This week in rock history, Carly Simon and James Taylor got hitched, George Harrison began his disastrous solo tour of the States, Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys parted ways, Prince launched the Purple Rain tour and debuted the Revolution and Garbage headlined their first American show.
November 3, 1972: Carly Simon and James Taylor marry
The subjects of Carly Simon’s confessional pop-rock tunes have been debated endlessly; her 1972 international hit “You’re So Vain” has been ascribed to Mick Jagger, Warren Beatty, Cat Stevens and a host of her other celebrity suitors. At the time of its Billboard reign, though, she took to the press to lay one rumor to rest: it was not about her new husband, singer/songwriter James Taylor.
Simon and Taylor met in April 1971 at one of Simon’s concerts; ironically, Simon was performing in support of her self-titled first album, released two months prior, which contained her Top Ten anti-marriage single “That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be.” Taylor was an equally prominent pop musician; one month prior to their introduction, his third album, Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon, had landed him the cover of Time magazine.
After a one-year-courtship, the couple married in Manhattan. They had two children, and a string of hit records apiece, before divorcing in 1983.
November 2, 1974: George Harrison begins his ill-fated solo tour of the United States and Canada
In 1974, George Harrison became the first Beatle to tour the United States extensively as a solo artist. However, the trek was a critical and popular disaster: throughout the seven week tour, fans flocked to the shows expecting Beatles hits and guitar pop, and Harrison provided something far different.
The American tour supported Dark Horse, Harrison’s 1974 album that grappled with his separation from his first wife, Patti Boyd, after she left him for Eric Clapton. While recording the disjointedly spiritual album, Harrison contracted laryngitis, a condition that persisted throughout the accompanying tour. Dark Horse fared poorly on the charts – critics called it “dismal” and “out of tune” – and its tour was equally upending to listeners: Harrison opened each set with the sitar master Ravi Shankar (his tutor on the instrument) and an ensemble of musicians playing protracted Indian classical music, then yelled at his audience to chant “Hare Krishna” and refused to play any Beatles songs.
Compounded with his vocal troubles, the endeavor became derided in the press as the “Dark Hoarse” tour. As Rolling Stone reporter Ben Fong-Torres summed up Harrison’s Vancouver launch: “Holy Krishna! What kind of an opening night for George Harrison is this?”
November 5, 1982: Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys part ways on the orders of Wilson’s therapist, Eugene Landy
Devastated by the scrapped recording sessions of his most ambitious record, Smile, and psychologically scarred by his father’s controlling rage, Brian Wilson spent the 1970s slipping away from the Beach Boys and into a downward spiral of mental problems and drugs. By 1975, after the death of his father, he was so tormented and ailing that his wife hired the unorthodox psychologist Dr. Eugene Landy to bring him back to functionality.
Though they hoped that Landy’s 24-hour monitoring would help Wilson return to his prior songwriting glory, the other Beach Boys were distrustful of the therapist. They fired him in 1976, ostensibly over money (he’d doubled his rate by then), but Wilson rehired him in 1982. Landy then convinced Wilson to split with the Beach Boys and then controlled Wilson’s career and daily life for almost a decade – including acting as his manager and producing his 1988 solo album, a violation of his ethical code as a medical professional.
Landy’s obsessive grasp over Wilson led the singer’s family to bring legal action against the therapist in 1991, and Wilson also ultimately denounced him. Landy’s medical license was also revoked by the state of California, and he died in Hawaii on March 22nd, 2006, from lung cancer. When asked, Wilson told reporters that he was devastated by the news.
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.
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