Today in Music History: Happy Birthday, Dave Pirner

Dave Pirner
Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum (MPR Photo / Nate Ryan)

History Highlight:

Dave Pirner, best-known as the lead vocalist and frontman for the alternative rock band Soul Asylum, is 54 today. Born in Green Bay, he taught himself how to play the drums and started his career drumming with a punk band called Loud Fast Rules as part of the Minneapolis scene, together with Karl Mueller (bass) and Dan Murphy (guitar). In 1983 they changed their name to Soul Asylum and released 11 albums over 32 years.

Also, Today In:

1944 - On shore leave from the Merchant Marines, Woody Guthrie arrived at Folkway Records' studios in New York City, where he started recording with the label's founder, Moses Asch, in what became known as the "Asch recordings." Among the songs recorded during these sessions was "This Land Is Your Land," which became an iconic populist protest anthem, covered by artists including Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen.

1956 - Buddy Holly's first single "Blue Days, Black Nights", was released. The track was later featured on That'll Be The Day the third album from Buddy Holly.

1969 - "The Israelites" by Desmond Dekker became the first single by a Jamaican artist to be a bona fide hit in the U.K. and later in the U.S. The song was a success despite Dekker's strong Jamaican accent, which made his lyrics difficult to understand for audiences outside Jamaica. The opening line, "Get up in the morning, slaving for bread, sir" was often misheard, with one common example being, "Wake up in the morning, baked beans for breakfast".

1970 - The Led Zeppelin single "Whole Lotta Love" was certified Gold in the U.S. after selling more than 1 million copies. It peaked at No. 4 in the U.S. singles charts.

1972 - In Cannes, France, The Rolling Stones informally celebrated the launch of their label, Rolling Stones Records.

1977 - Stevie Wonder made the soul chart with "Sir Duke," a tune that would ultimately achieve No. 1 status. The song is a tribute to Duke Ellington.

1977 - David Soul, one-half of the TV cop duo on Starsky & Hutch, went to No. 1 on the U.S. singles chart with "Don't Give Up On Us", his only hit in America.

1993 - Paul McCartney headlined a concert at the Hollywood Bowl to celebrate Earth Day along with Ringo Starr, Don Henley and Steve Miller. McCartney had last performed there as a member of the Beatles in 1965.

1996 - Kiss appeared in full make-up at the 38th Grammy Awards, where they announced a reunion tour. It would mark the first time all four original members had appeared together in more than 15 years.

1999 - Skip Spence, an original member of Jefferson Airplane and founding member of Moby Grape, died of lung cancer in a San Francisco hospital at age 52. He had battled schizophrenia and alcoholism.

2003 - Luther Vandross suffered a stroke that left him confined to a wheelchair. The singer died two years later.


Composer Henry Mancini was born on this day in 1924. Mancini is best known for his iconic film scores, which include such well-known numbers as "The Pink Panther Theme", the "Peter Gunn Theme" and "Moon River."

Dusty Springfield was born today in 1939.

Bobby Vinton is 83.

Highlights for Today in Music History are gathered from This Day in Music, Paul Shaffer's Day in Rock, Song Facts and Wikipedia.

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