HAPPENINGS TEN YEARS TIME AGO
February 19 to 25, 1997
Ben Elton hosts the Brit Awards at London’s Earls Court, where there are two gongs apiece for Manic Street Preachers (Best Group, Best Album – Everything Must Go) and the Spice Girls (Best Single – “Wannabe”, Best Video – “Say You’ll Be There”). Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack mini-dress gets the lion’s share of coverage in the following morning’s tabloids, which also report on the group’s first album entering the US charts at Number Six. The Bee Gees receive the Outstanding Contribution nod, as a total of 15 awards are given out during the evening, chicken feed compared to…
Ninety prizes are handed out at the US Grammys, including five relating to the song “Change The World”, a collaboration between Eric Clapton and producer Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds from the soundtrack of the John Travolta film Phenomenon. Three awards go to The Beatles’ Anthology albums and documentary project, double winners include Sheryl Crow, Beck, Fugees and Celine Dion, while First Lady Hillary Clinton takes home the Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album, for the audio version of her book It Takes A Village.
Lawyers for two Goths charged with murder in Washington state claim the teenagers were “adversely influenced” by the music of Marilyn Manson. The shock rocker responds in an official statement, saying “Parents should raise their kids to listen to an album and know the difference between reality and fantasy.”
Cardigan crooner Pat Boone outrages elements of his cosy fanbase with the release of In A Metal Mood: No More Mr Nice Guy, an album of hard rock covers including “Smoke On The Water”, “Enter Sandman” and “Stairway To Heaven”. A Christian pressure group does the rounds of the daytime talk show circuit, expressing fears that Boone might be mentally ill.
Sixties chart-topper and current Vegas fixture Engelbert Humperdinck reveals that he gave Jimi Hendrix an early break, after a member of his regular band fell ill midway through a tour. “When Jimi sat in it was like having 10 guitars behind me,” he says.
Folk singer Melissa Etheridge and her partner Julie Cypher, the former wife of actor Lou Diamond Phillips, announce the birth of their daughter, Bailey, but refuse to disclose the identity of the sperm donor. The couple’s second child, born in 2000, is later revealed to have been fathered by music veteran David Crosby.
Songwriting duo Thomas Kelly and William Steinberg take legal action against telecommunications giant AT&T, alleging that the ditty “True Voice” in the company’s TV adverts infringes on the copyright of one of their own compostions, Cyndi Lauper’s million-selling “True Colours” hit.
Christopher Guest’s Waiting For Guffman, a mostly improvised movie about the staging of a smalltown musical, and his first spoof since 1984’s This Is Spinal Tap, opens in the US.
Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder Pictures, a company dedicated to making long lost cult films available on home video, issue their second title, 1975’s Switchblade Sisters, directed by Roger Corman protege Jack Hill.
Four of the five movies nominated for the Best Picture Oscar are the work of independents, Jerry Maguire being the sole contender from a major studio. “This is a great moment for independent cinema,” says Harvey Weinstein, whose Miramax company receives 20 nominations across the board. “It shows that risk has its rewards.”
Sports shoe manufacturers Reebok are threatening legal action against the makers of Jerry Maguire, after a previously agreed product placement scene was cut from the final film.
US Federal health experts are considering nationwide trials using marijuana to treat medical complaints, after successful test programmes in California and Arizona. Meanwhile, a study by Canadian medical researchers claims that car accidents caused by motorists using mobile phones have reached the same levels as crashes involving drunk drivers and pot smokers.
HAPPENINGS TEN YEARS TIME AGO
February 12 to 18, 1997
Just days after David Bowie receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, avant garde figurehead
Philip Glass announces plans for a world tour performing an orchestral version of the Thin White Duke’s Lodger album.
Brian Connolly, lead singer of The Sweet, dies of kidney failure, aged 52. Connolly last appeared with his old bandmates to promote a video release in 1990, but had continued to tour with a new line-up on the nostalgia circuit, despite rapidly declining health, up to a few months before his passing.
Michael Jackson’s first son, Prince Michael, is born.
The Simpsons becomes the world’s longest-running prime time animated show, surpassing the number of episodes notched up by The Flintstones in the 1960s.
A US judge dismisses a lawsuit against Oliver Stone by Patsy Ann Byers, who claimed the movie Natural Born Killers sparked a crime spree that left her in a wheelchair.
Also in court are two former members of The Go-Gos. Drummer Gina Schock is suing Charlotte Caffey, claiming the guitarist failed to disclose full details of joint songwriting royalties.
Blur’s eponymous fifth album replaces Texas’s White On Blonde at the top of the UK chart. No Doubt go straight into the singles chart at Number One with “Don’t Speak”, which sells almost 200,000 copies during its first week on release.
In a continuing war of words between the metal veterans, singer Sammy Hagar tells reporters the reason he was thrown out of Van Halen was because the rest of the band were threated by the “huge” sales of his solo greatest hits album.
The family of Martin Luther King campaign for a full trial of James Earl Ray, the man imprisoned for assassinating the civil rights leader in 1968. Dr King’s son, Dexter, believes FBI surveillance documents will reveal that Ray did not act alone.
The FBI are also under scrutiny in the investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing. A US Justice Department draft report criticizes the bureau’s crime lab for its “sloppy” handling of evidence.
Jurors at the inquest into the death of London schoolboy Stephen Lawrence rule that the black teenager was unlawfully killed “in a completely unprovoked racist attack by five white youths”.
Deng Xiaoping, the last of the chief revolutionaries in the People’s Republic of China, dies, aged 92.
The McDonalds fast food chain faces protests at its first restaurants in Israel. A Jewish student pressure group pickets the sites, opposed the young Jews being forced to work on Saturdays, and the violation of Jewish dietary teachings which forbid the eating of meat and cheese together.