Inside Bob Dylan's Shoot for 'Subterranean Homesick Blues'

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May 5, 1990 - Led Zeppelin play a reunion set at Jason Bonham's wedding
The death of thundering drummer John “Bonzo” Bonham on September 25, 1980, was an insurmountable loss for Led Zeppelin: the band disbanded three months later, issuing the official announcement, "We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family together with the sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager have led us to decide we could not continue as we were.”

Singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, and bassist John Paul Jones continued to perform and record, occasionally with each other: Page and Plant formed the R&B group the Honeydrippers in 1981 (which also featured Page’s fellow Yardbirds alum Jeff Beck) and joined with Jones to release an album of Led Zep outtakes, Coda, in 1982. The surviving trio regrouped for a short set at Live Aid in 1985, with Phil Collins and Tony Thompson sitting in on drums, but Page and Plant were reportedly infuriated by the performance.

Led Zeppelin’s next gig, five years later, was a much more joyous affair. Page, Plant, and Jones reformed for a lengthy jam at the wedding of Bonzo’s son, Jason Bonham, in Kidderminster, England. The groom sat in on drums, and the immediate chemistry of that lineup proved the catalyst for the band’s biggest reunion to date: the Ahmet Ertegün Tribute Concert on December 10, 2007, at O2 Arena in London….with Jason Bonham sitting in for his father again.

May 7, 1992 - John Frusciante quits the Red Hot Chili Peppers Upon its release in 1991, Blood Sugar Sex Magik was a startling departure and an all-in gamble for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Their fifth album abandoned their previous affinity for heavy-metal guitar riffs and introduced stronger funk influences, lascivious lyrics, and major mainstream success (to the tune of 13 million copies sold).

But the hysterical popularity of the record and its singles ("Under the Bridge," "Give It Away," "Suck My Kiss," “Breaking the Girl") confounded guitarist John Frusciante. Overwhelmed by the group’s runaway success, he argued constantly with singer Anthony Kiedis while on their ensuing world tour, yearning for smaller venues and less pressure. He quit the band backstage before their show at Tokyo’s Club Quattro – and, although he was persuaded to perform that evening, he flew back to California the next day. The departure blindsided his bandmates and also the photo editors at Rolling Stone, who had to digitally remove him from the upcoming (buck naked) cover photo of the band.

In California, Frusciante entered a period of deep depression and drug addiction. He dropped several solo albums, including 1994 avant-garde debut Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt, before entering rehab. After a successful stint there, Frusciante rejoined the Chili Peppers in 1998 and, ironically, contributed to the most successful album of their career, 1999’s Californication (15 million copies sold worldwide), as well as the well-received By the Way (2002) and Stadium Arcadium (2006). He left the group, much more amicably, in 2008.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

More Song Stories entries »