This Week In Rock History: The Beatles Call It Quits and the Ramones Begin

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March 31st, 1994 - Madonna goes nuts on Letterman

It's hard to say what exactly got Madonna so riled up when she appeared on Late Night With David Letterman in March of 1994. It's possible Letterman got things off to a bad start before she even got onstage. "Our first guest tonight is one of the biggest stars in the world," he said. "In the past 10 years, she has sold over 80 million albums, starred in countless films and slept with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry." Within one minute of taking the couch Madonna called Letterman a "sick fuck." It was the first of 14 f-bombs. "You realize this is being broadcast, don't you?" a slightly shocked Letterman replied.  Things went downhill from there and the incident went down as one of the most famous moments in Letterman history.

March 29th, 2000 - N'Sync shatter Soundscan record

Nobody knew it at the time, but the music industry peaked on March 29th, 2000. That was the day that Soundscan announced that N'Sync's 2000 LP No Strings Attached sold 2.42 million albums in its first week of release. The album's single "Bye Bye Bye" was a massive hit and boy band mania had reached a peak. Right around this time teenagers across the country started downloading a new program called Napster, and very quickly paying $18 for a CD at the mall seemed like a relic of the distant past. "I remember that week," Lance Bass told Rolling Stone in 2009. "The whole thing was a competition with the Backstreet Boys because they did a million in a week. "We're like, 'There's no way we can do a million in a week are you kidding me?' Then the label called and they're like 'You did a million in a day.'" It was a nutty, nutty time. It's an amazing feeling that we'll go down in history."

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

More Song Stories entries »