Phil Lynott led the Irish rock band Thin Lizzy to stardom in the 1970s on the strength of hits including “The Boys Are Back in Town” and “Jailbreak.” We remember Lynott’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1966: “Dimebag Darrell” Abbott, U.S. guitarist and songwriter who was a founding member of the metal bands Pantera and Damageplan, is born in Ennis, Texas.
Pantera’s fast, aggressive sound attracted a massive cult following in the early 1990s, and its third release, “Far Beyond Driven,” debuted at No. 1 in 1994, surprising chart-watchers and critics alike. Other hit albums were “The Great Southern Trendkill” and “Reinventing the Steel,” and a song by the band became the Dallas Stars hockey team’s signature tune in 1999. “When you think of ’90s heavy metal or hard rock, Pantera is one of these seminal bands. They are quoted today as influences by many bands,” said Tom Calderone, MTV’s executive vice president. “Hard rock has lost a legendary guitar player.” Read more
1952: Doug Fieger, U.S. singer-songwriter and guitarist who was the frontman for the Knack, who had a hit in 1979 with “My Sharona,” is born in Oak Park, Michigan.
In 1979, “My Sharona” became the first – and biggest – hit for Fieger’s band, the Knack. The bouncy, catchy song was written about Fieger’s girlfriend, Sharona … and their eight-year age difference was reflected in the PG-13 lyrics. Those lyrics – along with the driving drums and guitar and Fieger’s stuttery delivery – rocketed the song to No. 1, where it stayed for six weeks. It quickly achieved gold status – more quickly, in fact, than any other debut single since “I Want To Hold Your Hand” in 1964. Read more
1949: Phil Lynott, Irish singer and guitarist who led Thin Lizzy, the rock band known for hits including “The Boys Are Back in Town,” is born in West Bromwich, England.
1942: Isaac Hayes, U.S. singer-songwriter who won an Academy Award for the theme song for the film “Shaft,” is born in Covington, Tennessee.
Hayes was also a talented and influential songwriter, whose compositions are widely known. As a writer, he helped shape the innovative soul sound coming out of Memphis in the early 1960s, and he was a driving force behind the evolution of disco and rap. He crafted perfect hit singles, but he also moved beyond pop, composing award-winning movie scores. Hayes may have enjoyed interpreting other writers’ music, but the truth is that he was a songwriter to the core. Read more
1923: Jim Reeves, U.S. country music singer-songwriter known for Nashville Sound hits including “He’ll Have To Go,” is born in Galloway, Texas.
In the pop music world, crooners like Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby had been taking the volume down a few notches for years. Their low, emotive singing style was made possible by microphones, which could amplify their voices to dominate the accompanying instruments even if they didn’t sing loudly. The smooth style was all over the pop music charts, but it hadn’t yet made its way to country … until Reeves lowered his voice to a more gentlemanly tone. His first single using his new sound was “Four Walls,” and it was a No. 1 hit. Read more
1918: Jacqueline Susann, U.S. author known best for her novel “Valley of the Dolls,” is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Susann’s 1966 best-seller “Valley of the Dolls” certainly doesn’t read as if it were written yesterday. Characters wear the fashions of the time (some of which are actually back in style today, but not enough to keep the book from showing its age). The writing has that wide-eyed hipness common in the 1960s, and the references can be unrecognizable to a modern audience. (“The fellow not only expects me to keep my job, but at the same time I should look like Carole Landis in a negligee while I whip up a few gourmet dishes.”) Read more
1910: Eero Saarinen, Finnish architect who designed St. Louis’ Gateway Arch and Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C., is born in Kirkkonummi, Finland.
1907: Alan Reed, U.S. actor who provided the voice of Fred Flintstone on “The Flintstones” animated series, is born in New York, New York.
1833: Benjamin Harrison, U.S. politician who was the 33rd president of the United States, serving from 1889 to 1893, is born in North Bend, Ohio.