In this week in rock history, the Sex Pistols got signed to A&M, Quiet Riot put heavy metal on the map, U2 released The Joshua Tree, Eric Clapton got inducted into the Hall of Fame for his third time and Aerosmith put out their final studio LP.
March 10, 1977: The Sex Pistols sign to A&M records outside of Buckingham Palace
Sid Vicious had just joined the Sex Pistols when A&M held an elaborate signing ceremony for the punk band outside of Buckingham Palace. The real signing (a two-year deal for 75,000 pounds) had happened the previous day at A&M’s headquarters, but having the “God Save The Queen” band stage a signing in front of the palace was too good a photo opportunity to pass up.
From there they went to a press conference at the Regent Palace Hotel, whose staff made the critical error of serving the band loads of alcohol. Pretty soon the entire band was beating the crap out of each other, trying to prove who was the “toughest Sex Pistol.”
When they got to A&M to begin recording music they were all completely wasted and bleeding. A&M was so horrified by their behavior – especially Sid Vicious calling a secretary a “bitch” and destroying a toilet – that they dropped the band six days later. They got the keep the money. In a bizarre twist, Sid’s father worked as a guard at Buckinham Palace and according to legend he was on duty when the Pistols showed up that morning.
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March 11, 1983: Quiet Riot release Metal Health
It seems like hair bands from L.A.’s Sunset Strip owned the Eighties, but the scene didn’t really reach a national audience until March of 1983, when Quiet Riot released Metal Health. Aided by MTV’s constant airing of the video for their Slade cover “Cum On Feel The Noize,” they became the first heavy metal band to put a song in the top five on the Billboard Hot 100.
The album also hit Number One, another heavy metal first. The success sent A&R men scurrying to the Sunset Strip, and groups like Ratt, Poison, Dokken and Great White wound up with hugs radio hits. Quiet Riot’s success was brief, though they continued to tour until frontman Kevin DuBrow died in 2007.
March 9, 1987: U2 Release The Joshua Tree
With massive radio hits “Pride (In The Name of Love),” “New Years Day” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday” under their belts, U2 were already very popular before The Joshua Tree came out. But the 1987 LP transformed them into one of the biggest bands of all time. Produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, The Joshua Tree yielded some of the most memorable songs of the Eighties, including “Where The Streets Have No Name,” “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “With Or Without You.”
By the end of the long tour behind the disc they were headlining stadiums and filming the ill-fated documentary Rattle & Hum. U2 went on to huge success, especially with 1991’s Achtung Baby and 2000’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind. But they were never quite as massive as they were in the summer of 1987.
In 1998 the Edge talked to Rolling Stone about “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” “At first it was complete gospel,” he said. “I was like, ‘How are we going to make this U2?’ Then one afternoon Bono was working on a vocal for it and just hit on this approach. The final thing that nailed it was the chiming guitar part with the echoes. Suddenly, rather than sounding like ‘U2 go gospel,’ it was this little gem. I still harbored a sense that it might be too gospel, but when I eventually heard a gospel choir sing it, I never felt so white!”
March 6, 2000: Eric Clapton becomes the first person inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times
In March of 2000 Eric Clapton became the only person to ever be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for a third time, having previously gotten in as a member of The Yardbirds and Cream. He didn’t show when The Yardbirds got in, and admitted that he was very reluctant to reform Cream at the 1993 ceremony. He had fewer reservations in 2000, especially after Robbie Robertson’s laudatory induction speech. “No smashing guitars,” Robertson said. “No burning guitars, no tricks, no gimmicks, just keeping-it-real guitar.”
Clapton, who played “Further Up On The Road” and “Tears In Heaven” that night, gave a very short speech. “I don’t know quite how to handle this kind of stuff,” he said. “I’m just a messenger – I carry the message, and I hope to be able to do that as long as I live. Love and music is all you need. If I may, I’ll just go over there and play.”
Neil Young came close to being inducted three times, but he didn’t play on the first Crosby, Stills & Nash album, so they got in as a trio. It’s possible Clapton will be inducted again: Derek & The Dominoes and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers have yet to get in.
March 6, 2001: Aerosmith release Just Push Play
Aerosmith’s huge 1998 hit “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” put them back on the radio after the previous year’s disc Nine Lives failed to reach a mass audience. In 2001 they took that momentum back into the studio and cut Just Push Play. They scored a big hit with Jaded, but the LP ultimately failed to live up to the expectations of the band or its fans.
“I’m not a big fan of that record,” Joe Perry told Rolling Stone in 2009. “We get too much into the technical end of things and let that take over. The band really didn’t play those tracks live in the studio.” It’s now been exactly 10 years since the album came out, and Aerosmith still hasn’t released an album of new material since – though in 2004 they put out the blues cover album “Honkin’ on Bobo.” That seems unlikely to change anytime soon, with Steven Tyler devoting much of his time to American Idol and a possible solo album.