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This Week In Rock History: Sex Pistols Signed, U2 Release 'The Joshua Tree'

Plus: Quiet Riot puts metal on the map, Aerosmith release their last studio album, Clapton scores third Hall of Fame induction

March 7, 2011 8:00 AM ET
The Sex Pistols with their manager Malcolm McLaren signing a new contract with A&M Records outside Buckingham Palace, London, March 10, 197
The Sex Pistols with their manager Malcolm McLaren signing a new contract with A&M Records outside Buckingham Palace, London, March 10, 197
Graham Wood/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty

In this week in rock history, the Sex Pistols got signed to A&M, Quiet Riot put heavy metal on the map, U2 released The Joshua Tree, Eric Clapton got inducted into the Hall of Fame for his third time and Aerosmith put out their final studio LP.

March 10, 1977: The Sex Pistols sign to A&M records outside of Buckingham Palace

Sid Vicious had just joined the Sex Pistols when A&M held an elaborate signing ceremony for the punk band outside of Buckingham Palace. The real signing (a two-year deal for 75,000 pounds) had happened the previous day at A&M's headquarters, but having the "God Save The Queen" band stage a signing in front of the palace was too good a photo opportunity to pass up.

From there they went to a press conference at the Regent Palace Hotel, whose staff made the critical error of serving the band loads of alcohol. Pretty soon the entire band was beating the crap out of each other, trying to prove who was the "toughest Sex Pistol."

When they got to A&M to begin recording music they were all completely wasted and bleeding. A&M was so horrified by their behavior – especially Sid Vicious calling a secretary a "bitch" and destroying a toilet – that they dropped the band six days later. They got the keep the money. In a bizarre twist, Sid's father worked as a guard at Buckinham Palace and according to legend he was on duty when the Pistols showed up that morning.

Photo Gallery: The Sex Pistols Rock Las Vegas

March 11, 1983: Quiet Riot release Metal Health

It seems like hair bands from L.A.'s Sunset Strip owned the Eighties, but the scene didn't really reach a national audience until March of 1983, when Quiet Riot released Metal Health. Aided by MTV's constant airing of the video for their Slade cover "Cum On Feel The Noize," they became the first heavy metal band to put a song in the top five on the Billboard Hot 100.
 

The album also hit Number One, another heavy metal first. The success sent A&R men scurrying to the Sunset Strip, and groups like Ratt, Poison, Dokken and Great White wound up with hugs radio hits. Quiet Riot's success was brief, though they continued to tour until frontman Kevin DuBrow died in 2007.

March 9, 1987: U2 Release The Joshua Tree

With massive radio hits "Pride (In The Name of Love)," "New Years Day" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday" under their belts, U2 were already very popular before The Joshua Tree came out. But the 1987 LP transformed them into one of the biggest bands of all time. Produced by Daniel Lanois and  Brian Eno, The Joshua Tree yielded some of the most memorable songs of the Eighties, including "Where The Streets Have No Name," "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and "With Or Without You."

By the end of the long tour behind the disc they were headlining stadiums and filming the ill-fated documentary Rattle & Hum. U2 went on to huge success, especially with 1991's Achtung Baby and 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind. But they were never quite as massive as they were in the summer of 1987. 

In 1998 the Edge talked to Rolling Stone about "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." "At first it was complete gospel," he said.  "I was like, 'How are we going to make this U2?' Then one afternoon Bono was working on a vocal for it and just hit on this approach. The final thing that nailed it was the chiming guitar part with the echoes. Suddenly, rather than sounding like 'U2 go gospel,' it was this little gem. I still harbored a sense that it might be too gospel, but when I eventually heard a gospel choir sing it, I never felt so white!"

U2: The Rolling Stone Covers

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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.”

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