meta-script20 Albums Turning 50 In 2023: 'Innervisions,' 'Dark Side Of The Moon' 'Catch A Fire' & More | GRAMMY.com
Albums covers of Stevie Wonder 'Inversions', Pink Floyd 'Dark Side of the Moon', the Allman Brothers Band 'Brothers and Sisters', Al Green 'Call me', David Bowie 'Alladin Sane' and Roberta Flack 'Killing Me Softly'
Clockwise: Stevie Wonder 'Inversions', Pink Floyd 'Dark Side of the Moon', the Allman Brothers Band 'Brothers and Sisters', Al Green 'Call me', David Bowie 'Alladin Sane,' Roberta Flack 'Killing Me Softly'

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20 Albums Turning 50 In 2023: 'Innervisions,' 'Dark Side Of The Moon' 'Catch A Fire' & More

1973 saw a slew of influential records released across genres — many of which broke barriers and set standards for music to come. GRAMMY.com reflects on 20 albums that, despite being released 50 years ago, continue to resonate with listeners today.

GRAMMYs/Jan 24, 2023 - 04:08 pm

Fifty years ago, a record-breaking 600,000 people gathered to see the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers Band and the Band play Summer Jam at Watkins Glen. This is just one of many significant historical events that happened in 1973 — a year that changed the way music was seen, heard and experienced.

Ongoing advancements in music-making tech expanded the sound of popular and underground music. New multi-track technology was now standard in recording studios from Los Angeles to London. Artists from a variety of genres experimented with new synthesizers, gadgets like the Mu-Tron III pedal and the Heil Talk Box, and techniques like the use of found sounds.  

1973 was also a year of new notables, where now-household names made their debuts. Among these auspicious entries: a blue-collar songwriter from the Jersey Shore, hard-working southern rockers from Jacksonville, Fla. and a sister group from California oozing soul. 

Along a well-established format, '73 saw the release of several revolutionary concept records. The EaglesDesperado, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Lou Reed’s Berlin and the Who’s Quadrophenia are just a few examples that illustrate how artists used narrative techniques to explore broader themes and make bigger statements on social, political and economic issues — of which there were many.

On the domestic front, 1973 began with the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade. Internationally, the Paris Peace Accords were signed — starting the long process to end the Vietnam War. An Oil crisis caused fuel prices to skyrocket in North America. Richard Nixon started his short-lived second term as president, which was marked by the Watergate scandal. 

Politics aside, the third year of the '70s had it all: from classic- and southern-rock to reggae; punk to jazz; soul and R&B to country. Read on for 20 masterful albums with something to say that celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2023. 

Band On The Run - Paul McCartney & Wings

Laid down at EMI’s studio in Lagos, Nigeria and released in December 1973, the third studio record by Paul Mcartney & Wings is McCartney’s most successful post-Beatles album. Its hit singles "Jet" and the title cut "Band on the Run" helped make the record the biggest-selling in 1974 in both Australia and Canada.

Band on the Run won a pair of GRAMMYS the following year: Best Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus and Best Engineered Recording, Non-Classical. McCartney added a third golden gramophone for this record at the 54th awards celebration when it won Best Historical Album for the 2010 reissue. In 2013, Band on the Run was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame. 

Head Hunters - Herbie Hancock

Released Oct. 13, Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters was recorded in just one week; its

four songs clock in at just over 40 minutes. That the album was not nominated in the jazz category, but instead Best Pop Instrumental Performance, demonstrates how Hancock was shifting gears.

Head Hunters showed Hancock moving away from traditional instrumentation and playing around with new synthesizer technology — especially the clavinet — and putting together a new band: the Headhunters. Improvisation marks this as a jazz record, but the phrasing, rhythms and dynamics of Hancock’s new quintet makes it equal parts soul and R&B with sprinkles of rock 'n' roll. 

The album represented a commercial and artistic breakthrough for Hancock, going gold within months of its release. "Watermelon Man" and "Chameleon," which was nominated for a Best Instrumental GRAMMY Award in 1974, were later both frequently sampled by hip-hop artists in the 1990s.

Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. - Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen, 22, was the new kid in town in 1973. This debut was met with tepid reviews. Still, Greetings introduced Springsteen’s talent to craft stories in song and includes many characters The Boss would return to repeatedly in his career. The album kicks off with the singalong "Blinded by the Light," which reached No. 1 on the Billboard 100 four years later via a cover done by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. This was the first of two records Springsteen released in 1973; The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle arrived before the end of the year — officially introducing the E Street Band.

Innervisions - Stevie Wonder 

This Stevie Wonder masterpiece shows an artist, in his early 20s, experimenting with new instrumentation such as TONTO (The Original New Timbral Orchestra) — the world’s largest synth — and playing all instruments on the now-anthemic "Higher Ground."

The song reached No.1 on the U.S. Hot R&B Singles Chart, and Innervisions peaked at No. 4. The album won three GRAMMYS the following year, including Album Of The Year. Wonder was the first Black artist to win this coveted golden gramophone. In 1989, Red Hot Chili Peppers kept the original funk, but injected the song with a lot of rock on their cover — the lead single from Mother’s Milk.

The Dark Side Of The Moon - Pink Floyd

Critics perennially place this Pink Floyd album, the band's eighth studio record, as one of the greatest of all-time. The Dark Side of the Moon hit No.1 and stayed on the Billboard charts for 63 weeks.

A sonic masterpiece marked by loops, synths, found sounds, and David Gilmour’s guitar bends, Dark Side of the Moon is also a concept record that explores themes of excessive greed on tracks like "Money." Ironically, an album lambasting consumerism was the top-selling record of the year and has eclipsed 45 million sales worldwide since its release. The album’s cover has also become one of the most recognized in the history of popular music.

Pronounced 'lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd - Lynyrd Skynyrd

This debut release features several of the northern Florida rockers' most beloved songs: "Gimme Three Steps," "Tuesday’s Gone" and "Simple Man." The record, which has since reached two-times platinum status with sales of more than two million, also includes the anthemic "Free Bird," which catapulted them to stardom. The song with its slow-build and definitive guitar solo and jam in the middle became Lynyrd Skynyrd's signature song that ended all their shows; it also became a piece of pop culture with people screaming for this song during concerts by other artists.

Houses Of The Holy - Led Zeppelin

The first Led Zeppelin record of all originals — and the first without a Roman numeral for a title — Houses of the Holy shows a new side of these British hardrockers. Straying from the blues and hard rock of previous records, Houses of the Holy features funk (“The Ocean” and “The Crunge”) and even hints of reggae (“D’Yer Mak’er”). This fifth studio offering from Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham also includes one of this writer’s personal Zeppelin favorites — "Over the Hills and Far Away.” The song was released as the album’s first U.S. single and reached No. 51 on the Billboard charts. Despite mixed reviews from critics, Houses of the Holy eventually achieved Diamond status for sales of more than 10 million. Interesting fact: the song “Houses of the Holy” actually appears on the band’s next record (Physical Graffiti).

Quadrophenia - The Who

The double-album rock opera followed the critical success of Tommy and Who’s Next. Pete Townshend composed all songs on this opus, which was later adapted into a movie. And, in 2015, classically-scored by Townshend’s partner Rachel Fuller for a new generation via a symphonic version (“Classic Quadrophenia”). The story chronicles the life of a young mod named Jimmy who lives in the seaside town of Brighton, England. Jimmy searches for meaning in a life devoid of significance — taking uppers, downers and guzzling gin only to discover nothing fixes his malaise. With sharp-witted songs, Townshend also tackles classicism. His band of musical brothers: Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle and Keith Moon provide some of their finest recorded performances. The album reached second spot on the U.S. Billboard chart.

Berlin - Lou Reed

Produced by Bob Ezrin, Berlin is a metaphor. The divided walled city represents the divisive relationships and the two sides of Reed — on stage and off. The 10 track concept record chronicles a couple’s struggles with drug addiction, meditating on themes of domestic abuse and neglect. As a parent, try to listen to "The Kids" without shedding a tear. While the couple on the record are named Caroline and Jim, those who knew Reed’s volatile nature and drug dependency saw the parallels between this fictionalized narrative and the songwriter’s life.

Catch A Fire - Bob Marley & the Wailers

The original cover was enclosed in a sleeve resembling a Zippo lighter. Only 20,000 of this version were pressed. Even though it was creative and cool, cost-effective it was not — each individual cover had to be hand-riveted. The replacement, which most people know today, introduces reggae poet and prophet Robert Nesta Marley to the world. With a pensive stare and a large spliff in hand, Marley tells you to mellow out and listen to the tough sounds of his island home.

While Bob and his Wailers had been making music for nearly a decade and released several records in Jamaica, Catch a Fire was their coming out party outside the Caribbean. Released in April on Island Records, the feel-good reggae rhythms and Marley’s messages of emancipation resonated with a global audience. A mix of songs of protest ("Slave Driver," "400 years") and love ("Kinky Reggae"), Catch A Fire is also notable for "Stir it Up," a song American singer-songwriter Johnny Nash had made a Top 15 hit the previous year. 

The New York Dolls - The New York Dolls

The New York Dolls burst on the club scene in the Big Apple, building a cult following with their frenetic and unpredictable live shows. The Dolls' hard rock sound and f-you attitude waved the punk banner before the genre was coined, and influenced the sound of punk rock for generations. (Bands like the Sex Pistols, the Ramones and KISS, cite the New York Dolls as mentors.) Singer-songwriter Todd Rundgren — who found time to release A Wizard, A True Star this same year — produced this tour de force. From the opening "Personality Crisis," this five-piece beckons you to join this out-of-control train.

Aladdin Sane - David Bowie

This David Bowie record followed the commercial success of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders from Mars. Many critics unfairly compare the two. A career chameleon, with Aladdin Sane, Bowie shed the Ziggy persona and adopted another alter-ego. The title is a pun that means: "A Lad Insane." For the songwriter, this record represented an attempt to break free from the crazed fandom Ziggy Stardust had created.

A majority of the songs were written the previous year while Bowie toured the United States in support of Ziggy. Journal in hand, the artist traveled from city to city in America and the songs materialized. Most paid homage to what this “insane lad” observed and heard: from debauchery and societal decay ("Cracked Actor") to politics ("Panic in Detroit") to punk music ("Watch That Man"). Top singles on Aladdin Sane were: "The Jean Genie" and "Drive-In Saturday." Both topped the U.K. charts.

Faust IV -Faust

This fourth studio album — and the final release in this incarnation by this experimental avant-garde German ambient band — remains a cult classic. Recorded at the Manor House in Oxfordshire, England (Richard Branson’s new Virgin Records studio and the locale where Mike Oldfield crafted his famous debut Tubular Bells, also released in 1973), Faust IV opens with the epic 11-minute instrumental "Krautrock" — a song that features drones, clusters of tones and sustained notes to create a trance-like vibe. Drums do not appear in the song until after the seven minute mark.

The song is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the genre British journalists coined to describe bands like Faust, which musicians largely did not embrace. The rest of Faust IV is a sonic exploration worthy of repeated listens and a great place to start if you’ve ever wondered what the heck Krautrock is.

Brothers & Sisters - the Allman Brothers Band

Great art is often born from grief, and Brothers & Sisters is exemplary in this way. Founding member Duanne Allman died in 1971 and bassist Berry Oakley followed his bandmate to the grave a year later; he was killed in a motorcycle accident in November 1972. Following this pair of tragedies, the band carried on the only way they knew how: by making music.

With new members hired, Brothers & Sisters was recorded with guitarist Dicky Betts as the new de facto band leader. The Allman Brothers Band’s most commercially successful record leans into country territory from the southern rock of previous releases and features two of the band’s most popular songs: "Ramblin’ Man" and "Jessica." The album went gold within 48 hours of shipping and since has sold more than seven million copies worldwide.  

Call Me -  Al Green

Call Me is considered one of the greatest soul records of the 20th century and Green’s pièce de résistance. The fact this Al Green album features three Top 10 Billboard singles "You Ought to Be With Me," "Here I Am" and the title track helps explain why it remains a masterpiece. Beyond the trio of hits, the soul king shows his versatility by reworking a pair of country songs: Hank Williams’ "I’m so Lonesome I Could Cry," and Willie Nelson’s "Funny How Time Slips Away."

Killing Me Softly - Roberta Flack

This Roberta Flack album was nominated for three GRAMMY Awards and won two: Record Of The Year and Best Female Vocal Pop Performance at the 1974 GRAMMYs (it lost in the Album of the Year category to Innervisions). With equal parts soul and passion, Flack interprets beloved ballads that showcase her talent of taking others’ songs and reinventing them. Producer Joel Dorn assembled the right mix of players to back up Flack adding to the album’s polished sound. Killing Me Softly has sold more than two million copies and, in 2020, Roberta Flack received the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award.

The album's title cut became a No.1 hit in three countries and, in 1996, the Fugees prominently featured Lauryn Hill on a version that surpassed the original: landing the No.1 spot in 21 countries. The album also includes a pair of well-loved covers: Leonard Cohen’s "Suzanne" and Janis Ian’s wistful "Jesse," which reached No. 30.

Bette Midler - Bette Middler

Co-produced by Arif Mardin and Barry Manilow, the self-titled second studio album by Bette Midler was an easy- listening experience featuring interpretations of both standards and popular songs. Whispers of gospel are mixed with R&B and some boogie-woogie piano, though Midler’s voice is always the star. The record opens with a nod to the Great American Songbook with a reworking of Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael’s "Skylark." The 10-song collection also features a take on Glenn Miller’s "In the Mood," and a divine cover of Bob Dylan’s "I Shall be Released." The record peaked at No. 6 on the U.S. charts.

Imagination - Gladys Knight & the Pips

Released in October, Imagination was Gladys Knight & the Pips' first album with Buddha Records after leaving Motown, and features the group’s only No. 1 Billboard hit:  "Midnight Train to Georgia." The oft-covered tune, which won a GRAMMY the following year, and became the band’s signature, helped the record eclipse a million in sales, but it was not the only single to resonate. Other timeless, chart-topping songs from Imagination include "Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me," and "I’ve Got to Use My Imagination."

The Pointer Sisters - The Pointer Sisters

The three-time GRAMMY-winning Pointer Sisters arrived on the scene in 1973 with this critically-acclaimed self-titled debut. Then a quartet, the group of sisters from Oakland, California made listeners want to shake a tail feather with 10 songs that ranged from boogie-woogie to bebop. Their sisterly harmonies are backed up by the San Francisco blues-funk band the Hoodoo Rhythm Devils. The record opens with "Yes We Can," a hypnotic groove of a song written by Allen Toussaint which was a Top 15 hit alongside another cover, Willie Dixon’s "Wang Dang Doodle."

Behind Closed Doors - Charlie Rich

This pop-leaning country record of orchestral ballads, produced by Billy Sherrill, made Rich rich. The album has surpassed four million in sales and remains one of the genre’s best-loved classics. The album won Charlie Rich a GRAMMY the following year for Best Country Vocal Performance Male and added four Country Music Awards. Behind Closed Doors had several hits, but the title track made the most impact. The song written by Kenny O’Dell, and whose title was inspired by the Watergate scandal, was the first No.1 hit for Rich. It topped the country charts where it spent 20 weeks in 1973. It was also a Billboard crossover hit — reaching No. 15 on the Top 100 and No. 8 on the Adult Contemporary charts.

1972 Was The Most Badass Year In Latin Music: 11 Essential Albums From Willie Colón, Celia Cruz, Juan Gabriel & Others

Paul McCartney & Wings
Paul McCartney and Wings in 1974

Photo: Michael Putland/Getty Images

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Wings Release 'One Hand Clapping': How To Get Into Paul McCartney's Legendary Post-Beatles Band

After 50 years on the shelf, Wings' raw and intimate live-in-the-studio album is finally here. Use it as a springboard to discover Paul McCartney's '70s band's entire catalog — here's a roadmap through it all.

GRAMMYs/Jun 17, 2024 - 05:19 pm

Whether it be "Band on the Run" or "Jet" or "My Love," chances are you've heard a Wings song at least once — in all their polished, '70s-arena-sized glory. More than four decades after they disbanded in 1981, we're getting a helping of raw, uncut Wings.

Last February, Wings' classic 1973 album Band on the Run got the 50th anniversary treatment, with a disc of "underdubbed" remixes, allowing Paul McCartney, spouse and keyboardist Linda McCartney, and guitarist Denny Laine to be heard stripped back, with added clarity.

After a few months to digest that, it was time to reveal a session that, for ages, fans had been clamoring for. On June 14, in came One Hand Clapping, a live-in-the-studio set from August 1974 that captured Wings at the zenith of their powers.

Back then, Wings had the wind in their sails, with a reconstituted lineup Band on the Run at the top of the charts. They opted to plug in at Abbey Road Studios with cameras rolling, and record a live studio album with an attendant documentary. The film wouldn’t come out until a 2010 reissue of Band on the Run; the music’s popped up on bootlegs, but had never been released in full.

That long absence is a shame; while One Hand Clapping is a bit of a historical footnote, it absolutely rips; Giles Martin shining up the mixes certainly helped. Epochal Macca ballads, like "Maybe I'm Amazed" and "Blackbird," are well represented, but when Wings rock out, as on "Jet," "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five," and "deep cut "Soily," they tear the roof off.

Basically, in range and sequencing, One Hand Clapping shows McCartney prepping Wings like a rocket; soon, it'd rip through the live circuit. If you've never taken a spin through McCartney's post-Fabs discography, though, you may not know where to go from here.

So, for neophytes (or just fans wanting a refresher), here's a framework through which to sift through the Wings discography — with One Hand Clapping still ringing in your ears.

The Essentials

Remember, as you get into Wings: don't cordon off their catalog from McCartney's solo work as a whole. In other words: if you haven't heard masterpieces like 1971's Ram yet, don't go scrounging through Back to the Egg deep cuts yet: check all that stuff out, then return to this list.

That being established: the proper Wings entryway is almost unquestionably Band on the Run. Like Sgt. Pepper's and Abbey Road before it, it's an exhilarating melodic and stylistic rush, a sonic adventure — whether you go for the original or the "underdubbed" version.

In the grand scheme of solo Beatles, Band on the Run is also the one McCartney album that slugs it out with John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band and George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, in terms of artistic realization.

That being said: despite slightly inferior contemporaneous reviews, its follow-up, 1975's Venus and Mars, is almost as good — and if grandiosity isn't your bag, you might actually enjoy it more than Band on the Run. (Think of Harrison following up All Things with the sparser, more spacious Living in the Material World, and you'll get the picture.)

Between those two albums, you've got a wealth of indispensable Macca songs — "Jet," "Let Me Roll It," "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five," "Rock Show," "You Gave Me the Answer" — as well as satisfying deep cuts, like doomed Wingsman Jimmy McCulloch's "Medicine Jar."

From there, it's time to understand Weird Wings — which rewinds the clock to their beginnings.

The Weirdness

As the McCartney canon goes, Ram's stock seems to shoot up every year, single handedly inspiring new generations of psych-pop weirdos. By comparison, Wings' debut, Wild Life, was critically savaged in 1971, and its reputation isn't much better today.

As you'll learn so often in your solo Macca voyage — you've just got to ignore the critics sometimes. Even McCartney himself said "Bip Bop" "just goes nowhere" and "I cringe every time I hear it." What he leaves out it's a maddening earworm — to hear this loony, circuitous little sketch once is to carry it to your deathbed.

Indeed, Wild Life is full of moments that will stick with you. In the title track, McCartney screams about the zoo like his hair's on fire; "I Am Your Singer" is a swaying dialogue between Paul and Linda; "Dear Friend" is one of McCartney's most moving songs about Lennon.

Wild Life's follow-up, Red Rose Speedway, is a little more candy-coated and commercial — but outside of the polarizing hit "My Love," it has some integral McCartney tunes, like "Little Lamb Dragonfly" and "Single Pigeon."

In the end, though, Wild Life is arguably the early Wings offering that will really stick to your ribs. It's not a crummy follow-up to Ram, but an intriguing off-ramp from its harebrained universe — and as the opening statement from McCartney's post-Beatles vehicle, worth investigating just on that merit.

The Deep Cuts

McCartney has always been a hit-or-miss solo artist by design — digging through the half-written pastiches and questionable experiments is part of the deal.

1976's Wings at the Speed of Sound features a key track in the irrepressibly jaunty "Let 'Em In," and an (in)famous disco-spangled hit in "Silly Love Songs." From there, with tunes like "Cook of the House" and "Warm and Beautiful," your mileage may vary wildly.

The ratio holds for 1978's London Town: you could put the gorgeous "I'm Carrying" on your playlist and scrap the rest, or you can go spelunking. And McCartney being McCartney, despite 1979's Back to the Egg being choppy waters, he nailed it at least once — on the lithe, sophisticated, Stevie Wonder-like "Arrow Through Me."

Today, at 81, McCartney is an 18-time GRAMMY winner and an enormous concert draw — charging through his six-decade catalog in stadiums the world over. These albums only comprise one decade in his history, where he flourished as a mulleted stadium act alongside his keyboarding wife. But his catalog would be so much different if he never got his Wings.

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2 Live Crew
DJ Mr. Mixx, Fresh Kid Ice, Brother Marquis, Luke Skyywalker of 2 Live Crew in 1989

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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On This Day In Music: 2 Live Crew's 'As Nasty As They Wanna Be' Becomes First Album Declared Legally Obscene, Anticipates First Amendment Cases

Known for their raunchy take on hip-hop, 2 Live Crew made history when 'As Nasty As They Wanna Be' was declared legally obscene. Thirty-four years later, here's how they fought back and turned their battle into a landmark First Amendment case.

GRAMMYs/Jun 6, 2024 - 07:56 pm

When 2 Live Crew released their third studio album, they never imagined it would lead to a mammoth of legal entanglements. In 1989, the Miami-based hip-hop group dropped As Nasty As They Wanna Be, a title that held true throughout the ensuing legal battle.

In an effort to put their music on the map and distinguish themselves in the rap game, amidst one of hip-hops finest eras, the album featured sexually explicit themes and graphic content, leading to extreme popularity within pop culture. However, this widespread attention wasn’t all in a good light.

In Broward County, Florida, Sheriff Nick Navarro took a stand against the group, endeavoring to prevent local record store owners from selling the provocative album. In defiance of this censorship, 2 Live Crew filed a lawsuit in federal court, seeking legal recourse to halt the sheriff’s crackdown, prevent restrictions on album sales and legally defend their work as non-obscene.

Through the court's ruling, they deemed the work legally obscene and prohibited retailers from selling the album in Florida’s Broward, Dade, and Palm Beach counties.

Following the ruling, Florida record store owner Charles Freeman was arrested for selling As Nasty As They Wanna Be and three 2 Live Crew members were also arrested for performing their explicit music live at a nightclub in Hollywood, Florida. 

Challenging the initial ruling with tenacity, the group’s record label, Luke Records, founded by 2 Live Crew member Luther Campbell, brought the case in front of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

In this legal battle, the Eleventh Circuit Court applied the Miller Test, a benchmark for obscenity set by the United States Supreme Court’s test in the 1973 Miller v. California case. To meet the standards of the test, the work being challenged must appeal to a prurient, or shameful interest in sex, depict sexual materials in a patently offensive way, and lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. Luke Records called four experts in their fields to the stand, while Navarro failed to provide concrete evidence that the album met the standards outlined by the Miller Test.

In the Court of Appeals, it was found that the album did not meet the standards of obscenity that were set forth in the Miller Test. Since As Nasty As They Wanna Be was a creative work of music, the court ruled that the album had artistic value and thus did not meet all the standards to be deemed as obscene. 

"I’ve been listening to the album by 2 Live Crew. It’s not the best album that’s ever been made, but when I heard they banned it, I went out and bought it," said David Bowie during his 1990 tour in Philadelphia, stopping in the middle of his performance to defend the group. "Freedom of thought, freedom of speech — it’s one of the most important things we have."

Last week, 2 Live Crew member Brother Marquis passed away, prompting Campbell to take to Twitter and honor his friend and fellow member, stating, "We took on so many fights for the culture, made great music together, something I will never forget."

To this day, the case against 2 Live Crew serves as a legal standard for First Amendment Rights, upholding the boundaries between censorship and freedom of speech within music.

"They really set a legal precedent for hip-hop artists today to be able to create in the way that they choose to," says Kiana Fitzgerald in her book "Ode to Hip-Hop." In the book, she also cites contemporary examples of hip-hop artists who openly speak about sex in their discography, like Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B, Lil Wayne, and others.

Through 2 Live Crew’s legal fight, they paved the way as trailblazers for hip-hop artists to be As Nasty As They Wanna Be — without facing speech-smothering legal repercussions.

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David Bryan, Jon Bon Jovi and Tico Torres attend the UK Premiere of "Thank You and Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story" on April 17, 2024 in London, England
David Bryan, Jon Bon Jovi and Tico Torres attend the UK Premiere of "Thank You and Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story"

Photo: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for Disney+

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10 Facts About Jon Bon Jovi: A Friendship With Springsteen, Philanthropy, Football Fanaticism & More

Ahead of the band's new album 'Forever,' out June 7, and a new Hulu documentary, "Thank you, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story," read on for 10 facts about the GRAMMY-winning group and its MusiCares Person Of The Year frontman.

GRAMMYs/Jun 6, 2024 - 06:55 pm

Bon Jovi have officially been in the cultural conversation for five decades — and it looks like we'll never say goodbye. 

The band's self-titled debut album was unleashed upon the world in 1984, and lead single "Runaway" made some waves. Yet the New Jersey group didn't truly break through until their third album, the 12 million-selling Slippery When Wet. By the late 1980s, they were arguably the biggest rock band in the world, selling out massive shows in arenas and stadiums. 

Since, Bon Jovi releases have consistently topped album charts (six of their studio albums hit No. 1). A big reason for their continued success is that, unlike a majority of their ‘80s peers, frontman Jon Bon Jovi made sure that they adapted to changing times while retaining the spirit of their music — from the anthemic stomp of 1986’s "Bad Medicine" to the Nashville crossover of 2005’s "Who Says You Can’t Go Home." It also doesn’t hurt that the 2024 MusiCares Person Of The Year has aged very gracefully; his winning smile and charismatic personality ever crush-worthy.

Their fifth decade rocking the planet has been marked by many other milestones: The release of  a four-part Hulu documentary, "Thank you, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story"; Bon Jovi's 16th studio album Forever, and fan hopes for the return of original guitarist Richie Sambora who left unexpectedly in 2013. Despite all of these positive notes, there is an ominous cloud hanging over the group as their singer had to undergo vocal surgery following disappointing, consistently off-key performances on the group's 2022 U.S. tour. Even afterward, he remains unsure whether he’ll be able to tour again. But Bon Jovi remains popular and with Sambora expressing interest in a reunion, it's plausible that we could see them back on stage again somehow.

Jon Bon Jovi has also had quite a multifaceted career spun off of his success in music, as shown by the following collection of fascinating facts.

Jon Bon Jovi Sung With Bruce Springsteen When He Was 17

By the time he was in high school, Jon Bongiovi (his original, pre-fame last name) was already fronting his first serious group. The Atlantic City Expressway was a 10-piece with a horn section that performed well-known tunes from Jersey acts like Bruce Springsteen and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.

They regularly played The Fast Lane, and one night Bruce Springsteen was in the audience. To Bon Jovi’s surprise, The Boss jumped onstage to join them. The two later became good friends — during his MusiCares performance, Bon Jovi introduced Springsteen as "my mentor, my friend, my brother, my hero."

Jon Recorded Bon Jovi’s First Hit Before The Band Formed

Although "Runaway" was the debut single and lone Top 40 hit from Bon Jovi's first two albums, it was recorded as a professional demo back in 1982. 

Bon Jovi got a gig as a gopher at Power Station, the famed studio co-owned by his second cousin Tony Bongiovi where artists like the Rolling Stones, Diana Ross, and David Bowie recorded. (He watched even watched Bowie and Freddie Mercury record the vocals for "Under Pressure.")

The future rockstar cut "Runaway" (which was co-written mainly by George Karak) and other demos with session musicians — his friend, guitarist Aldo Nova, Rick Springfield/John Waite guitarist Tim Pierce, Springsteen keyboardist Roy Bittan, bassist Hugh McDonald (a future Bon Jovi member), and Scandal drummer Frankie LaRocca. The song first appeared on a WAPP compilation under his name, but then it was placed on Bon Jovi’s debut album. When the video for "Runway" was created nearly two years later, members of Bon Jovi were miming to other people’s performances. 

Although it is a classic, original guitarist Richie Sambora hates it and never wants to play it again.

He Eloped With His High School Sweetheart In April 1989

During the band’s world tour in support of New Jersey, Bon Jovi and Dorothea Hurley spontaneously eloped in a quickie wedding in Vegas. His bandmates and management were shocked to find this out; the latter probably feared that his ineligible bachelor status would harm their popularity with their ardent female fans. But it simply played more into his more wholesome image that differed from other hard rockers of the time. 

In May 2024, Bon Jovi’s son Jake secretly married "Stranger Things" actor Millie Bobby Brown. It was like history repeating itself, except this time family was involved.

Listen: Revisit Jon Bon Jovi's Greatest Hits & Deep Cuts Ahead Of MusiCares' Person Of The Year 2024 Gala

The Bongiovi Family Is Part Of The Bon Jovi Family

Back in the ‘80s, parents often didn’t like their kids’ music. However, Bon Jovi’s parents completely supported his. Mother Carol Bongiovi often chaperoned his early days when he was an underaged kid playing local clubs and bars in New Jersey. Father Jon Sr. was the group’s hair stylist until their third album, Slippery When Wet. He created his son's signature mane

Jon’s brother Matthew started as a production assistant in the band’s organization, then worked for their management before becoming his brother’s head of security and now his tour manager. His other brother Anthony became the director of a few Bon Jovi concert films and promo clips. He’s also directed concert films for Slayer and the Goo Goo Dolls.

Bon Jovi Is A Regular In Television & Film

After writing songs for the Golden Globe-winning "Young Guns II soundtrack (released as the solo album Blaze Of Glory) and getting a cameo in the Western’s opening, Bon Jovi was bitten by the acting bug. He studied with acclaimed acting coach Harold Guskin in the early ‘90s, then appeared as the romantic interest of Elizabeth Perkins in 1995's Moonlight and Valentino.

In other movies, Bon Jovi played a bartender who’s a recovering alcoholic (Little City), an ex-con turning over a new leaf (Row Your Boat), a failed father figure (Pay It Forward), a suburban dad and pot smoker (Homegrown), and a Navy Lieutenant in WWII (U-571). The band’s revival in 2000 slowed his acting aspirations, but he appeared for 10 episodes of "Ally McBeal," playing her love interest in 2002. 

Elsewhere on the silver screen, the singer has also portrayed a vampire hunter (Vampiros: Los Muertos), a duplicitous professor (Cry Wolf), the owner of a women’s hockey team (Pucked), and a rock star willing to cancel a tour for the woman he loves (New Year’s Eve). He hasn’t acted since 2011, but who knows when he might make a guest appearance?

Jon Bon Jovi Once Co-Owned A Football Team

In 2004, Bon Jovi became one of the co-founders and co-majority owner of the Philadelphia Soul, which were part of the Arena Football League (AFL). (Sambora was a minority shareholder.) The team name emerged in a satirical scene from "It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia" during which Danny DeVito’s character tries to buy the team for a paltry sum and twice butchers the singer’s name.

Jon stuck with the team until 2009, a year after they won Arena Bowl XXII, defeating the San Jose SaberCats. He then set his eyes on a bigger prize, the Buffalo Bills, aligning himself with a group of Toronto investors in 2011. One of his biggest competitors? Donald Trump, who ran a smear campaign alleging that the famed singer would move the team to Toronto. 

In the end, neither man purchased the team as they were outbid by Terry and Kim Pegula, who still own the Bills today.

Jon & Richie Sambora Wrote Songs For Other Artists

Having cranked out massive hits with songwriter Desmond Child, Bon Jovi and Sambora decided to write or co-write songs for and with other artists. 

In 1987, they co-wrote and produced the Top 20 hit "We All Sleep Alone" with Child for Cher, and also co-wrote the Top 40 hit "Notorious" with members of Loverboy. In 1989, the duo paired up again Loverboy guitarist Paul Dean for his solo rocker "Under The Gun" and bequeathed the New Jersey outtake "Does Anybody Really Fall in Love Anymore?" (co-written with Child and Diane Warren) to Cher. 

The Bon Jovi/Sambora song "Peace In Our Time" was recorded by Russian rockers Gorky Park. In 1990, Paul Young snagged the New Jersey leftover "Now and Forever," while the duo penned "If You Were in My Shoes" with Young, though neither song was released. In 2009, Bon Jovi and Sambora were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame for their contributions to music.

Jon Bon Jovi Once Ran His Own Record Label

For a brief time in 1991, he ran his own record label, Jambco, which was distributed through Bon Jovi’s label PolyGram Records. The only two artists he signed were Aldo Nova and Billy Falcon, a veteran singer/songwriter who became Bon Jovi's songwriting partner in the 2000s. Neither of their albums (Aldo Nova’s Blood On The Bricks and Billy Falcon’s Pretty Blue World) were big sellers, and the label folded quickly when they began losing money.

Still, the experience gave Bon Jovi the chance to learn about the music business. That experience helped after he fired original manager Doc McGhee in 1991 and took over his band’s managerial reins until 2015.

Bon Jovi's Vocal Issues Aren't New

Although Jon Bon Jovi's vocal problems have become a major issue recently, they stem back to the late 1980s. It's doubtful as to whether Jon had proper vocal training for a rock band at the start. 

The group did 15-month tours to support both the Slippery When Wet and New Jersey albums. Near the end of the grueling Slippery tour, Bon Jovi was getting steroid injections because his voice was suffering.

While his voice held up into the 2000s, it has become apparent over the last decade that his singing is rougher than it used to be. As shown in the Hulu new documentary, the singer has been struggling to maintain his voice. It’s natural for older rock singers to lose some range — it’s been very rare to hear him sing any of the high notes in "Livin’ On A Prayer" over the last 20 years — but he admitshe is unsure whether he can ever tour again, even with recent surgery.

Bon Jovi Has Been A Philanthropist For Over Three Decades

Back in the 1980s, the upbeat Bon Jovi made it clear that they were not going to be a toned-down political band. But in the ‘90s, he and the band toned down their look, evolved their sound, and offered a more mature outlook on life. 

Reflecting this evolved viewpoint,  the band started an annual tradition of playing a December concert in New Jersey to raise money for various charitable causes; the concert series began in 1991 and continued with the band or Jon solo through at least 2015. The group have played various charitable concert events over the years including the Twin Towers Relief Benefit, Live 8 in Philadelphia, and The Concert For Sandy Relief. 

By the late 2000s, Jon and Dorothea founded the JBJ Soul Kitchen to serve meals at lower costs to people who cannot afford them. COVID-19 related food shortages led the couple to found  the JBJ Soul Kitchen Food Bank. Their JBJ Soul Foundation supports affordable housing and has rebuilt and refurbished homes through organizations like Project H.O.M.E., Habitat For Humanity, and Rebuilding Together.

While he may be a superstar, Jon Bon Jovi still believes in helping others. For his considerable efforts, he was honored as the 2024 MusiCares Person Of The Year during 2024 GRAMMY Week.

Listen: Revisit Jon Bon Jovi's Greatest Hits & Deep Cuts Ahead Of MusiCares' Person Of The Year 2024 Gala

Bruce Springsteen performing in Philadelphia
Bruce Springsteen performs during his Born In The U.S.A. tour in Philadelphia

Photo: Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images 

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How Bruce Springsteen's 'Born In The U.S.A.' Changed Rock History — And The Boss' Own Trajectory

On the 40th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen's seminal album detailing working class life Reagan era America, reflect on the many ways 'Born In The U.S.A.' impacted pop and rock music.

GRAMMYs/Jun 4, 2024 - 01:39 pm

Bruce Springsteen himself might not be particularly enthusiastic about his seventh studio effort, Born In The U.S.A. ("a group of songs about which I've always had some ambivalence"). But for the record buyers of 1984 – and indeed much of the decade thereafter – it was a towering achievement in combining classic and contemporary American rock.  

Born In The U.S.A. was co-produced with Jon Landau, Chuck Plotkin, and E Street Band member Steven Van Zandt, and represented a complete divergence from his previous release, the acoustic affair Nebraska. Audiences didn't seem to mind the change in tone: The 12-track LP spent seven weeks atop the Billboard 200 and sold more than 17 million copies in America alone. 

It also equaled the record set by Michael Jackson's Thriller by spawning seven consecutive U.S. Top 10 hits, including the oft-misunderstood title track, "I'm On Fire," and his highest-charting, "Dancing in the Dark." (The latter netted The Boss his first GRAMMY Award, for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male.) Born's themes of working-class life in the Ronald Reagan era struck a chord with homegrown audiences, albeit occasionally for unintended reasons, and picked up a coveted Album Of The Year nod at the 1985 GRAMMYs. 

But there's more to Born In The U.S.A.'s story than blockbuster sales and critical acclaim. It also changed the course of rock music in several ways, whether reigniting America's love of the genre, proving that synths and guitars could work together in perfect harmony, or simply popularizing a new way to hear it. Ahead of its 40th anniversary, here's a look at why the record fully deserves its status as an all-time great.   

It Revolutionized The Sound Of Heartland Rock

Already hailed as a progenitor of the blue-collar, rootsy sound known as heartland rock, Springsteen once again proved to be something of a revolutionary when he added synths into the mix. Born In The U.S.A. continually puts pianist Roy Bittan's skills to great use — whether he's echoing the whistle that haunts the narrator of "Downbound Train," giving "I'm On Fire" its ethereal sheen, or imbuing "Dancing In The Dark" with a glowing warmth.   

Born In The U.S.A. helped codify synths as a key component of the decade's rock sound. Within a few years, most of The Boss' peers had enjoyed synth-based success: Don Henley with Building the Perfect Beast, Tom Petty with Southern Accents, as well as Robbie Robertson's self-titled debut. Even The Boss' hero, Bob Dylan, went electric again on Empire Burlesque. And you can hear its modern-day influence in the likes of the Killers, Kurt Vile, and, most notably, proud Springsteen acolytes The War on Drugs.   

It Bid Farewell To Rock's Most Iconic Backing Band  

With their uncanny ability to capture and expand upon his musical vision, The E Street Band have been as integral to Springsteen's success as The Boss himself. The likes of bassist Garry Tallent, saxophonist Clarence Clemons, and drummer Max Weinberg were responsible for the Wall of Sound that enveloped 1975 breakthrough Born to Run, while 1980's The River was a concerted attempt to replicate their prowess on the stage in the studio.   

But while they provided occasional backing on 1987 follow-up Tunnel of Love, Born In The U.S.A. was the last time Springsteen fully utilized their talents until 2002's return-to-form The Rising. It also proved to be a proper farewell to Van Zandt, who left the set-up halfway through recording to pursue a solo career. The constant whoops and cheers, however, suggests that all parties were determined to end things on a celebratory note.   

It Turned Springsteen Into An MTV Icon  

Springsteen had only previously released one music video, and he didn't even make an appearance, with 1982's "Atlantic City" consisting solely of austere images of the titular location. But keen to show off the muscular physique he'd developed during the following two years, The Boss made five videos for Born In The U.S.A., and bagged some impressive names to help him land that all-important MTV play.  

Scarface director Brian De Palma helmed its most famous, the "Dancing in the Dark" promo in which Springsteen plucked a then-unknown Courteney Cox from the crowd. Indie favorite John Sayles pulled triple duty, directing the performance-based video for the title track and developing the narrative treatments for "I'm On Fire" (Springsteen plays car mechanic tempted by affair with married customer) and "Glory Days" (Springsteen bonds with son via baseball). Boasting footage from the Born In The U.S.A. tour, "My Hometown" rounded off the whole audio-visual campaign which was twice recognized at the VMAs.

It Kickstarted A CD Revolution

Although compact discs had been around for several years, Born In The U.S.A. was — fittingly, considering its title and blue collar themes — the first to be manufactured in America. Within just a few years, the homegrown CD market had skyrocketed from virtually zero to more than $930 million. And with at least 17 million copies sold domestically overall, it seems reasonable to suggest that Springsteen's seventh LP was responsible for a significant percentage.   

No doubt that its iconic front cover — shot by celebrated photographer Annie Leibovitz — helped the album stand in record stores. Shot from behind with Springsteen clad in denim, posing in front of the Stars and Stripes, Born In The U.S.A. provided audiences with one of the decade's most recognizable images. Explaining the creative decision to ignore his Hollywood action hero looks, The Boss told Rolling Stone, "The picture of my ass looked better than the picture of my face."  

It Spawned A Game-Changing Tour  

If you need any proof of how stratospheric Born In The U.S.A. sent Springsteen's career, just look at its accompanying tour. With 156 dates across North America, Asia, Europe, and Australia, the tour raked in approximately $90 million. (It remained the decade's highest-grossing rock tour until Pink Floyd's A Momentary Lapse of Reason concluded four years later.)  

Springsteen's success also appeared to convince David Bowie and Tina Turner that solo artists could handle a stadium crowd as well as any band.   

The Born In The U.S.A. trek was monumental for several other reasons: it was the first to feature new E Street Band member Nils Lofgren and Springsteen's future wife Patti Scialfa. It established his long-running love affair with the now-demolished Giants Stadium, a New Jersey venue returned to 23 times. The tour formed more than half of Springsteen's Live: 1975-85 album that topped the Billboard 200 for four weeks in 1986. Until Garth Brooks' Double Live 12 years later, Live: 1975-85 the highest-selling live album ever.  

It Celebrated Male Friendship  

Springsteen has never been afraid to be vulnerable when it comes to an area most rock musicians seem afraid to address: the importance of male friendship. "Ghosts," for example, is a heartfelt dedication to all the bandmates he'd lost over the years, while "This Hard Land" is a tale of brotherhood inspired by his love of western maestro John Ford. But it was on Born In The U.S.A. where The Boss first showed that songs about entirely platonic love can be as emotively powerful as the more romantic side.   

Indeed, the ambiguous gender on "Bobby Jean" has led many to believe the concert staple is a testament to his relationship with Van Zandt. And "No Surrender" appears to revel in the camaraderie they shared back in their younger days. Foo Fighters ("The Glass"), the Walkmen ("Heaven"), and Death Cab for Cutie ("Wheat Like Waves") have all since followed Springsteen's lead by opening up about their all-male bonds.   

It Ushered In A Wave of Presidential Appropriation  

It's not something that Springsteen will be shouting from the rooftops about. But Born In The U.S.A. — specifically its famously misunderstood title track — essentially ushered in the trend of presidential candidates co-opting chart hits regardless of the artist's political leanings. Indeed, long before the likes of George W. Bush vs. Sting, Sarah Palin vs. Gretchen Peters, and Donald Trump vs. Neil Young and John Fogerty (among many others), The Boss took umbrage with Ronald Reagan's plans to use "Born In The USA" for his 1984 reelection campaign.  

Despite Springsteen's flat-out refusal, he was still celebrated by Reagan in a stump speech, declaring that America's future "rests in the message of hope in the songs of a man so many young Americans admire: New Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen." And both Pat Buchanan and Bob Dole, also seemingly mistaking its rally cry against the treatment of Vietnam War veterans for a patriotic anthem, cheekily used the track before its writer got wind and shut them down.   

It Revived America's Love Of American Rock  

While Eagles' Hotel California, Fleetwood Mac's Rumors, and Boston's self-titled debut had all racked up colossal sales in the '70s, Springsteen's commercial opus was the first guitar-oriented U.S. release to achieve similar numbers in the '80s. By the end of the decade, Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction and Journey's Greatest Hits were also approaching the 20 million mark, while Bryan Adams' Reckless, Van Halen's 5150, and Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet were just a few of the domestic rock efforts that immediately followed in its chart-topping footsteps.  

And while the use of synths brought Springsteen's sound into the '80s, The Boss didn't forget about his earthier roots. Born In The U.S.A. is also steeped in the classic sounds of American rock, from the honky tonk leanings of "Darlington County" and rockabilly of "Workin' On The Highway" to the front porch folk of "My Hometown." Its lyrical content might not always have been patriotic, but its accompanying music was as American as apple pie.   

Songbook: How Bruce Springsteen's Portraits Of America Became Sounds Of Hope During Confusing Times