Madison, the state capitol of Wisconsin, has a vibrant music scene and a storied musical history. The University of Wisconsin student body guarantees that the city of Madison always has a young, hip and diverse base of live music fans. Madison is able to support a thriving local music scene as well visits from major touring acts. Madison is also home to long-time James Brown funk drummer Clyde Stubblefield.
Madison has seen its share of musical triumphs and tragedies. The darkest day in the history of Madison is most certainly December 10, 1967. It was that day that legendary soul singer Otis Redding and six others, including four of the six members of Redding's backup band, The Bar-Kays, were killed when the plane on which they were flying crashed into Lake Monona. The two remaining members of The Bar-Kays were Ben Cauley and James Alexander. Cauley was the only person aboard Redding's plane to survive the crash; Alexander was on another plane. Redding's body was recovered from the lake the next day. He was 26 years old.
Madison's Smart Studios was home to preliminary recordings for one of the most influential albums of all time, Nirvana's Nevermind. It was released on September 24, 1991. Nevermind was produced by Madison's own Butch Vig, who later went on to widespread success as drummer for the band Garbage. Singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain would later express dissatisfaction with the album's "slick", radio-friendly production, but also admitted in Michael Azerrad's 1993 Nirvana biography, Come as You Are, that listening to the album sometimes moved him to tears.
Because Madison is home to such a large population of college students, it has a number of live music venues and a terrifically diverse music scene. A number of larger concert halls are popular when it comes to national touring acts, such as the 15,000 seat Kohl Center and the smaller Alliant Energy Center. These venues have hosted shows for everybody from Neil Diamond to Korn.
One of the more popular small venues for live music in Madison is the Barrymore, a converted movie theatre that was popular for showing XXX movies back in the 1970's. Another theater of note is the newly renovated Overture Center on State Street, which is home to many jazz, symphony and theatrical productions such as Mamma Mia and Cats.
The Madison Opera presents a full season of offerings providing at least two full productions and the incredibly popular Opera in the Park (which reached over 10,000 music lovers in the summer of 2005). In addition, the nationally recognized company produces recitals and its late series Opera Up Close.