Hüsker Dü and the Birth of Alternative Rock

Via Trash Theory

Initially punk rock was not profitable. Though it might save your life, seldom did it pay the bills. The music was brash, loud and rarely ever played on the radio, but Nirvana and grunge changed that in 1991. Unlike the classic rock/metal indebted versions of grunge pedalled by Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains, Nirvana’s version was a slick collision of Black Flag, and The Beatles; a punk, metal, pop hybrid previously unheard by the mainstream public. But as Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic once said in interview: [It] was nothing new, Hüsker Dü did it before us. Few bands summed up the pre-grunge alternative rock scene of the 1980s like Minneapolis’ Hüsker Dü. Their name came from a Danish boardgame that guitarist/songwriter Bob Mould recalled from his youth, ironically translated as “do you remember?” Starting as an underground hardcore band they transformed into what we’d know today as alternative rock, a sound that would attract the attention of radio stations, major labels and the masses. The musical groundwork they put in their 9 years of existence paved the way for the 90s alt rock takeover. But who were Hüsker Dü? Why were they so important? And how did they give birth to alternative rock?

Why Some People Thought the World Might End on March 10, 1982

by Caitlin Schneider, Mental Floss

On March 10, 1982, a certain facet of people were bracing for a series of global disasters—earthquakes, tidal waves, and violent storms—that they believed would be caused by an alignment of all nine planets. The alignment was real, but the fear of a natural disaster takeover wasn’t coming from NASA or world governments. It had all come from 1974 bestseller called The Jupiter Effect.

Penned by British astrophysicist and science writer John Gribbin along with astronomer Stephen Plagemann, The Jupiter Effect predicted utter devastation. Astronomers had long known about the rare planetary alignment set to occur around that date, but the event wasn’t expected to have much of an effect on Earth. After all, the same thing had occurred every 179 years (and would continue to do so) and no catastrophic events had happened in the past. Still, Gribbin and Plagemann asserted that when all the planets lined up on one side of the Sun (“lined up” being a generous phrasing; the planets would be within a 95 degree arc from the Sun), the gravitational pull would trigger sunspots, solar winds, and an increase in Earth’s rotation that would lead to natural catastrophes, the most ruinous of which would be a Los Angeles-leveling earthquake along the San Andreas fault.

While The Jupiter Effect was widely covered in the media, the scientific community largely dismissed the theory. Edward Upton of the Griffith Observatory reportedly called it the “Great Earthquake Hoax” and wrote in Redlands Daily Facts: “The combined chain, as a basis for predicting earthquakes, has the same credibility as a reading of tea leaves.” Days ahead of the supposed event, Nigel Henbest of New Scientist wrote: “Like Frankenstein’s monster, the Jupiter Effect has escaped the control of its creators, and now stalks the Earth terrorising the innocent and the illiterate.” Henbest went on to debunk the entire thing, citing a number of scientific holes in the theory. And the night before the alleged worldwide disasters were to occur, a “Planets of Doom” show at the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, Colorado presented proof that the conjecture was a bunch of hooey.

By then, even Gribbin and Plagemann had walked their theory back, releasing The Jupiter Effect Reconsidered, which didn’t exactly admit defeat but rather revised the terms to make it seem like they’d sort of gotten it right. Because the events were supposed to occur within a five-year window, Gribbin and Plagemann said the event had actually already happened—in 1980—and was to blame for the eruption of Mount St. Helens.

Needless to say, March 10 came and went without any destruction or even much of a storm. While the tides were indeed a bit higher that day, no natural disasters occurred. But it’s easy, in some ways, to see how The Jupiter Effect took hold: nothing can propel a doomsday scenario like the promise of scientific proof provided by legitimate astronomers. Looking back, it’s hard to say how much the pair believed in their own estimations at the time, but by 1999 Gribbin himself had renounced the theory. In his The Little Book of Science, he wrote: “I’m sorry I ever had anything to do with it.”

March 10, 2016 – 5:30pm

The Thin White Duke: David Bowie’s Darkest Character

Via Polyphonic

The Thin White Duke was David Bowie‘s 1975 and 1976 persona and character. He is primarily identified with Bowie’s 1976 album Station to Station and is mentioned by name in the title track. However, Bowie had begun to adopt the “Duke” persona during the preceding Young Americans tour and promotion in 1975. The persona’s look and character are somewhat based on Thomas Jerome Newton, the titular humanoid alien played by Bowie in the 1976 film The Man Who Fell to Earth.

The Thin White Duke was a controversial figure due to ostensibly pro-fascist statements made by Bowie in press interviews during this period. Soon after making the comments, Bowie claimed that they were “theatrical” remarks made in character and did not reflect his actual views. In later years, he blamed his erratic behaviour during his mid-1970s Duke era on an “astronomical” use of hard drugs (particularly cocaine) while living in Los Angeles.

Bowie left California for Europe in 1976 to improve his mental and physical well-being. He settled in West Berlin in early 1977, at which point he quietly retired the Thin White Duke persona. Until he reappeared in his final appearance for the music video for Lazarus.


The Story Behind Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” – Drunk History

ViaComedy Central

Dolly Parton wrote the song “I Will Always Love You” for her former manager Porter Wagoner, and she stayed true to that promise for decades afterward.
About Drunk History: Based on the popular web series, Drunk History is the liquored-up narration of our nation’s history. Host Derek Waters, along with an ever-changing cast of actors and comedians, travels across the country to present the rich tales that every city in this land has to offer. Booze helps bring out the truth. It’s just that sometimes the truth is a little incoherent.