The Cavern Club was opened by proprietor Alan Synter tonight in 1957 in a basement in Liverpool England that had been used as an air-raid shelter during WWII. The first act to play there was the Merseysippi Jazz Band, indeed Synter’s inspiration was the jazz district of Paris where many of the nightclubs were located in basements. While The Beatles would make the place famous, rock and roll music was strictly prohibited in it’s early days, but the jazz purists tolerated “skiffle” bands, which gave The Quarry Men an in. At their first show there in August, after their first “skiffle” number John Lennon started in on a cover of Don’t Be Cruel, which prompted Synter to push his way through the crowd to hand Lennon a note: Cut out the bloody rock-n-roll! The band would play there 291 more times, first as The Beatles in 1961. Still an unapologetic jazz snob, Synter sold the place in 1959.
The Beatles had dumped “skiffle” music completely when they played the first of an 18 night run at the Olympia Theater in Paris tonight in 1964, to a formally-attired audience of wealthy socialites. France was slow to embrace the group: Only 60 people met them at the airport a few days earlier, and the performance was slagged in the press, but the band didn’t care. They had just got news that their single I Want To Hold Your Hand had gone to #1 in the United States, selling 10,000 copies in an hour in New York City alone.
John Lennon’s showing of his erotic lithographs at a London art gallery called “Bag One” was shut down for indecency by Scotland Yard today in 1970.
Bruce Springsteen played a show at Philadelphia’s Villanova University tonight in 1973 to an audience of 25 people.
Two days after their final show and the band’s breakup, The Sex Pistols barely-a-bass-player Sid Vicious fell through a glass door at a San Francisco hotel today in 1978. Sid managed to find time to overdose on heroin before being taken to a hospital.
Japanese customs officials found a little over 8 ounces of wacky-tobbacky in Paul McCartney’s luggage today in 1980 as he arrived there for a tour with Wings. Paul was jailed for 9 days while the Japanese government decided what to do with him. He was released without charges on the 10th day, but immediately deported and the Wings tour was cancelled.
Paul was arrested for weed possession again in 1984 in Barbados. He and wife Linda were each fined $200. Returning to Britain, Paul remarked “Cannabis is less harmful than rum punch, whiskey, nicotine, and glue, all of which are perfectly legal. I don’t think I was doing anyone any harm whatsoever.”
Singer, songwriter, keyboardist, and TV show host Jools Holland was suspended for 6 weeks as the host of BBC 4’s The Tube today in 1987, after using the phrase “Groovy F**kers” in a live promotional trailer aired during the networks children’s hour.
Guitarist and author of what many consider to be the first rock and roll song, 1951’s Rocket 88, Ike Turner was convicted of possession and driving under the influence of cocaine today in 1990, and sentenced to 4 years in the California penal system. Ike had estimated that in the 70’s he was spending $56,000 a month on blow, but the jail time allowed him to clean himself up. He remained drug-free for 10 years, but had a major relapse in 2004 when he attempted to rescue an acquaintance from a crack house.
Jimmy Buffett and his friend U2 singer Bono Vox were flying in Buffett’s seaplane over Jamaica today in 1996 when the Jamaican military opened fire on them, suspecting them as cocaine traffickers. Neither singer was hurt, but the incident inspired a “parrot head” favorite, Buffet’s Jamaica Mistaica.
Warren Zevon, bluesman Delbert McClinton, and America played the inaugural ball for Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura tonight in 1999. Naturally, America were asked to play their hit Ventura Highway.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
The Ventures guitarist Bob Bogle would be 79. Born in Oklahoma, he met guitarist Don Wilson in Tacoma and started the band in 1958. He died of lymphoma in 2009 in Vancouver, WA.
Nashville Teens singer Ray Phillips is 71.
Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show keyboard player Billy Francis would be 71, he died in 2010.
Brendan O’Hare, heyday drummer of one of Scotland’s biggest bands ever, the Teenage Fanclub, is 43.