Welcome to a series I began at He’s A Whore and am proud-as-punch to continue here at Popdose. While not able to mention everything that happened, I’ve touched upon some of the key events that made 1996 what it was, warts ‘n’ all.
Kiss announce plans to reunite with original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss as part of a “farewell” world tour.
In March, Phil Collins announces his decision to leave Genesis.
That same month, the Sex Pistols announce plans for a reunion tour marking the 20th anniversary of the band’s formation.
In May, Sublime’s Brad Nowell dies of a heroin overdose a mere two months before the band was to release Killin’ It, the first CD recorded after signing to MCA Records. In light of his death, the album was re-titled Sublime and, driven by the success of the single “What I Got,” would go on to sell over five million copies.
On June 20, Jim Ellison, singer/guitarist for Material Issue, is found dead of an apparent suicide.
On July 11, Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and tour keyboardist Johnathan Melvoin overdose on heroin while on tour. Melvoin is found dead and Chamberlin is later arrested on charges of drug possession. He is fired from the band a few days later.
In August, The Ramones play their final live show as part of the Lollapalooza festival.
On October 30, Slash leaves Guns ‘n’ Roses.
Announcing their decision to call it quits, Crowded House play their final concert on the steps of the Syndey Opera House to an audience of over 100,000 fans.
Don’t Dream It’s Over
In March, The Beatles’ Anthology 2 is released, featuring a second “new” Beatles single, “Real Love,” a song re-worked from a John Lennon demo.
In April, Hootie & the Blowfish release the follow-up to their smash hit album, Cracked Rear View. The new album, Fairweather Johnson, debuts at #1 on the Top 100 Albums chart and goes on to sell over three million copies. In light of Cracked Rear View selling over 15 million copies, Fairweather Johnson is considered a commercial failure.
That same month, Dave Matthews Band release Crash, the follow-up to their breakthrough 1994 album, Under the Table and Dreaming. The new album features the smash hit single “Crash Into Me” and climbs to #2 on the Top 100.
Crash Into Me
Def Leppard release Slang, their first album since 1981’s High &; Dry not to be produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange. The album is noted for a drastic stylistic change that incorporates certain elements of grunge. With no obvious hit singles from the album, it would peak at #14 on the Top 100, but fade quickly.
In May, the Wallflowers, led by Bob Dylan’s son, Jakob, release their second album, Bringing Down the Horse. “6th Avenue Heartache” not only draws comparisons to Bruce Springsteen, but also reaches #25 on the Pop Singles chart. Subsequent singles “One Headlight” (#2), “Three Marlenas” (#35), and “The Difference” (#19) garner heavy modern rock airplay and propel the album to #4 on the charts.
Soundgarden release their fifth album, Down on the Upside, which reaches a chart position of #2 on the strength of modern rock staples “Burden in My Hand” and “Pretty Noose.” Due to tensions within the band (mainly between singer Chris Cornell and guitarist Kim Thayil), it would be their last.
George Michael releases his third solo album, Older, arriving after a protracted lawsuit against his record company that Michael would ultimately lose. The album features two Top 10 singles in “Jesus to a Child” (#7) and “Fastlove” (#6) (both songs would go #1 in the UK).
Bryan Adams releases 18 Til I Die. Highlighted by songs such as “(I Wanna Be) Your Underwear” and “The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You,” his string of platinum-selling Top 10 albums in the US would come to a screeching halt as the album peaked at a paltry #31.
(I Wanna Be) Your Underwear
In June, Beck releases Odelay, a collaboration with producers The Dust Brothers that proves Mellow Gold (which featured the smash hit “Loser”) was no fluke. Driven by the success of modern rock singles “Where It’s At,” “Devil’s Haircut,” and “The New Pollution,” the album peaks at #16 on the US Top 100 Albums chart. [Check out these live cuts, “Jack-Ass” and “Where It’s At” performed by Beck and Flaming Lips.
Where It’s At (Beck with Flaming lips)
Primitive Radio Gods’ album Rocket is released by Columbia Records. Originally released in limited form six years earlier, the album is the work of sole member Chris O’Connor, who gave up music to become an air traffic controller. Happening upon a stash of the demo tapes he’d placed in storage, O’Connor mailed copies to a handful of labels. Jonathan Daniel, then of Fiction Records, signed O’Connor to a publishing contract on the strength of a song called “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Hand” and was instrumental in orchestrating a deal with Columbia Records. The song, which heavily sampled B.B. King’s “How Blue Can You Get?,” would go on to become a Top 10 single. The album itself would reach #36.
Fiona Apple releases her debut album, Tidal, which includes the singles “Shadowboxer” (#32) and “Criminal” (#21), and has gone on to sell over three million copies.
Following the Top 40 success of their debut album (Deluxe), Better Than Ezra release Friction, Baby in August. Leadoff single “Desperately Wanting” breaks the Top 40 , but the follow-up single “King of New Orleans” fails to chart and the album manages only a brief peak position of #64.
King Of New Orleans
Pearl Jam releases their fourth album, No Code, which spends two weeks at #1 and has the year’s biggest opening week of sales (366,000 copies). It includes the Top 40 single “Who You Are.”
Who You Are
In September, R.E.M. release their tenth album, New Adventures in Hi-Fi. Despite a peak chart position of #2 in the US (and #1 in the UK), the album lacks a breakout single, with only “Bittersweet Me” breaking the Top 40. It would be the last album to feature drummer Bill Berry.
E-Bow The Letter (R.E.M. with Thom Yorke)
Cake score a Top 40 hit with their second album, Fashion Nugget, which includes their signature single “The Distance.”
Sheryl Crow releases her second album, entitled simply Sheryl Crow. Hit singles “If It Makes You Happy” (#10) and “Everyday Is a Winding Road” (#11) enjoy widespread radio airplay and propel the album to a peak position of #6, selling over four million copies.
If It Makes You Happy
Everyday Is a Winding Road
After the platinum success of their self-titled debut album two years prior, Weezer return with the moody and distorted album, Pinkerton. Fueled by painkillers, as a result of Rivers Cuomo’s leg surgery, and delayed by his enrollment at Harvard, songs such as “El Scorcho” and “Pink Triangle” are bleaker than anything on their debut. Despite debuting in the Top 20, the album would be heavily criticized and barely surpass gold status. None of the album’s three singles would crack the Top 40 (unlike the debut album’s three Top 40 hits). Bassist Matt Sharp would later leave the band to work primarily with his own band, The Rentals.
In October, Fountains of Wayne release their debut self-titled album, which features college rock favorites “Radiation Vibe,” “Leave the Biker,” and “Sink to the Bottom.”
Matchbox 20 release their debut album, Yourself or Someone Like You, in October. It would go on to sell over 12 million copies on the strength of hit singles “3AM,” “Push,” “Real World,” and “Back 2 Good.”
Back 2 Good
Marilyn Manson releases their second album, Antichrist Superstar, on October 8. The album hits #3 on the Top 100 Albums chart and would go on to sell over a million copies. The single “The Beautiful People” enjoys heavy Modern Rock airplay.
On October 15, Korn release their second album, Life Is Peachy. It would reach a peak position of #3 and sell over three million copies while almost singlehandedly defining the nu-metal movement.
In November, Blind Melon release Nico, a collection of rare recordings, a year after the death of singer Shannon Hoon. Included on the album is an alternate version of the band’s breakthrough hit, “No Rain.”
No Rain (Ripped Away Version)