On this day in music history: March 29, 1986 - “Rock Me Amadeus” by Falco hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. Written by Falco, Rob Bolland and Ferdi Bolland, it is the biggest hit for the Austrian pop singer born Johann Holzel. Having previously scored a sizable hit on the US Dance charts with his original version of the song “Der Kommissar” in early 1983, Falco’s own version is bested on the Hot 100 by a cover version from British pop band After The Fire whose version peaks at #5 in April of 1983. When his second album “Junge Roemer” fails to yield any hits outside of his native Austria, he soon regroups, setting his sights on breaking through on a worldwide basis with his third album. Falco is inspired to write “Rock Me Amadeus” after seeing the Oscar winning film “Amadeus”, about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The US single of the song contains two different mixes, “The American Edit” and the “Canadian Edit”, the latter features a narrator reciting a timeline of the life of the famed Austrian classical composer. Entering the Hot 100 at #79 on February 8, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart seven weeks later. “Rock Me Amadeus” is the first German language single to hit number one in the US, also topping the charts in the UK, Canada, and New Zealand. In the US, A&M Records releases two different 12" singles of the track. The first is an extended version of the “American Edit”, and a second titled the “Salieri Mix” (packaged in a picture jacket), incorporates elements of the “Canadian Edit” including the timeline of Mozart’s life. Another remix is issued in foreign territories closely mirroring the original album version, but with an extended running time. In the years since its worldwide chart success, “Amadeus” is sampled, covered and parodied numerous times including on an episode of “The Simpsons” animated series, when the song is re-written as “Dr. Zaius”, after one of the main characters from the “Planet Of The Apes” film series. Falco scores one more US top twenty single with the follow up “Vienna Calling” (#18 Pop) in June of 1986. After moving from A&M to Sire Records in late 1986, he continues to be successful in Europe, but his American chart run is over by then. Sadly, Falco is killed in a car accident while on vacation in the Dominican Republic on February 6, 1998, less than two weeks shy of his forty first birthday. He is laid to rest in his birthplace of Vienna, Austria.
Madonna, a former lover of Jean-Michel Basquiat tells her story
I am not sure if I met Jean-Michel in an art gallery or a night-club, but in those days you couldn’t tell the difference.
He had the presence of a movie star and I was crazy about him. He carried crumpled wads of money in the pockets of his paint-splattered Armani suits. Money he felt guilty about having. Money he always gave away to less fortunate friends.
I remember Jean-Michel’s tag - Samo- which was accompanied with a little crown and I remember thinking he was a genius. He was. But he wasn’t very comfortable with it.
I remember all the girls were in love with him and one night I looked out of his loft window and saw a girl whose heart he had broken, burning his paintings in a big bonfire. I wanted to stop her and rescue his paintings, but he didn’t seem to mind. He said it was their fate.
I remember him getting up at 3am and sleep-walking to an empty canvas. He stood inches away from it and proceeded to paint the most minuscule figures and what he did was so beautiful and intellectual and I stood watching him with dumbfounded amazement
He was one of the people I was truly envious of. But he didn’t know how good he was and was plagued with insecurities. He used to say he was jealous of me because music is more accessible and it reached more people. He loathed the idea that art was appreciated by an elite group.
When I broke up with him he demanded I give back the paintings he had given me. Not because he didn’t think I deserved them, but because he was obsessed with the idea that I would sell them.
He was so paranoid. of course, I was heart-broken but complied. Now I couldn’t buy one of his paintings if I wanted to.
When I heard that Jean-Michel had died I was not surprised. He was too fragile for this world.
I remember one summer having dinner with Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel at Mr Chow’s and feeling like the luckiest girl in the world to have known him. To have known all of them. Now they’re all gone.
On this day in music history: March 29, 1975 - “Lady Marmalade” by LaBelle hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the R&B singles chart for 1 week on February 22, 1975. Written by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan, it is the biggest hit for the R&B vocal trio featuring Patti Labelle, Nona Hendryx, and Sarah Dash. The song is originally recorded by The Eleventh Hour, a studio group fronted by singer and songwriter Kenny Nolan (“I Like Dreamin’), co-written with Four Seasons songwriter and producer Bob Crewe earlier in 1974. Producer Allen Toussaint hears the original version and record the song with LaBelle for their first Epic Records album "Nightbirds”. Featuring The Meters providing musical support, it is released as the first single from the album. Becoming a dance floor smash in discos in late 1974, the electrifying track soon makes its way on to R&B and pop radio. Entering the Hot 100 at #98 on January 4, 1975, it climbs to the top of the chart twelve weeks later. The song is re-recorded in by Christina Aguilera, Pink, Lil’ Kim, Mya, & Missy Elliott for the Baz Lurhmann film “Moulin Rouge”. They take the song to number one (for 5 weeks) again in June of 2001, winning a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals in 2002. LaBelle’s version of “Lady Marmalade” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
The feeling of music wrapping around your body, soul, and mind is unlike anything you can understand if you’ve never been to a concert.
The giddy feeling of seeing other people with the same taste in music the closer you are to the venue. The shaking hands at the gate getting your ticket checked. The pounding of your heart in your ears as you hear the crowd. The soaring feeling of first entering the main concert area. The fleeting nervousness of wondering if it’s everything you’ve been building it up to the past few months. The jumpy starts and ‘wait it’s starting’ that you say 100 times thinking you see the artist entering. The roaring of the crowd with the excitement filling up your whole body, soul, and head. The dead silence of all the lights suddenly turning off. The anticipation of the whole crowd filling your whole body in an overwhelming breathtaking excitement. Those few seconds of the best type of agony in the world waiting for those opening lines. And finally.
The blog rushing in your ears, and the louder-than-a-bomb screams, the heart soaring and feet stomping and screaming the lyrics at the top of your lungs until you just know you won’t have your voice again for a few days. The few moments where you take a step back to realize where you are, to savor it, to engrave this feeling deep into your heart and never forget it. Because you’ve been waiting for months upon months for this concert and not a damn soul is going to ruin it for you. The first song you will always remember, because even if you’ve only heard it live once it’s permanently engraved deep into your brain, the thunderous ear and heart pounding yells the sudden change from neck breaking anticipation to the heart swinging, foot stomping voice breaking pure unadulterated joy and adrenaline when you finally hear the first cords.
And of course, every concert has a few songs that take you back in time. Whether it’s songs from their first album, or songs you grew up hearing your parents playing on Friday nights when the neighbors came over and you’d dance till your feet were sore in the living room. Maybe a slow song that gave you a different type of joy. A heartbreaking joy that reminds you of the good old days, of how time is still moving forward whether you like it or not. Reminding you that just for a few hours time doesn’t exist, the songs come one after another again and again. Maybe a heartbreaking song from the past instead of reminding you of the old days and how you’re moving forward it reminds you that it was a different kind of broken perfect. It makes your heart want to pause time and cry for hours on the floor or the safe corner in between the bookshelf and the wall. But instead you hold your head high, unabashedly crying, because the people and music surrounding you make you stronger. And you’re. Not. Giving. Up. Today.
And suddenly the music is back again. The music that makes you stomp your feet and swing your head and shout the lyrics till your voice is hearse.
And then… it’s over before it feels like it even started, hours streaked by in what seems like seconds. You want to turn back time. You leave your seat, or the pit. Awestruck, maybe with leftover tears on your face, or fresh tears. You get a shirt, because this place will never leave your heart. It’s forever engraved in your heart. You’ll visit this place in your dreams, you’ll talk about it for weeks on end. Just to make sure you don’t forget a single detail. If you came with a friend or alone, you’ll sit in awestruck silence on the way home, your brain still remembering and replaying every memory. Certain bits played again and again in your head like a perfect broken record.
And then your home, and you’re so exhausted that you can’t fall asleep. You play back the videos you took. Relishing in the moment. But it’s not the same. The sound is, empty. It’s not the same. You know you’ll go back. You have to go back.
Because that’s what I live for. The heart pounding, feet stomping, head swinging, whole body experience of a concert. Because it’s not just the ears. It’s my soul, my body, my feet, my eyes. Every sense and ten other that you didn’t know existed coming to life.
You’ll be back, maybe a few months, maybe a few years, you don’t know when, but you know you will. Because this is not the end. This is not your last. The music and the crowd will always draw you back, back to a place where you and I can both feel safe.