50 years ago today, The Band released their self-titled album, with songs like Up on Cripple Creek and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down which became critically acclaimed folk-rock classics. They wanted to produce a collection of songs evoking an Americana past, though the members of the group were Canadian. Known for being Bob Dylan’s band while he toured, The Band recorded this LP, their second, in a pool house on the grounds of a residence belonging to Sammy Davis, Jr.

The group’s chief songwriter and guitarist Robbie Robertson said they chose the location in order to give the songs a certain basement-tapes feeling. It reached #9 on the Billboard chart and later was preserved into the National Recording Registry as an album that was “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important, and reflects life in the United States.” WATCH a live performance of Up on Cripple Creek from their farewell tour in Scorsese’s documentary, The Last Waltz… (1969)

The other band members included Levon Helm on drums and vocals, singer-songwriter Rick Danko on bass, and multi-instrumentalists Garth Hudson and Richard Manuel.

MORE Good News on this Day:

  • The (first) French Republic was established following the revolution (1792)
  • President Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that all slaves in rebel states should be freed beginning in January of the following year (1862)
  • Independence Day in Bulgaria (1908); and Mali (1960)
  • Fiddler on the Roof, a play set in 1905 Russia, opened on Broadway and later became the first musical theater run in history to surpass 3,000 performances (1964)
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls were made available to the public for the first time by the Huntington Library in California (1991)
  • David Hempleman-Adams became the first person to cross the Atlantic Ocean in an open-air, wicker-basket hot air balloon (2003)
  • Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page was made an honorary citizen of Rio de Janeiro for his work helping Brazilian street children by opening Casa Jimmy (Jimmy’s House), which had supported more than 300 kids since 1998 (2005)
  • An email led to the creation of Airbnb when Joe suggested to Brian that they turn their place into a bed and breakfast for designers attending a 4-day conference (2007)

On this day in 2001, 35 American TV networks and cable channels simultaneously aired  ‘A Tribute to Heroes’, a live commercial-free benefit concert and telethon organized to raise money for victims and their families– especially firefighters– following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.america-a-tribute-to-heroes-concert

Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Bon Jovi, U2, Sting, Céline Dion, and Willie Nelson were some of the performers. Actor George Clooney organized celebrities to perform or staff the telephones to take pledges. Stars included Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks, Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, Will Smith, Cameron Diaz, and many more. They raised over $200 million, including funds from DVD and CD sales, for the September 11 Fund.

2010 photo by Jessie Pearl, CC license

Also, Happy 61st birthday to Joan Jett, who took her mother’s maiden name and jetted to fame as the founding member and singer of The Runaways and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. When she was 14, she quit guitar lessons because she didn’t want to learn folk songs, and later made three albums certified Platinum or Gold. The songwriter is known for hits like “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll,” “Cherry Bomb,” and “Bad Reputation“—from her 1980 debut LP of the same name. Jett appeared with Michael J. Fox in the film Light of Day, as they portrayed rockers in a bar band. The film, The Runaways, chronicled the band’s career, and starred Twilight’s Kristen Stewart playing Jett. (1958)

And, on this day in 1985, the first Farm Aid benefit concert was held before a crowd of 80,000 people in Champaign, Illinois.farm-aid-musicians.jpg

Organized by Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young, the event was spurred on by Bob Dylan saying at the Live Aid benefit concert earlier that year, “Wouldn’t it be great if we did something for our own farmers right here in America?” The actions taken by musicians in partnership with some family farming advocates led to the organic-local food revolution. Dylan agreed to perform at the Memorial Stadium event, along with Johnny Cash, B.B. King, Billy Joel, Loretta Lynn, Roy Orbison, and many country music stars. It raised over $9 million for U.S. family farmers and was the first of an annual event that has endured for 30 years. WATCH a little story about how it happened…

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