split not long after the release of 1988's Everything, even though the over-produced piece of Top 40 pap was a multi-platinum seller and spawned the mega-selling singles, "In Your Room" and "Eternal Flame". A reformed Bangles gave it one more go in 2003 with Doll Revolution, but Hoffs' middle-age good looks couldn't generate any sales heat and the LP stiffed (shallow attempts to cash-in on past glories have a tendency to do that). Cutting through all this Bangles crap is their terrific cover of Simon and Garfunkel's classic, "Hazy Shade of Winter", which they rightfully rocked to the top of the charts in 1987. 

On September 22, 1991, former Canadian-rocker-turned-slightly-androgynous-and-thoroughly-nauseating-Top 40-balladeer, Bryan Adams, made chart history when "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" held top spot on the UK charts for the twelfth straight week (it subsequently stayed on top for four more weeks; the longest for any single in UK history). Co-written by noted song-doctors, John "Mutt "Lange and Michael Kamen, "(Everything I Do)" is the Kingston, Ontario army brat's most successful single to date. It also holds these unofficial distinctions: consistently ranked in the world's "Top 10 Most Sickening Ballads" (19 years and counting); most overplayed blue-collar wedding song; and Bryan's career shark-jump. Lately, Adams has proven to be a fairly decent fashion photographer, so do us all a favour and STOP SINGING FOR CHRIST'S SAKE! 

Next week: Dave Grohl and Iron Maiden

Video: "Hazy Shade Of Winter" by The Bangles

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