Canadians Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel, and Robbie Robertson with American Levon Helm had each joined Canadian rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins backup band The Hawks individually between 1958 and 1963. But tonight in 1966 they were playing the convention center in Louisville Kentucky backing Bob Dylan, the first show of their first tour together. No one booed or shouted “Judas!” this time, as all the folkies who’d been so incensed that Bob had plugged in a Fender Stratocaster the year before at the Newport Folk Festival the year before stayed home. The backing musicians had been used to Ronnie Hawkins calling them “The Band“, and Dylan did the same, but they wouldn’t officially adopt it as their name until 1968.
The Who played their first show as headliners tonight in 1966 in Finsbury Park, England, with opening acts The Merseys and The Fortunes.
Despite being derided by Beatles fans as the “Pre-Fab Four”, the debut album from American made for TV band The Monkees started a 7 week run at #1, Top Of The Pops in England today in 1967. The Beatles themselves thought The Monkees were just fine, inviting them to a party and some of the Sgt. Pepper recording sessions at Abbey Road when they came to England, with John Lennon telling a sheepish Michael Nesmith he never missed an episode, and that they were the greatest comic talents since the Marx brothers.
The Beatles were at Abbey Road today in 1968 recording a song that had come to John Lennon after his 1st wife Cynthia had been “going on and on about something”. It started out quite negative, but then the phrase “Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup” came to him, and the rest fell into place. In the studio he and Paul decided it needed some higher voices, and invited two girls off the street to sing on Across The Universe. Lizzie Bravo and Gayleen Pease were just 16 and 17. Their vocals didn’t make it onto the version released on Let It Be, but did on a later version that John donated to a UK charity album called No One’s Gonna Change Our World, and was released on the Past Masters compilation in ’88.
South Carolina’s Senator Strom Thurmond sent a secret memo today in 1972 to U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell and another Nixon administration aide, strongly urging that John Lennon be deported as an undesirable alien for his anti-Vietnam war views, peace activism, and as a threat to the reelection of Richard Nixon. The Nixon administration tried unsuccessfully until 1976. The memo was discovered in F.B.I. files under the Freedom of Information Act in 2000.
John and Yoko Ono agreed to separate today in 1974, the beginning of his infamous 18-month long “Lost Weekend”. He spent most of the time in Los Angeles, ingesting prodigious amounts of drugs and alcohol with the “Hollywood Vampires“, who included Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, Mickey Dolenz, and especially Harry Nilsson, with whom Lennon was famously booted from The Troubadour Club for heckling the Smothers Brothers.
The Carpenters singing drummer Karen Carpenter died of a heart attack brought on by her anorexia nervosa today in 1983 at age 32. Readers of Playboy magazine voted her the Best Drummer in Rock and Roll in 1975, the only time a female ever garnered that honor.
Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of Swedish disco band ABBA, inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame for whatever reason, announced today in 2000 that they had turned down an offer of $1 Billion to reform their group.
Courtney Love was arrested at London’s Heathrow airport today in 2003 for “endangering an aircraft”, after hurling abuse at the British Airways flight crew when they wouldn’t allow her nurse, who was seated in coach, join her in the first class cabin.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
The Animals original drummer John Steel is 71. A British court awarded him exclusive rights to the band name The Animals in 2008 after battle with singer Eric Burdon, in part because Burdon had billed himself as “Eric Burdon and The Animals”as early as 1967.
Singer Vincent Furnier is 65 today, known better by the name of the band inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011 they claimed to have picked using an Ouija Board: Alice Cooper.
Kansas drummer Phil Ehart is 62.