This Week in History: April 1-7
By: David Ball
Unfortunately for Dave Mustaine, Metallica's April 1, 1983's lineup shuffle wasn't an April Fools Day prank perpetrated by his fellow bandmates. Nope. Ex-Exodus shredder Kirk Hammett was asked to join the metal pioneers as Mustaine's replacement on lead guitar (Mustaine went on to form Megadeth). Hammett signed up just before the start of their recording sessions for their debut Kill ‘Em All and has remained active in the band's creative process ever since, co-writing some of their best-loved songs while laying down terrific - if not overly wah-wahed - solos and monster riffs; see "Enter Sandman" and the rest of their self-titled 1991 commercial breakthrough LP (a.k.a. The Black Album). The once respected rag Rolling Stone ranked Hammett #11 on its 100 Greatest Guitarists list and you'll get no argument from me.
Two dissimilar but welcoming April 3 announcements made news: MC Hammer filed for bankruptcy on the 3rd of April, 1996 and egotistical guitarist asshole, Dave Navarro, was fired from the Red Hot Chili Peppers on April 3, 1998. What was surprising about Hammer was that he should've reached financial ruin years earlier after the lethal combination of a plummeting career post 1991's Too Legit To Quit and a lengthy track record of extensive/foolish spending habits. With Navarro, it came as no surprise he got the boot from the California funk quartet given the Chili Peppers' revolving door history of lead guitarists. And given that Navarro is an epic fucking tool, his departure seemed preordained; his heroin relapse also helped sealed the deal. Navarro's tenure in the Chili Peppers' began in 1993 and only one studio album, the underachieving One Hot Minute. The curious thing was that he seemed like an ideal replacement for the Peppers' troubled but talented ex-guitarist, John Frusciante. However, whatever balls Navarro showed in his previous band, Jane's Addiction, seemed surgically removed while playing in the Peppers. Ironically, Chili Peppers' replaced Navarro with the now clean and sober Fruscianti and they became bigger than ever. For the record, I think Navarro is an excellent lead guitarist and an innovator in his own right, but still an asshole. Hammer is still searching for his career.
Wow! Eleven years sure flies by when you don't pay much attention to things you care very little about: P!nk, a.k.a. Pink, released her debut, Can't Take Me Home, on April 4, 2000. Famed hit-makers L.A. Reid and Babyface were the album's executive producers and shaped Pink's early club-friendly, dance-pop sound. Three singles were released with two cracking Billboard's Top 5: "Most Girls" and "There You Go". In retrospect, Pink's had a fairly interesting, albeit, up-down-and-up career since her rather lightweight beginning. As much as I hate her fluffy signature song from ‘01, "Get the Party Started" along most of her other tunes (‘08's hit "Funhouse" has been known to torture me through hours of insomnia), in recent years she's transformed herself from former hard-partying train-wreck to outspoken role model for young women (she's pro health and militantly outspoken regarding "thin-at-all-costs" female youth culture while being especially critical of self-destructive starlets... such as that dirty no talent skank, Ke$ha). Pink is also active in charitable foundations such as Save The Children, UNICEF and PETA. I hope Pink sticks around pop culture a long time. Good role models are hard to find.
Speaking of Pink, it was announced on April 6, 1968, that Floyd's founding member, Syd Barrett, was leaving the band due to increasingly debilitating psychiatric disorders attributed to drug abuse (in particular LSD). Count me among the majority that prefer Pink Floyd's Roger Waters-led era (one cannot deny their near-unparalleled critical and commercial legacy through the ‘70s-‘80s and iconic pop culture status thanks to albums Wish You Were Here, Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall). And yet Barrett's place in the hollowed history of rock cannot be ignored. After all, he gave Pink Floyd their name, attitude and stylistic approach by encouraging exploring the mind-bending, experimental side of rock. Most importantly, he was the visionary behind their groundbreaking 1967 debut, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn - universally recognized as one of the most important psychedelic albums of all time. While recording their follow-up to Piper, A Saucerful of Secrets, Barrett's behavior became increasingly erratic and he was kicked out in March, 1968; replaced by guitarist/singer David Gilmour. From 1968-'71, Barrett embarked on a brief solo career, releasing two scattered but generally good albums, The Madcap Laughs and his 1970 sanity swansong, Barrett. But by 1972, Barrett disappeared into permanent 30-year self-seclusion only to randomly resurface a few times over the decades before his diabetic-related death in 2006. His most famous "sighting" occurred in 1975, when he showed up unannounced at the Abbey Road Studio during the Wish You Were Here session to watch Pink Floyd record the song dedicated to the then 29-year-old Barrett: "Shine on You Crazy Diamond".
Next week: Peter Frampton and more bashing and trashing fun
Video: “Interstellar Overdrive Pt 1“ by Pink Floyd