This Date in Music History: May 9

Boomtown Rats honored for tragic song and Ghostface Killah readies new solo album

click to enlarge Boomtown Rats' "I Don't Like Mondays" single cover
Boomtown Rats' "I Don't Like Mondays" single cover

On this date in 1980, the British awards program honoring songwriters, The Ivor Novello Awards, bestowed the awards for best Pop song and best lyrics to The Boomtown Rats, the Irish Punk band featuring Live Aid founder Bob Geldof. The song that won the honors was the band's biggest, "I Don't Like Mondays," a tune written by Geldof after reading about the news of a 16-year-old high school student who started a shooting spree on a playground in San Diego in early 1979.

The young girl killed two adults and injured eight kids and one cop. With a rifle given to her by her father as a gift, she began shooting from her house across the street from the elementary school playground. When she was asked by a reporter why she did it, she said, "I don't like Mondays. This livens up the day." She also told police during a six-hour standoff that "there was no reason for it, and it was a lot of fun." She was sentenced to 25 years to life and has been denied parole multiple times. During parole hearings, the woman has made various excuses, from claiming that it was the cops who fired the shots that killed and hurt people to insisting she was sexually abused by her father to proclaiming she was on alcohol and hallucinogenic drugs at the time.

She is not eligible for parole again until 2019.

The Boomtown Rats released "I Don't Like Mondays" that summer. The song gave the Rats their second No. 1 in the U.K. (it only made it to No. 79 in the States) and became the tune for which they're best known. The tune wasn't a celebration of the girl, nor was it a tribute to the victims. Rather, it was a clever, emotional look at mental illness and how it can effect anyone, even those you'd least suspect.

Russell Brand referred to the song when he hosted the NME Awards in 2006. When the often curmudgeonly Geldof won the "Best DVD" award for the Live 8 disc (ooh, what an honor!), he began his speech by saying, "Russell Brand … what a cunt." Brand shot back and won the diss battle instantly, saying "It's no wonder Bob Geldof knows so much about famine — he's been dining out on 'I Don't Like Mondays' for 30 years."

Here's a clip of Geldof and Rats pianist Johnny Fingers performing my favorite version of the song, at the 1982 Secret Policeman's Ball benefit concerts for Amnesty International.

Click below for Born This Day featuring Andrew W.K., Billy Joel, Richie Furay and Ghostface Killah.

—-Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing a May 9 birthday include ’50s Country star Hank Snow (1914); Rock and Roll Hall of Famer for his work with instrumental guitar band The Ventures, Nokie Edwards (1935); the "Dave" of sensational Soul duo Sam & Dave, Dave Prater (1937); Bubblegum Pop singer/songwriter Tommy Roe (1942); Yellow Springs, Ohio, native and co-founder of Classic Rock bands Buffalo Springfield and Poco, Richie Furay (1944); the Piano Man, Billy Joel (1949); Depeche Mode singer Dave Gahan (1962); founding bassist for BritPop superstars Oasis, Paul "Guigsy" McGuigan (1971); lead singer for Pop Punk faves Simple Plan, Pierre Bouvier (1979); hard-partying rocker Andrew Fetterly Wilkes Krier, better known as Andrew W.K. (1979); and Hip Hop star Dennis Coles, who you probably know better as Ghostface Killah (1970).

Mr. Killah was a key member of legendary crew Wu-Tang Clan but he's also had a creatively and commercially successful solo career. A founding member of Wu-Tang, Ghostface has exec produced all of the group's album (as well as several of the members' solo works). He really made his mark on another Wu member's solo debut, Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…, appearing on almost every track and drawing almost as much critical love as Raekwon did for it. That led to his first solo album, Ironman (which gave him the nickname "Tony Starks") in 1996, which featured a heavy Soul influence and debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard album charts.

After a jail stint in ’99 for an attempted robbery in 1995, he returned with his sophomore album, Supreme Clientele, featuring RZA's production on several tracks. After 2001's Bulletproof Wallets, Ghost moved to Def Jam Records for The Pretty Toney Album in 2004 (credited to simply "Ghostface"). It was his first album without guest appearances by any Wu-Tangers (though RZA did a little production work). Pitchfork put the album at No. 9 on its list of that year's best releases.

Ghost's 2006 album Fishscale brought the rapper to Cincinnati for an appearance at the one-and-done Desdemona Music Festival at Sawyer Point/Yeatman's Cove. It was the MC's biggest album since his debut and received widespread critical acclaim.

Ghost is slated to release his tenth solo album, Supreme Clientele Presents … Blue & Cream: The Wally Era, this summer. Wu-Block, a collaborative project between Wu-Tang and the D-Block crew (Jadakiss, Styles P, Sheek Louch), headed up by Ghost and Louch, has been teasing the release of a new album for at least a year now. The latest word is it will also be out this summer. A new Wu-Tang Clan album had also been promised, with a release date sometime this month, but that doesn't appear to be on schedule either. It will be the group's sixth album and first since 2007's 8 Diagrams. Hold your breath for none of these. You'll know there out when you see them in the store (online or otherwise).

Here's a clip of Ghost talking about the new album. Click below to check out one of his classics, "The Champ," and a clip of Ghost telling ghost stories on late night TV. Oh, and he is officially a superstar to nerds now that he finally made it into The New York Times' crossword puzzle.

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