Paul Simon Returns To Johannesburg, South Africa, With The Blessing Of The U.N.

In 1985, singer-songwriter Paul Simon made a controversial nine-day visit to South Africa—a visit that some felt was in violation of a United Nations cultural boycott, but a visit that dramatically increased worldwide awareness of black South Africa’s rich musical traditions. Seven years later, with the U.N. boycott lifted, Simon returned to South Africa to […]

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Natalie Cole’s Unforgettable: With Love Goes To #1

Fifteen years and five #1 hits after breaking into the music industry by working in a style completely different from her famous father’s, Natalie Cole stopped distancing herself from Nat King Cole’s musical legacy and instead embraced it, recording an entire album of standards from her father’s old repertoire. Though it exposed her to charges […]

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Luther Campbell And Fellow 2LiveCrew Members Are Arrested On Obscenity Charges

Though the First Amendment to the Constitution clearly states that the U.S. Congress “shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech,” free speech is widely understood to have its limits. It is dangerous and potentially criminal, for instance, to yell, “Fire!” in a crowded theater. But what about yelling “$&%#@!!” in a crowded nightclub? Lenny […]

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New Kids On The Block Land At The Top Of The Pops

While hairstyles and fashions may come and go, and while musical styles may evolve over time, one thing that repeats itself in music history with great regularity is the ascendancy of boy bands as a pop-cultural force. In the late 1980s, this cyclical process yielded New Kids on the Block—another in a long line of […]

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Guns N’ Roses Make Popular Breakthrough With “Sweet Child O’ Mine”

In the 1980s, Los Angeles was a mecca for so-called “glam rock” bands and the “sex, drugs and rock and roll” lifestyle with which they came to be associated. On any given night inside clubs like the Troubadour and the Whisky a Go Go, you could not only hear bands like Hanoi Rocks and Mötley […]

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Teenager Debbie Gibson Earns A #1 Hit With “Foolish Beat”

Contrary to what some critics of teen pop might imagine, pop sensation Debbie Gibson saw herself not as the next Madonna, but as the next Carole King. And when her single “Foolish Beat” reached the top of the Biilboard Hot 100 on this day in 1988, she achieved something very much in keeping with that […]

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Tiffany Visits The Mall On Her Way To Stardom

Long before Hannah Montana and High School Musical, in the late 1980s, a 16-year-old aspiring pop star named Tiffany Darwish had a self-titled debut album on a major record label that was gathering dust on record store shelves around the country. What transformed Tiffany the album into a quadruple-Platinum smash hit and Tiffany the singer […]

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Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Inducts First Woman

In 1986, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its first group of inductees: Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, James Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and the Everly Brothers. Since then, the Hall has added a new class of inductees each year, expanding by January 2008 […]

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Columbia Records Drops Country Legend Johnny Cash After 26 Years

The critically acclaimed 2002 biopic Walk The Line depicts the life and career of Johnny Cash from his initial rise to stardom in the 1950s to his resurgence following a drug-fueled decline in the 1960s. The selection of this time span made perfect sense from a Hollywood perspective, but from a historical perspective, it left […]

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Live Aid Is Held Simultaneously In London And Philadelphia And Broadcast Live Throughout The World

“This is your Woodstock, and it’s long overdue.” That was the introduction offered by 1960s folk icon Joan Baez at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the opening of the North American portion of Live Aid on this day in 1985. The biggest rock concert and charity event in the history of the world, staged […]

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