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Week in Rock History: Jimi Hendrix Dies

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September 23, 2001: Kylie Minogue releases "Can't Get You Out of My Head"
After more than a decade as a global pop star, Kylie Minogue finally broke through to American audiences with one of the catchiest songs of the decade.

A former child actress and television star in her native Australia, Minogue struck musical gold early in 1987 with her first single, "Locomotion." She released her debut album, Kylie, in 1988, and over the next few years, all of her first 13 singles cracked the Top Ten of the British charts – a singular achievement in U.K. musical history.

Her record sales lagged in the mid-1990s as she experimented with her nü-disco sound, trying all the while to cross over to American audiences. It was "Can't Get You Out of My Head," off her eighth album, Fever, that finally helped her crack the United States. The irresistible electronic dance track was first released in Australia then bounded over to America in 2002, where it climbed the Billboard Hot Dance Club charts and reached Number One, as well as reached Number Seven on the Billboard Hot 100.

September 21, 2004: Yusuf Islam, a.k.a. Cat Stevens, is detained by United States Homeland Security
British folk-pop singer-songwriter Cat Stevens changed his name to Yusuf Islam when he converted to Islam in the late 1970s. Two decades later, his name made him a temporary suspect of the United States government.

In 2004, Yusuf boarded a United Airlines flight from London to Washington to meet with Dolly Parton, with whom he was planning to record a song. En route, his name was discovered on the U.S. "no fly list," suggesting he posed a possible terrorism threat; the flight was diverted to Maine and Islam was interrogated by government officials at the request of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. The next day, Islam was flown back to Britain, drawing complaints from the British government and widespread ire towards Ridge.

Islam petitioned to have his name removed from the no fly list, and he entered the United States without detainment in 2006. In 2008, he recorded a song about the political debacle, "Boots and Sand," with Dolly Parton and Paul McCartney.

LAST WEEK: Fleetwood Mac Breaks Up and Johnny Cash Dies

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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 »
 
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