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Today In Music History

June 11 in Music History: David Bowie released "Space Oddity"

David Bowie released "Space Oddity", Today in Music History.
David Bowie released "Space Oddity", Today in Music History.original cover art

June 11, 2024

History Highlight:

Today in 1969, David Bowie released "Space Oddity" just in time for the first Apollo 11 lunar landing. The song reached No. 5 in the U.K. chart, but in the U.S, it stalled at No. 124. When it was re-released as a single in 1973, the song reached No. 15 on the Billboard Chart and became Bowie's first hit single in America. It became one of Bowie's signature songs and one of four of his songs to be included in “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.” The song was inspired by Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, with a title that plays on the film's title, and in January 2016, it reentered singles charts around the world following Bowie's death.

Also, Today In:

1949 - Hank Williams made his debut at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, where he received an unprecedented total of six encores.

1966 - The Rolling Stones started a two-week run at No. 1 on the U.S. singles chart with "Paint It Black," the group's third U.S. No. 1 single. It was the first No. 1 hit to feature a sitar on the recording.

1966 - Janis Joplin joined Big Brother & The Holding Company onstage for the first time at a show in San Francisco.

1976 - Wild Cherry released "Play That Funky Music."

1976 - The Carpenters released A Kind Of Hush, their seventh studio album. Hits included "There's a Kind of Hush (All Over the World)" and "I Need to Be in Love."

1977 - KC and the Sunshine Band became only the second group after the Jackson Five to achieve four U.S. No. 1 singles when "I'm Your Boogie Man" went to the top of the charts. The song was written and produced by Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch, who wrote it about a DJ at a Miami, Florida radio station named Robert W. Walker, who was the first to give their hit single "Get Down Tonight" airplay. The song was also an international chart hit, reaching number one in Canada and charting in Australia (No. 38), Belgium (No. 16), the Netherlands (No. 6), New Zealand (No. 12) and the United Kingdom (No. 41).

1977 - As Britain celebrated the Queen's Silver Jubilee, The Sex Pistols reached No. 2 in the singles chart with "God Save The Queen."

1982 - After much anticipation, Grease 2, the sequel to the hit 1978 musical, landed in theaters... but it crashed and burned. The soundtrack didn't fare much better. While Grease's peaked at No. 1 in the U.S. and U.K., along with a string of hit singles, the Grease 2 album petered out at No. 71 in the U.S. The lead single "Back To School Again" only reached No. 71 on the pop chart.

1986 - Ferris Bueller's Day Off hit theaters. When Matthew Broderick led a parade through downtown Chicago to The Beatles "Twist And Shout," it renewed interest in the group, and the song soon returned to the charts.

1988 - Dozens of big-name acts, including Peter Gabriel, Sting, Whitney Houston, and Stevie Wonder, rocked the stage at the Free Nelson Mandela Concert at Wembley Stadium in London.

1992 - U2 invited ABBA's Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson to join them onstage at their concert in Stockholm for a rendition of ABBA's 1976 hit "Dancing Queen."

2005 - Led Zeppelin founding member and guitarist Jimmy Page was awarded an OBE in the Queen of England's Birthday Honours list, and Queen (the band) founding member and guitarist Brian May was awarded a CBE.

2008 - Nancy Sinatra appeared before the U.S. Congress pleading for legislation that would require all performers, not just songwriters, to get paid for songs played on commercial radio.

2011 - Pink Floyd's 1973 album Dark Side Of The Moon re-entered the Billboard Album chart at No. 47, reaching the milestone of 1,000 weeks on Billboard's charts.

2015 - The Kinks' frontman and principal songwriter Ray Davies was awarded with a London Legend Award at a ceremony held at the Camden Roundhouse. Davies said, "I accept this on behalf of all the young writers coming through, all the young people embarking on careers and as a symbol of the future."

2015 - Jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman died at the age of 85.

2016 - Singer Christina Grimmie, who had competed on The Voice, died after being shot in Florida. A man opened fire on her when she was signing autographs after a concert in Orlando. The assailant was tackled by Grimmie's brother then shot and killed himself. The 22-year-old singer died in a local hospital.

2019 - An 11-judge panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided to review its decision on whether Led Zeppelin plagiarized “Stairway To Heaven” from the opening guitar riff on Spirit's 1968 track “Taurus.” In June 2016, a Los Angeles jury ruled that Zeppelin were not guilty of any copyright infringement.

2019 - Radiohead avoided a blackmail attempt by releasing 18 hours of music recorded during the making of their classic album OK Computer. Tapes from the sessions had been stolen by hackers who demanded $150,000 for their return. Instead, the band released the tapes in full, with profits going to climate crisis activists Extinction Rebellion. "For 18 pounds you can find out if we should have paid that ransom," said guitarist Jonny Greenwood in a statement.


Glenn Leonard of the Temptations is 77.

ZZ Top drummer Frank Beard (his real name) is 75.

U.K. singer-songwriter Lynsey de Paul (“Sugar Me”) was born today in 1948.

Graham Russell of Air Supply is 74.

Donnie Van Zant of 38 Special is 72.

Johnny Neel — songwriter and band member for the Allman Brothers Band and the Dickey Betts Band — is 70.

Stereo MC's singer Rob Birch is 63.

Penny Ford — Snap! vocalist (“The Power”) who has also been a member of Soul II Soul, Parliament-Funkadelic, S.O.S. Band, Klymaxx, and the Gap Band — is 60.

Country singer-songwriter Bruce Robison is 58.

Steven Drozd, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter for the Flaming Lips and Electric Wurms, is 55.

Kodak Black is 27.

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