This Date in Music History: March 20

Wrong Right attacks right Dixie Chicks and a tribute to Lee "Scratch" Perry

Mar 20, 2012 at 9:37 am
The Dixie Chicks were right!
The Dixie Chicks were right!

On this day in 2003, the Iraq war quagmire began. Depending on where you stand and your perspective of "facts," the war was a) a huge mistake based on fabricated information, b) a nobly-intentioned-attack-turned-Bush-administration-blooper ("Whoops, sorry!"), or c) a perfectly reasonable military operation that spread democracy and made Toby Keith a billionaire.

It is estimated the war has killed well over 100,000 Iraqi civilians and displaced over 2 million. Our government claims that 4,422 Americans have died as a result of Operation Iraqi Freedom (and over 31,000 have been injured).

The South Carolina State Legislature marked the beginning of the war by attacking a Country music trio. State Rep. Catherine Ceips introduced a resolution that commanded the Dixie Chicks to apologize to President Bush for daring to say in front of an audience in London that they were embarrassed to be from the same state (Texas) as W.

Chick Natalie Maines DID apologize a week before, saying she should not have been disrespectful to the Prez. But it apparently didn't matter and the Chicks became another tool used to raise support for the war. In an interview with Tom Brokaw a month later, Bush said that the group members had a right to say what they wanted. But, "I don't really care what the Dixie Chicks said. I want to do what I think is right for the American people." Whoopsie.

Despite Bush being the one proved wrong, no one EVER apologized to the Dixie Chicks, who lost a substantial amount of money due to the ginned-up controversy.

On that same day, Bruce Springsteen played a concert in Australia and dedicated "Land of Hope and Dreams" to "innocent Iraqi civilians." He opened the show with his stunning acoustic version of "Born in the U.S.A.," followed by a cover of Edwin Starr's "War (What Is It Good For)."

Click on for Born This Day featuring Chester Bennington, Natacha Atlas, Jerry Reed and Lee "Scratch" Perry.


Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing a March 20 birthday include Country singer ("Guitar Man," "East Bound and Down") and actor (Smokey and the Bandit) Jerry Reed (1937); Blues singer/pianist Marcia Ball (1949); drummer for Prog rockers Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Carl Palmer (1950); Blues/Rock guitarist with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Jimmie Vaughan (1951); drummer for Rockabilly revivalists Stray Cats, Slim Jim Phantom (1961); Electro/Middle Eastern fusionaire Natacha Atlas (1964); lead singer/guitarist for Scottish AltDanceRock band Franz Ferdinand, Alexander Kapranos (1972); Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington (1976) and Reggae legend Lee "Scratch" Perry (1936).

Perry was a musician, label operator and producer crucial to the development and eventual popularity of Reggae and Dub music. The enigmatic artist had a hand in hundreds of important Reggae recordings, including "Police and Thieves," which he co-wrote with Junior Murvin (it was later popularized by a version by The Clash on the band's first album; Perry produced The Clash's "Complete Control").

Perry is a very active 70-something — in recent years, he has appeared in a Guinness beer ad campaign, released albums with guests like Moby, Keith Richards, George Clinton and, um, porn star Sasha Grey (oh, to be a fly on the wall for any of those sessions!), and he continues to tour frequently. He is scheduled to appear at the Nelsonville Music Festival in Nelsonville, Ohio, in mid-May, joining artists like Iron & Wine, Andrew Bird and Bad Brains.

Happy 76th to The Upsetter. Here's a trio of clips featuring Perry's work.