April 21, 1990 – Van Halen christen the opening night of their Cabo Wabo Cantina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico with a live performance. Sammy Hagar would eventually buy out the rest of the band due to the club’s early financial failure. In later years, Cabo Wabo becomes a huge success.
April 21, 2005 – Alex Lifeson of Rush pleads no contest to a charge of resisting arrest in Florida from an incident involving his son at the Ritz Carlton hotel. He is sentenced to 12 months of probation, and later receives a confidential settlement from the hotel.
April 21, 1993 – Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann rescues a 17-year-old surfer in Mendocino, CA after noticing him drowning in a riptide.
April 21, 2001 – R.E.M.’s Peter Buck is detained at the Heathrow police station after a flight on British Airways from Seattle to London. He is charged for common assault on crew members, disobeying an aircraft commander, being drunk on an aircraft, threatening and abusive words and behavior, and “criminal damage to a quantity of crockery.” Buck was found innocent of all charges the following year.
April 21, 1969 – Andy Warhol agrees to design the artwork for the Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers record. The iconic design includes a working zipper, which is very difficult to produce, but makes it one of the most memorable album covers of all time.
April 21, 1961 – The Beatles debut at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England.
April 21, 1990 – Paul McCartney draws 184,000 people to his concert in Rio, setting a new world record for attendance at a concert by a single artist.
April 21, 1970 – Elton John makes his live stage debut as a solo act, opening for T. Rex and Spooky Tooth in London.
April 21, 1960 – Dick Clark testifies before Congress, admitting he took money and gifts – “payola” – to play records. Because of his honesty, he emerges from the hearings unscathed. On the other hand, legendary DJ Alan Freed refuses to admit his guilt, insisting that he was a consultant to the industry. His career never recovers.
Classic Rock Birthdays
April 21, 1947 – Iggy Pop (born James Osterberg), vocals (The Stooges)
April 21, 1951 – Paul Carrack, vocals, guitar (Ace, Squeeze, Mike + The Mechanics)
April 21, 1959 – Robert Smith, vocals, guitar (The Cure)
April 21, 1978 – Branden Steineckert, drums (Rancid)
April 21, 2016 – Prince (born Prince Rogers Nelson), dies of an accidental overdose of the opioid fentanyl at his home, Paisley Park, in Chanhassen, Minnesota. He was 57. Prince has been called one of the most influential artists of the rock & roll era and is a seven-time Grammy winner and an Academy Award winner for his seminal film Purple Rain. Prince scored Top 10 hits with “Little Red Corvette,” “When Doves Cry,” “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Kiss,” and several of his songs also became hits for others, including “Nothing Compares 2 U” for Sinead O’Connor, “Manic Monday” for the Bangles and “I Feel for You” for Chaka Khan. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, his first year of eligibility.
April 21, 2016 – Lonnie Mack (born Lonnie Macintosh), performer of “the first of the guitar-hero records” dies of natural causes near his log-cabin home outside of Nashville, Tennessee. He was 74. Mack was a major influence for Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jeff Beck, Dickey Betts, Warren Haynes, Adrian Belew and Ted Nugent. Mack also recorded with the Doors on Morrison Hotel. Years later, they released an instrumental entitled “Blues for Lonnie”.
April 21, 2013 – Christina Amphlett, lead singer of the Divinyls, dies of breast cancer in New York City. She was 53. Amphlett’s cancer treatment was complicated by her multiple sclerosis, making her unable to receive radiation or chemotherapy. Amphlett was also a stage and screen actress.
April 21, 1978 – Sandy Denny, of the Fairport Convention, dies of a cerebral hemorrhage after falling down the stairs at a friend’s house. She was 31. Denny was the only guest vocalist to ever appear on a Led Zeppelin album, dueting with Robert Plant on the song “Battle of Evermore.”