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Beatles Meet Denny, Jefferson Meets Airplane, Zeppelin Meets Tear Gas: This Day In Classic Rock [Video]

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A Happy birthday to Robbie Robertson of The Band! (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

A Happy birthday to Robbie Robertson of The Band! (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

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Tonight in 1963 the Beatles were playing a show in Dudley, England with an opening act called Denny and the Diplomats, fronted by a pimply Denny Laine who would later join the Moody Blues and then Paul McCartney’s Wings.

It was today in 1965 that Paul Kantner and Marty Balin started bashing out folk-rock together that would premier a month later as The Jefferson Airplane at a club in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco.

It was tonight in 1966 that Chas Chandler of the Animals went to the Cafe Wha? in New York to see a crazy guitarist from Seattle on the recommendation of Keith Richard’s girlfriend.  He loved him, and told him he should come to England, which Jimi Hendrix did, with Chas as his manager.

It was today in 1969 that The Rolling Stones gave a free concert in London’s Hyde Park, ostensibly to honor their founder Brian Jones, who had died two days earlier, but mostly to unveil his replacement Mick Taylor.

Your mild-mannered guitarist from Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page, points out that on this day in 1971, they were playing a bicycle track, not unlike the Marymoor Velodrome, in Milano Italy…when just a few songs into their set the police hosed the audience… and the band…with copious amounts of tear gas….Jimmy still thinks the whole thing was a set-up by sadistic Policia, and that Led Zeppelin lost some of their equipment, and all of their enthusiasm for ever playing Italy again.

Pink Floyd debuted their new album Wish You Were Here today in 1975 at the Knebworth festival in England. The show included flybys by British Spitfire planes, pyrotechnics, and a fake exploding plane that flew into the stage.  Also on the bill: Captain Beefheart and The Steve Miller Band.

A court order halted production of the new Rolling Stones album Some Girls today in 1978, after legal complaints by  some of the Girls featured on the cover: Lucille Ball and Elizabeth Taylor.

The Grateful Dead were playing a show outside of St. Louis today in 1995. When a heavy rainstorm moved through the area, many of the 4000+ Deadheads sought shelter on or under a large wooden deck that collapsed under the weight, injuring over 100 of them.

Rock and Roll Birthdays

Canadian guitarist Robbie Robertson of The Band is 69, and still number 59 on the Rolling Stone Top 100 Guitarists list.

Steppenwolf’s original lead guitarist Michael Monarch is 61.

Lynyrd Skynyrd backup singer Cassie Gaines would be 63 today if she hadn’t been on the plane that crashed in 1977 and also killed lead singer Ronnie Van Zandt and her brother, guitarist Steve.

Huey Lewis is 62 today, and still not regretting dropping out of Cornell University’s engineering program after getting a perfect score in the Math section of the S.A.T. for a career in rock and roll.

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