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Today in Music History: Guns N' Roses released 'Appetite for Destruction'

Appetite for Destruction
Appetite for DestructionAlbum art

July 21, 2020

History Highlight:

Today in 1987, Guns N' Roses released their debut album, Appetite for Destruction, on Geffen Records. With over 30 million copies sold worldwide, it is one of the best-selling records of all time, and is the best-selling debut album of all time -- though the album wasn't popular at first. It wasn't until the year after it was released that it became a massive commercial success, after the band toured and received airplay with its huge singles "Welcome to the Jungle," "Sweet Child o' Mine," and "Paradise City."

Also, Today In:

1956 - Elvis Presley was termed "the most controversial entertainer since Liberace" by Billboard. On the same day, Elvis was booked for three appearances on Ed Sullivan's widely watched Sunday-night variety program, even though Sullivan had declared Elvis and his gyrating hips would never be welcomed back.

1969 - The Beatles started work on the John Lennon song "Come Together," at Abbey Road studios in London. The song is the opening track on the album Abbey Road, and reached the top of the charts in the U.S. and peaked at No. 4 in the U.K. There are a few different theories on what the song is referring to - it has been speculated that each verse refers cryptically to one of the Beatles, or that Lennon was painting a sardonic self-portrait, and also that Lennon was inspired by Timothy Leary's campaign for governor of California against Ronald Reagan, which promptly ended when Leary was sent to prison for possession of marijuana.

1971 - Carole King received a Gold record plaque for Tapestry, which featured "It's Too Late," "I Feel The Earth Move," "You've Got A Friend" and "So Far Away."

1973 - Jim Croce started a two-week run at No. 1 on the U.S. singles chart with "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown." Croce was killed in a plane crash three months later.

1989 - Performing on the Club MTV tour at a stop in Bristol, Connecticut, Milli Vanilli's tracks went screwy when they tried to lip-synch to the song "Girl You Know It's True". As the line "girl you know it's..." repeated over and over, the duo panicked and scurried off stage. It would later be revealed that they didn't sing on their album.

1990 - Pink Floyd's The Wall was presented live on the site of the former Berlin Wall, performed by Roger Waters and friends, including The Band, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Bryan Adams, Paul Carrack, Sinéad O'Connor, The Scorpions and others.

1994 - Oasis played their first-ever U.S. show as part of the New Music Seminar at The Wetlands music club in New York City.

1997 - As the forerunner of a new era of women in rock, Jewel became the first Atlantic Records artist to grace the cover of TIME magazine.

2001 - Madonna kicked off the North American leg of her 47-date Drowned World Tour at the First Union Center in Philadelphia. It was her first world tour in eight years and would eventually go on to gross more than $75 million.

2004 - Composer Jerry Goldsmith died after a long battle with cancer at age 75. He created the music for scores of classic movies and television shows such as 'Star Trek', 'Planet of the Apes', 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' and 'Dr. Kildare.'

2005 - Long John Baldry passed away. He was one of the founding fathers of British Rock 'n' Roll in the 1960s performing with Blues Incorporated and Cyril Davies' R&B All Stars, and he later fronted the Hoochie Coochie Men with Rod Stewart, Steam Packet with Brian Auger and Julie Driscoll, and he was a member of Bluesology with Elton John. He also narrated on Winnie The Pooh recordings for Disney and was the voice for Robotnik on the Sonic The Hedgehog computer game.

2008 - The Police played the first of two nights at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado during the final leg of their 152-date world Reunion tour. The tour became the third highest grossing tour of all time, with revenues reaching over $340 million.

2017 - Justin Bieber was banned from performing in China, according to Beijing's Culture Bureau. In a statement, the ministry said it was not appropriate to allow in entertainers who have engaged in "bad behavior." The pop star, who was allowed to tour China in 2013, joined a long list of musicians who have found themselves similarly blacklisted. Most though, like Oasis and Maroon 5, because of perceived political statements, rather than on the grounds of bad behavior.


Legendary American vocalist Kay Starr was born today in 1922. Billie Holiday once famously called Starr "the only white woman who could sing the blues."

Plas Johnson is 89. He is the tenor saxophone soloist on Henry Mancini's 'The Pink Panther Theme' and he played on records by Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole, The Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Ricky Nelson and Bobby Vee.

Kim Fowley, best known for his role behind a string of novelty and cult pop rock singles in the 1960s, and for managing The Runaways in the 1970s, was born today in 1939.

Northern Ireland rock guitarist, Henry McCullough was born today in 1943. He recorded with Paul McCartney and Wings, featuring on the hit James Bond theme, 'Live and Let Die' and 'My Love', the solo which he made up on the spot in front of a live orchestra. He was also a member of Spooky Tooth and The Grease Band.

Howie Epstein, bass player for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, was born today in 1955.

Jim Martin, guitarist of Faith No More, is 59.

Cat Stevens is 72.

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