Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Bob Dylan

While sitting at the Memorial Union Terrace in 1961, Ron Radosh recalls that a scrawny 19-year-old folk singer named Bob Zimmerman was gazing out over Lake Mendota when he proclaimed, "I'm going to be as big a star as Elvis Presley." Radosh laughed and responded, "Singing Woody Guthrie songs?"

As inplausible as it seemed at the time, Zimmerman would go on to become not only a musical icon like Presley, but a cultural and political icon as well.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Otis Redding

Three days after recording (Sitttin on) The Dock of a Bay, Otis Redding's life would end tragically in the frigid waters of Madison, Wisconsin's Lake Monona on Sunday, December 10, 1967. Redding was only 26 years old.

Shortly after the song was released in January, 1968, it would become the first posthumous number-one single in U.S. chart history. Years later, in 1989, Redding would also posthumously be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Joni Mitchell

In March of 1976, one of music's classic album covers was photographed on Lake Mendota in Madison, with a crystalline Picnic Point as its backdrop. Several years later, an image from that same day would appear on a another album cover by the musician.

Joni Mitchell's album covers for Hejira and Songs of a Prairie Girl were both taken when she was in Madison to perform at the Dane County Coliseum, now the Alliant Energy Center. Their visit would be overshadowed by the major ice storm that overtook the area for five days and resulted in major power outages.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Elvis Presley

Further evidence that “Madison is 30* square miles surrounded by reality," as Governor Lee Dreyfus proclaimed in 1978, is a small historical marker located at the northwest corner of East Washington Avenue and Highway 51 in Madison.

It's the spot where the King of Rock and Roll, dressed in a dark blue "DEA Agent" track suit over his sparkly performance jumpsuit and wearing aviator sunglasses, emerged from a limousine in the early morning hours to confront two boys who were harrassing and assaulting another boy.

Bill "Boz" Scaggs

If you were a student at UW-Madison in the early 1960s, you may have been lucky enough to hear Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs jamming on the patio of the Memorial Union Terrace on the shores of Lake Mendota.

In 1959, when they both attended the same high school in Dallas, Texas, Boz Scaggs had joined Steve Miller's band, the Marksmen, as a singer and sometime harmonica player. The band's name was derived from the name of their private high school, St. Mark's School.


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