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August 16, 2013 marks the anniversary of the death of Robert Johnson, one of the most influential and mysterious musicians of the 20th century. The blues legend only left behind a few dozen songs for us, but his talent and ingenuity could not be ignored. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during the first ceremony ever as an “Early Influence,” and is frequently reguarded as the greatest blues singer that ever lived. His early death at 27 contributes to the legends that follow Johnson around, the most famous being that he sold his soul at a crossroads in order to become successful.
This week in music history also overlaps with the original Woodstock Music & Art Fair, which took place in 1969 from August 15th through August 18th. Those “three days of peace & music” defined a generation and changed the culture of music forever. Among the acts that performed at the farm in New York were Richie Havens, Joan Baez, Santana, Grateful Dead, Credence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, Sly & the Family Stone, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker, The Band, Crosby, Stills, & Nash, Jimi Hendrix, and many more. Some of the most memorable moments were Joe Cocker playing the Beatle’s “Little Help From My Friends” and Jimi Hendrix’s psychedelic performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
On this day in 1958, Madonna was born as Madonna Louise Ciccone in Bay City, Michigan. The Queen of Pop moved to New York in 1977 and, as we all know, it paid off for her. One of the most successful solo artists of all time, Madonna has released 38 top ten singles on the Billboard Charts. This is more than anyone else, including The Beatles who follow with 34. Since releasing her first album, Madonna, in 1983 she has grossed over a billion dollars, performed at the Super Bowl, and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her most famous songs include “Like a Virgin,” “Like a Prayer,” and “Vogue.”