02.11: Michael Jackson's best backup singer of all time was born on this day in 1962. Know who it is? We'll give you a hint. Her last name is a type of bird. Gloria Eagle? Nope. Janice Dove? Nope. Cynthia Peacock? Not even close. Okay, one more hint. Her first hit song was called "All I Wanna Do." That's right, Sheryl Crow! Anyhoo, Ms."Former-Lance-Amrstrong's-Girlfriend-Now-They're-Just-Friends” Crow started her music career a little later than most, at least in this day and age, but didn't look back once it began to pick up momentum. Yes, she toured with Michael Jackson (yes, that's her in the photo) as a backup singer on his Bad World Tour, and, yes, she was a music teacher, jingle writer, and sang for the best cop musical television show ever (Cop Rock, duh!; on a different note, yes, this really existed), but once she got going, all of those things became ancient history. We dig on Sheryl because not only does she rock and look hot doing it, but she's worked really hard to get where she is today. And at having fun. But mostly rocking and being hot. Happy birthday, Sheryl!
02.13: What a year, 1961. For Henry Rollins, at least. You see, that year saw Henry Lawrence Garfield take his first breath, and music gained a unique individual. Well, it took a good twenty years for this unique individual to make his mark, but believe us, he definitely did. Rollins joined California punk pioneers Black Flag, who'd gone through a steady stream of singers in its already-four-year career before Rollins joined the band for an impromptu song at one of their shows in New York. In Rollins, who was a huge fan of the group prior to his singing duties (ha, we said duties), they found an intense poetic sensibility uncommon in punk and the stage demeanor of a caged animal, pacing back and forth, waiting to pounce as soon as the music charged up behind him. From 1981 to 1986, Rollins stint in Black Flag tore through every bar, club, and theater they entered, sometimes ending with Henry in a fistfight with one or more audience members. Did we mention he was intense? After Black Flag disbanded, Rollins leapt into a very diverse career, from publisher to actor, from author to activist. He formed his own band, Henry Rollins Band, which recorded and toured from 1987 through 2003, when Henry decided to concentrate on his spoken-word career. Huh, you say? Yeah, Henry's spoken-word routines kill. They are always a weird, amazingly vital and vitriolic hybrid of stand-up comedy and Shakespearian soliloquies, regaling his audiences with tales from the road and tales from the street. Henry Rollins is truly one of a kind.
02.03: A good chunk of the first wave of rock and roll royalty died on this day in 1959, when a plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper crashed during a snowstorm in a field in Iowa, on the way to the next gig of their "Winter Dance Party" tour. Fraught with problems from the beginning (poor planning of the tour route, the breakdown of the heater on the bus, bitter winter weather), the tour, nevertheless, brought rock and roll to the Midwest masses, eager to break up the monotony, like many kids in those days eager for a little rebellion, of the "nuclear family" American life. On the way to their gig in Clear Lake, Iowa, Buddy Holly had had enough. Enough of the cold bus, enough of the unwashed clothes, enough of the long rides on the desolate roads. He let it be known that he was going to hire a plane to take him to the next gig, in style, in a hurry, so that he could get a hotel room and have some semblance of normalcy, if only for a night. After the gig, Holly did just that, contracting a young, inexperienced pilot to take them to Moorhead, Minnesota, so that he could get a warm hotel room and a decent shower. Originally, only Holly's backing band were to travel with him, but that changed. The Big Bopper, suffering from the flu, asked to have the second seat from Waylon Jennings (one of Holly's band mates), who gave it up to the ailing big man, while Valens flipped a coin with Tommy Alsup (Holly's other band mate) to see who would get the third seat. Unfortunately for Valens and fortunately for Alsup, relatively speaking, of course, Valens won the toss. It is thought that the pilot, inexperienced with flying at night and disoriented with the heavy snowfall, misread the instruments and took the plane into a steep dive, slamming into the ground at 170 mph. All died instantly, before their time, again, as so many have done, leaving us with only their recordings and the memories. To imagine what these guys could've accomplished through the '60s, especially Valens, who was only 17, is to make a futile attempt at re-imagining history. We are just grateful for "Come On Let's Go," "Chantilly Lace," and "That'll Be The Day." Classics, all of them, and forever ingrained in our mind.