April 5, 1980 – R.E.M. play their first-ever gig when they appear at St Mary’s Episcopal Church in Athens, Georgia. They perform as Twisted Kites, and three weeks later change their name to R.E.M.
April 5, 1985 – Thousands of radio stations play “We Are The World” simultaneously at 10:50 a.m. EST on Good Friday, aimed at helping African famine relief efforts. The song is also played on Muzak (only the 2nd time a voice is heard on the system), on Air Force One where President Ronald Reagan tunes in, and also on many international stations. The song featured 45 artists including Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Steve Perry, Bob Geldof, Bob Dylan and Huey Lewis.
Classic Rock Birthdays
April 5, 1966 – Mike McCready, guitar (Pearl Jam)
April 5, 1946 – Dave Holland, drums (Judas Priest)
April 5, 1935 – Peter Grant, rock band manager (Led Zeppelin, The Animals, The Yardbirds, Bad Company) (d. 1995)
April 5, 1942 – Allan Clarke (born Harold Allan Clarke), vocals (The Hollies)
April 5, 1994 – Kurt Cobain, co-founder, lead singer and guitarist for Nirvana, dies of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 27. Cobain was found dead at his home in Seattle after several rehab stints; he died with a high concentration of heroin in his system. Cobain was the reluctant leader of the grunge movement, eventually selling over 75 million albums. He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 with Nirvana.
April 5, 2002 – Layne Staley, co-founder and lead singer of Alice in Chains, dies of a drug overdose. He was 34. Staley struggled with depression and a severe drug addiction for most of his life, and sadly, had been dead almost two weeks before his body was discovered in his apartment. He was a beloved figure in the Seattle music scene and many musical tributes have been written about him.
April 5, 1998 – Cozy Powell (born Colin Trevor Powell), drummer for ELP, Black Sabbath, Jeff Beck, Whitesnake, Rainbow and many others, dies in a car accident in Bristol, England, while speeding to his distraught girlfriend’s home. He was 50.
April 5, 1981 – Bob “The Bear” Hite, lead singer of Canned Heat, dies of a heart attack after accidentally snorting heroin at a club in Los Angeles. He was 36. Hite was handed a vile of what he thought was cocaine from a fan, and snorted it, not knowing it was heroin.
April 5, 2007 – Mark St. John (born Mark Leslie Norton), former guitarist of Kiss, dies from an apparent brain hemorrhage, most likely sustained during a brutal beating at an Orange County jail where he briefly served time. He was 51. St. John was Kiss’ third official guitarist, replacing Vinnie Vincent in 1984 and appearing on the album Animalize. St. John developed arthritis (Reiter’s Syndrome), during his short tenure with Kiss, which caused his hands and arms to swell. He was only able to perform two full shows with the band.
April 5, 2012 – Jim Marshall, also known as The Father of Loud, dies of cancer. He was 88. Marshall was the pioneer of guitar amplification, creating iconic equipment that has been used by some of the biggest names in rock history. His Marshall stack is considered almost obligatory stage gear for all metal bands. In 2003 Marshall was awarded an OBE for “services to the music industry and to charity.”
April 5, 2017 – Paul O’Neill, Trans-Siberian Orchestra founder, dies of from an accidental reaction to prescription medicine in Tampa, Florida. He was 61. O’Neill was also a huge concert promoter in Japan, and worked closely with Aerosmith, Metal Church, Savatage and Badlands.