Today in Music History: Remembering Ranking Roger

Ranking Roger
Ranking Roger, born Roger Charlery, performs with The English Beat in San Bernardino, California, on May 28, 1983. Charlery died March 26, 2019 in Birmingham, U.K. (Paul Natkin/Getty Images, via NPR)

History Highlight:

Today in 2019, British musician Ranking Roger (born Roger Charlery) died at age 56. In January 2019 it was announced that Roger had undergone surgery for two brain tumours, and was undergoing treatment for lung cancer. He was a vocalist in the 1980s two-tone band the Beat (known in North America as the English Beat) and later General Public.

Also, Today In:

1965 - Mick Jagger, Brian Jones and Bill Wyman all received electric shocks from a faulty microphone onstage during a Rolling Stones show in Denmark. Bill Wyman was knocked unconscious for several minutes.

1972 - Mott The Hoople had decided to call it all off after four albums, when David Bowie came to their rescue. He had a song called "All The Young Dudes" and Mott recorded it with Bowie producing. It became a huge hit in the U.K. and a sizeable success in the U.S. as well.

1975 - The movie version of Tommy premiered in London.

1977 - Hall and Oates started a three-week run at No. 1 on the U.S. singles chart with "Rich Girl", the duo's first No. 1.

1980 - Seven years after its release, Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon broke the record for the longest-charting pop album, a title previously held by Carole King's Tapestry. Dark Side of the Moon remained in the charts until 1988. With an estimated 50 million copies sold, it is Pink Floyd's most commercially successful album and one of the best-selling albums worldwide.

1983 - Thanks to heavy rotation on MTV, Duran Duran had their first American hit when "Hungry Like The Wolf" hit No. 3 on the Hot 100.

1985 - South African radio stations banned all Stevie Wonder songs when he dedicated the Academy Award he had received the night before to Nelson Mandela.

1987 - Nike began airing a commercial using the Beatles song "Revolution," marking the first time an original version of a Beatles song was used in an ad.

1988 - Michael Jackson started a two-week run at No. 1 on the U.S. singles chart with "Man In The Mirror."

1991 - Bob Dylan's The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 was released.

1994 - Soundgarden entered the U.S. album chart at No. 1 with Superunknown. It was the band's fourth studio release and became the band's breakthrough album with five singles: "The Day I Tried to Live", "My Wave", "Fell on Black Days", "Spoonman", and "Black Hole Sun". The last two won Grammy Awards and helped Soundgarden reach mainstream popularity. Superunknown has sold 9 million copies worldwide.

1995 - Eazy-E (Eric Wright) died of AIDS-related complications at age 31.

2001 - Gorillaz launched their debut self-titled album. The album sold over a million copies, and peaked at No. 14 on the albums chart.

2002 - Drummer Randy Castillo, who played with Ozzy Osbourne and Motley Crue, died of cancer at age 51.

2004 - Jan Berry (of Jan & Dean) died at the age of 62.

2006 - U2's The Edge donated his favorite guitar, a 1975 Gibson Les Paul, to a charity he co-founded to replace instruments lost or destroyed when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.

2008 - The B-52's lose their apostrophe, becoming the B-52s with the release of their album Funplex. The apostrophe, which was grammatically incorrect, was there because the friend that designed their logo put it there.

2012 - Madonna's 12th studio album MDNA debuts, hitting No. 1 on the Billboard album chart and selling 350,000 copies in two weeks.

2016 - Billy Joel's iconic hit "Piano Man" was selected by the U.S. Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry for its cultural, historic, and artistic significance. Even though the record only made it to No. 25 on the Hot 100 in 1974, it became Joel's signature song, and was ranked at No. 421 in the 2004 list of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.


Teddy Pendergrass, soul singer, was born today in 1950.

Diana Ross is 76.

Steven Tyler is 72.

Guitarist James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins is 52.

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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