By Alejandro Carter '25
Source for photo above: Pixabay.com
For my first "Month in Music History" article, I focus on events that occurred in November.
On November 27th, 1942, Jimi Hendrix was born. Known today as one of the most significant musicians of all time, Hendrix released songs like “All Along the Watchtower”, “Purple Haze,” and “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).” Jimi Hendrix pioneered the electric guitar like never before, with new techniques and sounds that he created with the instrument, leading to a whole new wave of guitar-playing. Hendrix is known for being a member of the infamous “27 Club”, along with other musicians such as Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, musicians who all passed away at 27 years old.
An interesting fact about Hendrix, is that while being a left-handed musician who can also play right-handed guitars, for the early part of his musical career, he played a right-handed Stratocaster, which he stringed to match a left-handed Strat, and played with his left hand. He did this due to the fact that at the time, left-handed guitars were not produced as frequently as right-handed guitars, and therefore where of varying qualities and more expensive than the more common right-handed guitars. While unique and unconventional, this is just another way that Hendrix took the electric guitar and really made it his own.
On November 1st, 1969, Elvis Presley released a cover song, “Suspicious Minds”, which reached the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on November 1st, 1969. The song is featured in the Elvis biopic which released in theaters earlier this year. This would unfortunately be the King of Rock & Roll’s last #1 single before his untimely passing in 1977.
Also on November 1st, 1969, The Beatles’ second-to-last album, “Abbey Road”, reached #1 on the U.S. album charts. This was the band’s 13th No.1 album. The album features the final studio recordings from the group. However, “Let It Be” is The Beatles’ final album to be released. The “Get Back” documentary, featuring the recordings of “Let It Be”, was released late last year on Disney+, a 7-hour long look into a rough but creative period of the band. The documentary also had an edited theatrical release.
Two years after Elvis’s passing, and 10 years after “Abbey Road”, Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” was released on November 30th, 1979. The album features the band’s only #1 U.S. Hit, “Another Brick In The Wall (Part Two)”, which is the fifth track on the double LP. “The Wall” is one of the band’s highest-rated albums. It was nominated at the 23rd annual Grammy awards for "Album of The Year" and "Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal".
The album’s creation proved to be a tense time for the band, with founding member Roger Waters leaving just six years later in 1985. This year, Waters started his “This Is Not A Drill Tour”, where he performed several songs from “The Wall” including “Another Brick In The Wall (Part Two)”. Pink Floyd is also known to have one of the most successful albums of all time, "The Dark Side of the Moon", which has now spent 950 non-consecutive weeks on the Billboard 200 chart.
On November 30th, 1982, Michael Jackson released “Thriller”, the #1 Top-selling album of all time, with an estimated 70-million total album sales. “Thriller” is the second best selling album of all time in the United States and was certified Platinum 34 times by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) in 2021. The album features some of Jackson’s most iconic songs; including the title track, “Thriller”, “Billie Jean”, “Beat It” and “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)”. The album was Jackson's first #1 U.S. album on the U.S. Billboard top LPs & Tapes chart, where the album spent 37 weeks at the number #1 spot, starting in February 1983. The album also had seven singles released which all reached the Top 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. “Thriller” set a record for the most Top 10 singles from any album as well. At the 26th Annual Grammys, Jackson took home eight awards.
On the Motown 25 television special, Jackson performed “Billie Jean” along with debuting his iconic dance move, known as the "Moonwalk”. After this performance, album sales skyrocketed to one million sales worldwide per week. The album resides in the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry of “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant recordings.”