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March 26th, 2012 By Mike Breen | Music | Posted In: Music History

This Date in Music History: March 26

Rap icon Eazy E dies and guitarist James Iha is born


On this day in 1995, Rap star Eazy-E died. The N.W.A. cofounder got sick in late February and went into the hospital from what he believed was an issue with asthma. He was told, instead, that he had AIDS. Less than a month later, he released a public statement announcing that he had been diagnosed with the disease. He died from pneumonia a month after being admitted to the hospital at the age of 31.

The coverage of Eazy's death wasn't like when most famous Hip Hop stars die too young, nor did it approach the level of coverage/impact Magic Johnson's AIDS announcement had a few years earlier. Perhaps it was Eazy's polarizing career, in which he managed to make many enemies, including his pals from N.W.A. Perhaps it was the tales of how he was merely the "money man" in N.W.A., allegedly providing a financial base from his drug/gang activities for the group (and Ruthless Records) as long as he could be a member and his "solo" album (essentially an N.W.A. album, with writing and production contributions from the whole crew) came out first? Maybe it was the back-and-forth beefs with Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and their collaborators, which led many to side with Eazy's foes?

Though he never addressed how he contracted the disease, many assume it was through unprotected sex (Eazy had seven kids with six different women, so his promiscuity and hetero-ness is hard to doubt). Did Eazy's death have a positive impact as a cautionary tale for fellow artists and fans? It's hard to gauge, but the suddenness and unexpectedness of Eazy's passing certainly scared the hell out of a lot of people, including fellow rappers who knew it could have easily been them in his place. There hasn't been another major Rap star who has (at least publicly) acknowledged they are HIV positive since Eazy's death.

Here is a nice homage to Eazy by his daughter E.B. Wright (an aspiring Pop/Rock artist) from XXL magazine's site.

Click on for Born This Day, featuring Diana Ross, Kenny Chesney, Steven Tyler and James Iha.

Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing a March 26 birthday include Jazz saxophonist James Moody (1925); legendary singer for The Supremes, actress and solo artist Diana Ross (1944); American Idol judge and Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler (1948); late R&B singer Teddy Pendergrass (1950); founder and guitarist of Death Metal giants Morbid Angel, Trey Azagthoth (1965); Country star Kenny Chesney (1968) and original Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha (1968).

Iha currently plays guitar with ArtRock giants A Perfect Circle but it was recently announced that his second solo album, Look to the Sky, is ready for release. The album — his first since 1998's Let It Come Down — will be released in Japan this month, according to twentyfourbit.com, and everywhere else later in the year. Below is a teaser clip featuring a sample of the song "To Who Knows Where."

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