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Today In Music History

March 21 in Music History: 35th anniversary of Madonna's 'Like a Prayer'

Madonna 'Like a Prayer'
Madonna 'Like a Prayer'Sire Records

March 21, 2024

History highlight:

Today in 1989, Madonna released her fourth studio album, Like a Prayer, which explores themes of faith, family, and relationships. Madonna worked with Stephen Bray, Patrick Leonard, and Prince on the album, with her co-writing and co-producing all the songs. She performs a duet with Prince on “Love Song” and he plays uncredited guitar on “Like a Prayer,” among other tracks. Other hits from the collection include “Express Yourself” and “Cherish.” She promoted the album with the Blond Ambition World Tour, and it was a turning point in her creative development that earned her more credit as an artist.

Also, today in:

1964 - After "I Want To Hold Your Hand" held the No. 1 position on the U.S. singles chart for seven weeks, The Beatles started a two-week run at No. 1 with "She Loves You."

1970 - Santana peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart with "Evil Ways," which was their first top-ten single in the U.S. The song was written by Clarence "Sonny" Henry and originally recorded by jazz percussionist Willie Bobo on his 1967 album Bobo Motion.

1976 - David Bowie and Iggy Pop were busted for drug possession in a hotel room in Rochester, New York.

1981 - John Lennon peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart posthumously with "Woman," which was Lennon's sixth top-ten single in the U.S.

1981 - New wave pop-rockers Blondie entered the R&B album chart with Autoamerican, which peaked at No. 7. "Rapture," from the same album, turned out to be one of the first big crossover rap hits, going to No. 1 for two weeks.

1983 - Pink Floyd released The Final Cut, which was their final album with bassist and singer Roger Waters.

1988 - Pixies released their debut studio album, Surfer Rosa in the U.K. It spent 60 weeks in the chart, peaking at number 2. Surfer Rosa gained Pixies acclaim in Europe. American critical response was also positive yet more muted, a reaction that persisted for much of the band's career. Until August of that year, the album was only available in the U.S. as an import. Surfer Rosa was eventually certified Gold in the U.S. in 2005. Surfer Rosa is often included on critics' lists of the best rock albums. Artists including Billy Corgan and PJ Harvey have cited it as an inspiration and it was an influence on Nirvana's 1993 album In Utero.

1989 - Bonnie Raitt released her 10th studio album, Nick of Time. It won three Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. (Ahead of this album, she was signed to Paisley Park Records by Prince, but then suffered a skiing accident in Minnesota. She canceled the deal before she started recording.)

1991 - Leo Fender, inventor of the electric guitar, died of complications from Parkinson's disease at the age of 81 in Fullerton, California.

1994 - Bruce Springsteen won the Best Music, Original Song Oscar at the 66th Academy Awards for "Streets of Philadelphia."

1997 - The movie Selena debuts in theaters, chronicling the life of the late Tejano singer, who was murdered two years earlier by the former president of her fan club. Jennifer Lopez is lauded for her breakout performance in the title role, which inspires her to pursue a singing career of her own.

2000 - Soul Coughing disbanded after eight years and three albums.

2000 - With the release of their third album, No Strings Attached, 'N Sync smashes the Backstreet Boys' record for first-week sales with 2.4 million copies sold - almost double the amount BSB garnered with their 1999 album, Millennium. 'N Sync's record holds for 15 years until Adele sells more than 3 million copies of 25.

2004 - Ozzy Osbourne was named the nation's favorite ambassador to welcome aliens to planet earth.

2005 - MTV aired the final episode of The Osbournes. Dr. Phil McGraw visited the family where he held a frank discussion about drug abuse and other issues.

2008 - Klaus Dinger of Kraftwerk and Neu! died of heart failure at the age of 61.

2008 - A five-year legal row over the use of the Beach Boys' name was settled by two former members of the group.

2015 - English singer-songwriter and actress Jackie Trent died at age 74 in Minorca, Spain, after a long illness. Her 1966 hit "I Couldn't Live Without Your Love" was inspired by the ongoing affair between Trent and record producer Tony Hatch, whom she later married. The couple went on to write songs for Scott Walker, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Wilson, Des O'Connor, Val Doonican, Shirley Bassey, Vikki Carr, and Dean Martin.


Delta blues singer and guitarist Son House was born today in 1902.

Otis Spann was born today in 1930.

Solomon Burke was born today in 1940.

Chip Taylor, a songwriter noted for writing "Angel of the Morning" and "Wild Thing," is 84.

David Lindley was born today in 1944.

Rosemary "Rose" Stone of Sly and The Family Stone is 79.

Ray Dorset, frontman and principal songwriter for Mungo Jerry, is 78.

Eddie Money was born today in 1949.

Roger Hodgson, guitarist and singer for Supertramp, is 74.

Conrad Lozano, bass player for Los Lobos, is 73.

Russell Thompkins Jr. of the Stylistics is 73.

Richard H. Kirk, cofounder of Cabaret Voltaire, is 68.

Stray Cats drummer Slim Jim Phantom is 63.

Sharon June "Share" Ross, bassist for Minnesota glam metal band Vixen, is 61.

Jonas Berggren of Ace of Base is 57.

Sister Hazel rhythm guitarist Andrew Copeland is 56.

Keith "Maxim" Palmer of The Prodigy is 56.

Large Professor is 51.

Deryck Whibley of Sum 41 is 44.

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