May 21, 1966 – Bruce Springsteen and his band The Castiles perform at Freehold Regional High School in New Jersey. All the band members are juniors at the school.
May 21, 2008 – Steven Tyler of Aerosmith checks into a rehab clinic in Pasadena, CA to recover from surgeries that repaired damage to his feet.
May 21, 1983 – Def Leppard make their only appearance on American Bandstand, performing “Photograph” and “Rock of Ages.”
May 21, 1980 – Joe Strummer of The Clash is arrested in Hamburg, West Germany, after smashing his guitar on an audience member’s head. He is released after an alcohol test proves negative.
May 21, 1979 – Elton John is the first Western performer to play a show in the former U.S.S.R. Most of the seats at the show are filled with Communist party chiefs and members of the KGB.
May 21, 1992 – MTV airs the first episode of their new series The Real World. It is one of the first reality TV series and garners massive ratings although it’s critically panned.
Classic Rock Birthdays
May 21, 1955 – Stan Lynch, drums (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers)
May 21, 1947 – Bill Champlin, vocals, guitar (Chicago)
May 21, 1955 – John Galvin, keyboards (Molly Hatchet)
May 21, 1948 – Leo Sayer, vocals
May 21, 1943 – John Dalton, bass (The Kinks)
May 21, 1943 – Hilton Valentine, guitar (The Animals) (d. 2021)
May 21, 1904 – Thomas “Fats” Waller, piano, vocals (d. 1943). He set the standard for modern jazz piano with songs like “Ain’t Misbehavin’ “
May 21, 1940 – Tony Sheridan, vocals, guitar, songwriter (d. 2013). He was best known as an early collaborator of The Beatles.
May 21, 1981 – Reggae star Bob Marley receives a state funeral in Jamaica and is buried with honors. Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga delivers the eulogy: His voice was an omnipresent cry in our electronic world. His sharp features, majestic looks, and prancing style a vivid etching on the landscape of our minds. Bob Marley was never seen. He was an experience which left an indelible imprint with each encounter. Such a man cannot be erased from the mind. He is part of the collective consciousness of the nation.
May 21, 2016 – Nick Menza, former Megadeth drummer, dies of congestive heart failure after collapsing onstage at The Baked Potato jazz club in Los Angeles. He was 51. Menza played on four Megadeth records, including Rust in Peace and Countdown to Extinction.
May 21, 2013 – Trevor Bolder, bassist with David Bowie‘s Spiders From Mars backing band, dies of cancer. He was 62. Bolder also worked with Uriah Heep, replacing John Wetton.