All Happy Birthdays edition today: a cowboy, a bare-chested '70's icon, and a 1950's nut-job. We love 'em all!

Classic concert; released Nov. 1970. (Courtesy of Capitol Records)

9/29/1907 - Born on this day, America's singing cowboy, Grover "Gene" Autry. Quite a career: between 1934 and 1953, Gene made 93 films and appeared in 91 TV episodes of "The Gene Autry Show" -- During the 1930's and '40's, he profoundly touched the lives of millions of Americans, playing the straight-shootin'-honest-and-brave-and-true hero stereotype, whose "singing cowboy" movies literally (and single-handedly) introduced country music to a national audience -- Some of Gene's tunes are forever embedded in the American conscious: in addition to his signature song "Back In The Saddle Again" (hello, Aerosmith!), Autry is also remembered for his enduring Christmas classics "Here Comes Santa Claus" (which he wrote), "Frosty The Snowman", and his biggest-ever-hit "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" (try to imagine growing up without those, it can't be done). Passed away at age 91 on October 2, 1988. The American C&W scene is unimaginable without him...

9/29/1935 - Happy Birthday to "The Killer", Jerry Lee Lewis, 82 years old today -- Aptly described as "rock 'n' roll's first great wild man", Jerry was unquestionably one of the most important pioneers of early rock: his low-budget/low-tech Sun studio recording "Crazy Arms" (1956) sold over 300,000 copies in the South alone {think about it!}, but it was his 1957 classic "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" that rocketed him to world-wide acclaim, followed by a string of ferociously unstoppable rockers: "Great Balls Of Fire", "Breathless", "High School Confidential", then...career suicide -- Jerry married his 13 year old cousin Myra when he was 22. Never recovered.

9/29/1948 - Happy Birthday to former Grand Funk Railroad poster-boy/singer-guitarist-front-man Mark Farner, 69 years old today. Crudely and somewhat unnecessarily derided by the rock critics of the day, Grand Funk (sort of) had the last laugh by breezily selling over 20 million albums in the 1970's, and even breaking The Beatles record for how quickly they sold out Shea Stadium. Actually, they were really quite good at the live thing:

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"'Cause when you call my name/You know honey I burn like a wooden flame...", xoxo!