Delta bluesman Son House begins a two-year stint in Parchman Farm prison after fatally shooting a man at a house party in Lyon, Mississippi.


Music Timeline


Delta bluesman Son House begins a two-year stint in Parchman Farm prison after fatally shooting a man at a house party in Lyon, Mississippi.

May, 1937:

Honky-tonk singer Rex Griffin records "The Last Letter," a suicide note set to music.


In downtown LA, a clash between sailors from Chavez Ravine Naval Base and local Hispanic gangs—"zoot suiters"—explodes into several nights of rioting. Fifty-five years later, the Cherry Poppin' Daddies exploited the incident and started a different sort of "Zoot Suit Riot."


Future legend Merle Haggard declared incorrigible by the courts and sent to the high-security Preston School of Industry for 15 months. With another PSI "graduate," the 16-year-old Haggard robs and beats another teen, landing him back in PSI.

April 3, 1961:

Self-proclaimed "King of Western Swing" Spade Cooley stomps his wife to death as their daughter watches.

May 26, 1968:

R&B singer Little Willie John dies of pneumonia in Washington State Penitentiary, where he's serving time for stabbing a man.


Brooklyn girl group the Crystals releases their third single, a Carole King/Gerry Goffin song called "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)," setting an unfortunate precedent for everyone from Tina Turner to Pamela Anderson Lee.

Summer, 1963:

Shortly after breaking up the Louvin Brothers, the gospel/country duo he started with his brother Charlie, Ira Loudermilk gets drunk and argues with Faye, his third wife. The resulting shooting nearly kills Ira.

December 11, 1964:

LA motel manager Bertha Franklin kills Sam Cooke. Franklin claims that she is acting in self-defense after seeing Cooke rape another woman. The shooting is ruled justifiable homicide.


Tom Jones releases A-tom-ic Jones, with a cover depicting him in front of a nuclear explosion.

July 18, 1966:

Loraine Fuller discovers the body of her son, surf guitarist Bobby Fuller, bloody and in rigor mortis, draped across the front seat of her Oldsmobile.


Carl Douglas' "Kung Fu Fighting" becomes a number-one hit, launching a pop music flirtation with martial arts that continues to this day.

February, 1977:

Pete Townshend scuffles with a London photographer who's trying to take a picture of the Who guitarist talking to Sex Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook.

Oct. 11, 1978:

Former Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious stabs his girlfriend Nancy Spungeon in room 100 of New York's Chelsea Hotel.

Dec. 3, 1979:

Fans stampede into concert by the Who at Cincinnati's Riverfront Coliseum. Eleven die.

March 1980:

Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde spends night in jail after kicking out the window of a police car.

January 18, 1981:

Plasmatics singer Wendy O. Williams is charged with battery in Milwaukee after the local cops try to arrest her for onstage obscenity.

April 1, 1984:

The day before his 45th birthday, soul legend Marvin Gaye is shot and killed by his father, Rev. Marvin Gaye, Sr. during a domestic dispute.

October, 1984:

A Rolling Stone article lists suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Jerry Lee Lewis's fifth wife, Shawn Michelle Stevens: blood and bruises on her body, broken glass on the floor, and a sack of bloodstained clothes nearby.

July 31, 1987:

The best-selling debut album in history, Guns N' Roses' Appetite For Destruction, is released. The cover artwork, a Robert Williams cartoon depicting the aftermath of a rape, causes so much controversy that the band moves it to the inside jacket.

February, 1989:

Groundbreaking Jamaican producer King Tubby is murdered outside his house during a burglary.

July 3, 1990:

Slick Rick shoots his cousin on a Bronx street corner, then crashes his car during the ensuing police chase.


Agonized screams become all the rage when Nirvana's Nevermind knocks Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks, U2, and Hammer from the top of the charts.


Puff Daddy promotes an AIDS benefit basketball game at the City College of New York, where a stampede for seats leaves nine people dead and 29 injured.

May, 1993:

British drummer Hugh Whitaker is found guilty of assaulting one James Hewitt with an axe and setting fire to his house three times.


The brutal rape and murder of singer Mia Zapata leads to the formation of self-defense organization Home Alive.

July 4, 1995:

Backstage at the Gorge Amphitheater, Hole singer Courtney Love punches Bikini Kill singer Kathleen Hanna.

Sept. 13, 1996:

Death Row recording artist Tupac Shakur is shot at close range while being driven to a charity event in Las Vegas. Suspicion immediately falls on East Coast rival Puff Daddy's Big Boy posse. Tupac dies six days later. The murder remains unsolved.

March 9, 1997:

Big Boy recording artist the Notorious B.I.G. is shot and killed in a car while returning from the Soul Train Awards in Los Angeles. Suspicion immediately falls on West Coast rivals in the Death Row camp. The murder remains unsolved.

Sept. 20, 1997:

A crowd of 700 loots and vandalizes several downtown Seattle businesses. The riot is alleged to have begun after several people are turned away from a local DJ's private party at the Showbox.

Nov. 23, 1998:

Then-Spin editor Craig Marks is allegedly threatened by Marilyn Manson and assaulted by two bodyguards.

April 15, 1999:

Three men burst into Interscope Records exec Steve Stoute's office and beat him with chairs, a telephone, and a champagne bottle. The next day Puff Daddy is arrested. Two months later, the rapper settles out of court.

July 25, 1999:

The Woodstock '99 music festival concludes in a conflagration of rioting, rape, and vandalism. Members of the crowd start fires with candles that were handed out for an anti-gun violence demonstration.

comments powered by Disqus