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When Jimmy Page Debuted With the Yardbirds and Steely Dan Broke Up

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June 22, 1981: ­ Mark David Chapman pleaded guilty to the charge of murdering John Lennon

Mark David Chapman pleaded guilty to John Lennon's murder against the advice of a cabal of lawyers, who wanted to file an insanity plea. And Chapman certainly had convincing proof of psychosis, having sent a rambling handwritten letter to the New York Times that February urging readers to read J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, the novel he'd read at the Lennon murder scene, as a book that "holds many answers."

Chapman, then 26, insisted that he was competent to plead guilty to the charge of second-degree murder, and did so in a New York courthouse in June of 1981. He admitted shooting the Beatles icon four times in the back as he and Yoko Ono walked outside the Dakota apartment building in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Chapman was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison and currently is incarcerated at Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York. He has been denied parole six times.

June 20, 2000: ­ The Ronettes are awarded $2.6 million in back earnings from Phil Spector

Ronnie Spector enjoyed a rare kind of retribution when she took her ex-husband, Phil Spector, to court over the royalties of their famed 1960s girl-group the Ronettes.

Lead singer Ronnie and fellow original members Estelle Bennett and Nedra Talley sued their former svengali producer Phil Spector for $11 million in 1988, accusing him of breach of contract and bilking them out of royalties since 1964. The amount reflected the Ronettes' heyday as one of the most popular girl-groups of that decade, and their aesthetic of deep eye-liner and towering beehive hair was almost as influential as their delightful singles "Be My Baby," "Baby, I Love You" and "(Walking) in the Rain."

New York judge Paula Omansky sided with the singers, though she did not transfer ownership of the original Ronettes recordings to them as requested. She explained, "Spector's contributions to the Ronettes' success cannot be underestimated, as composer of their songs, and as creator of the sound for which the Ronettes' recording hits became famous." However, she did order the volatile Wall of Sound producer to pay $2.6 million in back and future earnings to the singers. The ruling was overturned years later in the New York State Court of Appeals, who ruled that the group's original, unfortunate contract with Spector was still binding.

LAST WEEK: When Bruce Springsteen Protested Nukes and Nirvana Released 'Bleach'

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Song Stories

“Money For Nothing”

Dire Straits | 1984

Mark Knopfler wrote this song with Sting, and it wasn’t without controversy. The Dire Straits frontman's original lyric used the word “faggot” to describe a singer who got their “money for nothing and their chicks for free.” Even though the slur was edited out in many versions, the band, and Knopfler, still took plenty of criticism for the term. “I got an objection from the editor of a gay newspaper in London--he actually said it was below the belt,” Knopfler told Rolling Stone. Still, "Money For Nothing," undoubtedly augmented by its innovative early computer-animated video, stayed at Number One for three weeks.

More Song Stories entries »
 
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