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Week in Rock History: Carly Simon and James Taylor Tie the Knot

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November 4, 1984: Prince launches the Purple Rain tour and debuts his new band, the Revolution
Prince's 1984 record Purple Rain was a multimedia juggernaut: a sensational pop-funk opus that sold over 13 million copies, dominated the Billboard charts, and begat an Academy Award-winning film. His international supporting tour for the album only furthered his momentum with 87 dates and the introduction of his vivacious new band, the Revolution.

The Purple One launched his long odyssey with a one-week residency at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit; on the first night, he introduced Wendy Melvoin as the new guitarist of the Revolution, cementing the most famous lineup of the ensemble. He also welcomed drummer Sheila E. and singing group Apollonia 6 (which Prince had formed) for long jams onstage; their improv-heavy renditions of "Baby I'm a Star" would easily last a half hour.

The tour concluded in April of 1985; by then, over a million tickets had been sold. That year, Prince announced that he would no longer perform live, but the vow did not stick.

November 5, 1995: Garbage headline their first U.S. show
Garbage grew from the loose jamming of three established producers – Butch Vig (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins), Steve Marker (Killdozer) and Duke Erikson (Smart Studios) — and found swift success after the inclusion of their glamorous singer, Shirley Manson. Their self-titled debut, released in 1995, reached the Top 20 of the Billboard and U.K. charts on the strength of the atmospheric-pop singles "Vow," "Stupid Girl" and "Only Happy When It Rains" and slick, experimental music videos.

Although the three men in Garbage were American, they had shied away from live performance in the States while Manson cut ties with her former band in Scotland, Angelfish, and Nevermind producer Vig reeled from the news of Kurt Cobain's suicide. By the time Garbage was set to make their headlining debut on an American stage, their album was already a durable presence on rock radio; their first gig was at the 7th Street Entry club in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They toured extensively for the next two years while preparing their second album, Version 2.0. – in short time, becoming one of the most dependably intriguing rock acts of the mid-1990s.

LAST WEEK: John Lennon Sues the FBI

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

More Song Stories entries »
 
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