This Day in Music History — December 4

1956 : At Sun Studio in Memphis, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis jam together on a few tunes. Johnny Cash shows up later to get in the picture and complete what will become known as the “Million Dollar Quartet.”

1969 : Jay-Z is born in housing projects in Brooklyn – something he will remind us of many times in his raps.

1971 : During a Frank Zappa concert, the Montreaux Casino in Switzerland catches fire when someone fires a flare gun, inspiring Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water.” Deep Purple were there to record their album Machine Head the following day, but ended up using the Grand Hotel and including the song as a last-minute addition.

1980 : Led Zeppelin makes it official: they will not continue after the death of their drummer John Bonham. They never fully reform, but do play some shows with Jason Bonham filling in for his father.

1993 : Frank Zappa dies of terminal prostate cancer at age 52 in Los Angeles, California.

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This Day in Music History — November 19

1979 : Loverboy plays their first ever concert, opening for Kiss at The Coliseum in Vancouver.

1979 : Frank Zappa’s one and only rock opera, Joe’s Garage, is released. The second half came out November 19th, the first half was released in the previous September. The opera mixes styles of Blues, Jazz, Doo Wop, Lounge, Orchestral, Rock, Pop and Reggae. While it draws controversy at the time for profane lyrics, it has since been hailed as a cultural milestone and landmark album. The work also looks forward to Zappa’s later crusade against the PMRC with its themes of government censorship, and introduces a few memes into the Zappa lexicon, including “The Central Scrutinizer,” “a little green rosetta,” and of course, the term “roto-plooker.”

1990 : The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences strips the 1989 best new artist Grammy from the group Milli Vanilli because Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan didn’t actually sing on their debut album, Girl You Know It’s True. It is the first time a Grammy has ever been taken back.

2002 : While greeting fans from a fifth-floor hotel balcony in Berlin, Michael Jackson shocks the world by dangling his newborn son Prince Michael II over the side of the railing.