Today in Music History: Remembering Prince

Prince at the NAACP Image Awards in 2005.
Prince at the NAACP Image Awards in 2005. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

History Spotlight:

Today in 2016, we lost our hometown hero and music legend Prince. As Jay Gabler wrote on April 21, 2016: "Prince, a multi-talented musician who came out of the Minneapolis scene and changed the world of music forever, has died at age 57. One of the greatest stars in rock history, Prince bridged rock and R&B to fuse a 'Minneapolis Sound' that helped define the music of the 1980s. With over 100 million albums sold worldwide, Prince is one of the best-selling artists of all time, widely cited as an influence by artists from the worlds of pop, R&B, rock, hip-hop, and beyond."

Also, Today In:

1960 - For about 20 years, it had been common practice for record companies to pay DJs to play songs, but the U.S. government began to crack down on what it called "Payola." Dick Clark testified before Congress and admitted that he took money and gifts to play records — estimating 27 percent of his playlist to be paid. Clark emerged more powerful than ever, selling off conflicting interests and expanding his music empire. On the other hand, another prominent DJ and TV host, Alan Freed, refused to admit that he took payola, insisting that he was a consultant to the industry. His career never recovered despite his massive influence and success.

1961 - The Beatles debuted at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England.

1962 - Elvis Presley started a two-week run at No. 1 on the U.S. singles chart with "Good Luck Charm," his fifth U.S. No. 1 of the 1960s.

1967 - Working at Abbey Road studios in London, The Beatles completed the sessions for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

1978 - Sandy Denny, best known as the lead singer of British folk-rock band Fairport Convention, died. Music publications Uncut, Mojo and the Sunday Express have all called Denny Britain's finest female singer-songwriter. Her composition, "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" has been recorded by artists as diverse as Judy Collins, Nina Simone, 10,000 Maniacs and Cat Power.

1979 - Amii Stewart's "Knock On Wood" hits No. 1.

1982 - The Clash had to cancel a tour when Joe Strummer disappeared for three weeks. He was eventually found living on the streets in Paris.

1984 - "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)" went to No. 1 on the Hot 100, giving Phil Collins his first solo chart-topper. He would have six more.

1990 - Sinead O'Connor started a four-week run at No. 1 on the U.S. singles chart with her version of the Prince song, "Nothing Compares 2 U."

1990 - Paul McCartney appeared before 184,000 fans in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At the time, it was the largest audience ever to attend a performance by a single rock act.

2001 - Peter Buck, guitarist for R.E.M., was arrested for being drunk on an aircraft and for accosting British Airways personnel following a flight from Seattle to Heathrow Airport in London. He would be acquitted nearly a year later.

2003 - EMI and Universal Music sued the file-sharing service Napster for copyright violations.

2003 - Nina Simone died at age 70 after a long battle with breast cancer. Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon on Feb. 21, 1933, Simone was a singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger and civil rights activist who worked in a broad range of musical styles. Simone's music fused gospel and pop with classical music — in particular Johann Sebastian Bach — and accompanied expressive, jazz-like singing in her contralto voice. Throughout her career, Simone assembled a collection of songs that would later become standards in her repertoire. Some were songs that she wrote herself, while others were new arrangements of other standards, and others had been written especially for her. Simone's first hit came in 1958, with her rendition of George Gershwin's "I Loves You, Porgy," from the musical Porgy & Bess. In all, Simone would record more than 40 albums between 1958 and 1993. Simone spent her final decade in France, her adopted home.

2008 - Soul singer and songwriter Al Wilson died of kidney failure at the age of 68. Wilson had a number of U.S. hits, including The 'Snake' in 1968 and 'Show and Tell' in 1974.

2016 - Rock, blues and country singer-guitarist Lonnie Mack died of natural causes in hospital near his log-cabin home, seventy miles east of Nashville, Tennessee.


Singer/songwriter Paul Davis ("I Go Crazy"; "'65 Love Affair") was born on this day in 1948. He died of a heart attack in 2008, one day after his 60th birthday.

Iggy Pop of The Stooges is 74.

Robert Smith, the lead singer of The Cure, is 62.

John Maher, Buzzcocks drummer, is 61.

Michael Franti is 55.

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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