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Week in Rock History: Fleetwood Mac Breaks Up, Johnny Cash Dies

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September 14, 1999: The Strokes make their live debut
Two years before Is This It brought the world to their doors, the Strokes played their first gig to less-than-overwhelming results.

The inaugural show, at the now-defunct dive the Spiral in New York City, was "attended by four or five friends and some of our girlfriends," bassist Nikolai Fraiture recalled later to Pollstar. The band had formed less than a year before and were still getting their bearings, in every sense; they rehearsed in a tiny, shared practice space and had a small handful of tunes in their arsenal.

But the Spiral set led swiftly to greater venues. Before long, the group had booked a weekly residency at the downtown hub the Mercury Lounge. In January of 2001, they released The Modern Age, their three-song debut EP that sparked their massive, career-defining bidding war between major labels.

September 12, 2003: Johnny Cash dies
Country music's "Man in Black" passed away during a well-deserved last career resurgence. He was 71.

The gravel-voiced singer/songwriter, influential enough to be a rare inductee of both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, died due to complications from diabetes. His health had been in steady decline for years and caused him to miss the MTV Music Video Awards the previous month, where he was nominated in an unprecedented seven categories for his elegiac cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt." The video, directed by Mark Romanek and featuring personal footage from Cash's life, won prizes at the Grammy Awards and CMA Awards.

Cash, a forceful and haunted singer/songwriter, released such hits as "I Walk the Line" and "A Boy Named Sue" in his 60-plus years as a recording artist. He garnered 13 Grammys and, alongside his beloved wife June Carter Cash, was the subject of the Oscar-winning 2005 biopic Walk the Line. Carter Cash passed away just four months before her husband.

LAST WEEK: Keith Moon Dies

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Song Stories

“Vans”

The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

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