- 16 Apr 01
With the death of Kurt Cobain in April casting a shadow over the following months 1994 will hardly go down as one of the most joyous in Rock history. Your guide to a month-by-month account of the names and events of the past year. Stuart Clark.
PEARL JAM officially deny rumours of a split following Eddie Vedder’s last minute decision to pull-out of an MTV concert special with co-headliners Nirvana. While Vedder – said to be suffering from a “shot voice” – is conspicuous by his absence, the rest of the band turn up to join support act Cypress Hill for their encore and purportedly make some rather disparaging remarks about their colleague.
“Eddie is, truthfully, under the weather,” maintains a spokesman, “and they had to cancel another couple of gigs, too.” He also reveals that the group will be kicking off their European tour with UK and Irish dates in April – well placed sources suggest these could include a secret gig at the Dublin Rock Garden.
The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors take an extremely dim view of Ice-T performing ‘Cop Killer’ – or, as he calls it, ‘The National Anthem’ – at Body Count’s recent shows in the Tivoli.
Association spokesman Austin Kenny says that by including the song in his set, the rapper may be in contravention of the Prohibition of Incitement To Hatred Act which carries a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment and/or a £10,000 fine.
“‘Cop Killer’ is an appalling song with appalling words,” complains Kenny, “and represents the worst type of culture imported from America.”
Promoters MCD respond to the furore by stating that, “We can’t tell any artist what to perform or not to perform.”
• Tad are dropped from Nirvana’s on-going US tour after branding Courtney Love “a disgusting bitch” and suggesting that Kurt Cobain is less than happy with their marriage • The Byrds’ original drummer Michael Clarke dies of liver failure in Florida • Bono and Gavin Friday contribute three new songs to the In The Name Of The Father soundtrack which is released to coincide with the film’s UK launch • Geffen insist that the release of the Stone Roses’ long overdue second album is “imminent”. Needless to say, no one believes them • Blink, Engine Alley and Emperor Of Ice Cream are just a handful of the bands that descend on the London Venue as part of the Hot Press-sponsored ‘The Irish Are Coming!’ festival.
U2’S ‘BEST GROUP’ acceptance speech at the Smithwick’s/Hot Press Music Awards finds The Edge lip-synching Section 31-style to Bono’s Gerry Adams impersonation.
“It’s been a great year for the Irish,” says Gerr, er, The Edg, er Bono. “It was a great world tour, particularly the American leg. We went to New York – fancy hotels, riding around in limos, police escorts... I’d just like to say one thing to the young people – the success of the trip has not gone to our head. Go raibh mile maith agat. Peace!”
Other Awards go to D:Ream, Aslan, Mike Moloney, Therapy?, The Revenants, Chris O’Brien, Jerry Lee Lewis, Mick Hanly, Eleanor Hanly, The Cranberries, Joe O’Herlihy and – most poignantly – Altan who emerge victorious in the ‘Roots’ section.
Snoop Doggy Dogg, who shortly before Christmas became the first rapper to score a Billboard number one with a debut album, pleads not guilty to the murder of Los Angeles man Philip Woldemariam and is freed on $1 million bail pending a pre-trial hearing on January 20th.
Snoop – real name Calvin Broadus – is accused of driving the vehicle from which his bodyguard, McKinley Lee, allegedly fired at the victim last August. Whilst admitting that he had indeed been behind the wheel when the incident took place, Broadus’ attorney maintains that his client had been repeatedly threatened by Woldemariam and the shooting was an act of self-defence.
• Therapy? release Troublegum and confirm their status as bona fide pop stars by crashing straight into the UK top 10 • It’s Ale! Ale! Rock ‘N’ Roll as The Pale, The Revenants and The Harvest Ministers join forces for the Heineken Rollercoaster Tour and sell-out most of their 10 date itinerary • American singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson, who’s probably best known for his 1972 solo hit ‘Without You’, dies from a massive heart attack in New York • There’s more silverware for the U2 trophy cabinet as they suprise absolutely no one by scooping the ‘Best Band’ Award in the 1993 Hot Press Readers Poll.
U2’S FIRST ever libel case ends with The Sunday Independent and columnist Hugh Leonard apologising to the band in the High Court and admitting that a gossip item about them was totally fabricated.
The piece, which ran under the headline ‘It Could Happen To U2’, claimed that Adam Clayton, The Edge, Bono and Larry Mullen, had turned up late at Mr. Hung’s Restaurant in Monkstown and behaved like louts, expecting special treatment because of their celebrity status.
Under the terms of the settlement, the paper will pick up estimated legal costs of £70,000 and pay a “substantial sum”, thought to be in the region of £30,000, which will help establish a young musicians’ Tuition Fund administered for no fee by MusicBase’s Keith Donald.
The official word from London is that The Fat Lady Sings have split following the completion of a lengthy American tour which found them showcasing their Johnson album to enthusiastic crowds but making precious little commercial headway.
According to a spokesperson for their record company, EastWest, Dermot Lynch and Tim Bradshaw are keen to pursue other musical projects while lead singer Nick Kelly is contemplating getting out of the business altogether.
“The Fat Lady Sings was Nick’s baby,” she says, “and now that the band has run its course, I can’t see him wanting to start afresh with something new.”
• After months of speculation, Nirvana are finally confirmed to play at the RDS on April 8th. The date, of course, turns out to be memorable for all the wrong reasons and tickets for the ill-fated show are now changing hands for £500 a piece • Morrissey’s Vauxhall & I receives the first ‘12 out of 12’ Hot Press album review of the year • Rollerskate Skinny land a coveted support slot on the Lollapalooza tour • The British Monopolies and Mergers Commission rule that CDs are not overpriced.
FIVE DAYS after he goes missing from an L.A. detox clinic, Kurt Cobain’s body is discovered in his Seattle home by electrician Gary Smith who at first thinks he’s looking at a broken mannequin. News of the death breaks on local radio station KXRX and by mid-afternoon the city’s record stores have sold out of Nirvana product.
Piece by piece, the story of Cobain’s tragic last weeks emerges including confirmation from management sources that the singer had attempted a drugs overdose the previous month in Rome. Courtney Love joins 5,000 grieving fans at a candlelit-vigil outside the Seattle Pavilion and reads extracts from his suicide note which includes a line from Neil Young’s ‘Hey Hey, My My (Out Of The Blue)’, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.”
The first copycat suicide comes the following day – 28-year-old family man Daniel Kaspar returning home from the vigil and shooting himself through the head. One of the first people to react to the tragedy is Eddie Vedder who tells reporters backstage at the Madison Square Garden, “This could be our last show in fuckin’ forever as far as I’m concerned. Kurt’s death has changed everything. I don’t know if I can do it anymore.”
Not as widely reported as Kurt Cobain’s suicide but just as acutely felt in British R&B circles is the death of Dr. Feelgood singer Lee Brilleaux from throat cancer.
Brilleaux’s sandpaper vocals and force nine harp blowing were to the fore as the band delivered two classic albums – Down On The Jetty and Malpractice – and finally scored a UK number one with 1976’s live Stupidity.
• One of the darkest months in recent rock ‘n’ roll history is rounded off with the news that producer and performer Dan Hartman has succumbed to an AIDS-related illness in Connecticut • A carefully orchestrated media campaign persuades Cablelink to put MTV back on the air in Dublin • Aerosmith, Bob Dylan and Crosby, Stills & Nash emerge as early favourites to headline Woodstock 2 • A nation mourns as The Golden Horde finally call it a day • Hat-mania hits Ireland as Garth Brooks sell-out nine shows at the Point. A plane is on 24-hour stand-by at Dublin Airport in case his pregnant wife goes into labour but fortunately Baby Brooks has the good grace to hang on until Daddy’s taken care of business.
MORRISSEY RUNS into more trouble with the Anti-Nazi League when he suggests that giving the BNP more media coverage would drastically reduce the number of attacks on Britain’s black and Asian communities.
“It’s absurd,” says an ANL spokesman, “that Morrissey sticks up for the democratic rights of racists who don’t actually believe in democracy themselves. It’s about time that he stopped giving credibility to these people and decides whether he wants to be part of the problem or the solution.”
The Cranberries are forced to pull out of their UK support tour with Crowded House following a skiing accident in which singer Dolores O’Riordan tears her arterior cruciate ligament.
The Gazza-style injury also puts into doubt the band’s appearance at the London Fleadh and a return Trip to Tipp for the final Féile.
“Dolores has undergone major surgery on her knee,” says a spokesman, “and in order to avoid permanent damage to her leg will require convalescence and extensive physiotherapy.”
Meanwhile, any notions that the Limerick quartet might prove to be one-hit wonders are dispelled as ‘Dreams’ crashes straight into the Billboard top 50 and earns a place on MTV’s fast rotation.
• Bono is working on his first film script with Canadian screenwriter Nicholas Klein. The Million Dollar Hero is set in the same L.A. neighbourhood that provided the backdrop to U2’s ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ video • Suede agree to add a ‘London’ prefix to their name following the threat of legal action from a Maryland jazz singer who copyrighted the moniker in the ‘80s • It’s ‘Auf Wiedersehn’ to the loudest Bermudas in rock ‘n’ roll as That Petrol Emotion embark on their swan song tour • Blur trigger off one of the year’s more unwelcome events – The Mod Revival – by releasing Park Life.
GEORGE MICHAEL’s epic High Court battle to free himself from his contract with Sony Music ends in defeat and an estimated £6 million legal bill.
Defiant to the last, Michael and his lawyers pledge to take the case to the European Court where they’ll be arguing that the 15-year-deal amounts to restraint of trade under the Treaty of Rome. Despite stating in court that, “I have no control or say in the way that my work is exploited – in fact, I have no guarantee that my work will be released at all,” the singer is told by Justice Nigel Parker that, “I am satisfied that the terms of this agreement are reasonable and fair.” He also brands Michael’s manager, Rob Kahane, “a thoroughly unreliable and untrustworthy witness with an intense dislike of Sony and all its works.”
Norwegian death metaller Varg Vikernes, alias Count Grishnackh, is found guilty of murdering a rival musician and sentenced to 21 years in prison.
Vikernes freely admits during the two week trial that together with an accomplice, he’d stabbed Mayhem singer Oystein Aarseth 25 times and left him for dead outside his Oslo apartment. He also boasts that the 150 kilos of dynamite recovered from his own flat had been intended to blow up a church in Trondheim which houses the Norwegian crown jewels.
The authorities closed in on The Count after he bizarrely confessed to Aarseth’s murder in Kerrang!
“His death means nothing to me,” he told the UK metal magazine. “I will dance and piss on his grave. The only negative thing when you kill someone is that they can no longer suffer.”
• Rumours of The Wonder Stuff’s demise prove to be more than nonsense as Miles and the boys play their final show at the Phoenix Festival • Court documents reveal that Kurt Cobain died with assets of $1.2 million and debts of just under $740,000 • God Machine founder Jimmy Fernandez dies in London from a cancerous brain tumour • Loyalist paramilitaries deny that they’re behind the death threats which deprive Northern audiences of seeing, among others, Daniel O’Donnell and Dickie Rock • Bernard Butler reveals that he’s “desperate to do things outside of Suede. The only thing that will keep Suede going is if I’m allowed to branch out.”
HOUSE OF Pain’s Danny Boy accuses RTE of employing “Nazi tactics to cover up the truth about the North” after he’s thrown out of the 2FM Roadcaster during a live interview at Féile.
“I don’t get it,” he tells a waiting posse of reporters. “The motherfuckers are Irish, yet they don’t give a shit that millions of their countrymen are having their civil rights violated on a daily basis.”
Michael McNamara explains that he was forced to pull the plug on the rapper when he reneged on a promise not to discuss the group’s controversial visit to West Belfast for Féile an Phobhail. Meanwhile, the Trip to Tipp bows out with 50,000 people getting their collective rocks off to a bill that includes Crowded House, Primal Scream, Crash Test Dummies, Bjork, the Cranberries, Blur, Rage Against The Machine, Bob Geldof and Elvis Costello & The Attractions.
A man found wandering round the grounds of Courtney Love’s Seattle home is arrested and charged with criminal trespass and stalking.
The 25-year-old, who police describe as “severely disturbed”, is discovered by a security guard at 1.30am in the morning after driving up to the gates of the Lake Washington mansion in a red Porsche. When challenged, he says he wants to give the car to Courtney and then announces, “I’m the next lead singer for Nirvana.”
There’s more tragedy for Love to contend with as her friend and Hole colleague Kristin Pfaff dies in Seattle from a heroin overdose. The post mortem is conducted at King County coroner’s office, the same place where Kurt Cobain’s body was taken three months earlier.
• Eddie Vedder manages to shrug off the paparazzi as he marries longtime girlfriend Beth Liebling in a private ceremony in Rome • Sony John Fashanu the opposition out of the way to sign Derry popsters Schtum while Down neighbours Ash pledge their future to Infectious • A not surprisingly ex-fan is suing Stone Temple Pilots after the band allegedly tie him up with guitar strings and urinate on him at a gig in Boston • Five people are wounded as rival drug gangs shoot it out at Glastonbury.
MICHAEL JACKSON gets married to Lisa-Marie Presley in what his sister La Toya describes as “a PR exercise aimed at portraying Michael in a more manly, heterosexual light.”
The singer could certainly do with some positive publicity, having just been accused of raping a Californian woman at a New Year’s party in 1992 and facing a further Police probe into allegations that he sexually mollested a young boy named ‘Joey’.
“I am very much in love,” gushes Lisa-Marie the day after the low-key ceremony in the Dominican Republic. “I dedicate my life to being his wife.”
Meanwhile, back in the States, there’s some doubt as to whether Presley was ever legally divorced from her first husband. This one seems destined to run and run.
Suede part company with guitarist and main songwriter Bernard Butler during the final sessions for their Dog Man Star album. Reflecting on the acrimonious split, bassist Mat Osman says, “It wasn’t, as people are saying, just one event. Everyone thinks it’s some powder-keg. Everyone assumes that when the Suede story is made into a film, it’ll be two hours building up to a shoot-out. It was a slow process, and we knew it was going to happen and there was very little to discuss when it did happen. It is sad. But it’s completely over now.”
After placing anonymous adverts in the music press – ‘Guitarist wanted. Influences: Smashing Pumpkins, Suede, Cocteaus’ – the group recruit an 18-year-old unknown from Poole in Dorset, Richard Oakes, as Butler’s replacement and score a top 5 single with ‘We Are The Pigs’.
A row erupts over House Of Pain’s non-appearance at the West Belfast Community Festival, with allegation and counter-allegation emanating from both sides. Having made a widely-publicised pledge to play the Springhill Estate on August 14th, the band’s management inform the organisers four days beforehand that they won’t be able to fulfil the commitment because Danny Boy O’Connor’s father has been taken ill.
• Dolores O’Riordan slots in a special gig at Holycross Abbey with Duran Duran tour manager Don Burton. Her wedding makes the headlines. For her honeymoon she joins the rest of the Cranberries at Woodstock 2 • The IRTC invite applications for college radio licences • Sound Crowd cancel a gig at the Ormond Multi-Media Centre after the Drug Squad allegedly put pressure on the venue owners • Tower Records’ Dublin superstore closes indefinitely as a fire causes hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage to the Wicklow Street premises • The Red Hot Chili Peppers treat Dalymount Park to a note-perfect rendition of ‘Amhran Na bhFiann’ as part of their Sunstroke headliner • The Trinity Street branch of the Brookside Fan Club is in raptures when a copy of Hot Press turns up in Beth Jordache’s bedroom • The list of rock ’n’ roll fatalities grows as The Stunning play their final gig in Galway. The Wall brothers plan to spend some time in America while the rest of the band pursue – cue cliché – ‘other projects’.
FRANKIE KENNEDY – a founder member of Altan and one of contemporary folk’s great innovators – loses his brave battle against cancer.
Paying tribute to the 38-year-old Belfast native in Hot Press, Oliver Sweeney reflects that, “For Frankie it seemed that the words ‘life’ and ‘music’ were virtually interchangeable. I have no hesitation in saying that it was the vibrancy of his presence and playing which always gave the edge to an Altan performance as they developed from neophytes into one of the most accomplished root outfits on Planet Earth.
“Under his watchful guidance, the band had grown enormously before breaking through dramatically with the superb Red Crow album. They built up an exceptionally loyal following at home and abroad, and began to feature strongly in World Music charts across the globe and to scoop plaudits and awards wherever they went with Red Crow and then Harvest Storm and their most recent album, Island Angel.”
Contrary to the official group statement, Dave Abbruzzese’s departure from Pearl Jam appears to be anything but amicable with the drummer claiming he was sacked.
“For reasons that I don’t completely understand, the other members decided it was necessary to fire me in order to pursue a philosophy which they perceive as incompatible with mine,” says Abbruzzese. “I was not involved in their decision, nor do I agree with their decision, but I accept it and am proud to have been part of what Pearl Jam was.”
• Gardai confirm that the cause of the Tower Records fire was arson • The Sultans of Ping lose their international distribution deal with Sony but still have a home at British independent Rhythm King • Hot favourites Blur throw a tantrum when M-People beat them to the 1994 Mercury Music Prize • Chrysalis bow to pressure from Sinead O’Connor and release her Universal Mother album on September 14th – The Day of Atonement.
HOT PRESS exclusively reveals that R.E.M. will be headlining Slane ‘95 on July 22nd. Contracts for the show, which will have a fixed capacity of 50,000, are exchanged during the band’s stay in Ireland and follow what one insider describes as “several months of protracted negotiation.”
Reflecting on the decision to conduct European press for their Monster album from Luttrelstown Castle, Mike Mills comments that, “It’s a beautiful place. We love Dublin, always have. Journalists don’t mind coming here. And you’ve got a member of the Green Party as Lord Mayor. That’s so cool.”
Michael Stipe, meanwhile, takes the opportunity to dismiss reports that he visited here secretly last year with Morrissey.
“That’s a new one even to me,” he laughs. “I try to keep up with the rumours. They make me sound more interesting. But me and Morrissey on holiday in Dublin – that sounds like wishful thinking.”
After what manager Paul McGuinness describes as a “non-music year”, U2 are understood to have re-convened in Dublin to start planning their next album and world tour. “This is what they always do,” reveals a source close to the band. “They set a date and then sit round and discuss what ideas they have and how they can all be tied together.”
Although U2’s London-based publicist Reginne Moylett says she’s unaware of any renewed activity, several of the group’s regular crew have been put on ‘stand by’, fuelling speculation that they’re about to start work on demos.
• The Cranberries’ Irish publicist dismisses reports that Dolores O’Riordan has collapsed on a promotional visit to Scandinavia • Richey Edwards rejoins the Manic Street Preachers after discharging himself from the private London clinic where he was being treated for depression • The J.I.M. Campaign accuse 2FM Head of Music John Clarke of being “unhelpful and belligerent” in his attitude towards the playing of more domestic product on Irish radio • Hothouse Flowers mentor Robbie Wooton helps set up the Irish branch of the International Managers Forum.
Saw Doctors manager Ollie Jennings reveals details of a new EP which is being released through the band’s own label, Sham Town Records. “It’s called A Small Bit Of Love. Phil Tennent produced it and Marcus Drav, whose past credits include The Levellers, remixed the title track. We decided to set up Sham Town because although Solid were doing the business for us at home, Warners – who were the U.K. licensees – seemed totally confused as to how to market us. If This Is Rock ‘N’ Roll sold 50,000 copies in Britain with zero advertising and their attitude was, ‘you’ll never be more than a cult band.’
“The outcome of all this is that we’ve bought back the rights to our first two records from Solid and will be re-releasing them to coincide with the Small Bit Of Love tour. We’ve taken on the same publicist as Oasis and are hoping that our fan-base across the water will push the EP into the top 30.”
The masterplan works a treat and despite getting only one play on daytime national radio, The Saw Doctors become perhaps the year’s most unlikely Top of the Pops debutantes.
Terry Woods splits from Bucks partner Ron Kavanagh on the eve of a major European tour. Reflecting on the decision to go it alone, the former Pogue comments, “Myself and Ron have been talking about working together for years, we’ve tried it and the fact is he and I are simply not compatible. We could have pretended everything was fine and limped on but I’ve been through that before and it’s a pain in the arse.”
• Una finds her ‘Superlovexperience’ single axed from the FM 104 playlist after she makes a personal appearance on Dublin pirate Coast FM • Legendary MC5 drummer Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith dies in a Detroit hospital from heart failure • Garda sources reveal the existence of an illegal hi-tech CD manufacturing plant within the 26 counties • Engine Alley hear that Emmaline Duffy-Fallon has decided to leave the band when they read about it in the papers • Dave Stewart is forced to cancel the bulk of his Irish promotional commitments when he’s at the centre of a heart-attack scare • Lol Tolhurst is faced with a £1 million legal bill after unsuccessfully attempting to sue his former Cure colleagues for unpaid royalties • Pink Floyd realise that they should have put another brick in the wall when a section of the tiered seating collapses on the opening night of their Wembley Arena residency. Dozens of fans are treated for shock but none are seriously injured • Aslan complete their Lazarus-like resurrection with the release of Goodbye Charlie Moonhead.
AFTER A successful stint supporting East 17 and the rest of the U.K. teenybop elite as part of the Smash Hits Roadshow, Boyzone prove their critics spectacularly wrong by taking their cover of The Osmonds’ ‘Love Me For A Reason’ into the top 10. Boyzone manager Louis Walsh reveals that he created the band a year ago because he was frustrated with “Ireland’s concentration on rock from Rory Gallagher to U2.”
“We’ve never had a successful pop group here, yet there is a terrific demand among our teen audience,” he insists. “When I put an ad in The Evening Herald there was an overwhelming response.” Ronan Keating, Shane Lynch, Keith Duffy, Stephen Gately and Michael Graham got their crack at stardom after singing along to George Michael’s ‘Careless Whisper’ and dancing to Sylvester’s ‘Do You Wanna Funk?’ at an open audition which was attended by 300 other young hopefuls.
The author of the unofficial Shane MacGowan biography, Last Of The Celtic Soul Rebels, defends his decision to write the book in the face of hostility from the singer and many of his close associates. “My own assumption as to why Shane was so opposed to the idea,” suggests freelance writer Ian O’Doherty, “is that he wanted to keep the patch clean for his girlfriend, Victoria Clarke, to write the authorised version. I even offered to show him and his management the draft as a sign of good faith but they were having none of it.”
O’Doherty’s insistence that he’s tried to present a “balanced and impartial overview” of MacGowan’s career cuts little ice with Popes tour manager Joey Cashman who clashes with him outside the band’s ‘Midnight At The Olympia’ show. “I warned him off with a karate kick into the air,” Cashman admits, “but I never touched him. I’ve read the book and I think it’s crap.”
• In Motion run themselves to a standstill, citing time-honoured “musical differences” as their reason for splitting • The Cranberries officially go platinum in the States with sales of No Need To Argue now well in excess of 1.1 million • Sources close to Michael Jackson suggest that the singer has instructed his lawyers to file for divorce against Lisa-Marie Presley on the grounds that she’s “invading his privacy” • Bono turns down a “substantial offer” to play his MacPhisto character in the forthcoming Batsequel, Batman Forever • The Stone Roses stun not just the music industry but the entire world when after a trifling five year wait, they finally release their Second Coming LP. It’s not half-bad, either!