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This Week In Rock History: George Michael Busted and the World Meets ABBA

Also, Aerosmith release a classic and the Beach Boys banned from Washington

April 4, 2011 6:40 PM ET
ABBA
ABBA
Chris Walter/WireImage

This week in rock history the world met ABBA, Aerosmith hit it big with their third album, the Beach Boys battles Washington, Duran Duran covered Public Enemy and George Michael left a public bathroom in handcuffs.

April 6th, 1974 -  ABBA wins the Eurovision Song Contest

Most Americans have never heard of the Eurovision Song Contest, but for the past five decades the annual contest has been one of Europe's biggest cultural events. Every country submits a musical act and a winner is decided American Idol-style. In 1974 Sweden entered ABBA and their song "Waterloo." After winning the pop band went on to take over the entire world, scoring hit after hit until their break-up in 1982. In 2005 "Waterloo" was voted the greatest song in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest. Five years later ABBA was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The group hasn't performed since their split, and have refused to reunite depite being offered a reported $1 billion for a tour.

April 8th, 1975  - Aerosmith release Toys In The Attic

With the release of 1975s Toys In The Attic critics stopped looking at Aerosmith as just another band ripping off the Rolling Stones. Songs like "Sweet Emotion," "Walk This Way" and the title track were simply too good to dismiss, and they finally landed a hit in the Top 40. To many fans the album is a highwater mark for the band. They've gone in a considerably poppier direction in the past 25 years, and some in the band are craving a return to the Toys In The Attic vibe. "It’s clear to most of the members in Aerosmith that the fans want to return to old school," drummer Joey Kramer told Rolling Stone in 2009. "That’s obviously what the band has always done best. We’ve had some success with pop songs, but we’ve also had some miserable failures. Pop failures are much harder to take than legitimate rock songs that don’t cut it."

April 5th, 1983 - The Beach Boys banned from the National Mall by James Watt

The Beach Boys of the early Eighties were about as All-American as any Sixties rock band could be.  Every Fourth of July weekend they performed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. But in 1983 Secretary of the Interior James Watt banned them and opener the Grass Roots, saying that rock bands attracted the "wrong element." He then announced that Wayne Newton would take their place. The news caused an absolute uproar, angering even Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Watt was forced to apologize. The Beach Boys returned to the National Mall the following summer, but by that point Watt was long out of a job. In September of 1983 he was talking about affirmative action when he uttered his now legendary quote: "I have a black, a woman, two Jews and a cripple. And we have talent." It was the perfect storm of offensiveness, and he was soon forced to resign.

 

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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 »
 
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