This Week in Rock History: Beach Boys Release 'Pet Sounds'

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May 21, 2008: Lou Pearlman is sentenced to 25 years in prison for running Ponzi scheme

Whenever Lou Pearlman writes his inevitable autobiography, he’d do well to title it Quit Playing Games (With My Money). The record company mogul who created the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync operated more than a few shady transactions during the boy-band heyday of the late 1990s/early 2000s — in fact, he ran a decades-long financial ploy that cheated investors out of more than $300 million, for which he was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison. According to a plea agreement Pearlman signed before his sentencing, his nearly 2,000 investors were conned into pouring their money into two phony “shell” companies that served the crux of an extensive Ponzi scheme. To support his scam, the Orlando, Florida-based Pearlman fabricated financial statements from a nonexistent accounting firm. Pearlman’s final sentencing came two months after he pladed guilty to counts of conspiracy, money laundering and making false bankruptcy claims. He was 53 at the time of his conviction, and he currently remains incarcerated at Texarkana Federal Prison.

May 16, 2010: Ronnie James Dio dies

Ronnie James Dio, linchpin of metal outfits Black Sabbath, Dio, and Rainbow, was a predatory force of hard rock. Revered for his complex, operatic vocals, he wailed about rebellion and rock & roll with satanic glee — and, not coincidentally, was the popular force behind the popular “devil horn” hand gesture as we know it. Born Ronald James Padavona in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Dio cut his teeth in the rock band Elf before replacing Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath. He fronted the monolithic rockers from 1979 to 1982, when he left in favor of his own group, Dio. His eponymous band's 1983 debut, Holy Diver, was a metal sensation, and its title track remains the singer’s best-known anthem. Dio remained the group’s lone constant member through several active decades, and in 2008 he joined his Black Sabbath bandmates Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice to tour under the moniker Heaven & Hell, the title of their first joint album in the group. He also had a memorable cameo 2006’s Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny as a poster that comes to life (and behooves all to go forth and rock, of course). Dio passed away at age 67 following a six-month battle with stomach cancer. The Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund operates in his memory.

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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