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Week in Rock History: Aaliyah Killed in a Plane Crash

Plus: Jefferson Airplane incites a riot

August 22, 2011 11:25 AM ET
aaliyah plane crash death
Aaliyah
Kevin Mazur/WireImage

This week in rock history, Beatles manager Brian Epstein and R&B singer Aaliyah passed away, Jefferson Airplane incited a riot, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant reunited for a famed MTV special and Brian May received a doctorate in astrophysics.

August 25, 2001: Aaliyah is killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas
Aaliyah Haughton was already an industry veteran at the time of her tragic death. Signed to Jive Records at age 12, each of her three R&B albums (1994’s Age Ain't Nothing but a Number, 1996’s One in a Million, and 2001’s Aaliyah) went double platinum and she was also an established movie actress (notably 2000’s teen hit Romeo Must Die). She was a tasteful, elegant singer and frequent collaborator with hitmakers Timbaland and Missy Elliott; with them, the beautiful singer became a defining artist of futuristic urban pop, helping strengthen its place in the R&B spectrum. She also became something of a tabloid fixture after she was outed as the former underage wife of R. Kelly.

Haughton was killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas after filming the music video for her single "Rock the Boat." She was 22. Eight other passengers perished, and a wrongful death lawsuit was filed by her family when the pilot was revealed to have traces of drugs in his system.

Last year, Billboard named Aaliyah the 27th most successful R&B/hip-hop musician of the past 25 years.

August 21, 1972: Jefferson Airplane incites a riot after taunting police from the stage
As Jefferson Airplane imploded as a band, they took their tension to Ohio. It didn’t go well.

In support of Long John Silver, their final studio record together (before their tepid 1989 reunion), the argumentative San Francisco rockers embarked on a major national tour. It marked their first performances in approximately a year; all went peacefully until their performance in Akron, Ohio, when singer/guitarist Paul Kantner argued with local policemen, calling them "pigs" from onstage. Soon after Kantner began his taunts, frontwoman Grace Slick accidentally grabbed an officer’s arm and he maced her. A fight broke out onstage and in the audience and bassist Jack Casady was arrested. Several members of the band were injured besides Slick, and it proved a final straw in the unhappy artists: Casady and guitarist Jorma Kaukonen left the band by the end of the year.

August 25, 1994: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant reunited to record the TV special Unledded
Fourteen years after ending Led Zeppelin in despair over the death of drummer John Bonham, guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Robert Plant reunited for 90 minutes down memory lane.

UnLedded, an MTV television special, revisited many of Led Zep’s defining tracks, including "The Battle of Evermore," "Kashmir" and "Since I’ve Been Loving You." It also included acoustic takes and a handful of new, Middle Eastern-inspired tunes that reflected the program’s recording session in Morocco (as well as in the U.K.). However, it wasn’t a proper band reunion, as bassist John Paul Jones was not informed about it; he later expressed anger to the press that the pair named the show’s accompanying live album, No Quarter, after a Led Zeppelin song he’d mostly written.

UnLedded achieved strong ratings on MTV and No Quarter peaked at Number Four on the Billboard charts.

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